It’s big, it’s green, and it’s bad. No, not the Hulk but jealousy. Envy.
St. Thomas Aquinas said of Envy: “Envy according to the aspect of its object is contrary to charity, whence the soul derives its spiritual life… Charity rejoices in our neighbor’s good, while envy grieves over it.” (2, 36, ad 3)
I must admit that I am jealous, but I am not sure it is a sin. Does a starved person sin when he is suffused with desire upon witnessing the banquet of another? This is the situation I found myself in Tuesday, famished at the banquet.
In Southern California on business, I decided to make my way over to St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado CA to attend mass. Their website had advertised that they had “Latin High Mass” at 7am in the church. I woke up and made my way over to the Abbey from my hotel, a 30 minute drive.
As some of our readers may know, I have an abiding interest in the Traditional Latin Mass (Gregorian Rite). Since the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum last year, I have begun attending the TLM on a regular basis. I would say that I make my way to one of the extraordinary form masses in my diocese on Sunday at least 50% of the time since last September. The fact that I attend this mass so frequently now is rather surprising to me. While I had attended the TLM several times before Summorum, there was just never a convenient enough mass for the family and I to attend on any regular basis. After Summorum Pontificum, I began attending the TLM to better understand it and to become more immersed in the history of our liturgy.
But a funny thing happened over the past year. I find it increasingly annoying to return to a manifestly manhandled, if not overtly abused Novus Ordo. My home parish (which actually isn’t my home parish because I cannot attend my home parish due to the absolutely outlandish abuses there! Another story) is by no means an egregious offender when it comes to liturgical abuse, but we have all of the usual symptoms of a low-grade sickness. Bad music, extraordinary ministers up the wazoo, and occasionally priests who take some liberties. Prior to the motu proprio, I suppose, I had become used to and usually ignored the obvious infractions. But now, what was formerly tolerable, now has become a visible sore just screaming to scratched, and I am incapable of ignoring it the way I formerly was able.
Don’t get me wrong, the Mass is the mass and grace is grace, and I am not distracted to the point where I lose sight of what is really happening. I suppose my sentiments are more properly categorized as melancholy and wistfulness for what has been lost and moreover, sadness over the contentedness of so many in their sleepy deprivation.
This brings me back to my visit to St. Michael’s Abbey. For the last year, as I travel on business, I make a point to see if the there is a daily local traditional Latin Mass in the area. I found one in Phoenix two weeks ago and I thought I had found one here in southern California. But what I thought was a TLM actually turned out to be the Novus Ordo in Latin. However, to only note the liturgical language would be a gross understatement of the difference between this mass and the mass distraction of my home parish. This was a radically different thing. It was all there, the Latin, the Gregorian Chant, the strict adherence to the rubrics, the smells, the bells, all of it. It was truly magnificent. Probably as close to the mass envisioned by the council as you are likely to find.
I was so appreciative that God had led me to this mass. However, gratitude quickly morphed into something else, something big, something green. Thus developed my little tantrum of the mind. I want this… I want this…And I want it now! It is mine and I want it. Why can’t I have it? Give it to me!
I come to SoCal often on business and I will make it a point to visit the Abbey often when here. But now I have to go back home. While I still have the TLM, I dread returning to my home parish for I know that the next time that I do, some small child in the pew behind me will ask his mother, “Mommy, why is that man green?” His mommy will likely shrug, admit that she doesn’t know and then hold hands and clap the hour away. I will be jealous for her too, for while blissful in her ignorance, she knows not what she is missing.