The Traditional Latin Mass of Requiem – the Month of the Poor Souls 2013

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Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis.  Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Dear Traditional Latin Mass Faithful and Friends,

Those Catholics who are of a certain age, and those recently re-acquainted with the traditional liturgy of the Church, are well aware of the solemn traditional Mass for the dead with its sobering texts and its timeless music, whether Gregorian Chant or Polyphony.  It is hoped that a new generation will re-discover this precious liturgical tradition of the Church.  It is well worth rediscovering.  If fact, the Gregorian Chant Requiem Mass is one of the most ancient examples we have of chant.   The Traditional Latin Mass offered for the dead on the day of burial, or as a later commemoration, or even before a catafalque without the body present, is called the Requiem Mass, a term that was once part and parcel of Christian Culture and daily life.    The term “Requiem” comes from the chanted Introit or Entrance Antiphon, which is part of the prayer “Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.”  One can immediately think of its use in world literature, and the many splendid pieces of music that used the traditional Latin texts.  Some may recall the performance of Mozart’s Requiem with Cardinal Cushing as celebrant almost fifty years ago for the late President John F. Kennedy.  A recording was made and is still a treasured keepsake.

Because of the Vatican document Summorum Pontificum issued in 2007, every priest, who is able to, is privileged not only to provide the rituals of the revised liturgy for the dead, but also the rituals that were celebrated before the reform of 1969 for those who request them.  At Star of the Sea Parish we will celebrate Traditional Latin Requiem Masses for the Poor Souls in Purgatory from November 4th through November 8th every day at 7:30 A.M. and at 6:30 P.M.  On Friday, November 8th we will have a Traditional Latin High Mass of Requiem offered by Father Jeffery Keyes.  Canon Olivier Meney will have a Low Mass on Thursday evening and I will celebrate the other Low Masses in the morning and evening.

There has been some confusion about the reform of the Mass for the dead, because of the culture in which we live and a selective interpretation of the decree of the Second Vatican Council.  From time to time I have heard, for example, that black vestments were absolutely prohibited, and that the solemn chants were too sad for contemporary society.  This has never been the official position of the Church, which permits in addition to white or violet vestments, the traditional black ones, and the traditional Requiem Mass chants in Latin or English.  Some are under the false impression that almost any type of music can be sung at a funeral, including songs like “Take me out to the ball game” etc.  There is so much liturgical ignorance today; we have lost so much of what was good.  On the other hand, a relative informed me of a wedding where the text “dona eis requiem; may they rest in peace” was sung, the traditional ending of the Agnus Dei in the Requiem Mass.  They picked it because is sounded nice!   Poor couple!

The texts for the Traditional Latin Mass are found in your Daily Missal for the day of burial, for All Souls Day, or for a daily Requiem Mass.  Use these for your prayers this month, especially the sobering Dies Irae and other texts used on the day of Christian Burial.  When the day comes, as it will surely come for each of us, may all of us experience what the Church has always prayed:  “May the Angels lead thee into paradise: may the Martyrs receive thee at thy coming, and lead thee into the holy city of Jerusalem.  May the choir of Angels receive thee, and mayest thou have eternal rest with Lazarus, who once was poor.”

In Domino Dominaque,

Fr. Mark G. Mazza

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