"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"
Tridentine Community News (February 17, 2013):
The Liturgical Restoration Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI
Among the numerous accomplishments of our retiring Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, the record books are sure to give him particular credit for reinvigorating Catholic worship in both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms. It is not an overstatement to say that his actions have had a major positive impact on the faith lives of countless souls worldwide.
The 2007 Motu Proprio Summórum Pontíficum and its 2011 follow-up document Univérsæ Ecclésiæ certainly top the list for readers of this column. Any priest is now permitted to celebrate the Tridentine Mass on his own initiative, no longer requiring the permission of his bishop. Within three years after Summórum was published, the number of Mass sites in North America doubled to over 400. Among the most enthusiastic celebrants of the Latin Mass worldwide are young, newly ordained priests.
Five months prior to the release of the Motu Proprio, Pope Benedict released the Apostolic Exhortation Sacraméntum Caritátis, in which he asked that the faithful become familiar with the [Ordinary Form] Latin Mass and that seminaries train future priests in Gregorian Chant and the celebration of the [OF] Latin Mass. He also recommended that tabernacles be located in the center of the sanctuary, in a high altar if one exists, and that the celebrant’s chair not block it.
Pope Benedict set important examples: He restored use of chanted Propers and elaborate traditional vestments to his Ordinary Form Masses in the Vatican Basilicas. He distributes Holy Communion only on the tongue to kneeling communicants.
Tridentine Masses have been held at several prominent altars of the Major Basilicas of Rome, including St. Peter’s Basilica. A fairly large church in Rome, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, was given to the exclusive use of the Extraordinary Form.
In 2010, the Vatican Press published an Altar Missal for the Extraordinary Form, which has ever since remained among their best-selling books. Even today it is the first book listed on their web site, www.paxbook.com, along with Extraordinary Form versions of the Roman Ritual and the Breviary.
Much press coverage has been devoted to Pope Benedict’s efforts to reconcile with the Society of St. Pius X. Less well known is the successfully completed reconciliation with the formerly schismatic Transalpine Redemptorist priests in Papa Stronsay, Scotland. New groups have also been welcomed: In 2006 in France the Institute of the Good Shepherd was founded, a society of priests devoted to the Extraordinary Form, now with apostolates in four countries. Several smaller groups of priests and nuns devoted to the EF have also been founded or regularized.
In 2009, Pope Benedict restructured the Pontifical Commission Ecclésia Dei, the Vatican department in charge of the Extraordinary Form, placing it under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Via the aforementioned documents Summórum Pontíficum and Univérsæ Ecclésiæ, the PCED has been given greater authority in assisting the faithful to obtain Tridentine Masses in their local dioceses.
Prior to Benedict’s papacy, it was a rare sight for a bishop to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, and if they did so, it tended to be done rather quietly. Today an increasing number of bishops, including San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and Portland Archbishop-designate Alexander Sample, make celebration of the EF a regular part of their schedule. One of the highest profile celebrants is Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It is inspiring to realize that the head of the Vatican’s department in charge of the Ordinary Form makes it a point to celebrate the Extraordinary Form with some regularity.
Speaking of the CDW, in August, 2011, Pope Benedict issued the Motu Proprio Quærit Semper, in which His Holiness gave the CDW “a fresh impetus to promoting the Sacred Liturgy in the Church...on the basis of the Constitution Sacrosánctum Concílium.” The first major step was the creation of a new office of the CDW which will establish guidelines for sacred architecture and liturgical music, ensuring that the rich traditions of the past are guiding principles in the design of new church buildings and the composition of new sacred music.
The CDW has also announced that it will soon be issuing a “Manual to Help Priests Celebrate Mass”. One of the topics included will be a suggestion that Mass in the Ordinary Form be celebrated ad oriéntem, with the celebrant facing in the same direction in the congregation as he leads them in prayer, as is the norm in the Extraordinary Form. Pope Benedict himself gave regular example of this liturgical posture at the Masses he celebrated at the High Altar in the Sistine Chapel.
In February, 2003, the only diocesan-approved Tridentine Mass in metro Detroit was in a humble nursing home chapel in Windsor with a congregation of 12 people. Ten years later, in February, 2013, there are 15 churches in the area that offer the Mass, serving a combined congregation of almost 1,000 every Sunday. Whereas it used to be difficult to interest priests in celebrating the Extraordinary Form, nowadays there is no lack of priests who desire to say the Mass; the only real challenge is their availability. To the surprise of many of the older guard, it is young priests, young musicians, and young adults in general who are leading a local – and to large extent a worldwide – resurgence of interest in something they may not even have known existed ten years ago. That is Benedict’s legacy in metro Detroit and Windsor.
Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
- Mon. 02/18 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Lent)
- Tue. 02/19 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Feria of Lent)
- Fri. 02/22: At Holy Family, Detroit:* Rosary at 6:00 PM
* Stations of the Cross at 6:30 PM
* High Mass at 7:00 PM
* Pasta & Salad Dinner after Mass – no charge