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September 29, 2008

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Extraordinary form of Mass alive and well

By Cleveland V. Stordy

Pope Benedict XVI has been encouraging the offering of the Mass in the older form, from the 1962 Missal. That's certainly happening in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, where the Mass is being offered in its "extraordinary form" regularly in three parishes.

Benjami Laggui / Special to The B.C. Catholic
Holy Family Church is now the new formal home for the Latin Mass. The inaugural Mass was offered on the Feast of the Precious Blood by pastor Father Erik Deprey, FSSP (centre). The deacon was Father William Ashley (right), a long-time friend and supporter of the Vancouver traditional Catholic community; and the subdeacon was Father Daniel Geddes, FSSP (left), an assistant pastor at the parish.

First, the "extraordinary form" of the Mass has a new formal home at Holy Family Parish in Vancouver.

Archbishop Raymond Roussin, SM, named the parish the official home for the Latin Mass earlier this year. The parish will be administered by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter for the next five years. There are two Fraternity priests in the archdiocese.

The older form of the Mass in Latin is also being offered at St. Ann's Parish in Abbotsford.

Several other priests and parishes have also expressed interest in using the extraordinary form. Father John Horgan, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Vancouver, has offered the Mass using the 1962 form several times in the last year.

One of these occasions was requested by family members of the late U.S. political columnist William F. Buckley Jr., who died in February. Buckley, a devout Catholic, had been a great promoter of the "traditional Mass," so his family thought it appropriate for a memorial Mass offered in Vancouver.

Over 125 friends and parishioners participated in the late June Mass, which included some music under the direction of Mark Donnelly, a brother of St. Jude's pastor Father Lawrence Donnelly. A choir director at Holy Family Parish, he is known for singing in the chorus of Vancouver Opera and for singing national anthems at Vancouver Canucks hockey games.

Father Dominic Carey, the superior of the Society of Saint John in Paraguay, recently visited Sts. Peter and Paul Parish and offered the Mass in the older form for a week; each day more and more parishioners attended, some using old Latin-English missals for the first time in their lives.

Father Carey, who grew up in Vancouver and attended the Seminary of Christ the King at Mission, belongs to a new priestly institute that offers the Mass in both the 1962 and current forms. He has just received his doctorate in liturgy from the Benedictine university in Rome and is now teaching at a diocesan seminary in Paraguay.

Father Horgan believes that the two forms of the Mass can be mutually enriching, as Pope Benedict wrote in his letter to bishops of July 7, 2007.

Father Horgan has had a personal indult (permission) since 1989 to use the older form for Mass. He explained that its prayers and ritual gestures can be a powerful aid to the "active participation" requested by the Second Vatican Council.

"Active participation is first a thing of the mind and heart," Father Horgan said. "We have to be more deeply united to the saving action of Jesus in His Paschal Mystery. The reverent awe which characterizes the extraordinary form is a powerful aid to disposing our souls to return `love for love.'"

Some of the differences between the two forms of the Mass are readily apparent. In the 1962 form of the rite, Communion is only given on the tongue, by an ordained minister, to kneeling recipients, and Mass was usually offered with priest and people facing the Cross together on the same side of the altar.

This is sometimes referred to as the priest "having his back to the people," but scholars and devotees of the older form of Mass reject this language, pointing out that most people at Mass offered in its ordinary form have their backs to other participants.

Different Mass prayers and readings are also used.

Pope Benedict has said that the readings of the Mass in the 1962 form may now be read in the vernacular directly, without having first to be read in Latin. Further changes are foreseen, such as the insertion of some of the modern prefaces, new developments of the lectionary, and the inclusion of modern saints' feasts.

"The Pope does not see this form of the Roman Mass as a museum piece but as a living form of the Church's prayer," Father Horgan said. "Participation in this extraordinary form is not a sign of nostalgia for the past, but an appreciation of a rich expression of worship.

"His generous provision of this form of the Mass is not only an attempt to bring separated groups such as the Society of Saint Pius X back into the fullness of unity, but also to remind the whole Church that what was good, useful, and beautiful for 1,500 years is still a true and important part of the living Roman rite."

The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter has had two vocations from the Vancouver archdiocese: Fathers Philip Creurer and Joseph Orlowsky.

In addition Father Mark Bachman, OSB, of Our Lady of the Annunciation Parish in Clear Creek, Ok., a native of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish; and Brother Vianny Marie, OSB, from St. Ann's Parish in Abbotsford, are devotees of the older form of the Mass.

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