Time Magazine Report

Time Magazine on Tridentine Latin Mass

Magazine on Tridentine Latin Mass

Time Magazine, June 7, 1999, p. 65.

Back to the Latin Mass

At 32, Catherine Muskett is too young to remember the day the Roman Catholic music
died. The Latin prayers, the ethereal Gregorian chant­they were cast out of the Catholic
Mass in the 1960s, after the modernizing church council known as Vatican II. But Muskett
doesn’t remember the ‘60s either. To her, today’s perky folk-guitar Masses are more
grating than groovy.

"Catholic of my generation are starved for the real thing," she says. So each
Sunday, she and her family drive half an hour to attend the solemn high Mass, most of it
in Latin, offered by St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Great Fall, Va. Like some
catacombed underground movement, they take out old Gregorian missals for translation and
sing Palestrina instead of Peter, Paul, and Mary.

At a time when old religious rituals are being embraced anew by many faiths, Muskett is
part of a retro-revolt among U.S. Catholics. The generation that no long ago pushed
Gregorian chant into the Top 40 may now plant it back into the Mass.

Since 1990, the number of U.S. Catholic dioceses allowing traditional Masses (in Latin
or a mix of English and Latin) has leaped from six to 131­70% of the total. More than
150,000 people attend them each week.

That’s still a fraction of America’s 50 million Catholics. But partly in response to
Gen-X interest, the Atlanta Archdiocese created a separate parish this spring for the
Priestly Society of St. Peter, clerics who celebrate only the most traditional and
elaborate style of Latin Mass, the 16th century Tridentine.

In Chicago, parishioners like Paul Recchia, 29, who says the pop excesses of the modern
Mass "disturbed me," have opted for the Tridentine at the ornate St. John
Cantius Catholic Church­where half the weddings are now done in that fashion.

All this reflects a backlash against the earnestly modern Catholic culture that grew
out of Vatican II, "whose identity seems rather week and unclear to the MTV
generation," says the Rev. Michael Baxter, a theology professor at Notre Dame
University. The traditional Mass has filled a need for more transcendence, through
Catholicism that again reaches the soul via the senses.

—By Tim Padgett, With reporting by Andrew Keith/Chicago.

Una Voce America