Wednesday 15 September 2010

The Return of Tradition (posted 09/02/2010)

Oh, yes! Tradition is returning, slowly and in a somewhat patchy fashion, especially in the case of the Traditional Latin Mass (the Mass of Ages, Mass in the Extraordinary Form). But before discussing how this is happening, let's consider two contrasting attitudes.
First.  A friend of the TLM was telling me of a conversation she had had about the upcoming shortages of priests in a seaside city here in the North-East of England; she said to the lady she was talking to: "The Bishop could if he wished bring in a priest from a traditional order who would say Mass and the other sacraments in the Latin traditional way."  The other lady simply pulled a face.  Sometimes, it seems, spiritual deprivation and suicide are preferable to Tradition!
Second.  Sometimes the mere exposing of someone to a Traditional Latin mass is enough to change their opinion of the old ways.  For an example of this, please check out this website Martha's Secret Vineyard (scroll down until you come to "TLM - To Learn More").
And so, back to the main point of the posting! One of the main ingredients of any return to traditional ways is a priest who is able to celebrate the Mass and the other sacraments in a proper fashion.  When I first came back to the Traditional Latin Mass I found it very difficult; apart from learning again the rubrics of the Mass, I really found it difficult to get my mouth around the Latin itself.  Such a long time since I had used it!  I had to have lots of practice in pronunciation and in actually practising the Mass, but oddly I did find that my understanding of the Latin was even better than when I was ordained.  I have therefore a complete understanding of a priest's reluctance to start learning the TLM.  It may be that he finds the rubrics (the "how to do it") very difficult and even restrictive, or he may not know any Latin.  It is when he realises the purpose of the exactness of the rubrics and how it contributes to the Mass, then he will appreciate how they help him to become one with Christ in the Mass.  Likewise, as long as he makes an effort to pronounce the Latin words properly, he needs to know that even if he doesn't understand the exact meaning of the words God is a fluent Latin speaker!
I am delighted to say that, during Low Week this year, from April 12th to April 16th, the Latin Mass Society has booked St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, near Durham City, for a training week for priests to learn how to celebrate the TLM and to learn about its place in today's Church.  A similar course was held last year, and it was a wonderful few days.  I and three other priests attended as tutors; I was asked to help three priests to learn the rudiments of the TLM.  One of the highlights of my week was when one of those priests celebrated his first ever TLM for real.  The other highlight for me of that week was to celebrate a Missa Cantata at the High Altar in St Cuthbert's Chapel.  During my time at Ushaw, I had served High Mass at that altar in every capacity - acolyte, thurifer, MC, subdeacon, deacon - but this was the first time I had celebrated as celebrant; it was a tremendous thrill.  At all the services, the serving team was meticulous and the singing was glorious.
This year the course will be five days' long, giving ample time for all "novices" to learn the rubrics of the TLM or to advance to knowledge of the Missa Cantata or indeed the Solemn High Mass.  There will be two lectures from acknowledged experts.  And as well as training sessions there will be each day either a Solemn High Mass or a Missa Cantata; there will be public recitation of the Divine Office, and Solemn Benediction.  These services will be open to any lay person who wishes to come - a marvellous opportunity for anyone to revel in the very best which the traditional liturgies can offer!  Times of services will be given at a later date, and it is hoped that a very large number of parishes will display information about these services on their notice boards and in their bulletins.
Any priest wishing to attend the Ushaw LMS course should approach Paul Waddington ( the LMS organiser directly.  Perhaps any lay person reading this might like to approach his/her own priest and suggest that he should come to Ushaw this Low Week to learn about the worship of the Church which occurred over many hundreds, not to say, a couple of thousand years.

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