Image Courtesy of Rorate Caeli
By Zachary Lichter
This is an independently submitted op-ed for our Quill section. Views and statements made in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Tower
On September 21, 2022, Cardinal Wilton Gregory limited the use of the Roman Missal, which means that most parishes stopped doing the Latin Mass, except for three parishes: Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, Chapel of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Forest Glen, Maryland, and the Mission Church of St. Dominic in Aquasco, Maryland. Gregory’s decision comes as Pope Francis decided to limit the use of the Roman Liturgy significantly. While Gregory decided to follow Pope Francis, his decision still upset a lot of students at CUA. According to CUA Polls, 44% of students have been to Latin Mass. 67% of students said they want a Latin Mass on campus, and 65% of students oppose efforts to limit the use of Latin Mass. Latin Mass was offered at St. Anthony of Padua Parish, which is close to campus.
Sophomore composing and philosophy major Elizabeth Rexine gave her comments.
“For me, it is a combination of many things. No matter what, if you go to a Latin Mass, it’s going to be extremely reverent,” Rexine said. With English Masses, I’ve been to many that are just as reverent, but it’s always a toss-up depending on the church or the priest. There is a consistency with the Latin Mass that you don’t get elsewhere. It’s just about the Mass and about worshiping God. I like that. As a music student, I also was able to connect the chant I was hearing to my music history class which was cool.”
Latin Mass is the original form of the Roman Catholic Mass dating back to the third and fourth centuries. Priests would say Mass in Latin up until 1969 when the Second Vatican Council decided that priests should say Mass in the language of the people. Latin Mass has a similar style to English Mass, except for a few differences. First of all, the priest bows with one knee at the altar. There is usually a deacon and subdeacon celebrating alongside the priest. Usually, after the procession, the priest sprinkles holy water on everyone in the pews. There are more chants during the Greeting while people are kneeling. As the Kyrie is happening, the priest kisses the altar and incenses the tabernacle. During some parts of the Mass, the priest, deacon, and subdeacon will wear a black hat called a biretta. During the Collect, the Epistle Reading (Reading from the New Testament) is usually read by the subdeacon. The deacon chants the Gospel, and the homily is said in English. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is done from the Roman Canon. The priest does it in silence as he stands facing the altar.
While students are either going to the Franciscan Monastery for Latin Mass or going to Mass in English, should the Latin Mass be offered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception? The Basilica is known as the “National Church of the United States” because it is the biggest church in the Western Hemisphere. It is a place where many popes have celebrated Mass when they come to visit Washington, D.C. It’s also a place where many dioceses come to make pilgrimages. Most importantly, it’s where many students on campus go to Mass.
Senior architecture major and theology minor Jared Jagiello gave his comments.
“The Basilica was designed for the Latin Mass. The architecture of the Shrine was designed to have a space for choir (there used to be choir stalls in the upper church chancel), space for an orchestra and choir to produce sacred music during mass, and the altar atop several steps, representing the temple mount, and the road to calvary,” Jagiello said. “The shrine is large to accommodate many people, which is good for latin mass- it is packed to the roof more often than not. The shrine also has fabulous acoustic properties, which is great for a priest intoning things like the preface, or for a choir singing the introit.”
While the Latin Mass is starting to become limited in the Archdiocese of Washington, students hope to keep the tradition of Latin Mass alive. Instead, they either go to the Franciscan Monastery or watch it online.