Monday, January 12, 2009

First Sunday Mass in the Usus Antiquior at Mariawald [Update]

Via NLM friend Martin Bürger of comes the following, very encouraging report about the first Sunday conventual Mass in the usus antiquior of the Trappists at Mariawald Abbey from the Aachener Zeitung, a local German newspaper (NLM translation; if you have missed the previous articles about Mariawald, click on the respective label below):

First Tridentine Mass in Mariawald Monastery

By Christoph Hahn

The change in Mariawald continues. For the first time in a long while a Sunday High Mass in the traditional form commun until 1969 took place again in the church above Heimbach. As already on a week day in December, this service also was celebrated by a guest of the Abbey.

But Abbot Joseph Vollberg, since 2005 the superior of the only Trappist Abbey in Germany, is confident of being able to take over this task in future. However, the 45-year-old religious said in an interview with the Dürener Zeitung: "I am still learning."

The overwhelming rush on Sunday, however, also testifies that the return [to the traditional liturgy and observances] of the monastery on the ridge of the Kermeter announced at the end of November 2008 has found grateful acceptance and support with many Catholics in the region.

A walk across the car park of Mariawald Abbey documented: Many faithful had set out already in the early morning from Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), Cologne, Bonn and other cities and villages, in order to to be there in time for the start of the service by 10 clock.

The popularity with participants was surprisingly great even for the Trappists - so great that, in addition to the pews in the nave, the gallery, otherwise sealed to visitors, was opened.

With visible emotion the attendees followed the service in which abbot Josef Vollberg gave the sermon. The celebration of Mass in the traditional form he described as "wonderful reflection of our Catholic Faith."

Even if Latin were initially unintellegible to many faithful, the preacher advised his listeners to engage with it and thus develop a sense for the message behind the words.

Moreover, there were many forms and gestures which open up to the faithful an access to the meaning of the Eucharist according to the old rite which is not bound to language. Patience would be needed, the superior of Mariawald admitted - but the reward would be much greater than any trouble.

Then the abbot called the attention of his audience on a special feature of the Tridentine rite: The Communion is, in this form of Holy Mass, only received kneeling vy the faithful. But that was as good as natural for the attendees, among whom many young people and families with children. Even more: what still encounters much criticism, has long since found grateful and loving acceptance among the friends of Mariawald.


The author of the article, Christoph Hahn, has written in to tell us that a slightly expanded version of it has also been published in another newspaper (the Kölnische Rundschau). This article was accompanied by the following picture (click to enlarge). You can see the people crwoding the loft. In the picture to the bottom right is Abbot Vollberg giving the sermon.

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