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By Renee Rasmussen 

The Mass of the Americas was offered in the extraordinary form by His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone of San Francisco, in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, on November 16. 

In 2018 when this celebration fell on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Cordileone had an idea to combine these two feasts. Cordileone wanted a mass similar to that of the California mission era, that blended instruments such as the guitar with string quartet and organ to create a combination of traditional sacred musical language and locally popular songs. 

This led the mass to begin with an arrangement of the traditional Mexican morning processional tune, “El Cantico del Alba.” The original text was set to new music by Frank La Rocca, the composer-in-residence of the Benedict XVI Institute. However, Cordileone specifically asked La Rocca to incorporate “La Guadalupana,” a popular Mexican devotional into the music of the mass to create a bridge across cultures and nationalities. 

This melody could be heard near the end of the processional, as well as in the Gloria and the setting of the Benedictus. Cordileone hoped this mixture of traditional Mexican songs and sacred music would speak “profoundly to the power of our Mother uniting her children.”

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“It was probably the most beautiful Mass I had ever attended,” said Mary Boneno, a sophomore Theology major. “I especially loved how they incorporated the culture into the music, such as the traditional Mexican folk hymn sung during the vesting ceremony and the ‘Aue Maria’ during the de-vesting ceremony.”

Boneno also stated that she thought it was “the proper amount of inculturation, in which the culture of the Americas was lifted up into the liturgy, rather than the liturgy being diluted to fit the culture.”

During his homily, His Excellency spoke of the unifying power of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas. He described her as our mother, similarly to the Church, and described how through this apparition, cultures united towards the Church. 

“The church is our mother. A mother welcomes, nourishes, consoles, and unites,” Cordileone said. “For Catholics especially the Church is home.” 

He then transitioned to explain the importance of beauty in the Church, not only for the faith but for the poor. 

“Perhaps what the poor most lack in their lives is beauty,” Cordileone said. He emphasized that no matter how poor someone is, the Church is always open to them, and it is one’s responsibility as a member of the Church to make sure it is as beautiful as possible, he explained. 

“Goodness feeds the body. Truth feeds the mind. Beauty feeds the soul,” he said. 

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With every seat in the Basilica filled, this mass encapsulated the theme of beauty Cordileone spoke about in his homily. Archbishop Cordileone himself was even moved to tears by the Salve Regina at the end. 

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“The Latin Mass is something I’ve never had the pleasure of participating in,” said freshman Michelle Gallagher, “much less an Extraordinary Mass, so to witness that and to absorb it in was truly, well, extraordinary.”

“We give our best because we are motivated by love which settles for nothing less,” said Cordileone, summing up the mass perfectly. 

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