Photos by Roseanne T. Sullivan unless otherwise noted
Here's a little story from May 2014 about how the traditional Latin Mass had recently become more widely available in San Francisco and how that gladdened the hearts of one long-time San Francisco family.
A few months ago, while I was preparing for an interview with Archbishop Cordileone for an article for The Latin Mass magazine, I spoke to Mary Richard, a homeschooling mother of seven, who was born and raised in the city of San Francisco, after we got out of Mass in San Jose one day.*
I told Mary some of the encouraging things I have been learning about initiatives the archbishop has been taking during the year and a half he has been in office to make the traditional Latin Mass more available in the San Francisco archdiocese and to promote more-reverent celebration of all liturgies.
One big piece of the news I told Mary is that Archbishop Cordileone had asked the pastor of Star of the Sea parish in San Franciswco, Fr. Mark Mazza, to learn and celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass. The result is that the traditional Latin Mass is no longer being relegated to being celebrated only at out of the way locations on odd days of the week at odd hours, but instead it is now being celebrated once again in a centrally-located regular parish in San Francisco by a regular parish priest during regular Sunday Mass hours** (before noon). Fr. Mazza also celebrates the traditional Latin Low Mass at 7:30 a.m. Monday to Friday and on First Fridays at 6:30 p.m.
Fr. Mark Mazza celebrating an Extraordinary Form Low Mass on First Friday, January 2014
Archbishop Cordileone often participates in traditional liturgies, as shown in this photo of him in chorus*** at the Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by Fr. Mark Mazza in honor of his 33rd Anniversary as a Priest--Photo by Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco
I also told Mary that I had recently interviewed Fr. William Young, who also celebrates a traditional Latin Mass every Monday to Saturday at 12 noon**** at St. Monica parish not too far away from Star of the Sea. Mary already knew about him. Fr. Young has a unique history in what Archbishop Cordileone jokingly referred to as "the liturgy wars," since Fr. Young couldn't make himself celebrate the new Mass as a young priest and got himself in trouble by preaching against it from the pulpit at his first parish.
|Fr. Young in his residence at St. Monica's Rector|
At Immaculate Conception Chapel, also within city limits, Fr. Young also celebrates the traditional Latin Mass every Sunday at 5 p.m., after he celebrates another Mass in San Rafael, across the Golden Gate bridge in Marin county at 12:15 p.m.
|Extraordinary Form Mass Locations in San Francisco City Limits|
Archbishop Cordileone's Benedictine Approach
While researching several articles I've been writing on this topic, I also learned that Archbishop Cordileone's initiatives are intended to implement the liturgical directives of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict is the author of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum that was released on July 7, 2007, almost seven years ago, to the relief of many lovers of the traditional Latin Mass. After 27 years of ostracism, Summorum Pontificum defended the traditional Latin Mass as never having been abrogated, named it the “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite,” affirmed it was just as validly a part of the Roman Rite as the Ordinary Form, and gave permission for the Extraordinary Form to be celebrated more freely with fewer restrictions.
Less well-known, but equally influential, is his book Spirit of the Liturgy, which was published by Ignatius Press while he was still Cardinal Ratzinger in 2000.
|Spirit of the Liturgy by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 2000, Ignatius Press. A great read!|
I think it's a fair summary to say that Archbishop Cordileone is encouraging seminarians and priests to learn how to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass**** and is making it more available in parishes because he agrees with Pope Benedict XVI that the beauty and majesty of the traditional Mass is an tool in the new evangelization. Here is his answer to one related question in the interview that I recently submitted to The Latin Mass magazine:
Q: What place do you see the Extraordinary Form Mass having in the archdiocese now and in the future?
A: I am trying to promote Pope Benedict’s vision: To make this form of the Mass more easily available for the faithful. Educate them about it.
I think it’s one useful tool of evangelization among others that we have. Some people are just naturally drawn to it and appreciate the beauty and majesty of it. Maybe not everyone will be, but there are those who will be. So let’s make it available to people and see how it goes.
So I would see it as more of being an organic growth. It needs to directed by the leadership, but it should happen in a more kind of organic sense. If it’s easily available to people, and they understand and are educated in it, we’ll see what effect it will have on the renewal of the Church.
When I told Mary Richard what I had learned, she reminded me that her family had lived in San Francisco for many years and said that this was indeed great news. Her parents, John and Jane Schaeffer, had been appalled by the changes made to the Mass in 1970. The family obediently but reluctantly attended the approved new Mass while they worked and prayed from within the Church for the restoration of the traditional form of the Mass for almost 50 years. Her father used to sputter after Mass, "That's a Protestant service!" and her mother used to try to hush him, "Don't say that!"
Super Mass Man
The name of another mutual friend, Doug Zeitz, came up during my interview with the archbishop. I told Archbishop Cordileone that I and many others are very happy that he is open to the traditional Latin Mass. "That reminds me," I said, "Do you know Doug Zeitz?"
"I know Doug."
It would be hard for him to miss Doug. Doug is a zealous Catholic, husband, and father of three daughters and two sons, who spends most of his spare time helping facilitate the traditional Latin Mass wherever it is being said in the Bay Area. At least it seems to me that's what he's doing, because almost everywhere I go to Mass around the Bay, there he is, and he usually has his sons in tow. For example, while Cordileone was still bishop of Oakland, he told Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, to start offering the Extraordinary Form Mass at his parish, St. Edward the Confessor in Newark, CA, near where the Zeitz family lives in Fremont, and Doug and his sons went to St. Edward's weekly to serve and help train the other serves. Doug and his two boys served at Fr. Keyes' first public celebration and many others since then. Doug did the same for a fledging clerical association, the Contemplatives of St. Joseph, after Bishop Cordileone left Oakland to become Archbishop of San Francisco and told the contemplatives to learn and start celebrating the traditional Mass at Mater Dolorosa in South San Francisco.
I said to the archbishop, "When I told Doug that I was going to interview you, he said to say 'Thank you for all the Latin Masses in San Francisco.'"
The archbishop seemed pleased. I went on, "You know, I think of Doug Zeitz kind of as Super Latin Mass Man. Whenever there's a traditional Latin Mass being started in the Bay Area, you're going to see him and his sons there helping make it happen." He chuckled at that, and then we moved on ….
Improvisation is for Comedy Clubs Not for Catholic Masses
Many fervent Catholics, like Mary Richard's parents, who might have otherwise accepted the new Mass, were turned off because many priests apparently thought the new Missal gave them permission--or even required them--to improvise*****. The impressive Catholic liturgy whose prayers and music had developed over the millennia into an advanced state of artistic and reverent worship had been changed into what I eventually began to think of as a weekly Catholic-lite version of Ted Mack Amateur hour.
On a related note, I often think of how Mother Angelica once quipped that the Catholic Church is now the Electric Church, because, as she said, every time you go you get a shock.
In his letter to the bishops that accompanied Summorum Pontificum in 2007, Pope Benedict frankly stated his own observation that many fervent Catholics wanted to hold onto the old form of the liturgy, not because they are sentimentally attached, but because many uncalled for innovations were introduced into celebrations of the new form of the liturgy, innovations that deformed the new Mass and hid its merits.
The desire of at least some of those who wanted to recover the old form of liturgy "occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorising or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear ... caus(ing) deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.”
Pope Benedict recommended more faithful observance of the Missal of Paul VI as the only way to prove that the new Mass could be as spiritually rich and theologically deep as the form of the Mass it had replaced: "The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal."
Baffeld and Shocked
It is not only shocking but also baffling for me to look back at the past almost-fifty years and realize that those who loved the beauty and reverence of the pre-Councilar Mass were totally denied access to it and and were belittled for their preference for it. Priests were punished who wanted to keep on celebrating it. Father Young told me in an interview last month that even though he was happily assigned to an out of the way hospital ministry in which he was allowed to continue to say the pre-1969 Mass, other diocesan priests who continued to say it were removed by their bishops from their ministries.
I wasn't around for the change-over from the 1962 Mass according to the Missal of Pope St. John XXII to the 1970 Mass of Pope Paul VI, because I had left the Church in 1963 as a college freshman in an adolescent cloud of intellectual pridefulness. When I came back a humbled believer in the mid-1970s, after trying out just about every other competing set of beliefs along a spectrum from existentialist rejection of bourgeois mores to hippy LSD experimentation to Protestant fundamentalism, to my surprise I found that the Church I thought I was coming back to was practically unrecognizable.
Even though I accepted the changed Mass in English with the priest facing the people along with more participation by lay people, I grew over the years to be uncomfortable with what Pope Benedict called deformations of the liturgy that I saw week after week. I began singing in the St. Ann choir that sang Gregorian chant and polyphony in Latin at Ordinary Form Masses, and then was drawn to the traditional Latin Mass when I started to help out with a new choir being formed at a diocesan-approved Oratory where only Extraordinary Form Masses were celebrated.
Even though I don't have space to go into much more detail, I want to mention that Archbishop Cordileone has started several other initiatives that not only make the Extraordinary Form Mass more available but also will help to remove the deformations in how the Ordinary Form of the Mass is sometimes celebrated. To that end, for example, he created the aptly named Benedict XVI Institute of Sacred Music and Divine Liturgy at the St. Patrick's Archdiocesan Seminary to educate interested seminarians in the Extraordinary Form and to form both future priests and any laity who perform ministries during Ordinary Form Masses so they can celebrate and worship at the Mass reverently in a manner consistent with actual Church liturgical directives and authentic doctrine*****.
Tolerance Stopped Here
It must have been heartbreaking for those who lived through the changes that were made at one blow with no exceptions allowed. It makes me sad to hear about what happened to lovers of the traditional Mass, especially about the disdain that came their way. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the following about how people who loved the traditional form of the Mass were treated as lepers and how intolerant his otherwise tolerant "episcopal brethren" were being.
"For fostering a true consciousness in liturgical matters, it is also important that the proscription against the form of liturgy in valid use up to 1970 should be lifted. Anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here. There has never been anything like this in history; in doing this we are despising and proscribing the Church’s whole past. How can one trust her present if things are that way? I must say, quite openly, that I don’t understand why so any of my episcopal brethren have to a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance, which for no apparent reason is opposed to making the necessary inner reconciliations within the Church. … I must say, quite openly, that I don't understand why so many of my episcopal brethren have to a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance… ."The Best Part for Last
J. Ratzinger, God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald</em>, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002, 416.
To provide an alternative to the trend Mary's parents and their peers also perceived in Catholic education after the Second Vatican Council--away from the traditional doctrines of the Catholic Church--they supported the founders of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA in 1971 every way they could. Mary was a freshman during the first year the college was on the Santa Paula campus, she and her three sisters graduated from there, her oldest son graduated last year and is preparing to marry a lovely young home-schooled woman from Iowa who he met there as a fellow student, and Mary's two daughters are currently also students there. The following quote is from an article, John E. Schaeffer, at the Thomas Aquinas website, which is a quite interesting account of the major contribution the Schaeffers made to the college, once they found outit was going to be "genuinely Catholic."
One afternoon in 1968, Mrs. Schaeffer went in search of the offices of the small Catholic college she and her husband had read about in National Review. It was due to open in a year or two within Dominican College, and the Schaeffers hoped it would be the answer to their prayers. She learned firsthand about the proposed school from founding President Ronald P. McArthur , who asked if she thought her husband might be willing to help them with the project. Having been convinced of the genuinely Catholic and academic nature of the proposed college, her response was immediate: “Of course he will!”
Mary's favorite part of the news she heard from me is that the traditional Latin Mass is now available again at both Star of the Sea and St. Monica's churches in San Francisco. She is delighted because they are her parents' old parishes where they attended Mass and received the sacraments as children. Mary told me that her parents will be very happy their prayers were answered and their hard work bore spiritual fruit after such a long time. Her father is deceased, so "He knows," she said, with an gentle, ironic smile. Mary has since then tried to communicate the good news to her mother, who is in her nineties and failing a bit mentally, and Mary is pretty sure that her mother understands too and is glad.
* * After Mary Richard married, she later moved with her family to San Jose. When we spoke, we had just attended a weekday traditional Latin Mass, which is celebrated at beautiful Five Wounds Portuguese National Church five minutes from my home in the San Jose diocese, at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Oratory that was established by San Jose's Bishop Patrick McGrath this year.
**For how Fr. Mazza learned and began to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, see my Regina Magazine article: After 50 Years, There’s a TLM in San Fran. Note: I tried to get the editor to change the headline she put on my article, since, as I told her, nobody around here calls the city “San Fran” (or “Frisco,” for that matter), and the traditional Mass had actually had almost continually been celebrated in said "San Fran" with archdiocesan permission by Fr. William Young ever since the new Mass was mandated, but I couldn't get her to change it.
*** in chorus. In traditional liturgies when a priest, bishop, or archbishop is present at a Mass celebrated by another priest, bishop, or archbishop, he usually assists in chorus (in choro) , except when he is a priest and is needed to fulfill the role of the deacon or subdeacon. The “choir” in this case is not the singers but the clergy who attend Mass seated in the sanctuary.
****Both Star of the Sea and St. Monica's are on Geary Boulevard, which explains the title of this related article from Catholic San Francisco "Geary Boulevard is new Latin Mass row."
***** Articles about some of the archbishop’s other related intiatives:
• “New Liturgical Institute in San Francisco” Regina Magazine. December 11, 2013.
• “The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music,” New Liturgical Movement website, January 30, 2014.
• “New California Men’s Order Will Teach Roman Liturgy,” Regina Magazine, January 23, 2014.