Article on older form of Mass in Memphis, TN

I got this from a reader in Memphis.  I thought you might be interested.


I saw that you wrote last week about Bishop Steib’s (Memphis, TN) statement on the Motu Proprio.  You may be interested in a very positive story that was in today’s issue of the Memphis Commercial Appeal about the 2 parishes in the diocese that celebrate the 1962 Mass.  This was on the first page of the second section, and was accompanied by a 6"x8" color picture of the priest with 2 servers (third pic down on the webpage).
By chance, my wife & I decided to go to this parish for the Latin Mass yesterday – the first time either of us had been to a Latin Mass.  The reporter mentions that "at least 10% of the women wore head coverings" – That’s a VERY low estimate – I’d say it was easily 70%

My emphases and comments.

With priests freer to celebrate in Latin, more Masses may follow older tradition
By James Dowd
August 6, 2007
The recent decision by Pope Benedict XVI to relax restrictions surrounding the Latin Mass is a welcome return to tradition, some local Catholics say.

And while the Latin or Tridentine Mass is celebrated in only two parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, if enough Catholics express interest, other congregations may soon follow suit.

At Bartlett’s Church of the Nativity, the Latin Mass is celebrated every Sunday, except for the third one in the month. On that day many parishioners travel to Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Midtown for the Latin Mass that’s celebrated there.

"There’s a group of us that goes to Latin Mass wherever it’s celebrated. It’s the way we worship," said Joseph Lenzi, 94, after Sunday’s morning service at Church of the Nativity. "There’s a reverence to it and a mystery. It just seems to bring the holiness of our faith alive."

On July 7, the pope issued a directive freeing priests to celebrate the ancient Mass without first having to obtain a bishop’s permission. That requirement had been in place since the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, when the Mass was modernized to be celebrated in local languages. [Grrrr…. same ol’ same ol’…]

Bishop J. Terry Steib will discuss the pope’s directive at a quarterly series of meetings with all priests in the diocese this autumn.

"So far I haven’t been approached by any parishioners wanting it," said Father John Geaney, diocesan spokesman and priest at St. Augustine Catholic Church in South Memphis. "But it’ll be easier to add a Latin Mass now if people do want it."

The Latin Mass differs from the modern version in ways other than language. The priest faces away from the congregation for much of the time and during Holy Communion the consecrated Host is placed in a communicant’s mouth, not on the palm. [Grrrr….]

"The Latin Mass is so pure, it’s so reverent, I just feel more spiritual when I worship this way," said Drew Sill, 30. "And I like the fact that the Latin Mass is the same in every culture in the world. It brings us all together in community."

On Sunday at Church of the Nativity, more than 75 showed up for the Latin Mass, which sometimes attracts more than 100. The crowd included a large number of young families and children and at least 10 percent of the women wore head coverings during the service.

One of them, Delores Ryan, 71, believes the traditional ways are best. And she said folks who don’t understand Latin aren’t at a loss — a printed translation of the service makes it easy to follow.

"The Bible speaks of women covering their heads and our way of worship was the same for hundreds of years until it was changed after Vatican II," said Ryan. "I want to continue those practices. It’s more meaningful to me this way."

Father Michael Morgera, who’s served at Church of the Nativity for three years, said response has been growing. He’s considering offering a morning Latin Mass during the week.

"Latin has been the universal language of the church and it’s the same, whether in Bartlett or in Hong Kong," said Morgera, 56. "In the Latin Mass there’s very much a sense of the awe of God and how we stand before Him and need His mercy and care. The prayers are profound."

— James Dowd: 901-529-2737

More info:

Latin Mass

The Latin or Tridentine Mass is celebrated at two parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Memphis at various times:

Church of the Nativity

5955 St. Elmo 382-2504

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church

2564 Hale 452-1543

All in all, that is pretty positive!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Stu says:

    What a great pic of the server!

    (That’s me and my son!) :)

  2. TJM says:

    I wrote the author of the article and complimented him on the positive tone of the piece. However, I did point out to him that Vatican II permitted the use of the vernacular but mandated that Latin was to be preserved in the Mass and that the people were to learn to chant in Latin the parts proper to them. I’ll let you know if I receive a response. Tom

  3. jane says:

    Father Morgera does a beautiful job. And the servers are so reverend. I love this Latin Mass. Thanks for posting this.

    jane in memphis

  4. TNCath says:

    Yes, it is basically a positive article. However, do not think for one minute that the Bishop or the “liturgical police” of the Diocese of Memphis support anything that suggests the furtherance of the use of Latin in the Mass, whether it is the ordinary or extraordinary form. Nonetheless, a number of parishes in Memphis go to great pains to preserve as much of the use of Latin in the liturgy as much as their pastors will allow. All in all, it is out of ignorance and/or defiance of the Holy Father’s expressed wishes that the bishop and the priests restrict the use of Latin in the Mass. Unfortunately, this restriction is bound to continue in Memphis as long as Bishop Steib and his “Office of Worship” is running the show.

  5. Chironomo says:

    I have seen the phrase “So far I haven’t been approached by any parishioners wanting it,” in almost every article like this one… exactly how are the faithful in the parishes supposed to know that this is even a possibility at this point… by articles in the Diocesan newspaper that emphasize that the MP was issued to appease aroup of french schismatics? I would like to see just one Diocesan paper put out a statement like the following:

    “The Pope’s recent Motu Proprio, summorum pontificum, allows for the celebration of the traditional latin Mass by any priest in the diocese who is willing to do so. If you, or any group within the parish, is interested in having a Mass said in your parish in the Catholic Church’s ancient and traditional rite, please contact your Pastor, or any parish priest immediately.”

    Then let’s see if they are approached by any parishioners….

  6. Let me state for the record that I have been approached by 30 people (at least that many signed a petition to express interest in the extraordinary form. No newspaper has contacted me for comment!

  7. Sacerdos: Send me a piece by e-mail and I will give it some visibility, or let me know how to contact you!

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