April 6: Second Sunday After Easter (according to the Traditional calendar)
Parish: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
10655 Haverstick Rd
Carmel IN 46033
Thanks to the Summorum Pontificum motu proprio, Una Voce Carmel has been able to start having the Traditional Latin Rite (TLM) celebrated at Mass. This week was the first traditional Mass to be celebrated in Carmel under this new rule.
This church is big. It's more than just a church; it's a campus, with school, meeting rooms, and a number of outbuildings. This is also a fairly new parish, less than 30 years old. The architecture is typical early 80s, which is to say it looks like a glorified barn:
As you walk in, you are greeted by a holy water fountain. I did not mistype; it is a large marble multi-tiered fountain with a cascading waterfall. I swear, they must have a heater in it. The holy water felt almost as warm as a bathtub.
The Mass was celebrated in the day chapel. It was small, with closely arranged pews (individual connected chairs, not benches). For this service, they also had some folding chairs on the ends. The altar is the typical overgrown card table, but thankfully, covered by a long altar cloth. For the Latin Mass, they had pushed it against the back wall, but even so, the space between it and the end of the sanctuary was barely adequate (it reminded me of the ersatz arrangement at St Louis Parish in Batesville). High ceiling with cross-beams, and a diamond-shaped stained glass right over the altar. For the Latin Rite, they had brought in some old altar rails and a free-standing tabernacle. Thee Stations of the Cross are actually antiques brought over from a church in France, complete with French captions, and they are tastefully painted in contrast with what I would expect from the rest of the Ikea-inspired adornments.
Even though the Mass was in the chapel, I have to comment on the main church, particularly the crucifix. A Lithuanian artist designed this metal sculpture of Christ in agony on the cross. However, the way it is sculpted only has the ends of the cross, where Christ's hands and feet are nailed. With his feet pulled up and twisted to the side. it looks like Jesus is riding a surfboard. Thank Heaven we did not have Mass in there; the image of the crucified Christ hanging ten would be way too distracting.
My ranking: 2.5 out of 5.
Even though this was a Low Mass, someone in their dubious wisdom decided they needed to play the pipe organ during Mass. In such a small place, it sounded harsh and reedy. If this was a sung Mass, I could understand it, but during a low Mass, especially one which may have been several people's first exposure to the Traditional Latin Rite, it was definitely an intrusion. I hope that next time, they consider leaving it silent.
My ranking: 1.5 of 5.
Father Gerald Saguto is a man born to be a traditional priest. He is in his mid 30s, as skinny as a rail, and has thin lips, an angular nose, and a hairline that is slowly starting to recede. He is also one of the most earnest and devoted priests it has ever been my privilege to see. I honestly could not picture him wearing anything but a cassock; even the more common black jacket and slacks would seem ill-fitting on him. He has the look and bearing of someone who, were he of a different faith, would surely be a Hasidic Jew, and a Talmudic scholar at that. When I say he was born in the wrong time, I mean that he would have been right at home at the turn of the 20th century, before phones, TV, and the Internet intruded on our lives. He is certainly one of the most scholarly priests I have met, and I doubt he gives modern media much of a glance when he has the written word of the Scriptures, saints and scholars before him.
His homily was ostensibly about the Latin tradition and the "proper" way of doing things according to God's plan. I do like the Latin ("extraordinary") rite, but I probably go to the Novus Ordo ("ordinary") rite a lot more. I didn't really take offense to what he was saying, but I think he was pandering to the ultra-trads a little too much. He was also very passionate, so much so that he often tripped over his words. Still, I would rather have a priest with that sort of fire in his belly than one of the lackluster feel-good liturgists at most Masses.
My ranking: 4 of 5.
I don't think the people who organized this Mass expected quite the response they got. EVERY seat in the room was taken, even the folding chairs, and there were quite a few people who were standing at the back and on the sides. Praise be to God, would that every Mass be so well-attended.
The Latin Mass leaves no room for personal interpretation, and none was to be found in his celebration. He was old-school even for the Trads, offering the Confiteor before Communion (which is not part of the 1962 missal, but can be found in older rites). The congregation did not respond during the Mass; where a response was called for, it was said by the altar servers. We stayed silent and kneeling throughout almost all of the Mass, even during the Pater Noster. I was at the end of the aisle, seated in a folding chair, so I was kneeling on the hard tile floor; by the end, my knees were throbbing.
If it wasn't for that incessant caterwauling from the pipe organ, I would have called it a highly reverent Mass. With the organist constantly playing over what is supposed to be a quiet celebration, it broke up whatever natural rhythm is to be found in the low Mass.
My ranking: 4 of 5.
Two altar servers, both middle-school boys.
There were a lot of familiar faces there from Holy Rosary, and I suspect that if there wasn't another Holy Rosary-related activity that afternoon (a concert by our operatic priest), there would have been even more.
At the same time we were celebrating the Latin Mass, there was a Novus Ordo Mass going on in the nave, and at times, the singing and music from that service were quite loud. Like the pipe organ, it was an unwelcome intrusion.
My overall ranking: 3.5 of 5.
Would I return: I haven't decided yet.
I am very blessed. I belong to a parish that celebrates both the Latin and Novus Ordo rite, and actually favors the Latin. Granted, our priest is a preening pompous putz, but I still have the opportunity to hear the Traditional Mass celebrated just about whenever I want. This parish, and the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, are just starting to embrace this tradition. They still have a ways to go before they get it right. The Mass will always be beautiful; it's the medium that needs work. And they have GOT to get rid of the organ during low Mass. To paraphrase something I heard on EWTN right after the motu proprio; put down your sheet music and pick up a missal.