There is a very good article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. This is what happens when an open minded reporter actually does some gumshoe reporting.There are some good themes. My emphases and comments.
Reviving a Latin past
By David O’Reilly
Inquirer Staff Writer
With their love of tradition and their formal dress code (no shorts even for children, and covered heads for women), the members of Mater Ecclesiae Church in Berlin Township can seem a tight-laced congregation of Roman Catholics. [An interesting way to begin. I think we all know that our culture has become far too informal, which, paradoxically, is a symptom that the bonds of society are breaking rather than getting closer.]
But on Sunday they were ringing bells, popping corks and slicing cake, and – mirabile visu! – some were even smoking cigars.
Mirabile visu? Isn’t that Latin?
Graceful, dignified, formal and obscure, [Again, the formality theme.] Latin is the language of choice at Mater Ecclesiae, one of the only Catholic churches in the nation where all the liturgies are conducted according to the centuries-old Tridentine rite.
Its bells were ringing and corks popping after Sunday’s Mass because Pope Benedict XVI had on Saturday issued a decree allowing freer use of the traditional Latin liturgy, which had all but withered away in recent decades.
"My good friends, we are living through and a part of a major, fundamental, awesome reaffirmation of the tradition of our faith," the Rev. Robert C. Pasley, rector of Mater Ecclesiae, told his congregation from the pulpit during Sunday’s high Mass.
"I never thought I’d see the day."
Just how Benedict’s decree, or motu proprio, might affect the availability of Tridentine-style liturgies in area dioceses remain to be seen. [Fair enough.]
While the "new order" Mass introduced in 1970 continues as the worldwide standard, Benedict’s decree instructs pastors to willingly provide Latin liturgies if their parishes contain a "stable" number of parishioners "attached to the previous liturgical tradition."
Bishops are also "earnestly requested" to accommodate requests for the Latin rites, and told they may create special parishes or chapels (like Mater Ecclesiae) dedicated to their use.
Since 1988, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has offered a Tridentine Mass each Sunday in one urban and one suburban parish. The Trenton Diocese offers the old rite once each Sunday in a Monmouth County parish.
Mater Ecclesiae, which is not a parish but a borderless facsimile open to all worshipers seeking to partake of the Tridentine tradition, is the site for Latin Masses of the Camden Diocese. It had 70 families when it began in 2000 and now has 520, according to Pasley, a diocesan priest. [And so many say that the older form of liturgy won’t create much interest.]
Spokesmen for the Philadelphia, Camden and Trenton Dioceses, all of which allow limited Latin Masses, said their bishops were studying the three-page document. [I have always wondered about the whole "study" thing. For example, I come from a parish where there were some 30 men ordained priest from the parish in as many years. The liturgy was solemn, formal, traditional and Latin. It was Novus Ordo, but celebrated in such a way, with such continuity with tradition that at first glance it is hard for many to distinguish from the older form. So… what is to study? This isn’t brain surgery, it’s common sense. You would think that by looking at examples of places that really work well, people running places that don’t work so well would get some new approaches. But that is above my pay grade.]
Sunday’s high Mass at Mater Ecclesiae began at 11 a.m. with a procession of three priests, 12 altar boys in black cassocks and white surplices, and 12 white-clad girls of the Blessed Imelda Society, as the choir and congregation sang Gregorian chant. In Latin, of course. [Again, the theme of formality.]
Next, Pasley incensed the altar and shook holy water on the congregants before facing the altar and uttering the once-familiar words "Introibo ad altare Dei" – "I will go to the altar of God" – that for centuries began the Roman Rite Mass.
"What we do in this small chapel is no longer the exception to the norm," he told the 250 congregants in the sermon.
Mass ended after 90 minutes and a half-dozen Dominus vobiscums later with more incense and an exposition of the consecrated host, or communion wafer, in an ornate monstrance. (The much shorter and simpler Sunday low Masses begin at 8:30 a.m.) [A useful piece of information foa reader who might be curious, but perhaps not up for the full nine yards.]
After a special ringing of the church bells [How many times have the bells been mentioned?] and a singing of the ancient hymn Te Deum ("Thou, Lord"), the congregation relocated to the church hall for sparkling cider and cake. [and the cake ] About a dozen of the men – including Pasley – retired to a veranda for a bit of conversation and "Chestertonian incense," or cigars.[and incense]
"We love coming," said altar server Mark Byrne, 16, of Allentown, N.J.. The oldest of nine children, Byrne said he loved "the beauty and solemnity" [again the formality] of the Tridentine Mass: "The Novus Ordo [English-language Mass] is just not the same."
Marisa Consoli, 17, who said that next year she will join a traditional order of cloistered nuns [What?? Not Sister Chittister’s group?] that prays day and night for priests, said she owed her "vocation to the Latin Mass because it increased my love for the Lord."
Although the word Tridentine comes from the 16th century Council of Trent that standardized the Roman Rite liturgies of the Catholic Church, "the council in no way created the Mass" that bears its name, Msgr. Charles Sangermano, pastor of Holy Saviour parish in Norristown, noted last week. Rather, he said, the council and Pope Pius V pruned regional variations from a rite that was centuries old.
The Tridentine Mass of 1570 served as the worldwide standard for most of the world’s Catholics until the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65 instructed that Masses and other liturgies would henceforth spoken in the local, or vernacular, tongue with the priest facing the congregation. [Here the writer seriously fumbles the ball. Vatican II stated that Latin was to be retained and that the vernacular could be used occasionally for some parts of the Mass. There is no document of the Church that requires Mass to be celebrated versus populum.] It took several years to be implemented.
While a breath of fresh air to many of the world’s Catholics, the change shocked millions of others who had assumed that the Mass was divinely ordained, or nearly so, and immutable. [Right. And when it changed, It is hard to blame people for falling into taht false idea, but correcting it was the responsibility of those who knew better. They didn’t correct it. Now that it is being corrected, people are feeling pain over the issue again.]
In 1988 Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, granted diocesan bishops special permission to provide an occasional Latin Mass. [Not quite. Bishops could establish as many as they wanted. It didn’t have to be merely once in a while.] Many chose not to do so, out of concern that their dioceses, or the whole church, might form into modern and traditionalist camps. [Or because they didn’t like the old Mass. Or because the people asking for them were so sour that it was hard to work with them.]
"This fear . . . strikes me as unfounded," Benedict wrote in his Saturday decree, further adding that by allowing greater use of the old rite, he hoped to restore to the mainstream the "not small number" of alienated Catholics who never warmed to the new Mass.
Pasley said the impact of Benedict’s decree will be gradual. "Many priests don’t know Latin and don’t have an interest in it," he said, but "down the line, as they become more exposed to it, that will change."
For a video of high Mass at Mater Ecclesiae Church in Camden County, along with the pope’s decree, go to http://go.philly.com/latinmass
Contact staff writer David O’Reilly at 215-854-5723 or doreilly@ phillynews.com.
Well done, all in all. I think the writer deserves some positive feedback.