Tuesday 23 June 2015

The TLM in Hong Kong: Guest Post

Latin is Latin--ubique.
Well, however much I shall write about Single Life again (or, more likely, publish new Auntie Seraphic Letters), Tuesday is reserved for poor Protestants who read Flannery O'Connor and say, "Yes! Catholicism is for me! I want to believe what Flan believed and worship as Flan worshipped!" Personally, I have always been confused by the concept of Flan O'Connor as Catholic missionary as most of her characters seem  to be Southern Baptists. However, two of my favourite (as yet unpublished) stories are about Scottish Episcopalians, so I suppose it all makes sense.

During one visit home in Toronto, I introduced myself to a handsome German scholar at a theology meeting, and the Oratorian Father he was talking to gave a loud yip and cried, "Seraphic Single! You converted one of my parishioners!" The handsome German scholar looked confused, but I forgot all about him because the story was that a nice Protestant girl in Toronto had become interested in Catholicism, had gone to her local parish church, had been hideously confused and disappointed by what she saw there, had gone home and  had typed "Traditional Latin Mass" into the internet.  And, lo, one of my blogs turned up, featuring my rather hyper real-time description of the TLM. She was so intrigued by my account of the TLM/EF, she looked for one in Toronto and found the Oratorians. She checked them out,  "sought instruction", as we say in circles that shudder at the thought of your average RCIA program, and Bob's your uncle's patron saint. 

Therefore, I am determined to keep on writing about the Traditional Latin Mass, for I love Protestants so much, I wish them all to become Catholics. I am too shy to tell them in public--I mean, imagine what Calvinist Cath would say--eek!--so I write it here. 

Okay, so today we have another guest post from our travelling Traddie, Expat Housewife. Expat Housewife is from Continental Europe, but lived in Scotland for some years, and now lives in the Far East. 

It is very hot in Malaysia, and the poor thing can't get to the TLM in her town, for there it is offered only by the SSPX, and she is very respectful of the fact that św. Jan Pawel II said "Nie" to the possibility of us little traddies sneaking off to the SSPX to escape the guitars and tambourines okayed by our local ordinaries. Let us pray for a speedy reconciliation of the SSPX with Rome, so that Expat Housewife can be happy every Sunday, not just when she flees the country. 

Without any further ado, here is her report on the Traditional Latin Mass, fully legit and supported by the local ordinary, in Hong Kong: 

TLM in Hong Kong
by Expat Housewife

I was in Hong Kong the first weekend in June. It was a kid-free long weekend, when my husband and I went to explore another Asian metropolis, our annual treat. (My mother babysits in Kuala Lumpur- her annual treat.) I was very excited about going to the TLM there because the word has spread via a couple of blogs that it is well attended and has the full support of local bishops.

The mass takes place in a chapel of a school, in a residential neighbourhood that is a little bit further away from the city centre. Hong Kong is huge, so I left the hotel two hours in advance, just to be safe. I took the underground and then a taxi because the street was not on my map. The neighbourhood was lovely, with quiet streets, low apartment buildings and houses, and full of trees. I entered the courtyard of the school and immediately felt at home. It was full of youngsters and their parents who went to the early mass. They were hanging around and chatting among numerous statues of saints. The most prominent one was of Don Bosco and Dominic Savio, and I realised that it was a Salesian school.

I made my way to the chapel dedicated to Mary Help of Christians. TLM is celebrated there every Sunday at 12.30, except for some feasts when they use a bigger church. This has been in place since 2001, and the community has significantly grown over the years. I was an hour early, but there were already many people there. I was greeted at the door by a woman and her young daughter who gave me the booklet with the propers and the music. At the pew I found a missal. It was produced by the TLM community and had the Latin, Chinese and English text.

The chapel was very plain: a new building with no embellishment. Luckily, there was no tacky stuff either. The chapel was bustling with activity. Two priests and several altar servers were arranging the altar and rehearsing the entrance of the procession. I had no idea what they were talking about, but it was obvious that they were preparing for something extra. I had a look at the booklet and saw that the first piece to be sung was for the reception of a bishop. A woman sitting next to me confirmed that a bishop would preside, and that we would have a Solemn High Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi, celebrated by Bishop Joseph Ha. I was very excited because such a thing is rare these days, and until then I only once had a chance to be present at a pontifical mass.

By the time the mass was supposed to start the altar was beautified, and everyone around it was properly dressed. They went out and came back in with the bishop, while we sang the assigned hymn for his reception. Then they disappeared again and got dressed for mass, and while waiting I turned around to see how many people were there. The chapel was full, and my estimate was well over 200 people, perhaps close to 300. There were a few mantillas, but most women went with heads uncovered. There were a few westerners present, including one man singing in the choir, a few Filipinos and other Asians, and the rest were all locals I assumed. The usual: all age groups, including families with young kids, and many men.

The mass was lovely. There were three deacons and eight altar servers and they were well trained. They helped the bishop couple of times, and everything ran smoothly. The music was a mixture of Gregorian chant and polyphony, and while the choir was not amazing they were good, and the people in the pews sang along with force and gusto. The choir consisted of both men and women, although men were greater in number. The choirmaster was directing both them and us at the same time, which was very impressive. The sermon was in Chinese (I assume it was Cantonese), so I didn’t understand a word. The bishop made a couple of humorous remarks at the beginning and everyone laughed, but then he continued in a more serious tone. He spoke in an animated way, gesticulating a lot and the people paid attention, nodding at times.

We were treated with O Salutaris Hostia and Panis Angelicus after communion. It was very beautiful and moving. The mass lasted an hour and a half, but I hardly noticed. After the final blessing most people rushed out into the courtyard, and I witnessed several groups in animated conversation. The TLM community has post-mass fellowship once a month, and I wondered if the regulars have a strong sense of community.

The Tridentine Liturgy Community’s website is http://tridentine.catholic.org.hk, and I hope they will upload the photos from the day soon. Sadly, I forgot my camera at the hotel, so I have no pictures to treat you with. If you are ever in Hong Kong, I urge you to go to mass to Mary Help of Christians. It was great, and I hope to get a chance to visit again. 

---Expat Housewife

Seraphic notes: Isn't it amazing that anywhere you go in the world, the Mass is the same? Oh, wait a minute. Well, isn't it amazing that anywhere you go in the world, the 1962 Extraordinary Form of the Mass is the same? Yeah, that's pretty amazing. Thank you, Expat Housewife, for this edifying report. And thank you once again, Papa Ratzi, for giving the EF back to us. Merci, grazie, danke, dziękujemy! And what is more, so much more, for we can all say it together with una voce, tibi gratias agimus!

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