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Priests from Nebraska lead rite's resurgence of Latin MassImage Source: Of EWTN, via WDTPRS
Omaha World-Herald, Neb.
Released : Saturday, May 31, 2008 4:00 AM
May 31 -- LINCOLN -- A cardinal from the Vatican, surrounded by 50 priests.
Gregorian chants floating through clouds of incense.
A 3 1/2 -hour Mass, sung in Latin mostly by priests facing the altar.
A cathedral packed to standing-room-only with lots of families with lots of children, women and girls in veils, men in suits, boys in neckties and close-cropped haircuts.
Catholics kneeling to take communion.
The ordination at Lincoln's Cathedral of the Risen Christ on Friday seemed oh-so-retro. But it was hardly an exercise in nostalgia. It was more like back to the future for a small but growing minority that seeks a louder voice in the Roman Catholic Church -- those devoted to the old Latin liturgy known as the Tridentine Mass.
It's a big deal for Catholics because many equate bringing back the Tridentine Mass, which dates to the 16th century, with rejecting the 1960s reforms of Vatican II. Proponents see it as finally bringing back sacredness, God-oriented reverence and tradition that had been left behind.
Whatever the reaction, Friday's events in Lincoln were a further sign that the Latin Mass is on a rebound some 40 years after it was replaced, in the wake of Vatican II, by the modern Mass. The newer rite is celebrated in the local language with the priest facing the congregation.
The Latin Mass was largely shunned for nearly 20 years. It began a comeback when Pope John Paul II approved its use in 1984 [It was never forbidden: "It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church" (Summorum Pontificum)], then further encouraged its use in 1988 with a letter known as Ecclesia Dei Adflicta.
The rebound accelerated last year when Pope Benedict XVI decreed, in a document called a motu proprio, that priests no longer needed their bishops' approval to say the old Latin Mass, or as the pope calls it, the extraordinary form of the Roman rite.
Denton, Neb., a small town outside Lincoln, is a center of the movement. It's home to Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, which prepares men from all over the world to be priests in the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. That organization is the largest of the priestly societies authorized by the Vatican to preserve ancient liturgical traditions.
Friday's service in the Lincoln cathedral was the ordination of four Fraternity of St. Peter priests. They were ordained by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Vatican department that oversees matters regarding the Latin Mass. His appearance in Lincoln was not only a sign of the Nebraska seminary's importance to Rome, but also a further symbol of encouragement from a pope seen as friendly to those who love the Latin Mass.
The ordination Mass was televised live on Eternal Word Television Network, an international Catholic cable network.
Like many of the 800-plus people at Friday's ordination, Wyoming Catholic College teacher Thaddeus Kozinski saw Friday's ordination in the context of Pope Benedict's recent U.S. visit and last year's papal decree.
"What you're seeing is a resurgence in traditional Catholicism and a public vindication of it," Kozinski said as he and his family joined a throng chatting on the cathedral steps after the service. "It's not marginalized anymore."
Kozinski said he hopes his fellow devotees of the Latin Mass will respond with joy and gratitude to God.
About 300 Latin Masses are offered each Sunday in the United States, according to the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, an Illinois-based lay group that promotes the old liturgy. That's up from about 175 a Sunday in 2001. [Deo Gratias!]
Latin Masses are offered each Sunday at such churches as Immaculate Conception Church, on South 24th Street in Omaha, and St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1145 South St. in Lincoln. About 250 people combined attend the three Masses at Immaculate Conception.
"It's a drop in the bucket," said Mary Kraychy, executive director of the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei. "But it's growing."
The Denton institution is the Fraternity of St. Peter's English-speaking seminary. The fraternity also has a seminary in Germany. Currently, 45 seminarians are enrolled at Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The seminary recently was expanded to accommodate 100 students, said the Rev. Joseph Lee, a priest of the society. It draws seminarians from around the world and sends priests around the world.
The Fraternity of St. Peter has nearly 200 priests worldwide. Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary also is one of the largest providers of training for priests who wish to learn the old Latin Mass. Since June 2007, priests from more than 60 dioceses have been trained.
The society moved the seminary to Nebraska from Pennsylvania in 2000. Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz invited the society to his diocese, but the seminary is independent of the diocese. Rather, the society reports directly to Rome.
Demand from priests and parishioners has increased since Benedict XVI's much-anticipated 2007 decree, Lee said. The pope wanted to make sure that the extraordinary form of the Roman rite is preserved and made available to Catholics who desire it, Lee said.
What Benedict XVI didn't intend with the decree, and he said so himself in a letter to bishops, was for the Latin Mass to replace the modern Mass, known as the Novus Ordo. The pope refers to that liturgy as the ordinary form of the Roman rite.
"It (the decree) doesn't require it. and it doesn't encourage replacing the Novus Ordo," said Eileen Burke-Sullivan, an assistant professor of theology at Creighton University. "The emotional and spiritual needs of people are very varied. There isn't one size that fits all."
Devotees of the Latin Mass include older Catholics who grew up with it and wish it had never gone away, as well as younger people raised on modern Masses.
Omahan Erin Sullivan grew up on English-speaking Masses but found a church home where the Tridentine Mass was offered. For about five years, she and her husband, Jim, and their children attended Latin Mass at St. Patrick Catholic Church. They moved about a year ago, with their seven children, to Immaculate Conception when Omaha Archbishop Elden Curtiss gave that parish to the Fraternity of St. Peter to administer.
Sullivan, who sang in the choir at Friday's ordination, said she was attracted to the Tridentine Mass by "its beauty and its reverence, its silence and its solemnity."
"When you attend the Latin Mass, there's no doubt that there's something holy and special going on," she said.