~from the Waterbury Republican-American (you have to register to read...I love the priests' names mentioned here)
The Rev. Joseph Looney will try anything to lead people to God. Especially Latin. Starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem will begin offering a Novus Ordo Mass, or a Mass presented partially in Latin, at the request of parishioners.
“If I can do anything to strengthen the culture that helped me become a priest, I will do it,” said Looney, who recently transferred to Nativity from his longtime position at St. Margaret’s Church in Waterbury.
“All of this is to put Jesus Christ first. If I have to use Latin to do it, I’ll do it. If I have to use Spanish to do it, I’ll do it. If I have to use French to do it, I’ll do it. It’s important to me.”
Nativity’s decision to incorporate Latin into its services comes just after Pope Benedict XVI loosened restrictions on the traditional Tridentine Mass, also known as the “Latin Mass.”
Starting Sept. 14, churches can observe the Latin Mass without requiring authorization from their local bishop, as was previously required. The order was an attempt by Benedict to welcome back traditionalists who might feel alienated by the absence of the Tridentine Mass.
In the all-Latin ceremony, which was practiced until the 1960s, priests face the altar, turning away from the congregation. Members kneel to receive Holy Communion, and women and girls wear lace veils.
With Novus Ordo, meanwhile, the liturgy is in English, but most other prayers are in Latin. Parishioners and priests also chant and sing in Latin.
Since Benedict’s order, not many churches have expressed interest in adopting the Tridentine Mass, noted the Rev. John Gatzak, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Hartford. He believes there won’t be much enthusiasm because the traditional Mass involves much less participation on the part of parishioners.
With the contemporary Mass, church-goers “feel a sense of belonging to the church,” said Gatzak. “It is not only the priest’s Mass, it is our Mass.”
Besides Nativity, a handful of other Connecticut churches offer Novus Ordo Masses. Locally, those include the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem and St. Mary’s Church in New Haven.
The Rev. Thomas Confer, sub-prior of the Dominican community at St. Mary’s, said retaining Latin in Masses is vital to pass on tradition and biblical language. Also, Latin prayers and chants have sometimes been misconstrued when translated. “The music was composed for the text in Latin,” he said. “The music and language go hand in hand.”
Looney, for his part, calls Latin a strength — and one that can make people proud of their heritage.
The longtime priest is fluent in Latin, having studied the language for several years in high school and the seminary.
He will lead Nativity’s Novus Ordo Masses.
As well as introducing the new Mass, the 550-family church will begin Eucharistic Adoration all day on Fridays and a 5 p.m. Friday Benediction.
Eventually, they may integrate Tridentine Masses, Looney said.
In addition to Latin’s traditional appeal, learning and speaking the language provides a challenges and a connection with history, Looney said
“I want people to take the difficult road, not just the easy one all the time,” he said. “We have so many things to learn from the past. Looking at our culture, learning from the past is a wonderful thing.”
I love Fr. Looney's fervor...it helped overcome the reporter's party lines.