|ROME, 29 SEPT. 2009 (ZENIT)
Answered by Legionary of Christ Father
Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum
Q: I am confused about the permission given by our Holy Father
regarding the celebration of Mass using the Tridentine rite (the
extraordinary form). Can a parish substitute for all daily Masses
throughout the week the "Tridentine form" instead of the "ordinary
form"? I understand Sunday Masses must be of the ordinary form, with
perhaps the exception of one Tridentine Mass. —
D.F., St. Clair Shores, Michigan
A: The most relevant document regarding this point is probably
Article 5 of "Summorum Pontificum":
"In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to
the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept
their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman
Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful
harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the
guidance of the bishop in accordance with Canon 392, avoiding discord
and favoring the unity of the whole Church.
"§2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Blessed John XXIII
may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such
celebration may also be held."
Canon 392 refers to the bishop's overall right and duty to oversee
and enforce the observation of ecclesiastical laws within his
While the papal document certainly allows some leeway, the fact that
it asks pastors to ensure that the celebration of the extraordinary form
harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral care would suggest that a parish
should not habitually substitute all daily Masses for the extraordinary
A parish with more than one priest could have daily Mass in both
Likewise, in areas where churches are in close proximity, the bishop
could allow one parish to celebrate a daily Mass in the extraordinary
form for the faithful from several parishes. Other possibilities include
rotating the celebration of the extraordinary form during the week among
two or three nearby parishes.
If the need arises, the papal letter issued "motu propio" (on his own
initiative) also foresees the possibility of the bishop establishing a
special parish, thus Article 10:
"The ordinary of a particular place, if he feels it appropriate, may
erect a personal parish in accordance with Canon 518 for celebrations
following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or appoint a chaplain,
while observing all the norms of law."
As is obvious all celebrations in such a parish or chaplaincy would
be according to the extraordinary form.
The above document says that it is important to seek positive and
charitable solutions to the needs of all the faithful so as to avoid
discord and to favor the Church's unity.
* * *
Follow-up: Frequency of Extraordinary Form [10-13-2009]
Related to our Sept. 29 commentaries on the frequency of the
extraordinary form of the Roman rite were a couple of questions that
could complement that response.
A Moncton, New Brunswick, reader asked: "We are recently having a Mass
in the 1962 version of the Tridentine Mass. Is it allowed to sing the
Our Father with the priest? Are the appointed servers of Communion in
the new rites, as we use today, allowed to distribute Communion in the
As mentioned previously, I believe that the rubrics of the 1962 missal
have preference over more recent canonical developments. Since this
missal foresees only the priest and deacon as ministers of Communion at
Mass, the use of extraordinary ministers is not contemplated.
With respect to singing or reciting the Pater Noster in Latin along with
the celebrant, this practice was permitted in the so-called dialogue
Masses in which the faithful would follow the Mass along with the
A Troy, Michigan, reader asked the following: "Some of my friends who
are attached to the Tridentine form of the Mass seem to be irritated at
the use of the Nicene Creed in the Novus Ordo. They focus in on the use
of 'We believe' instead of 'I believe.' What's up with this? Was only
the Apostles' Creed used in the Latin Mass? The Nicene Creed seems to be
very rich in theology, and it's almost poetic. I find it a wonderful
source for prayerful meditation."
Actually, the use of the Apostles' Creed in the Mass liturgy is the
novelty. The extraordinary form uses only the Nicene Creed at Mass. The
protests probably stem from the fact that "Credo" is translated as "we"
instead of as "I" which is the form found in the original Greek and its
The use of "we," while theologically correct in expressing the community
dimension of faith, is certainly not an accurate translation. For this
reason the recently approved new English translation of the Creed
returns to the first person singular form.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church in Nos. 26-175 eloquently expresses
this double reality of "I" and "we" believe.