This morning I woke up in a hotel room in Cullman, AL. I checked. Still had both kidneys.
Like most mornings, the first order of the day is Mass. my wife and I headed off to the Christ the King Monastery just outside of town. First, owing to my obsession with tornadoes, I feel compelled to mention that Cullman, along with most of the rest of Alabama, was the site of a massive tornado outbreak in 2011. The storm is legendary in the tornado enthusiast community. That sounded stranger than it actually is. There is a scientific purpose to studying these things. I do it because I like things that go boom. In any event, I showed my wife a video of one of the twisters that touched down in Cullman that day and, to my surprise, found the exact intersection from the video while driving to Mass.
Now then, the monastery… The place was interesting. I don’t have to remind any of my fellow trads that traveling and trying to find TLM’s is not the easiest of tasks. This place, though, was both unusual on many levels and absolutely exactly what I expected. Touching on the latter first; it’s a Latin Mass. Of course it’s going to be what I expect. That’s the beauty of it. It does not change. Now to the former. The building appeared to have been constructed in the early 1990’s and built purposely as some kind of Benedictine abbey church. If you’ve ever been to Clear Creek, OK then you know what I mean. The side chapels, the raredos in the middle of the sanctuary blocking out another high altar in an enlarged apse, the statues and windows of Benedict and Scholastica everywhere… According to their website, the monastery is now under the care of a group called the Alliance of the Holy Family International. What I could tell right away was that this was a very diverse community. Again, the universality of the Church was on display but in a much more beautiful way than some of the “multi-cultural” Novus Ordo Masses I’ve been to. Because here, every nation and tongue came to worship in the unique unity that is the Roman Rite.
I sat down and set my ribbons for the feast of St. Peter Celestine, the pope of the 1200’s who validly abdicated the throne of Peter. Father threw a wrench into my ribbon-setting when he announced that he was saying a votive Mass of the Sacred Heart. A quick re-set and we were off. Father preached a beautiful sermon on the gifts of the Spirit. Now I was really confused. Sacred Heart? Holy Ghost? Where was he going? I got my answer immediately after the sermon as Father proceeded to lead everyone in the first day of the Novena to the Holy Ghost. That’s right, it is nine days before Pentecost and THIS is the original novena.
I include it here in this link for all to join in. If you are unaware of this fact, the whole reason we as Catholics pray novenas (nine days of consecutive prayer) goes back to this very first novena when the Blessed Mother and the Apostles took refuge in the upper room after the Ascension and prayed for nine days until the outpouring of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost.
This year, I think I will pray specifically for the grace to know what to pray for. I know that sounds strange but think about it. The Spirit of Truth is He Who instructs us. Who better to ask than the Third Person of the Trinity as to how I should pray if my ultimate goal is to submit my will to His?
Unfortunately we had to leave pretty quickly as we had someone waiting at a nearby restaurant for breakfast and I was only able to get one picture of the church. Even worse, it is not a picture from inside the church but rather of an outdoor chapel built into the side wall. Still, it is interesting to see. If I pass through this town again I will definitely spend more time and grab more pics. Tomorrow we’re off to Atlanta and a parish I have visited several times.
Come Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the first of Thy love!