03 September 2012

Sacred Heart Church, Limerick, to re-open after 6 years. A sign of the times?

Video produced by Dr Michael O'Brien, June 2011

Today's Irish Independent carries a story that gives hope, Prayers answered as faithful flock to help save church. Sacred Heart Church, in the heart of the city of Limerick, closed down in 2006 when the Jesuits left. The report says that the property had been on the market for €4million but was sold very recently for €700,000 to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. That is a bargain price, even though much money will be needed for repairs and to refurnish the church.

The priests of the Institute celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form, what the Irish Independent report refers to as 'the Latin Mass', a term also used, in inverted commas, on the Institute's website, though its preferred term is 'Traditional Latin Mass'. Latin is still the basic liturgical language of the Latin Rite, to which most Catholics belong. I have never celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form, either when it was still the only Mass we knew or in recent years. When I was ordained in December 1967 there was an 'interim Mass', the main change being that the readings were in the vernacular. However, I have on a number of occasions celebrated the 'New Mass', Novus Ordo or Mass in the Ordinary Form, in Latin.

Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, Stamullen, Diocese of Meath, Ireland
(Formerly the Visitation Monastery)

My blogging friend Shane reported earlier in the year that the Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle was moving from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Stamullen in County Meath, north of Dublin. 

There is no doubt that the Catholic Church in Ireland is going through a grave crisis. Among many other things, very few young men are accepting a call to the priesthood. Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 7 December 1965 as the Second Vatican Council drew to a close, says, the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other. We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics.

Are the new monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, with young monks from the USA living a new expression of the ancient Benedictine form of the monastic life, and the reopening of Sacred Heart Church, to be staffed by young priests from overseas, members of an institute that came into being some years after Vatican II, and helped by local people young and old, among the signs of the times we should be paying attention to?


Josemaria Paulo Jeromino Martin Carvalho-Von Verster said...

Do you agree with Fr McKeating that the Summorum Pontificum will Never Work?

I am quoting from His Book: The call of mission

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Thanks for your comment, Josemaria. Fr McKeating is a fellow Columban priest, a friend and one of my former superiors. I used The Call of Mission on my retreat last year and found it helpful.

However, I didn't agree with his comment on celebrating Mass 'ad orientem', literally 'facing the east', which symbolizes the Resurrection, in practice, priest and people facing the same way.

Summorum Pontificum gives priests - and people - a choice. Likewise, every priest has the choice of celebrating Mass ad orientem or 'versus populum', ie, facing the people. This choice, however, isn't always available because many modern churches and chapels, or redesigned older ones, don't have freestanding altars, as post-Vatican II documents asked for. 'Freestanding' means that the priest should be able to celebrate Mass on either side of the altar. But if it comes out to the very edge of the sanctuary he can only celebrate facing the people.

For a couple of years now I have been celebrating Mass ad orientem in certain places. I have not celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form. No situation where I might do so has arisen. But I would be happy to do so if such a situation did.

Summorum Pontificum is 'working', to use that term, in a number of places. In my native Archdiocese of Dublin there is one parish where Mass in the Extraordinary Form is the norm. Archbishop Martin has celebrated High Mass in that form on a number of occasions. I know that Archbishop Palma has done so at least once in Cebu.

Undoubtedly there are dioceses in which Summorum Pontificu will 'never work'. There may be lack of interest. But it is 'working' in many places.