Students bring the traditional Latin Mass back to Georgetown
There are a lot of reasons why students get pumped to go to school in the District—the career opportunities, the inflated sense of self-importance that comes with attending school in the nation’s capital—but Kieran Raval (COL ’13) was excited that D.C., unlike his hometown, had a Catholic church which offered Latin Mass.
“Personally I’m pretty attached to the traditional Latin Mass. I prefer it. So when I came to Georgetown I was excited about this church, in Chinatown,” Raval said. “But then I talked to some freshman who liked the Latin Mass, too—and I was surprised to find that, especially among freshman.”
Raval saw the opportunity to attend traditional Catholic Mass, which the Second Vatican Council virtually eliminated when it authorized Masses celebrated in the vernacular in the 1960s, without having to get on the Red Line. Now, Georgetown will be host to the first traditional Mass in a while. On Thursday, February 11, at 8 p.m., students will gather in the Copley Crypt to hear Father Murphy give every part of the Mass except for the homily in Latin.
A traditional, or Tridentine Mass will probably be held at the same time and place every other week from then on, Raval said.
In the past few months, he has held a series of interest meetings for potential student churchgoers and had several talks with members of Campus Ministry. He found about 30 students who were interested in attending traditional Mass and was given a budget by Campus Ministry for the new materials they would need, including missal booklets to help congregants follow along during readings. Raval thinks he will be able to get some of the material through donations from older churches.
Latin Masses, which Raval stressed are not “at odds” with modern Masses, have been celebrated since the Second Vatican Council, but it was relatively more difficult to do so until Pope Benedict XVI removed some restrictions on celebrating traditional Mass in 2007. Aside from its use of Latin, a Tridentine Mass differs from a modern Mass in that the priest faces away from the congregants.
“It’s characterized as, the priest has his back to the church, but that’s not it at all,” Raval said, explaining why he prefers the traditional to modern Mass. “They’re all praying in the same direction, going toward God …. As for [Latin], it has sort of a lofty, spiritual nature to it. It’s almost like it’s a language for higher things.”