Morning at the Grotto
I did not attend the March for Life.
I served for the Traditional Low Mass at the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes, in the Crypt of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (otherwise known as "the National Shrine.") The occasion was for a group of pilgrims attending the March from Harrisburg, PA. Their chaplain took ill, so Father John Fritz of the Diocese of Rockford, IL, with whom I have worked before, was the celebrant. Joining me at the foot of the altar was a young seminarian, also from Harrisburg. The Lourdes Chapel is one of the first to have been built at the National Shrine, thus is ideally suited for the Traditional Mass, and is in fact where the Traditional Mass is normally celebrated these days. It has its own sacristy, vestments, and accoutrement, and it seats about fifty people. More than twice that many were in attendance.
It is always interesting to serve with guys from other parts of the country. I deferred the "first position" to the seminarian, not only due to his status (equivalent to tonsure, or entry into candidacy for Orders), but due to minor differences in custom and choreography -- when the bells are rung, which guy does what, whether to do the "second Confiteor" or confession of sin immediately before Communion, that sort of thing. My provisional colleague would know better what people in the pews would expect.
My Latin is still a bit rusty, especially the "Prayers at the Foot of the Altar" at the beginning of the Mass. I usually have a laminated card when I serve, and I planned on having a small one discreetly tucked up my sleeve. Unfortunately, I forgot about it by the time we got the ball rolling. I actually did better than I expected. (It didn't hurt that the other guy had it down pat.) Sooner or later, you gotta work without a net.
The whole place swarmed with young people there on pilgrimage from all parts of the country, all committed to the Gospel of Life, not to mention any excuse for a field trip. The order of Polish nuns that work in the sacristy are always a delight to work with, and they run a terrific operation.
I wish I had a picture of the occasion, but the one shown here is what the place looks like. Notice the "rood screen" that separates the sanctuary from the assembly. It was my first time serving Mass with one of those in place. It was closed for most of the Mass. We would open it for Communion, much like the gate of the altar rail at most traditional churches. We also celebrated the "Missa Votiva pro Remissionem Peccatorum" (Votive Mass for the Forgiveness of Sins), so the vestments were violet instead of white.
Oh, and I was much taller than that kid on the left.
(PHOTO: Father Daniel D'Alliessi of the Archdiocese of New York celebrates the Traditional Mass on November 17, 2007, in the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. From the website of The New Liturgical Movement. Used without permission or shame.)