23 Jul Witness to The Rite
Mike Church Sees Apostolic Succession, Live!
Radio host Mike Church braved sizzling temperatures, along with 1500 other faithful Catholics, to attend the June ordination Mass of the Fraternity of St Peter in Denton, Nebraska. Here’s what he told REGINA about the experience.
REGINA: Why were you at this ordination?
MIKE: I made a promise to my friend Mike Cunningham that if he invited me to his ordination, I would be there with the Bells of Saint Mary’s on. Well he made it to ordination and is now Father Michael Cunningham, so me and a publicity shot of Bing Crosby as Father O’Brien made the trip.
REGINA: Had you ever attended an ordination before?
MIKE: No, this was my first.
REGINA: What’s the FSSP seminary like?
MIKE: Inspiring and serene all at once. It was 101 ̊ that day so getting inside and out of the heat was a priority but I did get a walking tour of the exterior and it was like walking around a modern day version of the cloister set from the film ‘Saint Rita’, with its beautiful interior courtyard.
REGINA: And inside?
MIKE: The interior was even more inspiring knowing that many priests who work and sermons I’ve admired from a distance were trained there! The library was most incredible, when my guide opened the door to that cavernous room I instantly thought “books!
REGINA: As opposed to ‘smartphones’?
MIKE: Yes, I’m not quite sure what a room full of smartphones would smell like. Smartphones, like the rest of the internet they promote, have their use in the proper context, now, so I’m not a Luddite about them or technology; but they can never replace a well bound, book about The Faith, like Humility of Heart or The Incredible Catholic Mass.
REGINA: How many people were there?
MIKE: I believe the Ordination Mass was attended by 1500+ and it was standing, er, kneeling room only in the Narthex! It was on its way to a high of 101 ̊ outside and it felt like it was 95 ̊ in the Cathedral.
Regina: And the Mass?
MIKE: The Mass was a Latin Mass Catholic’s dream, silent retreat. Archbishop Sample alternated between his Mass duties, under a zucchetto and his Bishopric duties, under a miter; the Grace that enabled these seamless alternations was beautiful and profound to behold.
REGINA: What were your feelings about all this?
MIKE: I got to see the Rite of Apostolic succession, LIVE! And in person! Like a kid on his first trip to the Snickers aisle at an inconvenience store, you’re overcome with a sense of abundant Grace, coming from every direction. To witness a reenactment of Saint Peter bringing Saint Paul into the priesthood is beyond description; I must have said the Centurion’s Creed 100 times, thumping my chest with each recitation. It’s a humbling experience.
A STANDING ROOM ONLY CROWD at the FSSP ordinations in Denton, Nebraska this June.
REGINA: How long did these guys study to become priests?
MIKE: It depends but for most it is seven years though some take longer. I know a priest who was in seminary for 12 years and today is he is one of the holiest men I know.
MIKE: Imagine devoting that kind of time and energy knowing you’ll be taking a vow of poverty and chastity as an earthly reward and yet tens of thousands are called to it every year since 34 A.D. ; if they aren’t the real deal in the One True Church after all that, then there is no one, true church!
REGINA: Why is it that most people have no idea that these traditional Orders are attracting so many young vocations?
MIKE: For the same reasons they attend Jimmy Buffet Masses in Hawaiian shirts, cargo short-pants and sock-less Crocs i.e. they are comfortable where they are and ignorance is bliss, though this bliss is banal and uninspiring.
REGINA: Hmmm, what do you mean?
MIKE: There is a near ubiquitous ignorance of the Church’s teaching today especially moral teaching. So if you don’t know that there remains a prohibition on contraception it would seem normal to you to see families of second wives, husbands and 2.5 kids — there’s no traditional lex vivendi there — so where would they see priests in cassocks, berets and saturnos!? Or, even know they still exist outside the pages of books grandma left the kids after her canonization service, I mean ‘funeral’?
NEWLY ORDAINED FATHER MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM and his family.
REGINA: Did you speak with any of the new priests?
MIKE: I spoke to any priest who would tolerate my inquisition and hand kissing! Yes, I spoke with Father Lillard of the Society at length because he had visited my diocese in 2015 and said Mass for us but the only new priest I spoke with was Father Cunningham, who is a good southern lad, and he is headed to New Jersey for his first assignment, making that vow of chastity and poverty sting that much more! (lol)
REGINA: Did you get a newly ordained priest's blessing?
MIKE: I did. Father Cunningham was gracious enough to give me his blessing under the protection of Saint Augustine and Saint Monica. I’ve spent a lot of time kneeling at the communion rail but have now had this special Grace of a newly ordained priest’s first blessing, twice. Last June I attended Sunday Mass at the Society’s Saint Joseph church in Richmond, VA. There I met and received the first blessing of newly-ordained Father Bean and I still feel a special devotion to his apostolate.
REGINA: Any last words for REGINA readers?
MIKE: I pray everyone gets to attend an ordination — it beats tailgating for a Jimmy Buffet mass, knees down!
Mike Church can be heard Here.