After 30 years of working to support the Latin Mass in America, Stuart Chessman has a point of view.
REGINA: How many years have you been involved with the Latin Mass? In what capacities?
Stuart: I’ve been involved with the Latin Mass in America for at least 30 years –as a member of the congregation, as an organizer of Latin Masses (both traditional and Novus Ordo), as a server and as a reporter/photographer.
REGINA: What progress do you see being made, say, since the Motu Proprio of 2007?
Stuart: Traditional Mass communities have arisen with more depth and stability. The TLM has been celebrated at many more locations. The ceremony and music in many places are of a very high order. There is great involvement of the young – especially large families. Solemn Masses and even pontifical solemn masses are nowadays no rarity – that is an improvement even over the pre-conciliar situation.
REGINA: Are there many more priests learning the Mass? How does the Mass gain a foothold? What typically happens?
Stuart: Yes there is quite a demand for this training. For the Mass to gain a foothold, it requires dedication of the priest. It requires men who will support him with the necessary resources for the ceremony and music. And it requires dedication and perseverance. It cannot be done on the side as an afterthought in hopes it will catch on. The liturgical sense of the Catholic population has been too dulled for that approach. It must be one of the “core missions” of the parish, and there must be the will to persevere if at first the numbers are not as great as had been hoped.
REGINA: In many countries, there seems to be no crisis of priestly vocations in circles where the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is supported. Have you noticed this to be the case in your experience?
Stuart: What I have actually seen? Parishes in New York and here (in Norwalk, Connecticut) where the TLM is celebrated generate vocations disproportionately.
REGINA: Many Catholics today no longer see the need for Confession, or Reconciliation, though this does not seem to be the case for those who attend the TLM. Why do you think this is?
Stuart: One of the most striking things I have noticed here in Norwalk is that there is a much greater demand for Confession.