December 16, 2023
Encompassing a wide range of times and cultures, the Catholic Church includes many liturgical traditions in her rich patrimony. In the words of the Catechism, these diverse rites “manifest the catholicity of the Church, because they signify and communicate the same mystery of Christ” (CCC §1208). These differences, then, are by no means opposed to the loving unity of the faithful, but rather invite them to learn from each other.
In this spirit, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe offers different types of Masses regularly and throughout the year, each with the same care and devotion, seeking not to promote one over another but to provide pilgrims with an enriched liturgical experience. This ideal was reflected in the visit of Erin Flattery and Zach Lipecki, a pair of FOCUS missionaries from Winona, MN, when attending Cardinal Burke’s Pontifical Mass this past February.
The team’s contact with the Shrine began a year ago, when Erin and her parents made their first visit and left deeply moved. On learning about the Pontifical Masses, Erin’s father promptly made plans to attend. The soonest he was able to do so was February 1, his birthday. “He’s always been very touched by sacred liturgy,” says Erin, “when you can tell that each and every movement in the Mass is just so intentional and points to something.”
While neither Erin nor her fellow missionary Zach, who came with her family, are well acquainted with the Latin Mass, both found it worthwhile to experience a different form of liturgy. “It was kind of like being in a foreign country where you don’t know the language, but everything you’re seeing is very beautiful,” Zach comments, adding, “I feel like it inspired me to learn more about the Latin Mass.”
Though entering into an unfamiliar form of liturgy may be challenging, it can prompt exploration of new spiritual ground. “It’s just like willing myself into Mass and willing my heart onto that altar,” Erin explains. “In situations where you’re in a new setting for Mass and experiencing a whole different liturgy, I think there are no words for me, just, ‘God, you see my heart, you know that I want to be here; it’s just me and you.’ I think in a way, even though it’s complex, it kind of simplifies things at the same time.”
All are Welcome!
Naturally, nearly all Catholics have one form of Mass where they feel most at home. This, however, does not mean that any Mass should ever be considered to be for some people and not others. The Catholic Church, wherever she is, is home for all; and Our Lady’s Shrine, in the spirit of our Mother, performs all its ministries for all who come. “For the people who are intimidated about Latin Mass, because I know I’m kind of one of those people … I just want them to know that they are welcome,” says Erin. “The Shrine is here to serve the spiritual needs of God’s children, and God’s children equals everyone.”
The next in the Shrine’s series of Solemn Pontifical High Masses is scheduled for Saturday, December 16, at 11 A.M.