Archbishop's Column
The Catholic Transcript - September Issue, 2007

The Celebration of Mass

On July 7th of this year Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum, making the Tridentine Mass, the Traditional Latin Mass, more accessible to Catholics around the world. This is the expression of the Mass celebrated for centuries and published as the Missal of Blessed John XXIII in 1962. It is distinguished from the expression of the Mass emerging from the reforms of Vatican Council II, published in 1970 and known as the Missal of Pope Paul VI.

The Missal of Pope Paul VI remains the “ordinary” form for regular use. Greater latitude is now allowed, however, for the use of the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, the “extraordinary” form. The provisions become effective on September 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
In parishes where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, pastors are asked to accept requests to celebrate the Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, but only once on Sundays.

Requests to use this extraordinary form, the Tridentine Mass, may also be allowed for marriages, funerals, and pilgrimages. All of the Sacraments, in fact, may be celebrated according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, except Holy Orders.

Communities of Religious may have this Mass celebrated in their chapels and oratories.

Clerics may use the Roman Breviary promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.

When the Missal of Pope John XXIII is used, the Readings from the Scriptures may be rendered in the vernacular.

It is understood that additions to the Missal of Pope John XXIII may be forthcoming, e.g., new Prefaces, additional saints, etc.
Currently in the Archdiocese the Traditional Latin Mass (the Tridentine Mass, the Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII) is celebrated on Sundays in Sacred Heart Church, New Haven, at 2:00 p.m., and in Saint Mary’s Church, New Britain, at 4:00 p.m. The attendance has not been large, but it is steady. I have been asked at times by participants not to extend permissions for other places, for fear of diluting the size of the congregations. Now there will be greater possibility for expansion. We will see how matters develop, in the grace of God.

It should be understood that the Mass according to the Missal of Pope Paul VI may be celebrated in Latin. This occurs regularly, for example, at the Monastery of Regina Laudis, in Bethlehem, Connecticut. I have been privileged to celebrate the Mass there on three occasions, as well as in Poland, Italy, and for times when there have been international congregations. I also celebrated the Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII in the early years of my priesthood.

The Mass according to the Missal of Pope Paul VI will continue to be the regular expression of our celebration, the “ordinary” form. We are grateful for the development of this Mass over recent decades. As the Tridentine Mass for centuries nourished the faith of martyrs, saints, and everyday Catholics, so does this form.

We must remain diligent and vigilant in the proper celebration of the Mass and the Sacraments, in both forms. We must take ever more seriously the importance of respect, reverence, and mystery in our celebrations. Proper clothing, active participation, silence in the sacred precincts of the church before and after Mass are matters that deserve careful attention.

We are blessed to see continuing advances in the quality of sacred music, sacred art, and sacred architecture. The transcendentals of the true, the good, and the beautiful inevitably and ineluctably work their way into our souls. Whether in the Tridentine expression or the more recent expression, we must ensure that these factors enhance the religious experience of all of us.

The Mass is the source and summit of our Christian lives. In the grace of the Holy Spirit may its celebration, in both forms, unite us more closely with God and one another and make us more effective disciples of Jesus Christ in building the Kingdom of God on earth.