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May 1st, 2009

The Roman Catholic World

by Marielena Montesino de Stuart

THE WANDERER - May 14, 2009, Page 4 - Introibo ad Altare Dei (The Latin Mass) by Marielena Montesino de StuartThis article also appeared on page 4 of the  May 14, 2009 issue of The Wanderer ( under the title  Introibo ad altare Dei






 Introibo ad altare Dei.
Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.

I will go unto the altar of God.
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth.

on-the-way-to-the-latin-mass-all-rights-reserved-marielena-montesino-de-stuart2These sacred, solemn and sublime words said at the foot of the altar during the Latin Mass, profoundly express our longing to be united with Our Lord, in the purest and most joyful of ways.   They convey with poetic eloquence our rich liturgical and intellectual heritage as Roman Catholics.

If poetry sets the spirit free to express our deepest emotions, then the Latin Mass sets the stage for the deepest liturgical experience.   The Latin Mass, undoubtedly, is the most Eucharist-centered Mass, leading us to the highest level of divine worship, through gestures, vestments, chants, whispered prayers, incense– a true feast for our senses.

When we pray in Latin, we stand in passionate commitment to our past.  Latin, as a dead language, cannot be changed; therefore, it acts as a soldier protecting the content of the Mass, from potential misinterpretations and linguistic deviations that can result from the use of the vernacular. These misinterpretations and linguistic deviations have been at times the cause of dissension among Catholics, as more and more external and cultural influences infiltrate the Mass through the vernacular, pulling our attention away from the Divine Victim on the altar of the Cross. Yet, when we enter into the Sacrifice of the Mass, in Latin, we leave behind the profane entanglements of the outside world.

It is wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the new generation of priests in their warm embrace of the Latin Mass, as well as those who have enthusiastically returned to it.  It is also inspiring to know that the priests celebrating the Latin Mass can do so anywhere in the world, bringing us together in one common language as an international community.   Pope Benedict XVI wrote in the introduction of his Apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum: “… the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman use, enriched not only the faith and piety but also the culture of many peoples. It is known, in fact, that the Latin liturgy of the Church in its various forms, in each century of the Christian era, has been a spur to the spiritual life of many saints, has reinforced many people in the virtue of religion and fecundated their piety. ”

This beautiful liturgical tradition has also reopened the doors to many reverent practices, among which is the use of the veil.  This immemorial custom is not just a sign of respect whenever women enter the House of Our Lord, but very much an imitation of Mary, the Mother of God.  Have you ever seen an image of Our Heavenly Mother without her head covered?   As women, how could we not long to follow the example of the beautiful young virgin, hidden in the solitude of Nazareth, whose greatness came from her Immaculate Conception and her total submission and reverence to the Will of God?   We honor God when we show reverence and follow Our Heavenly Mother in her ways.

The Latin liturgy opens the mystical secret within our hearts that we are unable to understand and express in everyday words.  It helps us enter into a deeper form of adoration, through rituals, words, sounds and scents that elevate our human experience to a level where we can truly see the Real Presence.   It is as if we joined an eternal prayer, in the same language that came from the lips of those who for 2,000 years have slept in the silence of the Catacombs.


The Latin Mass is the past, the present and the future of the Roman Catholic Church.


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Marielena Montesino de Stuart



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Topics:  Latin Mass, Summorum Pontificum, Reverence, The Wanderer

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