Sung Mass in extraordinary form draws 250 to Jefferson City


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There is a large framed image hanging in the St. Peter Parish Life Center, of the late Monsignor Joseph Vogelweid offering Mass in St. Peter Church.

Large letters under the photo spell out “Sacrifice.”

It depicts what was probably one of the last Masses prayed in Latin in that church using the revised 1962 Missal.

Until now.

The evening of Friday, Sept. 14, Father Dylan Schrader, pastor of St. Brendan parish in Mexico, offered a sung Mass in Latin in the extraordinary form for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

It was the 11th anniversary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter that allows priests of the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate Mass using the form that was in force prior to the reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

Pope Benedict reiterated the enduring value of celebrating Mass in the older form: “What was sacred and great for our ancestors remains sacred and great for us.”

Today, the Mass is ordinarily celebrated according to the New Missal, in the vernacular.

Celebrating the Mass according to the 1962 Missal, in Latin is therefore known as the extraordinary form.

Fr. Schrader is Bishop W. Shawn McKnight’s episcopal delegate for Mass in the extraordinary form in this diocese. The bishop authorized him several months ago to offer the sung Mass in the extraordinary form.

Because Bishop McKnight wanted to attend but was out of the country, Monsignor Robert A. Kurwicki, vicar general of the Jefferson City diocese attended the Sept. 14 Mass on his behalf.

About 250 people attended.

Father Anthony Gerber, pastor of St. Theodore parish in Wentzville in the St. Louis archdiocese, served as deacon for the Mass.

Dominican Father Reginald Wolford, associate pastor of St. Thomas More Newman Center parish in Columbia, served as subdeacon.

A schola made up mostly of people from the diocese led the congregants in chanting the responses and the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass, which were printed in Latin and English in a worship aid.

Michael Kramer directed the schola, accompanied by organist Thomas Halpin, director of sacred music for Cathedral of St. Joseph parish in Jefferson City.

The prayer intention for the Mass was for priestly vocations in the diocese.


“How can we do less?”

In his homily, Fr. Schrader tied the Exultation of the Cross to the mix of emotions some may have been feeling during this experience of the Mass that may seem strange or unfamiliar.

“Some present here are intimately familiar with the older form,” he said. “Others of us are coming for the first time. We may feel right at home. We may feel overwhelmed. We may feel like we have been caught up into the liturgy of heaven and are encountering the transcendence of God. We may feel totally lost, bored or confused.”

He drew a parallel to the mystery and great paradox of Jesus overcoming the utter humiliation of the cross by making it the tool for our redemption.

“The mystery of the cross is precisely that evil does not have the last word,” said Fr. Schrader. “From the greatest evil ever perpetrated — the murder of God, the death of Life Himself — has sprung the greatest good. But the narrow path leads through Calvary, and there is no way around it.”

He asserted that if Christ, Who Himself is the way to God, embraced the Cross: “Can we, His Church, do any less?”

Fr. Schrader acknowledged that the Church is undergoing a painful time of purification.

“As light begins to shine deep into the darkness, let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, which means keeping them fixed on the cross,” he said. “Better to suffer evil than to commit it! Better to follow Christ into the deep than enjoy the comfort of worldly success! Better to be faithful to our King in His Passion than ever to compromise with the prince of this world!”


Unfathomable mystery

The people contributed about $800 at the Offertory, which went to Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri.

Fr. Schrader said he was proud of all the volunteers, including the schola members, those who served at the altar, those who helped serve the food at the reception after Mass, and all the others.

Having studied the history of the Mass in the extraordinary form, he noted that it contains many intriguing subtleties rooted in Church antiquity.

For instance, through part of a Solemn High Mass, the subdeacon holds under a veil the gold plate upon which the Most Blessed Sacrament will be placed during the consecration.

This hearkens back to a time when at a bishop’s Mass, especially the Pope’s, a minister would take a fragment of the Eucharist to other nearby churches to mingle the fragment with the Eucharist being celebrated there in order to symbolize the unity of the whole Church.

There are also many parallels with the Mass as it is commonly celebrated today.

“You can really see, if you study both forms, the new is a simplified version of the old form,” said Fr. Schrader. “It also has some restorations of some of the more ancient practices. But the structure of both is very much the same.”

He noted that whether or not a person can understand and follow all of the words of the prayers at Mass, “we can never fully grasp the mystery of it.”

“But the Church does want people to reflect and go deeper and deeper into it,” he said.