UPDATE: St. Louis Archdiocese has ordered all public Masses cancelled until at least April 6, including the planned Mass in Time of Pestilence.
I don’t normally invite people to my church explicitly. But I am about to because we are living in a time of pestilence.
Mass in Time of Pestilence: Wednesdays
Each Wednesday for the remainder of Lent, my parish, the Oratory of Saints Gregory and Augustine, will offer a Mass in Time of Pestilence at 6:30 p.m. The church is located at 7230 Dale Avenue in Richmond Heights, Missouri, (view map) at the corner of Dale and Bellevue. This Masses was given us by Holy Mother Church to ask specifically for the graces to get through plagues and pestilence.
Coronavirus is a plague by anyone’s definition. Man’s poor ability to respond to such a plague is playing out before our very eyes. While the United States has managed to limit the human suffering seen in China, Iran, Italy, Spain, France, and other nations, we have no assurance that will remain the case. Moreover, the economic damage is yet come.
While most of us have been spared the brunt of this microscopic plague, as Christians, we must turn to God for grace so that we don’t turn on each other in fear.
The Mass in Time of Pestilence, each Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., is a beautiful sacrifice to beg those graces and to offer something to our brothers and sisters around the word who suffer from the disease.
Why I Rarely Invite People to Mass
I try to evangelize with every post I write and every conversation I have. I fail miserably, but that doesn’t mean I give up. I seldom invite people to Mass not because I don’t want them to go, but because I don’t want them to go unprepared.
This ancient and sacred liturgy is foreign to modern minds. Even devout Catholics get confused unless they’ve been prepared by someone who understands both the form and the theology of the Mass.
The Extraordinary Form of the Mass is a sacrifice, not a party. It is given to God the Father. It is not for the entertainment of the congregants. And, while the liturgy does impart knowledge to the faithful, its purpose is not catechesis. Its purpose is the worship of God as He commanded and as Jesus instructed. If some are entertained or educated in the process, so be it. But emotional uplift and catechesis are not and never were its purpose.
If you would like to witness a Traditional Latin Mass, I would be happy to meet with you privately to provide instruction and explanation beforehand. Without some preparation, it’s likely the Mass would make no sense to you. I will also provide a limited number of people a copy of a great book on this most reverent Mass, Treasure and Tradition. No book I’ve found so beautifully and quickly teaches the most important aspects of the Mass.
Please Pray for Grace
I know many people of many faiths are praying for a cure or vaccine against Coronavirus. I am, too. But there’s an even more hopeful prayer for us: a prayer for the grace to keep the faith in bad times.
If you think about it, you’ll see that praying for physical relief from the plague is actually pessimistic. It’s saying, “Lord, let this cup pass me by, because I can’t handle it.” It implies that God lacks the power to strengthen you sufficiently to spiritually survive Coronavirus.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
By contrast, a prayer for the graces needed to faithfully and hopefully get through these times says, “Jesus, I trust in you.” It is a prayer of hope in God’s promises to give us the grace we need to follow Christ all the way to the cross. And, if we’ve ever needed God’s graces, we need them now.
P.S. If you’re wondering, the Novus Ordo Missae (the New Mass of Pope Paul VI) did away with the Mass in Time of Pestilence. If you want to attend a Mass specifically formed for times like these, you’ll find it only in the pre-Vatican II parishes and oratories.