Tag Archives: Traditional Latin Mass

Extraordinary Form Coming to Southern Oregon

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 UPDATE — The first quarterly Mass in the Extraordinary Form offered at Our Lady of the River will be this Sunday, February 10th 2013, at 6 PM.

ROGUE RIVER: It’s confirmed… What was previously known as the Tridentine Mass, or Traditional Latin Mass, and most recently, the “extraordinary form” of the Mass, will be periodically offered to worshipers at Our Lady of the River Catholic Church in Rogue River, Oregon.

The first Mass is scheduled for Feb 10th,2013, at 6 pm.

ADAMKOTAS420035_306336446081758_565442446_nAs you may recall, Pope Benedict XVI liberalized celebration of the extraordinary form in September of 2007 in his Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, which lifted restrictions on celebrations of the Mass according to the Roman Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII.

According to my Pastor, Fr. Bill Holtzinger–who authorized the periodic Mass–announcements and details concerning the new offerings are forthcoming.

But, here’s what we know:

The celebrant will be Father Adam Kotas, from the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Crescent City, California.

After messaging Father Kotas myself on his Facebook page to confirm him as celebrant of the new offering, he replied and affirmed. And most kindly, offered up some helpful suggestions for those of us unfamiliar with the traditional form. He highly recommends reading up on it to familiarize ourselves with the mass before attending, in order to help us appreciate it a lot more.

I’ve provided the suggested links, as well as a bio on Fr. Kotas below.

On a final personal note: I would like to thank both Pastors, Fr. Holtzinger and Fr. Kotas for the opportunity for our family to experience the extraordinary form. 

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE LATIN MASS

“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” — Pope Benedict XVI’s Moto Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, 2007.

· The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is our opportunity to stand on Calvary with our Lady, St. John and the holy women and offer ourselves to Jesus just as He offers Himself for us on the cross.

· At Mass we unite ourselves with Christ, who offers us with Himself to God the Father. It is the way that we render perfect adoration unto the Father. And we do this as a community, not simply as individuals gathered together. In this process the priest represents all of us and presents all of us to God.

· Thus, the priest offers this form of the Mass facing the same direction as the people, because he is taken from among the people to render sacrifice to God. He is not excluding the people, but rather he is leading the faithful in offering worship and sacrifice.

· All face ad orientem (to the East) because the East, according to St. Augustine, is where Heaven begins (symbolized by the rising sun), and it from the East that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead. Thus we face the East in joyful anticipation of our salvation.

· The Traditional Latin Mass is divided into two main parts: The Mass of the Catechumens (the purpose of which is to offer prayer and to receive instruction) and The Mass of the Faithful (by which we re-offer the sacrifice of Calvary and receive Holy Communion).

TIPS FOR ATTENDING YOUR FIRST LATIN MASS (Low Mass)

1. While at first glance the Extraordinary Form of the Mass may seem very different from the Mass you are used to attending, it is helpful to realize they each have a similar structure. Mass begins with prayers, moves through the readings (or lessons), the Gospel, the liturgy of the Eucharist, reception of Holy Communion, and closing prayers with a blessing.

2. Don’t worry if you can’t “keep up” with what the priest is saying, or you can’t find the right page of your missal or booklet. It may take a few times before things start to feel comfortable and you become familiar with the flow of the Mass. If you get lost, just keep giving thanks to Jesus for His sacrifice and prepare your soul to receive Him in Holy Communion.

3. The readings (lessons) and the Gospel are first read in Latin, and then repeated again in English before the priest begins his homily.

4. The daily readings and certain prayers are not included in the red Mass booklets. If you decide to come to the Latin Mass on a regular basis, you will probably want to buy a full Latin Missal, which has all the readings and prayers for any Mass you might attend.

5. The Pater Noster (Our Father) is prayed aloud by the priest, with the congregation joining only for the final line: sed libéra nos a malo (but deliver us from evil).

6. To receive Holy Communion, approach the altar and kneel at the next empty spot at the altar rail. The priest will place the sacred Host on your tongue while saying the words, “Corpus Dómini nostri Jesu Christi custódiat ánimam tuam in vitam æternam. Amen.” (May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thy soul unto life everlasting. Amen.). You do not need to say “Amen”. When the person next to you has finished receiving Communion you may rise and walk back to your seat.

7. After the final blessing the priest will read the Last Gospel (the beginning of the Gospel of St. John). Afterwards, he will kneel before the altar and lead the congregation in the prayers after Mass. These include: the Hail Mary, Hail Holy Queen, the Prayer to St. Michael, and the prayer “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us” (3 times).

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LATIN MASS

Q. I don’t know Latin. How am I supposed to know what is happening during Mass?

A. Easy-to-use booklets are available at the back of the church for you to borrow for the duration of Mass. These red booklets have the words in Latin on the left and in English on the right. They also include illustrations to help you follow the movements of the Mass, as well as brief explanations about the parts of the Mass.

Q. Why is it so quiet during Mass? I can’t hear what the priest is saying!

A. During most of the Mass the priest prays to God on our behalf in a low voice. It is not necessary to hear what he is saying, however, you may follow along in the Mass booklet or Missal. This silence means there are less distractions and more time to meditate on the mysteries of our Faith and on Christ’s love for us.

Q. Why don’t we get to say anything? I want to participate in the Mass, too!

A. Since Vatican II, many people have become used to the idea of the laity having specific verbal or physical opportunities to participate in the liturgy. This idea comes from the Latin term participatio actuosa. However, the actual meaning of this “active participation” specifically refers to an interior participation by being attentive during Mass, praying, and giving thanks to God for His many gifts. Our prayers are joined with the entire Communion of Saints who are worshiping God along with us during the Mass. While we cannot see or hear them, they are there – actively participating, too. So, while you may be quiet and still on the outside, your mind and soul should be very active during Mass.

Q. Why do some women wear veils? Do I need one?

A. Women traditionally were required under canon law to cover their heads during Mass. While this tradition fell out of practice after Vatican II, it is still appropriate for women to veil their heads, but not required. Many women view it as a way to give honor to God present in the Holy Eucharist, and also as an act of humility.

MORE LATIN MASS RESOURCES

Una Voce America – Support and resources for the Latin Mass

St. Sylvia Latin Mass Community – A PDF tip sheet for attending the Latin Mass

The Catholic Liturgical Library – Latin and English prayers of the Latin Mass

Sancta Missa.org – more Latin Mass resources & educational material

adamstf_oxzhuxFather Adam Kotas was born in Poland on November 15, 1984 and moved to Chicago, IL when he was eight years old. He lived in Chicago with his family in Polish neighborhood and attended a Polish Church in Chicago where thousands of recently arrived Polish immigrants gathered to worship in their native tongue. From an early age Father Adam felt a calling to the priesthood as he admired his parish priest in Poland and the priests he came in contact with at his parish in Chicago. At the age of 14, Father Adam entered Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago in August of 1999 where he graduated in 2003. Father Adam always wanted to be a missionary to spread the Good News of the Gospel to those who have not yet heard it. He wanted to particularly work with the poor. Right after attending the high school seminary he spent a year with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a missionary group of priests and brothers whose main mission is to spread the Good News to the poor, in their pre-novitiate program in Miramar, FL where he attended St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, FL. St. John Vianney Seminary in Miami, FL is a bilingual seminary (English-Spanish) and this is where Father Adam first came into contact with Spanish. He studied Spanish diligently and ministered in the Spanish speaking parish in Miramar as well as at other nearby Spanish speaking parishes. After spending a year discerning whether the Oblates of Mary Immaculate were the right fit for him, Father Adam decided he was not called to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and left the pre-novitiate program. He returned to Chicago where he sought admission to St. Joseph College Seminary on the campus of Loyola University Chicago. Father Adam was accepted into the seminary formation program and at the same time he was accepted into the undergraduate program at Loyola University Chicago. Because Father Adam had accumulated many Advanced Placement college credits while in High School and because he took many more than the required minimum credits per semester while at Loyola University Chicago he graduated Cum Laude after only spending 2 years at Loyola University Chicago with a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy and Spanish in May of 2006.

Upon his graduation from College Father Adam entered the graduate theological seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago in Mundelein, Illinois where he spent a year. After one year at Mundelein Seminary Father Adam transferred to Ss. Cyril and Methodius seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan. Ss. Cyril and Methodius seminary is a Polish-American theological seminary whose main mission is train priests for missionary service in the United States of America. Priests who graduate from Ss. Cyril and Methodius seminary serve in places around the United States where there is a lack of priests. While at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary Father Adam met Father Thomas Diaz who was at the time the vocation director for the Santa Rosa diocese within whose boundaries St. Joseph Parish in Crescent City is located. St. Joseph Parish is the last parish in the diocese of Santa Rosa going north. The diocese of Santa Rosa is comprised of Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte counties. During his three years at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary Father Adam was ordained a deacon at the seminary on April 23, 2009. For one year while at the seminary Father Adam served as deacon at St. Mary of the Hills Parish in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Father Adam graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in May of 2010 with a Masters of Divinity degree. He was ordained right after his graduation to the priesthood by the former bishop of the diocese of Santa Rosa, the Most. Rev. Daniel F. Walsh. The ordination took place on May 22, 2010 at St. John the Baptist parish in Napa, California.

During his time at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary Father Adam was given the opportunity to study at the University of Detroit Mercy. He pursued a Masters of Arts degree in Religious Studies. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from the University of Detroit Mercy in May of 2010. Thus Father Adam not only has a Masters of Divinity degree (M.Div) but also a Masters of Arts degree (M.A.).

Father Adam is fluent in English, Spanish and Polish. He also reads and understand Latin as he studied Latin for four years. Because he knows fours languages from different language families he is able to communicate and read and comprehend many other languages.

Father Adam was appointed right after his ordination to the priesthood as Parochial Vicar (Assistant Pastor) at St. Francis Solano Catholic Church in Sonoma, CA. While at St. Francis Father Adam was responsible for the growing and ever expanding Hispanic ministry. Under Father Adam’s leadership the Hispanic community grew dramatically and many ministries were started at St. Francis including 3 different youth groups.

Father Adam was appointed interim administrator of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Calistoga in February of 2012. He remained in that post unit June 18, 2012 when Bishop Robert Vasa appointed him as Pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Crescent City, California. St. Joseph Church is the only Catholic Church in Del Norte county and this makes Father Adam the only priest in the entire county.

Father Adam leads St. Joseph’s with a passion for the Gospel. He is focused on strengthening the parish with Bible studies, retreats, missions, and engaging liturgies that call attention to the need to be re-evangelized as Catholic Christians in the 21st century. Father Adam is known for his humor and infectious laughter. He is very approachable and easy to talk to and always available to anyone that seeks his guidance and input. Do not hesitate to call on him for spiritual help. Father Adam emphasizes that he is a priest for all people whether they are members of St. Joseph Church or not. Father Adam is a very welcoming and loving priest who tries to make the Masses he celebrates welcoming celebrations of God’s loving presence in our lives.

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Priest Under Fire — An Interview of Father Michael Rodriguez

[ED.] Where in the entire world of Catholicism are more priests like this to be found?

(www.RemnantNewspaper.com) Michael J. Matt (MJM): First off, Father, I’d like to thank you for the stand you’ve taken in recent months in defense of the Church’s moral teaching, especially with respect to so-called ‘gay marriage’.  Catholics all across the country have been following your case, and we’re delighted to have a chance today to ask you a few questions. Before we get into the “controversy”, however, I wonder if you’d mind telling us a little something about your personal background?

Father Rodriguez (FR): Not at all. I was born in El Paso, Texas, on August 23, 1970, the middle child of five. Many years later my parents adopted a sixth child, my youngest sister. As I grew up in the early ’70s, I was completely unaware of the disastrous post-Vatican II revolution that was sweeping throughout our beloved Catholic Church. Thanks be to God, I was raised by parents who were staunch Catholics with their childhood roots in the pre-Vatican II Catholicism of México. An example of the depth of these roots is that my maternal grandmother (born in 1906, in Aguascalientes, México) never accepted the Novus Ordo. She left this passing world in August 2002, always true to the Ancient Rite. Requiescat in pace. Even though my parents had accepted and adapted to Novus Ordo Catholicism during their post-collegiate years, they nevertheless raised us similar to how they had been raised: fidelity to Mass (albeit the Novus Ordo) and Confession, praying the Holy Rosary at home in the evenings, praying novenas and the Stations of the Cross, etc. As I reflect back on my childhood, it was a time of great grace and blessings. Even though my parents failed to hold fast to all the venerable traditions of our Faith and the Ancient Rite, they still did an excellent job of instilling the Faith in us. Interestingly enough, we four older children (born between ’67 and ’74) are now ardent supporters of the Traditional Latin Mass, even more so than our parents.

MJM: And are there one or two persons in your life that mentored you and helped you to remain open to God’s call?

FR: My parents, Ruben and Beatrice, were the ones who were most instrumental in my eventual discernment of a vocation to God’s holy priesthood. Through my father, God blessed me with discipline, fortitude, perseverance, and a love for study. Through my mother, God graced me with the convictions of faith, awe for the Catholic priesthood, a tender devotion to our Blessed Mother, and a love of religion.

MJM: At what point in your life did you know you had a vocation?

FR: I was raised in El Paso, TX, but spent four years (1981-1984) living with my family in Augsburg, Germany. We returned to El Paso, and I began high school. Following my junior year, I spent the summer (1987) at M.I.T. University in Cambridge, MA. I was participating in a special program for gifted minority students from around the nation. The program was geared to recruiting us to study engineering and science at M.I.T. as undergraduates. Well, our good God had different plans for me! I left El Paso that summer thinking I’d study electrical engineering (like my father) upon graduating from high school, only to return from Boston six weeks later, announcing that I wanted to enter the seminary! My mother was overjoyed.

MJM: Clearly, someone was looking out for you. Do you have a favorite saint, by the way?

FR: My favorite saints are: St. Michael the Archangel, St. John the Baptist (largely due to my 9 1/2 years at this El Paso parish), St. Paul the Apostle, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and, to no surprise, the holy Curé of Ars. I have a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under three of her specific titles: Immaculate Conception (I was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 8, 1996), Mater Dolorosa, and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

MJM: And, liturgically—where would you place yourself?  I know you offer the traditional Latin Mass, but is it accurate to describe you as an outright “traditionalist”?

FR: Liturgically, I’m 100% behind the Traditional Latin Mass, which is without question the true Mass of the Roman Catholic Church. Theology, liturgy, Catholic spirituality and asceticism, and history itself all point to the obvious superiority of the Classical Roman Rite. Unfortunately, all of my seminary formation was in the Novus Ordo, and I only “discovered” the Latin Mass about six years ago, so I still have a lot to learn in terms of “real Catholicism,” i.e. “traditional Catholicism.”

MJM: What was it initially that led you to begin offering the old Mass?

FR: About six years ago, several members of the faithful began asking me if I would be interested in offering the Traditional Latin Mass. At the time, there was serious concern on the part “El Paso’s remnant” of traditional Catholics that the Jesuit priest who was offering the Latin Mass twice a month (under the 1988 Ecclesia Dei “Indult”) was going to be transferred. Thus, they were looking for another priest who would be willing to offer the Latin Mass. At first, I declined, not so much because I wasn’t interested, but due to the immense workload which I was already carrying.

As the weeks passed, I began to study the prayers and theology of the Traditional Latin Mass. The more I studied, the more my awe and amazement grew. I was “discovering” not only the true Catholic theology of the Mass, but also the true Catholic theology of the priesthood, and so much more! Throughout my first nine years of priesthood, I had struggled to make sense of the very serious problems which exist in the Church. At this point, it was obvious that anextreme crisis pervaded the Church and her hierarchy, but why? I just couldn’t quite understand how all of this “diabolical disorientation” had come to pass . . . until the brilliant light of the true Catholic Mass (“Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam . . .”) began to penetrate my priestly soul. This “discovery” of the Traditional Latin Mass has been, by far, the greatest gift of God to my poor priesthood.

MJM: So this gives us an idea of how Pope Benedict’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum can and does impact priests who might otherwise never  have had the opportunity to discover this great treasure. Given how it impacted you, how do you believe Summorum Pontificum will impact the Church long term?

FR: Unfortunately, both Summorum Pontificum and Universæ Ecclesiæ have plenty of weaknesses. Nevertheless, these documents do represent an initial step in what will probably still be a long and arduous “Calvary,” i.e. the quest of traditional Catholics to restore the Cross, the Mass, the kingship of Jesus Christ, and true Catholic doctrine, outside of which there is no salvation. In Article 1 of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI writes that “due honor must be given to the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V for its venerable and ancient usage.” This directive of our Holy Father is currently being disobeyed almost universally. In the accompanying letter to the world’s bishops (July 7, 2007), Pope Benedict XVI writes, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” These remarkable words of our Holy Father are also being disrespected and disobeyed almost universally, especially by many bishops. Finally, Universæ Ecclesiæ, No. 8, states very clearly that the Ancient Rite is a “precious treasure to be preserved” and is to be “offered to all the faithful.” Where in the entire world of Catholicism is this directive actually being obeyed? The same number fromUniversæ Ecclesiæ emphasizes that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy “is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees.” This is an astounding statement. This statement from Rome means that the use of the 1962 Missal doesn’t depend on a particular bishop’s liturgical views, preferences, or theology. It’s not about the bishops! On the contrary, it’s about the faithful! Where in the entire world of Catholicism is this directive actually being obeyed?

MJM: Are you now able to offer the old Mass exclusively? 

FR: Since I began my new assignment (Sept. 24, 2011) out in the rural, isolated missions of the El Paso Diocese, I’ve offered the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. I consider this to be a marvelous and unexpected blessing from Providence in the midst of a very difficult trial. I hope to continue offering the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. If it were strictly up to me, I would never celebrate the Novus Ordo Missæ again. However, the sad reality of having to “obey” in the Novus Ordo Church that has largely lost the Faith, and the need to reach out patiently to Novus Ordo faithful who have been so misled, means that I will probably be “forced” to celebrate the Novus Ordo occasionally. In these instances, however, it will be the Novus Ordo ad orientem, with the Roman Canon, the use of Latin, and Holy Communion distributed according to traditional norms.

MJM: Up until last year, I believe, things were pretty quiet in your priestly life.  What happened to change all that?

FR: The local, and even national, “controversy” that has engulfed me is due to the fact that I have been vocal in promoting what the Roman Catholic Church teaches in regard to the whole issue of homosexuality. It’s a disgrace, but the City Council of El Paso has been adamant in trying to legitimize same-sex unions. This goes completely contrary to Catholic Church teaching. I’ve made it clear to the Catholics of El Paso (and beyond) that every single Catholic has a moral obligation before God Himself to oppose any government attempt to legalize homosexual unions. A Catholic who fails to oppose this homosexual agenda, is committing a grave sin by omission. Furthermore, if a Catholic doesn’t assent to the infallible moral teaching of the Church that homosexual acts are mortally sinful, then such a Catholic is placing himself / herself outside of communion with the Church. These are the Catholics who are actually excommunicating themselves, not the Society of St. Pius X!

MJM: I can understand why the civil authorities and media might find this “controversial”; but why would your ecclesial superiors find it so?

FR: The dismal response of both civil and ecclesiastical authorities to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church in regard to homosexuality demonstrates how extreme the current crisis of faith actually is. It really can’t get much worse. There’s hardly any faith left to lose! Even a pagan, bereft of the light of faith, can arrive at the conclusion that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil. Reason, natural law, and consideration of the male and female anatomy more than suffice to confirm this moral truth.

MJM: And yet you must go where the bishop tells you to go.  Is this difficult for you?

FR: In my particular circumstances, obedience to my bishop has been incredibly difficult. Nevertheless, obedience is essential to the priesthood, and I intend to be obedient. One consoling aspect of “sacrificial,” “death-to-self” obedience, is that the Holy Ghost will always come to one’s assistance. I’m reminded that my poor sufferings are nothing compared to those of Mater Dolorosa and our Divine Redeemer. If I’m counted as one even slightly worthy to suffer for the Faith and the Traditional Latin Mass, I will consider myself profoundly blessed. God is so good.

MJM: As you are already living through a form of persecution, I assume you foresee more to come not only for you personally but for all Catholics who stand in defense of Church teaching. But what about the future?  Any hope?

FR: Yes, I do foresee plenty of persecution still to come for all those who remain steadfast in the Faith and in their adherence to the Ancient Rite. However, the promise of our Savior cannot but fill our souls with hope, “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for My sake. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.” (Mt 5:10-12)

MJM: How can lay Catholics best survive this crisis of faith?

FR: In order to overcome this crisis of faith, we must (1) do everything in our power to recover the Catholic Faith: the Ancient Rite, traditional Catholic teaching in doctrine and morals, the theology and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, traditional Catholic piety and devotions, and a traditional Catholic “code of living” or “rhythm of life.” (2) On a daily basis we must strive to pray, study, fast, do penance, and practice charity with the aforementioned goal in mind. Finally, I strongly urge all faithful Catholics to (3) pray the Holy Rosary daily and heed our Blessed Mother’s Message at Fatima.

One of the hallmarks of the Traditional Latin Mass is its exquisite and concentrated focus on eternity. If we are to survive and overcome this terrible crisis of faith in the post-Vatican II Catholic Church, we have to keep our intellect and will focused on eternity. We cannot lose hope when, from a worldly perspective, all seems lost. Jesus Christ promises “the kingdom of heaven” to those who endure persecution, and “a great reward in heaven” to those who suffer for His sake. (Mt 5:10-12) The final goal is heaven! Like St. Paul, we must press ahead towards the ultimate “prize” (Phil 3:14) and never cease to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1)

MJM: Like so many others, Father, I find myself deeply moved by your powerful witness not only to the Faith itself but also to the Catholic priesthood, which, as you know so well, is under diabolical attack. Thank you for this example of what it means to be a Catholic in an era of persecution. May all of us have the courage to follow your lead through the rough seas still ahead.

‘The times they are a changin’: US priest explains significance of Latin Mass

EDITOR NOTE: Excellent article with accompanying video by Rev. Msgr. Charles Pope on the return of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite. Enjoy… 

From the website of the Archdiocese of Washington DC —Spero News:

The following essay appeared at the website of the Archdiocese of Washington DC on the same day that the traditional Latin Mass was celebrated for the first time in many years in the nave of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. Rev. Msgr. Charles Pope writes below on the signifcance of the Mass and explains in a Baltimore Catechism fashion the reasons why the Mass was celebrated in Latin.

Today (April 24) beginning at 12:30 pm here in Washington at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a Solemn High Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form will be celebrated in the Great Upper Church. For those unfamiliar with all the Church jargon of the previous sentence let me decode. The “extraordinary Form” of the Mass is the form of the Mass as it was celebrated prior to 1965 when Liturgical changes brought about the Mass as we have it today.

Prior to these changes the Mass was celebrated exclusively in Latin with only the homily (and sometimes the readings) in English or whatever the local language was. The celebrant also faced in the same direction as the people which some have wrongfully described as the priest “having his back to the people.” To say this is a “Solemn High” Mass means that all the ceremonial options are observed. There is incense, extra candle bearers, and many of the prayers and readings of the liturgy are sung. The celebrant is also assisted by a deacon and subdeacon. To say this is a pontifical Mass means that it will be celebrated by a bishop and will include two extra deacons and an assisting priest. Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa is today’s celebrant.

For those who are unfamiliar or unappreciative with the splendor of the Latin Liturgy in this form soem questions often arise.

1. Why pray in Latin or any language unfamiliar to the language of the people who attend?

Simply put, praying in Latin is to pray in what has been a sacred language for the Church. It is a common feature of cultures down through human history that they often prayed in a language other than the language of the home and streets. To pray liturgically is to enter heaven, a world apart from the every day world. To use another and more ancient language is a common way many cultures have underscored this.

At the time of Jesus, the synagogue services and the Temple liturgy used ancient Hebrew. Jesus and his contemporaries did not speak Hebrew at home or in the streets any longer. They spoke Aramaic. But when they prayed they instinctively used the ancient prayers which were Hebrew.

In the early Church it appears that the earliest years saw the use of the Greek language for the Liturgy. It seems to have been used even though many people spoke Latin throughout the empire. But many did not think Latin was suited for the Liturgy which required a more elevated language than what most people spoke. By the 5th Century however Latin came to be introduced in the Western Empire as it became an older and more venerable language to them. Eventually Latin wholly replaced Greek in the liturgy of the Church in the Western empire (except a few remnants such as the Kyrie). It remained the language of worship until about 1965 when the local languages were allowed. However, it was not the intent of the Church that Latin should wholly disappear as it has largely done. Latin remains for the Church the official language of her worship.

So, why pray in Latin? Why not? It is for us a sacred language of worship and there is an instinct in human culture that liturgy is world apart where we enter heaven. It is not wrong to pray in the local language but, truth be told, it is not the usual practice in human history.

2. Why does the celebrant face away, or “have his back to us?”

It is really a wrongful description to say the celebrant has his back to us. What is really happening is that the celebrant and the people are all facing the same direction. They are looking toward God. On the center of every older altar was a crucifix. The priest faced it to say Mass and all the people faced it with him. He and they are turned toward the Lord.

In the ancient Church, they not only faced the cross, they also faced to the east to pray. An ancient text called the Didiscalia written about 250 AD says, Now, you ought to face to east to pray for, as you know, scripture has it, Give praise to God who ascends above the highest heavens to the east . In later centuries it was not always possible to orient the Church so that everyone could face east. But the Crucifix above the altar represented the east and the Lord. Hence everyone faced the Lord to pray.

The idea of facing each other to pray is wholly modern and was never known in the Church prior to 1965. Hence the answer is that the celebrant is facing the Lord to pray and so are we.

3. Why is so much of the Mass whispered quietly?

Not everything is whispered but the much of the Eucharistic prayer is. Historically the whispered Eucharistic prayer (or Canon) developed in monastic settings where it was not uncommon for more than one liturgy to be celebrated at the same time at various side altars. In those days priests did not concelebrate masses as they do frequently today. Each priest had to celebrate his own mass. In monasteries where numerous priest might be in residence, numerous liturgies might be celebrated at similar times. In order not to interrupt each other, the priests conducted these liturgies with a server quietly. This practice continued into modern times.

Over time this monastic silence came to be regarded as a sacred silence. The whispering of the prayers was considered a sign of the sacredness of the words which “should not” be loudly proclaimed. (There are other more complicated theological trends that swept the liturgy too complicated to go into here that also influenced the move to a more silent liturgy) At any rate, the practice of a sacred silence came to be the norm eventually even in parish churches. Hence the hushed tones were not an attempt to ignore the faithful who attended or make their participation difficult but it was associated with a holy silence. People knelt, praying as the priest prayed on their behalf.

In the past century as literacy increased among the lay faithful it became more common to provide them with books that contained the texts of the liturgy and those who could read were encouraged to follow along closely. Through the 1940s and 50s these books (called “missals”) became quite common among the laity. By the 1950s there were also some experiments with allowing the priest to have a microphone or to raise the level of his voice so the faithful could follow more easily. These “dialogue Masses” were more popular in some place than others. Sacred silence was still valued by many and adjusting to a different experience was not always embraced with the same fervor, it varied from place to place.

Today, with the return in some places to the celebration of the Old Latin Mass (called officially the “Extraordinary Form”) this sacred silence is once again in evidence. For those who are not used to it, it seems puzzling. But hopefully some of this history helps us understand it. Once again we are faced with the dilemma of how loudly the priest should pray the Canon (Eucharistic Prayer) at such Masses. There are different opinions but a fairly wide consensus that the prayer should be generally said in a very subdued voice.

I was reminded by friend of a 2007 PBS special about the Latin Mass in which I was interviewed. You can learn more of the Old Latin Mass in this 5 minute video filmed here in the Archdiocese of Washington at Old St. Mary’s. One correction: At the beginning of the video someone has included a text that says the old Latin Mass and the new Mass are different rites. The Pope in 2007 chose to emphasize that this is NOT the case. Rather they are two different forms of the same Roman Rite. Enjoy this video featuring yours truly.

Msgr. Charles Pope is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington DC.

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Gregorian Rite Mass Celebrated in Bend by Dr. Jay Boyd

Dr. Jay Boyd06.24.08

BEND – More than 80 worshipers attended a High Mass in the Gregorian Rite at St. Francis of Assisi Church here last weekend. The term “Gregorian Rite” refers to what was formerly called the Tridentine Mass, or Traditional Latin Mass, and more recently, the “extraordinary form” of the Mass.

Pope Benedict liberalized the celebration of the extraordinary form last September in his Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, which lifted the restrictions on celebrations of Mass according to the Roman Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII.

Mass in the Gregorian rite is offered monthly at St. Francis of Assisi, organized by the Society of St. Gregory the Great, a local organization of lay Catholics which aims to assist the Church in recovering an appropriate understanding of and appreciation for the sacred.

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei in Rome, declared at a press conference in London on June 14 that Pope Benedict wishes this form of the Mass to be available in all parishes, calling it a gift of God and a treasure.

Many of those attached to the Gregorian Rite find that it enhances their sense of reverence for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Before the Mass, a lecture and discussion on Summorum Pontificum was held at the St. Francis Catholic Center. It was the first in a series of catechetical presentations on the older form of Mass and the sacraments. These lectures will be presented before each of the upcoming monthly Sunday Masses. About 30 people attended Sunday’s presentation.

At Sunday’s Mass, first Communion went to Anna-Marie Daggett of La Pine, using the older rite for the sacrament. Following the older form, Anna Marie recited the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer to show her readiness for reception of the sacrament.

At the end of Mass, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for a brief period of adoration, in keeping with Pope Benedict’s request of paying special honor to the Sacred Heart of Jesus during the month of June. The congregation chanted the Litany of the Sacred Heart, and made acts of reparation and consecration to the Sacred Heart. Benediction concluded the liturgy. The next Gregorian Rite Mass in Bend is scheduled for 4 p.m. on July 13.