This year’s observance of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary provides the opportunity to reflect on the two rites of the Roman Missal. On invitation from the Chancery in Philadelphia, the Tridentine Mass was offered in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, as part of the annual Mass of Thanksgiving by Mater Ecclesiae Parish based in Berlin, New Jersey, contrasted to the “ordinary form” of the Roman Rite, as offered to a group of high school boys at LaSalle College High School in suburban Philadelphia – poolside, in swimsuits. It is important to reflect on the differences in the two Rites of Holy Mass in these times as it demonstrates the increasing divide between those who would call themselves “mainstream Catholics” and “Traditional Catholics”.
LaSalle College High School is operated by the Christian Brothers, founded by St. Jean-Baptiste de LaSalle. Like many other Catholic institutions, LaSalle was once a strong and strict Catholic environment, which focused on the formation of young men in faith and virtue-notably amongst the poor. Today, LaSalle is a $20,000 a year proposition, with a regimental academic and athletic program, geared towards preparing young men for successful and profitable secular careers. With the collapse of the Archdiocesan parochial school system, LaSalle now has a narrower base from which to draw new Catholic Students. Their answer, which should not be shocking, has been to expand their recruitment efforts to include non-Catholic students. In the days before the Vatican II revolution, this would have been acceptable as strong Church teaching would have produced conversions. However, with today’s “cut and color” Catechesis, which at LaSalle has been watered down to ethics and morals, conversion and vocations are no longer a goal. Instead, the modernized LaSallian education is driven towards preparation for a six figure salary, a home in the countryside, and a comfortable secular lifestyle. True teaching of the Catholic faith has long since been banished from the halls of LaSalle, notably in the percentage of non-Catholic students (near 50%) who can afford the tuition, and open acceptance of homosexuality and atheism in the student population. One only needs to look at the lack of vocations to the Christian Brothers to corroborate this observation.
This loss of purpose brings us to the August 15 poolside Mass on the campus of LaSalle College High School, with students wrapped in towels, and a priest offering Mass on a simple card table. Does this not accurately reflect how most mainstream Catholics treat Sunday Mass, if they even go, where everyone is too busy to devote even one hour to hear Mass with respect, reverence and piety? Modern Catholic education institutions such as LaSalle College High School demonstrate how willing parents are to devote all of their resources to the best that a modernized “Catholic education” can provide, while Holy Mass becomes an afterthought of happenstance.
In closing, I present a quote from Father Pasley, rector of Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin New Jersey, who wrote on the Feast of the Assumption: “The worship of God should not be haphazard. It should not be cheap and commonplace. It should never be rushed to get it over with….Modern secular society has put its time, talent and money into skyscrapers, technology, sports stadiums, weapons of mass destruction, abortion, music that debases man and offends God, and immorality on the internet, television and in movies. It spends billions on self-indulgence, pleasure and material comfort. The world shows us what it considers important. My good friends, we counter with a very different view.”
Please keep the Christian Brothers, the teaching faculty and students of LaSalle College High School in your prayers.
Saint Jean-Baptiste De LaSalle, pray for us. Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever!
LaSalle College High School class of 1992
Rorate note: the photos of by Father Tony Janton, the priest saying the Pool Mass, have been taken down from Facebook. Let us pray the liturgical abuse and scandalizing of the students stops in the future.