Skip to comments.CHARTRES PILGRIMAGE: YOUTH PRAY TOGETHER IN LATIN
Posted on 05/13/2008 5:56:39 PM PDT by magdalen
Pilgrims sing the praises of Latin The Tridentine Mass is being revived by young Catholics while walking to Chartres Cathedral
Greg Watts Religion may well be in decline among European youth but it is by no means dead. This weekend about 6,000 young Catholics will set off on a 75-mile walk from Paris to Chartres Cathedral and as they walk they will all be praying and singing in Latin.
Pope Benedict XVIs decision last year in his apostolic letter, Summorum pontificum, to revive the Tridentine Latin Mass, was seen as a turning back of the clock by some liberal Catholics but greeted with jubilation by some conservative Catholics.
Out of all of the reforms triggered by the Second Vatican Council, the introduction of a new Mass in 1969, replacing the Roman Missal of 1962, was the most controversial.
Instead of facing east with his back to the congregation, the priest now faced them and recited the words in the local language rather than Latin. While not technically banned, the Tridentine Mass soon fell out of use, but some groups of Catholics refused to give up their attachment to it.
This weekends annual three-day pilgrimage through northern France, which is in its 26th year, illustrates the appeal that the Tridentine Mass has for some young Catholics disenchanted with what they say is the lack of mystery, beauty and sacredness in the revised Mass.
Gregory Flash, 28, an investment banker from London, explains why he is taking part in the pilgrimage for the second year running: The pilgrimage is a time of prayer, penance and fellowship. Its great to be surrounded by thousands of Catholics around the same age who, despite their different nationalities, can sing and pray in the same language and in the same way.
The pilgrims come from several countries, including Poland, Germany, Italy and the US, and include seminarians. Some bishops and even cardinals have joined them in previous years.
They begin their pilgrimage at 6am on Saturday at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, where a priest will bless them. Carrying banners and flags, they then snake their way through the south-western suburbs of the city and out into the countryside.
At mid-morning we attend the first Mass of the pilgrimage. A priest sets up an altar in a forest and will celebrate a full sung Mass with a choir singing Gregorian chant, Mr Flash says.
The pilgrims follow part of one of the ancient routes to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. They walk in small groups. Some sing the rosary in Latin; others make their confession to one of the traditionalist priests who accompany them. On Saturday and Sunday nights they camp in fields.
When we arrive at Chartres Cathedral, the local bishop usually greets us. We then have a solemn Mass. Those who cant fit inside watch it on TV screens outside. Priests hear confessions in the side chapels or on plastic chairs in the cathedral square.
Abount 90 per cent of those making the pilgrimage are between 19 and 25, Ms Readings says. You dont meet many young practising Catholics nowadays, so its a great opportunity to encourage each other. When I come back, I feel, yes, it is possible to live out your faith in the modern world.
I find the Tridentine rite more beautiful and reverent. A lot of the new Masses are happy-clappy. The Tridentine Mass is geared towards God more than the congregation, she said.
She dismisses those who argue that the Latin language is a barrier to understanding the Mass. Latin isnt a problem. You follow the Mass in a missal that has the words in Latin and English. Latin is a universal language and it is very ancient. I like that.
This youthful enthusiasm for the tradition is not restricted to the Chartres marchers. For example, members of Juventutem International Federation, a network of young traditionalist Catholics founded in 2006, will attend the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec in June and World Youth Day in Sydney in July. The group has the support of Cardinal Dario Castrillo Hoyos, president of the Vaticans commission set up by Pope John Paul II to reunite traditionalist groups, such as the Society of St Pius X.
John Medlin, of the Latin Mass Society, reckons that about 20 per cent of those attending traditional-rite Masses are young or have young families. When young people who have had no prior experience of the traditional rite come along to one of our Masses only a handful go away thinking well, I found that pretty off-putting. Some think, fair enough, but not a lot happened for me. But a surprisingly large number go away thinking, Ive just come into contact with Catholic worship for the first time. I really felt something objective was going on.
In July, at Merton College, Oxford, the Latin Mass Society is holding its second residential training course for priests wishing to learn how to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. It includes talks on the Latin language, the rubrics of the Mass and singing, along with opportunities for priests to have a dummy run at saying the traditional Mass. Last year nearly 50 priests turned up.
Father Stephen Langridge, parish priest of the Church of the Holy Ghost, Balham, South London, and vocations director for the archdiocese of Southwark, believes that those young Catholics who are drawn to the Tridentine Mass should be seen in the context of a search for a more meaningful spirituality.
Some young Catholics might turn to the Tridentine Mass as a way of deepening their relationship with God, Father Langridge says.
They find it offers them a deeper spiritual experience than perhaps they have found at their parish Mass. In my experience others find something similar attending Youth 2000 retreats or becoming involved with some of the new movements.
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So beautiful! Chartres has simply the most magnificent cathedral anywhere. There are a lot of great ones, but everything about this one gives me shivers..... and the stained glass is beyond compare.
this is certainly one of the greatest events on the Catholic calendar of any country! I was lucky enough to go last year and it was magnificent.
my experience was almost everyone was young. And it is a place were vocations are discovered; either to priesthood, religious life, or marriage.
We lived south of Chartres in the nineties, and we learned the songs and the Mass in Latin, something of beauty that remains with us in permanence.
When we worry that France has lost its way in these times, we should remind ourselves of a very real and powerful core of faith still standing and still battling.
magdalen, the article was published on May 9, 2008. When you post an article, there is a field asking for the date of publication of the article. You should enter the actual date of publication. When the article is posted on Free Republic the date that the thread is created is generated automatically, so you don't need to enter that date. Maybe the Religion Moderator can fix the publication date?
The pilgrimage took place this past weekend.
"Religion may well be in decline among European youth...Oooooo, cue in ominous music
...to revive the Tridentine Latin Mass, was seen as a turning back of the clock by some liberal Catholics but greeted with jubilation by some conservative Catholics.That's right, it's always about liberals versus conservatives....the swinging pendulum, right, left, right, left.
Instead of facing east with his back to the congregation, the priest now faced them and recited the words in the local language rather than Latin.Yes, because we can't worship if we can't see the priest's lovely face.
BUT, the article got much better as the story unfolded. I have a feeling two people wrote this article. The first wretched boring part was from the editor who had to put in the standard party line, and the second, more fully developed part was from the poor writer who did his best to present an engaging story.
We were in Chartres for a too-short drive-by this past December. It was my fourth visit. The French Romanesque and early Gothic styles have real appeal for me.
I am noodling the possibility of a similar youth pilgrimage in this neck of the woods. Except that we don’t have a world-famous cathedral and a relic of the Mother of God.
Wow! I had not heard of this. Thank you for the ping.
What a magnificent sight this must be. I would love to witness this.
My knowledge of your area is pretty slim, but aren't there martyrs' shrines or relics nearby?
If you like gothic architecture, you must visit the cathedral near me the next time you're in this neck of the woods. It's neighbor cathedral in NYC gets a lot of the attention, but it is IMHO the more beautiful of the two.
As the Tridentine Rite continues to grow, more young people are embracing the Church. It’s a fact. One need only attend a Latin Mass to see for him/herself.
In New Orleans we have two National Shrines: one to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the other to Blessed F.X. Seelos. I’m not aware of any martyrs (the indians hereabouts were not especially violent towards missionaries, as far as I know).
Also we have an uninterrupted bike path atop the Mississippi River levee, all the way from Baton Rouge to New Orleans — ideal for foot traffic, with over 1M Catholics within a 100-mile radius. With proper planning and sponsorship, it could make for an impressive turnout.
Thanks for posting the link to the pictures. They were very slow loading on dial-up but with Handel’s Dixit Dominus on the computer speakers, well worth the wait.
I can only imagine what the high altar was like before the wreckovations of Vatican II.
You’re welcome. I’m not sure there were any wreckovations at Chartres Cathedral. Many older cathedrals only had free standing altars. I am open to correction, though, if I am mistaken.