AMID “misunderstandings” on the implementation of the 2007 document liberalizing the Traditional Latin Mass, a follow-up instruction has finally been approved by the Vatican.

The instruction titled Universae Ecclesiae was released last May 13 to address problems encountered by the clergy regarding the apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, the document that allowed priests to say the old Mass—now considered the extraordinary form of the Mass—even without the permission from the bishop.

Some problems in implementation include questions on who are qualified to say the traditional Mass, when it can be celebrated, and how to use the 1969 Roman Missal, the liturgy book before the reforms implemented following the Second Vatican Council.

Central Campus Ministry assistant director Richard Pazcoguin said the instruction provides guidelines to help priests and bishops in the right implementation of the apostolic letter.

“When the [Summorum Pontificum] was released, many questions came out on how to implement it. The follow-up instruction lays down the extent and limitation of the [apostolic letter issued by the Pope],” Pazcoguin said.

One of the main purposes of the apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum is for the faithful to easily participate in the Traditional Latin Mass.

Universae Ecclesiae detailed specific norms on the competence of dioceses to monitor liturgical matters, the priests who are qualified to offer the Mass, and liturgical and ecclesiastical discipline.

The follow-up instruction says that “every Catholic priest, who is not impeded by Canon Law, is to be considered for the celebration of the Holy Mass using the extraordinary form.”

Priests who are qualified to say the extraordinary form of Mass must have full knowledge of the Latin language, be able to pronounce the words correctly, and understand the meaning of the liturgy.

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The instruction, furthermore, said that liturgical books of the extraordinary form are to be used “as they are” but the commemoration of new saints must be included.

As regards religious orders such as the Dominican Order which has its own “Dominican Rite,” it clearly states that “the use of the liturgical books proper to the religious orders which were in effect in 1962 is permitted.”

Extraordinary and the ordinary Mass

Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P. said the Pope has the prerogative to come up with a law—called motu proprio in Latin—and this was shown by the publication of Summorum Pontificum that is now part of the universal law of the Church.

But the apostolic letter seemed to confuse the clergy as some of its guidelines were “not explained well.” Some bishops did not apply the motu proprio in their dioceses at all.

With the release of the Summorum Pontificum on July 7, 2007, the Holy Father said in a letter to bishops all over the world that there is no “contradiction between the Novus Ordo Mass (ordinary form)—which Catholics commonly practice—and the extraordinary form of the Mass.

The ordinary and the extraordinary forms of the Mass are different in terms of the medium used (the latter uses the Latin language) and length (the extraordinary form reaches up to two hours, longer than the usual one-hour for the ordinary form).

In the Traditional Latin form, also known as the Tridentine Mass, the priest and the people face the altar.

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Likewise, the Holy Communion is received by tongue, with the faithful kneeling in the extraordinary form.

Moreover, only one priest can offer the Traditional Latin Mass, unlike the ordinary form which can be concelebrated.

But Cabading pointed out that in terms of spiritual and sacramental needs of the faithful, there is “no difference between ordinary and extraordinary forms.”

‘No effect’

For countries that normally use the ordinary form of the Mass like the Philippines, Universae Ecclesiae is not expected to result in massive changes.

“For those who are attached to the extraordinary form, this is a big boost, but for those who are not, it does not really say much,” Cabading said.

For Psychology alumna Joan Denosta, who attends the Traditional Latin Mass at the Parish of the Lord of the Divine Mercy every day, the old liturgy stands for what is “true and holy.”

“The Traditional Latin Mass espouses the true ‘unbloody’ sacrifice of Jesus, as opposed to the Mass [just] being a ‘celebration,’” Denosta said. James Bryan J. Agustin

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