Monday 24 June 2019

Synod 2020. Number 17. Latin Mass in the Archdiocese

I attended a Synod listening session for those involved with the Latin Mass Society yesterday, which took place at St Anthony's Church in Liverpool, where the Traditional Mass is celebrated each Sunday. Interestingly, many members were just as interested in the quality and faithfulness of the liturgy in the Ordinary Form of the Mass as something that the Synod could tackle, having found, like me, that many celebrations play fast and loose with the rubrics (to say the least!) Many members also attend the Ordinary Form - either on special occasions or some more regularly and are involved in their local parish.

One theme that did emerge was the hurt and isolation those attached to the celebration of the Church's ancient liturgy have often experienced at the hands of parish priests and bishops - and for those of us who are priests, by the seminary authorities as well. That has changed to some extent, generally under Pope Benedict's pastoral care and in the diocese under Archbishop Malcolm's pastoral care. Though I should highlight "to some extent". Part of that "extent" is that those who are attached to the traditional Rites have been part of the consultation process. I hope that those voices will not be too small or quiet to be edited out by the algorithms of the collating process!

One of the members, Mr Neil Addison,  in consultation with others, produces the submission below, which I think is excellent. 



The Latin Mass Society (LMS) in Liverpool Archdiocese would like to take this opportunity to thank Archbishop Malcolm and the Archdiocese for the invitation to participate in a ‘Listening Group’ as part of the preparations for Synod 2020. We are grateful for the support the Archdiocese gives to the celebration of the Traditional Latin Rite (Extraordinary Form) and we wish to express our particular thanks to the many Priests of the Archdiocese who celebrate the Extraordinary Form. We are very aware of the many demands on their time in particular those Priests running Parishes who have to ‘fit in’ celebrations in the Extraordinary Form with their other commitments to Parishioners who expect celebrations in the Ordinary Form. Our prayers and our thanks go to all of them.


We move immediately to answering Question 4 of the Synod Questions. The topic that should undoubtedly be on the Synod Agenda is ‘The Liturgy’, when we say this we do not only refer to Liturgy in the Extraordinary Form but to the celebration of the Liturgy in the Ordinary Form. The importance of the Liturgy in the Mission of the Church cannot be overstated as Pope Bendict said in Utrecht 19 March 2011 "we encounter, especially through the sacred liturgy, the True, the Beautiful and the Good.” and Pope Francis said 0n 14th February 2019 “The liturgy is in fact the main road through which Christian life passes through every phase of its growth,”. Pope Francis has in addition warned against those for whom Christianity becomes ‘a sort of NGO stripped of Luminous mysticism’1 

The Liturgy in whatever Form or language it celebrated should always be an experience of Holiness celebrated with dignity. It is the experience of the LMS that good and holy liturgy can draw people into the Church whilst poor rushed or undignified Liturgies can drive them away. The subject of the Liturgy and how it is celebrated is therefore important and should play a prominent part in the discussions of the Synod 

One practical suggestion that we would make to improve the quality and holiness of celebrations of the Liturgy is that the Archdiocese should positively encourage Diocesan Priests to study and learn to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. We do not make this suggestion as a merely self interested means of obtaining additional celebrations of the Extraordinary Form, we make it as a positive proposal to improve the quality and holiness of celebrations of the Liturgy in the Ordinary Form. It is the invariable experience of the LMS that Priests who learn the Extraordinary Form of the Mass say that the experience has had positive effects on how they say and approach celebrations in the Ordinary Form. His Holiness Pope Benedict often emphasised the ‘Hermeneutic of Continuity’ when talking about the changes brought into the Church by the Second Vatican Council and this is particularly evident when comparing the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Mass. Learning the Extraordinary Form assists Priests to understand more deeply the meanings and significance of the various parts of the Mass especially the consecration and increased knowledge of the Extraordinary Form will lead to a greater holiness and dignity in the celebration of Mass in the Ordinary Form. 

Regarding training in the Extraordinary Form the LMS offers training courses and the FSSP has generously offered to provide training at St Mary’s in Warrington. The FSSP
also publishes excellent training DVD’s and Videos. The LMS both nationally and locally will be delighted to assist in any way Priests wishing to learn the Extraordinary Form 


We are sure that under some title or other the subject of Services without Priests or ‘Lay Led’ Services will be discussed by the Synod. We are concerned that increasing suggestions that Lay people could substitute for Priests risks becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. There is a danger that utilising Lay People to carry out priestly functions traps the Church in a Catch 22 situation where there is less incentive for any man to offer themselves for the Priesthood because the functions of the Priesthood can seemingly be carried out by anyone. 

We would particularly deprecate any suggestion that there should be a use of Extraordinary Ministers of Communion to carry out Eucharistic Services where pre consecrated hosts are distributed. To carry out such services is in our view demeaning to the sacred role of the Priest and more importantly it demeans the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist should be given only in the context of Holy Mass or when the recipient is ill and unable to attend Church, to do otherwise ignores the importance of Holy Communion being seen and experienced in the context of Holy Mass and the consecration, that is the Historic practice and tradition of the Church which should be preserved and defended. 

If there are concerns that increasingly Churches will not be able to have a celebration of Mass regularly then in our view that problem cannot be addressed by creating artificial ‘mini Masses’ instead we we would recommend a greater emphasis on historic forms of worship and praise which can be properly be led by lay people without infringing on the unique role of the Priesthood. Merely because a Church cannot have a Mass does not mean that it cannot be a centre for prayer and adoration. The Church has a rich heritage of prayer and we recommend increased emphasis on the use of the Divine Office, The Stations of the Cross, Novenas, the Holy Rosary and Eucharistic adoration all of which can be and should be part of the life of any Church building, such prayers and worship are rich in meaning and devotion and they do not in any way interfere with or attempting to duplicate the role of the Priesthood 


In its plans for the future we would ask that the Archdiocese consider increasing the availability of the Extraordinary Form in particular through the Traditionalist Orders namely the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP) and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP), both orders are well established in the North West and the FSSP is already incardinated in the Archdiocese in St Mary’s Church Warrington. 

We would suggest that the experience in St Mary’s shows that parishioners used to the Ordinary Form can very quickly become used to and actively involved in the celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary Form. We would suggest that the Archdiocese consider giving another Church to a Traditionalist Order perhaps one more centrally located in Liverpool with access to parking and/or the Merseyrail system. 

Another or additional possibility is to invite a Traditionalist Order to have a Priest based in the Cathedral itself with the role of celebrating Mass and Benediction in the Cathedral and in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the City Centre. We suggest that regular celebrations of Mass in the Extraordinary Form could prove popular with Students in the University since it is our experience that the Traditional Mass is particularly attractive to young people a point that was made by His Holiness Pope Benedict in his Motu Proprio ‘Summorum Pontificum’ 

We would suggest that thought be given to inviting the Fathers of the Oratory to establish an Oratory in Liverpool. The Oratorians have a fine reputation for the quality and holiness of their celebrations of the Liturgy both in the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Form and we are sure that an Oratory in Liverpool would be an asset to the Archdiocese 


We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Archdiocese for its decision to give a Church to the Catholics of the Syro Malabar Rite. This is an ancient and respected rite of the Church and it is heartening that the Archdiocese has taken steps to ensure that this rite continues for the benefit of the Syro Malabar Community in Liverpool. As the Second Vatican Council put it in ‘Orientalium Ecclesiarium’ “practices sanctioned by a noble antiquity harmonize better with the customs of the faithful and are more likely to foster the good of souls” 

A principle which the LMS would say applies as much to the historic Latin Rite as as much as it does to Eastern Rites.


Sooty said...

A reasonable and constructive contribution.

Et Expecto said...

It is excellent news that the Extraordinary Form is on the agenda and that comments are invited.

A comment that I would make is that, if in the past 40 years dioceses had been more accepting of candidates for the priesthood who had traditional sympathies, the current priest shortage would not be so acute. Similarly, dioceses that encourage traditionally minded candidates now, can expect less severe priest shortages in the future.

Father Gregory said...

Well thought out presentation. I pray that it be accepted.

David O'Neill said...

O that more dioceses should be as forward thinking. It is hoped that our new bishop (Robert Byrne CO) will take the events in Liverpool on board - as I'm sure he will - & invite either or both the FSSP & ICKSP into Hexham & Newcastle. In a city such as Newcastle upon Tyne it is concerning that nowhere do we have the EF Mass. The Dominicans are due to leave the city this year (leaving a church & house) & St Michael's is a virtually unused (1 Sunday Mass) church close to the city centre which has not been touched by modernisation could very well be utilised. Our prayers continue that we may see more provision in the city for the EF Mass.

Storm said...

From the Collect of SS Peter and Paul:
"... grant, we pray, that your Church
may in all things follow the teaching
of those through whom she received
the beginning of right religion."

From the Collect for this week:
"... grant, we pray,
that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error
but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth."

Let Synod be faithful to this! No more calls for married priests, women priests, "lay" priests and other such heterodox ideas.

David O'Neill said...

How fortunate you are in having Archbishop Malcolm in your diocese. Hopefully Bishop Robert Byrne (our new bishop) will be as generous to the requests he has already received & bring in traditional priests of FSSP & ICKSP to serve in Hexham & Newcastle.