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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Glad Tidings of Liturgical Beauty and Joy

January 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Liturgy

In St. Ignatius’ eighth rule of discernment he admonishes us that when we are in desolation we should comfort ourselves that we St._Thomas_Aquinas_Dal-255x340“will soon be consoled.” And so it is that on the final leg of our vacation trip home we encountered a jewel of Catholic worship in Dallas, Texas. As God in His providence obviously provided, we selected a parish purely based on our interest in the beautiful architecture and convenience of location. He had much more in store for us than we could have ever anticipated.

The Church truly was stunning. Adding to the beauty was the delightful surprise of a faithful liturgy. Here’s my litany of what was done right to balance against the lament of my last post “Tidings of Discomfort and Liturgical Abuse.”

  • The architecture was stunning and thus in keeping with the norms – tabernacle centered on a high altar behind a elegant and substantial white marble low altar.
  • The sanctuary was treated as a sanctuary – with reverence, calm, and order.
  • Silence was observed before mass so that we were able to pray and prepare our hearts to worship.
  • The priest faithfully prayed within the bounds and beauty of the missal.
  • “Pride of place” was given to sacred polyphony and chant perfectly led by a single cantor and grand pipe organ (throughout the entire Mass).
  • The lectors did a find job in their readings and had obviously been well trained.
  • The homily was thoughtful, focused on the readings, and practically applied.
  • The “Agnus Dei” was in Latin and appropriately sung.
  • All hymns were reverent, joyful, and in keeping with the season.
  • The nativity display was magnificent in detail and positioned away from the altar with prayer candles.
  • All received communion kneeling at an ornate marble communion rail!

As you might expect, the environment was transcendent and a powerful draw of the heart to a disposition of worship. So much so that my children remarked that they were not distracted and my wife was moved to tears at the communion rail.

If you live in the Dallas area or are traveling through, please don’t miss the 7:30 AM Sunday Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church on 6306 Kenwood Avenue. If you would like to get a taste of the music and environment take a moment and search for their Church on Youtube. You will not be disappointed.

This is a great example of how the Mass can and should be as guided by the wise and beautiful boundaries of the magisterium of the Church.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • FitzO

    Happy New Year and may our Lord Jesus Christ touch you!

  • sharon wilson

    I appreciate your veal for a liturgy without liturgical abuse, but I think sometimes it can appear like snobbery and lacks appreciation for the global nature of Catholic. the architecture you describe depicts a certain period and geographical region of our Church. the Catholic Church is larger than the eastern European roots of the Mass youyou described. The architecture . and music in Africa, south America and other parts of the world reflect the culture yet never stop being Catholic. that said, abuse of the liturgy shouldn’t be tolerated, but expression of culture should be. I hear that the Church is young and vibrant in Africa with Masses going on for hours and dancing and song.

  • LizEst

    What wonderful news on this day! Thanks.

  • Guest

    Sorry if this is sort of off topic but I have question. I served at Mass in school today and my fellow altar server was the bell ringer. She is good person. But I felt really uncomfortable because her top had a pretty low neckline, and I saw eat lunch right before Mass. She did not receive Holy Communion at Mass last time so I wasn’t sure if she would this time…I think she is two years older than me so I don’t quite know what to do… most people I know don’t follow the 1 hour fast…but this was right before Mass even…sorry not sure what to do if this happens again. 

    • Becky Ward

      This could have been my question a few years ago – so you’re not alone.

      The best solution is to simply pray for this person. Most of the time things like this happen because of ignorance. Even if we are taught one thing…….the bad example of others, when it goes uncorrected, can lead us to believe that ‘the rules have changed.’ If you have the opportunity to kindly…..or in passing, mention your own concerns about dressing modestly and observing the 1 hour fast before communion, that might be all you need to do. Another idea, if you feel it might help, would be to talk with the person in charge of training those who serve at Mass and ask if they could address these issues. We all need to be reminded about some things from time to time.

      Jesus can do much more than we can in situations like this, and sincere prayer, along with setting a good example and continuing to be charitable toward this girl, may be your best option in the long run. If we are noticing other people’s behavior…..we need to remember what Jesus says about taking the plank out of our own eye before trying to remove the splinter from the eye of our neighbor/brother.

    • $1650412

      Regarding the neckline, definitely pray for her and keep custody of your own eyes. God will help her to realize the situation before you know it. Another way you can help encourage modesty though is to speak well of it in others, or as a virtue in general with her, when you prepare for serving, if the opportunity arises. She will take it to heart.
      You can also gently approach her and just talk to her about the lunch thing. Tell her kindly what you saw and thought, and then ask her what her understanding is of keeping the fast. If you are loving and respectful, you will not need to worry about how it is perceived. 
      And lastly, the mother in me requires me to be sure to encourage you to be as fastidious about your own witness because you see how much one can be influenced by what one observes and perceives in others!:o)

  • markiemarie

    We’re so blessed to have this type of reverant Mass every day and weekend at http://www.stpetervolo.org/

  • Well I’m in Ft. Worth and you have inspired me to take a trip to Dallas for sure. Just 30 miles down the road. Thank you for this information.  I would love to experience a place of “quiet” and “reverence”.

    • Great! Let us know how it goes if you go.

  • Bart Dunsford

    What you describe is unfortunately way to rare today. We have found this type of consistant respect for the liturgy and for God’s house when attending FSSP parishes. Yes the entire mass is in the 1962 rite and in Latin. I know that that is not for everybody, but what it does do is to bring a certain beauty and reverence that is so lacking today. All the praise and focus is toward Our Lord and not at “me”. 

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