I realize that it’s been a while since I posted anything, but life got a little busy. I’m sure many of you can relate. I’ve been at the CMAA Colloquium for the past week. It has been a wonderful and enriching experience! I witnessed Masses offered in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form, and they were all beautifully and faithfully executed. On July 4th, the fourth full day of the Colloquium, we had Mass in the Ordinary Form at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis, IN. On this day, lots of people were coming into the city to enjoy some of the local festivities. There were rock bands, event security, all kinds of interesting people, and about 240 participants in this year’s Colloquium. Needless to say, it was an interesting mix!!!
On this day, it sunk in why the Church has to be something not of this world. Outside there was loud music (which could be heard inside the church), the hustle and bustle of this fast paced world, and hundreds (if not thousands) of souls wandering here and there. In the midst of this modern chaos, we who were attending the Colloquium were assembling to take part in Holy Mass. Here, we had stepped out of time and space to be with our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. It was not like anything you could find on the streets of Indianapolis at the time.
Everything should remind us of life that is to come: from the music to the architecture. Even though it was Ordinary Form, the responses and prayers were still said in Latin. Even the language was different! These elements come together to teach us a spiritual truth: when we are at Holy Mass, we are no longer on Earth. We are mystically transported to the throneroom of God to worship with the Elders, the Four Living Creatures, and the Multitudes beyond Number. We are taken to that salvific moment in history when Christ gave his life for us, and we receive his sacrifice as he offers himself back to the Father.
While all this was happening inside the church, outside a rock band was beginning to play. You could hear the growls of guitars and the pounding of drums during the quieter parts of the Mass. After the Mass, we had Benediction, and one of the polyphonic choirs sang a lovely contemporary arrangement of “O Saving Victim” by Zachary Wadsworth. The original text was penned by St. Thomas Aquinas. The text is as follows:
O saving victim, opening wide
The gate of heaven to us below;
Our foes press on from every side,
Thine aid supply; thy strength bestow.
All praise and thanks to thee ascend
Forevermore, blest One in Three;
O grant us life that shall not end
In our true native land with thee.
It was at this point that the full weight of the text hit me. Not one block from where we were witnessing the love of God was all manner of activity. (I’m not saying that the people that weren’t with us at Mass were evil.) There was all manner of things happening around us that were infinitely less important than what was happening at that moment on the altar.
Our foes are the Devil, all his agents, and the tactics they use to seperate us from the love of God. Outside those church walls, there were any number of distractions and temptations for the occasion of sin. I found out later that week that there was a “Swingers” convention being held at the hotel that most of us for the Colloquium were staying at. Without being too elaborate for any readers out there who don’t know what swingers are, the easiest way to describe it would be people who revel in fornication. The devil had enslaved these people to the sin of lust, and we were right there in their midst offering ourselves to God and praying for healing and the conversion of souls. How very appropriate that we end our time with the Lord with this motet.
Remember, people are not your enemy. As it says in Ephisians 6:12- “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” Fight against the adversary with prayers and supplications. Strengthen yourself by going to Mass and receiving the spiritual nourishment that is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Finally, remember that even though our foes close in on every side, that Jesus said, “and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (the Church)”-Matthew 16:18