REPORT: SOLEMN LATIN MASS For the Feast of Christ the King (EF), October 30, 2016, 2PM EST, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Michael, with His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, "In Choir" on the Altar and Homilist
Just a little more than one month ago, on the Sunday of the 30th of October, 2016, one of the most profound events ever to occur in the history of our Archdiocese of Toronto, and in the Church's liturgical history, happened! Despite the many efforts of the Devil through those acting not in obedience to Christ our King, and those who do not take favor to the Latin Mass, a glorious Solemn Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite occurred at 2pm, in Toronto's very own, newly restored, Cathedral Basilica of St Michael's. Not only that, it was done with the permission, and in addition, presence of His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins, on the altar in choir, as well as having His Eminence as the homilist. This Solemn Latin Mass was in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the formation of the St. Patrick`s Gregorian Choir (herein, SPGC,) on this feast day in the Extraordinary Form/Latin Mass liturgical calendar.
PreparationThe organization of this Mass was an endeavor requiring a few months of preparation and logistical planning in advance. Upon acquiring the permission of His Eminence to do the Mass at the Cathedral for the 10th anniversary of SPGC, numerous meetings were conducted and much had to be discussed such as liturgical details, who would be the main clergy members for this position, etc., with input as well from a known quantity in the Archdiocese's for the Latin Mass, Fr. Steven Szakaczki, whom has been involved in Latin Masses around the Archdiocese of Toronto, and is head of the daily Latin Masses in his home parish of St Lawrence the Martyr, Scarborough.
Being such, Fr Szakaczki became the designated celebrant for the Latin Mass. Eventually, it was decided that Fr Michael Simoes, a fairly recent ordinandi in the Archdiocese from 2011, who has become acquainted with the Latin Mass over the last few years, was made the deacon, and a new Young seminarian, a Peter/David, from the Archdiocese of Pembroke, Ontario, was asked on request to be the sub deacon.
While the choir rehearsed for this Mass after their 5pm vigil at their "home base" Church, St Patrick's Toronto under the Redemptorists, liturgical training for the servers was conducted over a series of two practices for the lay members, with seminarians joining us for the final practice Wednesday evening prior to the Mass at the cathedral basilica. The SPGC received a great turnout from our seminarians, with 7 young, future priests in the making who showed interest. These men of the future of our church, respectfully and happily, were given the major serving roles with exception of the Master of Ceremonies, of whom was carried out by our experienced mainstay, the choirmaster's brother. The Cathedral's sacristan, a Mr Ricardo Aleixo, who had been of great help in past at his prior position at St Francis of Assisi and fellow server as our thurifer at Immaculate Conception in 2014, assisted the choir in doing a practice arrangement of the altar to examine any needed changes (e.g. placement of items,) and ensured that all the proper liturgical items of the Cathedral were in place (save items brought in by clergy or other members) for Sunday.
Also during our practice, Surinder was able to practice on the "Phoenix" organ and configure the necessary settings in the limited time granted for the Wednesday practice, just in time for Sunday`s Mass.
The Actual Mass
Finally, the day of the historical Mass came upon us all. An hour's time before the mass, the principal members arrived, ready to suit up and prepare the altar, alongside the staff of the Cathedral. The preparations of all the equipment and vestments was superb, with some of the finest liturgical equipment at our disposal, as this sample below of the credence table and the central altar demonstrate.
The altar, set up and ready for the first, public, Latin Mass in the cathedral basilica since Vatican II.
As per my usual photographs, a picture of the credence table for the Mass. Just look at the beautiful, gilded and metallic Evangelarium! The Ciboria! The Aspensorum and Aspergillus!
The stand for the gothic-style censer and boat that is used by the cathedral basilic.
The choirmaster himself in action, Surinder S. Mundra, beginning the organ prelude to the Solemn Latin Mass, with choir members waiting for the moment to begin singing as if the angels themselves were chanting from Heaven on high.
To the left, members of the 4th Degree Assembly of Cardinal Mcguigan, of the Knights of Columbus.
Just a sampling of the seminarians who were principal servers in the Sacred Liturgy. Please pray for the vocations of these valiant souls and good gentlemen in their journey. While I am pictured here, I was simply placed in order with the last seminarian as we laypersons were of an odd number.
The other laymen in procession, whom were asked to be part of this liturgy in choir. Some of these men have altar served in the SPGC`s organized Masses in past, with myself being the longest of 5 years as of this feast day of Christ the King in 2011.
The Mass proceeded to lead all faithful present in the greatest form of prayer on earth, immersing all there in the foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet (as depicted in the Book of Apocalypse/Revelations,) and Unbloody Sacrifice of the Holy Mass. The choir's Gregorian chants were carried with a strength of many choirs of angels, without sounding like a beating gong, all under the masterful and professional direction of Surinder S. Mundra, with much emotion and dynamic enthusiasm of one who is truly passionate in what they do.
On the liturgical end, our clergy members missed not one cue or step, carrying out the Sacrifice of the Mass in fluid motion, as if the Latin Mass has become second nature, or of "muscle memory" as it were. Even our seminarians, many or all of whom it was their first instance in participating in such roles on the altar in the Extraordinary Form, carried them out as if they had been serving for years in the Extraordinary Form.
As for His Eminence, he was present in Choir on the Gospel side of the altar, in his Cardinal red cassock and mozzetta, wearing a stole for his most prominent part of the Mass, proclaiming the homily, as pictured at the beginning of this report.
- He began by quoting a popular Latin phrase attributed to Christ "Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat." He conquers, he reigns, he commands.
- Going further into more Latin, and a poignant note of the newly restored Cathedral Basilica, overhead the altar is a cross with eight letters: IC XC NI KA. these letters mean "Jesus Christ Conquers."
- He then further went into the history of the Feast, promulgated by Pope Pius XI in 1926. It was highly essential not only as a counter to the Protestant feast day of the Reformation, but because at the time, many secular "kingdoms" of counter example to Christ, had begun to become highly rampant in the world, such as communism in Russia, as well as the emergence of Fascism (under Mussolini) in Italy.
- On this note of kingdoms, in the form of these oppressive governments, His Eminence did allude to the evil of this world that had been commencing at that time, and still goes on today, that necessitates a firm devotion to the Heavenly Kingdom and Kingship of Christ.
- Further he also mentioned a great tie into our modern day, via a newly appointed Saint. During that time period of Pope Pius XI, Mexico was undergoing its own totalitarian regime with its government, suppressing and even executing Catholics for practicing their faith. In retaliation the Cristeros war emerged with their slogan being "Viva Christo Rey!" (Long) Live Christ the King! In this war emerged one of our newest saints, a young boy named Jose Sanchez del Rio, sadly assassinated by execution by the government for his faith, who was recently canonized by Pope Francis this year.
- Taking a note of the presence of St Patrick's Gregorian Choir, he reminisced a prayer of the Saint that speaks to His Majesty, Christ the King. While I do not remember the exact words as to what prayer it was, it was likely the Lorica of St. Patrick, with lines outside of the usual 15 lines starting with ``Christ with me.``
- The best ways we can show our obedience to Christ our King, is in repentance to He, and his Divine Mercy, inwardly and externally. To repent, we must turn our whole selves to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist in the Mass.
When all was said and done, history in the Archdiocese and the Church was made. Our Majesty, Christ the King, has been honored and glorified through the Latin Mass in the "court" of one of his mightiest princes of his Church in our time, a rare event that has happened in Church history since after the changes to the Mass of the 1970 Roman Missal (the novus ordo/vernacular Mass.)
Of those whom were present at this Mass, a great turnout had occurred! Thanks to numerous promotional efforts, both individual and larger scale, via social media sites and print media, The Cathedral was filled to near capacity! According to some friends of one of the choir members, of whom three are working in mathematical/statistics professions, they estimated that over 80% of the Cathedral's main floor space was filled, which was about 1400 people!
What makes me full of joy and hope in the Church was noticing the variety of people present at this Mass! Age wise there was a variance of all age ranges, but particularly noticeable was a significant number of attendees were young adults and children, of which this author recognized a few from past and present communities he has been a part of. Also among the crowd was a few priests from within the Archdiocese, altar servers who have served in Masses in past organized by SPGC, and other members from the choir who were unable to attend practices for this event due to life commitments. Further, groups of people came from all over Ontario from areas such as Brampton, Orangeville, Barrie, etc. with even one group coming outside from Montreal, Quebec! The Quebec group might have been parishioners with the Fraternal Society of St Peter's, as the FSSP has a parish in Montreal.
With the conclusion of this major event in Church history, it is clear that it was "Marvelous. Simply marvelous," to take lines from our celebrant, Fr Steven Szakaczki, post-serving/celebrating the Latin Mass.
The men of this sacred liturgy from the altar: The clergy, the seminarians/servers, and laymen privileged to have been a part of this monumental event. Unfortunately, an opportunity for a photo with His Eminence, was not arranged for those of us on the altar, and we had to clear our belongings and selves out of the Cathedral in haste, due to necessary preparation for their 5 pm Sunday Mass.
The Knights of Columbus of 4th Degree Assembly, Cardinal McGuigan, with His Eminence, Cardinal Collins.
The members of the St. Patrick's Gregorian Choir with His Eminence, with head choirmaster Surinder to the right in formal, Catholic choirmaster attire.
May His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins, continue in his steadfast leadership of the Archdiocese of Toronto's faithful, and continue to be a prominent witness of the sacredness, beauty, and the mercy and redemption of the Catholic Church.
"Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat!"
Pax Tibi Christi, Julian Barkin.