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.”

25 Comments on “Students bring the traditional Latin Mass back to Georgetown

  1. Ah yes, just what the Catholic Church needs—a new way to distance itself from real people and real life.

  2. Joe C,
    It could be Fr. Fields’ Mass was ‘discontinued’ only very recently, but there isn’t a regular Latin Mass held at Georgetown as of right now.
    I spoke to Kyle Berkley who works at Campus Ministry, and she confirmed for me that the Mass next Thursday will be the first Catholic Mass that Georgetown has held in a while. Currently, she said, they’re not holding Tridentine Masses.

  3. Tim, how do you figure providing a Latin Mass, for several who have requested it, is causing the Catholic Church to distance itself from “real people and real life”

    I suppose those who have expressed interest are fake people who lead fake lives.

  4. Tim:

    I would submit that the Church by opening up the rich spiritual treasure that is the Traditional Latin Mass is in fact facilitating the connection of real people (I consider myself and others who attend this mass to be just as real as you are) to real life. By real life I mean Jesus Christ, who becomes fully present for us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, who is the “Way, the Truth and the Life”, who is, as the Second Vatican Council declared, the “source and summit” of our lives as Christians. No one is being distanced, rather, by granting greater access to the TLM, those who prefer this ancient form of the Church’s liturgy are being brought closer to God and to his Church.

    I extend a warm invitation to you and to anyone, Catholic or not, to come and experience the beauty and reverence of this liturgy.

  5. “Fact-checker”:

    I can confirm the report from Molly Redden that the Latin Mass has indeed been discontinued. The mass was held several times in the 2007-2008 academic year, but since then the students who had organized the masses graduated. There is currently no regular, or irregular, Latin Mass on campus. I would hope that you could have some confidence in someone working in an office that deals directly with planning these events, even if they are only a “student.” Perhaps not, and then my comments won’t help at all.

  6. Someone should write a Voice profile of Fact-Checker, the sad, sad person who sits around criticizing a blog all day.

  7. Fr. Fields’ Mass wasn’t part of the Campus Ministry schedule of Masses. Either way this is good news.

  8. Can you imagine how lame the people who asked for more church must be?

  9. @Thom Yorke – Is that really the comment you’re going with here? Prefiguring a quote from the pope in a Radiohead cum Marx impersonation on an alternative news blog about the Latin Mass?

  10. @Joe (not C)

    Why are you commenting on a blog at 4:50 in the morning?

  11. @Kieran Raval

    Yes, because having mass in a 2000 year old dead language is totally the way to communicate clearly with people.

  12. Tim says: “Ah yes, just what the Catholic Church needs—a new way to distance itself from real people and real life.”

    I disagree. Mankind needs to be removed from this temporal world to reach a higher level of spiritual life and union with God. The Latin Mass does that.

    Maybe, Tim, you need to pray and understand there is a “reality” of eternity that we should all strive to attain through meditation and reflection and prioritizing our life towards things that are more important than this world. The Latin Mass provides that to many who now have the opportunity to pray with this liturgy.

    History shows that the Tridentine Mass did very well in bringing souls to Christ for centuries and it is needed especially during times of moral challenge, economic strife, and war. All evident in this present day and age.

  13. The Mass is about bringing people into the presence of God to offer sacrifice. It isn’t a happy go lucky meal the way the post-Vatican II Mass has become.

    It is about communicating with God, not men or women. Nor is it a Protestant service. But there isn’t anything to prevent the Pope from allowing the Tridentine Mass in English the way the High Church Anglicans have used it since the 19th Century.

    Secularists have no business telling the Catholic Church how to run its affairs considering they would rather see it disappear.

  14. Atheism is the delusion of the ignorant who refuse to look beyond the tip of their noses because it would require them to change how they live their lives.

  15. Latin is far from a “dead” language. The “mass” media might claim as much, but mostly that is because of middle-aged baby-boomers who were too lazy to actually study and do work had issues with low marks and actually having to try at something giving their personal biases and “issues”.

    Latin is used by the Church, as well as in science, medicine and law because the meanings of the words never change. What was written in Latin 2000 years ago has exactly the same meaning now as it did then. Try that with Shakespeare, let alone any pathetic “modern” music lyrics, movies or novels. The meanings of English words constantly change.

    Latin is truly an universal and timeless language that in another 2000 years will have exactly the same means.

  16. Pingback: Vox Populi » Comments of the Week: Leavey bridge thief, Father Witek, and GUSA

  17. Latin is awesome. I’m 20 years old and give me the Latin Mass any day.

  18. I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s philological parade, but to say that Latin is “an [sic] universal and timeless language that in another 2000 years will have exactly the same means [sic]” seems a little inappropriate when meanings of words changed drastically throughout the language’s life (ask any classicist about Medieval/’Church’ Latin and you’ll get an earful), continue to change today (as seen in the adaptation of the language to such uses as Facebook where older words acquire distinctly new meanings), and haven’t even entirely survived (there remain some words that even to this day we do not truly know the meaning and sense of). It’s a beautiful language, don’t get me wrong, but I think the idea that any particular language is more timeless than its peers is more accurately categorized as “wishful misconception” than as “even broadly approaching fact.”

    Normally I don’t waste my time on blogs, but I felt a need to come to the defense of a love wrongly praised. I hope you’ll understand.

  19. Hello,
    Can anyone tell me if this Mass is still available and what the current schedule is?



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