Should the Basilica Offer Latin Mass?

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.

3 thoughts on “Should the Basilica Offer Latin Mass?

  1. They also changed the liturgical music from Latin Gregorian chants to willy wonka and the chocolate factory themed music. You students would be best to engage the Society of St. Piux X (SSPX) and invite them to offer mass somewhere on campus. Even Poland, who was traditionally conservation post vatican 2 Catholics are opening up SSPX chapels at an alarming rate across the country of Poland because they no longer trust the ecclesiastical structure who hates the mass that they are supposed to protect. There is an explosion of individuals, families and communities inviting the SSPX and SSPV into their communities because they can’t stand these liberal, progressive, worldly prelates (i.e. cardinals, bishops, priests) who push agendas of homosexuality, transgender, and everything that is evil and secular in the world.

    Reclaim your Latin Romain Rite Birthright. Fight for your Latin Roman Rite liturgy. When you greet your catholic brothers, you should say “Dominus Vobiscum” and they should respond “Et Cum Spiritu tuo” . Engage and work with each other.

    The vatican is losing the German Church because they are so worldly (supporting LGBTQ+ and other progressive issues) and they are losing the conservative traditional catholics, – soon the vatican will have no followers and they will be an empty church filled with men who never stood for their own religion.

  2. You mention in your article:

    ” Latin Mass has a similar style to English Mass, except for a few differences.”

    This is entirely false, the Vatican 2 council in 1969 carpet bombed the Latin Roman Rite Liturgy. It is safe to say there are no correlations between the two based on the changes they made. The Latin Roman Rite church leadership (Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and Priests) during 1964 – 1969 destroyed the Latin Mass. It was a select few who hijacked the council but they changed everything from customs, devotions, novenas, liturgical calendar, missal, feasts days, dress code, altar arrangments, architecture customs lifestyles.

    Its pathetic. Please do more research.

    Also, they should absolutely offer Latin Mass and Gregory Milton can go to hell.

  3. Thank you for your observations on this important matter. Church leaders should be keenly aware of the needs of our young people and being able to offer this liturgy is an important consideration for church leadership.

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