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Cardinal Joseph Zen celebrated a Pontifical Mass in the traditional rite at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer in New York Saturday for the third annual Lepanto Conference.
The main speaker at the conference, Zen addressed communist persecution of Chinese Catholics and talked about the traditional liturgy, which he explained is not a relic of the past.
Cardinal Zen: "The people who like this form of liturgy are precisely young people, so it is not a question of nostalgia."
Cardinal Zen reminded the audience the Faith has been received through the traditional liturgy, noting it attracts young people through the aura of mystery, as well as its expression of beauty, goodness and truth.
Building on the theme of mystery, the cardinal spoke about the consecration, which the priest pronounces almost inaudibly in the traditional form.
Cardinal Zen: "You may laugh at that, but it's meaningful inasmuch as it reminds you that you cannot really understand. So, the vernacular is helping people to understand ― but we have to remember that we don't understand everything; we are in the face of a mystery. We have to believe."
Zen went on to discuss his own attraction to the traditional liturgy, as well as his desire that young priests learn Latin to continue its celebration:
So, I come here mainly to celebrate this Mass because I like it and also because I think that it's good that we keep that treasure. Now that Pope Benedict has made it very accessible, we don't need any special permission from the bishop, provided we have some priests. So, I hope the young priests … they still learn some Latin.
He added, for a worldly society in need of spirituality, the traditional liturgy offers something from above: "Sometimes the world will forget Heaven. And with this liturgy we bring something of Heaven to our society."
The cardinal said he hoped the old and new liturgies can be integrated somehow in the near future.