Old rite wins new Mass ap­peal; de­cree sparks ‘phe­nom­e­non’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Ju­lia Duin

The Tri­den­tine Mass, the Lati­nonly rite both loved and hated by many Catholics for its me­dieval qual­i­ties, is roar­ing back into use af­ter a July 7 pa­pal de­cree loos­ened the rules on cel- ebrating it.

Two tra­di­tional monas­tic so­ci­eties ded­i­cated to the rite re­port that priests from all over the coun­try are sign­ing up in droves for week­long classes to learn the rit­u­als and lan­guage of the Mass, named af­ter the 16th-cen­tury Coun­cil of Trent.

Mon­signor Michael Sch­mitz, vi­car­gen­eral of the Florence, Italy-based In­sti­tute of Christ the King, said he has re­ceived hun­dreds of calls from in­ter­ested clergy.

“This is a na­tion­wide phe­nom­e­non,” he said. “Many more parish priests and younger priests are in­ter­ested in learn­ing to cel­e­brate the Latin Mass.

“When­ever the Latin rite is cel­e­brated, you get many young peo­ple,” he added. “They are look­ing for some­thing that speaks to the soul, and the beauty of the liturgy is awe-in­spir­ing.

The heart­felt pres­ence of God re­ally af­fects them.”

The Elmhurst, Pa.-based Priestly Fra­ter­nity of St. Peter trained 50 priests on per­form­ing the rite this sum­mer at its Our Lady of Guadalupe sem­i­nary in Den­ton, Neb.

Its Septem­ber ses­sion is al­ready full and its Elmhurst book­store got a “big up­surge” in de­mand for priestly train­ing ma­te­ri­als within two days of the an­nounce­ment, said the Rev. Carl Gismondi, a Fra­ter­nity priest study­ing the­ol­ogy at the Do­mini­can House in the Dis­trict.

“It is a de­tailed liturgy, so there’s a lot of books and videos needed to teach a priest how to say this Mass,” he said. “There’s some­thing about it that’s very at­trac­tive to peo­ple. It’s more than nos­tal­gia be­cause a lot of young peo­ple are in­ter­ested in it.”

Un­til Pope Bene­dict XVI’s dec­la­ra­tion, called a “motu pro­pio,” the Tri­den­tine Mass could be cel­e­brated only with the ap­proval of the lo­cal bishop. One-third of U.S. dio­ce­ses had no Tri­den­tine Masses, and most of the oth­ers had only one or two per week. Bene­dict noted in his doc­u­ment, though, that the post-Vat­i­can II Novus Ordo, or Mass of Paul VI, will re­main the church’s usual cel­e­bra­tion.

The So­ci­ety of St. Pius X of­fers a “free Mass kit” along with a 120minute in­struc­tional video for priests on its sspx.org site.

Neal Kot­larek, man­ager of the Catholic book­store near the Arch­dio­cese of Detroit head­quar­ters, is or­der­ing re­pro­duc­tions by the case. “Usu­ally, I just carry a few copies,” he said.

Mau­reen Wil­liamson, a man­ager at the Fort Collins, Colo.based Ro­man Catholic Books, said 200 copies of its $155 deluxe edi­tion priest’s al­tar missal sold within two weeks of the pa­pal an­nounce­ment. She typ­i­cally sells 20 to 35 a month.

“We’re pro­ject­ing we are go­ing to sell more than 700 by the end of the year,” she said. “Now that this Mass is able to be said by any­one at any time, priests and parishes have been or­der­ing it.”

Priests from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Alexan­dria, Va. and St. John’s in McLean, Va. are send­ing priests to Den­ton, Neb., in Septem­ber. The Rev. Franklyn M. McAfee, pas­tor of St. John’s, was trained in Den­ton four years ago and plans to im­ple­ment the Tri­den­tine rite in early Oc­to­ber. It will re­place his parish’s noon Latin cel­e­bra­tion of the Novus Ordo Mass.

“The peo­ple here re­ally want it,” the priest said. “All sorts of prom­i­nent peo­ple have asked me for it. They’re not op­posed to the Novus Ordo Mass, but they pre­fer the 1962 Missal,” re­fer­ring to the rules that Pope John XXIII drew up for the cen­turies-old Mass.

“It’s more rev­er­ent, more tran­scen­dent,” Fa­ther McAfee said.

In the older rite, wor­ship­pers must kneel to re­ceive Com­mu­nion on their tongues; the priest al­ways leads the parish­ioners in fac­ing east, rather than fac­ing them; and the rite is al­ways in Latin. There are other dif­fer­ences in terms of liturgy, priestly vest­ments and the man­ner in which laity take part in the ser­vice. Women cel­e­brants of the Tri­den­tine mass cus­tom­ar­ily cover their heads, al­though it is not man­dated.

“Lo­gis­ti­cally, I think the chal­lenge for the next two months for priests who want to say the Mass is to get the missal, vest­ments and plan for work­ing with a mod­ern sanc­tu­ary,” Fa­ther McAfee said. “Al­tar boys need to be trained, and men need to learn Gre­go­rian chant. There’s a ton of work for parishes with a priest who wants a Mass.”

“The solemn high Mass is a pro­duc­tion,” he added. “It’s very chore­ographed. Some­one called it the great­est bal­let in the world. It’s all very scripted.”

Ann Thun­der, one of his parish­ioners, likened al­tar-boy train­ing to foot­ball di­a­grams.

“If you word it in terms of a sports anal­ogy, it works,” she said, “such as server A passes a cruet to server B.”

Astrid Riecken / The Wash­ing­ton Times

The Tri­den­tine Mass, or Ro­man Rite Mass of the Catholic Church cel­e­brated in Latin, is see­ing a re­vival since a de­cree to loosen the rules.

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