'It's like walking into eternity'
The Sunday mass at St. John Cantius has none of the modern trappings. No altar girls, no guitars, no sign of peace -- and almost no English.
During most of the hour-long mass, the Rev. James Isaacson's back is toward the worshippers, in the traditional manner.
At one point, he kisses the altar, turns toward the people and sings, "Dominus vobiscum." (The Lord be with you.)
"Et cum spiritu tuo," the choir responds. (And also with you.)
The traditional Latin mass has been making a comeback since 1984, when Pope John Paul II approved its use.
On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI decreed that a priest no longer needs his bishop's approval to say Latin mass. And, if parishioners ask their priest to say a traditional mass, "the pastor should willingly accept their requests."
Every Sunday, more than 200 Latin masses are offered in the
At least six churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago offer Latin masses.
The pope's decree might not have any immediate impact on the
Still, the pope's statement likely will generate interest in traditional masses, "particularly among the young," said Christina Borges of the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest on the South Side, which offers Latin masses.
In the modern mass, adopted in the 1960s, the priest faces parishioners and speaks their language. In the traditional Latin mass, the priest faces the same direction as worshippers.
In 1988, St. John Cantius, 825 N. Carpenter, became the first parish in the
The Latin masses attract worshippers from
Parishioners offer a litany of adjectives to describe the experience: sacred, contemplative, poetic, serene, spiritual, reverent and timeless.
"It's like walking into eternity," said parishioner Kevin Haney.
Some older worshippers are nostalgic for the Latin mass they grew up with. But a growing number of parishioners grew up after Vatican II.
Sarah Michalowski, 18, drives 60 miles each way from
"I'm in love with the traditional mass," she said. "We almost lost it for a while."