HONG KONG (UCAN) – The Tridentine Latin Mass Association of Hong Kong Diocese has celebrated the fifth anniversary of the revival of the pre-Vatican II Mass here and has asked the bishop to raise the status of their liturgy.
Association coordinator Cyril Law Wai-kit told UCA News April 26 that early this year association members asked the Hong Kong bishop to approve their Saturday liturgy as an anticipated Sunday Mass, allowing those who attend to fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation.
Law said Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong responded by asking the association to research how other dioceses handle such practices. The association has handed in a study report and 70 signatures from people who regularly attend the Latin Mass, he continued, adding that representatives of the association are set to explain the report to local Church leaders in May.
On April 22, Cardinal Zen presided at a Pontifical Mass in Latin to mark the fifth anniversary of the revival in the diocese of the Mass in use worldwide before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The liturgies began in 2001 under an indult, a special permission or privilege, granted by Cardinal Zen's predecessor, the late Cardinal John Baptist Wu Cheng-chung.
A Pontifical Mass is led by a bishop. Sydney-based Father Duncan Wong, a Chinese Malaysian of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, was invited to guide Cardinal Zen during the liturgy, as it is not familiar to the Hong Kong church.
Father Wong told UCA News April 22 that more liturgical training for priests and seminarians should be provided if the head of the diocese decides to allow the Latin Mass to be celebrated more often. He explained that such training should be more than just providing courses in Latin language.
At a question-and-answer session that followed the anniversary Mass, a middle-aged layman surnamed Yam asked Cardinal Zen if he would grant special permission to make the Latin Mass an anticipated Sunday Mass.
Cardinal Zen told Yam and some 60 other participants that the diocese is considering carefully the association's application on this matter. The cardinal said he personally likes Latin hymns and would encourage interested priests and seminarians to learn more about "this beautiful church tradition" that has a history going back centuries.
Recently, he continued, Pope Benedict XVI discussed the possibility of reconciling with followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who opposed the Mass being said in vernacular languages, which Vatican Council II made the norm. The pope brought up the matter during a meeting at the Vatican with cardinals on March 23, just before he made the Hong Kong bishop and 14 other prelates cardinals.
While affirming that liturgical reform and inculturation as defined by Vatican Council II remains the norm, Cardinal Zen said the diocese would continue to "permit but not encourage" Catholics to attend Mass in Latin.
The 74-year-old prelate also cited some technical issues related to the possibility of legitimizing the Tridentine association's Mass as an anticipated Sunday Mass. He noted, for example, that the liturgy usually takes place at 3 p.m., long before sunset on Saturday.
Father Lawrence Lee Len, diocesan chancellor and adviser of the Tridentine Latin Mass Association, confirmed to UCA News April 25 that local church leaders would discuss the issue. While noting that a small number of Catholics are eager to attend the traditional Mass every week, he said this liturgy is allowed only at designated times and places, led by priests assigned by the bishop.
Cardinal Wu's indult granted the use of a 1962 edition of the Roman Missal under certain conditions on a one-year trial basis. After reviewing the situation, the diocese approved the extension of the trial period annually. In August 2005, it approved a two-year trial period.
"Tridentine" is an adjective referring to Tridentum, the Latin name for the Italian city of Trent (Trento). It often is used to describe the Latin Mass, which was standardized by the Council of Trent (1545-63), even though that Mass was revised several times since, culminating in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal.
More than half the 60 participants of the April 22 Mass were middle-aged and elderly Catholics who wish to preserve the traditional liturgy. A middle-aged Catholic surnamed Chan, who regularly attends the Latin Mass, told UCA News it helps her become more devoted to God because she pays extra effort in appreciating each part of the liturgy.
Maria Chan Mei-shun, organist for the Masses, who is in her 20s, told UCA News she appreciates Latin hymns for generating a prayerful atmosphere.
About two years ago, Salesian Brother Carlos Cheung Sum-yui, another adviser of the association, edited and published a missal in Latin, English and Chinese with explanations and illustrations of the priest's actions in the Tridentine-style Mass. "We were questioned if Mass attendees would understand the Latin liturgy, so this missal helps," the 22-year-old seminarian told UCA News April 22.
He clarified that regular participants at the Latin Mass, young and old, have no problem with the liturgical reforms of Vatican Council II. "We come for the solemnity and the beauty of the liturgy, and many do participate actively in their own parishes on Sundays," he said.
Besides the Pontifical Mass, the association plans to celebrate their fifth anniversary with activities including Latin classes and formation seminars from April to July.
Republished by Catholic Online with permission of the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News), the world's largest Asian church news agency (www.ucanews.com).