California Catholic Daily exclusive by Roseanne T. Sullivan:

Forty-nine years ago, on the first Sunday of Advent of 1969, the new Mass was introduced to Roman Catholics, and the traditional Latin Mass was virtually banned. Although Pope Benedict XVI freed up its use in 2007 and it has since been celebrated more widely under the name “extraordinary form,” it is still rare to find such Masses celebrated at most Catholic colleges and universities.

Who could then imagine a day would come when an extraordinary form High Mass would be celebrated again at Mission Santa Clara on the Santa Clara University campus? On November 21, 2018, that day did come.

On the evening before Thanksgiving, Canon Raphael Ueda, chaplain of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Oratory in San José, celebrated a Missa Cantata, a sung High Mass, at the Mission Church’s otherwise mostly-unused main altar.

The Mass came about because, for the past 10 years, a group of lay people has organized an annual commemoration as close as possible to the death anniversary of Father Magin Catalá. Father Catalá is the wonder-working missionary who served at the Mission Santa Clara for 36 years; he died on November 22, 1830.  (You may remember the article about last year’s Mass, “The Holy Man of Santa Clara,” published by California Catholic Daily.

The Mission Santa Clara Church now serves as the Santa Clara University Chapel. Five years ago, the Jesuits who run the university granted permission for one traditional Latin Mass a year. For the last four years, the group arranged a Low Mass, and then finally this year was able to arrange for the first High Mass.

Usually, masses in the chapel are celebrated in the round, with chairs with kneelers arranged around a simple altar in the middle of the nave, and the homily is given at a podium with a microphone. Those who set up the High Mass on November 21 needed to redirect the chairs to face the high altar and the liturgical east, and they needed also to bring in candles and altar cloths and Mass cards.

Canon Ueda preached from the usually unused pulpit.

Two choirs — from Thomas More School and from Immaculate Heart of Mary Oratory — joined to sing the Proper chants for the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady. Especially fitting for the occasion, the combined choir also sang polyphonic (multi-voice) settings for the Ordinary (unchanging parts) of the Mass which are from a collection of actual music that was taught to the converted native Americans by the Franciscans. The music for the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, and Sanctus, which the choir sang November 21, may well have been sung at the Mission Santa Clara back when Father Catalá was alive.

Afterwards, attendees moved to a side altar called the Catalá altar, which is also called the altar of the crucifix, where they prayed for Father Catalá’s canonization using a prayer that has been approved by all the bishops — from Archbishop Sadoc Alemany when the Mission was part of the San Francisco Archdiocese, down to the present Bishop Patrick McGrath of the Diocese of San José, which was divided from the San Francisco Archdiocese and was formed from Santa Clara county.

Father Catalá was known for praying many hours at that very same crucifix, sometimes all night long. Witnesses at the hearings for his canonization (the cause for which has stalled since 1909) reported seeing Fr. Catalá levitating in front of that crucifix and that the figure of Christ detached His arms from the cross and embraced the holy friar.

After a fire burned down the church in 1926, Father Catalá’s remains were saved from the ashes and so was the crucifix. Father Catalá’s remains were re-buried in the reconstructed church, at the Gospel side of the rebuilt side altar where the crucifix now hangs. A marble grave slab, which used to have gold filling in the letters carved in it and was on the floor in the previous church, is on the wall to the left of the altar.   

It’s easy to imagine that Father Catalá rejoiced along with the rest of those who were there on that night when, through the efforts of a persistent few of his devotees, the reverence and sacred music of the traditional sung Latin High Mass returned for one evening to the beautiful Mission Santa Clara Church.