Old and New: Finding unity in the diversity of liturgical forms

Sung Mass in Latin in the extraordinary form to be offered Sept. 14 in Jefferson City


Something out of the ordinary will take place on Friday, Sept. 14, in St. Peter Church in Jefferson City.

Father Dylan Schrader, pastor of St. Brendan parish in Mexico, will offer Mass in the extraordinary form, sung in Latin, using the ritual form of 1962.

It will begin at 7 p.m. in the church, located at 216 Broadway St., near the State Capitol.

All are welcome to take part in this celebration. Worship aids will be provided.

Fr. Schrader is Bishop W. Shawn McKnight’s delegate for Mass in the extraordinary form.

Assisting the priest at the altar will be Father Anthony Gerber of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, serving as deacon, and Dominican Father Reginald Wolford, associate pastor of St. Thomas More Newman Center parish in Columbia, serving as sub-deacon.

Various laypeople of the Jefferson City diocese will assist with the sacred music and service at the altar.

The Mass intention will be for priestly vocations to the Diocese of Jefferson City.

In the spirit of the feastday (the Exaltation of the Holy Cross) and in response to Pope Francis’s ongoing call to bring Christ to the peripheries, a collection will be taken up for Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri.

To help the diocese prepare for this celebration, Fr. Schrader has written a series of three articles on the extraordinary liturgical form.

The first, which follows, explains the harmony of the ordinary and extraordinary expressions of the Roman Liturgy.

The second will highlight some key features of the extraordinary form in areas such as language, silence and posture.

The third will address some practical questions about how to participate in the extraordinary form.


Ever new

“Every form of authentic evangelization is always ‘new,’” Pope Francis tells us in “Evangelii gaudium,” his apostolic exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel.

Specifically, “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (“Evangelii gaudium,” n. 11).

With this message, Pope Francis articulates a profound feature of our Catholic faith: that God’s personal revelation in Jesus Christ is so rich as to be inexhaustible.

The Liturgy is a privileged place where the Church encounters Christ as the “beauty ever ancient, ever new” praised by St. Augustine.

Thus, from the earliest times, the Church has enjoyed a diversity of ritual expressions, with various sacred languages, gestures and ceremonial styles.

This diversity is not a sign of division but is instead a mark of the Church’s fecundity and universality.

As the Second Vatican Council said of the liturgical rites of the Eastern Churches, “in them, distinguished as they are for their venerable antiquity, there remains conspicuous the Tradition that has been handed down from the Apostles through the Fathers and that forms part of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church” (“Orientalium Ecclesiarum,” n. 1).

In this way, the Council recognized that a variety of sacred languages (e.g., ancient Aramaic and Greek) and ceremonies going back to the first centuries of Christianity is itself an expression of Catholic unity.

Diverse nations and cultures are truly “enlightened by one faith and united by one bond of charity,” as the priest prays in Preface II of the Holy Eucharist at Mass.

A single beam of white light produces a rainbow. So, too, can the same Catholic faith be expressed through a spectrum of ceremonial styles.


Extraordinary form

In 2007, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI turned his attention to a diversity of liturgical expression within the Latin Church.

In “Summorum Pontificum,” a personal edict (known as a motu proprio), he affirmed that the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church itself has multiple expressions, among which are an “ordinary form” (the way of celebrating Mass in its revised form following Vatican II) and an “extraordinary form” (the way of celebrating Mass in 1962, prior to Vatican II).

Pope Benedict saw these forms as different ways of celebrating the same faith.

The way of praying the Mass that nourished saints of centuries past can still nourish us today. We can experience its newness by recovering aspects of our tradition.

“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful,” Pope Benedict reminds us in his letter accompanying “Summorum Pontificum.”

“It behooves all of us,” he continued, “to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”

Today, many of the faithful, including many young people, are interested in experiencing traditional elements of the Roman Rite, such as those highlighted in the extraordinary form.

This is not a desire for division, nor is it a rejection of legitimate developments but is instead an appreciation of our Roman liturgical heritage.

“There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal,” Pope Benedict stated. “In the history of the Liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.”

The celebration on Sept. 14 will be an opportunity for old and young, for those who are familiar with the extraordinary form and for those who are taking part in it for the first time, to pray the Mass together and draw from our Catholic treasury “what is old and what is new” (Matthew 13:52).

In the next article in this series, we will look at specific features of the extraordinary form, including the Latin language, silence and posture.