The Chicago Tribune has an interesting piece about the application of Summorum Pontificum Berwyn, IL.
My emphases and comments.
Praise, concerns over Latin masses in Berwyn church
By Margaret Ramirez
Tribune religion reporter
December 24, 2007
When Pope Benedict XVI eased rules earlier this year to allow wider use of the Latin mass, Rev. Anthony Brankin of St. Odilo Roman Catholic Church in Berwyn felt compelled to bring the tradition back.
Before becoming pastor of St. Odilo in March 2006, Brankin said the old Tridentine mass at St. Thomas More Church in Chicago for 15 years, drawing older parishioners and also some young fans who described the service as "awesome." In the Tridentine mass, the prayers are chanted in Latin and the priest faces the altar, with his back to the congregation. [Nooo… with everybody facing the same direction!]
But would they come to Latin mass at St. Odilo? Brankin wasn’t sure.
To test the waters, he introduced the older liturgy slowly last month, scheduling a three-week series of Latin masses on Tuesday nights. For the first mass on Nov. 6, more than 600 people flocked to the west suburban church to hear the service, twice the average Sunday attendance. The next two masses drew a smaller, yet still surprising, [Why surprising?] crowd of more than 300 people. Earlier this month, Brankin marked the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe — a holy day recognized mostly by Mexican Catholics — with a Spanish morning mass and a Latin evening mass.
"I just wanted to see if we were able to respond to some need out there," said Brankin, 58. "And people seem to like it. They are engaged. Their senses are immersed at every level."
"Some people are worried because they can’t understand the words. But I tell them, the key to this mass is not about the words. Do we need a brochure to enjoy the music of Beethoven? Or the beauty of the Sistine Chapel? This is not about the words. It’s about God." [After reading this piece please go over to this entry and read the splendid article from the National Review which concerns this very point.]
At midnight Christmas Eve, Brankin will say a solemn high Latin mass at St. Odilo with lilting prayers, Christmas hymns and Gregorian chants sung by a choir that includes four members of Chicago’s Lyric Opera.
Next year, he hopes to integrate the Latin liturgy into the weekly Sunday schedule to provide Catholics with the option of the old or the new. Plans also include installing a communion rail around the altar, another vestige of Pre-Vatican II Catholicism that Brankin wants restored.
"I think it’s fabulous," said Joan Vollner, 75, who attended the November Latin mass series at St. Odilo. "It has a more pious and reverent way to it. It takes its time, and the prayers seem deeper to me."
"People are pining for the holiness of the Latin mass," she said.
But others are less thrilled.
Some members of St. Odilo believe there is a greater need for a Spanish language mass, instead of a Latin one. [Because people want to be divided in the same parish by different languages?] Currently, about 40 percent of the congregation is Latino, yet the church has no Spanish mass. Georgina Ortega, a parishioner at St. Odilo for 20 years, said she is confused by efforts to revive the Latin liturgy.
"We don’t understand it. How is it possible that they can bring it back?" she said.
"When they changed the mass from Latin to Spanish, it was a blessing for me. It meant a fuller participation in the mass between the God, the priest and the people. Why would we want to look at the back of his head?" [Comments such as this cause one to question whether this person really understands what happens at Mass.]
Although the energetic Brankin interpreted the pope’s announcement as a direct call to revive the Latin mass in Catholic churches, only a few priests have taken such action. Todd Williamson, director of the Chicago archdiocese office for divine worship, said very few inquiries [So he says.] have been made about the Latin mass. Williamson said that may be because the archdiocese already has five churches that offer the old-style liturgy.
In Chicago the service is said at St. Thomas More, St. John Cantius and the newly renovated Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Two other suburban parishes with Latin liturgy are St. Peter in Volo and St. John Vianney in Northlake.
On Saturday, Cardinal Francis George will assist in celebrating a Latin mass at Christ the King, formerly St. Gelasius Church. Five years ago, St. Gelasius was slated for demolition, but the church was rescued and revived by a religious order of priests devoted to the ancient Latin liturgy.
Aside from that, no other Chicago churches have added Latin services. For Brankin, that’s disappointing. He believes most of the problems in the Catholic Church, including lower Sunday mass attendance and lack of priestly vocations, can be traced to the changes in the mass after the reforms of Vatican II.
"When you change the way people pray, you change the way they appreciate their faith," Brankin said. "You can’t ignore the fact these things changed after we changed the mass.
"It upsets me in a sense because the pope’s intention was to have more people learn about this. So, for any particular church to just act like he didn’t say anything, that’s disappointing." [Exactly. But that has been the tactic for years, so it shouldn’t surprise us when we see it applied again.]
But to Brankin, restoring the beauty of Catholicism’s roots goes deeper than just Latin. Brankin is also an artist, sculptor and harpmaker. Beside his desk in the rectory, he keeps two striking wooden harps of his own creation. He also plays the harp and the accordion, for seniors and children from St. Odilo School.
"I have no shame," he said.
The Renaissance priest enjoys working with his hands and said he sees God’s presence in music and art. [Again, see that National Review article I mentioned above.] Recently, he painted the drab doors of the church with a glistening gold paint. Parishioners praise him as a great leader.
Brankin said he could understand the feelings of some of the Latinos who want a Spanish language mass. His main responsibility, however, is to do as the pope requested: celebrate the Latin mass and help others appreciate its beauty.
"It’s pretty simple," Brankin said with a laugh. "This is for everybody. [Right!] This is Catholic, and this is what we believe."
WDTPRS applauds Fr. Brankin!