Traditional Mass making return

Farragut church begins offering option Sunday

By Ina Hughs,
November 26, 2005

Gimme that old-time religion it was good enough for Grandpa, and it’s good enough for me

People aren’t just whistling Dixie when they sing the familiar words to that old Southern song. When tradition comes up against change in the church. It can be a holy mess

One of the changes made in the 1960’s with the Second Vatican Council was that Mass would be offered in the language of the people present, rather than in Latin. The idea was to make worship more alive and accessible.

With the current rise of conservatives and so-called “back to basics” fundamentalism playing out in all denominations, a growing number of Roman Catholics want to go back to the traditional Latin Mass. Among those, a small number claim Mass offered in Latin is the only legitimate Mass possible.

Proponents of this Latin-only movement contend that if the Catholic Church is to grow and flourish, it is essential to go back to a universal tongue.

The fact that Latin is a “dead” language is irrelevant, these traditionalists believe. In earliest times,only the clergy were expected to have academic understanding of the Mass, and it has always been held that mystery is at the heart of this central Roman Catholic sacrament.

“It is” writes historian the Rev. Frederick Faber, “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven,” It came forth out of the grand mind of the Church and lifted us out of earth and out of self, and wrapped us round in a cloud of mystical sweetness and the sublimities of a more than angelic liturgy, and purified us almost without ourselves and charmed us with celestial charming so that our very senses seemed to find vision, hearing, fragrance, taste and touch more than ear can give.”

The Rev. Vann Johnston, chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, says the Latin-only controversy has not affected this area. He explains that Bishop Joseph Edward Kurtz has granted permission to two churches in the diocese to offer the Mass in Latin. “This came about after a petition was passed asking that Latin be offered, but the people who signed it indicated they did not believe it was the only true Mass. They respect and legitimize Mass done in English and Spanish, or whatever the language of the people; but they loved the poetry, the music, the tradirion of the Latin, and they wanted it offered for those reasons.”

The first church in the Knoxville Diocese to offer the Latn Mass was St. Therese in Cleveland, which began offering the traditional Mass in 2004 on the first and third Sunadys of each month. Now beginning Sunday, it will also be offered on the second and fourth Sundays at St. John Neumann in Farragut.

“I’m comfortable with that,” says Johnston. “The people asking for it are faithful Catholics, and their motivations are not related to schismatic groups. The Latin Mass is very beautiful.”

He agrees people today are longing for a sense of the holy, but that, if done reverently and in accordance with the mind of the church, the English and the Spanish Mass have the same spiritual components and value as the Latin.

“They, too can and do feed the people’s hunger for the sacred”, he says.

Ina Hughs may be reached at 865-342-6268.
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