Catholic New World: Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago

Greater use of Tridentine Mass may
‘promote unity’

By Kristin Peterson
Staff Writer

In an effort to promote unity in the church, Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic letter July 7 allowing for greater use of the Tridentine Mass, the traditional Latin rite that predates the Second Vatican Council.

The pope’s letter, “Summorum Pontificum,” said the Tridentine Mass should be made available to those who desire it. Previously, parishes had to seek an indult, or permission from the bishop, before the Tridentine Mass could be celebrated.

In the Archdiocese of Chicago, where the Tridentine Mass is already celebrated at several sites, this letter will not have a huge impact, but it may “erase any suspicion that people may have” about the Tridentine Mass, said Cristina Borges, the development director for the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

“Vatican II never forbade this Mass,” she explained. Borges hopes that more Catholics will explore the Tridentine Mass.

Pope Benedict was careful to emphasize in the letter that the Tridentine Mass would not replace the new Mass as the main form of worship.

The new Roman Missal, published in 1970, will remain the “ordinary form” of the Mass, while the 1962 Missal will be the “extraordinary form.” These two versions are not two separate rites. “It is a matter of a twofold use of the one and same rite,” Pope Benedict wrote.

Todd Williamson, director of the Office for Divine Worship in the Archdiocese of Chicago, explained, “neither [form of the rite] is better than the other, and they will both coexist as two forms of the one rite.”

Williamson said that the impact of this apostolic letter still remains to be seen, but he thinks the pope is trying to promote reconciliation.

“At the heart of it, the pope is making a overture of reconciliation, primarily for those who the Second Vatican Council led to a break with the church, and also for those who have stayed in communion but have felt somewhat alienated in the last 40 years,” Williamson said.

In the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Tridentine Mass is already offered at four parishes and a shrine.

If there is an interest in Tridentine Masses being offered at other parishes, Williamson said a preparation program would need to be set up to train the priests.

St. John Cantius Parish and the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest both host Tridentine Masses, but the priests at these two sites are trained in how to celebrate the Mass through their religious institutes.

People attend the Tridentine Mass for various reasons. Borges said that at the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, which opened just a few years ago, the parishioners find the Tridentine Mass to be more focused on prayer. “The people are seeking a worship service where they can really concentrate on prayer and God,” she said.

St. Peter’s Church in Volo began a Tridentine Mass around nine years ago, said Oblate Father Donald Dietz, the parish administrator. Dietz said the number of people attending that Mass grew in the first few years and has remained steady. Those who attend this Mass “like the silence of it and the ancient Latin,” he said. Priests from St. John Cantius come to St. Peter’s to celebrate the Tridentine Mass.

Bob and Sara Nardo, a young couple in their 20s, first attended a Tridentine Mass when they lived on the east coast. When they moved to Chicago, they found that the Shrine of Christ the King was located in their neighborhood, and they began to attend Mass there.

Sara Nardo, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, said the Tridentine Mass helped her stay focused in church. “The minute you step into the church you can’t help but recognize that you are in a sacred space,” she said.

She also learned what it means to truly participate in the Mass. “It taught me what it means to pray the Mass, rather than just observe it,” she said. Bob Nardo, a school administrator, enjoys the Tridentine Mass because of its rich history. “The traditional Latin Mass is a solemn and beautiful Mass,” he said. “You really feel that you are stepping into the Mass that has been said for centuries.” He also recognizes that in both the ordinary and the extraordinary forms of the Mass, “the consecration—the heart of the Mass—is the same.”

Linda Kletke attended the traditional Latin Mass as a child in the 1960s at the now closed St. George Parish in Armour Square. She began attending Tridentine Mass at the Shrine of Christ the King about a year ago.

Kletke enjoys the Tridentine Mass for more than just the worship style. “The ritual is very beautiful but more importantly to me [the Tridentine Mass] seems to speak to the justice between us and God,” she said. Kletke said the Tridentine Mass is an eternal Mass that celebrates the sacrifice of Jesus and how this sacrifice reconciles us with God.

Kletke does not view the Tridentine Mass as old or outdated. “Some people consider it old and dead. It’s not old,” she said. “You can’t apply time to spiritual things. They are eternal.”

To read the full text of the apostolic letter, “Summorum Pontificum,” visit the Vatican Website

Latin Masses
in the Archdiocese of Chicago

Latin Masses are regularly celebrated at several locations in the archdiocese each Sunday, including:

  • St. John Cantius, 825 N. Carpenter. (312) 243- 7373. 11 a.m. Novus Ordo (post-Vatican II rite, in Latin); 7:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. Tridentine.
  • St. John Vianney, 46 N. Wolf Road, Northlake, (708) 562-0500. 10 a.m. Tridentine in the downstairs chapel.
  • St. Peter, 27570 Volo Village Road, Volo, (815) 385-5496. 12:15 p.m. Tridentine.
  • St. Thomas More, 2825 W. 81st St., (773) 436- 4444. Noon Tridentine.
  • Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, 6401 S.Woodlawn Ave., (773) 363-7409. 8, 10 a.m., traditional Latin Mass (1962).

At a glance: Differences between the Tridentine Mass
and the Mass said today

Basic differences between the Tridentine Mass, promulgated in 1570 and last revised in 1962, and the Roman Missal published in 1969 in response to the reforms called for by the Second Vatican Council:

  • While Latin is the original language of both liturgical texts, the new missal permits use of the vernacular language; because it called for full, active participation, the use of a local congregation’s language became customary.
  • With the exception of readings for the feast days of individual saints, the Tridentine Mass has a one-year cycle of Scripture readings. The Vatican II liturgy has a three-year cycle for Sunday readings and a two-year cycle for weekday readings, and includes more of the Bible.
  • The old penitential “prayers at the foot of the altar,” recited by priests and other ministers before Mass, were replaced by the penitential rite within the Mass, recited by the entire congregation.
  • In the Tridentine Mass, the first half of the liturgy was called the Mass of the Catechumens and almost always included a reading from one of the New Testament epistles and from one of the four Gospels. The new Liturgy of the Word, in accordance with ancient church tradition, almost always begins with a passage from the Old Testament.
  • The Liturgy of the Eucharist, formerly called the Mass of the Faithful, begins with the preparation of the gifts. The old offertory prayers were revised in the new liturgy to avoid what some people saw as a duplication of the eucharistic prayers.
  • Instead of one eucharistic prayer, there are now nine four for general Sunday and weekday use, two for Masses focusing on reconciliation and three for Masses for children.
  • In the new Mass, the Communion rite was simplified, allowing communicants to receive the Eucharist under the forms of both bread and wine.
  • The new Mass eliminated the recitation at the end of every Mass of what was known as the “last Gospel” the beginning of the Gospel of St. John.
  • A priest celebrated the Tridentine Mass facing east, which given the layout of most churches meant he celebrated with his back to the congregation. Since the promulgation of the Roman Missal, the priest normally faces the congregation.