Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More Latin! -- Wider use of the Tridentine-Rite Latin Mass

Pope Benedict XVI would like every Catholic parish in the world to celebrate a regular Tridentine-rite Mass, a Vatican cardinal has said (CNS and Daily Telegraph).

First, one needs to take reports like this with a grain of salt, however hopeful they may be. I find it incredibly unlikely that the Mass of St. Pius V (Tridentine-Rite) would be renamed the Gregorian-Rite. The reports of the Pope’s recent Motu Proprio was forecasted repeatedly years before it actually emerged, though the actual document was far more permissive than the rumor mill. Furthermore, the numbers of reports stating that the de facto schism with the Society of St. Pius X was nearly ended have sadly, repeatedly been proven false.

At the same time, this report is certainly a sign of cautious optimism. While Vatican II unquestionably resulted in many positives for the Church as a whole, the vitality and strength of the faithful have decreased. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, only 23% of Adult Catholics attend Mass weekly (contrary to the Precepts of the Catholic Church).

Part of the decline of Mass attendance is certainly a cultural issue as devotions have fallen across the board in this country and the Western world at large. But part of it is certainly a loss of the sacred that is inherent in your average Sunday Mass (despite the best efforts of many an Office of Divine Worship Coordinator).

The Tridentine-Rite Mass, properly celebrated is a remedy to his ailment in the wider Church. While it will take years to adequately form and train Catholics priests in the saying of the Latin Mass, it is an endeavor well worth the time and effort of seminarians, priests and bishops. When one walks into the Traditional Mass, there is no doubt, that one has entered the House of God. One often hears jokes about the “Smells and Bells” of Catholic worship before Vatican II, but there is something behind that, which is intensely powerful. As the priest advances to the Altar he chants, “Introibo ad altare Dei”. This begins the Latin Mass and sets the stage for the experience of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. One becomes intensely aware that we are at a Sacrifice, we are at Calvary, and we are at the Heavenly Jerusalem.

The Traditional Mass is already available in most dioceses in America. In Milwaukee it is at offered at St. Stanislaus Church on historic Mitchell Street. Chicago has numerous locations including St. John Cantius.

Certainly the Church would benefit from an even wider availability for the Tridentine-Rite Latin Mass. However, it is not the panacea that many believe it to be unless it is coupled with proper Catechesis and reverent worship with both forms.

Josef Cardinal Tomko recently said in Quebec at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress that “If we understand in depth the meaning of our weekly Eucharist, we will revise our frequentation to it”.

He could not be more right.

1 comment:

Terrence Berres said...

C.S., you posted a question in your comment at Catholic Wintertime, to which I suggest an answer in this post.