Relearning a Mass

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has produced a DVD meant for priests and seminarians who want to learn how to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass. There seems to be quite a demand for it.

ELMHURST, Pa. — There is significant interest among priests and seminarians in how to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, judging from the response to several programs designed to teach it.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI allowed nearly universal celebration of the older form of the Mass, popularly known as the Tridentine Mass or traditional Latin Mass.

When provisions of the Pope’s letter, Summorum Pontificum, took effect, Eternal Word Television Network teamed up with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to televise a Latin Mass. The Fraternity is a Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right of priests founded in 1988 to offer the traditional Latin Mass.

Following collaboration on the televised Mass, “we became convinced of the need for a tool that would help priests to offer the Mass in the extraordinary form,” Michael Warsaw, the network’s president and CEO told the Register.

“It was EWTN’s desire to support the Holy Father’s wish that the Church be able to recover the liturgical and spiritual richness of the ancient form of the liturgy,” Warsaw said.

Now, the two have jointly produced a DVD that offers step-by-step instructions on celebrating that form of the Mass. The DVD is directed toward priests and seminarians.

A newer community based in Chicago is also offering training, as are various diocesan seminaries.

Fathers Calvin Goodwin and Justin Nolan, director and assistant director of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Priest Training Program, sent a joint e-mail to answer questions from the Register on the DVD The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite: An Instructional Video for Priests and Seminarians. Fathers Goodwin and Nolan explained that the fraternity decided to produce the DVD after the response to their training seminars in Nebraska became “truly overwhelming.”

“It soon became evident that the most practical and useful tool for a thorough mastery of the extraordinary form would be an instructional video which they could use for ongoing study and practice,” they said. “We resolved to produce a video that would meet these needs, be professionally produced, and provide a most complete and thorough resource.”

“Numerous chanceries and seminaries have requested copies of the video for distribution to priests and seminarians,” they said. The Pontifical North American College’s “original request for 40 copies soon grew to 100 and then 200 as it became apparent that the interest on the part of the seminarians was much greater than had at first been anticipated.”

In Parishes and Seminaries

The traditional Latin Mass was used in the Church from the 16th century until 1969, when Rome introduced the Paul VI Mass. Since Pope Benedict’s 2007 letter, it is now called the extraordinary form of the Mass, and the 1969 Mass is known as the ordinary form. The Tridentine Mass is also called the Mass of Blessed John XXIII because the last revision of it took place during his pontificate.

In his introduction to the DVD, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, says that “the Holy Father wants this form of the Mass to become a normal one in the parishes.”

“In parishes where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition,” Pope Benedict wrote in Summorum Pontificum, “the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962.” Through the DVD and its training seminars, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is helping to make Pope Benedict’s vision a reality.

The Mass has already become normal in the Church of St. John Cantius in Chicago. Now, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, a Chicago religious community established by Cardinal Francis George in 1999, is offering training for priests and seminarians, as well as separate workshops on the traditional Latin Mass for laity.

The response has been “very good,” according to Father C. Frank Phillips, the community’s founder and superior. He told the Register that “some bishops [have] felt comfortable sending their men to us because we do both the old and the new and could relate to questions, problems, etc., when the ordinary and extraordinary forms are offered in the same building.”

Seminaries are also offering courses and workshops on the traditional Latin Mass. At Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, all seminarians learn how to offer Mass in the older form. The Latin Mass is offered at the seminary twice a month. A traditional Latin Mass was offered at New York’s archdiocesan seminary in November.

And in December, all 150 seminarians at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland attended an on-campus Latin Mass that included Gregorian chant and polyphony. “It was the first time many of them had been exposed to the Latin Mass, and I wanted them to see it at its best,” Msgr. Stephen Rohlfs, the seminary’s rector, told The Washington Times.

One pastor said his parishioners have reacted “very favorably” to the traditional Latin Mass, which he reintroduced into his parish after Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte invited a Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter priest to conduct a training workshop.

“To have to learn a whole new ritual — and wanting to make sure that it is done with attention, reverence and devotion — can be daunting and yet so very fulfilling,” said Father Eric Kowalski of Holy Angels Parish in Mount Airy, N.C. “It hasn’t been a turning back of the clock, but a rediscovery of a number of elements of our identity which help give deeper meaning and purpose to our lives as Catholics.”

Jeff Ziegler writes from

Ellenboro, North Carolina.

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