The St. Louis Review has a very positive article on the upcoming 25th Anniversary Mass with Archbishop Carlson at St. Francis de Sales Oratory this Sunday (Laetare Sunday) at 10 am. As you know, His Grace will deliver the sermon and Monsignor Schmitz will be the celebrant.
The article covers some of the 25 year history, and also mentions some of the various places now regularly offering the traditional Mass. St. Francis de Sales and some of its members are also featured prominently.
From the Review:
St. Louis celebrates 25 years of return of Latin Mass
By Barbara Watkins
Twenty-five years ago, an ancient Catholic tradition returned to St. Louis.
The traditional Latin Mass, brought back to St. Louis in 1985, started with a modest beginning — celebrated on the first Saturday of each month at St. Agatha Church. Today, the traditional Latin Mass is celebrated at several sites. Two oratories, St. Francis de Sales and Sts. Gregory and Augustine, have been erected specifically as homes for the traditional Latin Mass.
Catholics who attend the traditional Latin Mass are outspoken in praise of its beauty, spirituality and solemnity. Cherie Grahek, a parishioner at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, explained, “The music, the candles, the incense, the vestments are all beautiful, the church in itself is beautiful. But the liturgy has its own inherent beauty that draws you up and glorifies God and truly gives you a glimpse of heaven.”
The 25th anniversary will be celebrated with a Solemn High Mass at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 14, at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, 2653 Ohio Ave. in South St. Louis. The celebrant will be Msgr. R. Michael Schmitz, vicar general and U.S. provincial for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the community that erected the oratory with permission of Archbishop Raymond Burke in 2005. Archbishop Robert J. Carlson will be the homilist.
“This anniversary is a joyful event,” said Canon Michael K. Wiener, rector of the oratory. Priests of the institute, which is a Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right, are called canon, a traditional title for priests who live in community with other priests of the institute and pray the Divine Office during prescribed canonical hours.
The traditional Latin Mass, now called the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, has been celebrated in St. Louis since Archbishop John L. May granted permission in 1985. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, this was the Mass celebrated by the Catholic Church around the world.
In 1970, after Vatican II, a new order of the Mass was approved by Pope Paul VI. Now called the ordinary form of the Roman rite, it was to be celebrated in the vernacular and is the Mass most Catholics know today. Initially a bishop’s permission had been necessary for celebration of the traditional Latin Mass.
The Latin Mass was celebrated at St. Agatha Parish in South St. Louis until 2005, when it was transferred by Archbishop Burke to St. Francis de Sales.
In a July 2007 apostolic letter, “Summorum Pontificum,” Pope Benedict XVI said that the Latin Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal should be made available in every parish where groups of the faithful desire it, thus granting permission for priests to freely celebrate the traditional Latin Mass.
Assumption Parish in New Haven celebrates the traditional Latin Mass at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Father John Deken, the pastor, started celebrating that Mass shortly after papal permission was granted.
“The Latin Mass provides not only a continuity with the Church’s tradition, but a much-needed emphasis on the sense of the sacred that was so easily lost in the changes in the liturgy in the 1960s,” Father Deken said. “The Holy Father said every priest should be providing this in every parish. That was the goal. I think the priest has a responsibility to make it available, at least on some basis.”
As for parishioner response, Father Deken said, “This is a small rural parish. On a normal weekday I get between six and 12 people at 7:30 a.m. Mass and about 20 to 22 at the Latin Mass.”
While the traditional Latin Mass is celebrated at several sites in the archdiocese, St. Francis de Sales “is centered around the celebration of the extraordinary form,” Canon Wiener said. “So the archbishop saw that it made sense to have us as the episcopal delegate,” the seat of the traditional Latin Mass. Canon Wiener was appointed episcopal delegate for implementation of the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass in the St. Louis Archdiocese by Archbishop Carlson. His predecessor at the oratory, Canon Karl Lenhardt, had been named episcopal delegate by Archbishop Burke.
About 1,000 people come to St. Francis de Sales each Sunday, according to Canon Wiener. “We are a huge church and are almost filled at our two Sunday Masses. This (Latin Mass) finds more and more reception from people, especially young people. … I think St. Louis is a center for the Latin Mass, and I think the oratory is one of the largest — if not the largest — church dedicated to the Latin Mass in the United States.”
Canon Wiener explained, “The big step forward is that any pastor in any parish can celebrate this Mass.” And with the spread of the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass to other sites around the archdiocese, “there must be some kind of standard,” he said.
“It is important to be obedient to the rubrics. This is not a subjective, made-up rite, but something rooted in the Church. The beauty depends on following with obedience what the Church wants us to do.”
The oratory rector added, “It is interesting that more and more young people, families, converts, people who never experienced this Mass in their youth are so attracted by the beauty, the supernatural beauty and mystical character of this Mass.”
The Grahek and Goff families, parishioners of St. Francis de Sales Oratory, fit that description.
Cherie and Matt Grahek have been attending Mass at the oratory with their four children for almost five years.
Cherie Grahek said she first heard about the benefits of the Latin Mass from a sister in Kansas City, Kan. When work prompted a move from Franklin County to St. Louis County, her family started to attend St. Francis de Sales.
“The level of reverence is just beautiful, and that is because of the liturgy itself,” Grahek said. “Also the people who attend the oratory — who come from a very wide geographic distribution — come for similar reasons. That respect for the Mass and that reverence, it is just a wonderful situation.”
Grahek said that her children came to appreciate the solemnity of the Mass quickly. “I think for my family and myself the liturgy is truly about the sacrifice, the consecration and the sacrifice we participate in every time we go to Mass.”
Kellene Goff is 29, the mother of four young children. Since she and her husband, Jared, moved to St. Louis County from Oregon two years ago, they have been attending Mass at the oratory.
“We went to the traditional Latin Mass in Oregon. We are converts; we converted about five or six years ago,” Goff said. “I was raised with a very conservative way of viewing religion in a Mennonite family. When we came into the Church, I was was looking for the most beautiful way to worship. For me it is the extraordinary form.
“We consider this our parish. And it has been one of the greatest communities. We came for the liturgy, but the community has been so supportive. When we moved here I was pregnant, and the community jumped in, bringing meals and being supportive. And Canon Wiener is a very good pastor. We are extremely happy there.”
Canon Wiener echoed Goff’s description of the Mass.
“This liturgy does not age. It is rooted in heaven, it is eternal,” he said. “This liturgy opens our hearts to receive the gifts of heaven.”
Overall, a very nice article. One note– the article states that the Ordinary Form “was to be celebrated in the vernacular”. That is a common misconception, but the Vatican II document on the Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) clearly indicated that Latin was to be retained in the Mass; for that matter, the rubrics of the new Mass also assume that the priest will celebrate ad orientem. But this is just a quibble. It is great to see such positive coverage in the Review, and the editor and writer deserve a lot of credit.