Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Return of the Ancient Ambrosian Rite to a Parish in Legnano

The Italian liturgical blog, Rinascimento Sacro has re-posted some news of the recently established Mass in the ancient use of the Ambrosian rite, written by Luigi Crespi for La Prealpina.

Here it is in an NLM translation.

Legnano: A full church for the "pre-conciliar" rite

by Luigi Crespi

Monsignor Attilio Cavalli entered by the wide open doors of the church and was preceded by altar boys while the old Carrera organ emphasized the solemnity of the moment. Then, without ever turning around toward the people, he began to recite the "Sancta Missa" as it was defined in the Ambrosian rite [liturgical books] of 1954. [NLM note: the equivalent to the 1962 Missale Romanum in the Roman rite.] The language, of course, is Latin.

The priest celebrated in Latin, the faithful who filled the church of Sant'Ambrogio responded in Latin, and the music is intoned in Latin. But this is not the only novelty of the ritual that was reintroduced yesterday in Legnano at the request of a handful of the faithful and by grant of the Archbishop of Milan, Dionigi Tettamanzi. At Sant'Ambrogio the [free-standing altar table] has been taken away, which doesn't serve anymore, and on the right side of the altar a puplit has appeared. There Monsignor Cavalli read in Italian the two readings, the Gospel and read his homily. The Last Gospel, one that closes the celebration, is in Latin, and the priest reads it facing toward the tabernacle.

It was a gamble, but at least for the moment, those who have fought to return to pre-conciliar rite have won. Just yesterday afternoon at 17:30 at Sant'Ambrogio, there had gathered many young women with heads covered in white veils, with the older women in black veils, Latin experts and those just curious. The ceremony is slower, more complex, longer; but the charm is undeniable, and the musicality of the Latin compensates for waiting periods imposed by the rite. For further clarification, before Mass, Monsignor Carlo Galli, Provost of Legnano, read the letter to the president of the congregation of Ambrosian rite, Monsignor Luigi Manganin, which officially authorized the return the ancient rite: "The celebration is authorized for one year - says Monsignor Galli. "The archbishop has indicated the priests who can celebrate the Mass which will be held here in Sant'Ambrogio."

As of next week, the Mass will be held every Sunday at 17:30, and in one year there will be a review. "Across the diocese, only in the church of S. Rocco in Gentilino in Milan is the [ancient Ambrosian] Mass in Latin said, which is now an established practice for the past twenty years. Legnano proves to us that, yesterday, the experiment has started on the right foot. Also because, to help the faithful, before the beginning of the function, Msgr. Galli has distributed the 'ordo missae iuxta ritum Ambrosianum', with a translation side-by-side which has served to refresh the memory of the older and to orient the younger.

Source: La Prealpina, 19 October 2008

As this unfolds, the NLM will try to provide more information, and hopefully pictures as well.

It is very good to see some movement on this front and one hopes there will be a softening that will begin to occur as regards the ancient Ambrosian rite.

Now it will probably not go without notice that this new celebration of the ancient Ambrosian rite is being treated very much as an indult -- similar to what was previously the case for the Roman rite until the motu proprio. This leads us back to the discussion and debate as to how the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, in spirit at very minimum, should be understood and interpreted with regard to the cases of the other non-Roman, Western liturgical rites. Summorum Pontificum is after all both a legal document -- clarifying the question of legal status of the pre-conciliar Roman liturgical books and also the rights of priests to use those books and the faithful to worship in them -- and it is also a document which teaches something about continuity and how we should approach our long-standing liturgical tradition. That is a lesson which evidently goes beyond the particular question of the Roman liturgical books and extends into the Catholic sphere generally.

It is to be hoped that, at very least, the papal teaching that "what was sacred then is sacred now too" (I paraphrase) will be taken to heart with regard to these other liturgical rites, and that the doors to the free celebration of these venerable liturgical books will be officially and explicitly opened -- just as they have for the Roman rite.

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