In the last few years, the Holy Father has addressed himself to the continuation of the Usus Antiquior or older form of our Rite of Mass, the Roman Rite. The form of Mass that existed for centuries prior to the 1960’s aftermath of the Second Vatican Council’s initiation of liturgical reform was in development at various stages for 1,500 years and was codified in 1570 and known variously as the “Tridentine Mass” (after the Council of Trent in the 16th century “Concilium Tridentina”) or simply as the “old Latin Mass.” The use of the Latin language is only one part of its celebration along with Gregorian Chant and other classic sacred music, the use of incense in its solemn form, and the literal orientation of the altar and the priest and people: facing liturgical ( if not geographical) East. This is the Mass most of us who grew up in the early 1960’s and before knew and attended. It was also the Mass brought by the missionaries to the New World, Africa, and Asia and survived at great cost in lands where the Faith was persecuted. Of course, the preaching was, and is, in the vernacular, in our case, English.
The Pope has in two recent documents made it plain that this “Extraordinary Form” of the Roman Rite is not only to be allowed to continue but also to be fostered and made available on a reasonable, open and respectable basis as a legitimate form of the Catholic Church’s worship once more where possible.
The “Ordinary Form” of the Mass (often called the “New Mass” or the Mass of Paul VI in English) is as the name implies the usual form of the Mass we celebrate and will itself be revised and enriched this coming Advent with newly rendered English texts.
However, as you know St. Matthew’s has had for several years now a tradition of offering one Sunday Mass, at first in the Ordinary Form in Latin, and then beginning in 2007 in the Extraordinary Form at 9 am in the Chapel; as well as one Holiday of Obligation Mass in the church at 10:30 am.
The Holy Father has clearly expressed a desire that this precious heritage of the Church not disappear, but rather be cherished and celebrated more widely.
So, as a special occasion, on Sunday, June 26th the Feast of Corpus Christi or of “The Body and Blood of the Lord”, the 12:15 Mass will be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form as a Missa Cantata or “High Mass” and followed by a Eucharistic Procession and Benediction. This Feast was one of the great features of Catholic life for so many years and sadly has often fallen into neglect. Our Parish Choir will be joining forces with the Tridentine Scholas, as well as guest singers and musicians for a High Mass that on this beautiful feast we may render praise and love to the Lord in His gift of the Blessed Sacrament in a truly extraordinary way and in the very words Saint Thomas Aquinas and so many other Saints and faithful Catholics have used for centuries.
Mass booklets will be provided so that all present may follow the Latin words and prayers in an English translation.