Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Extraordinary Form in Hong Kong

In today's post, we leave the reports of activities in London W1 behind us and focus instead on a report from a friend of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group (another former member of the congregation of St Mary's Bourne St), who lives in Hong Kong and who this weekend attended the Easter Day Solemn Pontifical High Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form by the Bishop of Hong Kong, newly elevated to being a Cardinal. 

Our correspondent has previously reported in from Hong Kong (in a blogpost containing some very fine vintage 1930s footage of Catholic processions there) and from the National Shrine of St Francis in San Francisco.  This was, however, his first glimpse of the Extraordinary Form. 

It does some good to show that we in the Ordinariate are not obsessed with our canonical entity, our little corner of the Catholic world, our Anglican Patrimony.   We are very much part of the wider Catholic Church, and we have an awareness of what is going on around the world in the Catholic Church and of the riches of the various forms of liturgy and music that can be found in the Catholic Church.  We signed up because we wanted to be part of the one Universal Church: and now we are.


Although usually more at home on Hong Kong island, your correspondent made a special trip over to Kowloon on Easter Day.  Just one road south of Boundary Street (the original limit of British control until the lease of the New Territories was granted in 1898) is St Teresa's Church on Prince Edward Road.  This was the venue for a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite celebrated by His Eminence John Cardinal Tong, the Bishop of Hong Kong.  This Easter Day event was organised in thanksgiving upon the tenth anniversary of the foundation of the Tridentine Liturgy Community of Hong Kong

The Mass was advertised as starting at 3pm.  When I arrived at 2.40pm, the church was already very nearly full.  As this was my first Extraordinary Form Mass, and since my GCSE Latin is almost as rusty as my singing, I very much appreciated both the glossy souvenir booklet containing the text of the entire service (in Latin, English and Chinese) and the opportunity to practise some of the hymns along with the choirs before the service began.  For those unfamiliar with the Mass of the Ages, page numbers from the Mass booklet were helpfully displayed on an electronic board to the left of the sanctuary (and you thought that such things could only be used for bouncing balls and choruses....).

The Cardinal processed in, as I understand is correct, twice.  First of all in choir dress, before his formal vesting, and then again properly attired to offer the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The entire Mass was, of course, in Latin, save that the Gospel was repeated in Cantonese and then in English.  The Homily was delivered first in Cantonese and then in English, although my Cantonese is not up to my being able to be sure that it was exactly the same homily being delivered twice. 

While many in the congregation were members of the Tridentine Liturgy Community, there also seemed to be a large number who were not familiar with the Extraordinary Form at all, but were nonetheless enthusiastic participants.  Events such as this, especially when supported by Cardinal Tong (exactly as similar events were supported by his predecessor Cardinal Zen), will doubtless encourage more people to encounter the traditional liturgy.

The best part of two hours after we began, Cardinal Tong processed out.  It was a thrilling experience to witness this form of the liturgy generating such enthusiasm and interest.

Since writing this report, I am pleased to note that the New Liturgical Movement website has published some excellent photos of the same Mass.  It was a great occasion. 


To conclude, and to prove that the Extraordinary Form is growing in popularity in Hong Kong, here is the last segment of a youtube recording of Cardinal Zen celebrating at a similar, though smaller, event a couple of years ago.


  1. What has this to do with the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham?

  2. Anonymous, perhaps you didn't spot the first section of this post.

    The answer to your question is extremely simple. The Ordinariate is part of the Catholic Church, and the Mass reported on in today's post also took place within the Catholic Church. An Ordinariate member is in communion with Cardinal Tong, as he or she is with all members of the Catholic Church.

    As members of the Ordinariate, we are interested in the Catholic Church as a whole. We are not interested only in the Ordinariate. That would be ridiculous.