The Vision of St. Mary of Pine Bluff

The Vision of St. Mary of Pine Bluff

Verdant Pastures

Archbishop Joseph Naumann recently said

“We face an increasingly hostile secular culture, which really is promoting things very different from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our vision of the human person, the dignity of the human person,” he explained. “We’re going to have to be much more vigilant as Christians and as Catholics about with whom we partner and who we invite in, particularly with regard to the formation of our young people.”

I started with this quote from Archbishop Naumann because it struck me as something that was speaking to what we are already making every effort to provide at St. Mary of Pine Bluff (SMPB). This is not to say that SMPB is not inviting to all; in fact, the contrary is true. But, we are creating an environment that is abundantly clear we are teaching and living by what the Roman Catholic Church has always taught. This means, for those who choose to live a “different way that makes compromises with the world,” SMPB will not be the place for them. For those who are seeking a haven of rest in Truth and Charity, SMPB is a perfect place for them.

If you get the chance to read two important books released recently – that speak very closely to the vision we have here at SMPB – I highly recommend them:

  1. Strangers in a Strange Land by Archbishop Chaput
  2. Live Not by Lies by Rod Dreher

We want families to feel as though they are truly in the verdant pastures and beside restful waters with the “true” Shepherd, our Lord, Jesus Christ, protected from, as Archbishop Naumann says, “…an increasingly hostile secular culture, which really is promoting things very different from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”


Mutual Enrichment & A Doorway Into a Larger World

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf wrote,

“There are a lot of people out there who, for various reasons, are not ready for the traditional forms either again (if they are older) or for the first time. Happily, where I am (SMPB) I can bring what I have learned from the traditional Rite about the priesthood and about Mass to how I say the Novus Ordo. Also, the contact between the two forms in that parish (SMPB) is making a big difference. There is indeed a “mutual enrichment”… We see people who have been going to the Novus Ordo now, on their own, trying out the older form of Mass and, after an experience with it, sticking with it … We have to look at the Novus Ordo, for these good people, as a doorway into a larger world.


It isn’t a surprise to anyone who reads this blog that I think that the older, traditional form is richer and superior to the Novus Ordo in many respects. But people come to that realization in their own time. On a personal note, the Mass that first caught my attention and was the vehicle for my coming into the Catholic Church was the Novus Ordo. But it was the Novus fully informed already by the “mutual enrichment” that Benedict wanted for the Novus Ordo everywhere.”

YES!! In most cases, the Novus Order – enriched by the TLM – is “the” doorway! I could not agree more.

Fr. Zuhlsdorf also aptly points out in the article, “That’s the essence of charity: sacrificial love, seeking the good of the other even at your own – especially at your own – expense.” That’s an important “key” to the vision of SMPB. Our first duty is “Charity” (Love) for others. Charity begins with our missionary work which is, primarily, to lead people through the sheep gate (doorway) into the “verdant pastures” … the Divine Life that, ultimately, gains access to eternal life. In other words, we must put our hunger for souls ahead of everything … and that includes our comfort. Love connotes an “other-centeredness,” and so we, at SMPB, ask ourselves, “What is the best way (“best practices,” in the business world) for us to lead people into this Divine Life?”

The previous question is really just another way of saying, “How can we best evangelize?” Fr. Zuhlsdorf has a popular phrase he coined, “Save the Liturgy, Save the World!” Many other giants of our faith (Sarah, Arinze, Burke, Schneider, Morlino, etc.) have, in their own way, said just the same. There are countless stories, like the one Fr. Z shared above, where people encounter – by way of a reverent Novus Ordo – that “Sense of the Sacred/Transcendence,” and find themselves on bended knee, reassessing their former ideas of faith, and turning their lives completely over to the Lord.

Assisting people to encounter the Divine, and mutually supporting others who have also encountered the Divine (true community), is the truest way to evangelize. I wrote about the day I discovered this greatest and deepest truth HERE. Boiling it all down, I discovered that we all need to “break through” to a “true” spiritual life – Supernatural Divine Life – by way of the first and necessary gift of the Holy Spirit – Awe & Wonder. And then, we need to do all we can to lead others to break through to this Divine Life. Everything else is just tinkering around the edges.


The “Sheep Gate” (Open Door) of St. Mary of Pine Bluff

We know that we are, by only the grace of God, well-positioned at SMPB to truly make a difference in assisting people – with “real” evangelization – to break through to the Divine Life. The Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) at SMPB is of the highest quality. And, the Novus Ordo continues to be “enriched” by the presence of the TLM, and is of exceptional quality, relative to the vast majority of Novus Ordo Masses. We have seen, and we will continue to see more and more people break through to the Divine Life as they encounter the sacred beauty and reverent offering of the Source and Summit of our faith – the Holy Eucharist – as it is offered here at SMPB.

So, we can see that the Novus Order at SMPB offers an exceptional “doorway” (as Fr. Z stated) to the Divine Life. The reality (as Fr. Z points out) is that many are not ready for the TLM. This means we must do all that we can to make the Novus Order at SMPB as accessible as it can be. While my desire is to help our wonderful people who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass – the vast majority of which have long since broken through to the Divine Life – to have the most comfortable time for a Sunday Mass, I want us to be sure we offer a very good “doorway” time – most accessible – for those who may want to come here and, many for the first time, are discovering the “Sense of the Sacred/Transcendence” at the Novus Ordo Mass.

Please keep this “Vision of St. Mary of Pine Bluff” in your mind and heart. Remember, our first priority is – beyond comfort or anything else – a hunger for souls … doing all we can to assist as many people as possible in having that encounter with the Sacred/Transcendent, leading them into a “true” spiritual life … the Divine Life.

Save the Liturgy, Save the World!