Monday, September 24, 2007

Traditional . . . er . . . "extraordinary" Mass in Oklahoma City

Mrs. Curmudgeon and I had reason to be in Oklahoma City this Sunday morning (the reason being our desire to avoid the handholding and kumbaya crowd at an "ordinary" Mass in the city we'd been visiting over the weekend). So, we got up early, drove to OKC, and assisted at the 11am low Mass at St. Michael the Archangel Chapel, the FSSP apostolate in the Bethany, Oklahoma. Now we can add Oklahoma City to our list of traditional communities we've visited (joining it with the communities in DC, Rockford, Sacramento, Phoenix, San Diego and Denver).

We just barely made it to Mass on time: our Mapquest directions led us to a dead end in a trailer park. But with a little luck and a little help from some guy resting under a tree at a protestant university's athletic complex, we made it in time.

What a neat place, and what a neat story! Apparently (said one of the locals), the grounds of the Church were once the clubhouse and entrance area to a golf course, but the course had been flooded decades ago by the Corps of Engineers on a reservoir project. A parishioner had purchased the grounds, including the clubhouse, many years ago, and he's given a substantial portion of it over to the use of the traditional community there, which has constructed a small chapel and, I understand, have rehabilitated the clubhouse for use as classrooms and social space. The grounds are beautiful, with a little pond and lots of flowering trees and shrubs. And the chapel is attractive as well. The chapel is small, seating maybe 100 in the nave and another 20 or 30 in the vestibule/cryroom and choir loft. It's small enough that a PA system at the ambo is entirely unnecessary. They've integrated and old altar and side niches into the new building, and they've got some attractive new stained glass.

I'm sorry that I wasn't able to get interior pictures; by the time I retreived my camera phone, baptismal rites had started in the vestibule. And I'm sorry I didn't have a decent camera with me; we left it at home, but I figured that a couple of phone pics were better than none.

All told, the community's facilities are to be envied. The setting is beautiful, and safe, and controlled (very much unlike our own setting at Blessed Sacrament). The church is very attractive, too, but also (even moreso than with Denver or Sacramento) too small and destined to be quickly outgrown: no more than four or six altar boys could be in the sanctuary at any one time, and we'd need five or six Masses on Sunday to get everyone into the small nave. However, it's a great start, and most importantly, it's theirs to use, without working around extra unnecessary furniture, or scheduling conflicts, or special permissions before such uncontroversial tasks as weeding the flowerbeds, or any of the other stuff that goes along with being tenants in someone else's church.

And of course, people naturally ask what the Mass was like. It was, happily, just a nice low Mass, celebrated reverently by the new assistant chaplain there (with a charming British accent that I didn't pick up until the Leonine prayers). No surprises at all (nor should there be). A solid sermon on love and lust was preached by the chaplain (who, it's obvious, learned to preach from the same folks my own chaplain did). Granted, the chaplain (who couldn't be older than me) lost some credibility by claim to be "an old priest" with "years of marriage preparation counselling." But they were otherwise great. Perhaps I liked the sermon so much because it vindicated by own intention to arrange a marriage for the Eldest Curmudgeon (who, at age 5, still accepts that fact that I get to pick her husband if she has a married vocation).

All and all, a great place to visit. I wish that Mrs. Curmudgeon and I had been able to get to OKC to attend the earlier Missa Cantata, socialize a bit with the OKC Traddies and catch up with some old friends who moved there from the Kansas City SRPD community.

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