I'll admit in light of my married life, as well as focusing on my major work whereby I had to call out a professor of OLSWA for his attack on Jean Vanier, (Part I, and Part II) this is long overdue, and I haven't had a chance to do this until now.
A month and a half ago, the Mary Lake Shrine in King City, Ontario, one of the parishes blessed with being a site of the Doors of Mercy of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year, held a beautiful and reverent Missa Cantata. The celebrant was none other than our Archdiocese's Latin Mass Chaplain, Fr. Steven Szakaczki, currently residing at St. Lawrence the Martyr Scarborough. I refer you to this link, that I had for promoting the Mass for some brief information about the Shrine and the Fathers' charism, but how blessed was the Archdiocese that these fine brothers would allow a Latin Mass. It turns out that this is their 2nd or 3rd year in a row that they have done an annual offering at the shrine of the Latin Mass, and for a yearly offering, they are happy to oblige.
I personally was going to attend with my best friend in faith, as this Mass was entirely independent of any specific organization, and being celebrated by Fr. Steven at a magnificent place. Initially, I had also inquired about serving. At that time, numbers seemed ok, but I was asked to be on "standby" later, in case of increasing the level to a Cantata with incense.
It turns out that, we were part of the Lord's plan, as a last minute change of plans necessitated me robing up and serving. We also had another young man join us who had served some other Latin Masses in the Archdiocese that my friend knew, and an old ally from our last St. Patrick's offering, just happened to show up, who was originally going to be in the pews. Thankfully, we had an extra cassock on hand and I lent my spare, cotton surplice, to him that I keep with me. With four servers, we had enough for incense and elevation to a Missa Cantata! Since none of us had the experience to do the Master of Ceremonies role, we went with two acolytes, a thurifer, and a crucifer.
Overall, we were able to give each other quick rundowns for our roles and I had crammed a little thurifer reading on the Missa Cantata just in case. For the most part, the serving went well, although without an MC, it was a bit challenging to know cuing of parts and such. The four of us are not part of an established Latin Mass program/parish so there's where the challenged lay. I also had a relative lengthy distance for the midpoint to walk for a coal exchange for the thurible, as the sacristy was near the main altar, and to get to that, you had to exit the back of the chapel, out to behind the main altar. Thank goodness Fr. Steven is a master of the Latin Mass! He led us fantastically in the Mass, and we were able to carry out a beautiful Missa Cantata.
However, a Mass isn't just priest and servers alone. I also give mention to the choir and the crowd. The choir was a small size schola, a combination of some of the Augustinian Fathers including the pastor/"prior" of the parish, as well as a couple of laypeople with an interest in Gregorian Chant and singing. Considering this Mass is held annually, the schola possessed considerable talent! They had clearly prepared well for this Mass and it showed. As for the laity, I was impressed! The Eucharistic chapel of Mary Lake, I'd estimate, could seat about 150-180 people in the pews. For this offering of the Latin Mass, the chapel was full! Of those in attendance, I saw a mix of people of varying age, but also a number of young people too. Even a couple of old friends of mine from Aurora showed up, and two people from my current Novus Ordo parish I never expected! All in all, it was a great showing that we could pack the chapel full, with standing room only!
As per my usual reporting, here are photos of the altar set up to celebrate the Extraordinary Form:
The chapel of the Mary Lake Shrine, which is usually open for perpetual adoration. The tabernacle ... is to the right of the altar. Yeah, it's construction is "modern."
This is the altar close up, before the Mass began, and before a couple more items were added.
The credence table for the Mass.
These are two of the altar cards that are in the sacristy after Mass, that were on the altar. Interestingly, these are the altar cards of the Mary Lake Shrine!!! I, nor Fr. Steven, had to supply the cards this time around! See the picture above for the center altar card.
- The central topics/themes of the Homily were: The forgotten other half of Mercy, which is justice; The Blessed Virgin Mary; Humility and how the B.V.M. exhibits this humility; the Devil and how he has a total lack of humility.
- On Mercy and justice, Fr. opened up his homily with the theme of Mercy. He likely started with this because this was a Doors of Mercy parish with a Holy Door in the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. He commented on how there are two parts to the Lord's Mercy, and that the virtue of justice is its second component, going hand in hand with Mercy.
- Unfortunately, there is a current trend in our society that is rapidly rising both in our world and in our Church. Father than began to explain how both mercy and virtue must be balanced, and the errors/sins we make when we pursue each too far in their extremes.
- With mercy, it is good and well to forgive those of their faults and transgressions, but we err and overemphasize mercy to the point that we allow the person to not correct their mistakes or work at turning away from their sins, and we actually harm them, giving them license to remain stagnant in their personal and spiritual development.
- Father Steven also commented on the other part of the combination of mercy/justice, that we as humans, err in also overemphasizing justice to the point where we lack mercy. When something or someone wrongs us, our instincts are to lash out and punish the source of offence and injustice. Part of that is a desire of revenge or to serve "justice," though it also reflects the good part of nature to correct the injustice. Unfortunately, the manner in which we do so, can be to the point it is merciless, or malicious in intention, making the virtue inordinate. [Editortial note: I would not be surprised if Father was thinking about the Pharisaical "armchair theologians" that are rising in number on the Internet.]
- ... at this point, I had to go out and change the thurible coals, so I missed a good chunk of the homily. When I came back ....
- Father then was explaining the virtue of humility. While I do not remember the beginning part of the explanation, he did illustrate the example. He wanted us to think of the famous WWE wrestler, Hulk Hogan, a muscular strong opponent. If a little girl were to be his opponent, this would be awful and not humble at all, embarrassing, and cruel, on the part of the Hulkster. If you, as a grown adult tried to fight with all your strength, with honesty and sportsmanship, you would obviously lose, but would lose the challenge with humility at fighting an opponent such as the Hulkster.
- With humility explained, Fr. Steven entered into speaking about Satan and how he exhibited a total lack of humility in his rebellion against God. In heaven, then Lucifer, meaning "bearer of light," had witnessed the creation of the world, especially that of humanity. Looking at that, he could not bear it. How could God create something so inferior and to show his desire and love them. They are mortal beings! We angels are superior and deserve that privilege simply by right that we are pure spiritual beings!
- Were Satan humble, he would have exhibited obedience to his creator, God, and accepted humanity as part of His Divine Plan, and that he created free willed human beings out of the totality of His Love, in being the Divine Creator. Instead, Satan, as an angel with a pure will, made an irreversible decision to rebel against God along with 1/3 of the angels in Heaven [editor comment: which one can logically speculate to include angels of other choirs, like powers, thrones, dominions ... they didn't all just come from one choir.]
- The Devil, was even more furious after the fact, when He decided to make Mary, a virgin, Blessed, in bearing the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ. He chose a human flesh woman, to bear through the family and natural childbirth, our Saviour, to take the form of the World of God made flesh. What a travesty to Satan!!! God, purposely decided to have a human nature, of those fleshlings that Satan so hated with all his being, and further, used a human woman to do so.
- As for Mary, she was the counter to the example of the Devil, the women who would crush the Devil's head, as foretold by God after the Fall of Adam and Eve. Unlike Satan, her "fiat" to willingly accept what God wanted after being told by Gabriel, was accepted in total humility, despite not knowing the totality of it, the risks involved, etc. Being faithful to the Lord in practice of her Jewish Faith, as well as a deep devoted level of the virtue of Faith, she was the example of humility, an example which we should emulate in our lives with the Lord.
When the Mass was over, we were overjoyed, and we all celebrated with refreshments after the Mass in the courtyard space next to the main body of the Church.
Once again, we must thank the Lord Jesus Christ for the mercy and the loving hearts of the Augustinian Fathers, as another parish in the Archdiocese of Toronto, under the merciful and loving pastor ship of His Eminence, Cardinal Thomas Collins, allowed the Extraordinary Form/Latin Mass to occur.
Even though it would be great if a parish like Mary Lake or any of the other Vaughan/Woodbridge parishes would offer a frequent Latin Mass offering for the northern regions of the Archdiocese of Toronto, it is a blessing even a yearly offering occurs at a parish! May we thank the Lord for these offerings, and may we pray steadfast to him for the growth and proliferation of offerings in the Archdiocese of Toronto and the Church, under positive leadership that practices the Joy of the Gospel.
Pax Tibi Christi, Julian