A very interesting thing happened in the Archdiocese of New York last year. Despite having well over 400 parishes, Father Patric D’Arcy was the only man ordained to the priesthood in 2012. What is even more interesting, however, is that Father D’Arcy chose to offer his first Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
In June of this year, the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina ordained to the priesthood Father Renaurd West. For his first Mass Father West chose to offer it in the Extraordinary Form.
That same month Father Jason Christian was ordained in my home Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina. Father Christian also chose to offer his first Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
Last year there were a total of three men ordained to the priesthood in the Charlotte Diocese. One of those three, Father Jason Barone (pictured above), offered his first Mass, a Solemn High Mass , in the Extraordinary Form as well.
Finally, there is the FSSP (the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter), a community of Roman Catholic priests who exclusively offer the Latin Mass. Formed following the issuance of Blessed John Paul II’s motu proprio Ecclesia Dei in 1988, this traditional community continues to grow year after year. In 2013 five more men were ordained in North America by Bishop Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. With nearly 150 young men in seminary between the United States and Europe, the FSSP can expect to continue its decade long average of nearly a dozen ordinations annually.
It’s clear that both Ecclesia Dei (1988) and Summorum Pontificum (2007) are producing much good fruit, and vocations, for the Church.
Concurrent with this is the ever increasing offering of weekly Traditional Latin Masses in the United States. Even just since 2007, when Pope Benedict issued his motu proprio, the total number of weekly masses in the Extraordinary Form have nearly doubled from roughly 225 to over 400 currently.
So what exactly is it about the Traditional Latin Mass, or the Extraordinary Form, that so many seminarians and young priests find appealing?
In May 2010 the excellent online site New Liturgical Movement posed this question to newly ordained Father Patrick Beneteau of the Diocese of London, Ontario. Father Beneteau’s beautiful explanation is worth quoting at length (emphasis mine):
The entire experience of preparing to celebrate the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite has been an enriching one. In my second year of seminary I read Cardinal Ratzinger’s, “Spirit of the Liturgy” and some of Louis Bouyer’s works on liturgy.
I realized that, in many respects, the Liturgical Movement was still in need of being actually implemented and taught. Thus began my keen interest in the traditional celebrations of the Church’s liturgy in both forms of the Roman rite.
In celebrating this past Sunday’s Solemn High Mass, I was struck with how Christ-centered the entire Mass was. Every gesture, chant, rubric and prayer offered by either myself, the deacon, or subdeacon, focused my attention constantly on the fact that this sacrifice was being offered to the Father, through Christ’s sacred action, not my own – and this was very liberating. The ad orientem direction of liturgical prayer emphasizes this fact so clearly.
An Increase in Vocations
As Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) recently confirmed, this current years total for post graduate level seminarians (3,694) represents a 10 per cent increase from 2005. While the improvement is modest, the trend is clear.
Following the release of Summorum Pontificum, priestly formation for many of these young men now includes learning how to offer the Mass in both forms of the rite. As we have seen from so many of the recently ordained, it is their liturgical and theological formation that has moved them to offer the Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
Father Jason Barone of the Diocese of Charlotte explained his decision to offer his first Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Father Barone told the Catholic News Herald that he wanted to “give God thanks for this great gift of a vocation, and to do so in the most solemn and beautiful way that I can … in a way that He has led me.”
Having spent a year of studies at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Nebraska (operated by the FSSP), Father Barone was drawn to the Extraordinary Form because it places “a stronger emphasis on sacrifice … there’s something there that really appeals to the heart, to offer God’s sacrifice.”
It has been over six years since our Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, moved by the Holy Spirit, issued his motu proprio; and yet, far to many dioceses have still not made the Extraordinary Form easily available to the faithful.
As you can see by viewing Father Barone’s First Mass Highlight Video, there is much fruit being borne from the continuing reform of our sacred liturgy. As availability to the Traditional Latin Mass further increases in the coming years, we will continue to be blessed with vocations to the priesthood, such as those of Father D’Arcy, Father West, Father Christian, Father Beneteau and Father Barone.