Unity in diversity” characterises the liturgical worship of the Church, said Archbishop William Goh during a Traditional Latin Mass held at the SJI International School Chapel.
At the Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Sept 15, Archbishop Goh said both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Mass exist to enrich each other.
The Extraordinary Form (EF) deserves respect as it had nourished the saints of the Church for centuries and “retains a sense of mystery that people find themselves drawn to”, he said.
The EF, also known as the Tridentine or Traditional Latin Mass, was codified in the 16th century from pre-existing rites. It was the rite of the Roman Catholic Church until the Second Vatican Council introduced the Ordinary Form in 1969. This permitted Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular, with the priest facing the people.
During the Sept 15 Mass, Archbishop Goh stressed that licit liturgical preferences should never be a source of discord or division among Catholics. Instead, the true test of Catholic worship is whether it inspires them to a deeper love of God and neighbour.
About 200 people attended the Mass, which was celebrated by Fr Augustine Tay, who has been appointed the priest-in-charge of the EF community in Singapore. Fr Cary Chan assisted as deacon and Mr Michael Feng as subdeacon.
An all-male choir, the Schola Cantorum Sancti Gregorii Magni choir, chanted the Mass propers in Latin. The congregation also joined in the familiar people’s parts such as the Kyrie, Gloria and the Sanctus.
During the Mass, Archbishop sat on a cathedra (chair) with a canopy and backdrop emblazoned with his episcopal coat of arms.
The vestments and canopy of the cathedra were hand-made by members of the local EF community, a diverse group with representation from almost every parish and professional field, and which includes young families and young people.
Mr Lucas Neo, a choir member from the Church of the Holy Spirit, commented: “The Mass chants remind me of the Church’s rich musical tradition, since Vatican II reminded us that Gregorian chant should have pride of place in any choir’s repertoire.”
Priests in Singapore began celebrating EF Masses in 2009, two years after then-Pope Benedict XVI issued the apostolic letter, Summorum Pontificum, liberalising the use of the older liturgy. In 2010, EF Sunday Masses began to be celebrated on a regular basis at the SJI International Chapel.
A number of local baptisms and weddings have also been conducted using the EF liturgical books.
Summorum Pontificum has been credited with a revival of interest in traditional Catholicism worldwide, and a surge of religious vocations to societies that use the EF liturgy, such as the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP).
EF Masses will be celebrated at St Joseph’s Church (Victoria Street) at 3 pm every Sunday from Oct 6.