Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Developments in Hungary: Hungarian Bishop Celebrates Usus Antiquior

Back in August of this year, I had the privilege to attend and speak at a liturgical conference hosted in Budapest, Hungary, organized by the Hungarian Church Music Association and Professor Laszlo Dobzsay.

(See: Summary of the Budapest Liturgical Conference, Aug. 30, 2008; Vespers (Usus Antiquior) from St. Stephen's Basilica, Budapest, Aug. 21, 2008; Liturgical Images from Budapest, Sept. 1, 2008; Budapest Liturgical Conference: Solemn Pontifical Mass, Sept. 03, 2008.)

Many of the non-Hungarian participants witnessed both the youthfulness of the movement there and also became aware that we were witnessing a new liturgical movement establishing itself in that country. Memorable was the fact that the Solemn Pontifical Mass that was offered on the final day -- to a packed church of all ages and offered by the Apostolic Nuncio to Austria — was, we were told, the first that many there had ever witnessed in person, precisely because it was the first such prelatial liturgy in many decades within Hungary.

It is for this reason that I was very interested to hear of news today that an acting Hungarian prelate, Lajos Varga, the auxiliary bishop of Vác, Hungary, offered Mass in the usus antiquior on the 28th of December in Hungary. The note made above with regard to the Solemn Pontifical Mass at the Budapest conference is relevant here, for it might be noted that it was not offered by a Hungarian prelate. The reason this is relevant is that, apparently, a Hungarian prelate had not offered the usus antiquior in any form in Hungary for decades.

Accordingly, the event of the 28th of December takes on a particular importance as a step forward for the new liturgical movement in Hungary and the advancement of Pope Benedict's programme of liturgical continuity, revival and enrichment.

Before showing the photos of the event however, a preface.

It will not be lost on many of our ceremonialist readers that the Mass offered was neither a Pontifical Low Mass, nor a Solemn Pontifical Mass, but actually most proximate to a Missa Cantata — which is somewhat unusual.

Whatever the case, this was a notable step forward for Hungary, and perhaps even the Central-Eastern European region.

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