Posted by Brian Williams -Liturgy Guy
It has been one year since Mother Angelica, the feisty Poor Clare nun who founded EWTN, passed away at the age of 92. While many are familiar with her no nonsense persona and larger than life accomplishments, her love for the traditional Mass isn’t as well known.
Some may recall that Mother butted heads with her local ordinary (Bishop David Foley) back in 1999 following his decree forbidding the offering of the Mass ad orientem in his diocese. Mother was right, as she usually was, but Bishop Foley eventually won the dispute on appeal to Rome. As it turned out, many bishops simply did not want forty million plus television households seeing Masses offered ad orientem on a regular basis.
It’s also easy to forget just how supportive of the Latin Mass EWTN was in the years immediately following Pope Benedict’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in 2007.
Beginning with a televised Extraordinary Form Mass for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in September, 2007 (offered by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter-pictured above), the network would go on to air a total of ten traditional masses between 2007-2009. For many faithful Catholics, these televised liturgies were their first look at the sacred beauty of the Latin Mass.
As with most mystics and saints (small s for now), Mother Angelica recognized the power of the sacred liturgy.
In the end, Mother’s own words reveal just how strongly she felt about the traditional liturgy. As reported by the site ChurchPOP, here is Mother Angelica on the Latin Mass:
“Latin was the perfect language for the Mass. It’s the language of the Church, which allows us to pray a verbal prayer without distraction.
“See, the purpose of the Mass is to pray and to be associated with the crucifixion and with that glorious banquet that we partake of in Holy Communion. He is there. But so much is spoiled in the vernacular.
“During the Latin Mass you had the missal if you wanted to follow it in English. It was almost mystical. It gave you an awareness of heaven, of the awesome humility of God who manifests Himself in the guise of bread and wine. The love that He had for us, His desire to remain with us is simply awesome. You could concentrate on that love, because you weren’t distracted by your own language.
“You could go anywhere in the world and you always knew what was going on. It was contemplative because as the Mass was going on you could close your eyes and visualize what really happened. You could feel it. You could look to the east and realize that God had come and was really present. The way it is today with the priest facing the people, its something between the people and the priest. Too often it’s just some kind of get-together and Jesus is all but forgotten.”