Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Today was a sad but special day for the Latin Mass Community of Perth, as the last official Mass in extraordinary form was celebrated at St. John's Pro Cathedral. It closes up an era of celebration of the traditional Roman Catholic liturgy in this church, which was built by pioneers in 1844 as the original cathedral of Perth.
This now completes the move of the Latin Mass community over to St. Anne's Belmont. But for a long time, the pro-cathedral has provided a solid presence in the heart of Perth and been a special home for the lovers of the traditional liturgy.
For me it was a privilege to serve at the final Mass there today. Thinking back, the past twelve months has been a special year, as I discovered the millenia old tradition of the ancient liturgy in this historic little church.
When I first walked in a year ago, I felt like I had entered into a secret place hidden away from the machinery of the conventional world. It was where I could swim in the depths of sacred tradition. My eyes opened to the richness of the traditional rite and calender. I am thankful that I have been able to experience one full liturgical year in this church. The liturgical cycle is rich in its seasons and dense in theology, customs, Saints and Martyrs. Whoever delves into it is taken up from the profane into a purely heavenly realm. My soul has been much enriched.
I imagine that visually nothing much would have changed since St John's was first built. Entering the building itself today is like entering a time machine that takes one back to the early 19th century: the musky smell of old wood and plaster, the sounds of jarrah floor boards, the raw wooden kneelers, the dangling chandeliers.
Looking at the simple sanctuary and the humble wooden altar, I imagined all the priests who had stood on that spot and all the people who had knelt at those altar rails over the last one and a half centuries. I felt honoured to have knelt there too and to have become part of the history of this church.
Embedded within the particular historicity of the Catholic church in Perth, St. John's pro cathedral and all that happened in there was a portal into the timelessness of the Universal Church.
Special thanks to the chaplain, who has worked tirelessly and faithfully to provide the people of Perth with this memory of sacred heritage. Keep up the good work Father. May your efforts be rewarded in Heaven.