A reader pointed out this article from telegram.com, of Fitchburg, Mass.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
In Fitchburg, Latin Mass ‘resonates with rhythm’
Fitchburg church celebrates traditional service
By Bronislaus B. Kush TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
FITCHBURG — The pews at Immaculate Conception Church contained a scattering of congregants as the solemn and somber chanting soothingly echoed through the cavernous nave of the Catholic house of worship.
The women, in a throwback to simpler times, ["simpler"?] wore veils or kerchiefs to cover their heads and many of the men, despite the oppressive summer heat, were conservatively attired in suits or sports jackets.
The worshippers — some struggling to follow the liturgy because of their unfamiliarity with the language — reverentially [note the juxtaposition of "struggling" and "reverentially"] focused their eyes on the altar where the Rev. David Phillipson, [CLICHE ALERT!] his back to the congregation, celebrated the 8 a.m. Sunday Mass in ancient Latin.
It seemed as if the veils of time had been peeled back.
Two years after the Vatican allowed for its wider use, the Latin, or, Tridentine Mass, [the writer seems not to have done much research before writing this] is being celebrated again on a regular basis at diocesan churches.
“The Latin Mass resonates with rhythm,” said Rev. Phillipson. “It’s a way in which individuals may deeply immerse themselves in faith.”
Pope Benedict XVI, in the summer of 2007, eased restrictions on the celebration of the millennial-old Latin rite, to the delight of many who believed the church had moved too far from its traditional spiritual moorings. [umm... including Pope Benedict XVI, right?]
In making the worship service more accessible, the pontiff acknowledged he was, to some degree, attempting to heal rifts with traditionalist groups within the church, including ultra-conservative followers of the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
The Latin Mass was “codified” in 1570 and remained the standard Catholic liturgy for about 400 years.
After the sweeping reforms of the 1960s Second Vatican Council, however, the Latin Mass was mothballed [wrong] in favor of a worship service celebrated in vernacular languages encouraging more interactive participation by lay congregants.
Nonetheless, the Latin Mass could be conducted with permission of a local bishop. [Note the sloppy use of the term "Latin Mass".]
But church officials said, upon its introduction, the so-called “modern Mass” ["so-called"?] quickly caught on with Catholics and there were few calls for a return to the old rite.
Some, however, clung tightly to the Latin Mass.
Locally, many traditionalists have traveled for years to Still River in Harvard to attend services at St. Benedict Center, a non-diocesan facility operated by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a religious congregation.
Many of those Catholics are now attending the Latin Mass in the Fitchburg church,. Other worshippers include families who send their children to the small Trivium School [great name!] in Lancaster, which provides students in Grades 7 to 12 “a Catholic perspective” of the liberal arts.
Raymond L. Delisle, diocesan spokesman and vice chancellor of operations, said despite all the hoopla generated internationally when the pope announced his intention to slacken restrictions, there’s been very little interest in the Latin rite among Central Massachusetts Catholics.
“There’s no question there’s a vocal minority that favors it and there is some curiosity among others,” he said. “But most Catholics have grown up with the current form and prefer it.”
The Latin Mass is a complex service replete with centuries-old trappings — harkening participants back to a time when the church served as the central authority of Western civilization.
With its stylized rituals, it conveys a sense of majesty and mystery. [BTW... any form of worship which doed not do this is a failure.] Imbued with formality, the old liturgy is precise and it can lull congregants with its cadence. [Does this writer really get what he is saying? On the one hand it converys a sense of mystery, but it lulls?]
The service runs a bit longer than the modern Mass, and many parts of it are sung.
At Immaculate Conception, only the scripture readings and the homily are in English. Missals are available that provide English translations of the Latin text.
Even the Mass accoutrements are different. For example, the priestly vestments are more ornate than those used in the “modern” service. [Again, no sense of what is inherent in the two forms of Mass and what is accidental. Okay, just read to the end... you get the idea.]
“Going to a Latin Mass is like enjoying a piece of classical music,” said Ted Turner, a Lunenburg resident who was instrumental in bringing the rite to Immaculate Conception. “It’s an enriching experience. It truly is an antidote to all the bad things in the world.”
Mr. Turner’s family was among those who had been attending the Latin Mass in Still River for years.
Though spiritually satisfied, those families yearned for a parish life, something they couldn’t get at St. Benedict Center.
Representatives approached the Rev. Thien X. Nguyen, the pastor of Immaculate Conception, about holding Sunday Latin Masses at his parish, which was founded by French Canadians in 1886.
Mr. Turner was familiar with the church because his daughter, Annie, was married there two years ago in a service using the Latin rite.
Rev. Nguyen agreed and, with the blessing of Worcester Bishop Robert J. McManus, Latin Masses began to be celebrated this summer.
The Masses are celebrated by Rev. Phillipson, who was born in Middletown, Conn., but raised in New Jersey.
Rev. Phillipson, who was ordained in 2003, is from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in New Mexico and is associated with, though not a member of, the Fraternity of St. Peter. He has been celebrating the Latin Mass for three years.
Though the first, which was held on June 28, drew about 250 worshippers, subsequent services have attracted far fewer.
“We expected that,” said Mr. Turner, a former member of the Episcopal Church who converted to Catholicism in 1968. “It really takes awhile to appreciate the Latin Mass.”
Mr. Turner, who is originally from north Virginia and who works in the information-technology field, said he hopes the influx of Latin Mass worshippers will help the parish at Immaculate Conception grow. There’s some fear, among parishioners, the church might be closed by the diocese.
Since the introduction of the Latin rite, about a dozen families have joined Immaculate Conception.
Besides the Fitchburg parish, the Latin rite is conducted on Sunday mornings by the Rev. Daniel J. Becker at St. Paul Church in Warren.
Contact Bronislaus B. Kush by e-mail at email@example.com.
I didn’t get any sense from this article that the writer had done much homework. There wasn’t much evidence that he asked questions or did any reading so as to understand what the terms were, etc.
The upside is that something is growing in Fitchburg, despite certain attempts to downplay what is going on.
The writer did, however, pick up on the sense of "mystery" which is conveyed through the older form of Mass. This is the single most important point people who are not used to the TLM have to deal with. It often leaves them, at least at first, confused, disoriented.