Farewell to Kursk and Vladimir!

The Third Goal of the Society of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus—  Catholics for Summorum Pontificum:  Offering of Masses according to the 1962 Roman Missal in Russian Parishes:  Fare thee well to Kursk and Vladimir!

From October 5-9, 2012, Father Thomas Huber (Wolfsburg, Augsburg) and representatives of the Management Board of the Society of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – Catholics for Summorum Pontificum, Gregor Huber and Olga Karpova visited Catholic parishes in the cities of Kursk and Vladimir, at the invitation of the Pastors.

Thus, the members of the Society of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus managed to achieve the third goal of the Society – offering of Masses according to the 1962 Roman Missal in Russian parishes – even before the second anniversary of our existence!

Since 2010, the Society has been successfully working on its first target (organization and celebration of the Masses on every Sunday and major feast, according to the Extraordinary Rorm of Roman Rite, at the Catholic Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Moscow), and on its second goal (organization of retreat days, praying the Divine Office, recollections, organization of the Liturgies, and the community recitation of the Rosary for the Society members’ spiritual life).


The first contact between the Society and the Catholics of Kursk took place around a year ago – in the middle of October, 2011, throught the local parishioners’ interests in traditional liturgical rituals. At the invitation of the Father Ian Bober, we visited Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God Parish. The meetings were highly interesting and productive, the people asked many questions, explained why they are attracted by the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and shared their hopes that one day, the Traditional Latin Mass would be celebrated at their beautiful church.

Such dreams often become reality. In accordance with point #16 of the Universae Ecclesiae Instruction published by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on May 13th, 2011, the local pastor, rector or other priest responsible for the church shall permit the priest to celebrate the divine service in the extraordinary form, “if any priest on the occasion visiting the parish church together with other people asks for that”. Father Ian confirmed that he would gladly give his permission and participate in the Liturgy.

Upon becoming aware of Father Thomas Huber’s expected trip to Kursk, the parish regent, Natalya Strelkova, some choristers and two altar servers expressed their willingness to learn and work in order to reveerently organize the Mass. They inquired about the Society’s workshops in Summer 2012, and requested the materials and instructions for altar servers, and the full list of all the required preparations. They were not only supplied with all the required materials, but also rendered assistance in preparation at site by: Gregor Huber, FSSP seminary student Vasiliy Prusakov, and Olga Karpova, all of who visited Kursk in summer and autumn to arrange practices with the altar servers and choir.

On Friday, October 5th, 2012 at Kursk’s Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God Cathedral, Father Thomas Huber offered a sung Requiem Mass. The Liturgy was offered for the repose of those who perished during World Wars I and II.

The former Pastor and the parishioners of the Kursk Parish, who died at the hands of the godless men in 1938, when they were shot to death inside the church, were also commemorated. Despite the severe thunderstorms and the current “vacation period”, the Mass was attended by around twenty individual (eleven parishioners, a Nun, Father Ian and six choristers). The altar servers were Ruslan Galtsov (of Kursk) and Gregor Huber.

The Latin word “requiem” originates from “requies”, which means “rest”, “peace” or “quiteness”. This Mass was celebrated in the old, so-called “Extraordinary Form” of the Roman Rite, according to which the Mass had been celebrated before 1969, and today it is quickly spreading again. In his sermon, Father Huber remarked, “Today we want to offer this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for all who perished in the World Wars. We pray to God for the etenral rest of these poor souls, while they receive the graces from the Sacred Mass. This grace originates from the suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who loves the souls of deceased.”

In his sermon, Father Huber explained the certain peculiarities of the Form of this special Mass for the repose of the soul: “The liturgical glorifying of God somewhat subsides, so that the dead are the focus of the graces of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, offered to the Father...

During the “Agnus Dei”, the faithful pray: “Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi: dona eis requiem” (“The Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world”) and in the third repetition: “...dona eis requiem sempiternam” (“…grant us thy peace”). Here, however, we don’t strike our chest, but rather, ask the Lamb of God to grant peace to the souls in the Purgatory. Even the blessing of the people at the end of the Mass is omitted in order to show that the blessing is fully devoted to the souls in Purgatory. The Traditional Rite clearly shows that only divine actions may save the poor souls”.

The chorus magnificently sung the introit antiphon “Requiem aeternam”; the sequence «Dies Irae» (before the Gospel), the Offeryory Hymn “Domine Iesu”, and Eucharistic antiphon “Lux aeterna”.

On Saturday, October 6th, the votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary was offered (“silently”); as Father Thomas explained, becuase it is not permitted sing more than three vernacular, in order not to obscure the Roman, Latin nature of the Rite. Many of those who visited the Saturday Mass, including the choristers, were surprised to find out that the significance of the modern language in the “Extraordinary Dorm” of the Mass is nor reduced to purely utilitarian (translation of reading and the sermon): while the priest reads the appropriate prayers, the believers may glorify the God with spiritual hymns in their native language. The altar servers were Rafael Arruda (Kursk) and Gregor Huber.

Despite the length and solemnity of the program, the choristers performed well on Saturday, as Natalya Strelkova remarked: “When participating in the traditional Mass, I felt that I am present at very elevated and important Divine Service, with great credibility and strength, prayer and contemplation. The dialogue between the priest and God, the prayers of the priest and the flock, and our Church Universal, are all offered in unison to and with Christ! Elevation, solemnity and beauty, spiritual devotion and divine grace – that is what the Extraordinary Form of the Mass gave to me”.

After the Mass, the meeting and tea-party with the Pastor and the parishioners took place at the Parish Center, where Gregor Huber spoke about the acitivities of the Society of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Father Thomas answered the questions of the visitors, staring with, “how is it possible to participate, if you do not understand Latin?” and finishing with some peculiarities of Eucharistic fasting.

The culmination of the visit to Kursk was the sung Mass with on Sunday for the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. The first words on the introit, the psalm for the priest entrance, were:“Salus populi ego sum dicit Dominus” – “I am the salvation of the people, says the Lord”-- turning the attention of the prayers to the Savior and His Redemptive Sacrifice.

The Sunday Mass involved the participation of three altar servers during the the rite of aspersion and the constant dialogue between the celebrant and the choristers, deeply impressed everyone who participated in it. “For me, as a person new to the Catholic Faith and interested in the history and life of the Catholic Church in all detail, it was very useful to watch the ‘live’ Mass in the Extraordinary Form, the fragments of which I could earlier see only in the foreign movies”, remarked Marina Silakova. “Moreover, it was highly interesting and exiting to directly participate in the Mass by means of singing in the chorus. Here, in the chorus, we had consistently prepared for almost two months, and as a result, I can tell that it was not in vein! The Extraordinary Form of the Liturgy is very beautiful”.

The Gospel parable of the marriage feast that was read on the day was dedicated to the concept of beauty, where under an image of the solemn wedding garment, another, invisible but real beauty of the holy grace was hidden. “Today’s Gospel tells us Christ’s parable of Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to the wedding, where the many guests are invited. However, one of the guests did not wear the proper attire. Therefore, he was unmasked by the housemaster, bound and thrown into darkness”, Father Thomas started his sermon. “What does the garment mean in this parable? In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul writes of putting on the new self, to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor”. We must follow the words of St. Paul, “put on the new self” and “put off falsehood”. We must make our mindests in the attitude given us by God. Therefore, it is no surprise that the meaning of the wedding garment, say the Fathers of the Church, is the grace of the Baptism. “The master of the house that arranged the feast for his son took a look at each of the guest s– none avoided his searching glance. He looked at everyone: deos he wear the wedding garment or not? This will happen at the Last Judgment. God will ask people of their state (of grace). He will ask: have they remained in the love to God and others, or was he confused in selfish and sinful acts? Then he will pass the sentence. Some will be allowed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven; others will be left outside in the darkness. However, everyone is invited to the Kingdom of Heaven. By his Death on the Cross, Jesus called everyone to His Kingdom, but only the few follow His call”.

After the Liturgy, the parishioners and Nuns thanked Father for his visit and the Society for their assistance in arranging the Mass. It also should be noted, that in Kursk, the Extraordinary Form did not supersede the ordinary Parish Mass: in order to avoid inconveniences, the parishioners were given a choice. “For me, actually, it was the first experience of such s Mass, but after the service by Father Huber and the atmosphere that prevailed in the church before and after Mass, I embraced the elevation and the discipline of the service with my whole heart and soul. I really hope that the first Extraordinary Form Mass won’t be the last in our church”, said Ella Nurova.

“Speaking of that Mass, we should remember that the tradition and foundations of the Church have been developing for many centuries – it is something that we should not forget. Thanks to the permission of Pope Benedict XVI, we now can experience the Holy Sacrifice of Christ even deeper” – said altar server Ruslan Galtsev. “We go though the confessional transcendence of Christ as the One Who Left Himself in Eucharist. In the Mass, the quiteness is the silence of God, the religious silence. I really hope that the Extraordinary Form will continue in our parish. I want to thank one more time, everyone who helped us in preparations and those who took part in the Mass. Especially I want to thank our Nuns and Father Ian!”

“Ruslan Galtsov And Rafael Arruba, who took part in the Mass for the first time, acted with great accuracy and concentration”, – Gregor Huber remarked. “For me, an altar server since 1987, it was very pleasant to serve together with them”.

Natalya Strelkova adds: “Finally! After 74 years of interruption, three Masses of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite were celebrated inn Kursk on October 5th-7th, 2012! I want to express tremendous gratitude to Father Thomas Huber, Gregor Huber, Olga Karpova and Vasiliy Prusakov, who despite being very busy, sacrificed their personal time for preparations, multiple rehearsals with us! I also want to thank everyone who assisted in celebration of the Mass by words and by actions, and namely: the choir, the altar servers, Father Ian, our Nuns and our parishioners, who came to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass!”

Valeriy Ryabovol: “How the person that does not know Latin can consciously and with deep understanding participate in the serving of Liturgy, if the unknown language does not allow him or her to understand the meaning of the religious texts? I have heard such an opinion, allegedly fundamentally denying any arguments in favor of Latin and the Extraordinary Form, already several times. The silence of the Mass was a first experience of a kind for me, and the first ten minutes I tried to deal with my feeling of “disorientation”. Then I focused on the prayer and felt myself receive an unexpected abundance of information-- and I didn’t know what to do. However, the presentation after the Mass partially helped me to solve that problem. On the next day, I took part in the Holy Mass ‘fully armed’. Here, I’d like to note that another argument of the Extraordinary Form’s opponents – that the divine service participants became ‘absent present’ – is absolutely inconsistent with reality. I, from my personal devotion may desire to offer longer prayers to receive divine graces-- and use them for my own spiritual benefit. I’d also like to say that the Latin language ‘works’ perfectly in this Rite. Just listen! You only say the few lines, and you already feel: something is happening! As for myself, I can tell you that I fully ‘dissolved into’ the service and prayer and lost all feeling of time,despite my own imperfect Latin”.

The Society of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Catholics for Summorum Pontificum,thank Father Ian for his trust, hospitality and interest in the Mass according to the 1962 Missal. The Society also expresses its gratitude towards Sister Augustine, the sacristan at the Parish. These three days will not only remain in our memory as a pleasant recollection, but will also help to develop and reinforce the Faith of Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God Parish in Kursk.

Even before our return to Moscow, Gregor Huber and Olga Karpova received the first questions from the Kursk believers regarding further cooperation and joining the Scoiety of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Photographs from the event can be found in our gallery.


After Kursk, at the invitation of the Father Sergiy Zuyev, Father Thomas Huber and representatives of the Management Board of the Society visited the city of Vladimir’s Holy Rosary of Blessed Virgin Mary Parish.

“At the beginning of my trip to Russia, we planned I would have few days of rest in Moscow after the visit to Kursk. However, we just could not reject the gracoous invitation of Father Sergiy. And we don’t regret our decision. What can be better than celebration of the Holy Mass in the circle of friends”, – Father Thomas recollects.

Father Huber, who every year visits his brother in Moscow, also wanted to visit other Russian cities and to offer the Mass according the 1962 Missal, of course.

So we headed to Vladimir, just after Kursk.

The Masses in conformity with motu proprio Summorum Pontificum were offered on October 8th and 9th. The altar server was Gregor Huber, the Chairman of the Management Board of the Society. The local Pastor, not only participated in the Mass, but also gladly agreed to read its Russian translation. For proper arrangements at the altar, Father Sergiy provided the magnificent ancient vestments (restored at his own expense), which were brought into Russia at the beginning of 1990s as a form of ‘humanitarian help’ from Europe.

Father Thomas Huber: “I was deeply impressed by the story that the vestment, in which I offered the Holy Mass in Vladimir, were almost burned in Europe! These actions were another way to attempt to abandon Tradition. However, they was saved by Providence. After so many years, they are used again for their original purpose, Mass in Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.”

Gregorian hymns of the Mass were performed by Olga Karpova and the divine service was visited not only by the older parishioners, who knew the order of the Extraordinary Form, but also by parishioners who first heard about it and became interested (as well as by those who did not see any sense in spreading the Mass of the 1962 Missal). After the Liturgy, everyone stayed at the church to discuss the Mass and ask questions. The people, who just experienced the event for the first time, expressed their puzzlement: “How about us? Why did not we sing and repeat prayers after the priest? Why did the priest read the prayer in whisper… etc ”. These questions were answered and in addition, all present received information on the activity of the Society of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Father Thomas answered the questions in a calm and patient manner. He explained that the Liturgy celebrated by the Church is to be both internal and external, simultaneously. It shall be external, because this is required by the nature of human being, as well as by the intention of Divine Providence. By learning the visible realty, we are engaged in our love to the invisible. But the main component of the Mass is internal, as long as we have to always live in Christ, be devoted to Him, glorify Him and His Heavenly Father--through Him. The silence is the best expression of worship to God descending to the altar; it clearly illustrates the Sacrament and helps to deeply and personally engage into the altar mystery.”

Two altar servers of Parish expressed their willingness to learn how to serve the Mass. With permission of Father Sergiy, Father Thomas and Gregor Huber taught them how to serve. “Without even knowing me, Aleksey Rudnitskiy, one of the altar servers, immediately agreed to assist me in the organization of everything required for the reverent celebration of Mass”, Gregor Huber recalls. When Father Thomas and I went to the sacristy, just about everything was already prepared for us. Aleksey Rudnitskiy is now the main local contact of the Society of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in the city of Vladimir.

“The people need to observe the behavior of priests--full of respect and decency; it helps them to embrace the invisible, even without many words or explanations. Father Thomas served the liturgy with remarkable reverence”, stated parishioner Raisa Shaulova. “The Roman Missal of 1962 contains prayers where the priest expresses his deep feeling of humility and respect towards the Holy Sacrament, and through this devotion, we understand the very essence of the Liturgy. The faithful of the Parish of the Holy Rosary of Blessed Virgin Mary express their deep gratitude to Father Huber and the Society of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus for their mission”.

The Society of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – Catholics for Summorum Pontificum – thank Father Sergiy for his trust, hospitality and interest in promoting the Mass according to the 1962 Missal. Photographs from the event can be found in our gallery.