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Students demand Latin Mass after rescript

Jenn Metz | Wednesday, October 10, 2007

After Pope Benedict XVI brought attention to the discontinued tradition of Latin Masses in early July, students began asking Campus Ministry to bring back the “Tridentine Mass” to Notre Dame. Starting Sunday, they will get their wish.

The students’ demand and Benedict XVI’s papal rescript – which states the Tridentine Mass is optional for Catholics – led Campus Ministry to decide to schedule the Latin Mass this year. The first of these Masses will be celebrated at 8 a.m. Sunday at the St. Charles Borromeo Chapel in Alumni Hall.

“In this document from Rome, they asked the pastors to make it available if there is a stable group of people who want it and if there are people who are able to do it,” said Father Richard Warner, director of Campus Ministry.

Campus Ministry received more than 100 e-mails from students asking if the University would offer the Tridentine Mass after Benedict XVI released the document in early July, Warner said.

Brett Perkins, director of Protestant Student Resources and Catholic Peer Ministry at Campus Ministry, said some students even formed a Facebook group requesting the Tridentine Mass.

“We knew there was going to be a number of students who wanted this. We knew that stable community would be there,” Perkins said.

Members of Campus Ministry met over the summer to decide how to respond to students’ demand and the “motu proprio” (as the papal rescript is called, Latin for “of his own accord”).

The Tridentine Mass will be celebrated at 8 a.m. most Sundays of the year at Alumni Hall because its chapel has a door that opens directly to the outside and has a high altar, which is also against the wall, making it possible for the priest to celebrate the Mass in the traditional way, Perkins said. In the Tridentine Mass, the priest faces the same direction of the people, toward the altar. The time was chosen so as to not interfere with previously scheduled Masses at the Basilica and in the chapels on campus.

A missalette will be available to students containing Latin and English translations. The rubrics will also be included, so that students can follow the Mass.

Having two forms of Mass on campus offers “the fullness of the Latin Rite – the Roman Catholic Rite,” Warner said. “Students will be able to experience both forms, the ordinary and the extraordinary.”

The papal document described two forms of the Latin, or Roman, Rite, Warner said. The first, the ordinary form, the Novus Ordo of Pope Paul VI, which came into effect in 1970, is the form of Mass usually celebrated on campus. The second, the extraordinary form, is the Tridentine Mass, which is based on Pope John XXIII’s reform of the Missal.

Perkins explained how the two forms developed.

The word “Tridentine” refers to “what came out of the Council of Trent,” Perkins said. The Council took place between 1545 and 1563 and was a time of response to the Protestant Reformation.

“The Church issued at that time what is known as the Tridentine Missal, that went through additions and edits from the 1560s to 1962,” Perkins said.

The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, or Vatican II, called for a “renewal of liturgy,” Perkins said. The result was the 1970 Missal, which became the normative way of celebrating the Mass.

The main difference between the ordinary and extraordinary forms, Perkins said, is the different emphasis each places on certain aspects of the faith.

“They are both beautiful, holy expressions of the same faith,” he said.

The concept of the priest facing the same direction as the congregations presents the priest as a leader of the people, who are “all are on this same pilgrim journey towards God,” Perkins said.

In the Novus Ordo, the congregation gathers around the table, sharing the Eucharist, he said, emphasizing the faith’s sense of community.

Currently four priests on campus are able to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, but more are in training, Warner said. Priests must learn both the language – Latin – of the Mass and the rubrics, which differ from the ordinary form.

Altar servers typically participate in the Mass responses on behalf of the people, Perkins said. Between 20 and 30 altar servers volunteered to participate in the Mass. Only those who know the Mass will help in its celebration until others have witnessed the Mass and have been fully trained.

Campus Ministry sponsored a three-part lecture series titled “Three Days of Reflection on the Eucharist,” to prepare the community for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass.

The first of these lectures, “The Theology of the Eucharist,” given by theology professor David Fagerberg, discussed the importance of seeing the two forms of the Mass through the lens of continuity.

Father Michael Driscoll presented the history of the extraordinary form in a lecture titled “The Formation of the Tridentine Missal” Tuesday.

He also said the re-introduction of the Tridentine Mass as an optional form of celebration reflects continuity with the ordinary form.

“Vatican II was not a rupture of the [liturgical] tradition, but rather a continuation,” he said.

The third lecture, titled “The Liturgical Reforms of the Second Vatican Council,” will take place today at 6 p.m. in the Hammes Student Lounge in the Coleman Morse Center. Basilica rector Father Peter Roccawill speak on these changes.