Chicago Tribune: Praise, concerns over Latin masses in Berwyn church

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."

———-

maramirez@tribune.com

 

WDTPRS applauds Fr. Brankin!

 

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15 Responses to Chicago Tribune: Praise, concerns over Latin masses in Berwyn church

  1. jacobus says:

    “the key to this mass is not about the words”

    This is why many people prefer the old form of the mass. I always think of Liza Doolittle when attending the new form:

    Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!
    I get words all day through;
    First from him, now from you!
    Is that all you blighters can do?
    Don’t talk of stars burning above;
    If you’re in love, Show me!

    etc.

  2. Edgar Fernandez says:

    From a Latino (mexican) to father Brankin: Thank you for your dedication in leading your flock and in the obidence to the Holy Father.
    The EF is for EVERYONE irregardless of their national origin or their language, it unites every catholic in the world
    in a common prayer to God.

  3. Little Gal says:

    Fr, Brankin is entitled to his opinion on liturgy, but that’s all it is. With 40% of his parishioners being Latino, I’m shocked that there is no Spanish Mass because the hispanic community is very ‘assertive’ about having a liturgy in their language. Likewise in education, government services etc… Since hispanics are the growth area for the Church, I think convincing them to transition to a Latin language liturgy will be very difficult. In fact, Chicago has many different ethnic groups and churches organized around their nationality).

    Since the EF has been availble in Chicago for many years in different areas of the city (meaning it’s accessible) why aren’t more Catholics clammering for it? As a matter of fact why didn’t the EF expand to additional services at the parishes where it has been available for many years? St Thomas More-if memory serves me right-still offers only one EF Mass.

    “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?]”

    Liturgy and orchestral music are not an apples to apples comparison. How about liturgy and opera? Why does opera offer surtitles? Why don’t people just close their eyes and transcend?

    “On Saturday, Cardinal Francis George will assist in celebrating a Latin mass.”

    He’s done this before and has stated that he likes both forms of the liturgy.

    “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.”

    This church has a long way to go–the interior is still gutted and services are not being held in the Church from what I know. Again, the ‘market’ is not there for this form of the liturgy otherwise I think they wouldn’t have such a difficult time raising $ to complete the restoration of a church that offers only the EF.

    “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.]”

    Ah, wasn’t the intention to allow those who prefer this form of the liturgy to have access to it? Fr. Brankin’s comment appears to imply that the Pope had the agenda of imposing the EF. I don’t see any tactic here; there isn’t interest–and, you have a bishop in this city, who has been very amenable to granting permission for the EF even before the Holy Father’s directive.

  4. I’ve been a member of parishes that suffer from the racial balkanization of separate masses for separate language groups. I think that those are the parishes that really, really need a TLM in order to unite the parish in a common mass said in a language no one understands.

    WAC

  5. Athelstane says:

    “Why would we want to look at the back of his head?”

    Why would I want to look at the FRONT of his head?

  6. TJM says:

    Little Gal,

    You are entitled to your opinions too. Regrettably you are beginning to sound like a refugee from Moveon.org. (yawn, yawn).You’d probably be happier posting your comments there or the National Catholic Reporter. Tom

  7. Athelstane: “Why would we want to look at the back of his head?” Why would I want to look at the FRONT of his head?

    TOUCHÉ!

    A most excellent riposte!

    Well done!

    o{]:¬)

  8. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    TJM… Actually, error has no rights, although, I think I know what you mean, perhaps something about the interior freedom people have to accept or reject the Truth — though that freedom carries reward or punishment, heaven or hell — along with the obligation before God and man to accept and hold to the Truth once found. I’m guessing you agree wholeheartedly!

    Along these lines, and, perhaps, having nothing to do with Little Gal or those like her, it needs to be said that the problem has been in these past years that groups like The Common Ground Initiative have treated the Truth like a “what”, as in “What is truth?”, and, therefore like something one can manipulate in a way that affirms one in one’s opinion, and this because of fear, for, as Saint Thomas says, opinion is fear, for opinion is the lack of truth. When one has no truth, one is scared to death, and clings on to one’s mere opinions with a ferocity which can test even the elect. Maranatha! God cannot be manipulated nor will He forever forego justice to those who mock Him.

    Not being with the Living Truth of Charity that God is, one cannot know what the purpose of discussion or even dialogue is. Such discussions must be catechetical. If only this could be understood! All our words should be ultimately directed to bringing us into adoration of the Word of God.

    But this is not the way the Common Ground Initiative or other such groups view things. They want a dialogue in which one cannot discuss Truth as such, a dialogue which goes on forever, a dialogue which is not meant to come to an end, a dialogue which is its own reason for being, the journey being the attainment, a kind of ecumenism meant to forever divide and sunder and keep distant all the more, a dialogue which makes all things into grey areas, including people, especially those who suffer, a dialogue which is founded on hatred, for at Saint Thomas says, the only reason for division is hatred.

    A particularly gruff anti-Catholic (who considered himself to be a good Catholic) once told me that he was doing a favor to believers by going out of his way, like a maniac, to attack everything that the Church teaches, and I do mean everything. He was utterly taken off guard when I said that, no, it is much better to lead people to assent more fully to a more fully understood faith by first of all presenting one’s own assent, for free will is meant to work by always assenting to the truth with greater understanding. He really thought that a marxist dialectic was the way to make a utopic truth, you know, ou topos, no where.

    I once wrote the following in a Church bulletin many years ago (only to be SEVERELY reprimanded by the third highest up in the Common Ground Initiative hierarchy, and yes, he was also a bishop) : The more one insists on grey areas, the more red blood flows down from the cross and unto the ground. Calvary is the only ground, thus sanctified, which can make us come together in a common worship. The Lord doesn’t want dialogue for the sake of dialogue, but that we might be united to this LOGOS made flesh, He being born on this day, gloriously, glorious in His being with His beloved, glorious because He didn’t think the political correctness of palaces like that of Herod was the way to come to us, glorious because the angels were singing, glorious because of Mary and Joseph were with Him, glorious because He loves us, glorious because He is the Living Truth of Charity… Living Truth…

    Having said all that, and back to your comment, we hope that Little Gal, reading the whole of WDTPRS, especially the wonderful posts on the prayers of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, may come to see that neither men NOR WOMEN are the source of truth, just because they are men or women, which would be a kind of Wicca, but that the Lord IS Himself the Living Truth of Charity, now born among us.

    Happy, Holy Christmas

  9. Little Gal says:

    “Within the Catholic Church there exists a Hierarchy of Truths. At the first level are the immutable truths, the Official and Solemn teachings or dogma. These are clearly defined by church council or by a pope and they must be contained in Sacred Scripture in such a way that Christian tradition has consistently held them to be true.

    The second level in the hierarchy of Truths is the Undefined but Official Teaching of Church Leadership. These have not been solemnly defined; have not been consistent with church tradition but are nonetheless official teaching of the church at a given time. Vat.II documents, Canon Law and Sacramental Theology among others fall into this category.

    Historically The third level of doctrine is Acceptable Theological Opinion, these appeared as the Thomistic, Dominican, Franciscan or Scotistic schools of opinion.

    My point here is that not all “Truth” within the church is “absolute”. “Truth”- Doctrines or teachings- found in the second or third levels are subject to change. If they are not immutable, are we obliged to commit them to our personal beliefs or defend them without question? “What is Truth”?

    Kenan Osborne, O.F.M

  10. Melody says:

    Little Gal- While I am also surprised that the parish has no Spanish mass, it’s entirely possible that there is no local priest who can say mass in Spanish. Latin is close to Spanish in many ways (as I have learned from experience) so the use of Latin may well represent something of a compromise.

    After experiencing ad orientem only thee times, the priest facing towards the people while saying the prayers seems utterly bizarre. I’m couldn’t wondering, “Why is he looking at us while talking to God? He should face the crucifix.”

    Plus, ad orientem would fix the vocations crisis to some degree because it would remove the problem of stage fright. We might get some more shy humble priests.

  11. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    Does the Little Gal confirm, with anti-Catholic effect, what Kenan wrote?:

    The second level in the hierarchy of Truths is the Undefined but Official Teaching of Church Leadership. These have not been solemnly defined; have not been consistent with church tradition but are nonetheless official teaching of the church at a given time. Vat.II documents, Canon Law and Sacramental Theology among others fall into this category.

    Little Gal… are you saying you are scandalised by what a priest wrote in his attack on the Church? Are you saying you agree with him? If the latter, well, to quote the book of Job (RSV) :

    Job 2:10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak.” [ . . . ] In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

    Little Gal. Perhaps you have accepted scandal through all these years. This is not a good situation. Many have. This is not a good situation. Even a majority of stray sheep does not mean that they are not stray. Our Lord says that many do not find the way to heaven, for the path to heaven is not self-congratulatory clap-trap, whereby self-affirmation is the name of what may seem only to be a game.

    We have to know that God plays for keeps. Three things, Little Gal:

    The Lord is deadly serious in His eagerness that we be in His good friendship.

    Don’t be fooled by the words eager and friendship. Let me repeat:

    The Lord is deadly serious in His eagerness that we be in His good friendship.

    Whatever about Little Gal -- she has her own free will -- I hope there are others who read this volley with her and those like her, who can take something good out of it. The Gospel for the third Mass is the Prologue. The Light became incarnate, and we, in our sin, could grasp Him, dragging Him to His death. And then we see grace upon grace, our Redemption, why the Lord was born. We thank the Lord for His goodness and kindness. Happy Birthday, dear Lord.

    About the hierachy of truths bit. A better comment by someone who doesn’t attack the Church (namely, Cardinal Ratzinger), can be found in the document Ad tuendam fidem. Happy reading.

    Finally, Little Gal, you could do everyone an act of charity on this Christmas Day. Listen, listen to what God, the Living Truth of Charity is asking of you, namely, your obedience (which means intense listening and following the will of Him to whom you would then, be listening). It’s called obedience in faith. If you only desire fame as the Little Gal who repeated the scepticism of Pontius Pilate, maybe you should take the rebuke of his wife as portrayed in the Passion of the Christ:

    “Si non vis veritatem audire, nemo tibi dicere potest”.
    If you don’t want to hear the truth, no one [including God] can tell it to you.”

  12. Puritan says:

    When I was 7 years old, my 3-yr.-old brother, known for his defiance, was told to pick up all his toys. He did so, except for one small one, which he left in the middle of the floor, I guess as a final act of disobedience. I had forgotten about this incident until recently, when our liberal pastor was told by our bishop to allow our priest-chaplain to say the Tridentine Mass in his church every Sunday. When this pastor found out four of us were moving the wooden Novus Ordo altar/table to the side to allow the congregation the full view of the high altar in back (which we carefully replaced after the Mass), he angrily ordered our chaplain to leave it in its “proper” place and never move it again!

  13. joe says:

    Am I the only one to pick up on the irony of using the word “Latino” in an article slamming the use of Latin? Interestingly, down here in Miami where the Spanish-speaking population is a far hugher percentage than in suburban Chicago, we have had no problems such as this; in fact, several parishes (ours included) are working on having the TLM (on its own or alternating with a TLMized Novus Ordo in Latin) on the Mass schedule.

    Viva el Santo Padre!

    -J.

  14. ChicagoCatholic says:

    The article is incorrect when it says, besides St. Odilo’s, no other Chicago parishes have added Latin Masses (in the Extraordinary Form). Since the MP there have been several Traditional Latin Masses offered at St. Daniel the Prophet in Chicago by Fr. Gerald O’Reilly. I believe there may be a few other places also. I know in the Joliet diocese, Holy Angels in Aurora is now offering the TLM every Sunday at 12:30 p.m. by Fr. Martin Heinz.