Balancing "Ordinary" and "Extraordinary"
Mt. Airy, NC
Diocese of Charlotte
Pastors enrich parish worship through flexible application of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum without causing controversy.
"Now, having been ordained for 15 years, and after offering the Mass in the extraordinary form here weekly in my parish for the past year, I can say that I think the benefits to me have been in an even deeper appreciation for both forms and an increased awareness in the way that I offer Mass in either form."
Fr. Eric Kowalski
Holy Angels Parish, Mt. Airy, NC
The need it meets
Since the publishing of Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio, many priests have noticed an increased interest in the liturgy in general, both from people used to the ordinary form, and also from those attached to the extraordinary form. In some cases, there has also been confusion and tension. Because of past exaggerations in the liturgical debate, it is not always clear how individual parishes should react to the new situation, or how they should respond to the motu proprio.
Where it came from
- Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte sponsored a seminar for his priests regarding how to celebrate the extraordinary form. Fr. Kowalski attended.
- Subsequently, in several months worth of bulletin articles he explained the motu proprio and the extraordinary form.
- Eventually, he held an open parish meeting in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in which the parish family prayed about and discussed whether to offer the extraordinary form in the parish, whether there was really interest in it.
- Fr. Kowalski was surprised to have over 60 people attend the meeting, from all age groups. There was great enthusiasm for the addition.
How it works
After discerning that this addition would be good for the parish (using a method like the one detailed above), two things need to happen:
- The extraordinary form must be learned (see "resources for training" listed below under "Key Elements").
- This Form must be integrated into the parish Mass schedule. Fr. Kowalski describes how he has done this:
"At present, I offer two Saturday vigil Masses (one at 4:30PM in English in the ordinary form; and one at 6:30PM in the extraordinary form). We have two Masses on Sunday morning in the ordinary form in English at 8:30AM and 10AM."
In the same diocese, Fr. Buettner of St Dorothy's celebrates the extraordinary form on Thursdays at noon.
"Our parish family has the choice and option of attending Mass in either form and many who have never been to the extraordinary form attend and are open to the experience. Many come back often and make it a part of their own spiritual life. I haven’t received any negative comments or feedback from anyone regarding their experiences with the extraordinary form. I might also say that those who primarily attend the 6:30PM Mass have not placed themselves in [any kind of] liturgical ghetto by refusing to attend Mass in the ordinary form. Many attend Mass in both forms. And no one has ever questioned the validity or sacredness of Mass in either form."
Fr. Eric Kowalski, Holy Angels', Mt. Airy, NC
Two other pastors attended the same seminar and followed a similar process to Fr Kowalski's:
"... [I]t's wonderful having both forms of the Latin Rite at St. Ann's!... Providing both forms of the Latin Rite in my parish gives me an opportunity to reach out to a greater number of people and it provides a richer liturgical environment for the parish... For priests who are curious about learning the old Mass, I would encourage them to do so and not to be intimidated by the amount of work it takes."
Fr. Timothy Reid, St. Ann's, Charlotte, NC
"I have been truly blessed by the experience of offering Mass in the extraordinary form and would encourage priests to take every opportunity to learn it and offer it with reverence and love, as well as the faithful to make every opportunity to attend it."
Fr. Matthew Buettner, St. Dorothy's, Lincolnton, NC
Resources for training:
* Learning the Mass: A Manual for Seminarians and Priests, by Rev. Walter J. Schmitz (available through amazon.com for around $13)
* The Celebration of the Mass: A Study of the Rubrics of the Roman Missal, by Rev. J.B. O'Connell (available through amazon.com for about $40)
How to implement it
- Evaluate parish interest and, if appropriate, choose resources for information and training for the celebrant, servers and attendees.
- Schedule teaching sessions to help parishioners participate in the extraordinary form.
- Determine necessary supplies and delegate their acquisition to a trustworthy committee.
Fr. Eric Kowalski is pastor of