Traditionalists welcome wider OK for Tridentine Mass
Robert Delaney of The Michigan Catholic
Published July 13, 2007
Detroit — News that Pope Benedict XVI's long-expected motu proprio allowing wider use of the Tridentine rite Latin Mass had at last been issued was welcomed with the singing of a "Te Deum" last Sunday at St. Josaphat Church in Detroit.
And a number of regulars at the 9:30 a.m. Tridentine Mass at the historic church in Detroit's Medical Center area said they believe
Gregg McIntosh | The Michigan Catholic Msgr. George Browne celebrates Tridentine rite Mass at St. Josaphat Church in Detroit last Sunday. Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum" will allow the traditional Latin Mass to be celebrated at other parishes as well.
the Tridentine community at St. Josaphat will survive, even as the traditional Latin Mass begins to become available at other churches in the archdiocese on Sept. 14, the feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
A motu proprio is an apostolic letter "by his directive," issued by the pontiff. Titled "Summorum Pontificum," the apostolic letter on the Tridentine Mass was issued last Saturday.
Alex Begin, 45, who coordinates the Tridentine Masses at St. Josaphat, speculated some of the people who attend there — about 170, on average — might opt for a Tridentine Mass closer to their home, but he predicted St. Josaphat will remain the preferred venue for the old Mass for many of those who value it.
Although the pope's new directive means St. Josaphat will lose its status as the only authorized site for the Tridentine Mass in the archdiocese, Begin predicted only five or six other parishes in the archdiocese are likely to offer it. And he said he thinks St. Josaphat will still be unique in the way it celebrates the Mass for some time.
"We have a music director who understands the music appropriate for the Tridentine Mass, and we have a choir trained in Gregorian chant. We have between eight and 12 trained altar servers every Sunday, and have full sets of Roman vestments in all the liturgical colors, plus matching chalice veils and burses.
"And we do it with incense and bells — including ringing our tower bell at the consecration — plus we have asperges (the sprinkling rite) before Mass and benediction once a month after Mass," he said.
And Begin made the point that the Holy Father has said the ideal Tridentine Mass is one that has music and appropriate ceremonies, with the congregation invited to sing along with the responses — not all of which will be possible at a low Mass, which is all most other parishes would be able to offer in the near future.
"But we're not selfish — we're happy to train other parishes how to celebrate the Tridentine Mass," he added.
And Begin pointed out that the music director for Tridentine Masses at St. Josaphat, Wasim Sarweh, had just recently conducted a Gregorian chant workshop.
Chris Stuckey, 35, who manages the Tridentine community's portion of the St. Josaphat Web site, www.DetroitLatinMass.org, said he believes the community's educational work "is one of the best things we've done."
"A Wayne State University professor, Peter Gulewich, offered to teach us Latin, and we have from 30-40 people attending his free classes right after Mass," Stuckey said.
He agreed Tridentine Masses at other churches would likely draw off some of St. Josaphat's attendance, but added that the renewed interest in the traditional Mass could eventually bring even more people to the historic church "where we do it right, with music and everything."
"I live in Westland, and I intend to keep coming here. In the long term, I think we'll be all right," Stuckey said.
Fr. Mark Borkowski, 42, administrator of St. Josaphat Parish, and sometime celebrant at the Tridentine Mass, said he doubts whether more than two or three other parishes will begin offering the old Mass, but only time would tell what effect that would have on St. Josaphat.
"This will be the test whether what we have done here is just provided a service or — as we have tried very hard to do — created a community."
Betty Klink, 76, of Dearborn, said she expects she will stick with St. Josaphat. "It's only about 10 minutes on the freeway on Sunday mornings, and I really do love that beautiful old church. Also, I've gotten to know other people at the social hour after the Mass," she said.
Klink said she never questioned the Church's right to change the Mass, but never stopped missing the old Mass either.
"I became a Catholic in 1957 after much searching and praying, and I loved the Mass — it was one of the things that attracted me," she said.
Not only did Klink welcome it when the Vatican allowed its use again back in 1984, and when Cardinal Adam Maida allowed it locally in 2004, but is glad to know that it will now be more widely available.
"For some reason, it just seems more respectful," she said.
Klink might fit the profile of people expected to attend Tridentine Masses when they were restored, but Begin said most of the attendance at St. Josaphat "is young families, including some very large families," and put the average age of adults at about 42.
With seven children, and another on the way, Eric and Nancy Restuccia of Brighton would be an example of that.
"What I love about the old Mass is that it underscores the supernatural character of the Mass — that ultimately the action of the Mass is Christ offering Himself to the Father — and then we join ourselves to that. The old Mass more clearly expresses its sacrificial character," said Eric Restuccia, 39.
And Restuccia said he loves the Latin and the Gregorian chant. "I grew up with the folk Mass at St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor," he recalled.
"When I first went to a Tridentine Mass, it was kind of foreign to me, but as I became more familiar with the faith and I heard it a few more times, I began to appreciate it more. Now, I find it very compelling," Restuccia said.
But despite his own enthusiasm, he said he does not expect the Tridentine Mass to develop a huge following. "I think the Holy Father expects it will have an enriching effect on the new Mass," Restuccia said.
Deacon Richard Bloomfield, 67, who has been assisting at the Tridentine Masses at St. Josaphat in addition to his regular duties at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Wyandotte, said he believes Pope Benedict sees the Tridentine Mass as a kind of model when it comes to reverence — not as a replacement for the new Mass, but to "bring the Novus Ordo back into line with what Vatican II expected."
For example, at SS. Cyril & Methodius Parish in Sterling Heights, pastor Fr. Ben Kosnac, 38, said they do some parts of the Mass in Latin on the first or third Sunday of each month.
Fr. Kosnac, who learned how to celebrate the Tridentine Mass so he could be an occasional celebrant at St. Josaphat, said he is thinking of adding a Tridentine Mass on Saturday evenings, perhaps at 6:30 p.m., beginning in January.
But some parishes that are offering the new Mass in Latin might not switch to the Tridentine rite. At St. Mary Church in Detroit's Greektown area, Holy Spirit Fr. Edward Vilkauskas, 60, said he has had no requests for the old Mass and plans to continuing offering the Novus Ordo in its Latin original version at 10 a.m. Sundays.
He said he was unsure, however, whether nearby Holy Family Church, St. Mary's cluster partner, would continue with the Novus Ordo in Latin or change to the Tridentine rite for its 9:30 a.m. Mass.
Statement of Cardinal Maida on Tridentine Mass
For Release July 7, 2007
Contact: Office of Public Relations
Summorum Pontificum, the Apostolic Letter given Motu Proprio by Pope Benedict XVI on the use of the "Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970," was made public at the Vatican on Saturday, 7th July 2007. The following statement from Cardinal Maida will appear in the upcoming edition of The Michigan Catholic.
I am grateful that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has shown his pastoral care for those members of the faithful who desire to worship God with the Mass prayers and related sacramental celebrations of the 1962 Missal.
It is important to underscore the fact that the Missal of 1970 (the post-Vatican II liturgy) remains the "ordinary form" for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The 1962 (pre-conciliar) Missal is the "extraordinary form" for celebration of the Holy Eucharist. There are not "two rites" for the Mass; as Pope Benedict XVI explains, "it is a matter of a two-fold use of one and the same rite."
Citing words from the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy from Vatican II, Pope Benedict XVI explained that in both forms for celebrating the Roman ritual, the intent is the same: "full, conscious, and active participation of the faithful." Both forms celebrate our participation in sacrificial death and glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ: in the "ordinary" form or post-Vatican II, we do so by means of our English (vernacular) language and communal prayer, while in the extraordinary or pre-Vatican II form, participation also includes listening to the prayers in Latin and joining our hearts to the words and actions.
Furthermore, allowing a wider celebration of the 1962 version of the Mass should not be seen as calling into question the abiding significance of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. In his Motu Proprio, our Holy Father underscored the fact that the teachings of the Council are in no way diminished by allowing a wider usage of the former (pre-conciliar) ritual for the Mass and other sacraments.
Our Holy Father shared his motivation and intention for issuing the Motu Proprio: strengthening the unity of the Church by preserving the riches of the faith and prayer of her full liturgical tradition. Like his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, he has been concerned about reaching out to those who felt alienated from the Church because of the exclusive use of the post-conciliar ritual. Opening the door to wider use of the pre-conciliar liturgy builds on earlier concessions of Pope John Paul II which have proven to be a means of reconciliation. The Holy Father also believes there are Catholics— of all generations— who have expressed a sincere desire to experience the pre-conciliar liturgy and have found it a compelling and attractive means for worshipping the Lord.
In the Archdiocese of Detroit, we have already been offering this form of the Mass at St. Josaphat Church for the past several years and we look forward to continuing to provide such opportunities according to the needs and requests of the faithful.
The Motu Proprio does not take effect until September 14, 2007. In the weeks ahead, the priests and faithful of the Archdiocese will have ample time to reflect with me upon its implementation through our consultative bodies. For now, let us continue to work and pray for the unity of our Church, to worship the Lord with loving hearts, and put our faith into practice through lives of service.