Friday, December 21, 2007


© The Catholic News & Herald, Dec. 21, 2007

Traditional celebration Extraordinary form of Mass to be offered in diocese by KAREN A. EVANS staff writer

CHARLOTTE — Older Catholics wanting to re-experience the Catholic Mass as they remember it pre-1962, or young people curious about the “old Mass” will soon be able to attend such Masses in various churches throughout the Diocese of Charlotte.

In July 2007, in the long-awaited and much-debated document ‘Summorum Pontificum,’ the pope relaxed restrictions on the use of the Latin-language liturgy that predates the Second Vatican Council.

The pope said that Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal should be made available in every church where groups of the faithful desire it. The Mass from the Roman Missal, in use since 1970, remains the ordinary form of the Mass, while celebration according to the 1962 missal is the extraordinary form.

“The main benefit of Pope Benedict’s document is two-fold,” Bishop Peter J. Jugis said. “It recognizes the beauty and legitimacy of the extraordinary form of the Mass and promotes the unity of the faithful because, as Pope Benedict has noted, there are people devoted to this form of the Mass.”

“Both forms of the Mass are legitimate means of worship; we don’t want to hurt or leave people behind because of their devotion to earlier liturgical forms,” said Bishop Jugis.

“We’ve had a good response from our priests wanting to celebrate using the 1962 missal,” said Bishop Jugis. “However, many of them need to learn the rubrics and details of the 1962 missal.”

Therefore, 14 priests from the Diocese of Charlotte participated in a five-day training session on the 1962 missal in Hickory Dec 17-21. They studied the rituals of the missal and the prayers, which are recited in Latin.

But diocesan priests won’t be the only ones brushing up on their Latin.

“Catechesis will be necessary for parishioners, as well, to fully appreciate the Mass of the 1962 missal,” said Bishop Jugis.

“The major differences between the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Mass you’ll notice are the priests’ orientation during the liturgy and the use of Latin prayers,” said the bishop.

In the extraordinary form, the priest and the people face the same direction in worship, as the priest leads his flock in prayer.

Prior to the Second Vatican Council, a church’s altar was placed against the wall at the back of the sanctuary. During the consecration of the Eucharist, the priest therefore faced away from the congregation.

The Second Vatican Council decreed that a church’s altar should be placed in a central location in the sanctuary, allowing a priest to face the congregation during the consecration.

Bishop Jugis said that a priest celebrating the extraordinary form of the Mass will now stand in front of the altar, between it and the congregation.

The extraordinary form of the Mass will be offered in certain churches beginning in 2008. Catholics interested in attending a Mass should contact the office of their vicar forane — a priest who coordinates pastoral activities among groups of churches — to find out Mass times and locations.

“It will be up to each individual priest to determine when he is comfortable celebrating the Mass,” Bishop Jugis said.

Since his ordination four years ago, the bishop said he has received letters from all areas of the Diocese of Charlotte requesting the extraordinary form of the Mass. “These are individuals who are grateful that Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged the wider use of the 1962 missal,” he said.

“Going forward, Pope Benedict said we’re not going to leave anyone behind,” the bishop said. “We’re all going forward together.”

Contact Staff Writer Karen A. Evans by calling (704) 370-3354 or e-mail

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ad Orientem Revisited

A few months ago, I posted on the significance of posture in the liturgy. I have been thinking about this more and more and have come to this conclusion.

No Mass can ever be truly moving, truly focused, with a Priest facing the people across a table. Period.

Don't tell me about St. Peters. The table altar there, while having the same effect, is so big, so high, and masses there are such a production, that it doesn't count. That would be like comparing a bottle rocket to the space shuttle.

I have come to this conclusion by watching closely the masses I attend every week. Unlike the horrible liturgies I hear and read about, both of the churches I attend here in Greensboro, Saint Benedict's and Our Lady of Grace, have very traditional, by-the-book masses. No funny stuff, no clapping, dancing, etc. After watching the masses and the celebrants so closely, I conclude that these (novus ordo) masses are about as proper and reverent as you can get. The celebrants are VERY meticulous and caring and reverent and proper. I have never seen one be more so. As the old beer commercials said - it doesn't get any better than this.

Yet still, the sight of them looking at me across a table makes the whole process seem more like a cafeteria than a mass. It isn't them, it isn't the setting. In fact Saint Benedict's is strikingly beautiful and modest sized, and about 110 years old. And Our lady of Grace is, I sincerely believe, the most architecturally impressive church in the United States. It isn't the congregations, as they are both quiet and reverent.

The inescapable conclusion is that it is the altar. Turn the priest around the way he was for at least a thousand years, and EVERYTHING else will change.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Good One

Several weeks ago, the pastor at my "second" parish began using his "From the Pastor's Desk" column in the Sunday Bulletin to address the issue of reverence at mass and the behavior of the congregation. Not in a chastising or nasty way at all, but in the sense of simply laying out what the proper way to behave. Each week he addresses a different topic.

Amazingly enough (at least to me) it already seems to be working. Last Sunday night, the church filled up more quietly that I ever remember. No chit-chat, no loud greetings, etc. People just filed in, prayed, and waited for mass to start. Now keep in mind that this church is usually reasonably reverent, but this was an improvement over the usual.

It makes me think about catechesis, human nature, and how to progress to ad-orientem and the TLM.

People generally WANT to behave properly. They want to fit in, and they want to understand. If a priest, ANY priest, want to lead his flock toward a more reverent, more traditional mass, given proper instruction, they will follow. Small steps, followed with plenty of guidance, and it can be done. Obviously, this will be a much tougher task in some parishes and places, but still doable. There will be bitchers, of course, but there always are. But most people will go along with it. As evidence of this I look to Father Fox, who has been doing this with his two churches in Ohio, and his gradual progression to a much more traditionally Catholic mass celebration.

I have a feeling that this latest trend that the pastor is taking is just the beginning. I still think it's a shame that the most beautiful church in the South, with the most beautiful high altar in the south, has a table-altar in front, leaving the high altar forlornly in the background. Someday... Someday...

Perspective on the Mass

I had an interesting conversation with my sister the other day.

I don't get to talk to her much, and have no idea whether or when she goes to mass. But the other day, I had a conversation with her about the old mass, relating a bit about Summorum Pontificum. And she said something that was so clear, and so to the point, that it should be shared.

She said "You know, people talked about the Latin and not being able to understand. The thing is, we can't really understand what is going on anyway. Who really, really, understands it? It's supposed to be a mystery. So you sat, and you prayed, and the music carried you away."

I was struck by the simple truth and beauty of that statement.

I still am.

Up To Speed

It occurs to me looking at my Blog that it has been over a month since I posted anything.

In the intervening weeks much has happened, both at work and at home, which has demanded a lot of time and energy. My wife being quite sick, along with various sick child maladies and demands kind of monopolized my time and energy. Work has been being quite demanding of my time as well. Having lost my assistant I am left doing all of the drafting myself, which, while not difficult, and enjoyable to some extent, is still a time demand.

In addition to the lack of Blogging for the past month, I have also been unable to attend the Mass in the Extraordinary Form which is being said on a pretty regular basis in Winston Salem now. I had it all worked out last Sunday. I was going to get ready while my wife was at mass with our daughter, and leave as soon has they got home. That was not to be, however. While she was at mass (leaving me home with the 1 and 2 year olds) I managed to get myself locked in the garage. I tried for several minutes to dismantle the lock to gain entry, but that was taking some time and frustration. Then, my daughter started called me, worried because she was alone. That was all it took. Two slams of the shoulder, the door frame gave way, and I was in! BUT, that necessitated me taking the nest several hours to try to reconstruct the door frame. Hence the missing of the TLM.

It all worked out okay, though. I went to 7:00 PM mass at Our Lady of Grace, and it was beautiful. Feast of Christ the King! The "Big Six" candles lit on the high altar, the vestments were gorgeous, and there was a matching chalice veil! Praise God! It actually felt like church.

There is more to talk about that has happened in the intervening weeks, but I'll drop it at this right now. The rest of the stuff is more particular, and best covered in individual posts.