The peace of the Lord be always with you!
In assembling this journal about Saint Gregory’s its always a privilege to take special notice of newcomers as they arrive. That is the case with Margaret Raymond. Swift to offer help serving at our coffee hour Margaret is a cheery lady with whom I spoke after Mass July 27th, wanting to know how she happened to find St. Gregory? Margaret said she had become acquainted with our Founding Pastor, Fr. Liias, when he was rector of St. Paul’s in Malden. A faithful Roman Catholic with a degree in Theology, she continued that faithfulness during all the time of her worshipping in St. Paul’s congregation, where Fr. Liias had solemnized her marriage to Richard Raymond. Marriage was an unanticipated transition from her earlier vocation — for years she had been a sister in a Lithuanian Order of nuns, the Poor Sisters of Jesus Crucified and the Sorrowful Mother.
Beginning at age sixteen, she had given eighteen years to serving Christ in the Order, leaving, with the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston’s permission, only when it was required that she care for her aged and ailing mother. When her mother died in 1985 it became possible for her to share life with a husband, Richard, whom she had met in 1974. Following his death she discovered Fr. Liias had become a Roman Catholic priest in the Ordinariate and opened a renewed relationship with him and, once again, with the Roman Catholic Church. Be sure to make yourself known to Margaret at coffee hour.
I had an interesting visit with Ray Chagnon at coffee hour the next Sunday. A resident of of Nashua, NH, Ray has generously volunteered to serve frequently at St. Gregory’s Altar. A born Roman Catholic, he tells me he has a special interest in the Ordinariate and its Anglican Rite. His Nashua home parish is also St. Patrick’s, as is the parish which is currently St. Gregory’s home. His much loved Nashua parish celebrates a Tridentine Mass — the Latin rite universally employed in the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council — on one Sunday of each month, and for which he serves as coordinator.
Ray’s testimony is interesting to me as an Anglican, as it seems to indicate a sincere interest amongst Catholic people in a renewal of the Latin Mass wherever it can be authorized: He says he is a frequent traveler on business for his company and discovers new parishes everywhere reintroducing the Latin Mass; that it is not just older traditional Catholics who are welcoming it, but that the pews are filled with young people as well, those for whom the present, post-Vatican II Mass has been their only form of worship. All this seems to Ray a refreshing and hopeful new sign in Church life. As a new Roman Catholic, Pastoral Notebook sees cause for rejoicing in this authoritative interest shown regarding the language used for worshipping God…I’d feared it might be only a foolish particularity of old Anglicans like myself, inordinately enamored of the language of the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible. But can there be anything more important than deciding on the language proper for worshipping the God of our Salvation? Pastoral Notebook looks forward to everything our brother Ray Chagnon can bring us from his further travels. Do introduce yourself to him at coffee hour.
Pastoral Notebook discovered another aficionado of liturgical usage in a two-Sunday visit with new St. Gregory’s member Edward Finglas. Ed lives in Marblehead, a generous drive to Stoneham for him on a Sunday (as it is for Ray Chagnon). He was our Lector a few Sundays ago, and I wanted to give him a special welcome.
Ed is a friend of Dan McKinley, former organist of Christ Church, Hamilton, now organist and choir director for Christ The Redeemer, Danvers. When Dan married lovely Tess Gallagher in 2012 Fr. Liias was the officiating priest and Ed was in attendance. It was there Ed first learned of the Ordinariate, in conversation with Fr. Jürgen. Always a faithful Roman Catholic, his faith life had been a somewhat mixed experience — challenged, as every Christian, by the life experience and culture of our times. Ed’s conversation with Fr. Liias opened a new avenue for him: an interest in the Ordinariate. He spoke to me of his disappointment, as a faithful Roman Catholic, of the language employed for the Second Vatican Council’s English translation of the Latin Mass Rite; it was language remarkably different from that used by the liturgists translating Latin for the Catholic Church in Poland, St. John Paul II’s homeland. Polish liturgical scholars, Ed said, had employed the most beautiful classical Polish language possible — a remarkable achievement, which enabled its transition from Latin to be accepted and readily received by the faithful of Poland, a people whose recovery from World War II sufferings and Soviet oppression is still a work in progress.
Once again Pastoral Notebook was confronted with the significance of language: as a former Episcopalian, brought up from childhood on the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, it was the only language I ever knew for worship. Was my love for that language a frill to be dismissed? Or did the Ordinariate — like the Poles — have it right: that somehow it is the duty of prayer (and liturgists) to enable, through the language of both Truth and Beauty, to render the Most High God the manifestation of faithful and thankful Love?
Ed’s liturgical interest and expertise coexist with careers as a computer programmer and Instructor of History at Salem State University. His faith has always been essential to him — interrupted at times by the challenges of today’s life and culture — always bringing him again to discover that, after all, the Church has it right.
A regular and faithful member of St. Gregory’s Altar ministry on Sundays is our brother Joe McLellan. He tells me the other branch of the family was able to preserve the “Mac” designation which his branch did not. However, there is no abiding dispute amongst family members about the matter…at least none that he reports.
Joe has a dual home-town identity: his early life and school days were lived in Arlington, Massachusetts, where he and his family were members of a French-language parish in nearby North Cambridge. It was his first experience of Church life before his father’s change of employment required a family move to a new home in Summit, New Jersey, where he was enrolled and graduated from Summit High School. Two features of his high school years are worth recording here:
The first was a well-meaning Sunday school teacher (a lawyer, Australian by birth) who exceeded the subject matter by offering to prove to the Existence of God to the class so as to enlarge their faith. As with a medication which sometimes produces the reverse effect in the sufferer, this teacher’s “faith enlargement” had an opposite effect with Joe. His early worship life, up until about the fifth grade, had been the Latin Mass of the pre-Vatican II period. Disenchanted by acolyte duty, he enjoyed singing in choir; but after the Mass in American English was introduced “much of the earlier musical tradition for Mass was thrown out.” This was the beginning of a change for Joe for which his Sunday school teacher’s “proof” became the coup de grace for his Church life. A cradle Catholic and believer, for the first time Joe was taken beyond the boundaries of his faith and worship and set adrift — a drift, he says, that lasted “perhaps twenty years,” during which he attended Mass “sometimes.”
The second of the aforementioned experiences will have, for Episcopalians, a humorous twist. Joe reports that in his Senior year at Summit High the president of the school’s Latin Club was a Junior girl, none other than future PhD Marine Biologist Katharine Jefferts Schori — later destined to exchange her vocation in ichthyology for theology and become the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church…
Just “drifting” as a Christian believer was not to be the whole of Joe’s story, however. Returning to Massachusetts, he was (and has been) happily employed in teaching English and Literature to college students in the Boston area. But a friend was being married and he was invited; the solemnization Mass was to be at Boston’s Church of the Advent. Joe attended, and his forthright testimony is: “I was hooked.” He discovered the Advent to be for him “the House of God.” It was no less than “the real deal” for one long drifting, yet long aspiring to find authentic divine worship. The Advent’s liturgy enabled one to “talk with God” through the language of the Book of Common Prayer, a heartfelt and authentic gift for Christian worship. For a teacher of English and Literature it is not surprising that the Prayer Book’s English — so much the language of the King James Bible — should have had such appeal. Hooked, he was, but also professes: “the 39 Articles did make me a little nervous.” Well, for an honest Christian that’s what they ought to do! But with that nervousness set aside, for the moment, Joe was on board. No longer adrift. He became a regular attendee, a regular server at Mass, and a follower of Jesus once more.
But the Lord had still more for him…one of the Church of the Advent’s priests, with whom Joe served Mass, was himself later to become a Roman Catholic priest: our Pastor, Fr. Liias. Learning of Jürgen’s transition, Pope Benedict XVI’s Ordinariate became a transition and a home for Joe McLellan as well. He is faithfully serving Mass again as a servant of Jesus Christ.
The peace of the Lord be always with you!