The Traditional Liturgy

"The proper rite of the Institute, in all its liturgical acts, is the traditional Roman rite. ... Its members will draw from the daily celebration of the Holy Mass, the inexhaustible and ever-renewed effectiveness of their external ministry. The priests, remembering each day the unique privilege of their conformity to Our lord Jesus Christ in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice, will themselves live off this precious treasure. Far from keeping this distinguished grace for themselves, they will communicate it abundantly in, through, and for the Church, according to the recommendation of Saint Augustine: 'Christiani propter nos, episcopi propter vos.'

— Statutes of the IBP, I, §2

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Why choose the traditional Mass today?

The liturgy is, in essence, a heritage and a tradition! This "extraordinary" form of the Roman liturgy is called "Tridentine" because it was codified at the request of the Council of Trent, or called "the Mass of St. Pius V" after the holy Pope who undertook this unification in the 16th century. Yet it dates back to the first centuries of the Church. It is the fruit of a long, organic and peaceful transmission. This is why it has never disappeared from the practice of the Church, and has "never been abrogated", as Benedict XVI affirms in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007.

But why then make this choice today of the "Latin Mass"? Because we are convinced that in this form of the liturgy the very meaning of the Mass emerges in the most obvious, most mystical and most prayerful way. Many elements combine to direct all the senses towards the altar, and toward the sacred mystery that takes place there:

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  • Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony, which carry the most spiritual part of our soul towards Heaven, like the incense which symbolically carries our prayers;

  • Silence and time of recollection, which express our adoration of Our Lord, just like the genuflections and prayerful attitudes of the assembly;

  • The Latin language, which unites all men on Earth in the same tongue, fixed and unalterable, when they address themselves publicly to God;

  • The sacred vessels, Communion in the mouth and the joined fingers of the priest after the consecration manifest our faith in the real presence of God in the host;

  • The rich ornaments which signify our desire to reserve what is most beautiful and noble for our acts of worship towards God;

  • The space delimited by the sanctuary, which separates the sacred from all that is profane, and is reserved for those who have been consecrated to perform the divine office;

  • The same gestures repeated by priests and ministers, precisely and without variation, down to the smallest details.

All these elements—one could cite many others, such as the ministers and congregation facing Christ together—unite and harmonize to give the liturgy its timeless value. Universal, transcendent and vertical: the liturgy is the public worship that the Church renders to God. It is the prayer that the mystical body of Christ addresses to His Father every day. It is entirely centered on God.

One could say that there is no place in the traditional liturgy for the improvisation of men, nor for the fleeting feelings of the priest and the faithful. These are reserved for personal prayer in the secret of everyone's conscience, or to noble traditional devotions. There is also no place during the liturgical action itself for explanation or teaching. This is reserved for the homily, for catechism classes, or for training adapted to the needs of each individual. The liturgy, on the contrary, is the place of the priestly, the ritual, the intangible and the eternal. It is the Church's greatest gift to the world, to enable us to approach, a little, the infinity of the mystery of God.