In utroque usu
Member of the US Province, at Wahiawa community (Hawaii)
Twice while I lived in Rome I made my yearly retreat at the Benedictine Monastery in Norcia, the birthplace of Saints Benedict and Scholastica. Norcia is a fairly young and vibrant community that has the special characteristic of celebrating the liturgy “in utroque usu”, that is in both forms of the Roman Rite, the ordinary and the extraordinary. My two weeks there were the longest exposure I had had to the older form of the liturgy since I was in secondary school and the reforms of the Council and post-Council began to take effect.
After returning to the USA, I was assigned as pastor here in Our Lady of Sorrows, Wahiawa. On arriving last January I found a parish that is very alive. One aspect of that life is the sacred liturgy. Many people are involved in various ministries and that participation is more authentic because there is good understanding of the Church’s liturgy. We have six choirs and a good corps of lectors, special ministers of communion and servers. There is a funeral planner and a small group that accompanies the family through the funeral rite. There are two women and a man who are trained as ministers of ceremony for major celebrations. All of it is coordinated by a man and a woman who share a part time paid position as liturgy coordinators.
Being quite happy and busy enough here at OLS, I was surprised when our Bishop asked me to help on occasion with the celebration of the Extraordinary Form at a parish in Honolulu. Having never celebrated according to the Missal of 1962 it meant watching an instructional DVD a good number of times. After that I had lessons with Fr. Steve Nguyen, the diocesan priest, who is pastor with responsibility for the Latin Mass community. Finally in September I celebrated the Mass for the first time. Now I do so once a month.
In a letter to bishops accompanying his Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict said, “the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching…” There is quite a bit I could say about that even from my short experience. I will limit myself to two examples. The Extraordinary Form reminds me that the Mass has meaning before anything I do. The liturgy is bigger than me. It precedes me. Whenever I celebrate, whatever the form, I am a minister of the Church called to be faithful to the meaning given by Jesus and continued in the Church’s tradition. The Ordinary Form reinforces the sense that I am not the only celebrant. I am one with the whole worshiping community as together we turn to the Lord and worship the Father “through Him, with Him and in Him.”
When I celebrate the Eucharist here at Our Lady of Sorrows, I minister to a community that really desires to be connected to the Lord and the work of his Gospel. This is a very easy place to celebrate because I see the life of the body overflowing the liturgy. A happy discovery celebrating the traditional liturgy has been the discovery of another community, many younger professional folks with lots of children, who are very invested in their faith and committed to sharing that faith. There are a lot of “existential peripheries.”
Let me quote the website of the monks of Norcia. “This practice of offering both forms (in utroque usu) allows us the possibility to drink deeply from the riches of the tradition and, at the same time, to open our doors wide to the Church as she is today.” I would say, “Amen.”