The first thing a visitor may notice at the 11:30 a.m. Sunday Mass at St. Augustine is the silence, said Father Bryan Pedersen, associate pastor of the South St. Paul parish. At that time each week, the parish celebrates the Tridentine Mass, the Latin-language liturgy that predates the Second Vatican Council.
“The church is pregnant with silence during the eucharistic prayer. There is an expectation of the mystery of the consecration and transubstantiation,” he said.
About 350 people from across the state and Wisconsin and North Dakota attend the Mass, said Father John Echert, who has been pastor of St. Augustine for the past two and a half years and has celebrated the Tridentine Mass there for five years.
Father Echert and Father Pedersen have a deep love of the Tridentine rite, which was effectively replaced by the new Roman Missal in 1970. In 1984, Pope John Paul II granted an indult, allowing the Tridentine rite to be used if the local bishop gave his permission.
The new directive issued July 7 by Pope Benedict XVI gives priests the freedom to celebrate the Mass beginning Sept. 14 without asking for special permission.
Father Echert will begin offering two weekday Tridentine Masses beginning in September.
“We are one of only three indult parishes in the state of Minnesota, so people travel from other dioceses and from great distances to be here,” he said. “I think this will raise awareness among Catholics that the traditional form of the Mass exists, that it is available to them, and I expect our numbers to increase.”
For the past eight years, John and Teri Dick and their seven children have traveled 45 minutes from Buffalo, where they are members of St. Francis Xavier, to attend the Tridentine Mass at St. Augustine about three out of four weeks each month.
“The Tridentine Mass is more reverent,” said John. “We just felt that it was something that was worthwhile to make that long of a drive. . . . Having something that’s closer would be really nice.”
Although Father Echert expects other parishes to make the Mass available, he said it will take time to train new priests to properly preside at the Mass, which has detailed instructions about prayers and physical movements. It also requires proficiency in Latin, and seminarians will need to be sufficiently trained, Father Echert said.
About six other priests help serve the Mass at St. Augustine, which has about 650 households, most of which do not attend the Tridentine Masses, Father Pederson said.
Dominican Sister Dominica Brennan, chancellor for canonical affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said the pope’s document and accompanying letter, do not require priests to learn Latin or the rubrics required for the old Mass.
“The word used very specifically by the Holy Father is ‘extraordinary.’ This definitely implies that it will be unusual to have this rite,” Sister Dominica said in a written response to questions from The Catholic Spirit. “The seminary may or may not offer instruction in this area. But there is no requirement that they do so.”
There have been only two or three requests in the past 15 years for an additional Tridentine Mass, she said.
Father Andrew Cozzens, theology instructor and worship director at St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, said that seminary leaders have not discussed adding classes or instructors regarding Tridentine Masses, nor has the archbishop directed the seminary to do so.
Although Pope Benedict said in his apostolic exhortation “On the Eucharist” that he wants future priests to understand and celebrate Mass in Latin, he did not specify the Tridentine Mass, Father Cozzens said. Based on that document, the seminary will occasionally celebrate the “Novos Ordo” Mass in Latin, which is different than the Tridentine Mass.
“As for the future of the Tridentine Mass, my guess is it would be based on how great the pastoral need is, and at this point I don’t see a large groundswell,” he said. In addition, he said, the archdiocesan pastoral needs lean in another direction.
“We have a proven pastoral need for priests to say Mass in Spanish, and do pastoral care in Spanish,” he said. “That would be a much higher priority for us at the seminary,” Father Cozzens said.
Father Pederson said that besides local and long-distance parishioners, some old rite worshippers “float between the Society of St. Pius X and our church.”
The Society of St. Pius X, which is made up of priests who broke away from the church with the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre over the new Roman Missal and other issues, has a chapel in St. Paul.
“With the new ruling, there is hope that those people and priests would return to the church,” he said.
Father Pederson said he fell in love with the Latin Mass while attending St. Agnes School and parish in St. Paul.
“In the old Mass, the silence can be deafening at times,” he said. “That is the reverential silence that exists in the old Mass.”
All of the eucharistic and consecration prayers are said in silence by the priest. In the new Mass, the eucharistic prayer and consecration is spoken or sung out loud.
Other differences he noted are:
• In the old rite, the epistle is read by an ordained minister at one side of the altar and the Gospel at another side, in Latin, although they may be read in the vernacular. In the new Mass, readings are proclaimed in the vernacular at the ambo by a lector, who may be a lay man or woman. The Gospel is still proclaimed by a priest or deacon.
• In the old rite, there are preparatory and penitential prayers at the foot of the altar that are not prayed in the new Mass.
• In the old Mass, the priest usually faces away from the people. The rite allows him to face them, although there would be a crucifix at the center of the altar.
• The old rite has a one-year calendar that uses the same yearly epistle and Gospel readings. The new Mass has a three-year cycle of Old Testament and Gospel readings. Catholic Spirit
Fashion mavens, take note. If you don't happen to have a handkerchief, a Kleenex, a pillbox or a Scarlett O'Hara hat for attendance at a Tridentine (1962) Latin Mass, it is perfectly acceptable to whip a chapel veil out of your purse and use that as a substitute. Stella Borealis fashion and NASCAR editor, Cathy of Alex, informs us that she prefers black for her chapel veils. Cathy, who is away on a NASCAR road trip, was not available for a photograph, so we hired some local models to show interested folks what they look like: