Ordination of more Latin Mass priests in St. Louis marks increase in liturgy’s popularity

08/08/2014 1:13 PM

08/08/2014 1:13 PM

When Pope Francis first appeared to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square without the short red cape known as a mozzetta, some Roman Catholics cried foul, worried the pope’s decision to forgo the more formal wear signaled a threat to traditional worship.

Specifically, they fretted over the fate of the Latin Mass, now in the hands of a papacy that seemed to shrug off pomp and circumstance.

But more than a year into Francis’ reign, the Tridentine Mass appears to be alive and well.

Decades after the Catholic Church moved away from celebrating Mass in Latin, a throwback movement is growing, in many cases with young people leading the charge. On Tuesday, four men were ordained to the priesthood at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, the St. Louis church known for its Latin liturgy.

The Mass marked only the second time members of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest have been ordained in the United States. The religious community, founded in Africa in 1990, regularly celebrates the old-style Mass.

The last set of U.S. ordinations to the institute was in 2007 and involved two welcomed into the priesthood. Four other men were ordained earlier this year in Italy, where the institute is based.

Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, one of the more devoted supporters of the old Latin rite among U.S. bishops, came in from Rome to lead the ordinations.

Mary Kraychy of the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, a nonprofit based in Glenview, Ill., that promotes the Latin Mass, said she’s seen a slow but steady rise in the practice, with more than 400 churches offering the liturgy.

Kraychy described it as a “youth movement,” with much of the enthusiasm for the rite espoused by those who are too young to remember the Second Vatican Council. In 1969, Pope Paul VI declared the church should perform Mass in the native language of parishioners, which led to the Tridentine Mass largely being replaced.

Three Kansas City-area churches offer Latin Masses, including Old St. Patrick Oratory at 806 Cherry St. and St. Vincent de Paul at 3106 Flora Ave. Most recently, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne at 5035 Rainbow Blvd. began offering the Mass.

“At this Mass I really understood the priesthood for the first time,” said Francis Altiere, 32, one of the four who prostrated themselves before the alter. “The primary reason for the beauty of our churches and liturgical ceremonies is to give glory to God, but it is also such a powerful means of evangelization.”

St. Francis de Sales Oratory loyalists say a combination of pacing and visual cues allow even those with little knowledge of Latin to follow the Mass.

Jim Kahre drives 40 minutes with his nine children from High Ridge to visit the church every Sunday.

“I almost get goose bumps,” said Kahre, who works in IT at an accounting firm. “I’d never seen anything like it until I came here.”

In the 1980s, after the switch to the vernacular, Pope John Paul II allowed priests to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass but only with the consent of local bishops. By 2007, however, Pope Benedict XVI had eased restrictions, giving churches the authority to celebrate the Mass without obtaining bishops’ permissions.

In 2011, Catholics in the English-speaking world were introduced to a new translation of the Mass that is said to more closely align with the original Latin.

KC MASSES IN LATIN

Three Kansas City-area churches offer Latin Masses, including Old St. Patrick Oratory at 806 Cherry St. and St. Vincent de Paul at 3106 Flora Ave. Most recently, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne at 5035 Rainbow Blvd. began offering the Mass.

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