I call it May(hem) because so much happens this month. I know you have a lot going on, some of it because you want to get it done before the summer so you can enjoy some vacation, some of it because of the requirements of the season itself, with sports and the academic year coming to a close. Some of the things are scheduled now just because it is such a beautiful time of year to do things, like weddings and other events. It is much the same for me.
But I want to ask you to put something on your calendar for the end of this busy month. It will help you accomplish absolutely nothing on your list of things to do, but your very willingness to stop doing things is what will make it possible for God to do great things for you.
On Thursday evening, May 30th, at 7:30, we will offer here a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
The feast, which Americans have observed on the nearest Sunday since the time of Pope Leo XIII, is originally on a Thursday. I didn’t even know that until I went to seminary in Rome, where they still celebrate it on that day. The day of the week hearkens to the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper that first Holy Thursday. We will have our regular Masses for the feast on Sunday June second, but this Thursday evening will be special.
The choir Chantry will sing polyphonic Mass commons (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei) by Josquin Des Prez, the finest composer of the early renaissance. His Missa Pange Lingua is based throughout on the tune that you probably know best from the classic Eucharistic hymn Tantum Ergo Sacramentum. The propers (antiphons and such) are from the Gradualia by the English renaissance composer William Byrd.
This is astonishingly beautiful music, and to have it sung by such a choir in the context of a Mass is a rare enough thing; to have it in our own church is an opportunity not to be missed.
Thanks to the efforts of Father McDonell, our philosopher, the homily will be offered by Msgr. John F. Wippel, who is the Theodore Basselin Professor of Philosophy at Catholic University of America. He will have some precious insights to share on the reality of the Holy Eucharist! Then, there will be a Eucharistic procession after the Mass.
Since this Mass will be in the Extraordinary Form, everything except the homily will be in Latin, but do not let that frighten you away. You will still be able to participate, just not in the same manner you do in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. We will have handouts to help you follow the words, many of which you know because you know the Mass so well. But if you raise your eyes -- and your ears, and your hearts -- you will also be free to follow the beautiful sounds and actions, and to encounter the truth and beauty of our Eucharistic worship. It is a different way of participating at Mass, and one that I find both illuminating and enriching of our understanding of the Ordinary Form that we celebrate each day in English.
So, in the midst of all the mayhem, put aside time, not for getting something else done, but for wasting time on God. Squander a few precious hours in the sounds and sights of divine worship; waste a few hours wandering aimlessly in the presence of the Divine Glory.
Your list of things to do and places to go will be just as long when you get home. But when you leave this Mass, you will have heard, seen, and touched Heaven itself, beholding the very face of God. Jesus did not give us Himself in the Eucharist for the sake of efficiency, but for its own sake, the sake of our Communion with Him. It is the love of God become flesh for us, and by this power alone will we enjoy order and glory in the face of May(hem).