On September 17th, St. Mary’s Church w ill begin to offer a fortnightly Saturday morning Mass according to the Missal of Pope St. John XXIII, commonly known as the Latin Tridentine Mass.
This celebration of Holy Mass will take place at 10:00 Saturday mornings and will not replace any regularly scheduled Masses.
WHAT IS THIS FORM OF HOLY MASS CALLED?
The Mass according to the Missal of Pope St. John XXIII is called by many names which can be confusing. Some refer to it as the Mass of the Missal of 1962 (the year of publication of the Missal, others refer to it as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and finally this form of Holy Mass is also known as the usus antiquior (more ancient usage). In this short explanation we will refer to this form of Holy Mass as the usus antiquior for the sake of consistency.
WHY IS THIS FORM OF MASS RETURNING?
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI, in a document issued by his own initiative called Summorum Pontificum , wrote that if any group of the faithful were to request Holy Mass according to the usus antiquior, the pastors of the Church were to make it readily available. This initiative of the Holy Father’s was met with excitement. Many parishes now offer Holy Mass according to the usus antiquior as a regular part of their liturgical services (e.g. two parishes in our own diocese of Peterborough already do so). Some who attend this form of Holy Mass remember the Latin prayers and beautiful ceremonies from their childhood; others are encountering this form of worship for the first time and are being drawn more deeply to conversion because of their experience.
For those who experience Holy Mass in the usus antiquior, the several differences that it has with the usual celebration of Holy Mass become apparent. I would like to address three of the differences, namely, silence, the direction of the Priest as he offers Holy Mass, and the Latin language.
While the typical form of the usus antiquior is meant to be a Solemn High Mass with beautiful chanting and elaborate ceremonies, the way that this form of Mass is usually celebrated is a Low Mass, in which the prayers are read by the Priest, and the responses are made by the server and congregation. Whether the prayers are chanted or read, some of them are recited very quietly by the Priest. This means that there are periods of silence during the celebration. The Eucharistic Prayer or Canon during which the Holy Spirit is called down upon the offerings of bread and wine and the words of our Lord at the Last Supper are repeated is prayed quietly. The quietness of this central prayer emphasizes its importance, and the interior and exterior reverence which must attend it.
During the celebration of Mass, the Priest and congregation face a common direction. Both the Priest and the people are turned towards the Altar as the sacrifice is offered. Therefore, it is not the case that the Priest has his back to the people. Rather he and they have turned to face the Lord. Pope Emeritus Benedict has written that the common direction of the Priest and the people expresses that they are moving towards the the Risen Lord, who has promised to come again. He has also taught that the common direction also lessens the danger of the community becoming closed in upon itself, thinking that it can do without God.
Most of the Mass is in Latin, but there are also elements of Greek (the Kyrie) and Hebrew (the words Amen, Alleluia, Hosanna, and Sabaoth). By using Latin, the Church establishes unity in her worship regardless of time and place. A contemporary example of the importance of common language for worship is experienced at World Youth Days, when hundreds of thousands of young people sing the Our Father in Latin at Holy Mass with the Pope. It is a spontaneous and very moving witness to the unity of the Catholic Faith.