28 October 2007

No Surprise: Media Surprised by Young People's Interest in Traditional Latin Mass

On this feast of Christ the King, the Washington Times has this story, blowing the lid off of the worst-kept secret around: the Traditional Mass attracts the young. My comments in green.

Mass appeal to Latin tradition

October 28, 2007 By Kristi Moore -

Roman Catholic churches nationwide are rushing to accommodate a surge in demand for the traditional Latin Mass, which is drawing a surprising new crowd: young people. It may be a surprise, but it isn't a "new" crowd. The indult and other traditional Masses before Summorum Pontificum were filled with young families with lots of children.

Since July, when a decree from Pope Benedict XVI lifted decades-old restrictions on celebrating the Tridentine Mass, seven churches in the Washington metropolitan area have added the liturgy to their weekly Sunday schedules. Good early growth.

"I love the Latin Mass," said Audrey Kunkel, 20, of Cincinnati. "It"s amazing to think that I"m attending the same Mass that has formed saints throughout the centuries." When I first started going, one of my many initial thoughts was that I could see how so many of the martyrs died for this Mass, this faith. I couldn't see Kateri Tekakwitha dying for a guitar Mass, somehow.

In contrast to the New Order Mass, which has been in use since the Second Vatican Council in 1969 and is typically celebrated in vernacular languages such as English, the Tridentine Mass is "contemplative, mysterious, sacred, transcendent, and [younger people are] drawn to it," said the Rev. Franklyn McAfee, pastor of St. John the Beloved in McLean. "Gregorian chant is the opposite of rap, and I believe this is a refreshing change for them."

Susan Gibbs, the director of communications from the Archdiocese of Washington, said the attraction demonstrated by the young adults is "very interesting." I bet.

Besides the liturgy"s rich historical content and spiritual significance, the younger generations show an interest in the old becoming new again, said Louis Tofari of the Society of St. Pius X, an order of clergy that opposed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

"People who never grew up with the traditional Mass are finding it on their own and falling in love with it." And what's not to love?

The Tridentine Mass helps people in their 20s and 30s who have grown up in a culture that lacks stability and orthodoxy see something larger than themselves: the glory of God, said Geoffrey Coleman of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter"s Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary in Denton, Neb.

The Tridentine Mass "detaches me from the world and lifts my mind, heart and soul to heavenly things," said Michael Malain, 21, of Houston.

Kirk Rich, 21, of Oberlin, Ohio, remembers the first time he attended a Tridentine Mass and recalls thinking that a new religion had been invented. Perhaps. But not the one represented by the traditional Mass.

"That"s certainly what it seems like when comparing the two forms of the Mass," Mr. Rich said. It is what it seems like, and only our faith in Christ and His Church prevents one from drawing the resulting conclusions.

The biggest difference between the two forms is that the Tridentine Mass is always celebrated in Latin, except for the homily. The priest also leads the parishioners facing east, the traditional direction of prayer. The New Order Mass can be celebrated in Latin, but usually is not. There are also differences in some of the prayers, hymns and vestments. The dramatic understatement of this last sentence is justified only by lack of column space.

As a result, the overall feel of the Tridentine Mass is more solemn and serious. Because the worship of God is serious business.

"The coffee social is after the traditional Latin Mass, not in the middle of it," said Kenneth Wolfe, 34, of Alexandria. "No one can say, with a straight face, that the post-Vatican II liturgy and sacraments are more beautiful than the ones used for hundreds and hundreds of years." Zing!

Like the churchgoers now demanding the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, the priests learning the rite are usually younger as well.

The Society of St. Pius X trains priests in the liturgy of the Tridentine Mass and has received as many as 25 requests a week for instruction since July.

"The phone was ringing nonstop, and I was getting e-mail after e-mail,' Mr. Tofari said. "The response was absolutely incredible; most of the people who call are below the age of 30."

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has collaborated with Una Voce America to host workshops for clergy in Denton, Neb. Una Voce America, which promotes the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, usually teaches the rite to 12 students a session. But in September, it increased that number to 22 to meet the increased demand for training.

And let's not forget that the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest offers ongoing training in the celebration of the Traditional Mass and Sacraments. Here in St. Louis, the Archbishop has named the Institute's Vice Provincial for the U.S. as Episcopal Delegate for the implementation of the MP. With the Institute's zeal and dedication to the proper and beautiful celebration of the liturgy, I can't imagine better training for the priests and seminarians of the Archdiocese.

Many priests think the changes approved by the pope will do more than bring young people into the church. They think the celebration of the Tridentine Mass will increase the faith of many followers.

The Rev. Paul Scalia, 37, (son of Justice Antonin Scalia) has been celebrating the Tridentine Mass at St. Rita Church in Alexandria. He said the increase in young attendance is evidence that the Mass is something living and life-giving.

"The beauty is tremendous, as it draws us to God, who is beauty Himself," Father Scalia said.

2 comments:

wolftracker said...

Great catch.

marcpekny said...

But I thought the youth were not smart enough for this archaic language!