Source: The Washington Times
New Hampshire parish set to offer traditional Latin Mass
– Associated Press
Saturday, August 6, 2016
In this photo taken Thursday Aug. 4, 2016 the Saint Stanislaus parish in seen in Nashua, N.H. The newly-reopened Saint Stanislaus parish will celebrate its first Mass on Sunday, August 7, with Reverend John Brancich. The parish is set to become the first New England be dedicated to Latin Mass. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – When he arrived in Manchester nearly four years ago, Bishop Peter Libasci started getting letters from parishioners looking for a church that offered a traditional Latin Mass.
Few New Hampshire churches at the time offered the services, which date to the 15th century and had largely had been replaced since the 1960s by services in English, Spanish and French.
First, Libasci had a dozen priests trained to conduct Masses in Latin. Then, he went in search of a parish. He settled on St. Stanislaus in Nashua, which opened in 1908 to serve the Polish community but stopped holding mass after it was combined with St. Aloysius of Gonzaga parish in 2002. He recruited Rev. John Brancich, a member of the conservative Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, and the church will reopen Sunday – making it the first parish in New Hampshire dedicated to traditional Latin Mass.
Libasci said the Latin Mass appeals to “not only those looking for it but those who can be touched by it,” even if they’ve never seen it before.
“To withhold it would not be honest, it would not be true,” he said. “So this is a full expression of our whole treasury of prayer.”
Across New England, churches offer Latin services along with services in English and other languages. Some do Latin services occasionally, while a handful conduct them every Sunday. In a Latin Mass, everything except the homily and readings are in Latin and most of the hymns are sung in the language. As for the service, the priest faces in the same direction as the parishioners and also wears a ceremonial garment 7/8- known as a maniple- on his left forearm.
While still a tiny fraction of overall masses, Latin services have grown in recent years following the decree, Summorum Pontificum, from Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 that made it easier for bishops to offer Latin Masses.
That came on top of earlier guidance in 1980s from Pope John Paul II, who said priests could get permission from their bishop under limited circumstances to celebrate the rite. The guidance marked a shift from the early 1960s when Vatican II largely phased out Latin Masses under Pope John XXIII, with the goal of making Catholic traditions more relevant. Although it was opposed by more conservative forces in the church, it ushered in among other things English Mass.
“There is a conservative/traditionalist trend which is strong among younger clergy, but disliked among some older liberal clergy, which gained a lot of ground under Pope Benedict XVI to promote traditional liturgical practices,” said Father Anthony Ruff, an associate professor of theology at St. John’s University and School of Theology-Seminary in Minnesota who also has a liturgy blog called PrayTellBlog.com. “In general, it’s a very small group of people who want Latin Mass, but its adherents are very zealous about it, and it is growing.
The desire often overlaps with other conservative trends such as homeschooling, Ruff said, but some parishioners like it “for aesthetic reasons, or find it spiritually calming and beautiful and don’t necessarily have other attendant agendas.”
Monsignor Kevin Irwin, research professor at The Catholic University of America, said the Latin Mass – or Tridentine Mass – is one tool the Catholic Church is using to “bring back the groups that went away from the church after Vatican II.”
“It’s an act of trying to reconcile,” Irwin said. “It’s not liturgy in terms of style or pomp and circumstances. It’s wanting to make sure the church doesn’t break down.”
Over time, however, Latin Masses have become a personal preference for some, and people do in fact like the pomp and circumstance, Irwin said.
Sister Maureen Sullivan, professor emerita of theology at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, described Latin Masses as having a sense of grandeur, like a “medieval opera,” where the priest wears opulent vestments and altar boys carry the cape he is wearing while walking down the aisle.
“I would go to one if one was here, as a remembrance,” said Sullivan, who now lives in Maybrook, New York. “I would go because it would bring back memories.”
Libasci sees the desire for Latin Masses as a response to concerns of globalization, and a return to a time when Latin served as a unifying force for the church.
“Latin was the one language that everybody knew. When you go to church, you pray this way,” he said. “That has been lost.”