Latin Mass returns to US Largest Basilica- Deo Gratias!

The Old Mass Returns

For the first time in 40 years, the old Latin Mass will be celebrated in the largest Catholic Church in America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Time: 1 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, April 24, commemorating the 5th anniversary of the installation in 2005 of Pope Benedict XVI as Pope

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from America [resources: Inside the Vatican]


The old Mass

In a way, I find the use of the term "extraordinary form" to describe the "old Mass" a bit unfortunate.

Because, after all, it was so ordinary, that old Mass -- ordinary in the sense that it was celebrated every day, every weekday and every Sunday, for centuries, in the Roman Catholic Church.

Ordinary in that it was the Mass of Newman, and Chesterton, and Pius X, and John XXIII, and of all those millions who came before us.

Why should the celebration of that old Mass, the Tridentine Mass, be considered something unusual, something astonishing, something arousing wonder, as if it were "extraordinary."

Why not just call it "ordinary?

For really, it is just the old, ordinary Mass, which our fathers and mothers attended -- the place and time where they asked forgiveness for their sins, and praised God for His holiness, and encountered Christ in the consecration, and entered into a type of real union with Christ through the mystery of communion.

But today we are astonished that the extraordinary rite of the Mass is celebrated, because it has become so rare.

For 40 years, it has been virtually banned, and only in 2007, with his much-discussed -- and  much-opposed -- motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, did Benedict XVI make clear to the Church that this Mass was truly, in some profound way, ordinary, even if he called it "extraordinary."

Ordinary, because legitimate.

Not banned, not despised, not condemned. Accepted, embraced, even honored.

Hence... extraordinary.

And, in fact, he was right: it is extraordinary.

It is extraordinary because it is rooted so deep in our tradition that it goes back even beyond Jesus, to speak to us in the moving, unforgettable poetry of King David of Israel...

Extraordinary because it goes back even beyond Scripture, beyond the New Testament itself, as its prayers derive ultimately from the prayers of the first Christians, who prayed them even before the New Testament canon was set with certainty...

Extraordinary because it was the school of sanctity for countless saints, century after century, in every nation of the world...

"Introibo ad altare Dei" -- "I will go up to the altar of God" (the first words of the Mass)

Tomorrow, this Mass, ordinary and extraordinary, will return to the largest basilica in America, the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

It would be a shame if the Basilica were not filled for this Eucharist. If you are in the area of Washington, and can take the time out of your day to attend the Mass, it might be a moment when past and future intersect, when old prayers are heard once again as if new.

It might be, in fact, something extraordinary.

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