Old-style Catholic mass in Oak Park, 1993, as in Chicago Tribune by Jim Bowman — in two parts; Part One

Rite And Wrong Church Follows Its Conscience, Not The Orders Of The Archdiocese

Every time Julie Badon, a 46-year-old Berwyn homemaker and lifelong devout Catholic, goes to church in Oak Park on Sunday, she violates an edict of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

The mass, in which a priest stands with his back to the people, who pray to God with prayer books and rosaries, is celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a Frenchman who rejected the reformist Second Vatican Council as the work of the devil and was excommunicated for ordaining bishops on his own.

For Julie Badon and hundreds of other worshipers at Our Lady Immaculate, 410 W. Washington Blvd., ostracism by her church is not too high a price to pay for the consolations of the pre-Vatican II mass and the devotion it inspires.

Every time Julie Badon, a 46-year-old Berwyn homemaker and lifelong devout Catholic, goes to church in Oak Park on Sunday, she violates an edict of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

She does it anyhow, convinced that she has found at Our Lady Immaculate the one, true mass rejected for the most part by the one, true church she grew up in.

It’s a Tridentine Latin mass, outlawed for 13 years by one pope and only partly permitted by another, as of 1984.

The mass, in which a priest stands with his back to the people, who pray to God with prayer books and rosaries, is celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a Frenchman who rejected the reformist Second Vatican Council as the work of the devil and was excommunicated for ordaining bishops on his own.

The Lefebvre phenomenon is unique in recent Catholic history because, as a bishop who ordained other bishops, he set in motion a self-perpetuating rebel structure. It was the first major schism within the church since the turn-of-the-century exit of the Polish National Catholic Church of America.

Lefebvre ordained his four bishops in 1988, having broken off talks with the Vatican authorized by Pope John Paul II in an effort to head him off at the pass before he institutionalized his rebellion.

Lefebvre and his followers, the equally excommunicated priests and bishops of his society, have essentially told the Vatican to take the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), source of virtually all that is changed and modernized in the church, and shove it.

For Julie Badon and hundreds of other worshipers at Our Lady Immaculate, 410 W. Washington Blvd., ostracism by her church is not too high a price to pay for the consolations of the pre-Vatican II mass and the devotion it inspires.

It’s not the only Latin mass in town. Since February 1990, the archdiocese has allowed a Latin mass at three churches, one on Chicago’s Near Northwest Side, one on the South Side, and one in Antioch in Lake County.

But Our Lady Immaculate is the only local church run by the St. Pius X Society, an international organization that remains by far the biggest traditionalist thorn in the side of the Vatican since the Second Vatican Council.

At the heart of the rebellion, symbolic and symptomatic of the society’s rejection of changes in the church, is Sunday mass with incense and Latin and statues all around, as the mass used to be before the council.

To Our Lady Immaculate, worshipers come from Aurora, Oak Lawn, Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, the Northwest Side and points in between, self-described refugees from “the new mass” and the new church-what Catholicism hath wrought in the last 30 years.

`I feel like a dinosaur’

Balloons in church for her son’s first communion pushed Badon over the edge of churchly respectability 17 years ago; that and mass for a much-loved uncle held in the school basement around a small table surrounded by folding chairs.

“I wanted a mass for my uncle,” she said, “and instead I got a paraliturgy”-not a mass at all, but a prayer service modeled on a mass.

It wasn’t what she’d been raised on in several South Side parishes and a South Side high school-all of them gone now, like the Latin mass. She and her husband wanted their five children to have what they had as kids, “the sacraments, the way we were taught. Sometimes I feel like a dinosaur. Everything from my past is gone.”

At Our Lady Immaculate, it all returns. Rev. Peter Scott, a 35-year-old Australian ordained in 1988 by Archbishop Lefebvre, who died in 1991, commutes weekly from Kansas City, Mo., where he is U.S. superior for the Society of St. Pius X.

A slight, lean, dark-haired man who says mass with grave demeanor and preaches with verve and intensity, he is the chief deliverer to Badon and others of old-time Catholic religion, with its deep suspicion of the outside world, its emphasis on asceticism, and its confidence of possessing the true faith.

Living for the afterlife

“So many Catholics are Sunday Catholics,” Scott says from the pulpit after reading Scripture passages twice, first in Latin at the altar with his back to them and then in English from the pulpit. “They are a very common species. They don’t want to get involved.

“It’s a natural tendency. But we must overcome the spirit and influence of the world, perform our daily prayers, say the rosary, examine our conscience. We must watch closely over our daily lives, shunning immodesty, rock music, TV. The world is controlled by the passions of the flesh. The modern world is full of despair. It has no future, no hope.”

He decries “the liberalism of the day” and bids his listeners look ahead to the afterlife. “The torments of the world are allowed so that we might live not for this life but for eternity.” He extols “the joy of depending on God” and predicts, “Our sorrow can be turned into joy.”

Preaching like that keeps Francis Gaul coming back for more. Gaul, 74, a 1937 graduate of Mt. Carmel High School on the South Side, and his wife commute weekly from Des Plaines to Our Lady Immaculate. He hasn’t been to a new mass in 17 years.

He won’t attend any of the archdiocese-sanctioned Latin, or “indult” as they’re called, masses in the Chicago area. “The sermons would not be what I get here. The church isn’t Catholic anymore. It’s Protestant.”

“Today’s church is in direct contradiction with what the popes have taught,” Scott said. He argues that the church is in conflict because it approves religious liberty, ecumenism and the non-Latin mass, which were condemned, respectively, by Pius IX in 1864, Pius XI in 1929, and Pius XII in 1947.

The new mass is “Protestant in its inspiration,” vetted of its Catholic meaning for ecumenical reasons, Scott said. As such, it is “dangerous” to the faith of Catholics because it teaches the wrong things, de-emphasizing the sacrificial and emphasizing the communal-meal aspect of the mass.

For instance, worshipers in the new mass often hold hands while saying the “Pater Noster,” or “Lord’s Prayer.” Asked about this, Scott said derisively, “Oh, please.”

Hand-holding, balloons in the sanctuary, wine served in paper cups, wooden chalices and folk songs-it’s all anathema to members of Our Lady Immaculate, who worshiped 10 years at the Hillside Holiday Inn before coming to Oak Park.

At the Holiday Inn, they set up an instant chapel, bringing statues in garbage cans that they up-ended and draped as pedestals.

This sort of preparation is crucial for Miguel Garcia, a Northwest Side computer programmer and father of four small children, here 17 years from his native Mexico. Garcia rejects the “party atmosphere” of masses where the priest dresses in “ethnic colors so Spanish people can relate to it.” He finds it disrespectful, “because God is King.”

3 Comments

  1. Jim Bowman says:

    Reblogged this on Blithe Spirit and commented:

    Replay

    Like

  2. leftfooter says:

    I beg your pardon, but “WINE served in paper cups”?

    Like

    1. Jim Bowman says:

      For lists of particulars as to strange things like this, try James Hitchcock’s Recovery of the Sacred.– https://www.amazon.com/Recovery-Sacred-James-Hitchcock/dp/0898705444

      Like

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