This past week I have been fortunate to visit a quite extraordinary parish in South Carolina. Prince of Peace in Taylors, just outside the city of Greenville, is led by Fr Christopher Smith who blogs at Chant Café and whom I met at the Sacra Liturgia conference in Rome this past summer.
Prince of Peace is a phenomenally liturgical parish. What do I mean by that? It is a place where the liturgy of the Church is very much at the heart of the life of the community, tangibly present as the fons et culmen of all that goes on – from the parish school to the social life of the faithful. A great deal of effort is put into the Sunday celebrations, with the music, vestments – everything down to the choice of incense – all culminating to achieve in a remarkable way the hopes of Pope Saint Pius X for a participatio actuosa in the Sacred Liturgy.
The usual pattern of daily Mass in the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is currently on hold as the parish awaits a second priest, but the Sunday routine has remained unchanged. A Saturday evening Mass of anticipation is the only Mass now celebrated versus populum, and this uses the chants of the 2002 Missale Romanum provided in English by ICEL, together with a newly introduced setting of the Ordinary of the Mass by Peter Latona. Sunday morning sees a said Mass (OF) at 8am, followed by a Solemn Mass in the Ordinary Form (English with chant and the Latona setting, ad orientem, with an elite squad of servers!), and a Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form (c. 200 in attendance) that becomes a Missa Cantata for most of the year, and a High Mass whenever possible. The music at these two principal celebrations is usually augmented by a schola of local students, performing music from across the Catholic repertoire, with a particular emphasis on Latin polyphony of the renaissance. In the evening, the final Mass of the day is a replica of the Saturday evening Mass, but celebrated ad orientem. During my visit, this Sunday evening celebration was concluded by a candlelit outdoor procession of Our Lady of Fatima, attended by well over 200 of the faithful from the parish, of all ages.