I was alerted to this press communication from Diocese of Nashville.
My emphases and comments.
January 11, 2008
Tridentine rite returns to Nashville Diocese
Andy Telli, Tennessee Register
SPARTA. Women with black lace veils dripping [Nice.] loosely from their head knelt quietly and read along in their missals with Father Fred Schmit, S.D.S., as he said the prayers of the Mass in Latin.
The small choir of St. Andrew Church in Sparta, sang ancient prayers that echoed through Catholic churches for centuries.
And for many of the approximately 140 people in the pews who have longed for a return of the Latin Mass, the celebration of the Tridentine rite at St. Andrew on Sunday, Jan. 6, was a spiritual feast.
“It inspires my spirituality,” said Carol Morgan, a parishioner at St. Andrew who was one of the people who asked Father Schmit, St. Andrew’s pastor, to celebrate a Tridentine Mass. “It’s the Mass of saints and scholars.”
The Mass at St. Andrew was the first time a Tridentine Mass had been celebrated in the Diocese of Nashville since Pope Benedict XVI relaxed restrictions on the use of the Latin-language liturgy, which predates the Second Vatican Council, last July.
For Father Schmit, who has been a priest for more than 61 years, it was the first time he has celebrated a Tridentine Mass since the mid-1960s.
“I was still a little rusty in some of the prayers,” he said smiling.
But for most of the people in the pews, many of whom traveled several hours to attend the Mass, it didn’t matter.
“I love the old Mass,” said St. Andrew parishioner Ken Craven, who helped organize the Tridentine Mass. “To me this is the real thing.”
Request from the people
In his apostolic letter “Summorum Pontificum,” Pope Benedict said the Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal, commonly known as the Tridentine rite, should be made available in every parish where groups of the faithful desire it.
So when a small group of parishioners approached Father Schmit about celebrating a Tridentine Mass, he agreed, he said.
With the Tridentine rite, the prayers of the Mass are said or sung in Latin and the priest stands at the altar facing the tabernacle with his back to the congregation. [Okay… well…. it could be a little better description, but this isn’t bad. At least there is a mention of the tabernacle. The problem is that the CROSS is the real point, not the tabernacle.] The liturgy was changed after the Second Vatican Council with the most prominent changes being the Mass celebrated in the local language and the priest facing the congregation.
Although St. Andrew Church is less than 10 years old, it didn’t require many changes to prepare it for the Tridentine Mass, Father Schmit said. The altar was moved back a few feet toward the tabernacle behind it, and he placed a small shelf on the altar to hold the candles. For a communion rail, they used the first row of pews.
Father Schmit celebrated a typical high Mass under the Tridentine rite with several of the prayers sung in Latin, such as the Introit, the Kyre Eleison, Gloria and the Angus Dei, he said.
St. Andrew’s choir had just a few practices of the Latin hymns leading up to the Mass. “I was amazed how quickly it came back,” said Monica Palamachuck, a member of the choir.
For choir member Sherry Hickey, it was her first Latin Mass since she graduated from a Catholic high school in Illinois 40 years ago. “I liked it, but I still like the new way because you can understand” the language, she said.
However, the tradition and pageantry of the Tridentine Mass should be preserved, said Hickey, who encouraged the high school students in her religious education class at St. Andrew to attend the Tridentine Mass. “To appreciate where you are, you have to know where you came from.” [This is especially important for priests.]
Ancient and venerable rite
Carol Morgan grew up with the Tridentine rite. Her father was the organist for their parish in upstate New York for 35 years. “His love was the music in this Mass,” she said.
“This was the most ancient and venerable rite,” Morgan said. Because its roots reach so far back, she said, the rite helps her feel a connection to the time of Christ.
Father Schmit said the Tridentine Mass was solemn and devotional. “The Mass in the vernacular can be just as devotional,” he said, but the Tridentine rite is more solemn than the Mass as it has been celebrated since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council were instituted.
Father Schmit said he personally prefers celebrating the Mass in the vernacular so that the congregation can readily understand the prayers of the Mass, but that he prefers the actions of the Tridentine rite because they return some of the solemnity of the Mass lost with the changes of Vatican II.
“The Latin is not important, the solemnity is important,” Father Schmit said.
Morgan and her husband, Kemp, have traveled far and wide to attend Tridentine Masses in the past. Several are celebrated on a regular basis in the Diocese of Knoxville. There were many others at the Mass who traveled a great distance to be there.
Nancy and John Glass drove 2½ hours from their home in Fayetteville to attend the Tridentine Mass at St. Andrew.
“We have been waiting for this for a long, long time,” Nancy Glass said. “This is a glorious occasion.”
When they lived in Rockford, Ill., they attended a church that offered a regular Tridentine Mass. “And we have searched and prayed that the Latin Mass would appear in the Diocese of Nashville. I think it will,” Mrs. Glass said.
In recent years, interest in the Tridentine rite has grown among young people as well. Nathan West, who is college-aged, was one of the altar servers for the Mass at St. Andrew.
“Oh my goodness. I would do it every day if I could,” West said. “I would travel miles and hours to go to it,” drawn by “the reverence, the solemnity and the beauty” of the Mass, he said.
Morgan and others hope that eventually, the Tridentine Mass will be offered regularly at St. Andrew or elsewhere in the diocese.
Right now, there is a small group of people in the Cookeville and Sparta area who are interested in the Tridentine Mass, Father Schmit said. He’s trying to determine if the interest is strong enough to offer the Mass on a regular basis at St. Andrew.
Bishop David Choby has invited a Norbertine priest, Father William Fitzgerald, o.praem., to come to the Diocese of Nashville to train several priests who have expressed an interest in celebrating the Mass in the Tridentine rite.
“It’s been 40 years since the liturgy and the Latin rite has been celebrated according to the Tridentine formula,” so the vast majority of priests in the diocese were never trained in the rite or have little experience with it, Bishop Choby said.
The rubrics, or the rules for celebrating a liturgy, are quite different for the Tridentine rite than the current rite, called the novus ordo. “Those can be rather involved,” Bishop Choby said.
The Tridentine rite is not to replace the new Mass rite, according to Pope Benedict’s apostolic letter, but the pope expressed sympathy with Catholics who are attached to the Tridentine rite and uncomfortable with the new Mass. In the post-Vatican II period, he said, excessive liturgical creativity often led to “deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear.”
“I’m happy that we can respond to the provisions being made by the Holy Father … to respond to individuals who, as he puts it, have a certain affection for … the Tridentine Liturgy,” Bishop Choby said. [Hurray for Bp. Choby!]
Catholic News Service contributed to this report.