Boston, Mass., May 12, 2014 / 16:20 pm
Catholics across the U.S. and around the world are gathering to hold Eucharistic Adoration and Masses in reparation for the re-enactment of a satanic black mass being hosted Monday evening by a Harvard University student group.
Despite the "great evil" of the sacrilegious ceremony, Harvard senior Aurora Griffin told CNA May 12, "there's been some very good things coming out of the opposition to it."
She explained that the response to Catholics concerned about the event "has been overwhelmingly positive" and that she has witnessed an "increased affection for the Eucharist" on campus.
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club sparked controversy when it announced plans to host a re-enactment of a satanic black mass on campus May 12.
Connected to witchcraft and demonic worship, a black mass is a sacrilegious ceremony structured as a parody of the Catholic Mass. Invoking Satan, the ritual is centered around the desecration of the Eucharist, which is generally done by stealing a consecrated host from a Catholic church and using it in a profane sexual ritual, or defecating and urinating on it.
A spokesperson for The Satanic Temple, which is staging the event, initially told media outlets that a consecrated host would be used, although the temple and the Cultural Studies Club both later denied this, insisting that only a plain piece of bread would be used.
Amid widespread opposition from across the country, the Cultural Studies Club announced late on the afternoon of May 12 that it would be moved to an off-campus location, according to university newspaper The Harvard Crimson.
In Cambridge, where Harvard is located, the community has organized Eucharistic exposition and a procession May 12 from the chapel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to St. Paul parish, where a Holy Hour will be held at 8 p.m.
St. Paul's is the university parish and student ministry center on the edge of Harvard's campus.
In Merrimack, N.H., Thomas More College is holding three days of penance and prayer, from May 12 to 14, in response to the black mass.
"Harvard's sad decision to go forward with this event despite pleas at all levels indicates, at best, an ignorance of the gravity of this matter," said the college's president, William Fahey.
"I have encouraged the student body to remain focused on their final days of study, but to add a degree of spiritual intensity. We are approaching this as an opportunity for reparation for those involved who clearly do not understand what they are doing or the spiritual realities behind even alleged re-enactments of Satanic worship."
Fahey has asked that all members of the community at Thomas More College make some act of penance and reparation May 12. In addition to Mass, the college will pray a Chaplet of Divine Mercy and sing Vespers.
"Some of our students will show their solidarity with the Catholic communities at Harvard and MIT by driving down and joining the planned Eucharistic Procession from the MIT chapel to St. Paul's in Cambridge," Fahey said.
"Our students have the spiritual zeal you would expect of young, ardent Catholics. I think everyone here realizes that this so-called 'Mass' does not have the support of many at Harvard, but still, it is a manifestation of evil we wish to counter with acts of prayer and sacrifice."
A Facebook group organized in response to the event at Harvard has garnered more than 2,200 members who have pledged to go to Adoration on May 12 in reparation.
In addition, an online petition by TFP Student Action calling on Harvard to cancel the event attracted more than 39,000 signatures.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, a parish of the Archdiocese of Denver located in Littleton, Colo., will hold a Mass of Reparation said at 5:30 p.m. The Mass will be said by Fr. Joseph Hearty, FSSP, and will be followed by a rosary and Benediction.
In Alice, Texas, outside of Corpus Christi, Our Lady of Guadalupe parish will hold a Holy Hour at 6 p.m.
In the Diocese of Orange, Blessed Sacrament in Westminster will hold a Holy Hour of reparation.
Holy hours will also be held at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Bath, Pa., and at St. Mary's in Alton, outside of Springfield, Ill.
Catholics from around the world, including the Philippines, have also pledged to pray in reparation for the black mass.
The monks of Norcia at the Monastery of San Benedetto, Italy, announced a Chaplet of Divine Mercy in reparation as well.
Harvard junior Jim McGlone told CNA that despite the "tragedy" of the event, he has been touched to witness the Catholic community rallying together with Christians and others who have offered their support.
"I'm really moved to see the way the community has responded to this in action and in prayer," he reflected, saying that the event has transformed into an "opportunity to come together in the faith."