PORTSMOUTH � Due to a decree this past summer by Pope Benedict XVI, Latin Masses may now be performed if a group of parishioners within a particular church requests it. Before the decree, permission from the local bishop had to be obtained before a Latin Mass could be performed in his diocese.
Michael Kerper, pastor of Immaculate Conception in Portsmouth, celebrated the Latin Mass at the church on Sunday according to the 1962 Roman Missal. The 1962 Missal is the standard low Mass in Latin that was sanctioned by Pope John Paul in 1962, and it became a common template for traditional Latin Masses.
It was the first time in 40 years that the traditional Latin Mass has been offered anywhere on the New Hampshire Seacoast. Approximately 400 parishioners attended, about half of the church’s communicant capacity.
“Father Kerper did a wonderful job,” parishioner Bill St. Laurent said. “It went beautifully. He had never done a traditional Mass in Latin, but he purchased a copy of the 1962 Roman Missal and worked hard for six or seven weeks learning the Latin.”
St. Laurent is president of the New Hampshire chapter of Una Voce, an international federation of associations that have been seeking to reinstate Latin Masses across the world.
Anita Seedner of York, Maine, who attends St. Christopher Parish in York, said people have “lost a sense of what it means to be a Catholic,” because the prayers were “watered down” when they were translated from Latin to English.
Still others believe that the incorporation of Latin Masses could create a sense of “us and them” � those who believe the traditional Mass to be more deeply rooted in the traditions of the Catholic Church, and those who believe that understanding the meaning of the words is essential to the Mass experience.
For supporters of the Latin Mass, it comes down to choice.
“The Latin Mass isn’t replacing the English Mass; it is just giving people an option,” St. Laurent said.
One of the better articles I have seen on the extraordinary form of Mass. Though I had to laugh at the term "communicant capacity" to describe seating capacity in the church. Though I think there is such thing as communicant capacity in that the Eucharist gives grace depending upon the capacity of the communicant.