Southwest Florida’s Herald Tribune has an article about the older form of Mass.
My emphases and comments.
Latin Mass likened to a symphony
BY CHRISTINE HAWES CORRESPONDENT
Some consider it "a deeper spiritual experience." Others describe it as "like a symphony." The pope himself calls it simply "extraordinary." [The author does not seem to understand that the "extraordinary", as used in Summorum Pontificum does not mean "outstanding".]
The Latin Mass, [Okay folks… this is getting annoying. We MUST stop calling this form of Mass "the Latin Mass", as if it alone is the only form of Mass in Latin.] rarely used in public for more than 40 years, is thriving at St. Martha Catholic Church in Sarasota, one of about only 15 churches in Florida that offers a Latin Mass. Father James Fryar, who trained with a seminary solely dedicated to preserving the Latin or "traditional" Mass, leads services at noon daily, including a Sunday high Mass featuring a choir performing classic a cappella works.
"It’s a perfection of order honed through the centuries," [I like this description, but is it true? I am not sure it is "a perfection". Adjustments are always necessary along the way. Still, it is a good phrase.] said Ted Cover, a St. Martha member who was raised with the 1,500-year-old Latin Mass, then watched it disappear following the pope’s sanctioning of an English-language version of Mass in the 1960s. "It just flows. It’s like listening to a beautiful symphony."
St. Martha is the only Southwest Florida church to offer a daily Latin Mass, though Sacred Heart in Bradenton has begun a monthly Latin Mass. [Oh that "Latin Mass" thing annoys me.] St. Martha is also home to Fryar, the only priest practicing in Florida from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a 10-year-old seminary [The author didn’t check her facts.] dedicated entirely to preservation of the traditional Latin Mass. [This time she get’s closer to the mark.]
"It’s more reverent," Fryar said, pressed to explain in layperson’s terms why the Latin Mass is his chosen path. "So I’m able to pray easier."
The question of whether to celebrate the Mass in English or Latin has been a touchy one in the Catholic Church for decades.
When the church hierarchy officially sanctioned English-language versions in 1962 [?] as part of an effort to make the Catholic church more accessible and understandable, and the Latin Mass version was allowed only among some priests and bishops and only with the church hierarchy’s permission. [This is very scrambled and, frankly, inaccurate. The poor thing obviously didn’t get things clear before writing.]
That limitation was gradually loosened over decades. It was officially lifted last summer, and St. Martha — which had offered weekly Latin Mass since 1992 — was among the first churches to respond.
Surprisingly, Fryar said, the majority of those attending Latin Mass services are of a younger generation than the one that was raised with a Latin traditional Mass. Fryar himself is only 33, the average age of all of the priests at his seminary. [I am glad this point was included. It might actually be the most important thing in the article.]
"People are looking for a deeper spiritual experience," said St. Martha development director Kristina Kelly, reflecting on why some are attracted to the Latin Mass rather than the English version. "And the Latin Mass is an entire sensory experience. The scents, the candles, the music …" [Kristina needs to learn some more accurate ways of describing this form of Mass.]
Music, in particular, plays a significant role at a Latin high Mass. All selections are from the 1400s to 1800s and range from Gregorian chants to polyphonic compositions from classical legends like Mozart and Bach. "The music we sing is all calming all subdued," explained Leo Labrecque, choir director of the Latin Mass choir at St. Martha. "It mesmerizes people, like a tranquilizer." [There are problems here. First, it is entirely possible to use new compositions with the TLM as well. I am afraid that this article gives the impression that if the music isn’t centuries old, it can’t be used. I often jokingly say that the longer the composer has been dead, the better his music probably is, but that is simply a jest. New composers can and should write music for use in the so-called "Tridentine" Mass… and the Novus Ordo. Second, liturgical music shouldn’t "mesmerize" or "tranquilize". It should aid in "full, conscious and active" participation in the sacred action. This doesn’t mean it should rile people up. Right thinking people know that "active" participation is primarily interior receptivity of a very interiorly active nature. In one sense, calm is needed so that the participant can engage his will and unite himself interiorly to the sacred action. However, I am afraid that the choir director’s description works against that true interiorly active sense of "active participation" that is needed at every Mass.]
The use of Latin is considered to be a sacred expression, [This ties in with the argument that Latin, used liturgically, is a "sacred language".] through the use of a dead language "uncorrupted" by modern-day usage, Fryar said.
Another key distinction from a "new rite" Mass: the priest at a Latin Mass spends much of his time with his back to the congregation. [Grrrr…. again.] This change has to do with the ultimate purpose of the two different Masses, Fryar explained: "The Latin Mass is not intended to be a celebration for the people. It’s a celebration for God. It’s about what you are giving to the Mass and not what you are getting out of it." [This needs clarification, below.]
All in all, there are problems with this article, though there are some positive elements. The first positive point is that some one wrote an article and it was published. That is very good.
On that last point: "It’s a celebration for God. It’s about what you are giving to the Mass and not what you are getting out of it."
I am not sure I can be entirely on board with this in the way it is phrased.
What Fr. Fryar is pointing out is that too often today Mass is celebrated in such a way that the action and attention of all present is focused on the congregation, in the sort of "closed circle" Joseph Ratzinger described as resulting from versus populum celebration and some other liturgical choices. You can hear more about that in some of my PODCAzTs. Mass mustn’t be centered on the congregation.
At the same time, God has no need of Holy Mass. We do. Mass really is for us, for our benefit. The Sacrifice sacramentally renewed at Holy Mass is for us. The graces from Holy Mass are for us. Mass, in that sense, really is all about us. Mass, therefore, properly understood must lead every Catholic to ask the question: "What am I getting out of this?" The answer must be sacramental graces. In this sense, Fr. Fryar’s phrase "what you are giving to the Mass" is important. If we understand this in the sense of a "personal surrender" to the sacred action, in the sense that one can receive all Christ offers through the celebration of these mysteries, then we are right on target.
It helps to remember that Mass is an "action". There is a true and supreme "actor" in Mass: Jesus Christ the High Priest. When we unite ourselves to the sacred action, we also become actors through our baptismal character, which makes us sharers in Christ’s priesthood, in our own ways (baptized or also ordained). Considered from that point of view, Mass is not so much about what we are doing, but about what God is doing for and through us.
The way Fr. Fryar put this, above, is okay if we have a solid grasp of some fundamentals. However, his phrasing could lead also to an improper activism at Mass as well, rather than the sort of profoundly active interior receptivity which is so necessary at Mass.