Young Catholics raise de­mand for tra­di­tional Latin Mass

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Kristi Moore

Ro­man Catholic churches na­tion­wide are rush­ing to ac­com­mo­date a surge in de­mand for the tra­di­tional Latin Mass, which is draw­ing a sur­pris­ing new crowd: young peo­ple.

Since July, when a de­cree from Pope Bene­dict XVI lifted decades-old re­stric­tions on cel­e­brat­ing the Tri­den­tine Mass, seven churches in the Wash­ing­ton, D.C. metropoli­tan area have added the liturgy to their weekly Sun­day sched­ules.

“I love the Latin Mass,” said Au­drey Kunkel, 20, of Cincin­nati. “It’s amaz­ing to think that I’m at­tend­ing the same Mass that has formed saints through­out the cen­turies.”

In con­trast to the New Or­der Mass, which has been in use since the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil in 1969 and is typ­i­cally cel­e­brated in ver­nac­u­lar lan­guages such as English, the Tri­den­tine Mass is “con­tem­pla­tive, mys­te­ri­ous, sa­cred, tran­scen­dent, and [younger peo­ple are] drawn to i t ,” said the Rev. Franklyn McAfee, pas­tor of St. John the Beloved in McLean, Va. “Gre­go­rian chant is the op­po­site of rap, and I be­lieve this is a re­fresh­ing change for them.”

Susan Gibbs, the di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions from the Arch­dio­cese of Wash­ing­ton, said the at­trac­tion demon­strated by the young adults is “very in­ter­est­ing.”

Be­sides the liturgy’s rich his­tor­i­cal con­tent and spir­i­tual sig­nif­i­cance, the younger gen­er­a­tions show an in­ter­est in the old be­com­ing new again, said Louis To­fari of the So­ci­ety of St. Pius X, an or­der of clergy that op­posed the re­forms of the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil.

“Peo­ple who never grew up with the tra­di­tional Mass are find­ing it on their own and fall­ing in love with it.”

The Tri­den­tine Mass helps peo­ple in their 20s and 30s who have grown up in a cul­ture that lacks sta­bil­ity and or­tho­doxy see some­thing larger than them­selves: the glory of God, said Ge­of­frey Cole­man of the Priestly Fra­ter­nity of St. Peter ’s Our Lady of Guadalupe sem­i­nary in Den­ton, Neb.

The Tr iden­tine Mass “de­taches me from the world and lifts my mind, heart and soul to heav­enly things,” said Michael Malain, 21, of Hous­ton.

Kirk Rich, 21, of Ober­lin, Ohio, re­mem­bers the first time he at­tended a Tri­den­tine Mass and re­calls think­ing that a new re­li­gion had been in­vented.

“That’s cer­tainly what it seems like when com­par­ing the two forms of the Mass,” Mr. Rich said.

The big­gest dif­fer­ence be­tween the two forms is that the Tri­den­tine Mass is al­ways cel­e­brated in Latin, ex­cept for the homily. The priest also leads the parish­ioners fac­ing east, the tra­di­tional di­rec­tion of prayer. The New Or­der Mass can be cel­e­brated in Latin, but usu­ally is not. There are also dif­fer­ences in some of the prayers, hymns and vest­ments.

As a re­sult, the over­all feel of the Tri­den­tine Mass is more solemn and se­ri­ous.

“The cof­fee so­cial is af­ter the tra­di­tional Latin Mass, not in the mid­dle of it,” said Ken­neth Wolfe, 34, of Alexan­dria, Va. “No one can say, with a straight face, that the post-Vat­i­can II liturgy and sacra­ments are more beau­ti­ful than the ones used for hun­dreds and hun­dreds of years.”

Like the church­go­ers now de­mand­ing the cel­e­bra­tion of the Tr iden­tine Mass, the pr iests learn­ing the rite are usu­ally younger as well.

The So­ci­ety of St. Pius X trains priests in the liturgy of the Tri­den­tine Mass and has re­ceived as many as 25 re­quests a week for in­struc­tion since July.

“The phone was ring­ing non­stop, and I was get­ting e-mail af­ter e-mail,’ Mr. To­fari said. “The re­sponse was ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble; most of the peo­ple who call are be­low the age of 30.”

The Priestly Fra­ter­nity of St. Peter has col­lab­o­rated with Una Voce Amer­ica to host work­shops for clergy in Den­ton, Neb. Una Voce Amer­ica, which pro­motes the cel­e­bra­tion of the Tri­den­tine Mass, usu­ally teaches the rite to 12 stu­dents a ses­sion. But in Septem­ber, it in­creased that num­ber to 22 to meet the in­creased de­mand for train­ing.

Many pr iests think the changes ap­proved by the pope will do more than bring young peo­ple into the church. They think the cel­e­bra­tion of the Tri­den­tine Mass will in­crease the faith of many fol­low­ers.

The Rev. Paul Scalia, 37, has been cel­e­brat­ing the Tri­den­tine Mass at St. Rita Church in Alexan­dria. He said the in­crease in young at­ten­dance is ev­i­dence that the Mass is some­thing liv­ing and life-giv­ing.

“The beauty is tremen­dous, as it draws us to God, who is beauty Him­self,” Fa­ther Scalia said.

Astrid Riecken / The Wash­ing­ton Times

The Rev. Al­fred J. Har­ris, pas­tor of St. Mary, Mother of God Catholic Church in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., has em­braced the re­turn of the tra­di­tional Tri­den­tine Mass, in which the priest faces the al­tar rather than the con­gre­ga­tion and cel­e­brates in Latin.

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