Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A Day at Clear Creek

Robert Waldrop spent the feast of St. Bartholomew at Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma. His day is described here. I envy him.

The monks began promptly with the monastic liturgy for Terce. There is rising, bowing, standing, and through it all is the chanted prayer, in unity with the whole church. At such times I always think about all the other monasteries and convents throughout the world, each lifting its common voice in prayer, Latin and all the languages of Earth, a perpetual song of praise, adoration, and intercession. It is a very powerful concept, and I think it is not well understood in this day and age.

Today was the feast of St. Bartholomew, and it was his mass that we heard today. The organist accompanied the Ordinary of the Mass, and the uniting of the monks’ chanted prayer with the organ seemed perfect. Yes of course there was incense, lots of it, but then there’s a lot of prayer too, and so the incense seems fitting, "that’s what its for". I am not a fan of dumbing down the Liturgy, whether it be in Latin or the vernacular. Dorothy Day and the early Catholic Workers, who were nourished by the Latin Mass, drew close connections between the liturgy of the Church and the cause of social justice. They knew that the work of social justice is not merely politics, but rather the incarnation in daily life of the truths and spiritual realities we experience and witness to in the holy sacrifice of the Mass. You are what you eat, after all. The vestments were red signifying martyrdom, another important truth of our religion. As we remember ancient martyrs, we cannot fail also to think of those in our own day who have been martyred. The book of those names is very thick, and it grows with each passing year as the culture of death continues its relentless war against Beauty, Wisdom, and Truth.