In accordance with the decree of cardinal Josip Bozanić from January this year (see more here) answering a petition from a group of faithful, regular celebration of Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) started Sunday, 20 February, in Zagreb. This was probably the first public Missa Cantata in Croatia since the liturgical reforms, but even more important is that Traditional Latin Mass will be celebrated every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation (Christmas, Corpus Christi, Assumption and All Saints) at 11.30 in the church of St. Martin, Vlaška 36, Zagreb (close to the main city square and the cathedral) from now on.
With the help of Divine Providence a group of faithful was able to organize together with Rev. Stanislav Vitković a dignified and pious celebration of the Holy Mass. During the previous week all the necessary items not available from the existing users of the church had to be acquired (including chalice, paten, ciborium, communion plate, wine and water ampullas, cruet, dish and towel for hand washing, corporal, purifier, hosts, wine, maniple, pall, burse, chalice veil, altar cards, candlesticks and candles, missal stand, altar cloths, server and cantor's cassocks and surplices, kneeling pads, affordable head coverings, missalettes and leaflets). The Archdiocese kindly provided the 1962 Missal and the cathedral lent a chasuble and a stole (unfortunately, they could not find a violet maniple etc.). We were not allowed to move the new altar or move the chairs for a few centimeters during the Mass so that people can kneel on the floor more easily (proper pews were replaced with chairs some time during the 90's). After the end of 10am novus ordo Mass, a group of faithful quickly made all the necessary changes within the restrictions placed upon them and everything was ready a few minutes before the beginning of 11:30 Mass.
Before the beginning of the Mass, Rector of the church of saint Martin, Rev. Đuro Zalar greeted the assembled faithful on behalf of an ancient community which celebrates the Mass according to the Missal of pope Paul VI in this church. He expressed his wish that the new community harmoniously blends with the existing groups which visit this little church and cautioned Rev. Vitković to be vigilant in that respect.
Rev. Vitković, prebendary of the Zagreb cathedral, who was ordained in 1971. celebrated nicely his first ever Mass in the E.F. of the Roman Rite although we had only one rehearsal (the day before) and he only had a Missal and one recording of the old mass to practice on his own. In a very good sermon he explained the meaning of readings of this Septuagesima Sunday. Ordinary and proper of the Mass were sung by Mr. Ivan Kovačić who came for the weekend from Sweden. During the singing of the ordinary some of the faithful joined him of their own initiative. Communion was given orderly with no attempts to circumvent the practice of receiving communion on the tongue which is integral part of this rite. The general impression of about 85 participants in this Mass was very positive. As the word spreads, there will surely be other interested Catholics in our capital city and beyond, especially if any of the Catholic or secular news agencies mention this event. Most encouraging was the silence and reverence of the faithful, the sight of cassocks and collars scattered between the ordinary faithful, successor of apostles watching from the back of the church and especially the markedly lower mean age of those present. We can hope that TLM becoming a normal and established part of Catholic life in Croatia will help encourage those still afraid to show their attachment to Tradition and change the hearts of those who regard it with suspicion.
With the help of God, we hope to further improve in correctly observing the rubrics and following the spirit that inspired them, in preparation of the space and acts of divine worship, in building a community of the faithful attached to this form of the Roman Rite, in establishing a normal working relationship with the administrators of the church of Saint Martin and above all, in living the principles and values that the Traditional Mass embodies.
Thanks are due to all who with their prayers, their works or their presence contributed so that this Mass could be held in the best possible manner. Their efforts are well known to our dear God who will without a doubt bless them for it. We thank cardinal Josip Bozanić, who in instituting a regular public celebration of the Traditional Mass made this inestimable treasure of the Catholic Church more widely available to the faithful of our Archdiocese, but also our entire country. We thank the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei which interceded in order to bring the petition of a group of faithful to its happy goal. We thank Rev. Stanislav Vitković who accepted a pastoral care which requires no small commitment on his part. We thank our Holy Father pope Benedict XVI without whose Motu Proprio, TLM would probably have remained just a dream for the faithful in Croatia. But first and last, we thank our dear Lord and Our Lady. As we are told by the Gospel about the workers of the last hour that we heard this Sunday and as Rev. Vitković explained, all the goods that we have, and thus especially this "source and summit of the Christian life" is an undeserved gift of God's grace.
(you can see more photos here and later on other photos and videos will be added)