Part two of my visit to Greenville: visiting St. Mary Parish--the mother church of upstate South Carolina--to concelebrate with the highly reputed pastor, Father Jay Scott Newman.
Father Newman--like so many--has an interesting story. He was an atheist in college and his conversion began with contemplating beautiful sacred art and architecture. He has been active in promoting the sacred liturgy and his parish is something of a model for what is sometimes called "the reform of the reform"--i.e., a faithful application of Vatican II that is in continuity with the liturgy prior to the Council.
To that end, Mass is offered ad orientem at St. Mary.
So I was looking forward to meeting Father Newman and participating in the Mass at his parish. But: Mass at 7 am! A bit early for a vacation; but I thought, getting up that early--after a late night--"this will be my penance."
Father was genial, Mass began with no fuss; and while a bit uncertain of the best posture for the concelebrant when the priest turns to face the people at certain points, all went well. After Mass, I asked what he thought; his advice was that the concelebrant, rather than turning to face the congregation at those points, might better step back a bit and turn half-way, facing the priest. I agree, that makes more sense.
As Father Newman described in an article here, he omits all introductory and extemporaneous remarks. Father did not introduce me during Mass--and I am totally fine with that! The Mass is about our Lord and the people came to worship him. I stayed after Mass to pray and if anyone wanted, they could say hello; they didn't--they prayed! Good for them! And I'm sure Father will tell them if they ask, who that priest was.
The sanctuary was just as Father Newman recommends--not all "kitsched up" with junk. Oh, and I meant to ask him from which publisher he obtained his altar missal! It was very nicely done.
Father apologized for not being able to ask me to breakfast due to a full day; no problem, I had only called the day before. I did take a quick glance around the grounds: he has a school, so I readily understand how busy he might be. He did tell me he spent seven years in the same role I am about to begin for the Archdiocese--as director of (ongoing) priestly formation--so we compared some notes there.
Thank you, Father Newman, for your leadership in the sacred liturgy!