Several months ago I was asked if we could offer a special Mass in what is called the "Extraordinary Form," previously called, the Tridentine Mass or Latin Mass. After supportive consultation with various people and groups including our Archbishop, Chancellor, and the vicariate area priests, I decided to support and accommodate a quarterly Mass in the Extraordinary Form at Our Lady of the River. The first of these Masses will be on February 10th at 6 PM. Questions you might have likely deal with what, how, and why.
First, the Extraordinary Form is the Mass using the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962 by Pope John XXIII just prior to the Second Vatican Council and used during the council. The most notable aspects of this kind of Mass are the extensive use of Latin, the direction the priest faces when offering the Mass, the fewer amount of responses during the Mass, and the many rubrics which call for a complexity of ritual on the part of the priest and his altar servers(which requires special training). No priests in our Vicariate are sufficiently skilled to offer this form, so we have asked Fr. Adam Kotas, the pastor at St. Joseph's in Crescent City, to come to offer the Mass. While this Mass is officially within the parish boundaries of St. Anne's, I am very aware that this will draw people from around the Vicariate and beyond. This form of Mass looks and sounds different than the current Mass of the Second Vatican Council, which was promulgated by Pope Paul VI, called the "Novus Ordo" or New Order. The Novus Ordo is also called the "Ordinary Form" of Mass, which the Catholic Church offers most commonly in the vernacular language throughout the world. Both are of value to the Church, and both are valid Masses of the Roman Rite. Neither are superior or inferior to each other. Rather, the Novus Ordo is a continuation of development from previous expressions of the Mass, as is the Missal of 1962. Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter, Summorum Pontificum, dated July 2007, allowed the use of the Extraordinary Form in greater freedom in order to more broadly and generously offer the rituals which have nourished the faithful for centuries. He also did so in a reconciliatory way to bring back those who have felt disaffected by the Ordinary Form. My accommodation to allow this form of Mass is not intended to, nor in actuality should, detract from the authority of the Second Vatican Council.
Secondly, the question of how this will take place is important to its success. A small group of Catholics from our parish and the Vicariate have formed an organizational committee in order to make sure that each Mass in the Extraordinary Form is celebrated and organized well. Fr. Adam Kotas has agreed to offer these Masses, for which I am very grateful. The Masses are open to all interested. The scheduled dates are Feb. 10, April 28, Aug. 4, and Oct. 6, although they could change or be canceled based on Fr. Adam's availability. Any changes will be posted as soon as such knowledge becomes available. All of these Masses will be offered at 6 PM. Since these are Sunday celebrations, a collection will be taken up as usual. The funds will be the property of Our Lady of the River and used to pay for the expenses of having Fr. Adam offer the Mass as well as the operating budget of Our Lady of the River. Any normal Archdiocesan second collections will be offered as they normally would at any weekend Mass. After this first set of Masses, I will meet with the organizing committee to discuss how things went. These Masses validly fulfill the Sunday obligation for those attending. You can bring your own 1962 Missal if you like, though bilingual booklets will be offered for use at the Masses. These booklets are Fr. Adam's personal property, and therefore must be returned after the Mass.
Thirdly, why is this Mass being offered? Simply because a charitable request was made, and I believe that many of our faithful could benefit from it. It is my sincere hope that this quarterly Mass will help sow seeds of reconciliation while also broadening our sense of the variations of the Mass in our own Roman Rite of Catholicism. Any sentiments of antagonism about the Second Vatican Council or triumphalism about returning to the "true Mass" are unjustified and are counterproductive. I hope nobody will entertain such critiques. I share Pope Benedict's desire that the celebration of the Extraordinary Form be another way to express the broadness of liturgical expressions of our Church Universal. I believe that this quarterly Mass will complement and further help our faithful to more deeply appreciate the one Mass in both forms.
Finally, I trust that charity and humility will abound for all, for I know that we all appreciate different spiritualities which feed us. It is good to know that the Catholic Church is broad in her expressions of faith and liturgy. May this new-and-old encounter of our liturgical expression be the beginning of renewal and reconciliation from within our members and beyond the confines of St. Anne’s. May it lift up those who desire this form of Mass so as to vivify their faith and strengthen their resolve for harmony within our communities of the Southern Oregon Vicariate.
Fr. William Holtzinger