Pope Francis imposed restrictions on the use of the old Latin Mass, overturning one of Pope Benedict XVI’s signing decisions.
Traditionalist Catholics in the Mahoning Valley, however, will not need to worry about any of these new restrictions.
Francis, 84, enacted a new law – or Motu proprio – on July 16 requiring individual bishops to approve celebrations of the Old Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass, which has ceased to be used regularly by Catholic leaders just after Vatican Council II in the late 1960s.
The only church in the Diocese of Youngstown, made up of six counties, that offers only Latin masses is Queen of the Holy Rosary, at 291 Scoville Drive in Vienna. The status of Masses does not change there, according to a diocesan official.
“The Queen of the Holy Rosary is part of the fabric of our diocese and Bishop David Bonnar ensures that nothing changes” said Monsignor John Zuraw, chancellor of the diocese. “The Motu proprio (entitled”Traditionis Custodes” Where “Guardians of Tradition“) or a decree gives appropriate supervision to the local bishop. It suggests that the bishop be very careful and vigilant about who to give the faculty to celebrate mass in Latin.
Zuraw said that the parish of Vienna “Is a stable group of individuals” who meet weekly for worship.
“This parish community will remain intact and will be authorized to celebrate the Latin or Tridentine mass”, said Monsignor, noting that the priests who take care of the parish are part of the Fraternité Saint-Pierre.
One of its members, Joseph R. Zauhar of Vienna, said he preferred the old-fashioned service that dates back to the 5th or 6th century.
“The Latin Mass is the closest thing to heaven on earth”, he said.
A devotee at Friday’s daily mass, who only gave Karen’s name, said she came to mass in Latin after converting to the Catholic faith 17 years ago.
“It makes me feel more centered on God” she said. “There are fewer distractions than the Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass.”
Besides the difference in language, the priest during the Latin Mass faces the congregation and towards the altar.
Last year, a Franciscan friar added a Latin Mass to the weekday schedule at a local shrine, but recently had to interrupt it due to the illness of a colleague.
Reverend Vit Fiala, Order of Franciscan Missionaries, director of the Shrine of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted on South Belle Vista Avenue in Youngstown, said he added Latin Mass before the lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic .
“As a bi-ritual, Roman Catholic and Byzantine priest, I saw an opportunity to learn another ecclesial liturgy – the Traditional Latin Mass (MTL). After brushing up on Latin and learning the liturgy itself, I offered a small weekly TLM at the Sanctuary.
Fiala originally assumed that participation in TLM would be minimal, but he was “Greatly surprised. “
“Many people have started to come regularly to this mass. The solemnity and respect of this Mass gave them the spiritual nourishment they were looking for.
Critics said they had never seen a Pope overthrow his predecessor so completely. That the reversal was about something as fundamental as the liturgy, while Benedict is still alive and alive in the Vatican as a retired pope, only amplified the extraordinary nature of Francis’ movement.
Fiala, however, said the Pope’s edict did not completely nullify the MLT, but instead left the decision to the local bishops. Pope Benedict eased restrictions in 2007, allowing priests to celebrate the Latin rite without permission from their bishops.
The order struck by Francis requires that newly ordained priests receive explicit permission to celebrate it from their bishops, in consultation with the Vatican. The pontiff said he was acting because Benedict’s reform had become a source of division in the church and had been exploited by Catholics opposed to Vatican Council II, the 1960s meetings that modernized the church and its liturgy.
Additionally, Francis said bishops are no longer allowed to allow the formation of new pro-Latin mass groups in their dioceses.
Fiala said several prelates such as Archbishop Samuel Aquilla or Bishop Athanasius Schneider made good comments on this issue. He said many bishops, including that of Youngstown and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, have decided to continue MLT in their dioceses.
A SPIRITUAL POINT OF VIEW
Fiala, who provides spiritual guidance to many faithful Catholics in the Mahoning Valley, has warned these traditionalists if they cling to the Old Mass for sentimental reasons.
“They have to be careful to question themselves to be upset (about the Pope’s statement on MLT), is it nostalgia or spirituality?”
Fiala said he hopes for a lot is spirituality.
“Personal spirituality must be respected. It is a path of salvation and a current of living water that gives life to an individual. Spirituality presents itself in different ways. The religious reflects on a way of seeing it through a relationship with God, which is closely linked to the liturgy, to ecclesial policy, or through the search for a mystical pursuit with God in Jesus Christ. Spiritual travel is a choice we make.
Whether they prefer the Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo Mass, Fiala said that choice stems from one of God’s greatest gifts to his creation: free will.
“And with this gift, some people choose marriage, while others choose to remain single, as well as what kind of job or career they want to pursue.” he said. “The unifying element is the call to respond to a combination of what is given and what we want. “