On Sunday, with my latest broadside on matters Catholics filed and published, I drove with my family up into northwestern Connecticut — just for the drive, no particular destination in mind. We ended up stopping for mass at a shrine near Litchfield, built in imitation and honor of Lourdes, that I’d visited occasionally many years earlier with my parents. The place was mostly unchanged: A big expanse of land, gray and somewhat forbidding on a cloudy day with the trees half-gone toward winter; a grotto where they have outdoor masses in warmer weather; a long stations of the cross ascending a wooded hill to a lifesize Calvary; and various gift shops and outbuildings scattered around the grounds. One of the outbuildings doubles as a chapel, and that’s where the All Saints Day mass was held: In a crowded, close, carpeted space, with a mostly-gray haired congregation (we were some of the youngest people there) dressed in suburban- Catholic casual and packed into too-small chairs on three sides of the altar.
It was the kind of setting that would annoy a liturgical conservative and give a real traditionalist the hives, and while there was no guitar (that I noticed) the style of worship fit the space: The music mostly came from the Saint Louis Jesuits, (“Be Not Afraid,” etc.) the crucifix was dark and abstract and there was no other iconography to speak of, and the priest was a great ad-libber and elaborator, working his own reflections in here and there throughout the mass.
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