On July 29, 2011, the Cathedral in Mobile, Alabama, provided an extraordinary form Requiem Mass, sung by Musica Sacra, a local group of singers under the direction of Christopher Uhl.
The reports are in from the event, and perhaps you would not be surprised. After all, this was the first extraordinary form Mass in the Cathedral in many decades. Moreover, we’ve seen what happens dozens of times when this is done right, which is to say plenty of publicity (it was announced here), a High Mass with excellent singers (Gregorian chant and polyphony), a welcoming Bishop, a well-trained celebrant, and good organization.
Here is what happened. There was standing room only because every seat was taken. The lines at the confessional were impossibly long. The enthusiasm of the crowds was intense. The outpouring of gratitude toward the Bishop was overwhelming. The reporters who were present were amazed and in awe. One assumes that the collection that day was also very high.
These were extremely happy Catholics. Of course that is not surprising. We’ve seen this again and again over the last ten years. Offer the EF and the excitement and emotion and thankfulness spreads and spreads and bathes the entire Cathedral in light and warmth. It is a beautiful thing to see.
I suppose none of this should be surprising, unless you happened to be a reader of one of the thousands of books and articles that have put down the traditional Latin Mass because it is said to be dreary, exclusionary, clerical, incomprehensible, and contrary to the wishes of the people for God. Compare that litany of complaint to the actual reality: they are truly world’s apart.
None of this is a commentary on the past. I recently watched JFK’s funeral on youtube (a Low Mass of all things!) and I was saddened by the strong sense I had that the liturgy was just not taken seriously. Regardless of people’s memories or high profile events like this, it is long past time to realize that the traditional Latin Mass is not really about going back to some version of the preconciliar past. It is a living reality in the lives of Catholics, more and more so. The discussion of this form of the Roman Rite is and should be about the future.