"Ever Ancient, Ever New"

Photo of Assumption Day Mass (2016), Chapel of the Holy Ghost at Newman College - made available by University of Melbourne Catholic Society 

Photo of Assumption Day Mass (2016), Chapel of the Holy Ghost at Newman College - made available by University of Melbourne Catholic Society 

WORDS BY MOIRA M. TAUILIILI


If one was to take a step back and evaluate society as it stands today, one would almost believe that the constant repetition of the phrase "get with the times" is the general consensus. One might also believe that with such a phrase in mind the 'past' would seem irrelevant, however, at the University of Melbourne, this would seem far from true as the University of Melbourne Catholic Society (UMCS)  invite all to experience a different type of liturgical expression. One that opens up the past and paints a bigger picture of Catholicism.  

The University of Melbourne Catholic Society has 30-40 active members, they host regular social events - dinners and lunches - and weekly talks on Mondays at midday, that touch on current contemporary affairs and promote spiritual development through engagement in theological discussion and apologetics. UMCS also make available weekly Masses that are celebrated on Tuesday to Thursdays every week at 1 pm - Rm 3. in the old physics building.

It is precisely within the silence of the Mass, that the UMCS are actively promoting a taste of Catholicism, that although is often deemed as ‘ancient’ is breathing a breath of fresh air into the halls of Melbourne University. That being... The Latin Mass. 

Or as others might know it as, Mass in the Extraordinary Form. This initiative by the group is a way of encouraging Catholicism as a bigger picture by enabling attendees to experience a different type of liturgical expression to what they're used to seeing at Church on a Sunday.

In an interview with Vice President of the group, Rafael, he mentioned that "reaching out to priests... especially younger priests to say Mass - and in this case the Latin Mass - allows them to enter into dialogue with the laity in a different way." A way that for most attendees of the Masses enables them to experience the Mass that most of the western saints would have also experienced. 

"All the saints that have been canonised in the Church have had some form of contact, in one way or another, with the Latin Mass" 

Rafael went on to explain further that the Latin Mass is often met with a variety of stereotypes - both positive and negative- and that this availability of the Mass in an extraordinary form is a way of diminishing those stereotypes and inviting people to enter into a bigger picture. It is a different liturgical expression and for some attendees, it is a new form of dialogue with the "Church Triumphant." 

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UMCS Mass Set Up - Rm 3. in the old physics building

UMCS Mass Set Up - Rm 3. in the old physics building

"IT'S A WAY OF CONNECTING THE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT WITH THE CHURCH MILITANT" 

A connection that for most is not merely trying to salvage something from the past, but continuing the dialogue between the Church and God in this way just as most of the saints would have experienced. 

"For example St. John Paul II would have celebrated his Mass in Latin," says Rafael, however, this is not to say that The Extraordinary Form is the definitive and superior liturgical expression, in fact as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI notes the Extraordinary Form and Ordinary form compliment each other. 

“It is true that there have been exaggerations and at times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition...the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching...”
— Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum

With that in mind, the University of Melbourne Catholic Society extend an invitation for all - Catholics and non-catholics to join in their many initiatives as a group, whether is be social events or liturgical events. There has already been a conversion story that has come out of their event held last year in Semester 2 - venerating the relic of St Mother Teresa of Calcutta. 

"Breathing with Two Lungs"

This is just the beginning of what the UMCS has in store some of their long term goals involves making available the Eastern Catholic Rite to experience alongside the Roman Rite so that the students of Melbourne University can experience Catholicism in its fullness- truly Catholic and truly Universal. 

For more information visit the University of Melbourne Catholic Society Facebook Page