Brick By Brick in Duluth: TLM instituted in a parish

For your Brick By Brick file, from the Duluth Tribune:

Kenwood neighborhood Catholic parish brings back the Latin Mass

The people at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church are worshipping like it’s 1962. [A little Minnesota Prince reference.]

Not all of the people, all of the time. But since the beginning of this year’s Advent season, the noon Mass at the Kenwood neighborhood church has been celebrated in Latin.

On the first and third Sundays of the month — and the fifth, when there is one — it is celebrated in the “extraordinary form.” That means it’s not only in Latin but essentially in the way Mass was celebrated for centuries until reforms took place in the 1960s.

St. Benedict’s is the only church in Duluth to bring back the Latin Mass, said the Rev. Joel Hastings, priest of the church and director of liturgy for the diocese.

For Shannon Lisic, the return of the old way of worship has been, literally, a godsend.

Maybe just an answer to a lot of our prayers is what I can attribute it to,” Lisic said.

Lisic and her husband, Michael, came to St. Benedict’s about six months ago, she said, after their previous parish, St. Philip Neri in Saginaw, closed its doors.

At 53, Shannon Lisic was born after the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, which paved the way for reforms in the Catholic liturgy that, among other things, allowed the Mass to be celebrated in the language with which the people of the church were most familiar.

The language change began to go into effect in 1965, Hastings said, and the completed ritual that is used today as the “Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite” was first given in 1970.

Lisic was 8 or 9, she said, when her home parish made the conversion from what is now known as the “extraordinary” to the “ordinary” form of the Mass.

“My mother and father, it tore their hearts out to see the Latin Mass go,” Lisic said.

For decades after that, attending Mass seemed more like fulfilling an obligation than an act of worship, Lisic said.

“I never left Mass feeling like I adored (God) as I should,” she said. “I felt I was not giving him the full me.”

Others felt the same longing, Hastings said, some of them surprisingly young. Where Latin Masses have been reintroduced in large metropolitan areas, they’ve proven popular with young families, he said.  [True.]

“One of the things the Latin Mass not only invites but in a real way causes is for people to simply be present to something that can be said to be bigger than who they themselves are,” Hastings said. “And to come to a Mass that would be more, to use the modern-day buzzword, ‘relevant’ doesn’t appeal to them because it doesn’t connect them to something that’s out of this world.”

Hastings came to St. Benedict’s in July 2015. It seemed like the obvious place to reintroduce the Latin Mass, he said, because it already was a more traditional parish in its worship and already had some experience with the Latin form.

Hastings, now 43, was on board with the project but wasn’t sure he was the right priest for the job. He questioned whether, not being fluent in Latin, he’d be able to “really pray the Mass” or “is it just going to be rote,” Hastings said. “And I don’t want it to be just rote.”  [Fabricando fabri fimus, dear Father.]

His perception changed in April, when he attended a workshop at St. John Cantius parish, a historic, baroque church in the heart of Chicago that specializes in the Latin Mass. He and a handful of other priests were drilled in the ritual of the extraordinary Mass, Hastings said. But the epiphany for him came when he participated on a Wednesday evening in the missa cantata — the sung Mass.

“And I was very moved by it, to the point where I found myself praying: OK, Lord, if you want me to be the guy in Duluth, please help me out with this,” Hastings recalled.  [Good for him!]

The change required a new schedule. From Masses in English at 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday, St. Benedict’s has retained the Saturday time but gone to a single Sunday morning Mass in English at 9 a.m. and the Latin Mass at noon.

So far, the Latin Mass has typically attracted about 100 worshippers with a mix of ages, he said.

As in that Wednesday service that Hastings attended, the form of the Latin Mass at St. Benedict’s is the sung Mass. “I believe that singing is the more beautiful expression,” he said. “Frankly, the church believes that — that sung worship is more beautiful and, in a way, more effective.” [And it is closer the more ideal Solemn Mass.  Good choice.]

That includes the choir singing Gregorian chants — worship music dating to the early Middle Ages.

Lisic said it’s the structured, everything-always-the-same nature of the traditional Latin Mass that appeals to her.

“Every prayer has a reason,” she said. “Every gesture of the priest and altar boys has a reason. Every candle that is lit. Every sequence. Every time the bell is rung. Every single thing, there’s a reason. And I love to have a purpose for what you do.”   [There is a good book about each little gesture, etc., Nothing Superfluous by Fr. James Jackson.]

She’s careful to say that she doesn’t think any less of the modern-day liturgy. But those who haven’t experienced the traditional form “don’t know what they’re missing,” Lisic said.

The Latin Mass instills a “sense of awe,” Hastings said, which is “at the heart of our theology of worship and sacraments. It’s meant to draw us into a deeper encounter with Christ, into a deeper sense of union with him and the saints of heaven.”

When she re-experienced the Latin Mass for the first time since childhood, Lisic “just was flooded with happy tears,” she said.

“That’s something you don’t forget,” Lisic said. “It’s just ingrained so deep, all the bells and smells, rich in symbolism. You don’t forget that.”

If you go

St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, 1419 St. Benedict St., will celebrate Christmas Eve Mass at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Saturday. Both will be in English, said the Rev. Joel Hastings, although portions will be sung in Latin during the later service.

The normal Sunday schedule will be followed on Christmas Day, with Mass in English at 9 a.m. and Latin Mass in the “ordinary” form at noon.

Fr. Z kudos to Fr. Hastings.  This is a great boon to the area around Duluth.

We need more and more occasions of Holy Mass in the Usus Antiquior.  The use of the older, traditional form, is of tremendous advantage for the Church at every level.  Hopefully there will be an enduring knock-on effect from these instances of Holy Mass in Duluth.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I want to get Father Jackson’s book after mass one of these days. He is very likely one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, and we are blessed to have such a learned Priest.

  2. Thomas Sweeney says:

    This post should be required reading for every bishop and priest in America, or even the world.

  3. oledocfarmer says:

    Amazing…wasn’t this the land of Bp. Untener?!

  4. drforjc says:

    This parish started worshiping ad orientem a number of years ago, and now the bricks are starting to fit together nicely!

    oledocfarmer, I believe you are thinking of Saginaw, Michigan

  5. Semper Gumby says:

    Congratulations to St. Benedict’s, Fr. Hastings, and St. John Cantius.

  6. jflare says:

    “That includes the choir singing Gregorian chants — worship music dating to the early Middle Ages.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve had the impression that Chant derived from Jewish worship. We call it Gregorian in particular because of Pope Gregory who directed that the known chants of the era be compiled.

    Good to see a worthy offering of the traditional Mass though.

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