06 August 2014

The Traditional Mass is Alive and Well, and the Secular Press Takes Notice

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes notice of the Ordinations of the Four American Priests of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest by Cardinal Burke in a nice write-up today.

The reporter begins the story with a juxtaposition between the papal apparel choices between the current pope and those who preceded him. But to her credit, she recognizes that underneath the matter of mere style is a fundamental difference in understanding of the faith and the liturgy. In short, the secular press will acknowledge what many Catholic media outlets are politically constrained from acknowledging: those attending the Traditional Mass are demographically younger, practice the faith in its liturgy and laws more regularly, and take the faith very seriously.

This story has some terrific quotes from Canon Altiere and some faithful from the Oratory. From the full story:

Ordinations signal growing popularity of Latin Catholic Mass

By Lily Fowler (photo from STLToday)

When Pope Francis was first elected, he appeared to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square without the short, red velvet cape known as a mozzetta. Some Roman Catholics immediately cried foul, worried that the pope’s decision to forgo the more formal wear signaled a threat to traditional Catholic worship.
Specifically, they fretted over the fate of the old Latin Mass, now in the hands of a papacy that seemed to shrug off pomp and circumstance.

But more than one year into Francis’ reign, the Tridentine Mass, as it is sometimes called, appears to be alive and well. Decades after the Roman Catholic Church moved away from celebrating Mass in Latin, a throwback movement is growing, in many cases with the young leading the charge.

On Tuesday, four men were ordained into the priesthood at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, the neo-Gothic church in south St. Louis known for practicing the Latin liturgy, for its soaring 300-foot steeple and for its listing on the National Registry of Historic Places.


Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, one of the more devoted supporters of the old Latin rite among U.S. bishops, came in from Rome to lead the ordinations.

Mary Kraychy, with the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, a nonprofit based in Glenview, Ill., that promotes the Latin Mass, says she’s seen a slow but steady rise in the practice, with more than 400 churches offering the liturgy today. The organization sells missals that display the Latin text of the Mass alongside the English translation.

Kraychy describes it as a “youth movement,” with much of the enthusiasm for the rite espoused by those who are too young to remember the Second Vatican Council. In 1969, Pope Paul VI declared that the church should perform Mass in the native language of parishioners, which led to the Tridentine Mass’ being largely replaced.

On Tuesday, Francis Altiere, 32, and three other deacons knelt before Burke, holding candles in their right hands. They prostrated themselves before the altar while Burke knelt with his back to the congregation. The cantors sang the Litany of the Saints, praying to Catholic saints, martyrs and angels for divine protection and assistance.

Altiere is originally from Pennsylvania with a degree from Harvard University. He says his decision to become a priest is owed in part to his discovery of the traditional Latin Mass in a church in downtown Boston.

“At this Mass I really understood the priesthood for the first time,” Altiere said. “The primary reason for the beauty of our churches and liturgical ceremonies is to give glory to God, but it is also such a powerful means of evangelization.”

Those who attend St. Francis de Sales Oratory also say their faith is strengthened by the liturgy and by the feeling of solidarity experienced by those who attend the Mass.

“Everybody here believes what they’re doing is true, real,” said Tom Leith, 55, an engineer in St. Louis. “You’re among people who believe what the church teaches.”

St. Francis de Sales Oratory loyalists say a combination of pacing and visual cues allow even those with little knowledge of Latin to follow the Mass.

Jim Kahre drives 40 minutes with his nine children from High Ridge to visit the church every Sunday.

“I almost get goose bumps,” said Kahre, who works in IT at an accounting firm. “I’ve never seen anything like it until I came here.”

In the 1980s, after the switch to the vernacular, Pope John Paul II allowed priests to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass but only with the consent of local bishops. By 2007, however, Pope Benedict XVI had eased restrictions, giving parishes the authority to celebrate the Mass without obtaining bishops’ permissions.


Altiere, for his part, says he will use his new gifts as as priest to not only recite the Mass in Latin but to save souls.

“There is a saying that the priest does not go to heaven alone,” Altiere said. “My goal as a priest is simply to lead as many souls to heaven as possible.”


Marc said...

Not a bad article even with the token back to the congregation comment.

Diana said...

Unfortunately, this article creates the mistaken impression that any Mass in Latin is "traditional" --- as in pre-Vatican II.

The 1969 Mass can be celebrated in Latin, also, but it is not "traditional" or "Tridentine" (i.e., from the Council of Trent).

The author refers to Mass "in the vernacular" --- as if the only difference were the language.

This is not so.