Friday, May 15, 2020
COVID19's Positive Impact for Catholic Tradition

Beyond live streaming the typical Sunday Mass that most Catholics would be accustomed to attending (the Novus Ordo Mass), live streaming during COVID19 specifically allowed lesser-known Catholic traditions to have a significantly larger audience.

For instance, most Catholic parishes that celebrate the Traditional (Tridentine) Latin Mass have live-streamed all of their Masses, including daily masses. The Tridentine Mass is the manner that all Masses were said before the changes in the late 1960s. This changed in 1969. While Mass is still sometimes said in Latin, it is much more uncommon. And in addition to the language changing, the very format of the Mass — its prayers, rituals, gestures, and practices — was arguably altered in the most significant way in history. Most of these priests, aside from a few specific cases, did not live stream or record their Masses beforehand.

A subset of these priests during Holy Week celebrated the Mass using the rubrics that existed before the changes to the Church’s Liturgy (i.e., Her public prayers and rituals) by Pope Pius XII in 1955. In 1955, Pope Pius XII significantly changed the prayers, readings, and rituals for Holy Week. Those changes were embodied in the 1962 Catholic Missal, which most Tridentine Masses follow. In the past few decades, there has been a call for a return to the pre-1955 Holy Week ceremonies.

In response to these calls, the Vatican permitted the pre-1955 ceremonies on a three-year trial period starting in 2018. In 2018 and 2019, they were attended by self-proclaimed liturgy nerds and some of the most traditional Catholics. The number of Catholics who witnessed these pre-1955 liturgies in either 2018 or 2019 numbered likely 5,000 or less.

By contrast, the YouTube channel Sensus Fidelium, which as of May 13, 2020, has 144,000 subscribers, live-streamed these older pre-1955 liturgies from just three different chapels in the United States. Across those three locations only, the channel’s organizer, Steve Cunningham, said that these older liturgies generated over 100,000 page views: “Many non-Catholics saw it and love it.” Over a dozen other pre-1955 Masses were live-streamedfrom chapels that had beforehand not live streamed their services. It is realistic that live streaming has at least quadrupled the number of Catholics who saw the pre-1955 Liturgy this year. Steve added in referring to Tridentine Masses offered on other Sundays outside of Holy Week, “Many [average Catholics] saw a [Tridentine Latin] High Mass for the first time.”

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