Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rev. Fr. Rob Clements, Rector

I attended an amazing Mass on Sunday at St. Simon and Jude Cathedral (Diocese of Phoenix). My best friend has been going there regularly for the 11:00 am Mass celebrated by the rector, Fr. Clements. He kept telling me good things and I kept wanting to get over there but haven't found the time until this past Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent.

I know Fr. Clements from when he would come out and celebrate Holy Mass for the Mater Misericordiae Latin Mass Indult Community (now a Mission Parish). He's got a beautiful singing voice and knew the rubrics to the TLM to the nine's. He's also an accomplished homilist. I can normally stand fifteen minutes of homily regardless of the subject matter or the speaker, too much more than that requires purposeful focus. I could listen to Fr. Clements for hours.

The settings for the Mass included a troped Kyrie set to music I've never heard but thorougly enjoyed. The Sanctus and Agnus Dei were sung in English to the setting of Veni, Veni Emmanuel (O come, O come Emmanuel). It worked amazingly well. The choir was in the front to the left, which I generally don't care for but here's the kicker: at the offertory the males went up into the choir loft and chanted Creator Alme Siderum. Let's hope they find themselves up there permanently and chanting more regularly.

The priest's chair is situated facing the side of the altar (on the south), from there he faces the altar during those portions where the rubrics do not require him to turn towards the people. The Altar was decorated with a beautiful front piece that matched Father's vestments. On the front in the middle was a Altar Cross. The Altar and the Crucifix were incensed upon ascending to the altar and again at the Offertory. It was solemnly done with the Deacon holding up Father's vestments as he walked around the altar. They both stopped in front of the Crucifix and bowed as it was incensed.

Everyone on the altar, and not a few parishoners, bowed their heads throughout the entire Mass whenever the three Divine Persons were named together, whenever Jesus's name was spoken, and whenever the name Mary touched the lips. Of course, this is the most universally ignored rubric in the Holy Mass when it is celebrated according to the Missal of Paul VI, right after the failure to strike the breast at the Confiteor and make a profound bow during the Creed.

I made a point of telling Father how beautiful Mass was and mentioned how more Latin Chants should be encouraged. His reply? "A little at a time, a little at a time." My heart is lifted to think that the Diocese of Phoenix has begun a much needed (and much desired by the parishoners) liturgical renewal. Incidentally, I began to see these changes when the Indult was finally granted by our beloved Bishop Olmstead. Perhaps it is indirectly due to this permission, but perhaps it has more to do with the heart of a Bishop and those of his priests, who truly love the sacred liturgy in whatever form it takes, knowing that it is the highest form of worship that can be offered to God. We, as Catholics, are each of us blessed to be present at the Eucharistic sacrifice, unworthy though we are. Can we return any greater love to God than to worthily celebrate this form of worship which he has ordered for us and Holy Mother Church has regulated?

May the name of God be praised upon every tongue, and in every heart for the love of God endures forever.

P.S. Father, just in case you're reading: Latin Chant, Latin Chant, Latin Chant, Latin Chant. :)