issue of August 24, 2007
Many Catholics ‘awed’
by Latin Mass celebrated on the
feast of the Assumption
BURLINGTON — “In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, Amen,”
the Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano, Bishop of Burlington, prayed in a loud, clear voice at the foot of the altar of St.
Joseph Co-Cathedral Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
And so began the first Latin Mass
celebrated in the Diocese of Burlington according to the rite of the 1962 Roman Missal since permission for the extraordinary
form was expanded by Pope Benedict XVI in his recent “motu proprio” apostolic letter, “Summorum Pontificum.”
is my fervent hope that through Mary’s intercession as patroness of our Diocese, we will experience a renewed and profound
appreciation for the presence of Jesus Christ, her Son, in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” Bishop
Matano said. “The extraordinary form of this evening’s celebration of the Mass has this very purpose: to be still
another opportunity to approach—in love, in humility and in fidelity—Jesus Christ, Our Savior.”
extraordinary form of the Mass will not be the norm for the celebration of Mass. The more common celebration of Holy Mass
according to the reform of 1970 and celebrated in the vernacular is the ordinary form. (See Bishop Matano’s letter on
People—young, old, and in-between—began filling the pews of the co-cathedral an hour before the
Mass was to begin. It is estimated that 1,000 people attended the feast day Mass. Many prayed the rosary privately as they
prepared themselves for Mass.
Some women wore mantillas, and some people carried their St. Joseph Missals. MaryJo
Blondin brought her 1958 missal to Mass with its Latin and English translation. She said her husband gave her the missal for
her birthday and that she treasures it.
Cathy Brown, a high school junior and parishioner at Christ the King Parish
in Rutland, traveled to Burlington with her sister, Bridget, to attend the extraordinary form of the Mass. “I’ve
always been interested in the traditional ways of the Church and as I’ve never been to a Latin Mass, I’ve wanted
to be here since I heard the bishop would be offering the Mass in Latin,” she said.
During his homily, the bishop
explained that “the multiple signs of the cross made by the celebrant over the oblation are powerful reminders of the
sacrificial nature of the Mass, calling down the blessing of God that the bread may be changed into the same sacrificial body
that hung on the cross, and the wine into the same sacrificial blood which was shed on the cross.”
signing with the cross also signifies the betrayal of Christ, even by those close to him, and the prayer of the Church that
Christ will no more be betrayed,” he said. “Thus on nine occasions throughout the Canon, the sign of the cross
is used to bring to our minds the passion and death of Our Lord in its various stages.” The ninth occasion consists
of the three signs of the cross at the commingling of the Sacred Body and Blood following the Pater Noster (Our Father) and
preceding the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) when the priest says: “Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum” (“May the peace
of the Lord be with you”). This moment represents the Lord’s resurrection on the third day and completes the representation
of Christ’s Passion.
The Canon—the Solemn Eucharistic Prayer—is recited silently to remind the congregation
that nothing can be added to the sacrificial act itself because it is Christ’s own action. “The faithful are present
before a sublime mystery to be accomplished by the priest who acts ‘in persona Christi.’ The priest has entered
into the Holy of Holies to pray and offer sacrifice for the whole Church,” the bishop explained. “Thus, Holy Mass,
whether in this extraordinary form or celebrated in the ordinary form, is the culmination of our lives lived with the crucified
and risen Christ. Christ and Christ alone becomes our standard as we make our way through this life. United with Christ in
that upper room to again hear those words ‘This is my body,’ ‘This is my blood,’ standing with Mary
at the foot of the cross to see His total sacrifice on our behalf, and running to the tomb to behold Him Who has risen, how
can we not join with Mary and cry out: ‘Fiat—Thy will be done!’”
The Vermont Gregorian Chant
Schola, under the direction of Dr. William Tortolano, sang all the parts of the Mass including the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus
and Agnus Dei. The schola also chanted texts particular to the Feast of the Assumption.
At Communion, the faithful
in great numbers knelt along the steps of the sanctuary to receive Holy Communion.
At the end of Mass, people were
in awe, repeating, “That was beautiful” or “Awesome.”
Jane Jacobson, a St. Joseph Co-Cathedral
parishioner, said she attended the Mass because her heritage goes back to the days of Cathedral Elementary School in Burlington
and to Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington “where I attended Mass every day—in Latin.” She said
she raced to get ready to get to the church because she had seen local television reports of the co-cathedral filling up,
and she wanted to arrive, in time.
Although some members of the congregation attended simply because it was a holy
day of obligation, others were moved by the Latin Mass.
High school student Cathy Brown of Rutland said afterward,
“Mass was beautiful. The consecration exceeded my expectations. It was what I was hoping for— beautiful, sacred.”
Allbee, a parishioner of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Winooski, said it was a piece of Church tradition that he hadn’t
experienced, not having grown up with it. “It was new for me,” he said.” I certainly studied the history
of the Church but to experience it was totally different. I had a hard time praying at Mass because I was watching so carefully.
I would attend again, but I would find myself at home in the ordinary rite.”
Following Mass, Tortolano said that
the Mass was “inspirational—great bishop, great men on the altar, great singing. Truly inspirational.”
and Ginny Philbin of Quechee agreed that it was difficult to express in words the deep joy and gratitude they experienced
at the “Tridentine” Mass. “There were moments when it seemed as if the ceiling was opened and all of the
Church triumphant was praying with us.”
Celeste Hahn, a St. Joseph Co-Cathedral parishioner, told the VCT that
she grew up with the Latin Mass. “I love the Mass—Latin or English,” she said. “I love the Church.
It really doesn’t matter to me.”