Tags: Religion | Latin | Mass | Catholic | rebirth | Easter | Holy Week

Young Catholics Drawn to 'Timeless' Worship of Latin Mass

By    |   Monday, 30 March 2015 09:02 PM

As Christians commemorate the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ during Holy Week, another extraordinary rebirth is taking place in Catholic parishes throughout the United States: The traditional Latin Mass is capturing the interest of churchgoers who weren't even alive during the Second Vatican Council, which ushered in the vernacular rite 50 years ago.

"For me, it was a heightened experience," Anthony Scillia, 32, of Saddle Brook, New Jersey, said of attending his first traditional Latin Mass, NorthJersey.com reports.

"For that hour and 15 minutes, it's as if the veil is drawn back and you have a chance to see and really experience that bit of paradise on earth. Is it a holier experience? I don't want to say that. Above all things, Mass is about worshiping Jesus Christ. I just feel that, for me, this Mass really elevates that experience."

Patrick O'Boyle, 40, echoes those sentiments, NorthJersey.com reports.

"It was a wow experience for me," O'Boyle said, "a beautiful celebration that more fully represents the sacrifice of Calvary. I love modern music and architecture. Art is always evolving because it has to. But this Mass is not about old or new. This Mass is timeless."

That same word was used by Vida Tavakoli, 27, of Miami to explain her attraction to the Latin rite, public radio station 93.1-WLRN reports.

"You come into it and you're kind of lifted to another world, which is really what's supposed to happen on a Sunday when you're praying," says Tavakoli, "in really a truly beautiful way and not just kitschy or trendy and what is going on with the times, but what is timeless."

Whereas the vernacular rite, or novus ordo missae ("new order of the Mass") has the priest turn toward the congregation instead of facing the altar in order to make worshipers feel more engaged, Tavakoli's fiancé, Josue Hernandez, 30, says the very appeal of the old Mass is that it pulls one away from the self, WLRN reports.

"When you go to the older Mass, you have the Latin, you have the incense, you have the priest facing the crucifix, and the focus is completely off you," he says. "All the attention is turned toward the sacrifice."

Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors, South Carolina, holds a daily Latin Mass. The Rev. Christopher Smith, the parish's new pastor, told The State newspaper that the Mass is helping his church grow, and he noted that the renewed interest in the ancient rite is coming from the younger Catholics, not the older ones.

"One of the things that we've found very interesting is that a lot of older people who grew up with the Latin Mass and then switched to the vernacular when they were growing up, a lot of them are just not really interested in the Latin Mass anymore.

"What we've found — and this is the case all over the world — a lot of younger people tend to be attracted to the Latin Mass.

"What they tell us is they see a great sense of beauty and reverence and devotion, and also a sense of historical continuity. You know when you come to a Mass that's celebrated in Latin that you're praying the same prayers that saints from 1,500 years ago were praying when they went to Mass, in the same language.

"There's a great sense of connectedness, and I think a lot of young people are searching for something very concrete and very deep in their spirituality. The Latin Mass fulfills a need that many of them gravitate toward."

Smith has seen attendance at his parish's Latin Mass grow from about 60 to more than 300 worshipers, The State reports.

"There is a movement among young Catholics to know, discover, and preserve their Catholic heritage, and the traditional Latin Mass fits in with that," the Rev. Joseph Kramer, an advocate of the Latin Mass, tells USA Today.

"I think they are drawn to the liturgical richness of the past," he says.

Even an old-timer like actor Bill Murray has gotten into the act, saying last November that he misses the old Mass.

"I'm not sure all those changes were right," he told The Guardian.

"I tend to disagree with what they call the new Mass. I think we lost something by losing the Latin. Now, if you go to a Catholic Mass even just in Harlem, it can be in Spanish, it can be in Ethiopian, it can be in any number of languages. The shape of it, the pictures, are the same but the words aren't the same."

That very sense of universality and tradition may be particularly attractive to younger Catholics living in a high-tech age of convenience and short attention spans.

"In my church in Miami, people come wearing short pants and checking their cellular phones during the service," Antonia Martinez, 33, told USA Today after attending a Latin Mass in Rome.

"This Mass has a more reverent tone that seems more appropriate for worshiping God."

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As Christians commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ during Holy Week, another extraordinary rebirth is taking place in Catholic parishes throughout the United States: The traditional Latin Mass is capturing the interest of younger churchgoers.
Latin, Mass, Catholic, rebirth, Easter, Holy Week, young people, church, timeless, worship, tradition
Monday, 30 March 2015 09:02 PM
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