Recovering the Tridentine Mass

One of the most important religious developments of the last decade has been the rise in public interest in — and in official Vatican support for — the traditional Latin Eucharistic liturgy of the West. It may never become a majority movement even among conservative Roman Catholics, but it’s a sign that significant numbers of people are hungry for a greater reverence in public worship, and it may have an influence on liturgy more broadly. (Within Catholicism, it has even been suggested by a senior Vatican official that there might end up being a hybrid rite, combining the strengths of the old Mass and the post-Vatican II modern Mass.)

One common misconception about the Tridentine Rite (a misconception shared even by some of its supporters) is that it involves laymen purely as spectators of an action performed by a priest. Over at the Crisis website, Steve Skojec has an interesting essay about the participatory nature of that form of liturgy. To which I would add that there used to be, in Catholic parlance, the happy phrase “to assist at Mass” — which combined the sense of the French verb assister, “to attend,” with the common English sense of “assist” as in “help.” (Though even the passive-sounding English verb attend itself refers to a rather active form of hearing — the sound doesn’t just wash over us, we pay attention to it.)

Many thanks to a conservative Jesuit friend for pointing out the article. 

Michael Potemra — Michael Potemra was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1964, and spent his childhood years in Montreal, Canada. He received a B.A. in philosophy at the Catholic University of America. He ...