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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Today's Freep has a story about the Tridentine Mass.

Pretty good, except for the nonsense from Fr. Reese of America magazine at the end.

It pains me to point out that I was correct in my supposition that the struggling nature of the parish was a consideration in its selection.

What's also interesting is that offering traditional worship at Detroit inner city churches appears to be a very successful phenomenon across denominational boundaries:

"We're talking about saving some of the city's architectural jewels and keeping them alive as churches," said the Rev. David Eberhard at Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit, widely regarded by clergy in the city as a master of this strategy.
"When I started in 1980, we had 50 members with an average age of 80 and now we've got 1,700 with an average age of 36," Eberhard said Monday. "Our niche is traditional worship in a beautiful, historic setting, and people will drive a long way for that."
The Rev. Steven Kelly at St. John's Episcopal Church, near Comerica Park, said he is following Eberhard's example. St. John's offers a form of Episcopal liturgy that disappeared from most churches in 1979. "And, I've got people driving from Ann Arbor, Downriver and one young couple that even comes from Lansing every weekend," Kelly said.

Funny how that works.

At St. Josaphat's, the method of obtaining the implements for the Tridentine Mass has a melancholy feel:

On Monday, Borkowski displayed some of the ornate, gold-plated implements, including a chalice and a crucifix, that will be used in the mass.
"Some of these are a century old, and we found them packed away in drawers and cupboards," he said. All were damaged after decades of neglect and had to be repaired and replated.
"We're bringing in antique-looking vestments, too," he said. "We've done a lot of work to make sure that this looks authentic. This church was built a century ago for this kind of mass, and we want it to look that way again."
Soon, carpenters will refit the church's modern, wooden altar with casters so it can be wheeled away for the weekly Tridentine mass, providing worshippers with a clear view of the high altar along the front wall.
"I'm in charge of finding all the things necessary for this kind of mass, and some of the things are very hard to find -- strictly eBay and antique shop items now," said Borkowski. "Look at these."

Hmmm. "Now available in Religions/Spirituality and Collectibles: 'Catholic Tradition.' Search titles and description for that monstrance or ciborium you remember from your youth."

Now, to the ugly, courtesy of Fr. Reese:

Maida is among many bishops across the United States who have authorized a single parish to offer the older mass, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of America Magazine in New York City, a Catholic priest and an expert on the structure of the church.
The only thing that could spoil the venture at St. Josaphat is too much success, Reese said.
"When the pope authorized bishops to allow this mass in 1984, the idea was that this was a pastoral response to older people who still are so attached to this older mass that they need it," Reese said Monday. "The idea was never to create a new desire in people for this mass."

Your "idea," maybe. The Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles' "idea," to be sure. Certainly "the idea" of many tradition-hating iconoclasts currently holding the reins. But, unfortunately for the above, "the idea" is not found in either of the relevant indult documents, for 1984 or 1988. In fact, the author of the 1984 letter swatted down the notion that the Tridentine indult was a glorified seniors' discount:

"In recent times it has been affirmed that the allowances given for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass have been granted with the provision that only those who were familiar with the preceding forms of the Roman Liturgy would be allowed to benefit from those concessions.
During my time as President of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei' such limitation was never mentoned by the authorities involved. In this regard it should be mentioned that the Commission has used the faculty of erecting religious institutes which would benefit from the use the Roman Missal of 1962 and the other liturgical books in force at that time. Evidently it was understood that young recruits would be admitted to such communities and would benefit from all the concessions made to them. Hence one cannot speak of an age limit."

Apparently, "The Idea Memo" was not widely circulated outside of the feverish imaginations of the members of the Good Riddance To All That Commission.

Strange. Happens a lot, from what I can tell.

Maida's decision to allow it at St. Josaphat seems in keeping with the spirit of Vatican rules, Reese said. But, "It would be counterproductive if too many people turn this into a marketing strategy to fill churches. The idea behind allowing this mass was that it could help older people in the later stages of their lives. The hope is that this mass eventually will fade away."

Well, we can't have beautiful old churches thronged with happy worshippers now, can we? Might be revanchist to prevent more of our heritage from being converted into car dealerships and online auction fodder.

Might give poor Fr. stagefright to see a packed house outside of Christmas and Easter.

Might put a crimp on the eBay market for baldaccinos and put somebody out of work.

Worse, it might pose some difficult questions for"The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves" approach to liturgical "reform" that has been the standard for two generations. Lord knows, we can't have that.

"The hope is that this mass eventually will fade away."

You wish. You wish.

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