Diocese of Nashville: application of Summorum Pontificum

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.

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  1. Tim says:

    I’m anxiously waiting for this at my parish. We’re running into some resistance with our pastor, but I think with some persistence and patience, things will start happening.

    P.S. Fr Z, you misspelled Bishop Choby’s name in the last comment in the article.

  2. Matthew says:

    Father, possible bias by photograph in the actual link. They show nothing but old people at the Mass.

  3. malta says:

    “The Latin is not important, the solemnity is important,” Father Schmit said.

    I vigorously disagree with this, and so did the Council of Trent, which anathemized
    anyone who advocated for a vernacular-only Mass. However, kudos to Fr. Schmit
    for stepping-up to the plate and offering this Mass for his parishoners.

  4. Michael says:

    “To me this is the real thing.”

    Uh oh, we find ourselves once again in that ever-fragile distinction between what is the “real” Mass.

    Surely we can be champions of “both/and”, yes? Or….or is that not truly the end prize? Maybe “one not the other” is the real goal of some, but prudence suggests that in the meantime “both/and” be promoted. At least, promoted for awhile.

    If I sound preachy, forgive me. But if I do preach it is to both sides of this liturgical fence, a fence decorated more with barbed wire than lovely vines and ivy. Both forms are valid, or so the Pontiff says.

  5. jack burton says:

    Hehe, yeah. Latin is just some superfluous and perhaps unfortunate baggage in the liturgical tradition. A very dismal and sadly pervasive attitude that is ironically far from the all-important spirit of Vatican II. This good father should read Arinze’s thing from that other post. ;-)

  6. Carolina Geo says:

    “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.”

    I am very happy for the parishoners at St. Andrew! However, the good Father Schmit needs to understand one very important point, and I think a lot of priests miss this. It is that when then Traditional Mass is available to the masses (no pun intended), the people will come. If only 20 people come the first week, 25 will come the second, and then 30 and then 40. Once people are exposed to the Traditional Mass, they will be drawn to it and to its beauty. But if the Mass is not offered, people will not go! You can’t judge the attraction of people to something that’s not there.

    Please pray for a return of the Tridentine Mass to the upstate of South Carolina. We used to have it on a weekly basis, then monthly, now it’s ad hoc.

  7. Larster says:

    I just found this for myself on the Nashville diocese website. The wife and I are thinking of moving to Nashville (or back in my case) and the one thing we would miss most is our parish (St. John Cantius in Chicago). First time I’ve seen a story that makes me so happy I’m in the neighborhood of being on the verge of tears.

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    He’s trying to determine if the interest is strong enough to offer the Mass on a regular basis at St. Andrew.

    I doubt there\’s a multi-Mass parish anywhere than a really enthusiastic and persistent pastor could not develop \”strong enough\” interest in the traditional Mass — or at least a Latin Novus Ordo — which gives such great glory to God and assures a steady flow of vocations. After all, what does the word \”evangelist\” mean? Shouldn\’t every pastor be one?

  9. Johnny Reb says:

    Obviously, I’m biased, but I pray that the Mass at St. Andrew’s is here to stay.

    It may be worth noting that Sparta is relatively close to a university which was out on Christmas Break when the Mass was held. I would expect the numbers to increase (as well as the percentage of young people) with school in session.

    Thank you Bishop Choby and Fr. Schmit.

  10. Sid Cundiff says:

    Nashville has a good bishop.

  11. Tom says:

    “The Latin is not important, the solemnity is important,” Father Schmit said.

    Father is correct regarding his second point…why he insisted upon his first point is beyond me. Latin is important, Father.

    “He’s trying to determine if the interest is strong enough to offer the Mass on a regular basis at St. Andrew.”

    Father, if even just a handful of Faithful assist at the TLM, then interest is “strong enough.”

    The story goes that God is asked as to why he hasn’t created a person who would somebody discover the cure to cancer. God replied that He did so…sadly, said person was aborted.

    The moral: Even the life of one person is precious…and opting for life is always worthwhile.

    Another story…a priest offers the Traditional Latin Mass each Sunday…just a handful of people assist each Sunday…but the priest doesn’t concern himself with “strong enough” interest. But within the small group in question is one person who had departed the Church but returned via the Traditional Latin Mass.

    The moral: Heaven (and each Catholic) would rejoice as the eternal life of even one soul is precious…and offering the TLM is always worthwhile.

  12. TNCath says:

    Sid is correct: Nashville has a good bishop. Surprisingly enough, Tennessee has a rich Catholic history, from Memphis to Knoxville. Bishop Choby hails from the Catholic establishment in Nashville. At one time the entire state of Tennessee was one diocese until 1971 when the Diocese of Memphis was established. From 1936 to 1969, the Bishop of Nashville was Bishop William L. Adrian, whose goal was to establish a parish in every county of the state of Tennessee, a challenging goal that he almost met. Bishop Adrian’s hobby was carpentry, and he personally built most of the the altars for the new churches in Tennessee during his tenure as bishop. It was his personal gift to parishes. In the aftermath of Vatican II and the ascension Coadjutor Bishop Joseph A. Durick as Bishop of Nashville, Bishop Adrian’s altars were relegated to altars of repose or removed completely. I am happy to hear that these beautiful altars still intact might actually be used once again!

  13. Matt Q says:

    This is great for Nashville. Thank the Lord and bless the bishop.

    I long for a regularly scheduled Tridentine Mass here in Los Angeles. There is to a point. Each week there is a regularly scheduled Mass but it’s in a different location, so that in effect one attends the Tridentine Mass once a month. It’s almost like mission territory out here again with Father travelling here and there to say Mass. The only real exception is St Therese parish, Alhambra, where the Usus Antiquior is celebrated on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays–by the same travelling priest. God bless Father and all his efforts. He has been doing this now for nearly ten years.


    About Father Schmit’s comment on “Latin’s unimportance,” I say ignorance comes in myriad forms at all levels of life.

  14. Anon. Nashville Seminarian says:

    Call me crazy, but I think we should be thanking this priest for responding to the request of his parishioners and being the first priest to bring back the (licit) celebration of the TLM to Middle Tennessee, rather than criticizing him and saying he needs to understand this and he needs to do that, and he shouldn’t have said this. The man has already done something that none of the pastors of the diocese’s other 50 or so parishes has done.

    Like it or not, TLM is not in the Catholic “mainstream.” If we want to win “mainstream” priests to our side, it would probably behoove us to focus more on the positive when one of them, you know, actually makes an effort.

  15. Former Altar Boy says:

    What the article doesn’t mention is that there already is a TLM in Nashville (I think from the indult days) at Mary of the Seven Sorrows church in downtown Nashville on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month. Unfortunately, I visited town on the 2nd Sunday but what I did find out that before Holy Communion, the lector reminded everyone that it was the custom there to KNEEL when receiving Communion. (Gee, what a novel idea!) Seven Sorrows is also the oldest continuously used church in Nashville since the 1840s or ’50s, I recall.

  16. Johnny Reb says:

    Minor correction to Altar Boy’s post

    SSPX offers Mass near Nashville, however, the Mass at St. Mary’s was/is a Latin Novus Ordo. At least, I’ve never heard of them using the 1962 Missal.

  17. Maureen says:

    Dripping, flowing — same thing, right?


  18. TNCath says:

    Yes, St. Mary’s “Latin Mass” in downtown Nashville is a Novus Ordo Mass.

  19. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    I remember a group called the Nashville Dominicans. Anyone know if they’ve requested the Extraordinary Form?

  20. claiborne says:

    Fr. Di Lorenzo:

    re the Nashville Dominicans, all my kids went to one of their schools (two still do). While they are orthodox in theology and devout in practice, I have never known one to be even the slightest bit interested in a traditional liturgy. In fact, they seem unfortunately quite casual about liturgical matters; I cannot imagine any of them taking an interest in the Old Mass, although II wish they would; their influence would undoubtedly bring the Extraordinary Form to my parish when (by all appearances) nothing and no one else will.

  21. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    Hey claiborne,

    Thanks. But, maybe they are gearing themselves up for the Extraordinary Form. I think that any one who claims to be a Catholic of the Latin Rite and can get to know their rite must get to know and love their rite entirely. There are no half measures when it comes to love of the Lord!

  22. Layla says:

    Above posters are correct about St. Mary’s downtown (dedicated in 1847 and used continuously since then except a brief stint when it served as a military hospital. It was the Cathedral for the Diocese of Tennessee/Nashville until 1914). We have a Latin Novus Ordo on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month. Until this (about which I hadn’t heard, so thanks, Fr. Z — I am in school in west TN and am somewhat out of the Nashville loop), the only TLM in middle TN was an SSPX chapel in Franklin.

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