Want to do something radical? You can do something quite radical, in the liturgical sense, by attending a Tridentine Latin Mass, now being offered Sundays at 8:00 AM at the beautiful little St. Joseph church in Miesville, MN, a mere 22 miles from downtown Northfield.
Attending a mass like this will not get you fed to the lions, as was the case when the early Christians held their masses in catacombs when their religion was illegal during the days of the Roman emperors. Nor are you at risk of being drawn and quartered, as were the Catholic stalwarts during the reign of the Tudors, when the Mass was driven underground while being replaced by the new Anglican service.
But if you have the sense that a Tridentine Mass seems to be a bit underground, it’s probably because this kind of mass was indeed for the most part “outlawed” within the Catholic Church from 1970 until 2007, and its recent partial reinstatement by Pope Benedict XVI is met mostly by silence and tacit disapproval by most of the Catholic mainstream– especially in the more “liberal” dioceses like that of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Speaking of the English Reformation, it was said that the architects of the new Protestant faith under King Henry VIII knew that if they could change the way people prayed the liturgy, they could gradually change the religion. In that sense, traditionalist Catholics have complained that the changes of the Second Vatican Council — and its resultant “new mass” promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970 — have transformed the old Catholic faith into a new religion along the same Protestant lines — a new religion with a liturgy having more in common with that of the Lutherans, Baptists and Methodists down the street than with the traditional Catholic mass that had been passed down for centuries.
In a previous blog post, I suggested that the demolition of the old St. Dominic church in Northfield in 1985 was part of a program of modernization carried out to eliminate the symbols of the old Faith and replace them with what was in effect to represent a new secularized, “protestantized” version of Catholicism desired by many within the Church hierarchy. Likewise, you might say the old Traditional mass was also “demolished” along with many church buildings around the globe, to be replaced by a new mass more in tune with the fad of liberalism sweeping through the Church as well as the world at large.
I’m going to cut myself off at this point, because this post is in danger of running on forever like the last one did. So I’ll conclude with some observations of what to expect should one choose to attend this event: St. Joseph’s is a beautiful old style church, with lots of iconography including a stained glass window portraying the Church’s patron saint working as a carpenter while his foster son Jesus looks on. There are wood carved confession boxes alongside the pews, and a second priest hears confessions before and even during the first part of the mass. The parishioners tend to be those especially interested in this kind of mass, and many of them drive long distances each Sunday to attend. Many, but not all, of the female parishioners wear veils. The prayers are of course in Latin, but the readings, gospel and homily are in English. Communion is distributed on the tongue by the priest while parishioners kneel at the communion rail. On the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month an exceptionally talented all-female choir sings a cappella from the choir loft.
[Directions to St. Joseph Church in Miesville: From Northfield take Hwy. 19 to Hwy. 56, then north to Hwy. 50 (Hampton). Take Hwy 50 east, crossing the Hwy. 52 bridge. Drive through the town of New Trier, noting the beautiful red brick church of St. Mary’s on your left. Continue east on 50 to Miesville, where the church is in the center of town.]
Want to carpool to this mass? — send me an email.