A reader was kind enough to email about the addition of an Ordinary Form Mass at St. Elizabeth of Hungary at 12:30pm on Sundays. At this Mass, the ordinary parts of the Mass will be prayed in Latin, while the propers will be in English. Below is the bulletin announcement in its entirety, followed by my comments:
Sunday Mass Schedule
Beginning August 7th, the Sunday Masses to be offered at St. Elizabeth will be at 8:00am, 10:30am, and 12:30pm. The 12:30pm Mass will be the same Mass of Vatican II with which all will be familiar, except parts will be in Latin and parts in English. The parts of the Mass which change each week will be in English (the proper prayers, the readings, and the prayers of the faithful), and the parts of the Mass that remain fixed each week will be in Latin (including the Eucharistic prayer and acclamations). A book will be provided so all may participate in the sung or recited Latin parts.
The last Sunday in which the 1:30pm
Extraordinary Form of the Mass will be offered will be Sunday, July 31st. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass is offered at St. Francis de Sales Church and the Oratory of St. Gregory and St. Augustine at St. Louis Abbey.
The 12:30pm Latin/English Mass is being offered at St. Elizabeth as a pastoral response to those who have inquired about the possibility of a Latin Mass here. The Mass will be offered for a period of time and will continue if there is sufficient interest and attendance.
1. There is a lot to say here. First of all, any time the Ordinary Form is celebrated as close to the rubrics and with as great a solemnity as possible, that is a good thing. If the OF is celebrated with more Latin, thus opening up the mother tongue of our faith to more Catholics, that is a positive. If this OF Mass is celebrated ad orientem (the bulletin announcement is completely silent about this), this is even better. Such an initiative is to be encouraged, and I personally pray that the many Catholics who prefer the Ordinary Form, but who are faced with the types of liturgical abuses which are all too common in many places, and who wish a more reverent liturgy, will assist at this Mass.
So I wish to emphasize before continuing, that I am grateful to the parish and the Archbishop for providing another such Ordinary Form, alongside the OF in Latin, ad orientem, currently regularly offered at St. Mary of Victories Parish. Thank you.
2. Now, that being said, the Ordinary Form is not the Extraordinary Form. Latin is not the key issue. Latin is used in the Extraordinary Form because that is what is prescribed for that form by the Church. The language, in and of itself, is not the issue. Certainly Latin is beautiful, elevated and due to its history and usage by the Church, extremely well-suited for the Mass. But the faithful who assist at the Extraordinary Form, with very few exceptions, are not motivated by Latin as much as they are with the fact that the EF is superior in its expression of the truth that both forms inherently contain. The prayers are more theologically precise and unambiguous; the rubrics diminish the personality of the priest and focus the attention on the sacrifice of the altar; there is greater opportunity for contemplation, meditation and reflection; and generally, they believe the reasons why this Form was the rite of Mass handed down over the course of 1,500 years and more as a priceless treasure continue to be just as true and relevant today.
To offer one form of Mass as a substitute for the other just because some Latin is used is to miss the point.
3. The bulletin announcement, which refers to the Ordinary Form as the “same Mass of Vatican II” is guilty of some irony, as it is actually historically inaccurate. The Mass of Vatican II was actually what is now referred to as the Extraordinary Form. Every Mass said by every priest, prelate and pope during the Council was the Extraordinary Form. No document of Vatican II called for the kind of Mass that was produced in 1969– four years after the council ended. The OF was not mandated by the Council at all. It was devised later, and not in conformity with any document issued by the Council.
4. It is good that the bulletin mentions that the EF is offered at other locations. But the OF in Latin is also offered in at least one other location. Just because the EF is offered elsewhere, or that the OF is more correctly celebrated elsewhere, doesn’t speak to whether the local parish should, can or will offer the particular form. Of course there may be reasons why it cannot be offered; I am just stating that pointing to another location does not, in itself, satisfy.
5. In charity, assuming the best of motives by the parish, the final paragraph of the announcement is troubling. To say that this Mass is a pastoral response to those who have inquired as to the possibility of a “Latin Mass” doesn’t quite do it. First of all, people have no doubt requested that the Extraordinary Form be offered– not a mere “Latin Mass”, though that term is sometimes used as a shorthand reference. Again, an OF Mass with Latin is a wonderful development, but it isn’t the proper pastoral response to a group that requests the EF. From the Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum:
Art. 5. § 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.