Solemn Pontifical Mass in Washington D.C. Seeks to Unify Catholics

I am pleased to announce that a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form will be offered by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco on Saturday, November 16, 2019, at 10:00 AM at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Further details appear at the bottom of the post, but first allow me to provide some background.

There is great diversity in the Catholic world. I am sometimes amazed when I look out at my congregation or see pictures of other parishes; we look like some meeting of the United Nations. Catholics truly come from everywhere.

One of the challenges of such diversity is finding opportunities to reach across cultures and ethnicities to experience greater unity.One example of this occurs in December of each year. Within the space of one week there are two great Marian feasts: Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th and Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th. December 8th is celebrated as a solemnity and is a holy day of obligation; under the title of “The Immaculate Conception,” Our Blessed Mother is the Patroness of the United States. December 12th is particularly important to Hispanic Catholics, especially those from Mexico. Somos Guadalupanos!

Bringing these feasts together in our hearts and recognizing their importance is a way to greater unity. Whatever our background, we all love Our Lady; she unites us as does any good mother.

This reaching across ethnic distinctions is at the heart of a pastoral outreach by Archbishop Cordileone and the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Seeking to better unite Catholics of Central and South America with those of North America, the Archbishop first commissioned a new musical setting of the Mass, to be called The Mass of the Americas. He approached composer Frank La Rocca, who commented, “The commission I was given by Archbishop Cordileone—to take beloved Mexican devotional songs and to weave them into a ‘high church’ classical Mass—was challenging and unlike anything I had been asked to do before.” La Rocca also spoke of how deeply satisfying the six-month effort was [*].

Archbishop Cordileone speaks of Mary as the great evangelizer and unifier. He notes that her appearance at Tepeyac was the reason for the unity of Mexican people in faith and that both the Mexican and Spanish peoples were able to recognize the mother of God: “A new Christian people is formed from the two, a mestizo people; a new Christian civilization is born from the union brought about by her who is venerated as la Morenita and la Inmaculada. How blessed is Mexico, for truly God has not done this for any other nation!” the archbishop said [**].

Now the good Archbishop seeks to take this unifying message to a new levelby celebrating the Mass of the Americas in the Extraordinary Form here in in Washington, D.C. I am privileged to be able to serve as Deacon of the Throne at that Mass. While the Ordinary Form setting features texts in Spanish, Latin, English, and Nahuatl (the language in which Our Lady of Guadalupe spoke to St. Juan Diego), the music has been adjusted to suit the norms of the Extraordinary Form and is fully in Latin.

In this way, Catholics dedicated to the beautiful traditions of the Extraordinary Form and Catholics from the Americas devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe can worship the Lord together. Our Lady is indeed the great unifier.

I am grateful to Archbishop Cordileone for this outreach. In times of deep division in the Church, he points to Our Lady, who so beautifully opened doors in Mexico in the 16thcentury and still seeks to unite us now. May Our Lady be honored by this outreach as we beautifully and solemnly worship her Son and Our Lord.

The Mass will be followed by an afternoon conference, beginning at 2:00 PM, cosponsored by the Benedict XVI Institute and The Catholic University of America’s Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art.

There is no charge to attend the Mass or conference, but registration is requested.

A Facebook event has been created for this Mass. You may also download the PDF flyer to help spread the word about this Mass and conference.