Traditional Latin Mass

St. Thomas Aquinas offers the unique opportunity for the faithful to participate in the Mass as it was celebrated in 1962.  The Traditional Latin Mass, also called by Pope Emeritus Benedict “The Extraordinary Form”.  

Some confusion sometime occurs as to what is being celebrated.  This form of the mass has been called the Tridentine Mass, The Mass of Saint John XXIII, the Traditional Mass, or simply the Latin Mass.  To call it simply the Latin Mass is very misleading, because even the Ordinary Form of the Mass can be celebrated all in Latin.     

When he promulgated his Motu Proprio, called Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict reminded the Church of the beauty that lies within her long history, as well as the truths of the faith to be found within her worship.  His desire by establishing an Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite was not to undo the reform of Vatican II, but rather a reform of the reform.  His desire, was not a competition of one form versus another, but rather a beautiful interplay, where the two equally valid forms of the one Latin Rite – one “Ordinary” and the other “Extraordinary” -- might inform one another and build up the Church identity as our understanding of the Church and her liturgy continues to develop.  In Pope Benedicts own words; 

“The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's Lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church's 'Lex credendi' (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.”

Bishop Bernard Hebda desired that both expressions of the Latin Rite might be celebrated in Gaylord.  We now have an amazing opportunity to embrace our heritage, to learn from centuries of wisdom and to grow in our faith.  Our desire as a parish is that we might continue to live the fullness of the life of Christ offered to us in and through our beloved Mother Church.  Remaining in the heart and mind of the Church requires of us a deep sense of humility, because through it we recognize that continued guidance of the Holy Spirit so lovingly promised to us by Our Lord.

A few things to know about the Extraordinary Form of the Mass:  First of all, the priest faces toward the east.  In Latin this is called Ad Orientem. Traditionally all the people and the priest faced together toward the east, the direction of the rising sun.  This practice arose out of the belief that the Son of God would return to us at the end of time out of the east.  Churches used to be built facing east.  In the case where this was not possible there developed a liturgical east.  Thus, in most cases the people and the priest would be facing together toward either the east of the liturgical east.  So it would be wrong to say that the priest had his back to the people.  The attitude of faith was not one of distancing himself from the people or turning his back on them, but rather that together all faced the same direction, that is toward the Lord.  The priest, who has been ordained by Christ to represent him faces God the Father together with the people and on behalf of the people as he offers up the saving sacrifice of Christ.    

Secondly, the Latin language, i.e. the Mother tongue of the Church, is used throughout the whole mass.  In the West the Latin Rite has only recently permitted the use of the vernacular and the Second Vatican Council states that the use of Latin is to be preserved.

Thirdly, Communion is received on the tongue, while kneeling.  These are practices that are still valid for the Ordinary Form of the mass as well.      




EXTRAORDINARY FORM LATIN MASS is offered every Sunday at 3:00pm at St. Thomas Aquinas in Elmira.


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August 03, 2013 - Extraordinary Form of Mass Held at original St. Mary Church in Gaylord Read Article

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