By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK
I recently received a wonderful handwritten letter from a young husband and father. So often parishes are the brunt of abusive and unkind behavior on the part of Catholics who are in the midst of a struggle with their own maturity or lack of commitment. Many who say they are Catholic seem to have little or no love for the Church and her members.
I share with you here a refreshingly different openness that comes with faith that is radically open to Christ, who comes to us through the Church. My voice broke with emotion as I shared this letter with my parishioners at a Sunday Mass, touched as I was by someone who is open to loving my parish of St. Francis de Sales as much as I and many others do.
He also goes into detail about his newfound love for the Traditional Latin Mass and illuminates the reasons why so many young Catholics are converting back to the faith of the Church through her ancient worship.
“On behalf of my entire family, we hope you and your entire parish had a wonderful pastoral feast day. We think often of St. Francis de Sales and the warmth we experienced there, whether the lovely woman who prayed over F. or your own generosity in speaking with us and extending gifts. You and your parish are very special and we hope that the small gift enclosed is a boon to the organ fund or whatever else is needed.
“I’ve also included a picture of F.; like all infants she is curious but I have noticed that she is particularly drawn to Catholic items: crucifixes, statues of our Lady, a blessed icon in our living room and rosaries. I pray with her often and her interest in rosaries remains. Unlike everything else, which she reaches for and tries to put in her mouth, she continues to look intently at our blessed rosaries yet not grab at them. That certainly could and probably will change, but F. is well on her Catholic way.
“I have attended two Latin Masses in my life so far — both at St. Francis. I am a cradle Catholic, but I have undergone a deep conversion over the last six years. My wife, M., has played a role in these conversions as has the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which I increasingly avail myself of on a monthly basis. I also gave much deeper engagement with the liturgy, whether daily or Sunday.
“This brings me back to the Latin Mass. The first one I attended was the Saturday after Thanksgiving last year at St. Francis de Sales. Prior to this, my prayer life had greatly developed and included some contemplative prayer. I also read some of Robert Cardinal Sarah’s reflections on silence and the liturgy.
“All of this truly coalesced during the Latin Mass. I find the form, gestures, and language all have an inherent reverential character yet even more than this is the silence that pervades the liturgy. It is so thankfully opposite the world at large — noisy and largely meaningless — in addition to highlighting exactly how God speaks to us in the silence of our hearts.
“I was struck from the first moments of the Latin Mass with a liturgy that was constituted largely by silence. Granted, the priest is audibly praying, yet even these whispers reinforce and strengthen the silence and reverence that jointly palpitate with God’s presence.
“My wife and I are lucky to have a very experienced and wonderful priest in our parish in Morgantown. I also was fortunate that Benedictines staffed the West Virginia University parish for two years. At both churches, and numerous others as well, we have been a part of reverential and wonderful liturgies.
“However, the Latin Mass is different. It is truly and incandescently different, and I am glad the Spirit moved me to attend the Mass over Thanksgiving break. I very much miss it already. There are not very many local opportunities for the Latin Mass. (I believe Pittsburgh offers some, but it is too far for now with an infant.) We are still ‘temporary’ in our current location; otherwise, I’d look into petitioning for a Latin Mass in the area.
“I pray that our future parish or situation offers that as well as perpetual adoration. Perhaps that parish will be St. Francis de Sales. Whatever God has in mind is great and we are so happy with everything so far, especially our daughter.
“I am also very grateful for the adoration and benediction you offered on New Year’s Eve. It was an unexpected joy to hear that offered and I want to tell you how blessed I felt to participate. The organ is such a rich sound and singing the Te Deum was so amazing. This year has already been so joyful and I know that celebration was a major reason why.
“I hope your ministry and year continue to be blessed. Both you and your parish, as well as the young parishioner discerning a priestly vocation, are in my prayers. My family should visit Maryland again in May so hopefully I will see you then. Warmest regards, A.”
In a world that is addicted to noise and that is convinced that God speaks or communicates with us according to our whims, the scandal of silence continues to hold power for connecting us back to Him. Let us continue to pray for all of our families. May they all discover this most powerful way to hand on the immemorial faith!
It is not in the cheap noise in which the world trades that God speaks. He forms and molds us, converting our hearts back to His love, in the richness of silence that is void of human projection. In that seeming vacuum God is permitted by our consent to communicate Himself with all of the power and love that our small hearts and minds can grasp. We are limited and small. He is greater than anything we can imagine. That silence opens us to majesty and power of God which we crave.
The disappointment and delusions which result from love of the world are healed only by God. The Lord Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice is the healing contact offered by the all holy One. His Presence in the Eucharist is the medicine of love for souls: “He who sees me sees the Father.” Meet Christ in the liturgy.
(Scriptures of the liturgy and Catechism teachings at mcitl.blogspot.com.)