Friday, November 17


The Power of Beautiful Liturgy

In Thursday's Notre Dame paper, Rev. Richard Warner, CSC, the director of campus ministry, reflects on the experience of those who have watched the televised Mass on the Hallmark Channel:

Mass from Notre Dame means a lot

They love the astounding beauty of the Basilica. They enjoy the music and the homilies, which they can access each week on the Campus Ministry website. They write to tell us how impressed they are by the large number of young men and women who are present for Mass, and how this gives them joy and hope for the future of the Catholic Church in our country.

They like the wide age spread of the Holy Cross priests who preside at the Masses. And they let us in on especially touching moments in their lives.

One man wrote to tell us that for six months before his wife died of cancer, the two of them "attended" Mass together every Sunday while holding hands and watching the Mass from Notre Dame. At the end of the Mass, their daughter, who serves as a Eucharistic minister in their parish, brought them the Eucharist.

A woman from California told us that, while she was channel-surfing one Sunday morning while taking a break from gardening, she happened upon the Mass. After more than twenty years as a lapsed Catholic, she started watching the Mass each week. A love for the Church and the Eucharist was reawakened in her heart, and she wrote about the joy she now experiences after returning to the Church last Easter.

The director of an RCIA program in her parish in Colorado told us of a young man who dropped out of the program last year. He rejoined it as a result of a homily in which the priest asked the question, "Where would we be without the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?" He realized that was why he wanted to become a Catholic, and did so in April.

These kinds of things of stories fill me with pride at having been a part of this as a member of the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir (which is giving a reunion concert tomorrow night at 8:30 in the Basilica, for those in the South Bend area), as well as great hope for the future of the Church, that people are awakening to the power of beautiful liturgy and its ability to bring people to Christ. I see this, too, in my own parish, where people are greatly affected by the beauty of the liturgy and music, people who in some cases had not experienced such beauty in many years. These aren't people of particularly conscious traditionalist bent (or they might have sought out an indult Mass more thoroughly), indeed in some cases not people who were even of particularly religous bent beforehand, but the beauty of the liturgy led them to an increase in faith. This is what doing the Missa Normativa well can mean to people - there were indeed problems in its genesis, we can acknowledge and try to improve that, but let's remember that it can and does lead people closer to Christ and to reconciliation with his Church. If we are to move forward constructively, we must not be so blinded by the abuses over the past 40 years so as to forget that. If, as Dostoyevsky put it, "Beauty will save the world," here is a concrete example of it leading people closer to Our Lord through beautiful music, a beautiful church, and a beautifully celebrated liturgy.

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