Sunday, 5 November 2017

Report: Solemn Latin Mass for Feast of Christ the King, Sunday Oct 29, 2017 in the Archdiocese of Toronto


Hello everyone,

This past Sunday, October 29, 2017, was the Feast of Christ the King in the Extraordinary Form (aka, EF, Latin Mass,) liturgical Calendar of the Roman Rite in the Catholic Church. On this feast day, the St Patrick’s Gregorian Choir (herein, SPGC,) once again organized a Solemn Latin Mass in the Archdiocese of Toronto, on what was their 11th anniversary of formation. The Latin Mass was held in the area of North York in the Greater Toronto Area, at St Edward the Confessor parish at 75 Churchill Ave, at 3pm EST this past Sunday.

Notes of importance

With this offering of the TLM, some notes of importance that must be mentioned, showing how much the Latin Mass is growing and starting to reach an impact in our parish communities. When the TLM is promoted by those who: express solidarity with our Holy Father and the Catholic Church
expressing the positive Joy of the Gospel, and actually practicing what Pope Francis professes in his homilies (including daily "fervorinos") instead of: jealousy, detraction/slander, and even declarations of heresy in various form of communications (e.g. letters, “Tweets,” emails,) positive fruits such as the following occur:

  • For this solemn Mass, we had a seminarian almost finished his studies, as well as an actual permanent deacon, in the clergy roles of sub-deacon and deacon respectively.
  • The seminarian has assisted at Latin Masses in serving roles, but in this Mass, this was his first time as one of the three clergy roles, as the sub-deacon! Another first for the EF!
  • The permanent deacon, was actually the deacon of the hosting parish! He had assisted for the first time in a Latin Mass, at the June 2017 Sacred Heart TLM organized by St Patrick’s Gregorian Choir. He was happy to assist again with his home parish community!
  • We also had another two men in formation, including a seminarian of St. Augustine`s in Toronto in his pastoral 3rd year @ St. Edward's, and the other has been in past offerings of the TLM/EF organized by SPGC, who were in choir on the altar! Deo Gratias for the interest of those men in formation who are being exposed and/or willingly seeking out the TLM despite no formal courses in seminary!
  • On the serving end of things, our thurifer was another gentleman stationed at the parish who is in formation for the permanent diaconate program at St Augustine’s Seminary! Also we had a new young man to the scene of SPGC offerings, a senior in high school who has started becoming involved in TLM serving! Welcome J!

Pre-Mass Preparations

Once the Mass site was confirmed, preparations were underway. The master of Ceremonies, who usually is responsible for server training and providing direction for the clergy roles* (with assistance from the priest celebrant,) set up practices for both clergy and servers, with an additional practice for the clergy due to the deacon & sub-deacon being new in their clergy roles, or becoming more proficient at their role from their last occasion of doing so in the EF.

The servers, with the clergy, did a combined practice the week before the Mass, where roles were given to the servers based on their experience, and the practice went well between those involved in the liturgy of the Mass on the Altar. Good instruction was given to all parties by the MC and celebrant (a veteran and blessed soul to all parties in the Latin Mass community in Toronto, Fr. Russell Asch,) alongside a guest Master of Ceremonies who has been helping out with other Mass offerings in the archdiocese. The instruction was well received by clergy and servers.

The actual Mass on Sunday Oct 29, 2017

Prior to starting time of 3pm, all clergy and serving members arrived promptly, and the altar was set up in good time.

Side view of the Gospel side of the altar, with credence table in the background, as well as the sediliae arranged, and server's seating with Latin/English translation of readings and propers in pamphlets.

View of the main altar prior to mass, with some laity in the pews in the nave.

Closer picture of the altar setup for the sacred liturgy. 

Final small notes/pointers/assistance were reviewed in the sacristy for those involved in the liturgy, and all members donned their robes prior to the start time. In addition, the pastor of the parish was able to assist some lay members who requested the Sacrament of Confession prior to Mass (Deo Gratias!) Then, at 3PM EST, we who were to be on the altar of the Lord, processed from the back of the nave of the parish, towards the altar to begin the Holy Sacrifice of all time in the Liturgy of the Mass. 

Entrance Procession picture 1

Entrance Procession picture 2. I, the author, was Acolyte 1, and can be seen on the right side with candle in arms behind the crucifer and next to Acolyte 2.  

Prayers at the Foot of the Altar with the clergy and the Master of Ceremonies (kneeling). Celebrant/Priest Fr. Asch is in center, with Deacon on the right (in Dalmatic, noted by two horizontal bars on his back), and Sub-deacon on the left (in Tunicle, noted by one horizontal bar on his back.) 

Thankfully, on this occasion, I was able to retain a good portion of points of the Homily from our celebrant, and jotted notes down after the Holy Mass that night. While these points may not be verbatim what the good and Holy Father said, much was remembered, giving a taste of the excellent preaching done in the EF liturgy. The homily from Fr. Asch, was quite interesting, inter-weaving the themes of Christ our Lord and King and children, a take this author has not seen nor thought could relate with this Feast, having served Mass on this feast day in the EF for the past 6 years [coincidentally, the 6th anniversary of my foray into altar serving in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite]:

  • Fr. Asch began by re-reading the first lines of the Gradual (Psalm 71: 8, 11) "He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth .... And all kings shall adore Him, all nations shall serve Him."
  • The feast of Christ the King should have particular interest to us, particularly as the state of our world appears to be coming more and more dark, for example, in the realm of politics [Editorial note: Fr Asch might have been referring to the USA under Donald Trump as well as Kim Jong Un in Korea, but I didn’t ask him for specifics.]
  • When we think of this feast day, we might conjure up images, of our devotion to the image of the Infant Christ the King adored in crown.
  • Being at the time of year it is, on Halloween weekend, most children take simple delight in this annual activity of trick-or-treating. When they dress up and go around collecting candy, they enjoy themselves, with pure joy in the moment with their treats. They are satisfied in the moment at such an activity. It is this simplicity that one should apply in terms of us approaching our Lord. 
    • On a related side note to Halloween, Fr Asch also rightly commentated on how such a fun thing for our children has become so distorted by secular society in many ways, one being making Halloween grotesque. He recalled taking his younger nephew to a Halloween store where a figure of a zombie or a demon was eating the flesh of a human or its own flesh was present and it unsettled his poor nephew in a queasy way.
  • Moving onward Fr Asch then began to describe briefly the development of this feast day in the liturgical Calendar, being different from the Novus Ordo in that it is the last Sunday in October.
  • Pius XI, in 1925, when he wrote the encyclical QUAS PRIMAS, has likely positioned the feast day in the calendar for the last Sunday in October for two central reasons: 
    • The first was that Pope has such Awe [as in rightful spiritual Fear of the Lord, as per the Gift of the Holy Spirit] for Christ as King of the Universe, he was trembling in instilling such a feast day. 
    • The second would be that there were other important feasts in the calendar and focuses in October, such as October being a month of the Rosary and being associated with Mary. 
  • Mentioning Mary, Fr then discussed the two devotions of the Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart, encouraging such devotions, but also discussing the Hearts and their relation to Christ the King, as well as Mary being full of Grace, the grace needed to carry out God's will (including the birthing of Christ, who would be King.) 
  • In discussing this, Father had a visual reference for those present, in a vintage plaque of the Sacred Hearts side by side with a Latin Inscription around the borders of the ovals of Christ and Mary, placed in front of the Pulpit before Mass began, as seen below in this picture of the Homily at Mass:
Homily at the Mass. While small, notice the picture of the two Hearts below the pulpit on the little table. 

  • Fr. also then tied back the theme of children and their simplicity and innocence back to family hood from describing the Holy Family with the devotions. In terms of the kingship of Christ and how we should relate to it, it is analogous to a son who adores his father with genuine and simple love, no strings attached, and even wants to be part of him via admiration of his profession, being “just like Dad.”
  • Our Lord Jesus Christ is like that father, allowing us to partake in that shared life of His via the Sacraments and in obeying His and the Church's teachings. In that, is where our Lord shows his love, compassion, and mercy for us as adopted children of God.
  • Most of all, we are given a choice freely in life as to whether we choose to live that life or not in his Kingdom forever. To illustrate that choice, Fr described headstones on a grave site. The birth date and the death date are emphasized, but really the most important part should be the "dash", that whole life of the person. 
  • Spiritually speaking, we should be making every moment of our lives count to that effect, particularly they should we separate ourselves from our Lord with sin, it will be even one act of Confession that shall redeem ourselves, graciously given by the Lord, to restore and keep us in his Sanctifying Grace. 
  • We should make every opportunity possible in our lives to adore our King and be willing to be with our Lord in his kingdom, be that prayers, rosaries, sacraments, indulgences ... we should make every effort count! 
  • Because in the end, there are but two kingdoms we can choose to partake in, two standards which we can choose one to bear. The first the standard of a tyrannical and ruthless kingdom akin to Babylon, with a merciless King and war and endless suffering, or the second akin to a Eternal “Jerusalem” where by the merciful and loving King, Our Lord Jesus Christ, rules with love and true mercy. Which standard do you choose to bear?"
  • Fr then ended the Homily by praying a Hail Mary, a "t"radition I have witnessed enough at the Latin Mass, though this is not something that is forced upon priests to perform as part of the liturgy of the Latin Mass. 

As for the rest of the liturgy, despite a few cues here and there for the new clergymen, and this author's usual nerves, the Mass was carried out with beauty and solemnity in my Archdiocese of Toronto that fall day. The rest of the servers carried out their roles proficiently, and all present walked away after the Mass peaceful in our hearts and souls. 

As an added bonus for the souls of the faithful present, prior to the exit procession, Fr. Asch knelt down before the foot of the altar, to recite the beautiful prayer of the Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King (Iesu dulcissime, Redemptor.) This prayer, when said publicly on the Feast 
of the Christ the King, grants the souls present a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions: Sacrament of confession, communion, and prayers for the Holy Father`s intentions (minimum 1x Our Father and 1x Hail Mary) within 20 days of the indulgenced act (see general conditions, "The Gift of the Indulgenced Act").
Exit procession of the servers and the clergy. 

In attendance was about 100 strong, in a Church containing a pew capacity of maybe 400-500, with what was likely a number of local parishioners of the parish, as well as experienced Latin Mass attendees, based on the number of mantillas I witnessed in the pews from the altar. 

Many thanks is given to all those involved in the planning and partaking of this liturgy, and even to those laymen who graciously assisted with the collection (Thank you, Ramon and Anthony,) but especially to those deacons, the deacon in formation (our thurifer above), and the seminarians who were present in choir. Your presence is a God-send and a ray of hope for the future of the Church, and in the promotion of sacredness in the Liturgy via your interest in the Latin Mass. Thanks is also given to the pastor of St. Edward, "Fr. Pat," who graciously allowed this offering to occur in the parish that afternoon, and for providing confessions to those souls who needed the Sacrament of God's infinite Mercy and Love.  

Pax Tibi Christi, Julian Barkin. 

* Let me state for the record that this is NOT unusual, in the current state of the return of the Latin Mass, that competent laymen or future clergy who are Masters of Ceremonies, are providing direction to both serving and clergy. Worldwide, the number of competent priests knowledgeable in celebrating the EF, still needs to grow to a large enough number that they will be available to take on the bulk of the training of liturgical roles in the Latin Mass, in addition to their normal parish duties. In addition, it is a primary duty of the MC, to ensure that the liturgy is carried out properly and if necessary, to provide assistance and cues even in the liturgy, to see such a goal is carried out properly. As for the Archdiocese of Toronto, let it be stated that SPGC is NOT the only choir/lay initiative who is allowing for such MC/lay assistance in the training, preparation, and carrying out of the EF liturgy to be occurring in this manner. Let it be the Will of the Lord that one day, that the Church will once again have a plentiful number of competent priests who can be responsible for training in all aspects of the EF liturgy, though it should still be welcome that laymen will continue to take an active interest in the sacred liturgy of the EF, and have such knowledge to be able to assist priests in certain duties.