The Bishop Visits a Tridentine Mass

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending my first Tridentine High Mass at Sacred Heart Parish in Dunn, NC, with the added bonus of it being the first visit by our new bishop, Michael Burbidge, to our only approved Tridentine parish. The Mass was extremely well-attended–people were standing in the aisles and packed in the back of the small church, and the choir loft was so full as to make people nervous about its support structure. The Mass was celebrated by Sacred Heart’s pastor, Fr. Paul Parkerson, with Bishop Burbidge and four other priests in choir. The bishop was aided by a chaplain to follow the liturgy, Fr. Ferguson, FSSP. At the conclusion of the Mass, Bp. Burbidge addressed the assembly on the subject of the Feast of the Holy Family, thanking them for being examples of holy families that are producing many vocations. There was a pleasant reception at the parish hall after Mass, and I was finally able to meet our bishop personally.

I took a few photos, but I was not seated in a good position in the choir loft. First, here’s a picture of the sanctuary before Mass:


Second, here are some blurry photos of the Mass in progress. I can’t remember where they are in the liturgy, and I apologize for the focus problems…




After a night to digest things, I’ve become more firmly convinced of the merits of the Tridentine Mass. What bowled me over was receiving the Eucharist at the altar on my knees. I would much prefer to continue attending there every week, but the drive is just too far and I am still convinced that we are called to be active in our community parishes, provided the danger to our faith is not too great. In my case, it’s definitely not.


17 Responses to “The Bishop Visits a Tridentine Mass”

  1. 1 Argent January 8, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you so much for the report. We were very sad to have missed it due to illness.

    Here’s a question: How much longer did Communion take with people kneeling to receive?

    I’m still not used to the queue lines and feel vaguely like cattle? Okay, so that sounded facetious, I know. I’ll have to go to confession now. 😉

  2. 2 Edmund C. January 8, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Subjectively, it didn’t seem like it took much longer than standing w/ 12 EMHC’s at my parish. There were two priests distributing, and I’d say there were a good 300 people in attendance, maybe more, and we in the choir had time to sing 3 very short songs. Not giving the Cup is one big difference, though.

    I just don’t see why people are in such a hurry…. 😉

  3. 3 Andrew January 9, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    I agree completely. The Consecration transubstantiates the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ but it is really Holy Communion which should be the highlight of the Mass for the people who actually get to receive Jesus Christ, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity into themselves. Why the rush?

    Perhaps we can catechize those who are always in a hurry or perhaps, as a last resort should Masses be lined up back to back, cut the hymns shorter.

    But I don’t see why Holy Communion needs to be rushed and get over with as soon as possible as it the practice now. After the great build up to this most holy of moments, it just seems rude to eat and leave.

  4. 4 Fr. Brendan Kelly January 9, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    In my own experience, when the people are used to receiving kneeling at the altar rail so that they move efficiently into place, with the same number of ministers distributing, the Communion Rail is a quicker and safer means of distributing Holy Communion than standing in lines to receive.

  5. 5 James January 10, 2007 at 2:12 am

    I was there. It did not take long at all. I returned to the side aisle to kneel on the floor (I was one of those standing), and I had not even finished my post-communion prayers when it was over.

    I go to the parish regularly. I feel so blessed to be there. Last Sunday was the most beautiful mass I’ve ever witnessed.

    I too love to kneel at the altar rail. I look up at the great crucifix hovering over me and meditate on it in prayer until that Blessed Host is lowered onto my tongue. I know it isn’t ABSOLUTELY necessary, but I think it helps prepare people to receive Communion more humbly and reverently. That’s why we kneel and genuflect and cross ourselves and clasp our hands and bow our heads in prayer—these are sacramental actions that both deepen and reflect our inner spiritual state.

  6. 6 Edmund C. January 10, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Thanks to all of you for commenting and visiting. I especially agree with Andrew’s point about not understanding why Holy Communion needs to be rushed. But, from a practical angle, if receiving at a Communion Rail were ever to be reinstated, the vast majority of our fellow parishioners obviously don’t share that sentiment.

    On the other hand, Fr. Brendan, if you’re right, (and I think you are) that it is actually faster to receive at the rail, then the real issue isn’t the method of receiving at all. The real issue is a theological one: whether the laity should be “divided” from the sanctuary and not “allowed” to receive the Cup.

    I think such reasoning is silly, but maybe it’s the real rationale behind the changes made to the way we receive the Eucharist post-Vat II.

  7. 7 Michael January 12, 2007 at 11:15 am

    The Mass might have been even more meaningful if you approached it with greater devotion. I think Our Lady made those photos blurry to discourage you from cheapening the HOLY Mass by trying to take pictures when you should be praying.

  8. 8 Edmund C. January 12, 2007 at 11:19 am


    One of the primary reasons I attempted to take photos was to send them to some dear friends who were unable to attend the Mass due to health reasons. I only took a couple of them because I was praying and following along in my missal.

    So, I would appreciate you not judging my actions and ascribing to Our Lady something as trite as causing my hands to shake (I suppose she prompted me to sit in the choir loft immediately in front of the A/C unit so I was freezing cold, too.).

  9. 9 Bekah January 12, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    I seem to recall at least one of the Eucharistic miracles occurred because of a photo taken during or after the consecration which showed the host as flesh and blood. This *could* be taken as a indication that photography during mass is not prohibited if one wanted to stretch it so far. 😉

  10. 10 inksmudge January 13, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Great pictures! I’ve never been to a Tridentine Mass but I’m hoping to go to my first sometime within the next month. Unfortunately, our diocese bishop did away with one (he’s very hostile to the latin mass) so now there’s only one small one to serve Orange County Catholics.

  11. 11 The Catholic Caveman January 13, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    What an absolutely 1st rate post! Keep the good news coming!

  12. 12 Jedesto May 8, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    We read in the Gospels that Jesus, at the Last Supper when he gave his deciples his body as bread and his blood as wine, and after his resurrection when he ate with them, always HANDED them something, including a “cup” to drink from. He was not reported to have thus fed invalids or infants who need to be fed by another. One who feels the need to assume a particular posture or to perform certain gestures immediately prior to or after receiving Holy Communion at Mass might be tempted to out-do another. Rather consider the value of humility by simply and reverently bowing (as encouraged by the Church) while concentrating on the interior communion that is taking place.

  13. 13 Edmund C. May 8, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Jedesto, that is exactly what I do (simply bow) in a Pauline Mass, but if you attend a Tridentine Mass, everyone kneels at a communion rail. Everyone does the same thing; no one outdoes anyone else. And, all reception is on the tongue. That is accepted, traditional practice.

  14. 14 JM April 21, 2008 at 1:54 am

    I just attended my first Tridentine Mass at St. Margaret Mary’s in Oakland, CA. This church has both traditional and new masses on Sundays, with the Tridentine Mass being provided by a priest of the Institute for Christ the King Sovereign Priest.
    I too would have to say that receiving communion kneeling and on the tongue for the first time (I was received into the Church one year ago) was the most memorable part of the Mass. It was a bit intimidating at first because I wasn’t sure where or when to kneel down, or what to do with my hands, but I copied the others and it worked out well. Looking up at the priest from my knees and hearing the beautiful Latin, “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam” was a humbling and beautiful experience. It certainly seems to induce a more reverent attitude in the congregation. I didn’t see anyone dressed in flip-flops and a tank top, chewing gum and hauling their belongings in order to hustle out immediately after Communion.
    On a side note, I wonder if they use a different altar bread for the Tridentine Mass. The host was unlike any I’ve had before; it sort of melted on the tongue.

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