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Latin Mass

Monsignor Charles Pope

TIM O’BRIEN, guest anchor: Catholics of a certain age grew up hearing the Mass only in Latin. But since the 1960s, priests have been allowed to say the Mass in Latin only with the permission of their bishop. The Vatican is now loosening those restrictions, so the Latin Mass — also called the Tridentine Mass — may soon become more widely available, although few of the world’s Catholics understand Latin. And yet over the years some Catholics have remained committed to a Mass they consider more historically authentic. At St. Mary Mother of God Parish in Washington, D.C., Monsignor Charles Pope says the Mass in Latin one Sunday a month, and it is well attended.

Monsignor CHARLES POPE (Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.): The Tridentine Mass is a form of the Mass that existed prior to 1962. Things began to change in the Catholic liturgy probably in the mid-1960s, and certainly by 1970 whatís known as the new Mass was fully in force.

There tends to be a religious tendency for the language used inside the churches to be more ancient, and I think that’s largely why Latin remained. It was the main language of the Church even after the Latin language had ceased to be spoken.

The priest always faced the altar. In fact, the priest and the people all face one direction. Some people say the priest had his back to the people. But the reality is that the priest and the people were all facing one direction, an eastward orientation — at least theoretically eastward — and everyone was looking for the risen Christ.

Tonight ís liturgy is referred to as a Solemn High Mass. There is a priest, a deacon, and a sub-deacon who all take part in the liturgy, and it adds solemnity to the liturgy. And they each have proper roles to fill. We also have a lot of extra servers. And itís just a more solemn form of the Mass, with an opening procession and, of course, the use of incense and so on, which is all unique to either the sung or the solemn high form of the Mass.

People of all age groups attend and that ís, I think, a little bit surprising. It was always thought that if we were to go back to the Latin it would mostly be the older folks. But one of the things that’s been discovered just about everywhere the Latin Mass is celebrated, there is a huge number of young people as well. And they didn’t grow up with the Latin, but there is something attractive about this ancient form of the liturgy — its dignity, and its sort of very just lofty quality, especially in some of its forms.

I’ve been saying this Mass for 18 years now, for all my years as a priest. There is a part of me that loves to sort of step back into time and to be part of something ancient that goes way, way back, all the way back hundreds and hundreds of years, even thousands of years, into the ancient past using an ancient language. This is a Mass that most of the saints knew. 

  • MarieRuth Reddy

    God forbid! As a 60+year old woman watching that Mass it made me think of the oppression we women had to endure under the hands of preening priests who thought the world revolved around them. Thank God for the kinder, gentler Church we have today…with women participating as much as possible. You can keep the Latin Mass with it’s misogynist priests!

  • mark l

    Apparently you are not aware of the resurgence of orthodoxy, tradition and traditional catholic values that have sprung anew. The hippy liturgical meanderings of “the spirit” of Vatican II have been exposed to the light…the experiment is over and deemed a failure. To your chagrin I am sure, the liberal feminism and fake ecueminism have met their match in the enduring truths of the ancient liturgy which is spreading like wildfire across the globe. The failed social experiment of the 60′s (and your generation) , which has caused so much harm to family and culture is due to disappear into the dustbin of failure in world history. Deo gratias.

  • Ann

    Thanks be to God that Pope Benedict XVI realizes as he has for a long time, that the Latin Mass must return to the people. It is this centuries old mass that gave us priestly vocations, saints, reverence, beauty, and honor to God. Whereas the modern mass with all its changings has brought nothing but deflating vocations, disregard in many things as to what the Pope says, and just blantant disregard for the rubrics of the mass. Expect something different at every modern mass you go to. Attend a Traditional Latin Mass in your area. You’ll be glad you did!

  • Damien Thorne

    I’m very gratefull that Catholic Church have Benedict XVI as our patron of religion. So much grateful about the “MOTU PROPRIO”, which give us lots of chance to redeem our liturgical “wrongness” for such 44 years since Vatican council.

    No doubt that Tridentine Mass will restore our faith and also our degrading liturgy. It’s not about gender, not about who or why. It’s basically about our faith. We have to make a vast and global liturgical restoration for the sake of of our faithful savety. Sacraments and Liturgy is not about experimenting paganistic and modernistic culture, churches will not be use as stages of animistic or entertainment performances.

    Instaurare omnia in Christo!

    Bandung (Indonesia)