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PORT ANTONIO, Jamaica (ChurchMilitant.com) - For the first time since 1969, the old form of the Mass is coming back to a Caribbean nation.
The Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) was offered in Port Antonio, Jamaica on Saturday — the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary.
Saturday's liturgy marks the first public celebration of the old form of the Roman Rite in Jamaica, since the new Order of Mass was introduced in 1969-1970.
Father Michael Palud, a priest of the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, told Church Militant on Thursday he was stunned by how many people showed up.
"I did not have any idea what to expect — maybe six or seven," he said. "But some 25 persons turned up from across the archdiocese for an unadvertised first Mass held on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary!"
I never dreamed that there would have been a group of people in our country who longed for the Mass of the Ages. I am happy to help, although I admit I was a little nervous celebrating officially the Old Mass for the first time in public last Saturday in this new responsibility given to me by the archbishop.
Father Palud said for years he occasionally offered the TLM for private Mass on his "day off."
The phrase "Mass of the Ages" is another way of referring to the TLM — echoing the fact that it has a long history stretching back many centuries.
Another common term for the TLM is "the Extraordinary Form" — as distinct from the new order of Mass or "Novus Ordo," referred to as the "Ordinary Form."
The Latin Mass Society of Jamaica, which helped organize the Mass, posted on social media Monday, "It was simple yet beautiful. Some 25 people were present for this first Mass of the Ages celebrated in the country since 1969."
Archbishop Kenneth Richards of Kingston, Jamaica issued a decree on Sept. 8 charging the Oratory of Port Antonio with making the TLM available to the faithful.
"I hereby designate the Parish of Saint Anthony and Mary Star of the Sea in Portland, entrusted to the Oratorian fathers, to be the 'home' for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass," Abp. Richards stated in the decree.
The archbishop invited other clergy to take interest in the Latin Mass, writing, "I also encourage seminarians and priests to at least be cognizant of the Old Rite. Indeed, knowledge of our liturgical history is important. A knowledge of the Old Mass can inform and help us foster dignified celebration of the Mass in its Ordinary Form."
"It is my hope," Abp. Richards continued, "that this new pastoral service might contribute to growth in holiness of our laity and a renewed awareness of the beauty of the Catholic liturgy in both its Ordinary and Extraordinary Form."
In many parts of the world in recent years, the TLM has garnered increased interest.
In the United States alone, hundreds of parishes provide the faithful with access to the TLM with varying degrees of regularity — whether on a monthly, weekly or daily basis.
Many who attend the TLM cite its beautiful rituals, sense of reverence toward God and connection to tradition. Many also see it as a refuge from liturgical abuse.
Those devoted to the old form of the Mass faced tight restrictions for many years. Pope St. John Paul II specifically allowed for the TLM to be offered, but priests still needed special permission to celebrate Mass according to the old Missal.
But in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued a document called Summorum Pontificum, which provided expansive liberty to clergy to offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
Benedict stated that the 1962 Missal — which is what's used for the TLM — was "never officially abrogated."
Since the 1962 Missal was never officially prohibited, Benedict reasoned, there is no reason that a priest should need special permission to offer Mass according to that Missal.