The liturgical wheels are grinding once again for the Latin Mass choirs in the Archdiocese of Toronto. The first Solemn Latin Mass to start the season was organized by the Toronto Traditional Mass Society back on October 7, 2013, with a Solemn TLM commemorating the Battle of Lepanto at St. Cecilia's Catholic Church.
Today, another Solemn Latin Mass was held in our Archdiocese of Toronto, in a location of important note. This afternoon at 315pm , a Solemn TLM was held in the Newman Center at the University of Toronto, via its St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel.
Newman Center at University of Toronto
For those of you who are not familiar with the center, or stick to the Extraordinary Form only, the Newman Center (and its chapel) is an Archdiocesan property in the heart of the University of Toronto, St. George (downtown) campus. The Newman Center house was built in 1809/1891 and the adjacent chapel was built in 1926/1927. Both properties have together ministered to the Catholic students of the University of Toronto for decades, and have also seen their fair share of architectural development (more the chapel) and liturgical change alongside the Catholic Church. The St. Thomas Aquinas chapel became an official parish of the Archdiocese of Toronto in 1995.
Newman Center provides solid, orthodox Catholic ministry to students and working young professionals. The center, through the chapel, provides daily 12:15pm, and Sunday Novus Ordo Masses at 11am and 7pm, for the students, with confessions before Mass. While I haven't been to a Sunday Mass yet, I have attended their Novus Ordo weekday Masses. I will say that you will find a similar tranquility and sacredness to the Low Mass of the EF in those Masses, celebrated by the pastor of the Newman Center, Fr. Chris Cauchi. The Center also provides a great range of programming such as opportunities for catechesis/spiritual nourishment, intramural teams, and even social events. In its multi-faceted approach, the Newman Center has become a home and vibrant community for myself and other young adults in the archdiocese. I am proud to say, these other fellow youth are my best group of Catholic friends that I frequently associate with. They are not Judases or hypocrites in their practice of the Faith. Rather, They are role models for fellow Catholic youth to aspire to in their obligation and devotion to Mass, their passion for the True Catholic Faith, and their warmth and openness in being a Catholic community. For more information please check out http://www.newmantoronto.com/ for their main site, and http://chaplaincy.newmantoronto.com/ for the student specific portion. They can also be found on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/newmanchaplaincy.
Today, liturgical history in the Archdiocese of Toronto was made at the Newman Center St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel. While a Missa Cantata/high Mass was held back in 2009 when the Fraternal Society of St. Peter did a mission here in the (failed) hopes of a possible apostolate, in all likelihood, never, since the establishment of the Novus Ordo and the liturgical changes after Vatican II, has a Solemn Latin Mass been held at the center (again? anyone can clarify this from decades past???) ..... UNTIL NOW.
The Mass at Newman Center Chapel ... Not like the others ....
The St. Patrick's Gregorian Choir, under the direction of Surinder S. Mundra, organized a Solemn Latin Mass for the Feast of Christ the King in the EF calendar. This was quite an exciting change of pace for the choir, as this would be a Mass in the Heart of the downtown Toronto, which also would be even more accessible to the young adults, a group in dire need of ministry in the Church today.
However, there was some logistical issues that needed to be contended with. The chapel had undergone a number of renovations since Vatican II, with such things as it's tabernacle and EF style altar moved to the right side of the chapel like so:
Also, the choir area was behind the main, Vatican II style, Novus Ordo altar. Unfortunately, the direction is ad orientem ("East", towards the Crucifix/Tabernacle) for the Latin Mass, and therefore the choir could NOT be behind the altar. In addition, a number of liturgical items necessary for the celebration of the EF were not present in the Novus Ordo only chapel.
See those benches behind the altar? Those are where the Choir sits in Novus Ordo Masses here. And the Sanctuary? The front part is about as big as your kitchen. Meanwhile there's a big gap space behind it in front of the choir ....
Also, the chapel's 15th Century Gothic style + its rectangular odd shape, plus a "bathtub-like" baptismal font in the middle of the central aisle, and the SMALLEST EVER sanctuary that St. Patrick's Gregorian Choir had to work with, meant a need for creative navigation and planning.
Great. An obstacle course for the processions.
What to do? What to do ..... The choir was able to work out the following solutions:
- Near the tabernacle, some of the benches were moved to create a "choir" area, that could also hold a stand-up Baroque organ, as the Newman Center did not have a working small organ for us to use. This arrangement also created a space whereby the Gospel could be read, with servers in tow:
For your information, notice the Ipad on the stand. That's the choirmaster's. More proof that the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form COMPLEMENT and ``mutually enrich`` one another (Ha Ha Ha! ok that was my lame attempt at a liturgical joke)
- Due to the space constraints, the altar servers HAD to be in the "choir" area for the Novus Ordo masses. This also mean timing adjustments (with help from our MC cue-ing us) to be able to cross the "Gap" from the choir area to the altar/credence table.
- Many of the liturgical items had to be brought in to the Newman Center, such as the altar linens, candles, altar cards, paten, clergy robes, etc. Thankfully, a parish or two allowed for the borrowing of their items (possibly St. Pius X archdiocesan, one of the Servimus practice sites??? seeking confirmation please), and one of the choir members had a couple of liturgical items, plus a set of altar cards framed for usage in the Mass.
Quite a bit had to be brought in ....
- To the center's credit, thurible items were provided, including a traditional boat like in my serving post, cruets, and ciboria, and maybe two of the altar candles.
Lo and behold, with the best we could do, the Newman Chapel was fit as could be for the Solemn Latin Mass.
One converted EF altar .....
..... a set of sediliae with the chairs provided
.... and one credence table with a lot more room than we are used to, and Voila! One EF converted St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center Chapel Complete!
Before the mass occurred, our MC went over all our parts with the program booklet that was provided. In addition, we had to do some alterations for our processions and our roles in the Mass with the odd sanctuary setup.
And then ... we got a number of blessings in surprise. Originally, we were going into the Mass with a bare minimum setup for altar serving of MC, two acolytes and a thurifer. Unconfirmed and unknown to us, two of the St. Lawrence the Martyr Scarborough servers appeared and offered their serving skills for our Mass, and we were able to do a full complement with boat bearer and a crucifer! I couldn't believe it!
Further, while I do not have exact numbers, I would estimate that the chapel's pews could fit about 200-250 people, give or take some, and the chapel was at least 1/2 full by the time Mass was underway!
There were also quite a few young adults and youth within the congregation. As a couple of examples, one gentleman came from Mississauga by transit with his two sons to this Mass. Also, I was able to meet another student who was attending university and aligned with ```Trinity College`` in the U of T college system. Some Newman parishioners from the 11am Mass even purposely stayed to attend the Latin Mass at 315pm!
We were also fortunate to have our clergy with us in carrying out the Latin Mass, of which all three members had, or continue to assist, the St. Pat`s Choir in their Masses. Once again, Fr. Steven Szakaczki, Latin Mass chaplain of St. Lawrence the Martyr, graciously took on the celebrant role of our Latin Mass, with (also once again, a recent 2010 ordinandi) Fr. Russell Asch from St. Patrick`s Markham as deacon, and a seminarian, Eric Mason, returning after a long absence (from SPGC masses) as our sub-deacon from the diocese of Peterborough.
Now ... the Mass itself
Despite all the logistical issues we had to face as a choir, both on the choir end and the serving ends, leading up to this Mass and while carrying it out in the St. Thomas Aquinas chapel, we were able to effectively carry out the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Solemn Latin Mass (in our respective roles, of course.).
Our servers were attentive to the cues from the Master of ceremonies, carried out their respective roles proficiently, and navigated the odd-structured sanctuary and chapel with ease. It was clear that their reverence and their dedication to their service was present, and we were in collective agreement that we were mostly together for this Mass, with no major hiccups.
As for the choir, they sang like sweet angels from above, and demonstrated the fruits of their hard work, the results of weekly 2 hour practices every after the 5pm Mass at St. Patrick's Toronto's 5pm Saturday Vigil.
Due credit though, must also be attributed to the choirmaster, Surinder S. Mundra. Not only did he do an incredible job in conducting the choir, but his vocals were outstanding in his lead parts. The laity truly were able to witness the sacredness and strength of properly conducted Gregorian Chant in his leadership and when he sang. This was particularly present in his baritone (or alto) register portions, which demonstrated the full, sacred power of Gregorian Chant in the voice of a human being, to be able to elevate the soul and mind to Heaven.
Homily in the Mass (What I could remember, and paraphrasing much here .....)
As for the Homily in the Mass, the homilist was Fr. Szakaczki, the celebrant. Interestingly enough, Father discussed the Latin Mass prior to his homily and some of the noted differences between the two forms before getting into his main homily. During the ``introduction`` as it were, besides the mention of receiving communion, Father discussed the actions/"t"raditions in an interesting way. Instead of the pitting of the forms against each other, as mistakenly and commonly portrayed by clergy in their homilies, he mentioned how the traditions are important to the Novus Ordo, and what they are meant to demonstrate with regards to it, or how they tie into it. This put a smile on my face, and was vitally important. Since the Newman Center is a Novus Ordo parish, I was pleased at the direction Fr. Szakaczki took, since certain members of the laity might have never been to a Latin Mass until now. This is exactly the kind of direction the Latin Mass/Priests/those who are voices for the Latin Mass need to take, to connect the two forms, that is, that they are "mutually enriching" and complementary to one another, as Benedict XVI hoped would be expressed in his promotion of the EF. Also this approach respected the parish and its pastor, who administers to the faithful with the Novus Ordo.
Then, Fr. Szakaczki began his homily. From what I did remember, he began by talking about systems of government, because a kingdom is a system of government, tied to a monarchy/patriarchy. It was to tie into the Kingship of Christ, but also he questioned all listening about what kind of system of government would we desire: One where we are to be ruled over by a ruler, with strict force and order, or do we prefer one where we have the freedom to elect our representatives and be able to speak out minds on topics and freedom of religion? There are places in the world where the former exists, and where we are not free to live or speak out against the ruler, lest our families be subject to torture, and ourselves imprisoned or killed. We might perceive the old style kingdoms as such, but this is NOT the kind of "Kingship" that Christ has over us.
Fr. might have said other things after this, but he then proceeded to discuss the kingship of Christ vs. the false "kingship" of Satan, that our world has over us. His kingship is an empty one, where we are perceived to be our own kings, and we can do whatever we want. However, when we succumb to such a selfish kingship, we are truly empty and impoverished with our sins (actions), and we are not happy. It is a kingdom of one, a lonely kingdom, without love or happiness, where we are false masters of ourselves. (It's really the Evil One who is truly our master with those choices). This is especially true when we commit Mortal Sins. We separate ourselves from the Lord, and it makes it that much more easier for us to co-operate with the Evil One, a.k.a. sinning more and more (easily?). However, the Kingship of Christ is one where it is Love that reigns supreme. It is the opposite of the kingship of the Devil. Yes, His kingdom is in heaven, but his reign of ultimate Love extends to that on earth. This is the kingship we should be seeking out. And if there are those things or people in our lives that are causing us to turn to the false kingship of the Devil, we are to remove ourself from those things or people who are of that kingship (editorial note: I am sure Fr. did not imply we cast those people out of our lives off the bat. If we can administer to them and bring them to the Lord, then we give it our best evangelization.)
Finally, after the homily, Father prayed in public the ``Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer`` prayer for the intention of gaining a plenary indulgence on this Feast Day. For more information on the indulgence, see this informative post from traditionalist priest, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf.
I will say one additional note of editorial commentary here. The servers had to be "versus populum" as it were due to the sanctuary's odd configuration and lack of space to be properly seated behind the sediliae of the sacred ministers. Therefore, during the Mass of the Canons (2nd part), we got to see Father do the consecrations as if we were in a Novus Ordo Mass. When I witnessed Father Szakaczki elevate the host, with his hands in EF configuration, it was if there was something different in the event. While I mean no division in the two forms of the rite, I must say, there was something different in seeing him elevate the Sacred Species. Even with the same silence, the same type of bell ringing (four bell cross type), it was ... different. There was something there going on in those elevations that was awesome .... It simply was. It gives me personal food for thought, to try and apply this the next time I attend Novus Ordo Masses at the consecrations.
All in all, the whole choir performed admirably. A beautiful Solemn Latin Mass was brought to the university of Toronto's Newman community in the downtown of Toronto since Vatican II arrived. We (both servers and choir members), were grateful for this opportunity, and thank sincerely the Newman Center staff, including the pastor Fr. Chris Cauchi, who allowed the Mass to take place in the Chapel, and worked well with us to make it happen.
Between Fr. Cauchi's pastor-ship, the Newman community's openness to such beautiful and sacred liturgy in the Latin Mass (that includes a number of my friends), and all the other parts of the center, is it no wonder I keep coming back there? There clearly is something happening here with the young adults in the Archdiocese of Toronto. What will be part of the future of the Church is clearly here at Newman Center.
Most of the choir and servers, with some of the Clergy. Liturgical history was made!
Pax Tibi Christ, Julian Barkin.