One may be surprised to learn that the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts has not regularly offered the Extraordinary Form of the Mass on its campus. After all, this is a College centered tightly on the liturgy of the Church, beginning each day by chanting Lauds, offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass just before lunch, and singing Vespers upon conclusion of the day’s classes.
But on Friday, October 7, 2011, longtime chaplain, Father John Healey, celebrated the Extraordinary Form in the College chapel—now to be a weekly tradition. The Extraordinary Form will be offered in accordance with the Rubrics of the 1962 Missale Romanum each Friday throughout the academic year.
“It is fitting that Thomas More College chose the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary to institute the Extraordinary Form on campus,” said Thomas More College President, William Fahey. “In the sixteenth century, Pope Saint Pius V instituted the feast to honor Our Lady with the victory of the Christians in the Battle of Lepanto. The battle itself took place because of the Pope’s initiative to defend Western Civilization against the Ottoman Turks. The same Pope was responsible for authorizing the promulgation of the Roman Missal which first made the Extraordinary Form the official Rite of the Roman Catholic Church.”
“Interestingly, the liturgy said today at the College was the very same one as was said on the galley decks of the Last Crusaders as they prepared themselves spiritually for the greatest naval contest in human history,” added Fahey.
Following Mass at the College, the students were privileged to listen to a lecture on that very subject—The Battle of Lepanto—by Christopher Check, Executive Vice President at the Rockford Institute.
The College is now able to offer the Extraordinary Form thanks to the recent clarification of Summorum Pontificum by the Holy Father in Universae Ecclesiae. In this document, Pope Benedict wrote, “The Church’s rule of prayer corresponds to her rule of belief.” The staff and faculty at Thomas More College acknowledge this truth. Knowing that the Mass is the central prayer of the Church, the College wishes to make available to the students the fullness of the Catholic Liturgical tradition.
Michael Bryan, a junior at Thomas More College, lived and worked in Livorno, Tuscany after his Rome Semester. During his stay, he had the privilege of serving at Masses said in the Extraordinary Form. The fact that the priest knew no English, and Michael no Italian, had no bearing—they both knew the universal language of the Church.
Reflecting on this memory Michael said, “It made the universality of the Church real for me. It is a very positive thing that the students at the College will now be exposed to this beautiful tradition. It fits with the hope of the College to teach the critical importance of humbly reaching back to the past in the hope of gleaning some of the wisdom of our forefathers.”
Thomas More College is unique in that it is committed to exposing its students to the full treasure of Catholic liturgy.
Of course, as an institution of higher education, Thomas More College’s chief mission is the education of students. As a Catholic institution, its foremost responsibility is to form young minds and souls in a way consistent with the teachings and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. The College uniquely recognizes that the liturgy of the Church permeates all aspects of life—including the intellectual life—and so it has renewed its own liturgy consistent with the principles of the Church.
Dr. William Fahey, President of Thomas More College, said, “Through public lectures, symposia, retreats, and by setting an example, we are calling our students and the wider public to greater engagement with the truths of the Catholic Faith. Liturgical renewal is crucial to this engagement. To offer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, with its solemn and prayerful manner shaped by the abundant richness of tradition, could not be more in line with this mission and we are truly grateful to be able to do so.”