Seattle: brick by brick

Here is some nice brick by brick news from Seattle.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer with my emphases and comments.


Saturday, September 26, 2009
Last updated 1:59 p.m. PT
Dominus vobiscum: Latin mass returns to Seattle


The chants are stuff of childhood memory for today’s middle-aged Catholics, but a ritual that has lately been resurrected and restored in the Archdiocese of Seattle — the Tridentine rite Latin high mass.

In what he calls a "personal parish, not a geographic parish," Archbishop Alex Brunett a year ago authorized patient advocates of restoring the Latin liturgy to form North American Martyrs parish in Seattle.

About 500 people packed into its temporary home, St. Alphonsus Church in Ballard, on Friday night as Brunett presided over a stirring, deeply spiritual high mass. [It is nice to read something like this in a major newspaper.  Notice that the writer doesn’t lead with "it was really strange".]  Saber-bearing Knights of Columbus in full regalia escorted the procession. Gregorian music wafted down from the choir loft, while sweet-smelling incense filled the air.

Many women’s heads were draped in lace. Young children, present in large numbers, were quiet as, well, church mice. There were no response readings by the congregation. No laypeople walked to the microphone to read scripture.

The congregation’s participation could be described in two words, prayerful and contemplative.

Only to the once-familiar words "Dominus vobiscum" (May the Lord be with you) did the congregation deliver a full voiced reply, "Et cum spiritu tuo" (And with thy spirit).

The priests, as in pre-Vatican II days, faced the altar. Why? "The same reason a bus driver faces the road and not the passengers: The priest is leading the congregation to the Mount of Calvary," explained Fr. Gerard Saguto, the parish pastor, who arrived from Indiana a year ago.

Fr. Seguto hails from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an order of priests founded by Pope John Paul II in 1988 to minister to the increasing demand for the mass in its older form.

In the past several decades, liturgical reform has swept out the old and ushered in a not-always-satisfying new [well put] in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Episcopal Church, which shares many of its worship patterns.

The result has been the "Kumbaya cult" of guitar liturgies with emphasis on informality. Often with a tin ear, language of worship has been "modernized" and adjusted to meet the requirements of political correctness[This guy has got it figured out!]

A substantial number of the faithful have hoped that older forms of worship could at least be tolerated.

A prominent Episcopalian, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, has lamented the appearance of what he calls "an ordinary and genderless God."

In the Catholic church, the Tridentine rite has hung on for four decades until it received long-sought restoration from Pope Benedict XVI.

Where it survived, from St. Mary Mother of God parish in Washington, D.C., to Old St. Patrick’s in New Orleans — even St. Mary’s Cathedral in far off Sydney, Australia — the pews have been packed.

"We have about 150 regulars, and much larger attendance for a special occasion such as this," said Archbishop Brunett.

Nearby, Fr. Saguto was assuring a visitor: "We’ll get a mass in Tacoma."

The appeal of the Latin mass, in Fr. Saguto’s words, is "an evocation of the sacred." "Look at the world," he added. "There has been a loss of the sense of the sacred, the need for God. The mass conveys a real sense of that need . . . It is raising the heart and the mind to God."

At the well-attended Sunday night mass in St. James Cathedral, known for Gregorian music beautifully sung by a women’s choir, lay people read scripture. Members of the congregation join hands at the Lord’s Prayer. Priests and worshippers exchange a handshake of peace.

The Tridentine rite as practiced by North American Martyrs parish is different. The movement of priests and acolytes around the altar is intricate. There is no spontaneity. "There’s a very intense focus on the sacrificial nature of the mass, of Christ’s presence," said Fr. Saguto.

At a fast-busting dessert reception after Friday night’s mass, Archbishop Brunett joked about Western Washington’s Catholics. "I spend time with Korean Catholics, I spend time with Filipino Catholics, we have a large and growing Hispanic population: We are a very diverse people, and I try to accommodate them," he said.

North American Martyrs parish celebrates a high mass at 11:30 a.m. every Sunday at St. Alphonsus. Archbishop Brunett, 75, is waiting for his successor to be chosen, but told the congregation he hopes to preside when the new parish moves to a church home of its own.

The battle over Latin liturgy has produced rifts in places. In Paris, a breakaway group, the Society of St. Pius X, celebrates the Tridentine Latin mass a few blocks from Notre Dame. In response, the cathedral holds its own Gregorian mass on Sunday mornings.  [Post hoc ergo propter hoc?]

Una Voice of Western Washington, a group led by lay people, spent years patiently working to see the Tridentine mass restored. Supplanted by a simpler Latin liturgy during Vatican II (the Second Vatican Council), the rite was brought back by Pope Benedict XVI, who encouraged its use.

Archbishop Brunett praised its local advocates. "The Latin mass community of the Archdiocese of Seattle has been led by lay people, responsible people," he said in his sermon.

"The mass should have a dignity: It should direct us to the Lord in the fullness of our faith," the archbishop added. "No matter how we celebrate the Mass, it should be celebrated with dignity and respect . . . It should be done with reverence and respect."

North American Martyrs parish takes its name from 17th Century French priests who gave their lives carrying their faith to "New France." Several were horribly tortured and scalped.

Joel Connelly can be reached at 206-448-8160 or


Kudos to the writer.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. “About 500 people packed into its temporary home, St. Alphonsus Church in Ballard, on Friday night as Brunett presided over a stirring, deeply spiritual high mass. Saber-bearing Knights of Columbus in full regalia escorted the procession. Gregorian music wafted down from the choir loft, while sweet-smelling incense filled the air.”

    I am a 4th degree Knight of Columbus. The EF Mass is always an occassion to “show off” our regalia and to be an additional “liturgical eye candy” the brings more dignity and solemnity to the Mass.

    Proud to be a Knight.

    Unfortunately, the Archdiocese of Manila is still hostile towards the EF Mass and its devotees.

    When can we have the EF Mass more liberalized in Manila, only God knows when.

    Hope we have writers such as Joel Connelly, too, writing in a major daily in the Philippines.

  2. Agnes says:

    It is so refreshing to read something positive about the Church in the mainstream media. Kudos to the journalist indeed.

  3. Obumbrabit says:

    See the photos here:

    By the way, that’s me on the left in #18. It was an honor to be part of this liturgy. I will admit that it was not without it’s mistakes. As Father Saguto says, there is always something better to work towards in serving Mass.

  4. PomeroyJohn says:

    Very nice article from a writer not usually known to be as complimentary as he is here.

    North American Martyrs Parish also has an 8:00 a.m. Sunday Mass at Holyrood Cemetery in north King County. Mass is said in the crypt where the Bishops and Archbishops of Seattle are buried. It’s a wonderful feeling to be present at Mass surrounded by (or facing) the vaults holding the bones of those wonderful men. But bring something for your knees as the floors are marble and there are no kneelers.

    John from Pomeroy on the Palouse who wishes his Bishop would be as amenable to the Pope’s wishes.

  5. chironomo says:

    I like the image of “the same reason a bus driver faces the road and not the passengers”… a brilliant if not slightly snarky way to reply to critics!

  6. mitch_wa says:

    Thanks for the links to the pictures Peter. Next time I’m in Seattle on a Sunday this parish will deffinetly be the one to attend.

  7. Athelstan says:

    This is a striking article on the traditional mass.

    1. It at least made the effort to explain ad orientem worship from its own hermeneutic – not just a simple descriptor of the “priest celebrating with his back to the congregation.”

    2. It uses positive language to describe the attitude of worshippers: “prayerful,” etc.

    3. An effort was made to get quotes from the celebrants and/or supporters.

    4. No special effort was made to get critical comments from progressive critics – of which Seattle, post-Hunthausen, certainly does not lack.

    Some minor typos and omissions: “Una Voce,” not “Una Voice;” and it would have been better to say: “Effectively supplanted by a simpler vernacular liturgy in the years after Vatican II (the Second Vatican Council), the rite was fully brought back by Pope Benedict XVI, who encouraged its use.” It might be picking too many nits to require mention of Paul VI’s and John Paul II’s indults. But these are minor errors.

    If only all major media reports on the traditional liturgy were so fair and informed.

    As a semi-related matter, I note that the School of Canon Law here at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC has just announced the speaker and topic for its third annual Frederick R. McManus memorial Lecture series. Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania will be speaking on “The Language of the New Missal in the Light of the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy” on October 22. Given the increasing tide of traditional mass celebrations such as this one by the North American Martyrs and Bishop Trautman’s well known views on liturgy and language, I can’t help but think this won’t be a boring lecture for those able to attend.

  8. JayneK says:

    Wow! I am amazed to see this in a secular newspaper.

  9. Tominellay says:

    The tide has turned!

  10. lucy says:

    Excellent article. I wrote the gentlemen author to thank him for his fair and balanced piece. Oh, how we long for such a bishop here in Fresno, CA.

  11. TomG says:

    Hope the Holy Father takes his time in finding Abp Brunett’s replacement: say, oh, about 10 years!

  12. Steve K. says:

    What a pleasant report to read! Bless this reporter, Fr. Saguto and the North American Martyrs community. I was on vacation in Seattle this summer and went to Mass there, the community is in the hands of a good and holy priest. I hope they soon get a church of their own. St. Alphonsus is rather on the modern side, but at least it has proper confessionals.

  13. irishgirl says:

    Much better than some of the snarkier articles I’ve seen!

    I remember Fr. Saguto when he used to come and say the TLM in Upstate New York. Very holy priest-when he turned his profile, he almost looked like a young Pius XII!

    Pleeeze, FSSP, come back to the Syracuse Diocese! We need you!

  14. smcollinsus says:

    Yes! A wonderful article, and so positive!

    One tiniest little point, though. I don’t know of any Catholic group that uses any sort of “saber” – a curved bladed weapon with only one cutting edge. The “sword” is what we have always used – Biblical, double-edged, with a simple hilt that bears a resemblance to the Cross.

  15. Sword40 says:

    I was fortunate enough to have been able to drive the 120 miles to this magnificent Mass. Several of us from the south end of the state made the trip. It was well worth it.

    Below is a link to the photographers site. The photos are great but don’t give you the sense of Holiness that was there at Mass.

    Thank you Archbishop Brunett and the FSSP.

  16. Tom in NY says:

    The Jesuits were evangelizing in not only “New France” but also in what is now New York, and there is a major shrine near Auriesville, NY near the Thruway and yesterday’s Thruway, the Mohawk River. At that time, New France included Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia, and the Louisiana territory which later came under the Spanish and Americans.
    Saluttiones omnibus.

  17. Dr. Eric says:

    Whether it was post hoc ergo propter hoc, it is nice to see that there is a “TLM” in Paris. Hopefully there will be a High Mass at the Cathedral very soon!

  18. Bthompson says:

    Quite the weekend for him! The next morning the Archbishop made the 3-hour drive down to Vancouver, Wa and dedicated a new High School and a new (first) Parish Church at Holy Redeemer:

  19. jt83 says:

    I attended this beautiful liturgy! Obumbrabit, if there were any mistakes it sure didn’t show from where I was sitting. Great Job. Thanks be to God!

  20. Hidden One says:

    Fantastic event and excellent article. May the author cover many more such Masses in that light!

  21. Breck says:

    I’m sure that the North American Martyrs parishioners are praying for their own church building. Don’t lose hope. The Latin Mass community here in Vancouver, Canada, existed for years as guests of a “regular” parish. Then suddenly another Catholic church became available, and the Archbishop facilitated its transfer to the FSSP priests. We now have a complete new parish, Holy Family, with all services, sacraments, etc., offered in the extraordinary form. Thanks be to God for His blessings.

  22. BLC says:

    What a beautiful article!

    I like the idea that the person above had – writing a complimentary email to the author.

  23. We had the great benefit of having Fr. Saguto serve our chapel, Our Lady of Fatima, in Pequannock, New Jersey as his first “parish”. While great emphasis is placed on the Latin Mass, it is the caliber and quality of the SERMONS and CONFESSIONal experience which make an enormous difference in the daily lives of the communicants. We truly receive Catholic Doctrine. Father Saguto left us to serve in Indiana where he demonstrated his abilities to set up a traditional parish complete with the Mass, altar boys, a schola (choir) as well as Eucharistic and Marian devotions. Our loss has been Indiana’a and now Seattle’s gain. May God bless and protect him!

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