Sunday, 22 October 2017

Being a Catholic In Wilber, Nebraska

As is obvious from my profile to the right, I am a Traditional Catholic. I prefer the Mass and Sacraments as celebrated according to the approved liturgical books of 1962 and I recite the Roman Breviary as reformed by Pope John XXIII or the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin according to the Carmelite Rite in its last preconciliar recension.

However, since I no longer drive and the nearest Traditional Latin Mass is just a bit over 25 miles away, I am constrained to attend the Mass of Pope Paul VI. In the past, this has been a source of frustration and ofttimes anger for me, but now I'm blessed to live in the most orthodox Diocese in the US, the Diocese of Lincoln,  under our Bishop, His Excellency James Douglas Conley.

Many years ago, I had occasion to hear Mass in St Mary's Church, across the street from the State Capitol in Lincoln. After Mass, I approached the Celebrant and told him that in all the years I had been Catholic, I had never seen the Mass of Paul VI celebrated strictly according to the rubrics, or as Father Z would say by, 'saying the black, and doing the red'. Father replied that I could have attended any Church in the Diocese because that was just the way it was done under His Excellency Fabian Bruskewitz, the Ordinary at the time. A gentleman who overheard my remark said that Bishop Flavin, Bishop Bruskewitz's predecessor, had spent his entire time as Bishop building a wall around the Diocese and that Bishop Bruskewitz was adding to it brick by brick! I can honestly say that Bishop Conley is continuing the construction! And, we have St Gregory the Great Diocesan Seminary, envisioned by Bishop Flavin and brought to fruition by Bishop Bruskewitz. In a post-conciliar era of closing diocesan seminaries, as it says in the history of the seminary, 'It is the first free-standing diocesan seminary to be opened in the United States for many decades.'


We are, to my knowledge, the only Diocese in the US that does not allow girls to serve the altar or employ Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Boys serve the Altar, but they are never called 'acolytes', because assisting the Celebrant in the Sanctuary, and distributing Holy Communion, are mature men who are instituted acolytes, an official ministry in the Rite of Paul VI.


Not only are our Bishop and Clergy solidly orthodox, we also have an FSSP Parish in Lincoln offering the Traditional Latin Mass, the FSSP's Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton (the TLM that's 25 miles from me), and the Traditional Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, in Valparaiso.


So what does this mean for a crotchety old curmudgeon in a little rural town? Well, it means that when I go to Mass, I know that it will be straight from the book. When we have a visiting Priest, as we did today, I know that his Mass will be identical to my Pastor's Mass next week. For the first time in my Catholic life, I'm actually considering buying a Missal of Paul VI. In the past, I saw no reason to do so, since every Priest seemed to be making up his own Mass as he went along, no matter what was printed in the missal or what the rubrics said. Why invest in a missal if I couldn't even follow the Masses I was hearing?

It means that I can expect solid Catholic teaching in the homilies. We hear about sin, the necessity for confession, fasting, Holy Days of Obligation, Fatima, Consecration to Mary, the Rosary, etc. You know, all that stuff that got 'de-emphasised' after Vatican II.

It means I belong to a vibrant Catholic Parish, albeit a small one. We don't have 'coffee hour' every Sunday, but when we do, I don't plan on eating lunch! The preparation is taken on by Parish families in an alphabetic rotation. This morning, the Priest announced that there would be coffee and rolls after Mass. We did have cake, but I didn't see any rolls! What I did see in addition to the cake, was biscuits and gravy, a breakfast casserole of bacon, eggs, potatoes, and corn, a fruit salad, and a couple of dishes that I didn't sample. We did, however have coffee (and orange juice).

It means that when our Patronal Feast of St Wenceslaus, Patron of Prague, Bohemia and the Czech Republic, as well our little Parish in the Czech Capital of the US,  rolled around, we celebrated the External Solemnity the Sunday before since it was on Thursday this year. Our Mass was as 'High' as we could get. Extra servers, incense, and all sung. After Mass, we had a Eucharistic Procession through the town to the outdoor Czech Theatre, where Father offered Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. On the way to the theatre we prayed the Rosary in unison, and on the return trip we sang old, traditional hymns. After the procession, we adjourned to St Ludmila's Hall, our Church basement, named for St Wenceslaus' grandmother who taught him the Catholic Faith. There we feasted on a potluck! I can't even remember all the dishes we had, but the centrepiece was duck, dumplings and sauerkraut, a traditional Bohemian feast day meal.

It means that, for the first time since I left my FSSP Latin Mass Community over ten years ago, I feel at home in the Parish I attend Mass in!

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