“There is no doubt in my mind that this was led by the Holy Spirit,” said a Catholic official at Harvard, in reference to the calling off or relocation of the “black mass,” scheduled to take place on the university campus exactly one week ago.
Fr. Michael Drea, senior chaplain of Harvard University’s Catholic Center and pastor of St. Paul’s Parish in Cambridge, made these remarks during an interview with ZENIT, saying, “It was God’s grace that led the Mass off campus.”
“Anything meant to mock and ridicule the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” even if “departments initially tried to veil it under a guise of academic freedom,” he said, must be counteracted. This was achieved last Monday, in an effort organized by the Campus Ministry of Boston, which involved a Eucharistic Procession through the streets of Cambridge, and concluded with a Mass held at St. Paul's Parish at 8 p.m. ET.
The response was “truly overwhelming,” Fr. Drea told ZENIT, describing the "thousands of people that converged on St. Paul’s from all walks of life,” adding it “truly showed the universality of the Church in such a beautiful way.”
“I probably go out on a limb to say a response such as this was, I would argue, probably one that has never been seen before,” he claimed.
Not expecting such a turnout, the Harvard Catholic Center chaplain admitted that during planning this response, “We had no idea what would happen, who would come,” and observed that, once planned, the number of responses multiplied.
“The day of the event people upon people upon people kept coming,” Fr. Drea stated, adding how powerful it was to see this presence.
When ZENIT asked Fr. Drea how he first learned of the planned “black mass,” he shared that he was returning from Rome the Tuesday night before and received a text from a student, which included a photo the student took of a poster in Harvard Yard, which advertised the “black mass,” to be held the following Monday around 8:30 p.m. on campus.
“Immediately, questions came into my mind: What is it? Is it legitimate? Is it Harvard-sponsored? Who is sponsoring it? and so on ..." he told ZENIT, adding their answers were important in order for him to "formulate a proper response.”
It turned out, he said, the idea originated from a student group connected to the Harvard Extension School, its cultural studies club.
“What do we do?” was the inevitable next question, the priest said.
Students, “as they often do,” had all sorts of ideas on how to respond, said the chaplain, adding that he found what he deemed an appropriate response.
“We will do as Jesus would have done. We will pray,” he said.
Fr. Drea said, “this will be our response,” and from this came the schedule and the idea of the Mass, which would be celebrated 8-9 p.m., around the same time as the scheduled black mass, set for 8:30 p.m. last Monday.
St. Paul's pastor added that he made an additional recommendation to follow Mary and St. John’s examples.
“Like Mary and St. John did during difficult times, we must be with Our Lord. We must stay with him, be with him,” during this time in which some, likewise, try to humiliate the Church as had been done to Christ. He added, like “they were with Him at the foot of the Cross,” we must be “beside him.”
Turning to Dr. Drew Faust, president of Harvard, who has been under fire for not having cancelled the “black mass,” Fr. Drea told ZENIT he was pleased by her support.
Recalling the reasons for which Fr. Drea would thank her during his homily the Monday evening, he told ZENIT that the Sunday night before the event, Dr. Faust called him to say she would be partaking in the Mass on Monday, as well as issuing a letter of condemnation against the "black mass" organizers, which was “strongly worded,” Fr. Drea added.
He stated he was grateful for the support the Harvard Catholic and St. Paul’s communities have received, especially on an international front, sharing an example in which he received a fax from a priest in Slovakia, who said he and his community would be hosting a prayer gathering for them.
Fr. Drea also pointed out that the Archdiocese of Boston was “very helpful,” especially Bishop Arthur Kennedy, whom he called a “good friend” of St. Paul’s and Harvard.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, especially its chaplain, Fr. John Clancy, the Harvard chaplain also acknowledged, had a pivotal role in gathering a group from MIT and in proposing an idea of a procession from MIT to Harvard.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
See Full Text of Fr. Drea’s Homily: