What is the Traditional Mass?

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The Latin liturgy has always been known for its beauty, reverence, and mystery. Perhaps this explains why so many people are attracted to this form of worship. In fact, due to the increasing number of requests for the Mass, Pope John Paul II, in his recent letter Ecclesia Dei, encouraged the frequent celebration of the traditional Latin liturgy for those Catholics who desire it.

By early 1992, this Mass was being offered in approximately 110 U.S. parishes, representing fifty percent of the U.S. dioceses. The fact that almost every month, another Mass location is added to the list, indicates its increasing popularity. A 1990 Gallup poll commissioned by the St. Augustine Center Association showed that 76% of Catholics in America would attend the Traditional Latin Mass if it were readily available in their parishes.

Why is This Mass Sometimes Called the “Tridentine” Mass?

“Tridentine” refers to the Council of Trent (1545-63), one of the aims of which was to unify liturgical practice in the Western Church. Pope St. Pius V achieved this goal in 1570 by issuing the Roman Missal, which was based on the oldest and most venerable western liturgies. Pius V commanded that this single rite of celebrating Mass be used throughout the Church. However, exceptions were made for rites that had been in continuous use for at least 200 years.

Why Latin?

Latin is the official language of the Roman Catholic Church, and has been used as a liturgical language in the West since the third century. The unchanging nature of the Latin language has preserved the orthodox doctrine of the Mass handed down from the early Church Fathers. The use of Latin for the Mass and official Church documents has fundamentally supported the universality and unity of the Church, two of the four marks of the Church founded by Jesus Christ. Although the Traditional Mass is said or sung in Latin, most of the faithful participating in the Liturgy use their own prayer books, which have the Latin text accompanied by its vernacular translation.

The Tridentine Mass in Ireland

When Cardinal Cahal Daly was Bishop of Down and Connor, he quickly gave permission for the Tridentine Mass, shortly after Pope John Paul asked the Bishops of the World to be generous in facilitating those who wanted it. The Tridentine Mass was offered at St. Matthias Oratory, Glen Road, Belfast, at 4.30pm. on Sundays on alternate months by permission of Dr. Patrick Walsh, Bishop of Down and Connor.
Sadly, the usual celebrant is ill and no longer able to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which he loved so much. Bishop Walsh is aware of the position. Hopefully he will arrange for another priest to take Canon Joseph Cunningham's place.

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