Arizona: TLM news

A friend alerted me to the following from Arizona:

Latin Mass makes a return to the Valley

by John Faherty – Oct. 12, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Standing outside the church, Marie Shoban stops to make sure her head is covered properly.

Then she checks her four young daughters to ensure that their veils are also in place.

Shoban, 44, and her husband, Mark, are attending a Latin Mass.

The service is solemn, ritualistic, and intelligible to only a very few. [I deny the premise.  It might be that not very many understand all the Latin without the help of a side-by-side translation.  It certainly is the case that people know what is going on and that something very important is taking place.]

But for the Shobans, and others who kneel in the pews, the Mass offers reverence and awe in a time when almost nothing seems sacred[Well put.]

It offers quiet in a loud world[I am reminded that C.S. Lewis's Screwtape looked forward to the hideous constant noise that would reign in hell.]

They find comfort in the constancy of the Mass because the world around them is changing faster than they can keep track.

The Latin Mass, a relic from the 16th century, [First, let's not call it "the Latin Mass", which is misleading.  Second, it is not a "relic": it is alive and well.  Third, this is far older in its structure than the 16th c.]  is returning to churches across the Valley, the nation and the world one year after Pope Benedict XVI loosened restrictions on priests performing it.

The irony, of course, is that it has become relevant again by not changing at all. [Well said.]

So the women cover their heads with veils or manilas as a sign of respect. The priest turns his back to the congregation so he can face the altar, which represents God.  [He has turned around, not turned his back on people.]

The sound of Gregorian chants fills the church.

"There is a desire for a return to a better place," [I like the qualification "better".] said Richard Rosengarten, dean of the University of Chicago Divinity School.

"It’s not fundamentalism, but the impulse that fundamentalism reflects – of recovering something – is very strong."

For the Shoban family, the Mass offers a time to think and pray and be still.

"It’s the Mass of the saints; it’s perfect," said Shoban of Chandler, who comes to St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in central Phoenix each Sunday.

"If they don’t change anything, I know that’s OK."  [This is an important element.  Constant change gave people the impression that everything could change and that what there was was not so important.]

A change to tradition

The Latin Mass makes sense to some people as a bulwark against change.

It is nearly the exact same Mass as the one established by the Catholic Church during the Council of Trent in 1563.

For 400 years, Catholics around the globe sat through the same services.

In the 1960s, the church held the Second Vatican Council, and one of the results of the conference was a series of significant changes to the Mass.

The priest, who always had his back to the congregation, [grrr    The writer seems particularly focused on this, however.  Which is interesting.  That is because this position is immediately sensed to be significant.] would face the faithful and address them in their own language, not Latin.

There would be modern music, [Umm... there was modern music for the older form of Mass too.] and lay people would be encouraged to take part in the services.

The old Latin Mass was never banned by the church, but Vatican II made sure it could be said only with permission from a bishop.

With that, the Latin service was placed on a shelf and quickly started gathering dust.

In July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued his Motu Proporio, a decree, which loosened restrictions on the Latin Mass.

He wrote, in Latin: "In parishes where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass."

Suddenly, any priest, or parish, could perform the Mass without getting permission from a bishop.

It turned out there was an audience – and not just of people who remember the Mass from their youth and felt nostalgic about it.

"The desire for a Latin Mass isn’t limited to a few elderly attempting a return to their childhood," said Roger Finke, a professor of sociology and religious studies at Penn State University. "It includes members of all ages seeking a tradition with a long history, theology and sense of meaning."

Tiffany Kpodonu, 34, goes to Latin Mass in Phoenix as often as she can.

For her the service is more reverential and meaningful.

At a service in September, she was 8 1/2 months pregnant. She had recently moved from Chicago to Phoenix and would soon be moving again to California.

"This Mass is so peaceful. It’s very, very solemn," she said. "It calms me."

Quiet is good

The 6:30 Mass held each morning at St. Thomas feels like stepping back in time.

Typically, 20 people or so are at the service and they are spread across the large church.

For much of the service, the only noise is the occasional cough or the sound of somebody shifting in the wooden pew.

"There isn’t much quiet in the world today," said Father Kenneth Fryar, pastor of the Mater Misericordiae Mission. "Quiet is good."

The mission was established by Bishop Thomas Olmstead in 2005 to provide Latin Mass to the faithful in Arizona.

The parish, which does not have its own church, holds services at St. Thomas.

In September, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted gave Mater Misericordiae permission to buy a church.

It will be dedicated entirely to the Latin Mass.

"I am sure it is closer to what God wants," Fryar said. "We should expect deference to the majesty of God."

Father Fryar is a pious man wholly devoted to the Latin Mass.

It is the best way, he believes, to give "thanks and adoration to God."

He does not allow himself to be concerned with how people feel about the service.

"This is for God," Fryar said in the rectory of St. Thomas. "It doesn’t matter what the people think. It wouldn’t matter if nobody was there." [RIGHT!]

Fryar’s single-minded devotion to the service was a blessing for Myrna Maney of Phoenix.

At 72, she is old enough to remember the Latin Mass and says she was never comfortable with the new services.

"That Mass was noisy. The constant music, the constant singing, bothered me," Maney said. "The difference is that the Latin Mass is aimed at God totally. As a sacrifice."

Before the Pope’s decree, Maney and her husband would drive for hours to find a church where a priest had received permission for a Latin Mass.

"This is not nostalgia, like they always say," Maney said. "This is the way I want to worship."

She was not alone in her search.

"There is a migration to more traditional services, especially among the young, in part because there is a solemn art form to it, a ritualized performance," said Rodney Stark, a Baylor University professor who studies the sociology of religion. "It’s not rap or rock and roll or some idiot priest with a guitar." [YES! YES!  "some idiot priest with a guitar"  YES!]

Reverence at what price?

The 1 p.m. Sunday Latin Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle is far more ritualized than the daily Mass.

More than 200 people attend the service, where a choir sings Gregorian chants, the liturgical music of the early Catholic Church.

The priests’ moves are practiced and precise.

The six altar boys move in choreographed perfection.

The ripe smoke of burning incense is spread across the church. Holy water is sprinkled.

In nómine Patris, et Fíllii, et Spíritus Sancti. Amen.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Intoíbo ad altáre Dei.

I will go unto the altar of God.

Many in the congregation hold a missal, Latin on the left page and the English translation on the right.

Some follow along. Others simply listen.

[And now the "price" being paid...] There are no altar girls at a Latin Mass. There is also no layperson participation [except for those who are praying...] because the Mass follows what is called the 1962 Missal, which means that the service will be held just as it was in 1962.

That was before the church began its modernization. It was before altar girls or lay ministers and before people at the service took time for the handshake of peace[gak]

There are no musical instruments or video screens. There is no band[I don't know... there is a band when the music is Mozart's Coronation Mass... which was modern music in its time... and laypeople played it...]

Michael Malone, 51, of Phoenix, learned the Mass as an altar boy in Connecticut.

Now, he attends the services again because the Latin Mass is "beautiful and reverential," he said.

Malone, the father of seven children, thinks the Mass holds a special appeal to people searching for something real in their lives.

"We live in a world of 15-second sound bites," he said. "Religion has to be more than that. There is substance here."

But some fear the search for tradition or reverence may come at a price[What was that price?  No altar girls?  No video screens?  No idiot priests with guitars?]

"The real issue here is not limited to liturgy but has wider implications for church life," the Rev. Keith Pecklers, a Jesuit liturgical expert, told the Associated Press.  [Fr. peckler's is probably the one who wrote Archbp. piero Marini's fascinating panegyric of Bugnini and the work of the Consilium.]

Proponents of the old Mass, he said, "tend to oppose the laity’s increased role in parish life [I don't buy that at all.  I think there were lot's of parish organizations and events back in the day.  I don't we can reduce parish involvement to being a unncessary "cup minister" as the jazz combo in the sanctuary irritates the congregation with poorly played "hip" music.] and worship since Vatican II along with the Catholic Church’s ecumenical collaboration with other Christians and its dialogue with Jews and Muslims."

Learning the old ways

How much the Latin Mass might grow in popularity may be limited by the fact that not a great number of priests are capable of conducting the service. [Yet.]

Most of the priests who were performing the Latin Mass more than 40 years ago are no longer practicing.

Some orders and societies of priests are still teaching the Latin Mass, like Father Fryar’s Society of St. Peter, but the number of people capable of doing it properly is likely to remain low.

But Father Fryar can, and he will.

"This is an historical treasure," he said. "But instead of putting in on a shelf in a museum, this treasure is still at our disposal."

Marie Shoban will continue to cover her head and attend Latin Mass.

It’s where she will find peace.

"I have a house full of children, and the world is crazy around us," she said.  [This implies that the children behave well during the older Mass, doesn't it.]

But she would attend the Mass even if her life were not hectic.

"The old Latin Mass is eternal. It’s unchanged, word for word. There are too many changes around us."

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21 Responses to Arizona: TLM news

  1. Andy K. says:


    [And now the "price" being paid…] There are no altar girls at a Latin Mass. There is also no layperson participation [except for those who are praying…] because the Mass follows what is called the 1962 Missal, which means that the service will be held just as it was in 1962.

    That was before the church began its modernization. It was before altar girls or lay ministers and before people at the service took time for the handshake of peace. [gak]

    There are no musical instruments or video screens. There is no band. [I don’t know… there is a band when the music is Mozart’s Coronation Mass… which was modern music in its time… and laypeople played it…]

    Oh no! The horror, the HORROR!

  2. Irenaeus says:

    “Rodney Stark, a Baylor University professor…”

    This is an interesting guy; Stark had been a world-class modern sociologist, but in the mid 90s he decided he wanted to “play in the Greco-Roman league” and wrote a book called _The Rise of Christianity_ which tried to explain Christianity’s boom in the ancient world (2-4th centuries, iirc). One reason: Christian attitudes against abortion made it attractive to women. He’s written a lot of relatively and implicitly pro-Christian stuff since then. I’ve heard he’d become a practicing Christian (an evangelical, iirc) some time ago. Great quote of his. “Idiot priest” — heh.

  3. Lucia says:

    Are women required to wear manilas [sp?] on their heads at the TLM?

    (I ask this respectfully, I am not trying to offend I am simply curious!)

  4. Al says:

    Lucia – My understanding is that mantillas are no longer required. However, as a 25-year-old male, I appreciate it when women wear them, because it reminds me to concentrate on the Mass, rather than on the people around me.

  5. Women are not required to wear mantillas,But the custom remains because of Canon Law in force at the time and out of respect of scripture (St. Paul tells women to wear a head covering).It is a sign of respect. I notice that about half the congregation atthe high mass at the SSPX parish in Paris do not cover their heads (women that is).The first time I was a mantilla at mass was after the NO had been introdoced.I remember seeing none when growing up.The women wore hats.

    [I don't want this entry to go off on the tangent of chapel veils. However, I must add that the 1983 Code of Canon Law is now in force, and that Summorum Pontificum did not revive the old law that woman had to have a head covering. I am entirely favorable toward the use of the mantilla, or whatever. But it is no longer law that women must use them.]

  6. Flabellum says:

    I woud like to popularise the phrase “the priest facing with the people” – any takers?

  7. William says:

    Ah yes, I remember it well. “In the day” as you aptly put it, Father Z, there was far more “fellowship” (never use the word, too protestant sounding) going on in Catholic Parishes than there is today. Those coffee and doughnut getogethers after Holy Mass are dreary affairs, putting it gently. “In the day” there was a mind boggling array of lay groups that met regularly, Sundays and during the week: Holy Name Society, Order of Foresters, Ladies of Ste. Anne, Catholic Daughters of America, CYO (remember that?), CCD (remember that one , too?) Boyscouts, Altar Society, 500 Club, Mens’ Choir, Childrens Choir, Mixed Choir, and on and on–even in the samllest parishes. And what do we have today? You got it: fellowship, stale donoughts, and watery coffee!

  8. R says:

    You got it: fellowship, stale doughnuts, and watery coffee!

    I wonder if you’ve looked into what is available at your nearest NO parish, because that isn’t my experience. My parish has a variety of activities. For a while I attended an EF congregation in the next diocese, but then I went back to attending my local parish because I wanted to be close enough to participate in the social life of the congregation. [That is fair enough... at least where you are living. In many places where the TLM is offered, there are lots of things to get involved in. I would remember everyone of the Rules also, especially #4.]

  9. The first time I was a mantilla at mass was after the NO had been introdoced.I remember seeing none when growing up.The women wore hats.

    It was the same where I was. Then, women were required to wear hats. Now, women’s hats are seldom seen, but between a third and a half (my rough estimate) of women wear mantillas at TLM. I’ve heard several say recently that they do so not out of any sense of obligation (St. Paul or otherwise), but because a mantilla closes out distractions from concentration on praying the Mass. Same principle as horse blinders (if I might so comment) despite the fact that for some ineffable reason — as a progressive bishop might describe it — I personally see mantillas at Mass as a beautiful custom.

  10. Thomas says:

    Ah, mantillas. Give me a pretty girl in a mantilla any day over the street-walker look you often see at Mass nowadays.

    The mantilla: lingerie for the head.

  11. paul says:

    I always thought that the primary place of the laity was to be active in society.

  12. David Andrew says:

    Proponents of the old Mass, he said, “tend to oppose the laity’s increased role in parish life . . .

    You said you dont’ buy it, Father. I don’t buy it either.

    I recall a posting by “His Hermeneuticalness” about a year ago (10.16.07) bemoaning the fact that lay organizations and sodalities were almost a thing of the past, even in the midst of “greater participation” by the laity in the Mass. It linked to this longer article:

    http://marymagdalen.blogspot.com/2007/10/thoughts-with-lune-valley-in-brighton.html

    Worth a look-see.

  13. C.L. says:

    Proponents of the old Mass, he said, “tend to oppose the laity’s increased role in parish life.”

    What an astonishingly stupid observation. On the contrary, I’d say the strength and diversity of activities and groups at the parish level diminished following the Council – and to a very considerable extent because of the way the Council was falsely interpreted. The liberal modernists and anti-TLM immobilists really have no substantive arguments left now, do they? They were given their chance for decades and they drove everything into a ditch. Now they insist the answer to crisis is more of the same. They’re like addicts in need of a 12 step programme.

  14. ALERT: The issue of head-coverings is a rabbit hole. No more about that.

  15. JM says:

    I’m sick of this “Latin Mass is unintelligible” argument. If I go to an NO Mass at the local cathedral, the readings and music are in Tagalog, Spanish, Chinese… When they are signing the Sanctus in Mandarin it’s pretty much unintelligible to half the audience. The use of these languages is in fact quite common even in English masses across my diocese. So aside from the arguments about the universality of Latin, the use of Missals, etc., I don’t buy this idea that the NO suddenly made the Mass intelligible. In some places it made it worse.

  16. Woody Jones says:

    Fr. Pecklers indirectly states what really is at stake here: continuity or rupture. The “ruptured” flower children clerics and religious in the US and Magic Circle types in the UK and their brethren/sistren in Rome certainly understand this.

  17. W. Schrift says:

    \”Intelligible to only a very few”? Rubbish. I wonder if this reporter ever even bothered to look at a missal.

    I\’ve had one year of college Latin and I can follow along word-for-word with the canon of the Old Mass. (Compared to Virgil, it\’s not a challenge.) It\’s simply untrue that even the recognition of Latin is something beyond the capacity of the layperson, and it\’s demeaning to insinuate the way that this article does that the language is beyond the grasp of normal people. I could go on about this.

  18. dcs says:

    This implies that the children behave well during the older Mass, doesn’t it.

    This has definitely been my experience; and I’ve also noticed that as my children get older that they now know how to behave in church in general. (Maybe things will change – for the worse – when they are teenagers!)

  19. Greg says:

    “intelligible to only a very few”? This is a silly argument because the same argument can be made against opera – where is outcry for vernacular opera?

  20. BG says:

    “Intelligible to only a very few”?

    My 3 year old daughter knows the responses to ‘Dominus Vobiscum’ & the Kyrie
    and what they mean in english.

    After about a year of attending the TLM
    exclusively (on Sundays)the unchanging parts of the Mass tend to stick with
    you and you can figure it all out even w/o a missal. The readings are the
    only exception but are re-read in the vernacular anyway so who cares?

  21. Robert Medonis says:

    Not just opera but pop too as half of it I can not understand.

    Some of you might know of Nirvana ,the big 90′s group ,who was criticized because no one could understand the lyrics.

    The EF is like Johnny Cash-the symbolism is loud and clear. “I’ll toe the line because you’re mine.”