This post may be edited, or I may make new posts linking to this as I get any new information from the rectory. Keep checking back.
There is a lot here and it took a few hours to put together. Explore the many links over the next day or two.
I hope the info is not intimidating as it is not meant to do that. Catholic culture at Assumption Grotto is quite different from your average Catholic parish as you will see in many of the photos below. Things may seem odd, such as the total silence in Church, the posture of the priest during Mass, or profound signs of reverence. I remember my first time at Grotto like it was yesterday. It's like being Alice in Wonderland if you have never been exposed to traditional Catholicism.
If you are a blog-reader, don't hesitate to say hello (just not during liturgy and devotions). You can't miss me. Look for the short lady wearing about a 25-30 lb camera vest, probably looking haggard and lugging photo equipment. My day starts at Grotto at 6:00am on August 15th. I'll be there when the lights go out around 10:00pm.
First, I'm giving some nuts and bolts...
You can get details on the schedule for the day, and shuttle bus info from the Lourdes Legacy online (scroll down to see what's happening when).
Map for Assumption Grotto where events are taking place (around Gratiot an McNichols in Detroit).
Map for St. Veronica's (shuttle bus pick up and drop off about two miles away. If you can't get parking at Grotto, it is best to take the shuttle bus. Parking on the street and neighborhood is not secure, but there is security on the grounds of Assumption Grotto)
Feast not Festival: Our titular feast day is not treated as a festival. There are no carnival rides, beer tents or vegas nights (so, sorry). Rather, it is devotional. Assumption Grotto is a local pilgrimage point where people can take a day to ponder their faith, adore and worship God, and honor the Blessed Mother. However, we do have a spaghetti dinner until from 1-5 and fast-foods available until 5:30pm. There are also some booths with items for sale and the giftshop will be open.
First, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a holy day of obligation. It is treated like a Sunday. That link I provided in the last sentence will take you to a document written by the late, great theologian, Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ who spent his final years working out of Assumption Grotto and whose cause for the sainthood is being advanced. It contains some general summaries about Catholic belief about Mary, including the Assumption. We do not worship Mary, but honor her. The statues and pictures turn our thoughts to her virtuous example the same way a family photo turns our hearts to think of loved ones.
More on the holy day of obligation...
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
II. THE PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH
2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:
2042 The first precept ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.
Some general notes about Masses and other tips
Posture of the Priest: All Masses at Assumption Grotto are celebrated ad orientem, or facing to the east (or to the wall altar). This posture was never abbrogated by Vatican II and can be used in the Mass of Vatican II. From a spiritual standpoint, this posture of the priest, is not one in which "he has his back to the people". Rather, he is leading us into worship of God. From a spiritual standpoint, we seek not the face of the priest in the Mass, but the face of Almighty God.
Holy Communion: At Assumption Grotto, intinction is used at all Novus Ordo Masses (Mass of Vatican II). The Host is intincted by the priest into the Precious Blood and it may only be received on the tongue this way (see GIRM 287, RS 103). Self-intinction is not permitted (see RS 104). There is an altar rail in the church and those physically able may kneel to receive. Those with physical disabilities can simply approach the center gates standing. There is no kneeling for Communion in the outdoor Masses due to logistics and dangers of people falling on the rough terrain or on tombstones. In these cases, a bow just before receiving is in order (see GIRM 160) . If you happen to forget and stick your hands out to receive, the priest will go right over the top of them to your mouth. This is because he cannot distribute an intincted Host into your hands.
Attire: One does not have to be in their Sunday best. But, the pastor and priests expect that people will be dressed modestly and neatly. Modesty is the most important. As one man explained in an online forum, he asked the father of a teenage girl if his daughter could come to Mass with more modest apparel. The Father was indignant and told him it was none of his business. But the man explained calmly, that he, like many other men, battle with temptations of lust and that holy Mass is the one place he expects to not see the kinds of things found on bilboards and magazine covers. The father took a closer look at his daughter and said he had never really noticed how scantily clad she was. The following Sunday, the girl was properly covered.
In general, shorts and tank-tops, bare midriffs, mini-skirts are a no-no for liturgical activities, period. You will stand out like a tourist in podunk. Please consider that the priest is wearing his usual clothes, plus a cassock, and vestments, including a surplice or alb and chasuble, among other things, including the amice wrapped halfway up his neck. No one could be suffering from the heat more than the priests and altar boys, so keep that in mind. All of the good priests at Grotto suggest we can simply, "offer it up". Such things are as sweet as prayer to God and sometimes more when we really deny ourselves.
Silence: Many parishes today have decibel levels resembling a mall on a Saturday before Christmas. When in the church, please don't talk to each other. It is a time when you should be talking to God in his own language: silence. How else can you hear His voice above all others? Don't be too concerned with being rude to your neighbor. When in God's house, be concerned with being rude to Him by not giving Him your full attention, quietly. You never know what He may have to say to you in your heart.
Reverence for the Eucharist: You can't be reverent if you haven't been taught. Keep in mind: It is the Lord! Many people are unaccustomed to things like adoration, where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a monstrance. Here, we adore God in our hearts, minds and wills. If God can become Man in the form of Jesus Christ, then Jesus Christ can become a humble piece of bread.
There is typically some silent adoration in Church and outdoors at the Grotto in the morning or afternoon. If you see a monstrance exposed, or if you see a candle flickering near the tabernacle outdoors, observe total silence out of reverence.
Also, a sign of reverence before the Eucharist in a monstrance is to genuflect and bow down on both knees before entering a pew/row/seat. Always genuflect profoundly on your right knee. When you see the priests processing with the Eucharist in the monstrance to and from the Church (before/after adoration and at the end of the evening when Mass is over), please kneel on one or both knees as Our Lord passes by. You will hear the bells chiming three times as the priest and altar boys approach. Look for them and pay respect to Jesus in the Eucharist.
Also, please keep in mind the Grotto area is a cemetary and a sanctuary. Please do not take food and drinks down in that area. There are many other places to eat.
6:30am and 9:30am Mass Notes
These morning Masses, held indoors, are great for those who are working or volunteering, or just can't get caught up with large crowds later in the day.
The 6:30am Mass during the week (recently added to the daily lineup) is a "Tridentine" (pre-Vatican II, more properly called, Mass in the Extraordinary Form), and on Sundays and holy days it is the Novus Ordo (Mass of Vatican II, or Ordinary Form) in English.
As far as I know, the 9:30 will likely be a Latin Novus Ordo.
Summorum Pontificum only granted one Mass in the extraordinary form and at Grotto, the pastor was leaning to having it at the 7:00pm timeslot (subject to change).
Noon Outdoor Mass Notes
This outdoor Mass at the Grotto (weather permitting) draws a nice crowd, but not quite as large as the evening one where many who had to work can come. Parking may be difficult for this Mass if you are getting there close to Noon, so I would advise getting there up to an hour early, or just take the shuttle bus from St. Veronica.
The forest provides protection from the sun. Holy Communion outdoors is distributed standing because the terrain and tombstones make it dangerous. Priests will go to Communion stations where people lineup accordingly. Even here, Communion is by intinction and must be received directly on the tongue.
7:00PM Outdoor Mass (the big Mass of the day)
This is one of the most beautiful Mass of the day, and is held at the Grotto (weather permitting). While not concelebrating, Detroit Auxiliary Bishop John M. Quinn has regularly assisted each of the three years that I have photographed this Mass. This will be my fourth. Last year, we also had with us, Bishop Daniel Flores. I'm not sure who will join us this year.
If you can't get there before 5:00pm, then it is best to park at St. Veronica's and take the shuttle, or if the lot is already full if you should come before 5.
Fr. Perrone tells me that tentatively, this Mass is slated to be a "Tridentine" (extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, sometimes also referred to as the usus antiquior - ancient use or Traditional Latin Mass - TLM). However, there were some things he had to work through so this could change.
If this is a TLM, it will be in Latin. Readings are often done in English after the Latin or during.
There is considerable kneeling. It is wise to bring a kneeling pad such as those used in gardening, or even some kind of blanket for several people to kneel on. Of course, there are always those who cannot kneel due to physical limitations in the knees or back and we wouldn't judge them as it is not our place. If you are not sure whether to stand, sit or kneel, just kind of look around you. It's not a good idea to sit right up front as you will not have anyone to look to.
Also, if it is a TLM, there is mostly silence during the Canon (Eucharistic Prayer). Typically, the parish hands out booklets or leaflets to people who don't have missals. I am not sure if those are being prepared or not. You still fulfill your obligation, even if you do not understand or hear what is happening. Once you have read through the prayers of the priest enough times in missals, it becomes internalized and you know by what he is doing, where he is at.
Consider that this is the same Mass that Catholics went to for hundreds of years, and in fact, with only a few differences, it reaches back to the time of St. Gregory the Great. (died 604). In over 1000 years, many saints were made, many of whom did not understand a word of Latin. This was their Mass and they received all the graces they needed to reach holiness. That means, hearing and knowing the words is not enough. In fact, while it is good to understand all that is said (through reading or hearing) is not necessarily required.
The Pater Noster, or Our Father, is prayed audibly by the priest only. The people say, sed libera nos amalo, or deliver us from evil.
You don't say "Amen" when receiving Communion. Rather, the priest uses a different formula in Latin, than we are use to hearing in the new Mass. It makes sense to say, Amen, in that case, but not in the formula used in the TLM.
Following the 7:00pm Mass, which ends at around 8:45, there is a candlelight procession with priests, altar boys and people. Marian hyms are sung throughout, and then all come back to the grotto area where the Blessed Mother is serenaded with more hymns. It's truly a beautiful experience. For those who stay for this part, it all ends around 9:30/9:45.
Anointing and Benediction of the Sick
This takes place down by the Grotto. It is a very beautiful ceremony to witness even if you are not ill. But, only certain people are canonically disposed to have this sacrament in such a group setting. I explain more in a recent post on this, along with a slideshow video of this from 2007. The music sets it right and it lasts just over 3 minutes.
Confession is available several times during the day in the Church:
Confession times are....11:00a.m., 1:30 & 3:45 p.m
Assumption Grotto is probably the confession capital of metro Detroit. The priests are very compassionate and generous with their time and attention to people seeking forgiveness for grave sins. Having mortal sin is not the only time to go to confession. It can be used to build virtue and to work through imperfections. Be patient in line and consider that the priest will give you the same attentiveness as he does other souls.
Did Vatican II do away with Confession? No. The Catholic Church cannot dispense with a Sacrament instituted by Christ. I hope to have a series on this subject because it is so poorly understood.
Has it been a while since you have gone or have you forgetten how? First, don't hesitate to step into the box and just tell the priest it's been a long time and you need help with your confession. They will run through a series of questions to assist you and guide you through each step. See these great resources also:
- Fr. Z's 20 tips for making a good confession
- Go to Confession: You won't regret it (CMR)
- Examination of Conscience
- See scriptural references for Confession
Rosary and other devotions:
The 3:00pm Living Rosary was interesting the first time I witnessed it. It is where people line up on one side of the Grotto and each comes forward praying the first half of the Hail Mary into a microphone, then steps aside as people in attendance pray the second half. Then, someone else steps up and so on until all 5 decades are done.
Other opportunities for the Rosary: 9:00, 11:00 a.m., 6:15 p.m.
There are other devotions in the afternoon too, such as enrollment in the Miraculous Medal after the Noon Mass, the Stations of the Cross, and more. I will try to get adoration times and list them.
Candles: Another form of Catholic devotion is the lighting of candles. You will find upon entering the Grotto area, booths with colorful candles for sale (usually $3.00 ea). You light these with your intentions - especially for the souls of loved ones who have died. To understand this, we need a good understanding of purgatory. These remain through August 22nd, provided rain does not dampen them. It is a beautiful sight at night.
There are many more pictures to see, most of them collected in a single photo post from 2006, in Photopost 23. Be sure to go back to Photopost 23 for links to all of the other photo posts featuring Assumption Grotto on Assumption Day.
Te Deum Laudamus! Home