Friday, August 17, 2007


Here's a Providence Journal Article from 7/8 that I totally missed somehow. This involves my favorite former parish, Holy Name of Jesus in Providence, which has done a Latin Mass since 1978 (Novus Ordo 1978-1993, Tridentine 1993-present).


(emphasis and snarky remarks mine)

PROVIDENCE — As pastor of Holy Name Church on the East Side, the Rev. Joseph Santos admits that he is starting to feel nervous.

After years of advocating for more widespread use of the traditional Latin Mass, which has been offered at Holy Name with the express permission of a series of bishops going back to the Most Rev. Louis E. Gelineau, the priest is about to see his dream fulfilled. Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI issued his long-awaited document, a motu proprio titled Summorum Pontificum, which authorizes priests to celebrate the once-suppressed Tridentine Mass publicly — without having to get the bishop’s permission.
(Ah, but it was never suppressed to begin with, though the bishops didn't want anyone knowing that, which explains why some bishops, despite clarification by the Motu Proprio, are even trying to make up their own rules to set an anti-Motu agenda.)

With the roadblock removed, will priests who have long grown accustomed to the new Mass, sometimes called the Novus Ordo — which was promulgated by Pope Paul VI four decades ago to bring the Mass closer to people in the pews — dare to open their parishes to the old Mass once again? And if so, how popular will it be? (You'll never know until you try.)

Time will tell, but Father Santos says he estimates there are 30 priests in Rhode Island alone who have expressed an interest in bringing the old liturgy to a younger generation who never had the opportunity to experience the old Mass in all its splendor.
(My own pastor went to a workshop recently on the Extraordinary Form. It's great that there are priests in my diocese willing to give it a shot. Our bishop, the Most Reverend Thomas J. Tobin, welcomed the Motu Proprio with open arms.) The old Mass is not simply the present-day Mass recited in Latin. It is more elaborate in both words and choreography.

“There are about 20 priests who have asked me to teach it to them, and I think I’m going to get them all together for classes. I find the most interest among our younger priests, which is remarkable because most priests today don’t even get Latin when they go to seminary.” (That's another thing that will need a foot coming down upon by our Holy Father, I fear. With a good amount of bishops who insist that to do the Extraordinary Form requires those well-versed in Latin but yet shows no intention of having it taught to his priests, that is most likely a sign of discouragement.)

Those who follow the Latin Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass, know that the nation’s Catholic bishops haven’t all been in favor of allowing the rite in their dioceses, even though Pope John Paul II directed them to be open to it. Many have either refused requests for their churches to have the Latin Mass or have strictly limited it, judging that the use of the Tridentine Mass might be used as a rallying point for those broadly opposed to the changes in the church that were ushered in in the early 1960s by the second Vatican Council, known as Vatican II. For many, the new Mass symbolized Vatican II teachings because it was the most visible sign of change.

Here in Providence, Holy Name’s pastor emeritus, the Rev. Joseph T. Gallagher, got permission in 1978 from Bishop Gelineau to celebrate the new Mass in Latin. (With all due respect to Fr. Gallagher, who I know personally, he could have done the Novus Ordo Latin anytime he wanted without permission from the Bishop.) The parish was given approval 13 years ago for the Tridentine rite after a trusted friend of the bishop convinced him that allowing the older rite would provide hope to Catholics who felt alienated from the church. (The Tridentine Mass has now been done at Holy Name under the approval of three bishops - first Gelineau, followed by Bishop Robert E. Mulvee, then Tobin. Their graciousness in letting this happen is extremely commendable.)

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before he became Pope Benedict XVI, expressed the view that it was a mistake to try to completely suppress the traditional rite. He has suggested that more openness to the rite would restore reverence and show a continuity with the church’s past. It might also bring back Catholics who had always favored the older Mass, he has said. At Holy Name, the attendance at the 11 a.m. Sunday Solemn High Latin Mass has gone from about 125 people as recently as seven years ago to an average of 250 people now from September through June — close to a third of them families with young children and another third older folks who remember the Mass as it once was. (Even in the summer months, when the Latin Mass is Low Mass, the turnout is still quite good. I'd say about 150 in the summer, 225-ish at High Mass the rest of the year, during my tenure as their music director.) Others come for a range of reasons, including curiosity.

Among those at Mass last week were Patrick Fiorillo, 21, a college student from Franklin, Mass., and Edward Evans, 32, who usually makes the trek to Holy Name from Sturbridge, Mass., with his wife, Jennifer, and their three children, Alexander, 5, Amanda, 4, and John Paul, 17 months.

Fiorillo, a student at the University of Hartford, said he knew very little about the traditional rite until a friend invited him to attend a Latin Mass last November in New Haven.
(Probably St. Mary's, a parish with very high quality music - run by Dominicans.)

It took some getting used to, Fiorillo said, but by the fifth time there he began to understand and appreciate the Mass in a new way. In the Tridentine Mass, which was codified and promulgated by Pope Pius V in the 16th century after the Council of Trent, many of the prayers are elaborate, emphasizing the sacrificial aspects of Jesus’ death on the cross and man’s need for atonement.

“I just think it offers more, and spiritually it is much more fulfilling,” Fiorillo said. “It goes a lot deeper in many aspects.”

Would he continue to visit Holy Name if he could find another Latin Mass closer to his home? “Yes, if my parish in Franklin began offering it, I would love to go there. But this is a great well-established community here, so I would be definitely coming back here.”

Evans, a systems engineer, said that while he was a lifelong Catholic, he knew little about the Mass until his brother-in-law invited him and his wife to check out an old-rite Mass in Albany, N.Y.

He finds it interesting that the new Mass had been put into place with the idea of making the Mass more accessible and understandable to the people, but thinks the reverse is more true. Unfortunately, he said, the words of the regular Mass have been made to sound so ordinary that the prayers almost sound banal. “There is nothing special, nothing mysterious about it anymore, and people wonder why should they even come.”

It’s not that way with the Latin Mass, he said. “Once people experience it I think they’ll want to come. Here there is more a feeling of being with God.”

I'm very thankful that 1) When I left Holy Name, Fr. Kevin Fisette (the pastor at the time - a wonderful priest, pastor, employer, and friend) hired someone that could keep a good thing going (and even expand on it), in the persona of Jacob Stott; and 2) When Fr. Fisette was assigned to St. Leo the Great in Pawtucket, Fr. Santos kept that good thing going.



Rob said...

Jacob Stott and I were friends back at RIC when we were in the music department together. It's too bad we lost touch. An absolute blast to be around and a fine musician. I can remember playing some great chamber music with him at the harpsichord. God is generous in providing musicians who have an appreciation for real music and not just the slop served up a la OCP.

Brian Michael Page said...

Jacob is very good - does very well with directing the choir as well.

One of the nice things about Holy Name is I put in a very successful sales pitch when I was there - in 2000, we scrapped the Muzak Issue and put Worship III in the pews. Definitely one of my proudest accomplishments there, in addition to undoing my predecessor's damage.