With all the controversy regarding traditional Latin Mass over the years it may come as a surprise to learn that many young Catholics actually prefer it! Missa Solemni in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is now celebrated at St Mary Moorfields in the City of London. A Mass was organised for the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus by Juventutem UK and was celebrated by Fr James Bradley who is a Priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Saint Mary Moorfields is connected to a group called the Young City Catholics who hold social events around the year and celebrate Mass in Latin.
Perhaps it was inevitable that churches would return to High Mass in Latin considering that a poll in 2010 revealed that nearly half of English and Welsh Mass-goers would attend Masses in the traditional form of the Roman Rite if it was celebrated in local parishes. The survey also showed that 60% of Catholics didn’t even know about Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum which lifted restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass in 2007.
If it were true that conducting religious ceremonies in the native languages of the congregations attracted more people to the faith, then we would find apostasy rife amongst Islamic and Jewish communities in the UK. This is not the case. Moves to modernise mass have been counter-productive and have not made church attendance more attractive to the young as some predicted. Pope Benedict wrote, in the Letter to Bishops which accompanied his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, ‘it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.’
The Latin Mass Society have been promoting the Latin Mass since 1965 and provide an interactive map on their website showing you where the nearest Latin Mass is to be celebrated. They too argue that Latin Mass is popular with young people, saying on their website “The Traditional Mass has indeed proved to be enormously attractive to young people, who have been less affected by post – conciliar polemics, and can approach the Traditional Mass in a fresh way. Young Catholics and Catholic parents wish to recover the Catholic culture which enabled earlier generations of Catholics to live out their faith in an often hostile environment; they recognise that this culture is nourished by the Church’s traditional teachings, liturgy and spirituality.”
It certainly isn’t necessary for the congregation to be fluent in Latin for them to enjoy the Mass. In America and the UK, it is often the case that Catholic churches are attended by people who speak Spanish, Polish, English or Portuguese. When an English Mass is changed to Spanish in order to accommodate the Spanish speaking congregation, it merely alienates English speakers for whom Spanish translation is hardly a desirable aspect of Mass. Celebrating Mass in Latin removes cultural bias and reminds us all that Catholic literally means ‘universal’, it also connects modern Catholics with our sacred traditions and uniquely rich history.