One of the most impressive bloggers on religious matters, R.C. division, is Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, the Italy-based author of What Does The Prayer Really Say? and an articulate advocate for the more widespread use of the traditional Western liturgy (sometimes referred to as the Extraordinary Rite, but probably still most commonly known as the Tridentine Rite). Fr. Z is visiting New York, and was celebrant and homilist at a traditional Mass this morning at Holy Innocents Church on West 37th Street. A small choir contributed a stunning rendition of a Renaissance Mass setting by Cristóbal de Morales, to which the homilist made reference. Don’t let anyone tell you that music in the liturgy is mere ornamentation, or a distraction, Fr. Z said; it is prayer. Between the Morales parts of the Ordinary and the familiar Gregorian version of the Credo, this service made a strong case for his assertion. (Coincidentally, today’s 8 A.M. Eucharist at St. John the Divine Episcopal Cathedral demonstrated that the exact opposite approach can also be spot-on: It was a simple, moving, and lovely service with absolutely no music at all. One can reach the numinous where people are “making a joyful noise,” but also where there is just the “still small voice.”)
This being a Labor Day weekend, the congregation at Holy Innocents was somewhat sparse — some 30-35 people. But Fr. Z will be the celebrant and homilist next Sunday as well, at 10 A.M. (with a Mass setting by Ockeghem). I recommend it to visitors who will be here next weekend, and to New Yorkers who want to experience a beautiful liturgy (and meet an exceptionally personable and intelligent clergyman!). A further note for New Yorkers who are Traditionalist Catholics, and for others who are interested in Traditional Catholicism: The Tridentine Rite is celebrated every day at Holy Innocents Church: 6 P.M. on weekdays, 1 P.M. on Saturday, 10 A.M. on Sunday.