September 12, 2020 Column Father De Celles

Liturgical Changes. A few weeks back I sent out a survey about some possible changes in liturgy and the schedule. Thanks for your amazing participation: 690 folks responded. It was not a vote, but it did help me to receive your input.

            Interpreting the results is a little tricky. For example, on many of the questions that asked, “What would your reaction be if…” almost half of you responded, “It wouldn’t make any difference to me.” How to interpret that? Perhaps I’m wrong, but I tend to interpret that as trusting me to make the best decision. Of course, that in turn could heavily weight my interpretation of the rest of the answers: if 30% were in favor of a change I wanted make, and 50% said “It wouldn’t make any difference to me,” I might reasonably interpret that to mean that 80% would support the change I wanted.

            Moreover, looking at the survey as a whole, without any “filters,” it’s possible that all the folks who supported the change I wanted might all attend just one Mass, while the people at another Mass might be unhappy with the change. For example, if the 600 people attending the 10:30/11am Mass supported a change at the 7am Mass, but all 200 people that attend the 7am Mass did not, that would mean 600 “for and 200 “against”—even though the 600 don’t even go to that Mass. So, I was able to isolate the responses for folks who regularly attend the different Masses, to I could see what the people at each Mass were thinking.

            Results and Decisions: Mass Times. First, let’s consider the questions about the Mass times: do we keep them as they are now or change back to the regular schedule when the Covid shutdown ends completely? Well, it hasn’t ended completely, so I won’t decide quite yet. But the survey did give me some guidance, sort of.

I say “sort of” because when it came to Sunday Masses you were almost evenly divided: 52% in favor of changing back, and 48% in favor of keeping the new Covid schedule permanently.

But when it came to Weekday Morning Mass times, the results were  a little clearer, but not a mandate: 57% in favor of keeping the new Covid schedule permanently (with 8:30am Mass), and 43% in favor of changing back (with 8am Mass).

Results and Decisions: Ad Orientem. Four of the questions concerned changing Masses to “ad orientem” (the priest standing at the altar facing the same way as the people). Here is where the “It wouldn’t make any difference” answers come into play. If I consider this group as being supportive of whatever my choice is—and my preference is “ad orientem”—the survey shows 66% would be happy to change all the Masses to “ad orientem.”

But breaking it down by Mass, and counting only the responses of the folks who go to each Mass, gives us a slightly different picture. If I count those to whom “It wouldn’t make any difference” as supportive of my preference then we still come up with between 66% and 84% supportive of changing each Mass to “ad orientem.” But if we exclude that group, and only count those who indicated a clear preference, we find some important “nuances.”

Given all this, and prayerfully considering your advice, this is my decision: all Sunday morning Masses (7, 8:45/9, 10:30/11) will be offered “ad orientem,” while the 5pm Saturday and 12:15/1pm Sunday Mass (TWO) will remain “versus populum” (facing the people). If the 5pm Sunday returns, it will be offered “ad orientem.”

In addition, all Weekday and Saturday morning Masses will be offered “ad orientem.”

Results and Decisions: Latin Canon. One final question asked about the priest saying the Latin version of the Eucharistic Prayer at every 8:45/9am Mass (this is now done only on the 2nd Sunday every month). Regardless of how we count, the folks at this Mass were overwhelmingly supportive of adopting my proposed change: 84% with the “no difference” answers, and 66% counting only those with clear preferences. So, from now on the priest at every 8:45/9am Mass will pray the Eucharistic Prayer in Latin.

Exceptions. Not every priest feels comfortable saying Mass either “ad orientem” or in Latin, as Fr. Willard and I do. So when visiting priests come to help us (e.g., Fr. Daly, Fr. Rippy, etc.) they will have the option to say Mass “versus populum” and in English.

Conclusion. I’ve tried to be considerate of your thoughts and sensitivities. Please trust me in the decisions I’ve made, and let’s all go forward in peace to worship the Lord in all reverence and love.

Thanks. I want to thank Brenda Doroski for her 5 year service as coordinator of our lectors at Mass. Not only did she schedule and train our lectors, but she also filled in whenever no other was available. But now she has retired and plans to be moving closer to her parents in North Carolina. God bless you, Brenda, and thanks for your service.

Requiescat in Pace. I lost two friends recently, but have confidence they are on their way to heaven.

            Fr. Paul Mankowski, SJ, died from a brain aneurism on September 3, at the age of only 66. The Jesuits have had their problems over the last few decades, but when you find a good Jesuit, you’ve found a great priest. Fr. Mankowski was one of those.

As the former editor of Catholic World Report (CWR) Phil Lawler wrote: “That he was a prodigious intellect is beyond dispute. He earned advanced degrees at Harvard and Oxford. He was fluent in multiple languages… advised Vatican prelates, and more than once I detected a familiar style of prose in an official document from the Holy See….”

He was also perhaps the wittiest man I ever met: for those of you who are familiar with it, he was the anonymous author of most of CWR’s hilariously clever “Diogenes” columns.

A kind and humble man, a great priest. His death is a loss to the Church on earth. But I’m sure he will be cajoling the Lord in Heaven on our behalf.

Also, Eleanor Mazzei, long-time St. Raymond parishioner and choir member, died on August 30, just a few months short of her 100th birthday. Eleanor was a lovely and sweet gal—we hit it off the first time we met. She will be missed, but she will, I’m sure, soon add a sweet voice to the choirs of heaven.

Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Vacation–Again. I’m back. I had a great trip to Anchorage, Alaska, for the wedding of former parishioner Christine Forbes (John and Geri Forbes’ daughter). I then flew down to Medford, Oregon, to visit our former parish secretary Monica Lyons (ne: Montanaro) and her young family, including my almost 3-year-old goddaughter, Magdalene.

            Just fyi, I’ll be off again at the end of this month for a week’s golf in Williamsburg. I know I’m bunching up a lot of vacation here, but just chalk this up to another effect of Covid-19.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles