August 25, 2008

Extraordinary Form

Perhaps you will find this hard to believe about me, but yesterday I went to a Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for the very first time.

When Summorum pontificum came out, I thought that I should at least acquaint myself with it, given that under certain circumstances the faithful are now allowed to ask for it in their parishes. So I bought a new edition of the 1962 hand missal, and put the Extraordinary Form in my calendar for each Sunday afternoon. Yesterday I finally got around to going.

It was a Low Mass, so there wasn't much to it. I was pleased to find that I was able to follow along pretty well in my missal. A couple of things really struck me about the whole experience:

First, the people were really dressed for church. Most of the men and boys had jackets and ties, and most of the women and girls were wearing dresses and chapel veils. Sundays are a lot more casual where I work! Second, I can see how this rite wasn't made for the sensibility of frequent communion. When each communicant receives the proclamation Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat te animam tuam in vitam aeternam it makes for a rather long process.


ben in denver said...

Last January we started going to the Extraordinary form once per month, and now we are going every Sunday, although we mostly go to the High Sung Mass. I'm continually astounded at the theological richness of the older form. But the reason we have become "traditionalists" has less to do with the form of the mass and more to do with the congregation. There are so many more children for ours to play with and their parents have lives more similar to ours. Ultimatley, it grew too difficult being the only family at mass with more than 4 children (we have 8), when there was another option available. At the extraordinary form mass we are attending now we are still among the larger families, but there are several families with 6 kids, a few with 7, 2-3 with 8, one with 9 and one with 14.

We fit in better here. Most of the other children are homeschooled. The priests who celebrate the mass, from the Fraternity of St. Peter, know everybody.

I can attest to the same formality at the extraordinary form in Denver as you experienced in NY. The people here also dress in thier "Sunday best" and nearly all of the women and girls have their heads covered (a nice tradition in imitation of the BVM).

The one difference seems to be that here nearly everybody recieves communion. Typically a second priest will assist with distribution, so it doesn't take too long.

Brother Charles said...

Same thing here, Ben...I saw a lot of parents with a lot of kids...and they all knew how to go to Mass.

Brother Charles said...

Hey Ben, or anyone else who might know...have you ever been to a Mass of the Extraordinary Form celebrated by a Franciscan? I'm wondering what they do about the biretta, which is forbidden to us Capuchins (and I think other branches as well.)

For some reason I have this idea that during the times you would have the biretta on you are supposed to have your hood up, covered by the amice, of course.

Anybody know this one?

ben in denver said...


Several years ago I attended a low mass celebrated by Fr. Joseph Ganssle, OFM +may he rest in peace+. He was Franciscan of the Holy Name Province, and was not a capuchin.

To be honest, I don't remeber anything about the biretta or lack thereof.

But a quick google search yeilded this result:

It looks like the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate are offering this liturgy and are not too far from your neck of the woods.

Brother Charles said...

I knew I could count on you, Ben! No biretta, of course, for the friars. But at about 2:45 of the video, when the brothers are leaving the altar, the celebrant has his amice-clad hood up over his head.

ben in denver said...

Now there's a Helmet of Salvation!