By KATIE LEFEBVRE
On All Souls Day, more than 300 people attended the Requiem Mass at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.
“All Souls Day is an opportunity for us as Catholics to pray for all those who have died, especially for the souls in purgatory,” said Father Brent Lingle, director of worship for the Diocese of Sioux City. “The Requiem Mass, as the texts of the Mass indicate, focuses our attention to pray for those souls and implore God for mercy and peace for those who have died.”
With Nov. 2 falling on a weekend the last couple years, this is the first year since 2012 the Mass has been celebrated at Cathedral.
Father Lingle celebrated the Mass in Latin. He was assisted by Deacon David Lopez as the deacon and Deacon Jorge Fernandez as the subdeacon.
The Cathedral choir sang Gabriel Faure’s Requiem Mass, which was originally composed during the time that the Requiem Mass, “celebrated the way we did on All Souls Day; it was the norm,” said the priest.
“It was fitting for us to celebrate the Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite with music that was composed for it,” said Father Lingle. “When Pope Benedict XVI issued the Moto Proprio Summorum Pontificum about the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, it was his hope and desire for Catholics to experience the long liturgical history of the church.”
He explained Mass was celebrated according to this form for more than 500 years.
During his homily, Father Lingle reminded everyone they are all going to die.
“Death is a fact,” he said. “If that were it, this would be a very depressing moment for all of us. In the midst of tonight’s solemnity, we do not have to celebrate death but rather life. The life that the death of Christ gained for each and every one of us.”
Catholics join in prayer on All Souls Day for the “eternal repose of our brothers and sisters who have died in friendship with Christ,” said Father Lingle.
“Instead of entering into heaven immediately, these souls are taken by God for a period of purification – purgatory,” said the priest. “This is a state where God lovingly gives us time to heal us from the damage of our sins. Every time we sin we cause damage to ourselves, to others, to the church and to our relationship with God. If we hope to enter into the kingdom of heaven and see God face to face, then we must be cleansed from this damage sin has caused.”
All Souls Day, Father Lingle said, is a reminder of the big picture, which includes for everyone, death, judgment, heaven and hell.
“Selfishness cannot exist in heaven,” he said. “We know God is pure love, so much so he gave of himself to give us his own son to suffer and die. At the root of every solitary sin is selfishness. Those of us who die with these tendencies on our souls need time to be cleansed before we can enter heaven.”
After the Mass was over, Father Lingle removed his chasuble and was vested in a black cope. He stood at the foot of the catafalque while the choir sang. The priest continuing silently prayed the Lord’s Prayer, passed twice around the catafalque sprinkling it with holy water and incensing it.
Father Lingle blessed the catafalque with the sign of the cross saying (in Latin), “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
The congregation responded, “And let perpetual light shine upon them.”
“May they rest in peace,” said the priest, to which the crowd responded, “Amen.”
Even though Mass in the Extraordinary Form is celebrated every Sunday, it is usually a low Mass.
“Since it had been a few years since we celebrated a Solemn High Requiem Mass, I had to take some time to re-familiarize myself with the ritual,” said Father Lingle. “The Solemn High Mass is more complex in its external ceremonies, so I had to study and review. This was also true for the deacon (David Lopez) and subdeacon (Jorge Fernandez).”
They also had a practice with the servers that lasted a little over two hours. Father Lingle said it was a lot of work “but to listen to people’s experiences and their expressions of gratitude after the Mass was over, it made it all worth it.”
Musically, there are five or six centuries of settings of the Requiem Mass to choose from, noted Matthew Geerlings, director of sacred music at the cathedral. A lot of the musical planning was already done for him.
“The church in her wisdom has told us what musical elements there are in a Solemn High Requiem Mass,” he said. “It is not so much picking music to fit in there. The music has already been chosen.”
The version of music chosen for this Mass was the Requiem by Gabriel Fauré. Geerlings explained this selection is in the “top five in terms of its significance. This is probably one of the most well-known settings of the Requiem.”
“Fauré decided on his own what elements of the Requiem Mass he wanted to incorporate into his setting of it, which was very common to do that in the late 1800s in France,” said Geerlings. “Knowing we were going to do the Fauré Requiem as part of the Mass, then it was what parts are not part of his setting. We chanted those parts that the church already has in place for us.”
The Cathedral Choir is comprised of 12 singers and a flute player. Geerlings played the organ and the soloists were Brandon Hendrickson and Rachael Wragge.
“The nice thing about the Cathedral Choir is it is composed mostly of music educators and other professional musicians,” said Geerlings. “More than half of the choir had already sung the Fauré setting of the Requiem before. It was a matter of relearning the notes and how I wanted it to sound.”
Geerlings said being able to do music “this beautiful and to do it well, is uplifting. It allows me to do everything I was trained to do.”