In my little Catholic world, the only types of liturgy I hear about are the Ordinary Form (or Novus Ordo) and the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine Mass). I have gone to both and assessed the pros and cons of each. Needless to say, though I strongly praise and advocate the Tridentine Mass, I’m a person who believes in the Ordinary Form, that if done correctly, reverently and with use of Latin and chant, that it can altogether rock. In my current location however, the parish Mass is subject to corny hymns, improvisations, omissions and the dreaded laundry-list of announcements before the dismissal. Going to parish after parish in my region, I found nearly identical issues. Without relief, I sighed in my Babylonian exile and longed for the green pastures of beauty, mystery and liturgical heaven on earth.
Facebook is nifty for meeting random people who share the same obscure interests as you do. During a venture, searching out a Latin Mass that wasn’t a gazillion miles away, I met a guy from the same area who knew about a neat, little church, of the Anglican Ordinariate, located in Orlando. For those who don’t know, the Anglican Ordinariate is basically composed of former Anglicans who’ve had enough funny stuff and re-entered into full communion with Rome. Hallelujah! That’s awesome enough, right?
We met up (after I made sure he wasn’t a Nigerian prince trying to get my credit-card number), combined gas monies and embarked on our way. I’d never been to an Anglican-Use Mass before and didn’t know what to expect. All I knew is that they used “high-English”, so in a Homer Simpson moment, my mind envisioned some frilly-collared priest reciting Shakespeare…
Incarnation Catholic Church is rather small, with brick walls and a red, painted door. It sits on green grass beside a school and playground. Inside is old architecture, exposed wood rafters, a communion rail and tall wooden, high-altar standing against luscious stained-glass. First catching my eye was the image of Mary knelt down, holding baby Christ in her arms, a bright, evening star above and these words below: “Lumen de Lumine.” -“Light of Light”. Then the tabernacle greeted me, restfully gleaming from its place behind the altar- as if Our Lord was quietly whispering, “Welcome to My house.” I automatically knew this was going to be an awesome church. The priest said Mass, all spoken and without hymns because daily Masses here, as in the Latin Rite, are low-key. When the moment of consecration took place, the priest turned towards the altar and all the stained glass, beseeching God. He lifted the host and chalice high, beneath the light of that glassy, evening star. After receiving communion, silently kneeling at the rail, in rapt contemplation, I knew I would return.
There is no pretention in the Anglican-Use Mass. English elegance and simplicity combine well with Latin mystique and splendor. In Chicago, we would say they’re “keepin it real.” Kind of like that quaint taco-stand on the South Side, crafted with perfection: you know Jose was born in America but he serves it “autentico”. There’s a world of difference between the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and street-food but sometimes, we must use earthly things to describe that which is heavenly. One can tell from the air of solemnity, you’re there to ponder divine things. The words are lofty, wrought with “thee’s” and “thou’s” enough to make a KJV-only Baptist jealous. Truly, the prayers are poetry raised heaven-ward. Latin-Mass lovers would find themselves home at an Anglican-Use liturgy, not because of Latin (although that varies- the second Mass I attended there had the consecration and last Gospel in Latin) but because that old-world fear of God is present, a tangible encounter with something bigger and older than yourself.
I encourage people who are interested in more traditional liturgy or maybe just something different to check this out. Maybe you are like me, loving the Ordinary Form but lamenting over its execution in the local parishes, looking to jar your earthly senses into heaven? Maybe you’re an Anglican who’s searching for something more consistent, ancient and unified? You may even be a Tridentine-Mass only person who’s temporarily trapped in Central Florida, feeling misunderstood because you miss kneeling and pretty vestments. Maybe you are craving a quiet retreat? If so, Incarnation Catholic Church in College Park, Orlando might be just the place for you! Check out their website, visit and ye now come back.
See Incarnation Catholic Church at theparish.org