The Advent of the "Drive-In Mass"

Photos by OC-Travel
I would like to offer a special word of thanks to all those great priests out there, "in union with all the Holy Masses celebrated throughout the world," who in their courageous dedication have been offering "parking lot" Masses the past several weeks amid the COVID-19 crisis, even amid frigid temperatures.

Special mention goes to Fr. Bryan Pedersen of the parish church of Sacred Heart in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.  Fr. Pedersen is an old friend of mine, a high school classmate, who has done an outstanding job celebrating, not one, but two outdoor Masses every Sunday for faithful who wish to participate.  He even celebrated outdoor Easter Sunday Masses in a snow storm under a tent.  Parishioners are immensely grateful and know how blessed they are to be able to hear Holy Mass from the safety and comfort of their automobiles.  Those who participate in the Mass stay in their cars, watching and participating as best as they can while following the livestream so generously provided on the parish Facebook page.  Holy Communion has not been distributed, in obedience to current norms in time of pandemic, and so the faithful are encouraged to make a spiritual communion.

In recent years much has been written about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The subject has been treated in all of its many aspects -- dogmatic, devotional, liturgical, historical, so on and so forth.  When, nevertheless, new works make their appearance, they will surely address the subject of the necessity of the Holy Mass.  Amid this crisis of being deprived of Masses in our churches we have been reminded of the necessity of the Mass.  The subject is not yet exhausted and today we view it in a whole new light.  It cannot be said enough how necessary is the Holy Mass --  for both clergy and laity. 

The subject of the necessity and greatness of the Mass brings to mind in some ways an old quote from St. Leo the Great: "For the greatness of God's work surpasses and greatly transcends the faculty of human expression; and the very fact, which gives rise to the difficulty of speaking on the subject, is the reason why we should not be silent...And therefore there is never absent matter for praise, because the eloquence of him who praises will never suffice" (Breviarium Romanum, Lesson IV, of the Second Nocturne, of Sunday within the octave of Christmas). 

Once again, a special shout out to Fr. Pedersen for going above and beyond.  He even provides a chant schola.  His sung Mass in a tent is reminiscent of the great outdoor Masses of the annual Chartres Pilgrimage, celebrated in the French countryside every Pentecost Sunday.  Also, my compliments to Fr. Pedersen's excellent taste and liturgic-ascetical sense which I have always been most impressed with -- the  outdoor set-up is exceptional and done properly with an impressive portable altar that is worthy of the Sacrifice and is of great artistic merit.  Indeed, the Holy Sacrifice of Mass is the most excellent act of Catholic worship.  "Agnoscite quod agitis, imitamini quod tractatis" - "Know what you do, imitate what you administer" is the exhortation given to the priest on the day of his ordination.   This has been the leading idea in the priesthood of Fr. Pedersen.  Many thanks to his dear parents for being his first teachers and giving us a true, holy, noble and dutiful priest and genuine spiritual leader of the people.
The Mass is a veritable school of spirituality, an inexhaustible source of grace, formation and inspiration which, if realized, plays a decisive part in the Christian life.  The ideal of our Christian life is daily self-immolation in union with Christ and the Mass; union with our Divine High Priest and Victim.  Christian perfection is thus understood as a work of grace as well as of human cooperation.  Hence, a serious effort to secure the necessary aid of grace includes participation in at least Sunday Mass and frequent reception of Holy Communion.  This is our essential identity.  Let us pray for a return to public Masses.

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