Monday, May 26, 2008

Report on Sancta Missa Workshop, May 19-23, Chicago

One of our diaconal readers, due to soon be ordained, sent in this report for the NLM from a recent workshop in the usus antiquior hosted by the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. Here is what he had to say:

I went to the workshop with a fair amount of trepidation: the Tridentine Mass has always seemed quite overwhelming. Where does one begin with learning it? Naturally I hoped that the Canons Regular (of Saint John Cantius) would help to make it seem less intimidating. And that they did.

There were upwards of 30 priests, transitional deacons, and seminarians in attendance. The group was divided into those who would only be learning to serve the various forms of the Tridentine liturgy (mostly seminarians), those who were learning the Low Mass (transitional deacons and many of the priests), and those who already knew at least how to celebrate Low Mass and wanted to learn more advanced things such as Sung Mass or Solemn High Mass.

I was in the group learning Low Mass.

Each day we had intensive training workshops in small groups with one of the Canons Regular. Each of us had the opportunity to practice the parts of the Mass hands-on. The Cardinal Stritch Retreat Center afforded an ideal location for learning the Mass: in the basement there were countless altar stalls that were (nearly) perfect for doing small group training sessions. Each altar had altar cards, a Missal, a chalice, and vestments, so that we could learn everything thoroughly.

In addition to the daily intensive instruction and practice, there was instruction on the Latin language (pronunciation and practice recitation of the Mass prayers) and Gregorian Chant (singing the Ordinary, Propers, and so forth). Fr. C. Frank Phillips, C.R. -- superior of the Canons Regular -- also gave a very fine talk on the Extraordinary Form in the Life of the Parish. It was very helpful to hear about his experiences celebrating the extraordinary form in a parish setting that also has the ordinary form. I was able to gain many insights and practical suggestions on implementing the extraordinary form in the average parish setting some day when I am a pastor.

One of the main highlights of the week was the presence of Bishop Joseph Perry, auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He gave a fine talk on the spirituality of the Extraordinary Form on Monday and then celebrated a Pontifical Solemn High Mass that evening.

Each evening (and Friday mid-day) we had Mass in the extraordinary form. The first two nights were in the exceedingly beautiful, nearby chapel of Marytown. The last three days were in the Mundelein Seminary campus chapel, which is also extremely beautiful. On Wednesday we celebrated the vigil of Corpus Christi with a Sung Mass with Incense; on Thursday, it was the proper Feast Day celebration (again, a Sung Mass with Incense), with the addition of a Eucharistic procession in the Church at the conclusion of Holy Mass.

In talking with other attendees the reaction to the week was overwhelmingly positive: a good and profitable time was had by all. I would highly recommend any future workshops offered by the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. I might add by way of conclusion that it was an added consolation, as it were, knowing that Cardinal George had fully endorsed and encouraged this workshop and had in fact instituted training in the extraordinary form for those seminarians who request it at Mundelein. Good things are happening in Chicago and the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius are helping to lead the charge under the fine leadership of Cardinal Francis George and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry.

These are the yet unseen fruits of the motu proprio that are presently in blossom. The substantive effects of the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, have not yet in fact been seen. There have certainly been gains in traditional liturgics in both the ancient and modern form, but those only arise out of those who were already prepared "out of the gate" if you will. What has not yet been fully seen is this first wave of priests, deacons and seminarians who are studying and training; nor the ripple effect that will occur once they and others begin celebrating the ancient liturgy and bringing what they can into their celebrations of the modern liturgy.

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