Veiled women, incense, Gregorian chants, kneeling, standing, kneeling again, long periods of silence — think all of this is a scene from a Catholic Mass in 1950?
It was then, to be sure — but it is now also happening every Sunday, and in some places every day, in churches all over the United States. The Latin Mass of years gone by is becoming more popular again.
As a convert to the Catholic faith, I was drawn to the Catholic Church by the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the fullness of the faith, and the path of truth with a capital “T” through the ages. I thirsted for the Eucharist during every Mass I attended even before my First Communion and Confirmation at the Easter Vigil in 2012.
Each and every celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a reenactment of Calvary, of Christ as priest, Christ as victim. The mystery of the Catholic faith occurs on altars the world over during this unspeakably holy event.
For some, the pinnacle of participation in this mystery is attending the Tridentine Latin Mass (or Traditional Latin Mass, both abbreviated TLM). That is the Mass as it was celebrated for centuries before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), commonly referred to as Vatican II.
Significant changes were instituted in the worldwide Catholic Church as a result of Vatican II, including, most noticeably, celebrating the Mass in the local language. The priest now faces the congregation rather than all present facing in the same direction — toward the crucifix above the altar.
More from LifeZette.com:
While the Traditional Latin Mass that had been celebrated for nearly 400 years was never abrogated, it seemed to disappear overnight — and Catholic churches around the world were obliged to adopt the new format.
With the Mass so changed, many other changes occurred that were not specifically enumerated or encouraged by Vatican II. This resulted over the years in what some describe as a loss of solemn reverence and unity during worship.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued Summorum Pontificam, an apostolic letter that permits individual parishes and priests to offer the TLM to the faithful. Thus the Mass as described by Vatican II is known as the Ordinary Form — and the TLM is known as the Extraordinary Form. While both forms are licit and approved by the Holy See in Rome, it can be difficult to find a local parish that offers the TLM.
Alfonso DiGirolamo, a lifelong Catholic, started a website, GetTLM.org, to help parishioners bring the Traditional Latin Mass to their own parish. The website includes videos that explain what to expect when attending the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, and it shares resources to help formally introduce parishes to the TLM.
DiGirolamo has been attending the TLM in Philadelphia for more than four years. He learned how to serve as a master of ceremonies for it, which means he's the adult male altar server who responds in Latin on behalf of the congregation during the Mass and helps direct the altar boys. He explained, "Between the reverence, the prayers, and the adoring respect for the Holy Eucharist, it has become an essential part of my and our prayer life, which is just not available, even in the most reverent, in the Ordinary Form."
His wife, Brenda, also a lifelong practicing Catholic, started attending the TLM with her husband just two years ago. "To be honest, I wasn't a fan at first, but now I love it," she told LifeZette. "There is a reverence shown toward the Mass, but most especially toward the Holy Eucharist. Also, it helps me to remain focused and pay attention to the prayers so I don’t get lost."
A dear friend of mine, Catherine Adair, and her family attend Mass at St. Benedict Center in Still River, Massachusetts. "The first time we attended the Tridentine Liturgy [the TLM], we felt like we were as close to heaven as we could get on Earth," she shared. "We felt, as a family, so connected to our faith and to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that we just felt this is where God truly wanted us to be."
She continued, "This is the Mass that so many of the great saints attended, and I feel so close to them and to the continuity of the faith to those that came before us."
I also feel "the continuity of the faith" that Adair describes. My family and I have been attending the TLM for a little over a year now and were immediately struck by the gravity and holiness of the rite. I was especially drawn to the periods of sacred silence before, after, and at several times during the Mass.
While it was a little confusing at first, I have learned how to follow along in the missal (which has Latin on one side and the English translation on the other). I have grown to love the beauty and reverence that I personally have only found during the celebration of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. As both the Ordinary Form (in the local language) and the Extraordinary Form are valid, this choice comes down to personal preference and, in some cases, availability of the Mass one prefers.
Whichever Mass one chooses to attend, we are all truly blessed as faithful Catholics to be witnessing a resurgence of the faith in America.
Jewels Green is a mother, writer, public speaker and advocate for the right to life from conception to natural death. She lives in the Philadelphia area.
Thank you for the post, Father, it sums up how many of us who attend the EF Mass feel. Also, I am delighted to hear that the FSSP are coming to a diocese within two hours' drive from me. Deo gratias!
I'm happy for the fellow featured in this article that he has learned how to serve as a master of ceremonies as an adult. But this is a task that the young men can and should undertake, especially if he is discerning the priesthood. The young servers at my parish are quite skilled, impressively so.
We have been having bi-weekly Solemn Masses due to the presence of two FSSP deacons visiting our parish on weekends from the nearby North American seminary, and it is amazing to see all the young men fulfill their serving roles with such precision, care, and devotion. I am certain our parish will generate many, many vocations as a result of the robust altar server program (every male of altar serving age has a place in the sanctuary during the Masses -- dozens of them, some with active roles and some without).
Anyway, please pray for our two deacons -- they'll be ordained to the priesthood in a couple weeks.
And at this link, you can find some pictures of all the FSSP seminarians recent visit to our parish in April. The visit culminated with a Sunday Solemn High Mass celebrated by the founder of the FSSP -- what a treat!
I suspect if the reform had occurred in the 1950s instead of the 1960s (truly an evil decade), it would have been more in line with what Sacrosanctum Concilium actually said.
I would encourage all who make the sacrifice to go to a TLM to take some time afterwards for fellowship and community building with the folk who come.
In the various places I've been to, it's the rare Mass that concludes with the families spending more than a few minutes just greeting one another and getting to know each other more.
Unless we're more organized and friendly, the environment won't be conducive to attract more and more families, especially among the young. It's community that will give this longevity. The more people expect to see their peers and friends at a given Mass or parish, the more they will continue to go back and support the parish involved.
The more young people connect the TLM with seeing their friends, the more likely they'll be to embrace the Mass as their own rather than just another quirky thing their folks or grandfolk drag them to.
Jus, at our parish, the priests had to announce to the people who attend the 9:00 a.m. low Mass that they need to leave in time for the people coming to the 11:30 a.m. high Mass to have a place to park! This is still a problem for those of us who go to the 11:30 -- those 9:30 people are all still hanging out in the parish hall, at the playground, and all over the place taking up the parking spots! We have to park 2 blocks away or across the street.
At both other TLM parishes in town, the same thing happens. It's pretty much been that way at most TLM parishes that I've been to.
You're just having bad luck.
The EF Solemn Mass is more aesthetically pleasing to me than is the usual OF Mass, but that's irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how pleased our Eternal Father is with our particular celebrations of the Mass. The question should be, "which manner of celebrating the Holy Mass promotes the greatest possible sacrificial participation by the congregation in the Sacrifice of Christ?"
Either it's all about the Father, our it's all about nothing.
Jusadbellum, don't let yourself get pulled into their game.
The discussion of EF sociability has been around for a while, but I don't see how a Mass invariably scheduled at a marginal hour for a marginalized group of people comes under such scrutiny for the supposed social deficiencies surrounding it when the scrutinizers are often the very ones determined to make it all so socially unacceptable. The excluders accuse the excluded of being exclusive!
Dialogue, I couldn't care less about what "they" feel with respect to the brave folk who go to the EF. What I do care about is the growth of the community of families who attend such Masses.... that they organize as a group not just as lone wolves.
It's striking to me that so few will linger. Perhaps this is my bad luck as someone says. That's entirely plausible. If your local Latin Mass is packed to the gills and the people come from this aesthetically pleasing rite with a fire in their bellies and a desire to spread the joy, well, you're blessed. But where I am it seems that people shuffle in quietly and leave quietly without much mingling and mixing. It's like people don't want to mingle with fellow Catholics.
Given all our problems, given the real potential for a bloody persecution of the Church coming to our shores in the coming decades, we who actually go to Mass (in Latin or English) should get to know one another because when the chips are down you want to know you have a relatively large circle of allies to rely on rather than be beaten down and demoralized as an anonymous individual like we are becoming in the post-Christian west
With many Novus Ordo Masses (painfully banal), the faithful are pouring out of the doors right after Holy Communion, so I wonder which group has the real "socialbility issue."
Jus, do you go to a diocesan TLM or a dedicated TLM parish?
TJM said..."With many Novus Ordo Masses (painfully banal), the faithful are pouring out of the doors right after Holy Communion, so I wonder which group has the real "socialbility issue."
From where do such Novus Ordo practices originate? They seem to come out of nowhere, then reach in rapid fashion every part, no matter how isolated, of the Latin Church Novus Ordo world.
Years ago, the sudden practice of holding hands during the Pater noster entered into the Novus Ordo. Then the applaud-the-choir practice at the end of Mass swept Novus Ordo practices. The Communion row-by-row practice swept through Novus Ordo parishes.
Now, it's reported everywhere, that at almost every Novus Ordo parish, waves of people receive Holy Communion, then bolt to the parking lot.
Do liberals concoct practices that are then presented to clergy and lay leaders who attend national liturgical workshops/gatherings? Do clergy and laity then return home to implement the latest liturgical abuses/fads? Do clergy and laity receive such ideas via publications? Either way, somebody has to concoct these things.
Is that the way things work? I don't know.
And so it begins, Pope Francis is going to ORDAIN FEMALE DEACONS!! The BREAKING STORY is on CNN. This is what the liberals have wanted all along, now the S.S.P.X. will never come home to Rome.
If Rome ordains female deacons, there is nothing in Rome for the SSPX to "come home" to. As it stands, it is Rome that needs to come home to the Catholic faith.
Anyway, the claim that Pope Francis "is going to" ordain female deacons is a pretty big stretch of what he actually said.
The Society of Saint Pius X is "home" with Rome. They Society is Catholic. They are in communion with His Holiness Pope Francis. At each Mass that they offer, the Society commemorates Pope Francis. The Society recognizes Pope Francis' God-given authority over the True Church.
I agree, Marc. The Pope never said he would ordain deaconesses.
When standing in the midst of a cohort of Modern "Womyn" Religious, it is prudent to say whatever you have to say to appease them, less they suddenly strip down to their yoga suits and start dancing in protest against you. You never fully recover from a thing like that.
I agree with Dialogue, the sight of the women 'religious' in leotards is something one just never gets over. Somehow the sight of those Woymn in tights gets scorched onto the brain forever ... One thing I suppose to admire is they have no worldly cares for what they look like ...
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