Tuesday, January 8

The Low Mass Experience

Photo Credit to Br. Jerome. See More Photos

Low mass is my favorite part of the day and now that masses are being said in the crypt of the monastery the whole "low mass experience" seems to have drifted to a time in earlier centuries. Last week was the beginning of our new morning routine and I want to share a little piece of this new joy with you.

On a typical Clear Creek morning - 6:10am Beep! Beep! I roll out of bed and quickly dress and prepare for mass with just enough time to stumble out into cold darkness toward the car before it is time to go. After saying the driving prayer with the other members of my family we often wonder aloud if we will be on time since it can be hard to remember what time mass begins, since it changes daily. Everyone in Clear Creek seems to be awake before sunrise - neighbors on their way to work, the monastery construction workers in their trucks, and all the people who attend low mass daily are out on the roads. Once through the monastery entrance we now must suppress the automatic-pilot to stay left where the road forks and instead follow the arrow which points to the right toward the “new monastery”. The dirt road winds around the edge of the pasture and then dips down a steep hill at the bottom of which is the beautiful bridge. Driving up over the last hill the new monastery comes into view - The multitude of lit windows of the residence building gives the impression of a large castle. The parking lot is mostly dirt and hopefully I remembered to bring a flash-light to light a path between the puddles and large rocks on the way to the crypt. The crypt is solid concrete and the walls are a few feet deep. It is very cold – like a refrigerator. If the monks are still finishing Prime (one of the liturgy of the hours) I wait with the other women in the narthex of the crypt for them to finish. As the monks file out of their stalls after Prime and go about preparations for low mass, the faithful find their chosen positions around the church. There are many options when entering the church – seven side chapels or the center pews facing the high altar. I always choose a side chapel since I love to be as close as possible to the action. There are chairs stacked against the walls and I grab one and carry it to where I wish to be. At low mass everything is said very quietly and even being as close as I am (a few feet from the priest) not all can be heard. The priest and his server whisper back and forth the prayers of the mass while I follow along in the missal. The picture above is from my first low mass in the crypt (I am on the far right with my brother and sister). Though the concrete is very cold on the knees (since we kneel during most of the mass) the whole experience is so consuming and brings about such a sense of the sacred that distraction (even cold knees) is not as bothersome as one would think. Communion is even more beautiful to the senses now for I need only stay kneeling in my place when Jesus is brought to me and descends from the hands of the priest who seems so tall above me. The quiet and peace of low mass seems to envelope the whole church. It is not the silence associated with loneliness for the church seems alive with almost 30 monks and another 30 or so lay faithful – but I would say it is rather the restful comfort of being in the midst of so much holiness, peace and silence. Though it can be confusing for visitors, it is an experience worth the effort. I am so grateful to have been in Clear Creek during the monks stay in the temporary chapel but this new change is another exciting step toward the beautiful future of Clear Creek Monastery.


Bridget said...

wow. that sounds like an awesome experience!

Larry said...

Thanks Michaela. Makes me want to get down for a visit soon. Hopefully, when I do I can get some more chickens!
Larry B