Print Edition: March 8, 2015
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Archbishop Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, celebrated the first traditional Latin Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in 40 years.
BY EDWARD PENTINROME CORRESPONDENT
American Archbishop Raymond Burke
made history Oct. 18 when he became the first priest in 40 years to celebrate a
solemn High Mass according to the 1962 Missal in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The archbishop, originally from Richland Center, Wis., and now the prefect
of the Apostolic Signatura (the Church’s equivalent of the Supreme Court), was
joined by about 70 priests for the Eucharistic celebration. Also present were
between 200 and 400 other worshippers in the basilica’s Blessed Sacrament
The priests were mainly diocesan and from various institutions that
place an emphasis on traditional liturgy. The singing was provided by choirs
from the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Conception and a large number of
Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. Also in attendance was the grand master
of the Order of Malta.
The beauty of the liturgy made a deep impression on those in attendance.
Robert Moynihan, editor of Inside
reported on one worshipper who told him the choir made it seem as if “we were
immersed in choirs of angels. The presence of the celestial dimension of the
rite was almost tangible. Believe me, I am not exaggerating.”
The Mass was made possible thanks to Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic
proprio” (on his
own initiative), that aimed to foster “an interior reconciliation in the heart
of the Church” with traditional Catholics. As one traditionalist observer
somewhat controversially put it: “The Mass of apostolic times returns home
after 40 years of exile in the desert.”
Archbishop Burke, whose home was in
St. Louis until last year, was dressed in green vestments with gold braid trim.
He gave a homily on a passage from the Gospel of St. Luke.
“The physical healing we read about
in Luke’s Gospel is a sign of a deeper, spiritual healing, which Jesus brings,”
he said. “It is a sign of the healing of sin, and of the most profound effect
of sin: death eternal.”
“We too can be healed,” Archbishop
Burke continued. “Just as the young ruler believed the word Jesus spoke to him,
and his son was healed, as he later learned, ‘at that very moment,’ so too we
should believe the word Jesus speaks to us, and that word can be the beginning
of our own healing.”
also explained the importance of Summorum Pontificum.
The Holy Father, he said, “made it
clear that the old rite, now called the extraordinary form of the Latin rite,
cannot be rejected or regarded as dangerous in any way.” The ordinary and
extraordinary forms of the Latin rite are “a gift to the Church,” he said. “The
two forms will mutually enrich each other.”
Mass was principally held for those attending a nearby conference on the
extraordinary form which was timed to coincide with the second anniversary of Summorum Pontificum.
this was not expected to be the last time that a solemn High Mass in the
extraordinary form will be celebrated in the basilica.
would say it represents another barrier that has come down,” said Alberto
Carosa, a freelance correspondent specializing in the traditional liturgy, adding
that without Summorum
Pontificum, “it would have been
apostolic letter also aimed at healing divisions that emerged after the Second
Vatican Council, emphasizing that there was no break with tradition following
the conciliar reforms of the 1960s.
shows the aims of Summorum
Pontificum are progressing slowly
but surely,” said Carosa. “The next step will be to have it in a larger chapel,
perhaps in the nave and, just possibly, celebrated by the Pope. The sky is the
hope is that regulations put in place in 2003 by the Vatican Secretariat of
State for the celebration of Masses in the basilica using the 1962 Missal may
be adjusted to reflect the current times. One of the norms forbade the
celebration of the older form in the main body of the basilica.
basilica officials seemed to take those rules further: Many worshippers were
irritated by their apparent unwillingness to allow the Mass to proceed
smoothly. The Chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament was far too small for the many
who wished to attend, and many were turned away.
was a miracle so many fit in,” said Carosa. “They should have expected lots of
people to come — and have chosen somewhere bigger.”
The Mass was also rescheduled from
10 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at short notice, upsetting those who had come from a long
many savored the beauty of the High Mass and saw it as a sign of things to
Edward Pentin writes from Rome.
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