My friend and I attended the Tridentine Mass this morning at Annunciation Catholic Church in the heart of Houston, TX. While this wasn’t my first Latin Mass, it was my first at this beautiful church. A little background on Annunciation:
Annunciation was the second Catholic parish established in Houston, completed in 1869 by architect Nicholas Clayton. It is of beautiful Romanesque style with some of the most beautiful stained glass windows I’ve ever seen. The picture below, on the left, is of the church in 1907. The picture on the right is of the church in present-day. It was added to National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
We were looking for places that offered a High Mass, however, Annunciation only offers Low Mass, in which no parts of the mass are sung. But that doesn’t mean beauty was not to be seen.
The topic of this post has been written about quite frequently in the last few years: Why are young Catholics so attracted to the Latin Mass? While it has been written about many times, it hasn’t been written from the young Catholics’ point-of-view. I speak for many of us who attend the Latin Masses regularly….it is beautiful. It’s not the “beautiful” that we think of nowadays; the “Wow that’s gorgeous! You must have spent a lot of money on that!” or “That’s so pretty. Where’d you get it!?” No, in fact, it is a beauty that is not of this world and cannot be replicated…no matter how much we try. But that is precisely it, we are acknowledging this is the Sacrifice of Christ without directly knowing it. How fitting it is, Christ condemned, sacrificed, and redeemed on the Altar. It CAN’T be replicated; it’s not of this world.
I also believe the Mass becomes so beautiful because we humble ourselves and reverence Our Lord in the way He deserves. The Old Latin Rite requires one to kneel and receive Communion on the tongue. Many refer to this as an “ancient custom”, however, I see it becoming more prevalent among the youth. If one, as a Catholic, truly believes that the priest has been consecrated with the ability to transform the bread and wine into the ACTUAL BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST, how many could simply walk up and receive Our Lord in their hands? The question is often asked by the Faithful youth, “Who am I to hold Christ in my human and sinful hands?” There is a beautiful summary of the Sacrifice in the Roman Catholic Daily Missal of 1962 that states:
“The commingling of the Sacred Body and Blood symbolically expresses that in reality on the altar the Body and Blood are not seperate, but under each species the whole Christ is present as one sacrifical gift and one sacrifical food. It tells us also of His Resurrection, in which His Body and Blood were again united and vivified: the Lamb that was slain now lives eternally.”
Latin is the language of our ancestors. It brings us back to the beginnings of the Bride, the Church. How beautiful to think we are celebrating the Eucharist as they did 1,000 years ago!
So, simply stated, we are drawn because of the unworldly beauty, unwavering reverence, and dedication to the Church. It was a beautiful experience and I encourage those who have not yet participated in a Latin Mass to do so. You won’t regret it! Be sure, though, to read up on the Mass of the Latin Rite before you go to one. Speaking from experience, it can be very overwhelming if you “go in blind”. But as much as you should pay attention to the actions, remember to inhale the beauty of simply seeing Our Lord. You can read more about the Tridentine Mass, here!
+++ Blessings to you on this 17th Sunday after Pentecost! May God continue to keep you and hold you. Deo grátias +++
Below are some of the pictures I was able to snap before, during (mea culpa), and after Mass. Enjoy them to your pleasure as I have! God has created beautiful things, has He not!?