Today, for the third time in my life (at least that I know of), I attended a Latin Mass, because hey, why not. I’m pretty sure this guy was free-styling it, though. You would think, after say, nearly a couple thousand years, they’d get this kind of thing straight. I will tell you straight out that no two of the three were the same. Not even close, as far as I can tell.
The first I remember going to was the wedding of my childhood friend, Karen Miller (now Karen Zavarella) at Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna, New York, about a million years ago. I took Latin in 7th and 8th grade, and this mass was easy to follow, in part, because they gave you a very easy to read booklet with the Latin on one side and English on the other and no extra stuff. I saved that booklet and gave it to Alice when she became interested in, and started taking Latin. It was my experience at this mass that drew me to the others (you don’t find them all over the place, and especially not a block and a half away as today’s mass was). I’m pretty sure that wedding mass was a Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass, though the Wikipedia article on this stuff is pretty dense (IOW, TL;DR).
The second mass was in Providence, RI. I had taken my family there to see a productions of Cats, and the next day I saw there was a Tridentine Latin Mass. I think Alice was already taking Latin, so I took the family. Those of you who are old enough and Catholic enough are snickering right now because you know a rookie mistake when you see one. This is the mass that was popular from 1570 (Remember then? Good times, good times. Who can forget Ivan in Novgorod and Pius V’s Quo primum?) This mass was about two and a half hours long (no joke). I remember that most of the women were wearing black lace chapel veils on their heads. My family still has not let me live this down.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, about two blocks from here, offers a Traditional Latin Mass at 8:30 Sunday morning. Having learned my lesson in Providence, I noted that the next scheduled mass was at 10:30am, meaning this could not be a two and a half hour liturgy. See, I’m a quick learner.
The church building itself was finished in 1892, about 10 years after the founding of the parish, and I will tell you, they built them BIG back then. I think, though, that St. Barbara’s, a few blocks away, is even bigger. We shall see.
I found a place to sit, on the side of the one of the center rows of pews. I was in the first row after the aisle in the crossing. That’s the technical term. Look it up. I’m not kidding. This is important because as the procession went by, I smelled incense, a lot of it, even though they weren’t carrying any. At least three generations of altar servers (all male) went by, although none looked younger than thirty something.
Before mass started, I found the Latin Mass Missal on a rolling book rack placed in the center of the crossing (Aren’t you glad you looked it up?). This is the book that has Latin on one side and English on the other so people like me can follow along. Only one small problem; the book was over one thousand pages long! I quickly looked in the table of contents for some help. After eliminating some obvious dead ends (Eastertide, for example), I took my best guess that the mass started on page 569, and the pages went from white to pale yellow glossy with fancy illustrations, so I felt I was in the right place.
Ok, go. The first problem is that this was a High Mass, so all the introductory stuff was sung (by a guy with a great voice) in Gregorian Chant. Try, just try, I dare you, to parse chant. No way. Then, with organ music over it. Hopeless. So I waited for that to be over, and then I’d sync up with the book. No such luck. Second problem: the priest was going all acoustical or something because he wasn’t using any amplification whatsoever, this includes not raising his voice. In a really big church. Plus, he was facing backwards, back to the people (I knew about this, but it didn’t help with the syncing up part.)
The readings, mercifully were in English (although it waseth the oldeth kind of English). Only one small problem: they weren’t today’s readings. I know this, because I preread them on the off chance that they’d be in Latin. The priest was really free-styling now. There were only two readings: the first reading and the Gospel. He did offer a short explanation. Apparently, tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and the parish was celebrating the feast with a BBQ after the 10:30 Mass. I missed that – I’ll tell you what I did instead later.
I never was able to sync up. Whole parts of the Mass which I have been used to, basically for my whole life, went missing. For example, the priest alone says the Pater Nobis (I’ll let you figure out what that means). Maybe there was a Greeting of Peace, maybe not. It certainly didn’t happen among the people. Also, way more instances of standing, kneeling and sitting that I am used to. Overall, I’d say this Mass was too far from my Zone of Proximal Development for me to get much out of it. I’ll try something else next week. There’s plenty to choose from here, even within walking distance.
From there, I came home, ate breakfast (asparagus, herbed-goat cheese omelette) and headed off to the Chicago Pride Parade. It was long, really long – over two and a half hours, so I’ll just hit the highlights. I took some pictures, but they didn’t come out so well, so you’ll have to live with a text-based rendering.
The first entry in the parade was a silent tribute to the people killed in Orlando. There was someone carrying a large picture labelled with the name of each victim. Apparently, I’m not done processing this whole event yet. I was, inwardly, a mess for about an hour after seeing this. I can’t even think about it without feeling hurt inside. Those were people who were killed. People. A moment of silence for each of them.
Back to the parade.
My first favorite entry is the Windy City Cowboys. I had no idea who they were, except a lot of men wearing straw cowboy hats and sleeveless blue gingham cowboy shirts. The car following them stopped, and suddenly a loud crack of thunder came from its speakers. They all ran to the center of the road and umbrellas popped open over them, then they began spraying water bottles all over the place – you guess it: “It’s Raining Men”. I laughed out loud as they all started line dancing in unison.
The next highlight for me was the Flaggots from Ohio. Similar to the Windy City Cowboys, only they’re a COLOR GUARD! So much fun.
I can’t not fail to mention Organized Chaos, a women’s motorcycle group. They are like the Shriners, only WAY louder on their Harleys, and so much cooler.
My vote for best group name: Chicago Smelts Swim Team
It got pretty commercial toward the end – there were a lot of large corporations represented, airlines, hotel chains, radio and TV stations, etc. I was glad to see my host company, Accenture, was represented, too.
That’s all for now. Sorry about no pictures. OK, maybe just one. One of the most impressive displays was by Balloons by Tommy. So many thousands of brightly colored balloons. This level of color kept on passing for about eight or ten minutes.
Tomorrow – Week 1, Day 1 – the roller coaster begins its wild ride.