Mass Experience

At St. James you will experience an unrushed prayerful Mass, chant, traditional hymns, and a community bubbling with life from the youngest of children on up to the elderly where everyone is welcome no matter where you might be in your journey. This form of the liturgy is loved by both Anglicans who have come into the Church and by life long Catholics who are looking for a more traditional, reverent form of the Mass, as well as Protestant curiosity seekers who are looking for more depth and tradition in worship. 

Mass at St. James is celebrated according to Divine Worship: The Missal, a beautiful, reverent form of the liturgy that was promulgated by the Vatican in 2015 and was described by Pope Benedict XVI as a “treasure to be shared.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to be Catholic to Attend?

No. Anyone is welcome to attend the Mass. We are excited that God is speaking to your heart and drawing you to experience and learn through St. James more about Catholicism, the oldest Christian Church in existence. Sit back and take in the experience and afterward it would be a big compliment if you were to grab the priest or a friendly looking person and ask some questions about what you experienced since all of the symbols and movements, if done well are designed to do just that: provoke questions and provide opportunities for learning.

How should I dress for Mass?

Father Mayer encourages wearing Sunday best as an outward action of worship to God when attending, but anyone and everyone is welcome no matter their attire. At every Mass there will be some in suits and others in shorts. It is not uncommon to see a woman using a head covering and those without head coverings.

How long does Mass last?

The 8:00 AM Mass is normally done shortly after 9:00 AM. The 10:15 AM Mass has a choir and is more musically elaborate and also uses incense and so it normally finishes around 11:30 AM. Although the timing of these Masses is decently consistent, the focus on Mass is on having an unrushed time of thanksgiving to the Lord together with God’s people.

What is the music like?

At Mass you will experience a mixture of traditional hymns written over the centuries as well as Gregorian Chant. For special occasions the schola will sing Anglican Chant, Palistrina, and other pieces of the rich, historic sacred music tradition in the Catholic Church. During Christmas and Easter the schola uses the Missa de Angelis, a beautiful latin language setting that reminds us of our strong connection to the rest of the Church. Most hymns come from the 1982 Hymnal which comprises many of the most loved hymns in the English language.

Watch a bit of the Scottish Chant Gloria performed by the St. James Schola here.

To see more music samples please checkout the Patrimony section over at Videos

Where can I find the liturgy aid?

You can find a trifold liturgy aid tucked into the hymnal or you can use your phone to follow the liturgy by going here.

Are there any differences between the 8 AM Mass and the 10:15 AM Mass?

The 8:00 AM Mass tends to be simpler and shorter. Music is led by a keyboardist and occasionally attended by a violin player. 

 

At the 10:15 AM Mass incense is used as a reminder of God’s presence (scripture accounts portray God in the form of a cloud Ex 13:21, 2 Chron 5:14, 1 Kgs 8:11) and of the prayers of the people which rise like incense to the Lord (Ps 141:2, Rev. 8:4). Also, there is a schola (choir) which leads the music.

How many people attend the average Mass?

Currently, there are normally around 20 or so people that attend each of the two Sunday morning Masses. We probably have around 50 or so people if you combine the counts from the two Masses on an average Sunday. On a bigger Sunday such as the Solemnity of Saint James which took place this past July, attendance at each of the Masses is closer to 40 or more.

Why is the priest’s back turned toward the people during the prayers?

From earliest times Ad orientem worship was a sacred posturing toward the east, toward the light of the rising sun, which symbolizes Christ who came as the light of the world and will one day come again (Ps. 19:4, 5). This was the normative posture of worship for most of the 2,000 year history of Eucharistic worship. 

 

In the 1960s, during the liturgical reform, out of a desire to encourage a fuller and more active participation in the Mass by the people, priests began celebrating Mass toward the people (Ad populum) instead of turning with the people toward the Lord. However, there is a movement within the Church to return to the older practice of Ad orientem worship with all of its rich symbolism. 

 

The Garden of Eden, the first meeting place of God and man, was planted in the east (Gen. 2:8), and it is expected that at his second coming, Christ will return from the east (Ez. 43:1, 2; Zech 14:4) which is why Christians are traditionally buried facing east so that they will rise to face Christ at the resurrection. The oldest extant house church, discovered at Dura-Europos, had an altar placed against the east wall. This east facing orientation for prayer was recorded by many Church Fathers including Tertullian, Clement, Origen, St. Augustine, and St. Basil the Great who taught that this tradition was handed down from the apostles. Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “Praying toward the east is a tradition that goes back to the beginning.”

 

However, there is also practical and theological reasons for Ad orientum worship. When addressing the people the priest turns toward them, but when he is addressing God on behalf of the people, he turns to the east. Christ, in the person of the priest, stands on the same side of the altar as the people and united with them as the body of Christ, offers himself up to the Father. One should keep in mind that liturgical east is not always the same as geographic east. Depending on how the building was constructed, it is not always possible to face east. Also, some Roman basilicas have large vaults on the east side of the altar, making Ad orientem Mass impossible. In these circumstances, the altar, as the point of focus, the place where God meets mean, becomes “liturgical east.”

Learn More:

Why do the prayers address God using old English?

Within the Ordinariate, liturgical prayer uses Sacred English, (“Hallowed be thy name…”). It is easy to misunderstand this type of archaic language to emphasize a distant God who can only be spoken to using the necessary formality. Yet, in actuality, the opposite is true. 

Anyone knowledgeable of the development of the English language knows that the terms thee and thou are the informal usage and the term you is the formal. Historically, in familial contexts such as a parent talking with a child the term thee or thou would be used. However, when you were speaking to someone of status, a judge, a teacher, your employer, you would use the formal term you. As English speaking society became more formalized, the informal usage was neglected and forgotten. No one wanted to risk using a term that might negate another person’s status and so formal pronouns were almost always used. Yet, within the Mass these older terms continue to be used as a reminder of the Lord’s closeness to his children. The Mass is a family setting and these words are reminders of our kinship, our intimacy with the Lord.

What if I have noisy children?

Your children will be welcomed! Unlike some communities in which children are sent out during the service, children are an important part of Mass at St. James. As Catholics, we understand the Mass is our family gathering. Jesus said “Suffer the little ones to come unto me.” He did not say “Let the quiet well behaved ones come to me and keep the others away.” We worship as a gathered family. However, if you need to slip out with a screaming child or if a young one needs a stretch break, the back two rows are reserved for young families so that you can easily slip out as needed. 

What if I am bothered by other people’s noisy children?

Getting to Mass with young children is often an incredibly courageous act that includes the willingness to be embarrassed by your young children during the years that they are learning to quietly pray the Mass (it does take years to learn this). Thank you for your patience, support, and encouragement of our young families. Thank you for reserving the back rows for families with young children so that they can slip out as needed should a noisy child need a break. 

 

If you are looking for a quiet place to meditatively pray on Sunday mornings, you may have more success in obtaining this stillness by visiting one of the local adoration chapels, such as at St. Joseph Catholic Church, during the week. While everyone is encouraged to attend Mass at St. James in such a way that others are not disturbed, because the Mass is our family gathering, there are often lots of little noises and because the space is that of a small mission, these noises are much more noticeable. So, next time you are tempted to frustration with a young family, ask the Lord to help you, and them, afterall, they have to put up with it not just on Sunday mornings, but all week long :- ). 

What is the preaching like?

Fr. Mayer works hard to prepare well structured, helpful homilies that are easy to understand and follow while bringing together teachings from Scripture, the magisterium, and the saints. Check out and listen to some of Fr. Mayer’s recent homilies.

Who can receive holy communion?

For Catholics 

All Catholics who are not conscious of grave sin and who have fasted for at least an hour, are welcome to receive communion. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession.

 

For Fellow Christians

We welcome you to the celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ’s prayer for us “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).

 

Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion.

 

For Non-Christians

We also welcome those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family.

Do you use altar rails? Can I receive communion while kneeling? Standing?

Yes, at St. James we have a series of kneelers set up at the front that are used as an altar rail for the reception of communion. Most people receive communion while kneeling, however those who have difficulties kneeling, are encouraged to receive while standing.

How is communion distributed? What is communion by intinction?

Communion is normally given by intinction, which means that the blessed sacrament is dipped into the chalice by the priest and carefully placed on the person’s tongue (one of the Vatican approved methods, see G.I.R.M. 245). To receive in the form of bread only, signal by touching your chin. 

You are allowed to receive communion in the hand, however, communion on the tongue is preferred as the tradition that had developed within the first few hundred years of the Church with the deepening understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. The Fathers of the Church began favoring communion on the tongue for two main reasons: first, to avoid dropping of Eucharistic particles and second to increase devotion to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Placing the Eucharist directly on the communicant’s tongue also lessened the need for the recipient’s hands to be clean and protected the Eucharist from being taken home as a souvenir, for superstitious reasons or other profane uses. St. Thomas Aquinas taught in the thirteenth century that, except in cases of necessity, out of reverence, only the consecrated hands of the priest are to touch the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The practice of communion on the tongue became universal by the sixteenth century and remained so until 1969 when limited permission was given to distribute in the hand, a practice which came to the United States in 1977.

Currently, there is a standing instruction for Masses at the Vatican that communion is to be given on the tongue. However, in other diocese, communion is given in the hand and the Holy Father has chosen not to allow this difference to be a matter of division, but rather a diversity of traditions. Within the Ordinariate, the tradition of communion received on the tongue is retained and encouraged as a means of emphasizing reverence to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, while still respecting liturgical law which allows the individual choice of receiving in the hand.

How to receive communion on the tongue

Tip your head back 

Rotate your head as though looking up toward the ceiling. This places your tongue in a horizontal position giving the priest a level platform on which to place the blessed sacrament.

 

Close your eyes

People who keep their eyes open tend to try to help the priest by moving their heads toward the host which makes it difficult for the priest to give communion. When you move your head instead of keeping it still, this sometimes causes a collision between your lips or tongue and the fingers of the priest which is not good. Close your eyes and wait patiently and trustingly while the priest carefully places the blessed sacrament on your tongue. 

 

Do not Lean Forward

This causes your tongue to point toward the ground making the Blessed Sacrament more likely to fall. Instead of leaning, simply close your eyes and stick out your tongue.

 

Silence

Amen is not said in this form of the Mass. Simply receive the Lord in the sacrament without saying anything.

Why the coffee and refreshments table outside?

Hospitality and welcome is an important value at St. James. Please stick around and enjoy a drink and a treat so that we can connect and get to know one another. We are happy that you have joined us and we want to get to know you.

How can I learn more about this form of the Mass?

Listen to these talks by Father Mayer