Tridentine Mass Enriches Catholic Culture at St. Martha Church in Sarasota
Although Pope Benedict XVI just authorized a wider use of the old Latin Mass in the Catholic Church this weekend, tradition-minded parishioners of St. Martha Church in Sarasota have been celebrating Mass in Latin for well over a decade. Coincidently this weekend, the Diocese of Venice also welcomed a new priest, Father James Fryar, who is trained in the celebration of Mass in Latin.
Father Fryar will be in residence at St. Martha Parish. "That's just something that happened to coincide," says Bishop Frank J. Dewane. "We didn't know when the Holy Father was going to be releasing the 'motu proprio.' It had been rumored for some time that it was going to happen." Because of growing interest in the Latin Mass, Bishop Dewane approached the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an order established by Pope John Paul II in 1998 to promote ecclesial unity and traditional Roman rites, and asked for a priest who would celebrate the Latin Mass and minister to the growing number of families in the diocese who prefer the old rites.
In the Tridentine Mass a priest faces away from the congregation and whispers prayers in Latin, a language unfamiliar to most Catholics. The current vernacular Mass was approved as the standard in 1970 after the Second Vatican Council, and many Catholics were unhappy with the modernization of an ancient ceremony. "You hear "Latin Mass" and everybody goes.old style, old ways," observes Bishop Frank J. Dewane, "but it's tradition, and tradition is not always bad. Tradition can be a very positive thing." Bishop Dewane points out the artistry of Gregorian chant which is currently part of the Tridentine Mass at St. Martha every Sunday. "Some of the tones that the priests sing in various parts of the Mass are certainly beautiful, very melodic," he says. "It was a whole art.a very expressive part of the Church's tradition in music was in Latin and in chant." "I'm delighted as we all are," says Stan Valerga Chairman of Ecclesia Dei Society www.ecclesiadei-sarasota.org. "I think the Pope brought it to a level even we didn't expect and it's a positive," he adds. The Ecclesia Dei Society organized informally in Sarasota in 1994 to bring back the old Latin Mass in the Diocese of Venice. With approval from then-Bishop John J. Nevins, the first Tridentine Mass was celebrated at St. Martha on January 22, 1995.
Parishioners from across the diocese attend the Tridentine Mass in Sarasota. Valerga estimates between 25 to 30% are younger families who have discovered the Latin Mass. "The interesting thing is, many of them are young people who did not grow up with the Latin Mass, and some would say they harken back to what they don't know," says Bishop Dewane. "I think very much it is a movement of the spirit and we have to be open to that.alert to that within the church, where you have young men and women raising their families, and they want their children to experience this Latin Mass and bring them up in the tradition of the Church." Currently St. Martha Church in Sarasota is the only parish in the diocese that celebrates Tridentine Mass, but Bishop Dewane says a second Latin Mass will be scheduled at another parish in the southern part of the Diocese of Venice. St. Martha Catholic Church is located at the corner of Fruitville Road and Orange Avenue in downtown Sarasota.
Mass is celebrated in Latin every Sunday at 1:30 pm, every first Friday of the month at 12:45 pm and every first Saturday of the month at 9:15 am. For more information on the Tridentine Mass contact St. Martha Catholic Church at (941)366-4210, or e-mail mhtml:%7B7CBC35DF-03B7-4765-AFDB-306FB2D0907E%7Dmid://00000002/!x-usc:mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Diocese of Venice contact Communications Director Adela Gonzales White at 941-486-4702, or e-mail mhtml:%7B7CBC35DF-03B7-4765-AFDB-306FB2D0907E%7Dmid://00000002/!x-usc:mailto:email@example.com.