For the fifth year in a row, Catholic tradition made a quiet but profound appearance in an unsuspecting setting: before dawn, early on a Saturday morning on the campus of a public university.
However, for the first year, it was led by a successor of the apostles.
As was previously posted here on OnePeterFive, before dawn on December 11th, Bishop Conley, ordinary of Lincoln, Nebraska offered a Pontifical Solemn Rorate Mass at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Newman Center.
Many woke early that Saturday morning to worship in so sublime a way — totaling four hundred faithful, many of whom were students.
Starting at 6:30 AM the bishop, donned in his newly-gifted cappa magna, processed to the altar — only lit by the dozens of candles illuminating the sanctuary — to the sounds of seminarians from Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary chanting a polyphonic setting of the Litany of Loreto.
At this particular hour, the whole of the congregation covered in darkness could only have known the exile and the eager anticipation of the whole world waiting for Our Lord in His first coming, born of a Virgin and laid in a manger.
This darkness is something that traditionalists know all too well. Living in a dark world with darkness consuming the Church. Looking for the light.
The bishop begins the Mass. I will go to the altar of God… Send forth Thy light and Thy truth.
And from that point on, the Lex Orandi of this Mass, even elevated to a cosmic level as it relates to dawn and the sun, teaches us the most profound and consoling truths of our faith — that the true light does come; that His life is the light of men in the midst of darkness.
While this should primarily teach us lessons about Christ’s first coming in salvation history, this poses a powerful lesson for those of us who love Catholic tradition: that in the end, the light does, in fact, conquer the darkness.
In the eyes of today’s traditionalist, one can see the many flames of hope throughout this congregation — the hundreds of students who woke up early (seventeen even drove two hours one-way, all the way from Kearney, Nebraska); the handful of diocesan priests as major ministers; the dozens of young adult altar servers.
Although we stand in a seemingly insurmountable darkness, the true light is coming and indeed, now is.
The fire of Tradition will never be extinguished.
The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (Jn. 5:1).