Cardinal Rigali on Introducing Seminarians to the 1962 Missal
By Annamarie Adkins
PHILADELPHIA, MARCH 14, 2008 (ZENIT)
Since Benedict XVI has said that the Mass celebrated according to the
1962 Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII should be available
to those who prefer it, seminarians should be taught to say it, says
Cardinal Justin Rigali.
The Pope clarified in his apostolic letter "Summorum Pontificum" that
there are two forms of the liturgy in the Roman Rite of the Catholic
Church: ordinary and extraordinary.
To learn what some bishops are doing to implement the document in
seminaries, ZENIT spoke with Cardinal Rigali, archbishop of
Philadelphia, about his plans to introduce seminarians at St. Charles
Borromeo Seminary to the extraordinary form of the Mass.
Cardinal Rigali also suggested why priests already in active ministry
should become familiar with the Missal of 1962.
Q: What practical steps are being taken to incorporate "Summorum
Pontificum" into the life and curriculum of the seminary?
Cardinal Rigali: First there will be a lecture offered on the "motu
proprio" that elucidates the theology underlying the 1962 missal so that
the seminarians are afforded a clear understanding of the "motu proprio"
and the Holy Father's pastoral concern for the faithful who have a deep
love for the Tridentine liturgy.
Since nearly all of the seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
have grown up attending Mass according to the "Novus Ordo"
Missal of Paul VI
it is important to offer an exposition of the Mass according to the 1962
Missal of Blessed John XXIII.
Further, seminary course work in theology, liturgy and Church history
will cover and expound upon the Holy Father's initiative. It will be
helpful for them to see the continuity between the two expressions, but
will also afford the opportunity to address the changes that took place
in the liturgy following the Second Vatican Council.
Sometime in the spring semester, after the lecture, Holy Mass
according to the extraordinary form will be celebrated once for the
entire St. Charles Borromeo Seminary community. This will demonstrate to
the seminarians the liturgically correct manner in which the
extraordinary form of the Mass is to be celebrated.
Q: What about "Summorum Pontificum" has led you to support the
incorporation of that document into the life of St. Charles Borromeo
seminary? Are you foreseeing a greater demand for the traditional form
of the Mass in the future?
Cardinal Rigali: The Holy Father has indicated that the Mass
according to the extraordinary form as well as celebration of the
sacraments should be available to the faithful when there is a genuine
Many of our clergy have never celebrated Mass or administered the
sacraments according to the 1962 missal and the other liturgical texts.
In order to provide for the pastoral needs, should they arise, the
current seminarians should have the opportunity to be properly educated
as to the rituals involved and the theology that underlies these forms.
At present I do not foresee a great demand for celebrations according
to the extraordinary form of the Mass. In the Archdiocese of
Philadelphia the requests we have received are very few. Most Catholics
today find spiritual satisfaction in the Mass as celebrated using the
Missal of Paul VI, and this remains the ordinary form of the
This being said, we are blessed to have two parishes in different
areas of the archdiocese that celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form,
who had already for some time been offering Mass with the Tridentine
Missal by grant of the necessary indult. I am grateful that these
parishes provide for the spiritual and pastoral needs of those faithful
who prefer the extraordinary form.
Q: Some analysts of "Summorum Pontificum" have said that it is
primarily directed at priests, and is a gift to them. What is your view?
Cardinal Rigali: The "motu proprio" is issued by the Holy Father for
With regard to priests, any statement from the Holy Father on the
liturgy or any change in the liturgical forms or formula afford the
priests an opportunity for thought and reflection on the mysteries they
celebrate in the liturgy.
Many priests find in these opportunities a renewed sense of awe and
appreciation for the liturgy and an opportunity for recommitment to
celebrate these liturgies in a more reflective, reverent and respectful
In this sense, "Summorum Pontificum" is a gift to all priests,
because it encourages them, through the sacred liturgy, to draw all
people into a deeper communion of holiness with the Lord.
Q: Seminaries are in the business of formation, particularly
liturgical formation. What formative effect do you believe learning and
celebrating the extraordinary form of the Mass will have upon
Cardinal Rigali: Studying about and learning the Mass according to
the 1962 Missal will afford the seminarians an opportunity to experience
the continuity between the older and newer forms.
So much of our faith is based on continuity and tradition, handing on
of the faith from one generation to the next. Sometimes the rituals
change and develop but at the core they remain the same.
Benedict XVI stated in his letter to the bishops that accompanied the
"motu proprio," "There is no contradiction between the two editions of
the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and
progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred,
remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be of all of a sudden
entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to
preserve the riches that have developed in the Church's faith and
prayer, and to give them their proper place."
The liturgical training St. Charles Borromeo seminarians receive
forms them in reverence and holiness, which in turn will serve the
faithful to whom they will minister once they are ordained.
Q: Will saying Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII
affect the way a priest says the "Novus Ordo" Mass?
Cardinal Rigali: Any priest who is unfamiliar with the extraordinary
form, or who has not celebrated the liturgy according to this form for
some time, will probably, and quite naturally, reflect on the manner in
which he celebrates Mass according to the "Novus Ordo."
Such a reflection is positive because it cannot help but lead to a
more reverent and worthy celebration of the liturgy.
Q: What can priests do to incorporate "Summorum Pontificum" into
their own priestly ministry?
Cardinal Rigali: St. Charles Borromeo Seminary is offering a course
for priests who wish to be educated and trained in the proper
celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII to
ensure competence in the Latin language and the rubrics of the
Prior to engaging a "practicum" experience, the theology behind the
liturgy and the "motu proprio" will be studied. I have encouraged any
priest who may wish to learn to celebrate this liturgy to seek such
educational opportunities so that the liturgy may be celebrated in a
prayerful and reverent manner.