A Mass Worth Sacrificing For

Four years ago, right before Covid changed the world, my husband and I decided to embrace all the obstacles that came with attending the nearest Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). We...

PUBLISHED ON

February 29, 2024

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Four years ago, right before Covid changed the world, my husband and I decided to embrace all the obstacles that came with attending the nearest Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). We had moved back to our hometown two years earlier and could not find a parish home. We craved something that we couldn’t put into words. 

When we found the Latin Mass, and learned more about it, we knew that this beautiful Liturgy was exactly what we were in search of. Unfortunately, attending this Mass seemed next to impossible. This Mass was at the cathedral in downtown Austin, and we lived 26 miles north of this treasure. Depending on traffic, this Mass was anywhere from 35 minutes to over an hour away, and getting to this Mass required us to skip a very important part of every growing family’s day: naptime. 

A 3:30 Mass time meant we had to leave our house by 2:15 to arrive in time to find a spot to sit. At the time, there was only one Mass time—and it was usually standing room only. Mass was over by 5 p.m., which then affected dinner. Eating out was required in order to ensure our hungry children could be fed in a timely manner and still get to bed at a reasonable time. (Our children were still attending Catholic School at this time.) 

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When we first started attending the TLM, we had three children: two school-aged children and a 2-year-old, and we were pregnant with our fourth child. Mass with a 2-year-old, as any parent will tell you, is always an adventure. The narthex at the cathedral is very small, very hot in the summer, and very cold in the winter. I spent a lot of time in that narthex with a squirmy or fussy baby and toddler. Even though it is separate from the nave of the church, it is not soundproof—it almost seems to make noise louder—so when a child gets especially inconsolable, stepping outside is the only option. 

Outside of St. Mary’s Cathedral, a mother will find the following: homeless people who are friendly with the parish community but will ask you for money; an armed security guard who guards the parish grounds seven days a week; 105-degree weather in the summer; and lots of wind in between the tall buildings in the cold winter months. Mass with small children at the cathedral is quite the experience. 

Covid lockdowns didn’t bring much goodness to the world. It did, however, eventually bring our TLM community another Mass time. Because of the social distancing requirements, the space available in the cathedral, and the number of people attending this Mass, we were blessed with a morning Mass time: 7:30! While we were overjoyed to have another Mass option, 7:30 a.m.—with now five children—is no joke. 

If we want to arrive in time for my son to altar serve, we must leave between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. In spite of this incredibly early start time, we are not the only parents with multiple children and babies who make the effort to get there on time. It is a beautiful sight to see all the young families who fill the pews at this early Mass. And the silence that is still able to be maintained is quite remarkable. 

A particularly penitential part of our experience of attending Mass at the cathedral with small children is the sliding kneeler. The kneelers alone are enough to tempt one to throw in the towel and find another parish. These easily-sliding kneelers are every toddler’s dream Mass distraction—and every parent’s nightmare. And yet we, along with many other parents, choose to endure them. 

While it was initially very difficult to overcome and accept all of these obstacles and attend Mass here, after a short time it was no burden at all. We looked at our weekly trip to Mass as a pilgrimage, a small penance to take on. It changed our Sundays completely, and for the first time we understood what it meant to keep holy the Sabbath. Our entire Sunday became oriented toward the most important thing we do all week: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

In 18 years of marriage, my husband and I have never felt more welcomed at a parish. We have never found more community. In 42 years as a faithful Catholic, I have never attended a Mass more reverent and more infused with the three Transcendentals: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. In 20 years as a Catholic convert, my husband has never understood Catholicism more. What first appeared as insurmountable obstacles eventually became small and inconsequential. 

On February 11, 2024, we got the news everyone in the community was holding their breath to hear. In accordance with the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, and by the instruction of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, the Traditional Latin Mass will no longer be celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral as of March 19th. We are heartbroken. The other night, I thought about those kneelers that have made Mass with toddlers very difficult, and I cried at the thought of not having them anymore. I would do anything to be able to continue to worship with those kneelers in that beautiful cathedral with all of those obstacles. 

Our time at St. Mary’s, worshipping in the Traditional Latin Mass, has completely changed our family life. When you find the Traditional Mass, you also find Traditional Catholic devotion and Traditional Catholic piety. Our spiritual lives have been enriched so greatly by this beautiful, timeless, ageless Liturgy. We are overjoyed that we overcame all the obstacles to be a part of it in this beautiful space, if only for a short time. We hope and pray this Liturgy will continue to be a part of our lives and that other families will come to know it and be enriched by it as well. In spite of whatever obstacles are keeping you from attending your nearest Traditional Latin Mass, I assure you, they are worth embracing; and God will surely bless you for it. 

Author

  • Amanda Farnum

    Amanda Farnum is a homeschooling mom to five. She likes to think of herself changing the world, one, quiet, hidden, ordinary day at a time.

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