Oklahoma City “has been targeted by dark forces,” Archbishop Paul S. Coakley told a gathering of some 3,000 people Sunday as he led a Eucharistic holy hour to counter Sunday’s publicly performed black mass.
Archbishop Coakley, who leads the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, spoke hours ahead of the black mass, which had been planned for months in a publicly owned and operated theater in the city. The Satanic ritual, an obscene inversion of the Catholic Mass, usually uses (and desecrates) a consecrated Eucharistic Host.
The archbishop said the reason for the afternoon gathering was that a war is being waged against the devil. He said that as Christians “we know that Christ conquered Satan. The war has been won, Christ has conquered, though skirmishes will continue until Christ comes to reign forever.”
Reading from St. John’s Gospel account of the Institution of the Eucharist, he said the Eucharist is an irreplaceable gift — a fact that even many Catholics do not recognize, says Archbishop Paul S. Coakley.
Satan, however, does recognize it.
“It is at the heart of the current controversy, which to the shame of our city is allowed to proceed. Many people have not understood our persistent efforts or the depth of outrage because they cannot accept what we believe to be true, the greatest gift to the Holy Church.”
The archbishop had been fighting for months to get the black mass canceled, but city officials insisted they were bound by the Constitution to allow it in the public space. The organizer of the event, Adam Daniels, claimed to have a consecrated Host in his possession, but he handed it over to the archdiocese when he was threatened with a lawsuit.
Archbishop Coakley said during the Eucharistic Holy Hour and outdoor Eucharistic procession that he and several bishops, dozens of priests and some 3,000 lay persons “gather not to protest.” He urged attendees to “put aside the outrage,” and instead “adore, and listen to the holy Lord, and open our hearts to the promptings of the spirit.”
The Holy Hour was scheduled at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Oklahoma City in reparation for acts of blasphemy, according to a press release that had been issued by Archbishop Coakley.
Kieran Green, a member of Corpus Christi parish in Oklahoma City who attended with his aunt and grandmother, said, “I feel like we are all called to come today because we have to fight evil with prayer.”
Though the Holy Hour officially began at 3 p.m., a prayerful silence permeated the filled-to-capacity sanctuary by 1 p.m. The designated overflow area was filled by 2 p.m., when attendees sought shade under the trees and in the parish community hall.
While many in attendance were from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, others traveled from out of town. Sister Marie Bernadette, of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Wichita, came with others from her order, “to show our unity with the universal Church and Archbishop Coakley, who is a priest [originally] of the diocese of Wichita.”
Archbishop Coakley was joined by Bishop Edward Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa, Bishop Carl Kemme of the Diocese of Wichita, and Archbishop Emeritus Eusebius Beltran of Oklahoma City, as well as many priests, seminarians, and the Knights of Columbus.
The prayer service began with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and hymn, followed by a long period of silent prayer, broken only by the cries of babies. Archbishop Coakley gave a homily about the importance of the Eucharistic.
“Our Eucharistic Lord, who is the source of unity and bond of charity, is the heart of our faith.”
A Litany of the Saints, led by Bob Metivier and the choir of St. Francis parish, followed the bishop’s remarks. The litany included an unusual section rejecting evil. In one line, the cantor sang, “From the snares of the Devil and the legions of Hell,” and the people answered, “Lord, deliver us, we pray.”
Following another Eucharistic hymn, the Eucharistic Procession began. All participants followed the Body of Christ around the city block while praying. Attendees prayed the rosary allowed in multiple languages, while others walked silently.
As the archbishop placed the monstrance at the entrance of the church, the parking lot filled with kneeling people. A priest led the people in the Chaplet of Divine Mercy before benediction.
The quiet of the service broke at the close, when the congregation broke into applause.
For seminarian Jon Fincher of the Diocese of Tulsa, the event was influential in his discernment. He said, “Walking the streets in the name of Christ made me want to be a priest and to serve the Eucharistic.”
Other attendees were equally moved. Peter Epps, convert and parishioner of St. Francis who attended with his wife, Sarah, said, “For me, becoming Catholic was about the fact that the Church says something real happens in the Eucharistic. To walk out doors and see that happen was moving, like Archbishop Coakley boldly underscored.”
While most of the attendees were Catholic, Episcopal priest Nathan Carr came with two of his six children. “My children were very bothered by their understanding of the black mass, so we came to stand with our Catholic brothers and sisters and to support Archbishop Coakley, who has been very kind and generous,” he said.
For many attendees, the Holy Hour and Eucharistic procession were a call to greater conversion. Matthew Valliere, who attends the Latin Mass parish of St. Damien’s, said “For just a moment the world melts away and we are part of the mystical body, marching into heaven, and we could see the body of Christ in dramatic array and follow him into his kingdom.”
Archbishop Coakley told participants, “The Eucharistic procession is a reminder that we the Church are present in a world as light, salt, and leaven.” He thanked the faithful for joining together to offer their prayers in the face of the satanic event. “Your presence here today is a powerful witness of your faith in the midst of a challenging time for our community,” said the archbishop.
He said the procession that took place after the church service was to be a reminder to the faithful that they are to be “as light, as salt, as leaven to bring hope and the light of Christ’s salvation to all.”
Anamaria Scaperlanda Biddick writes from Oklahoma City.