Here is a story that caught my eye, a typically ignorant screed that blames the Mass (the Mass!) for splitting Catholics.
Never for a moment do these reporters who speak of “nostalgia” for the “old” Mass notice the incredible irony that appears, for instance, in this story: The nostalgic oldies at the traditional Mass are “20 and 30- somethings with children on their laps” while the progressive young people who bravely spearhead the “new” Mass “remember Vatican II with great joy” (commenced 45 years ago) and are in their 60s or older.
And of course those horrible priests who turn their back to the small groups who cling miserably to the ancient form of Mass are secretly only doing so to somehow irritate the Jews. What other explanation could there be? Really, it just drives me nuts. This story has been written a thousand times this year alone, but it just continues to amaze me. People who claim to be Catholic and fear the traditional Mass are quoted all the time about how they worry about how it will affect the Church’s relations with the Jews, Protestants and others; they worry about turning back the clock; they worry about dividing the Church; they worry about losing focus on “social justice”.
But what do you never hear from them? That the traditional Mass is less likely to lead Catholics to Heaven. And this is because they see no relationship between the faith and the form of worship.
And that is just sad.
Revival of Latin Mass splits Catholics
Posted by bpeschel
August 10, 2007 04:00AM
The scene could be from the 1950s. A green-robed priest recites the Roman Catholic Mass in Latin, his back to pews lined with women in white lace veils and men in jackets and ties.
For some worshippers, the exotic language and complex choreography recall childhood Sunday mornings. Others — 20- and 30-somethings with children on their laps — are too young to feel nostalgic but still drawn to the tradition.
In the mid-1960s, Pope John XXIII convened the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, a four-year effort to reconsider the position of the church in the modern world. Since that time, the priest faces his congregation and speaks the common language during Mass.
But small groups of Catholics, such as those gathered on a recent Sunday at St. Lawrence Chapel in Harrisburg, have kept alive the Latin Mass.
Now, in a decree that some welcome and others fear might undermine the legacy of Vatican II, Pope Benedict XVI has urged all bishops to make sure that traditional Mass is available to people “who have felt its attraction.”
“It’s the Mass of the church, of always,” said Robert Caraballo, 57, of Lancaster. “It’s more reverent. People dress properly.” Those drawn to the tradition say it restores their sense of Catholic identity. They say the shift in focus to the congregation after Vatican II diminished the transcendence for them.
And they don’t like the casual, contemporary feel that marks many services, Protestant and Catholic, these days.
“The music is more rock ‘n’ roll. They use hymns contrary to Catholic teaching,” said Tyler Kauffman, 28, who grew up with the new Mass but drives to St. Lawrence with his wife and two children each Sunday for the traditional one.
But the Latin Mass has stirred controversy — partly because its Good Friday liturgy includes an explicit prayer for the conversion of Jews and refers to their “blindness” and “darkness.”
The more conciliatory post-Vatican II language calls the Jews “the first to hear the word of God” and prays for them to “arrive at the fullness of redemption.”
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Harrisburg Diocese said Pope Benedict’s outreach to Catholics who love the Latin Mass was not meant “to hurt in any way the Jewish-Catholic dialogue, to which he is deeply committed.”
But Kathleen Kennedy, a Catholic from Swatara Twp., said the old language troubles her. “I think the problem is that Christianity has such a poor track record of interacting with Jews and Judaism,” she said.
Some Catholics are dismayed by the direction of the pope, who recently not only encouraged wider celebration of the Latin Mass but asserted that Protestant and Orthodox churches are defective.
“I remember Vatican II with great joy, and I am so saddened that there seems to be a move by this pope to make it a thing of the past or even say it was misguided,” said a Eucharistic minister from Lemoyne, asking not to be identified for fear of offending people she serves.
The church “should be a rudder and help us move forward into the centuries,” said Lou Gehosky, 66, of New Cumberland. “But this is worse than an anchor.”
The pope’s recent decrees provide more evidence of how conservative the Catholic hierarchy has become, said Chester Gillis, professor of theology at Georgetown University.
Pope John Paul II’s 27-year tenure left that legacy.
Another example emerged recently in Harrisburg, when indulgences, pledges of personal sacrifice and worship intended to reduce the time souls spend in purgatory, were offered for pilgrimages to St. Patrick Cathedral during this, its 100th anniversary year.
Indulgences, whose abuse helped spur the Reformation, are understood to reduce the time a believer spends in purgatory after death. Downplayed after Vatican II, they were revived in 2000.
Shortly after his decree on the Latin Mass, Pope Benedict asserted that though other Christians might find salvation, Catholics represent the one true “Church of Christ.”
Critics say that statement undermines a spirit of openness to other faiths since the 1960s reforms.
The pope insists that all his decrees conform with Vatican II. The point, of course, is how Vatican II is interpreted.
Gillis doubts that the Latin Mass will generate a groundswell of interest. Its adherents represent a small percentage of Catholics, he said.
“But was this a symbol of something larger in the papacy of Benedict? That remains to be seen,” the professor said.
Vatican II “opened the church to the modern world,” he said. “If there is this slow return to a kind of pre-Vatican II notion on a whole range of issues,” the church could look quite different in a decade.
Rhoades said the most likely local effect of the pope’s decree will be marriages and funerals conducted in Latin for those who want them — which are not available now.
As a new bishop in 2005, Rhoades made the Latin Mass a weekly instead of a monthly event for his diocese, and he moved the setting from Trinity High School to St. Lawrence’s Gothic sanctuary with its stained glass and rich, dark woodwork.
A member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, formed in 1988 to maintain the traditional rite, drives from Scranton each Sunday to preside.
Coordinator Bob Charlton of Camp Hill said attendance ranges from 185 to 230. That’s a small segment of a diocese with almost 250,000 Catholics, but he said some travel an hour to the chapel.
“We are forever indebted to His Excellency’s grace, understanding and pastoral compassion” for the weekly service, said Jon Kabel, 45, of Lancaster, during a post-Mass coffee hour in the chapel basement.
Some worshippers that recent Sunday said the pope’s decree gives them hope for more — perhaps a traditional parish for those who love the Latin Mass.
And they foresee an effect on the direction of the church. “The presence of the old Mass will ground the new Mass and pull it back to tradition,” Kabel said.
Tip to Heartland Catholic.