The Second Piece of Good News in 24 Hours
And this one is from Our Man Vacationing In Dallas, Rod Dreher:
Just got in a few minutes ago from Dallas, where we were visiting my wife’s family. I had to write and tell you some wonderful news from that city, which has been so badly afflicted by Catholic episcopal leadership over the past decade. Fr. Joseph Wilson, our Brooklyn priest friend, recommended that we go to mass at Blessed Sacrament parish in Oak Cliff, a relatively poor neighborhood in Dallas. The pastor is Fr. Paul Weinberger, an old friend and seminary classmate of Fr. Wilson’s. “You’ll love it there,” Fr. Wilson said. “Fr. Weinberger was basically sent in to close that parish, but he’s revitalized it.”
So, we took the advice. Fr. Wilson has never steered us wrong. His record still stands. Mass was terrific! We went to the 10:45 a.m. mass, which is the Novus Ordo done almost entirely in Latin. The congregation was mixed by ethnicity — Anglo, Latino and African-American — and age (there were elderly folks there, middle-aged parishioners, and young families too). The mass began in a church filled with incense and Gregorian chant. Fr. Weinberger was astonishingly reverent (astonishing to those of us accustomed to the hugger-mugger mess that most Novus Ordo priests make of the liturgy), but he wasn’t the least bit remote or stiff, and my wife and I didn’t feel alien to the liturgy, as we have on the occasion that we’ve attended the Tridentine mass.
His homily was wonderful. He preached about how John Paul II was formed in sanctity by his own father, and by the good example and loving care of holy laymen throughout his early life. His point was that the laity was absolutely key to the making of our sainted pope’s character, and that we in the congregation should understand that we too are the Church, and responsible for living and teaching sanctity. He said that in this time of terrible scandal for the Church, we shouldn’t look to the bishops and the clergy to lead us out of the mess. If they do, that’s great, but we mustn’t despair and forget that the Holy Spirit is calling us to do our part to restore holiness and righteousness to the Body of Christ.
The liturgy of the Eucharist was amazing. The lights went down in the church for the consecration, and Fr. Weinberger confected the Eucharist by candlelight, through a curtain of incense. He held the Host and then the chalice high for a solid minute. We received kneeling at the altar rail. When we returned to our pew, my wife was making her thanksgiving, and started crying. She couldn’t stop weeping, and I asked her if she was okay. She said, “This is what I thought the Church was. This is why I became Catholic.”
After mass, Julie was speaking to one of the parishioners outside the parish about how great the mass was. She said to the woman, “Do you realize what you have here?” The woman replied, “You don’t have to tell us! We know how blessed we are.”
There is so much to be angry and depressed about in the life of the Church these days. In a poor corner of a troubled diocese, there is one priest lighting a tremendously bright candle. People should know.
I’m not, nor would I guess is Rod, especially fanatical about the Mass being said in Latin. But I do care that it is said reverently and not in a spirit of “Hey! Look at me!” by the priest or “How can we fix this to be more acceptable to Modern Consumers in Today’s World.” Between this and Cardinal George’s gesture yesterday, I am very heartened. And I note that the name of the parish in Oak Cliff TX is Blessed Sacrament, which is (ahem) the same name as my parish. Coincidence? I think not! Rod: mazeltov!