Many say that St. Joseph Church rivals any church building in Europe--of course I say.
Others say they haven't attended a "high" Mass in decades. I say, this is how we do it each and every Sunday (although I have battle scars from 10 years ago when I implemented incense at every 9:30 and 12:10 Mass!).
Another visitor who is a member of her liturgy committee in the mid west stated that she was going to bring back to her parish priest what we do in terms of the "High" Mass, the kneelers available for those who choose to kneel and the decorum/formality of the Mass.
Then on Sunday I received the following email:
We live in Atlanta but we LOVE coming to mass at St Joseph's whenever we are traveling through Macon! We prefer the traditional Mass style offered. What a blessing to have that restored to an Ordinary Form Catholic mass. It was so wonderful to have a paten (the use of the paten at St. Joseph, oddly enough, was never dropped after Vatican II and has been in continual use here!) and kneeler to receive the sacrament! I could just go on and on about how much I love Mass at St Joseph!!!
I wanted to talk with my parish priest here about incorporating more traditional elements/options into our weekly masses (although I know its a long shot in the land of guitar masses). Is there a rubric or special rite followed by St Joseph's that I could reference?
Do you know of any parishes in the Atlanta area that offer masses as reverent as yours?
Thanks for your help!
This was my email response:
Thank you for your email. Were you at the 12:10 PM Mass or another one? We strive to make all our Masses beautiful and allow for options that other priests and maybe bishops might not encourage.
We celebrate our 12:10 PM Mass ad orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist and at all our Masses we have a kneeler available for those who prefer to kneel for Holy Communion. Our instruction is that the norm in the USA is to stand and kneeling is the exception but the choice the communicants’.
We strive for solemnity and are formal and not casual in our approach to the Mass.
We do things by the book but are flexible with the more traditional elements, especially allowing the exception of kneeling for Holy Communion by providing a kneeler that enables those who desire to do so comfortably and with an ability to rise easier.
The ad orientem position for the 12:10 PM Mass is clearly allowed and presumed in the Roman Missal, but of course is not the norm in the USA or elsewhere, but certainly not forbidden.
At any rate, the local bishop could intervene and prevent these two things. Our bishop knows what we do and has not stopped us but I can’t say he has encouraged it either. We also have the EF Mass each Tuesday at 5pm and once a month on Sunday at a special time, so there is a significant group that appreciates the ability to kneel easily and the ad orientem Ordinary Form Mass each Sunday.
God bless you.
Fr. Allan McDonald
My final comments: What strikes me the most is that those who comment on our liturgy comment on our traditional elements and the fact we are formal and solemn in our celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass. We priests chant all the parts of the Mass too and I do beginning with the Sign of the Cross through the final blessing at our 9:30 AM and 12:10 PM Masses.
But apart from the traditional look of the Church, the ad orientem for the 12:10 PM Mass only and the fact that we have kneelers available to be hospitable to those who would like to kneel for Holy Communion, we still have the following which many ultra-traditionalist find anathema:
1. We have male and female lectors who approach the ambo from their seats in the nave.
2. We have male and female Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.
3. We have the chalice for the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior (four to six depending on the Mass) for those who choose the option of receiving from the chalice.
4. We have male and female altar servers who are well trained.
5. We use the vernacular mostly and have strong congregational singing of not just hymns but the parts of the Mass and encourage actual participation on all levels.
6. We make use of deacons for most of our Masses.
7. We have a ministry of adult servers which is male exclusively and their role is different from the children servers as they act as a sort of subdeacon but not in the strict sense. I see this male only ministry as a recruitment for the diaconate and priesthood although many of the adult servers are married.
I think traditionalists who oppose the any of the seven options I have included above shoot themselves in the foot and push away Catholics from a more traditional approach to the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Just as I have allowed people to kneel for Holy Communion when this is the exception and not the norm in the USA but a choice that is allowed, I feel I must be consistent too in the other choices that are allowed the laity in the Ordinary Form of the Mass.