latin_missal.jpgOTTAWA - Catholics who attend Mass in Latin are not merely those who can remember it since before it was discontinued after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

Emma Fitzpatrick is only 16, but she has regularly attended Ottawa’s St. Clement parish, which offers the traditional Latin Mass — or Tridentine Mass — since she was three.

“I really like it,” she said. “It’s very God-centred. One of the most beautiful qualities is the silence; it’s very good for reflection, meditation, prayer.”

In July, Pope Benedict XVI made allowances for churches to return to the Tridentine Mass if significant numbers of parishioners called for it. The liturgy offers all parts of the Mass in Latin, including music, though the homily and the readings are said in the vernacular. While the priest is not obligated to have his back to the congregation, the service still retains its emphasis on ceremony throughout both the Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist.

William Stevenson, 18, is a member of the St. Clement youth group and was a graduate of St. Clement School, which convenes in the church basement.

{sidebar id=1} “I like the fact that (the Latin Mass) is rich in customs and has deep symbolism,” he said. “Latin is such a euphonic language. There is a lot of ceremony, which is beautiful to watch… and the music is ancient, profound and conveys a sense of piety.”

St. Clement parish continued the Mass of extraordinary forms long after Vatican II and well before Pope Benedict’s recent motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. Next year, it will celebrate four decades since the Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right established itself in the community, and 13 years since receiving permission to carry on the Latin tradition. The community continues to use the liturgical books and missals from 1962.

“For those who prefer to worship in the older form, there’s room in the church to worship in the former rite,” said Fr. Philip Creurer, pastor at St. Clement.

But many critics say the Latin Mass is a step backward for the church because it only appeals to older Catholics and it will only serve to alienate more followers.

“I don’t think Pope Benedict intends that,” said Msgr. Robert Martineau of St. Patrick’s Basilica in Ottawa. “People left the church when they were not convinced by the Second Vatican Council.”

Creurer had similar observations. It was “a feeling of disaffection, unhappiness, estrangement from the church,” he said.

Martineau has fond memories of the Latin Mass because he grew up with it.

“It’s beautiful, wonderful, uplifting,” he said. “Very prayerful.”

While St. Patrick’s Basilica does not offer the Tridentine Mass in its entirety, parts of the Mass — the Gloria, the Sanctus, the Benediction — are all in Latin.

“It is still the language of the Catholic Church,” said Martineau.

(Ryall, 18, is a journalism student at Carleton University in Ottawa.)

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