WashTimes: wrap up on TLM at Mount St. Mary Seminary, Emmitsburg

In the Washington Times today there is an interesting article.

Remember: I posted about this here and here.

My emphases and comments.

Seminary discovers Latin  [This title brought a smile.  Ironic, no?]
Julia Duin
Thursday, December 11, 2008

An unusual Mass, with all the stops pulled out, was celebrated Monday at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg.

At least it was unusual for the seminary’s 150 students who, for the first time in four decades, got to take part in a Tridentine Mass rite involving incense, ornate vestments, a sung liturgy in Latin and a supporting cast of several priests.

Chantry, a Renaissance church music choir from the District, [of Columbia, I suppose…] did the chants and polyphony. Several clergy made the 90-minute drive to take part, including the celebrant, who was Monsignor Charles Pope, coordinator of the Latin Mass for the Archdiocese of Washington. The Rev. Paul Scalia, a priest in the Arlington Diocese, was the deacon and the Rev. John Fritz, a Rockford, Ill., priest studying at Catholic University and a graduate of "the Mount," was the subdeacon.

"They were very moved by it," said the seminary’s rector, Monsignor Steven Rohlfs. "It was the first time many of them had been exposed to the Latin Mass and I wanted them to see it at its best.[Did you get that!?  The RECTOR of the seminary said, "I wanted them to see it at its best".  O most excellent rector.  O students, so happy in your rector.]

The 58-year-old rector said he had grown up with the Mass, "but the vast majority of parishes have never experienced Mass like this as most church choirs are not able to do this kind of music."  [Remember that Card. Castrillon said that the old form of Mass should be offered in all parishes so that people have the chance to experience it.]

The 16th century Tridentine Mass was the church’s official rite until it was phased out after Vatican II, which ended in 1965. On July 7, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI restored its use, [Well…. not quite.  Paul VI never abrogated it and even in his pontificate it was still used under indult.  John Paul II expanded its use under indult.  Benedict XVI changed the entire game by making sure every priest has faculties to say it and described the rights of priests and lay people to have it.] ordering bishops in a letter called "Summorum Pontificum" to make it more accessible to the faithful. At the time, one-third of 195 U.S. dioceses had no Latin Mass at all and there was only a handful in four dioceses stretching from Richmond to Baltimore.

Since then, interest has shot up worldwide, especially among young Catholics seeking a more transcendent worship. [Exactly.  Young people are less interested in the horizontal, the immanent in worship and more interested in the real point of worship: mystery.] Locally, the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has set aside one of its crypt-level chapels for the rite. Last spring, students at Georgetown University petitioned to get the Mass offered twice weekly in a small chapel.

In September, 15 mostly young Archdiocese of Washington priests attended a three-day workshop in LaPlata, Md., on how to stage such a Mass. Monsignor Pope said some already have begun doing the Mass on their own.

"There is a beauty to the old liturgy if it’s done well," he said. "This is the Mass that most of the canonized saints knew."  [This is a good point.  I think it must be made clear to people that the older form of Mass doesn’t need a defense on this point.  It nourished the lives of saints.  The older form of Mass can be known from its fruits.  On the other hand, it is too early to see what the fruits of the Novus Ordo are.  The jury is still out, as it were.]

Opportunities to take part in the Latin rite have "slightly increased" in the archdiocese, he said, but "frankly, there haven’t been huge requests from the laity."  [Time will tell.]

There might be if there were more priests offering it, which is why Mount St. Mary’s required all students be present at Monday’s event. Currently, 20 seminarians are undergoing two years of course work on how to do the Mass[I am not sure it takes two years, but GREAT!]

"First, we make sure they know sufficient Latin," [useful for far more than just Holy Mass, of course] Monsignor Rohlfs said. Most of the seminarians prefer the English-language rite used in parishes today, "but they need to appreciate the extraordinary [Latin] form of the Mass[And be able to use it.  After all Canon Law requires that seminarians be trained in Latin and Latin Rite priests should know how to celebrate their own rite in their own language… which includes Latin.]The pope wants seminarians and priests to make the Mass available to people."

But it’s a learned habit.  [In the common sense of the word, all habits are learned.]

"I’ve found the first time you do it, the church is full," he said. "The second time, it is half full, the third time it is one-quarter full and eventually you get to about 75 people who like that form of worship and want to stay with that." [Maybe so, but in that is what happened to the Lord John 6.]

• Julia Duin’s "Stairway to Heaven" column runs Thursdays and Sundays. E-mail Julia Duin.


Good article.  Well written and informative.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Most of the seminarians prefer the English-language rite used in parishes today …

    There is an English-language rite now? I’ve never heard of that before.

  2. chironomo says:

    “I’ve found the first time you do it, the church is full,” he said. “The second time, it is half full, the third time it is one-quarter full and eventually you get to about 75 people…”

    And so… what does that say about the 75 people, and what does it say about the others? Does anybody ever mention that when the “new Mass” first appeared, there were 12,000 people at a particular parish, the next time there were fewer, and then fewer, until eventually there were maybe 2,000 who liked that form of worship and wanted to stay with it? I would rather have the 75…

  3. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    “O most excellent rector. O students, so happy in your rector.”

    That echoes a line in a movie somewhere, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

    But said rector certainly is deserving of the proper vocative form!

  4. Father Totton says:

    Though they don’t get much press (practially off the map) the college seminary in the Diocese of Lincoln (St. Gregory the Great – established c.1998) recently had (what is, to my knowledge) their first ever Solemn Pontifical High Mass – I think it was on Monday for Our Lady’s feast. Of course we know the ordinary is well-acquainted with the Extraordinary Form, I do believe this is the first time he has celebrated in that venerable manner at His Excellency’s own seminary (H.E. founded it, and it serves the needs of his own diocese, and a few others who have begun using it.)

  5. Ben says:

    “The Rev. Paul Scalia” — son of Justice Antonin Scalia?

  6. RBrown says:

    “The Rev. Paul Scalia”—son of Justice Antonin Scalia?
    Comment by Ben


  7. I have found that people are not banging on the door demanding it but if you offer one they will come.We had a Latin OF high mass and the congregation was about 100 or less.When SP came and the word went out that our OF Latin Mass woukd become EF the church was almost full-it seats around 600-650.The second mass was 150 and it has grown now to 250 on a sunday and about 75 for a weekday.Recently the high mass on Dec.8 drew around 450.I believe ifit is done well and in an encouraging atmosphere (where parishioners are often reminded of it)it will draw.Though the smallest congregation it is considered or main mass.As the word gets out more amd more will come.The biggest mass of the year,Christmas midnight mass ,will be a missa cantata in the EF.

  8. Flambeaux says:

    Fr. Mcafee,

    I suspect part of the reason no one is beating on the door is that many people, priests and laity, are still unaware of Summorum Pontificum.

    I have talked to several folks, both priests and laymen, who as of this past summer still had never heard of SP, and thought the “old Mass” was still prohibited.

    There is a great deal of inertia among the faithful, and even among some of the priests, who are sympathetic but ignorant.

    This is, of course, to pass over in silence those of both states who are actively hostile.

  9. Brian says:

    As a former Mount Saint Mary’s Seminarian, I can attest to the greatness of Msgr. Rohlfs. He is one of my heroes. You will not meet a kinder, more thoughtful, or compassionate man than Msgr. Rohlfs.

  10. Aaron says:

    Perhaps the writer was simply reminding the people, Father, that it is not an _infused_ habit. ;)

  11. JimR says:

    Msgr. Pope
    “Opportunities to take part in the Latin rite have “slightly increased” in the archdiocese, he said, but “frankly, there haven’t been huge requests from the laity.”

    Could this be because the Archdiocese has kept Summorum Pontificum a secret. When it was first issued, there was the start of an article in the diocesian newspaper, which was one paragraph and not continued on the jump page. Non blog reading laity have no clue about the Motu Proprio.

    Flambeaux you are right. Other than TLM parishes, I doubt it has been mentioned in a single pulpit.

    Like Fr. Mcafee says “if you offer one they will come.” but first they have to know about it.

  12. Ken says:

    The main reason for the few traditional Mass sites that have poor turnouts is simply timing. In the Washington, D.C. area, we sometimes have five Low Masses on a Friday evening. Now, that’s great — and I attend. But how about Sunday morning?

    If traditional Latin Masses replaced the Sunday 10 a.m. novus ordo, there would be a huge turnout. (Hello, pastors?) But it is unfair to say the dropoff in numbers for Mass at an inconvenient time is somehow reflective of the traditional liturgy.

    I heard a High Mass at a very popular parish in Alexandria, Va. on the feast of the Immaculate Conception — and it was packed. Why? It replaced the novus ordo at prime time. A new audience was given the opportunity to hear the Mass. I guarantee some of them will return.

    We need to move beyong the 3 p.m. Low Mass and start replacing Sunday morning novus ordo liturgies with the traditional Latin Mass. If we’re going to talk numbers, this is the only fair way to measure its popularity amongst the laity.

  13. Brian2 says:

    I think another reason people don’t request it is that the sort of parishioner interested enough in church stuff to know about SP, also knows that their parish priest is already over-whelmed and over-worked, and don’t want to add to his already high stress level. I’m in a parish of 2000 families (thats families, not individuals), with five or six weekend masses, in English and Spanish, with one full time priest. And a big construction project, and so on and so forth. Maybe this is a good reason not to request the EF, maybe not, but there it is.

  14. Ken says:

    Brian2 — that’s a fair point, but it’s a matter of priorities. We all have the same amount of hours in a day. At work, for instance, some choose to spend lunch hour in the gym. It would be easier to just waddle to McDonald’s and eat the Big Mac, but instead the employee redirects his precious time to something more valuable.

    Pastors can do the same.

  15. NY Priest says:

    Brian2 Thank you for the the concern for priests, but as a priest I would want Catholics to request the TLM if they desire it. We priests need to hear of the desire. So, please, don’t be shy. If it cannot be done for some reason we will be honest. But, it does not add to stress to know there is a desire among God’s people for something eminently holy!!!
    Secondly, the parish you mention would be perfect for a TLM!
    I never understood why we segregate our English speaking and Spanish speaking communities with vernacular Masses. [In the seminary we rarely got Mass in Latin, but weekly had it in Spanish.] I can see the point, but it tends to balkanize the Church.
    If in a multi-lingual community our Masses are in Latin – Novus Ordo or TLM – every Catholic will know this is “our” Mass. The choir can sing Agnus Dei and Sanctus – “una voce.”
    And we priests can perhaps given a shorter homily – but within the same Mass one in Spanish and one in English.
    Wouldn’t this be a magnificent way to emphasize we are one Body in Christ and respect each other?

  16. mcitl says:

    These calculations of diminishing crowds as a basis for judging the need and value of a particular thing are as shallow and superficial as those who come once and then drop out…the value of the EF is that our Holy Father has asked that we make the Mass available. Basta.

    The superficial you will always have with you. One soul is of infinite value. One soul at holy Mass is enough for the Lord.

  17. Brian2 says:

    I see your points (NYpriest & Ken) — my remark was meant to be more descriptive than prescriptive. Its not that I think that is the way people should think, but that is what many do think.

  18. Maynardus says:

    Flambeaux wrote:

    “I suspect part of the reason no one is beating on the door is that many people, priests and laity, are still unaware of Summorum Pontificum.

    “I have talked to several folks, both priests and laymen, who as of this past summer still had never heard of SP, and thought the “old Mass” was still prohibited.”

    and JimR noted further:

    “Could this be because the Archdiocese has kept Summorum Pontificum a secret. When it was first issued, there was the start of an article in the diocesian newspaper, which was one paragraph and not continued on the jump page. Non blog reading laity have no clue about the Motu Proprio.”

    In my experience in New England – one of the most heavily Catholic regions of the country – both of these statements are so true. As an Una Voce chapter leader I frequently man informational tables at diocesan events and find that even many “involved” Catholics are clueless about the T.L.M. and Summorum Pontificum. A few years ago we took an old-fashioned parish census (in the parish where I attend the T.L.M.) We had a group of nuns, in habits, who were assisting us, and at a house *within sight of the Church* an older man admitted that he hadn’t been to Mass “since all of the changes”. He was quite moved by the sight of the sisters, and amazed to find out that there was a weekly T.L.M. a block away (since 1994!) He has been a regular nearly every Sunday since…

  19. Flambeaux says:

    Another anecdote: I have a t-shirt I often wear that says “Summorum Pontificum: Wake up and smell the incense”. The text captions an image of a smoking thurible.

    Several folks have asked me to explain the shirt, including one gentleman (only two weeks ago) who then confessed that the last Encyclical he paid any attention to was Humanae Vitae.

  20. Nicole says:

    From the Mount St. Mary’s school newspaper:

    “Mount celebrates traditional Latin Mass”
    Staff Writer

    For the first time in nearly 50 years, the Extraordinary Form of the Mass was celebrated on the high altar of the Immaculate Conception Chapel. The special occasion brought in an outside priest, deacon, sub-deacon, and choir, all specially trained in the Extraordinary Form, allowing for a full worship experience by both Mount seminarians and college students alike.

    The Extraordinary Form (EF), also known as the Tridentine Mass, was the only Mass celebrated pre-Vatican II and has scarcely been seen since the establishment of the Norvus Ordo. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI released an apostolic letter called “Summorum Pontificum” which encouraged the more frequent celebration of the EF, particularly in areas where the faithful request such celebration.

    “The Holy Father is trying to make sure that certain treasures of our tradition are preserved and passed on,” one seminarian commented. “In this way, it (the EF) can influence the Ordinary Form while still remaining extraordinary.”

    The Mass, which was being celebrated in honor of our Blessed Mother on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, was certainly rich in its treasures. There was incense, Latin (the entire Mass, with exception to the homily, was in Latin), and polyphony. The priest used the high altar and celebrated the Mass ad orientem, facing with the people rather than facing toward the people.

    While mostly unfamiliar with the EF, many Mount students joined the seminarians for the special celebration. Having grown up with the Norvus Ordo, most were lost between the quiet Latin prayers of the priest and the beautiful parts sung by the choir. Regardless, the reverence of the Mass brought many into a high form of worship.

    “It was an incredible experience,” reflects sophomore Tricia Lester. “I don’t even know how to put it into words. The reverence of the prayers and the solemness of the Mass gave me a deeper appreciation of the miracle that occurs at every Eucharist. Plus, the homily was amazing!”

    “I thought the Mass was very beautiful and there was a great reverence,” said Scott Lutring, a seminarian at the Mount. “The entire Mass prepared you for the Eucharist, which made reception of Holy Communion extra special.”

  21. fortradition says:

    No one in my Church knows of the existance of Summorum Pontificum. Nothing was written about it in the diocesan newspaper after 7/7/07. The Abp. wants us to remain in the dark. No one requests it because they know nothing about it. So I have begun putting flyers (I know they don’t like us to do this, but they won’t inform the parishioners, so I will do it) in the Church to let the people know that the EF is approved by the Holy Father. I requested some flyers from one of the religious orders of priests who say the TLM and will place this valuable information around the Church.

  22. Alice says:

    Mosignor Rohlfs was the priest the very first time I attended a TLM over 15 years ago. Crowds at his parish may have dwindled as the novelty wore off, but for close to a decade (I believe until he left for Mt. St. Mary’s), a TLM was offered at his parish every Sunday. His words may not be as strong as some would like, but his actions show a great love for tradition.

  23. Tomás López says:

    Revered Reverend Father Z: ST I-II, Q. 51! [In the common sense of the word, “habits” are learned. I don’t think the writer was referring in an Thomistic sense to those habits which are in us as dispositions or even those habits which God gives us, for example, the theological virtues. Common sense…. in more than one way of understanding the term.]

  24. Tomás López says:

    Mala mia. I am sorry, Father.

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