NatCath Register: article on the TLM on college campuses

The National Catholic Register has an article on the growth of the so-called "Tridentine Mass", or the "Extraordinary Use" of the Roman Rite, on Catholic college campuses.

Here is the piece with my emphases and comments.

Ite, Missa Est

Interest in ‘Extraordinary Form’ of the Mass Growing on Campus


February 17-23, 2008 Issue | Posted 2/12/08 at 12:02 PM

When Pope Benedict XVI loosened restrictions on celebration of the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass last July, Notre Dame University’s campus ministry immediately began planning how to implement the change.

Notre Dame is just one of a number of Catholic colleges and universities that viewed the Pope’s July 7, 2007, Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum as a signal that the form of the Mass dating to 1570 should be available on their campuses. Others, such as Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York, began offering the Mass of Blessed John XXIII at the behest of students.

“It’s actually been a lot of fun to work with,” [See?  It doesn’t have to be a scary pain!] said Brett Perkins, Notre Dame’s campus ministry coordinator of the Mass of Blessed John XXIII, as the older liturgy is now also known. Campus ministry staff spent the summer ordering English-Latin missalettes, buying vestments, and training priests in the rubrics and language of the traditional Mass.

“The Mass is the Mass, but the traditional Latin Mass seems more sacred,” said Leah Turner, a junior at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. “It seems to capture the tradition of the Church more.”  [I wonder if the retired Archbp. Weakland is helping out?]

Notre Dame, Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., and St. Vincent College are among the colleges that began to offer the Mass of Blessed John XXIII shortly after the Summorum Pontificum’s effective date of Sep. 14. Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., plans to offer it soon and Franciscan University of Steubenville will offer its first such Mass on March 30. [And I think WDTPRSers know how that happened!]

Summorum Pontificum, which the Pope issued on his own initiative or motu proprio, said that the Mass according to the Missal of 1962 must be offered as long as a “stable” group of the faithful requests it. [We need to get away from that translation.] The only exception is during the Easter Triduum.  [Well… not if the place in question has use of the older form of Mass exclusively.]

The Pope referred to this Mass as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. “It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were ‘two rites,’” he wrote. “Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.”  [I don’t think this accurately describes the situation.  What Pope Benedict did in Summorum Pontificum was supply a juridical solution to a problem.  So, juridically there are two uses of one Roman Rite.  That doesn’t not remove the question if there are really two rites or not from the liturgical and historical point of view.  I think there are indeed two different rites, liturgically if not juridically.  As a matter of fact, I suspect Pope Benedict thinks so too.  But His Holiness’s solution was brilliant.]

Pope Benedict wrote in an accompanying letter to the bishops that the 1970 Missal of Pope Paul VI, regularly called the Novus Ordo (new order of the Mass) “obviously is and continues to be the normal form.”  [I think we also need to consider what "ordinary" and "extraordinary" mean.  After all, there are some ways in which "extraordinary" has become very common indeed.   Just think about "extraordinary" ministers of Communion, who in some places are so numerous as to constitute a liturgical abuse.]

‘Preserve the Riches’

The older form of the Mass had never been juridically abrogated, although since 1988, express permission had been required from the bishop. [For public Masses.  The Holy See gave permission for private Masses.] That is no longer required.

In a letter to bishops accompanying the motu proprio, Pope Benedict wrote: “It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer.”

“For a Catholic university, it’s almost imperative to preserve these treasures of civilization,” said Notre Dame sophomore John Gerardi, who was part of a group of students who asked for the traditional Mass, parts of which date back more than 1,000 years to Pope Gregory the Great.

Msgr. R. Michael Schmitz is vicar general of the Institute of Christ the King, with North American headquarters in Chicago. “Many of the students tell us that it is simply inspiring very strongly the presence of the divinity, the presence of Christ,” Msgr. Schmitz said. “It is inspiring awe.”  [He got it right.  As I have been saying for a while now, liturgy must bring us to an experience of mystery, awe at transcendence.]

He believes the reverence the older form inspires will increase its popularity over time. [So do I.] He noted the extraordinary form is being celebrated around the country with little fanfare, including recently at the Newman Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

Said Michael Bertotti, a senior at Thomas Aquinas: “I think both forms of the Mass are valid and very good. The old Mass makes more clear the splendor and majesty of the Mass.”

There is more ritual, more Signs of the Cross, kissing of the altar and quiet prayers, with the priest facing ad orientem (toward the East) [Along with the silent canon, this is the most important thing that could be reintroduced in the newer form of Mass.] with the people and toward the altar for much of the Mass, noted Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, editor-in-chief of Ignatius Press. Ignatius Press is the primary English-language publisher of the works of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI.

The Scripture readings are on a one-year cycle, and only an Old Testament or Epistle is read in addition to the Gospel. The Gospel is largely drawn from the Gospel of Matthew.  [Which is still a lot of Scripture, by the way.  Don’t let people trick yo into thinking that there is "not enough" Scripture in the older Mass. In fact, there is probably too much in the newer form!]

In contrast, the newer form has a three-year Scripture cycle for Sundays and solemnities, and a two-year cycle for weekdays. The readings are drawn more extensively from the Old Testament and the Gospels of John, Luke and Mark.  [If it is true that there is more Scripture in the Novus Ordo, it is also true that having less in the older Mass made it easier to integrate into one’s memory.  Also, the increase of texts to be read during the Novus Ordo gives the impression to some people that Mass is about incessant talking.  This is also why a silent Canon could be very helpful.]

Growing Together?

Notre Dame offers the extraordinary form at 8 a.m. on Sundays in a chapel located at the center of the campus and attendance hovers around 100, Perkins said. The resurgence of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, with 75% of the Catholic students attending Mass at least on Sunday, is enriched by the extraordinary form, he said.

Thomas Aquinas College offers both the extraordinary form and the Mass of Paul VI in Latin and in English. Jesuit Father Cornelius Buckley, chaplain, said some students have embraced the traditional Latin Mass, but others just don’t like it.

“You’re not as involved because there are so few responses. A lot of the prayers are said quietly by the priest so it is harder to follow what is going on,” said Theresa O’Reilly, a senior at Thomas Aquinas.

O’Reilly said she prefers the newer form. “It seems to me when the priest faces everyone you have kind of a circle around Christ. When he holds up the host, everyone is centered on Christ,” she said.

On the East Coast, at Fordham, Jesuit Father Joseph Currie, director of campus ministry, said the university offers the Mass once a month in deference to the Pope and the desire of students who formed a Facebook group to request it. “We are giving it a chance to catch on,” Father Currie said. “If it is of God, it will last. If it is not of God, it will go on its way.”

Pope Benedict’s desire is to heal the polarizing divisions of liturgy that resulted from the almost wholesale discarding of the 1962 Missal, Father Fessio said. In his July statements, the Holy Father stressed his goal was to make room for those who feel closer to the older Mass and to continue the organic development of the liturgy of the Roman Rite, particularly the Mass.  [It is also about rebuilding Catholic identity in a highly relativisitic and secularized world.]

Aspects of the extraordinary and ordinary forms may change for both, with what could be a growing together of the two forms of the Roman Rite, Father Fessio said.  [Yes.  This is surely what Pope Benedict is also aiming at in the long term.]

“I think the Holy Father is trying to make possible the kind of gradual and organic growth that should have taken place and did not,” said Father Fessio, adding that the Pope “wants to reconcile the Mass as it was celebrated for centuries with the Mass as it is celebrated today.”  [Continuity.]

Valerie Schmalz is based in San Francisco.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Diane says:

    Pope Benedict’s desire is to heal the polarizing divisions of liturgy that resulted from the almost wholesale discarding of the 1962 Missal, Father Fessio said.

    I couldn’t help but think about those hidden longings that were quietly burning like a pilot light from my teen years (born in ’62), for the reverence, sacredness and solemnity seen in the TLM.

    It’s awesome to think that there were many others who had the same pilot light burning, whether the felt the flicker flame knew or didn’t comprehend it until they experienced their first Mass.

    When September 14, 2007 rolled around, it was like the furnace went on, providing warmth in ways that were so pleasing to my soul.

  2. Terry says:

    I would like to offer a clarification re: Thomas Aquinas College’s Mass practices. Years ago, the Cardinal of Los Angeles designated the chapel of the college as one of the stable locations for the TLM to be offered once a month. Thus, September 14th allowed for more frequent celebrations on campus but the TLM is neither “new” nor a “foreign experience” for the students as they already had access to it on a regular basis.

  3. Andy says:

    One would think that at a school like Thomas Aquinas, which I believe to be one of the best in the country, the author of the article would be able to find someone that could come up with something more intelligent than the quote attributed to Theresa O’Reilly.

  4. jaykay says:

    The article says re. the NO form: “The readings are drawn more extensively from the Old Testament and the Gospels of John, Luke and Mark.”

    Is it not the case that on the vast majority of Sundays – the 3-year cycle – the Gospels are drawn overwhelmingly from Matthew, Mark & Luke with only quite infrequent occurrences of John? Don’t know about the daily 2-year cycle as – unfortunately – I don’t have the possibility to attend daily. But I get the impresion John gets rather left out in the greater scheme of things.

  5. PATER, O.S.B. says:

    It should be noted that the traditional Mass at Saint Vincent is not sponsored by Campus Ministry, and in fact has no official sponsorship from the college, parish, seminary or archabbey. In accord with Summorum Pontificum, individual priests of the archabbey have been freely exercising their right to the use of the Extraordinary Form for private Masses. Students who have expressed a desire to be present at such celebrations are made known of the usual times during the week out of consideration for them.

  6. CarolinaGeo says:

    “some students have embraced the traditional Latin Mass, but others just don’t like it.”

    I have found that those people who don’t like the traditional Latin Mass typically don’t understand what the Mass is and why it is offered. They have usually been led to believe that the Mass is simply a communal meal, and that the Mass is about the congregation. With that mindset, it is no wonder that they dislike the traditional Mass, which places the emphasis squarely on the sacrifice at the altar. Sadly, there is a generation of bad catechesis that must be undone. It’s my opinion that when people have a true understanding of the Mass, they will flock to the Traditional Mass like moths to a light and will wonder why we ever strayed from it in the first place.

  7. Rob F. says:

    jaykay, the Gospel of John is read every year in its entirety at daily mass. A large part of it (I’m not sure what fraction) is read over 3 years during the Easter season and during the summer of year B.

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    The only exception is during the Easter Triduum.

    This is a frequently seen assertion, but I’ve not been able to find any basis in Summorum Pontificum for distinguishing between uses of the ordinary and extraordinary forms during the Triduum. Of course, private Masses of either form are equally prohibited then, and there can be only one public Holy Thursday evening Mass, etc.

    But suppose the pastor of a parish that regularly celebrates only the ordinary form accepts a liturgy committee recommendation that for a special occasion a particular Triduum Mass be celebrated in the extraordinary form instead. I recall a pastor who during the pre-SP speculation indicated his intent to do just this — celebrate the Christmas and Easter Vigil Masses in Tridentine form. Is there anything in SP that prohibits this?

  9. Student from TAC says:

    A few clarifications wrt Thomas Aquinas College

    1. We do not have any English Novus Ordo Masses, with the sole exception of visiting priests and prelates occassionally offering it. Normally the concelebrate in a Latin NO. I think the article meant to say our Novus Ordo was in Latin (Ordinary) and English (Propers)

    2. No one who has been very involved in the Old Mass here was interviewed, or even knew of the interviews until after the fact. Bertotti is a member of the schola, so perhaps I should exempt him.

    Yes there are some who don’t like it. There are many who prefer the New Rite here though that would disagree with Ms. O’Reilly’s statements about ad orientem. Put it this way, on the rare occasion that we have dorm Masses the students have insisted on ad orientem, and even Latin propers. The is a contingent that would prefer an English Mass, and I am not sure how wise it was to interview one of them.

    Take it from someone who has been to every Tridentine Mass here since the MP was implemented. Attendance has increased at the early morning Mass, even though it does fluctuate. I can name numerous people who had at first been turned off by the change, but have grown to appreciate the old rite.

    Not again that there has been universal acception of it, but we do have 4 daily Masses.

    3. Our TLM schedule is daily, first Mass of the day, High Mass on Sunday.

    4. Oh and I should add that even the priests’ experiences differ. If you attend Fr. Buckley’s Masses in the EF you will hear very little responses, and there will be fewer people. Why? He says what is to be said clara voce in a subdued voce (he consistently thinks more of it is quiet than is), and he often forgets minor things (like the Domininus Vobiscum before the Offertory). Two other priest’s offer the Mass, and they are bit more accustomed to it, and you will hear more people making the responses and more will actually attend to. This is NOT to criticize one priest, he is trying very hard to do it as properly as possible, but to point out differences. If you want responses, the priest must himself say the parts he should aloud.

  10. Royce says:

    Does anyone know why the priest in the picture would be genuflecting while holding the host in one hand? At what point of the Mass does this happen?

    Also, are there any rules about the candles used for Mass? Do the rubrics say anything about whether they may be decorated or not? I have never seen candles such as the ones in the picture used before.

  11. BK says:

    Comment by PATER, O.S.B.: “It should be noted that the traditional Mass at Saint Vincent is not sponsored by Campus Ministry, and in fact has no official sponsorship from the college, parish, seminary or archabbey.”

    Neither the college, parish, seminary or archabbey desires to publicly acknowledge the courageous leadership of Pope Benedict XVI?!?

    That is sad.

    Comment by PATER, O.S.B.: “In accord with Summorum Pontificum, individual priests of the archabbey have been freely exercising their right to the use of the Extraordinary Form for private Masses. Students who have expressed a desire to be present at such celebrations are made known of the usual times during the week out of consideration for them.”

    God Bless and prosper these good, holy, faithful and obedient (to the Holy Father) priests!

  12. “We are giving it a chance to catch on,” Father Currie said. “If it is of God, it will last. If it is not of God, it will go on its way.”

    Where do we begin to list the problems inherent in this statement? First of all, even in print, one can hear the childish contempt of someone being forced to finish the lukewarm spinach on his plate. Second, he’s equating popularity (“We are giving it a chance to catch on”) with the will of God (“If it is of God, it will last.”). Third is the suggestion that the Holy Father did not seek out God’s will in prayer before writing and issuing the motu proprio, when in fact he’s been praying, reflecting on, and writing about liturgical issues for decades.

    You can learn more about “Papa” Joe Currie at

  13. Hung Doan says:

    Fr. Z:

    Even though the Pope juridically supplied a solution to the “two rites or not” question, I would like to say that in a sense he has added a new theologic evaluation of our Roman Rite. While no one can argue that there were, historically multiple “rites” within the Western Roman Catholic tradition, I think the concept of multiple uses has its advantages. This concept allows us to look at local rites as a special “flavor” of the One Roman Rite. Furthemore, this concept of the manifold uses of the One Roman Rite justifies the primacy of the Roman Rite(I am using this term loosely and mean no offense).

  14. Veritas says:

    “…some students have embraced the traditional Latin Mass, but others just don’t like it.”

    Am I the only one bothered by these kinds of statements? I see them a lot in reporting on the traditional Mass and I find them rather distrubing, as they suggest a reduction of the Mass to one of “taste,” like we’re sampling platters at the local diner, which is entirely inappropriate from many standpoints (theologically, historically, etc.).

    Isn’t a fair premise to suggest, instead, that ANY Catholic who fancies themselves as devout and in love with the Faith would WANT to understand and appreciate the traditional Mass? You know, value it for what it is? Not say “I don’t care about it because I’m perfectly happy with the way things are” as if that even matters? It’s not the conclusion so much as it is the premise: that our emotions should dictate.

    ‘There’s something happening here’ with Benedict XVI and Summorum Pontificum. We are witnessing history, a cultural shift that will be viewed as monumental in 10 years, let alone 100!! Something far bigger than our mere “tastes.”

  15. AJdiocese says:

    Pater, OSB: Yes, Heaven forbid that campus ministry would ever support or sponsor a TLM at St. Vincent’s for students or faithful from the area.

    Campus ministry should not be excluding the faithful who rightfully ask for the TLM. This is simply unjust in my opinion.

  16. Brian2 says:

    I would like to think that Father Currie was paraphrasing the comments of Gamaliel on the activities of the Apostles in Acts 5.38-39.

    I’m glad Fordham is doing it once a month (for a start). Give them the benefit of the doubt.

  17. Raymond says:

    Carolina & Veritas: In my hometown of Chicago, I had the privelge of occasionally attending either the Latin N.O. or TLM at St. John Cantius. And I must say that I was drawn more towards the Latin N.O. In fact, Cantius’ pastor was once quoted in a newspaper that their 11:00 am Latin NO is their most-attended Mass. I guess for me, years of Opus Dei formation have done their job: to be faithful to the Pope no matter what. I’ve always admired the reverence of the Latin N.O. at St. Peter’s Basilica whenever I’m in Rome. Maybe when B16 finally celebrates the TLM in public, I will learn to appreciate it more.

  18. Jack says:

    My guess is that the reason Cantius gets more people at the Latin NO than the TLM is that they use incense and a deacon at the NO. If/When we go back to a TLM-centered liturgical life, we need to make sure we do it right. Externals are part of the liturgy, so High Masses, not Low Masses should be prevailent. From what I’ve heard, part of the problem before Vatican II was that there were too many Low Masses open to abuse. We cannot return to the TLM without the “smells and bells” that should accompany it.

  19. Anon. says:

    It’s great to hear that so many Catholic colleges are making accommodating the TLM! However, I have been somewhat disappointed with the tone often taken on this blog when discussing Franciscan University. While it is true that the university took a bit longer than others to make the decision to offer the TLM, they eventually listened to the requests of many students and faculty members and are working to implement it. When this news came out, however, all that was posted here was an email passed on by a reader, with no further comment or commendation of the university. When news of other universities implementing the TLM is posted here, it is generally accompanied by praise and congratulations. I wish Franciscan University could receive the same support, even though it took them a little longer to come around. Just my $0.02

    God bless you all!

  20. James Layne says:

    In regards to the statements from TAC students and the priest, I can say this much, as having a firsthand account of the implementation of the Motu Proprio at TAC. First of all, Fr. Buckley is not at all hostile to the TLM. He has worked hard to learn the rubrics and to attempt to offer it correctly (he even wears the biretta). As for the students, there is a handfull of students here who don’t care one way or the other and a somewhat larger group of students who simply don’t know enough to decide one way or the other, and there is an even larger group who realizes that the TLM is superior as liturgy to the ordinary form. That group is probably the largest block of students on campus. So far the Mass here hasn’t grown that much, but I think it will as time goes on and more people are exposed to it. As great as TAC is, many of its students still come out of places that are suffering as much as the broader church as far as catechesis.

  21. Different says:


    St. John Cantius celebrates a High Mass at 12:30 every Sunday. So, I doubt that the reason people are attending the 11am latin OF Mass is just for the incense when they can get the incense at 12:30 as well. I have not been there in some time, but I hear from friends that the 9am English OF Mass is also very well attended.

  22. Donald Taylor says:

    The priest in the picture is Father Borsch, a Polish Carmelite priest at the Carmelite Shrine in Munster, Indiana.

  23. I must say that for myself it is very difficult to go to a NO Msss now that I’ve been to the TLM, and participate at the Altar at St. Thérèse Church. The reverence that is at the TLM honestly brings the biggest smiles to my face. (NO’s are done reverently here). The centrality on God is my main reason for going. I find that with the NO Masses they’re done “Ad Entertainem” for the most part. Fortunately the NO’s that I’ve been to at my new Parish (St. Thérèse) are free of Liturgical Abuses and the priests there are very devout (ran by the Discalced Carmelites). My “BS” meter has been on high for the past 3 years, and now it’s back to zero with the TLM. Catholicim to the fullest extent, I am grateful to Pope Benedict for freeing the Mass of the Ages and allowing us to experince Liturgy as intended.

  24. DJY says:

    As an ND alumnus, I must confess a bit of triumphalism when my alma mater gets this sort of press. Just a little proof that McBrien et al. are just one side of a coin that is becoming more weighted towards the other side.

    I can only hope that the steady traditional counter-current I enjoyed as a student at ND is across the country likewise slowly eroding the bedrock of modernism that our Catholic colleges have unfortunately built their houses upon as of late.

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