My emphases and comments.
A sense of the sacred
Published: Sunday, August 19, 2007
By Gail Callahan
For the first time in more than 30 years, Roman Catholics in Vermont had a chance to attend a traditional Latin Mass last week, and the overwhelmingly positive response means there likely will be more to come.
About 1,000 Catholics from across Vermont, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire packed the pews at Burlington’s St. Joseph Co-Cathedral on Wednesday, spilling out into the vestibule for the 90-minute ceremony.
The Mass, celebrated by the Most Rev. Salvatore Matano, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, was filled with tradition: Incense billowed toward the ceiling; worshipers brought black leather-bound missals containing prayers in Latin and English; women donned lace mantillas, or veils, as a sign of respect; and a 14-member choir sang Gregorian chants.
Gloria Gibson, director of the diocese’s office of communications, said the bishop and church officials will study response to the Mass and decide how often the celebration will be offered in Latin.
"This is wonderful," Gibson said. "I’m just delighted."
This form of the Mass was common from the late 1500s to the mid-1960s, when the Second Vatican Council called for reform.
When the Latin Mass was celebrated, the priest faced the altar rather than the congregation [sigh] and worshipers knelt for Communion and received the host on their tongues instead of having the option of receiving it in their hands. [No, they still had that option. It’s just that it is unlikely the folks going to that Mass would choose that sad but legal option.]
A Latin Mass has been on the drawing board since early July. Matano decided to celebrate it on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary — a holy day of obligation for Catholics — because of the significant role the mother of Jesus plays in the diocese. [YAY!]
During his 15-minute homily, Matano reminded the congregation about the importance of faith and prayer in daily life. "The Mother of God was faithful and a woman of compassion," he said. "She was there to experience the important events in her son’s life. We can turn to her and ask for help. People call out in prayer to Mary from all corners of the world."
Looking out on the overflowing congregation, Matano promised to invest time in similar ceremonies. "If this is what it takes to fill our churches, then so be it," he said. "I will do whatever I can to fill our churches." [He’s gets it, doesn’t he!]
For Mary Alexander, 41, of Townsend, Mass., worshiping at the Old North End church was a homecoming. Alexander and her husband were married in St. Joseph’s and their oldest daughter was baptized there. After Communion, the mother of eight stood on the front steps, watching two of her sons assist at Mass.
"I think this is reverent," she said. "It’s a sense of the sacred. We’re here to worship God."
For David Allbee, 34, of Winooski, who came with his wife, Kim, and their 14-month-old daughter, Gabriella, the celebration underscored the importance of community. [This is interesting. Critics of the older Mass claim the newer Mass underscores community better, the horizontal dimension, the immanent, while the older Mass is more individualistic, stressing the vertical and trascendent. However, everywhere I have been where the older Mass is celebrated I note that after Mass many people hang around and talk and talk and talk, their families are often together socially…. That sounds like community to me. It is just that they focus on community after Mass rather than during. That doesn’t mean that the vertical can’t be stressed during the Novus Ordo Mass, or that community can’t be felt during the older.]
"This experience is part of the church’s legacy and tradition," he said. "It’s important to remember we’re here for Jesus."
Remember two of the Rules:
3) Show genuine Christian joy. If you want to attract people to what gives you so much consolation and happiness, be inviting and be joyful. Avoid the sourness some of the more traditional stamp have sadly worn for so long.
4) Be engaged in the whole life of your parishes, especially in works of mercy organized by the same. If you want the whole Church to benefit from the use of the older liturgy, then you who are shaped by the older form of Mass should be of benefit to the whole Church in concrete terms.
All in all that was a thought provoking article.