A plea for the promotion of the Tridentine Rite

by Michael Houser

Holy Week this year found me and several of my friends making several long trips from Steubenville to Pittsburgh, to attend the Holy Week and Easter liturgies celebrated in the Tridentine Rite. As usual, many of our friends and acquaintances probably perceived us as opposed to Vatican II and all that the Holy Spirit has done in the Church since then, especially at Steubenville. However, I speak at least for myself when I say that my attendance at the Tridentine Mass (codified by St. Pius V in 1570) is not born of an opposition to authentic renewal in the Church, nor of a hopeless nostalgia for a time I don’t even remember, nor of a simple reaction to some of the liturgical irregularities which many students complain of in campus Masses. I attend the Tridentine Mass because I believe it to be an inestimably valuable part of our Catholic heritage, which is still capable of allowing the faithful to enter deeply into the Heavenly mysteries. And I am furthermore of the opinion of those, like Cardinal Ratzinger and Fr. Aidan Nichols, who feel that the liturgical reforms made after the Council have at times not achieved their desired effects, and that a “reform of the Reform” will not occur without a rediscovery of the richness of the Tridentine Mass. John Paul II implied as much in a statement to the Congregation of Divine Worship last September: “The people of God need to see in the priests and deacons a behavior full of reverence and dignity, capable of helping them penetrate the invisible things, even without many words and explanations. In the Roman Missal of St. Pius V, as in many Eastern Liturgies, there are very beautiful prayers with which the priests express the most profound sense of humility and reverence before the Holy Mysteries, the prayers revealing the “Substance Itself of each Liturgy.” The same Holy Father asked in his well known letter “Ecclesia Dei” for “a wide and generous application” of the norms permitting the use of the Old Missal. For various reasons that I hope to delve into in a forthcoming article, it seems to me that the promotion of the Tridentine Rite is something which will indeed facilitate the new springtime of evangelization, and of which its supporters should not be ashamed.

Michael Houser, FUS junior and Concourse Contributing Editor