Mass in Many Languages

I found a tiny little church not far from where I live (on the South Side of Chicago), the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, which offers a Latin Mass daily (and twice on Sunday, a high and low mass). So I went on Wednesday, and it was beautiful, an amazing devotional.

It isn’t that mass in Latin is more authentic, because I don’t believe it is. I’m not Roman in my confession and so I have no patience with the priest doing much of the chanting (and keeping it to himself) with his back to the congregation. Still, it was a spiritually enchanting service, something I plan to do more often. I was able to follow the tones of what was chanted openly because it didn’t vary that much from what is probably the most common ELCA Lutheran service.

There was also lots of incense, which is a plus.

I’ve been to Arabic-language Orthodox services at St. George’s Orthodox in Cicero, an English-Slavonic service at Holy Trinity Orthodox in Chicago’s Ukranian Village, and a couple of Easter Masses a long time ago at Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco. There’s a lot I appreciate about Orthodox worship — mostly the chanting of the liturgy, something Protestants don’t do nearly enough of. But there’s a lot I don’t like about Orthodox worship (and the Latin Mass), and that mostly has to do with the distance between the presider and the congregation as well as the (for want of a better word) “undemocratic” (how I hate that word) nature of the Eucharistic portion of the service. Too much of the “work” of consecrating the bread and win — in fact, nearly all of it — seems to happens “mysteriously,” either behind a wall of icons and/or with the priest’s back to the congregation. The Arabic service at St. George was actually better in this respect, and the liturgy itself felt more “Lutheran,” more open and inviting to the congregation (the doors to the iconostasis were never closed during the time the priests consecrated the bread and wine, for example) if I may say so.

But none of this will stop me from appreciating these services and attending them when I can. The varied ways in which Christians worship is amazing, and finding the Spirit in all these ways is easy if you’re open to it.

2 thoughts on “Mass in Many Languages

  1. Hi Charles, how are ya? I enjoyed reading some of your essays, particularly the one about the Pope’s poor choice of examples to quote.So – Osama says we must convert. What say you?

  2. There are times when the doors to the altar are closed, and there are times when the doors are opened. It is all symbolic. I’m not an expert, but I believe the door is closed when symbolizing an act that was hidden or not yet revealed to mankind, while the open door represents the revelation of an event or one that was seen by man. When viewed this way, the Orthodox ways may seem more appreciable, I think.

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