The centre and summit of the entire Christian life - and that of every day - is the celebration of the Mass, the renewal of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Therefore the members of the SJM see their most important and most beautiful task in the worthy celebration of Mass. The Mass is the centre of their spirituality; in her they find strength for their work, she is the most important element of their undertakings for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. From the beginning, the SJM asked the Church for permission to celebrate the Mass not only according to the new Missal of Pope Paul VI (forma ordinaria), but also to be able to use the Missal of 1962 (forma extraordinaria). Fr. Hönisch, the founder of the SJM, spoke often of a so-called "Bi-ritualism". He himself was ordained a Priest in 1963 and was a witness of the liturgical changes. As a young religious, he had suffered for instance when priests celebrated the Mass with too great a haste, under the pretence of objectivity, or when they practised an exaggerated ritualism. So he received the liturgical reforms initially as a relief. As the years went by however he had to experience with ever-increasing frequency how liturgical abuses were justified under a mistaken appeal to the Novus Ordo.
… The liturgy is never a mere meeting of a group of people, who make up their own form of celebration … we stand also in the the communion of all saints, yes, in a certain sense this is the liturgy of heaven (Pope Benedict XVI/Cardinal Ratzinger)
Thus he began in talks and presentations to speak of a "Reform of the Reform" (as it did later also Pope Benedict XVI.) and requested from Rome the permission to be able to celebrate also the Mass in the form of 1962. In this way, the SJM became acquainted with the old liturgy and assumed the liturgical concerns of Fr. Hönisch – with the conviction that both forms of the Mass could be enriching and fruitful for the faithful.
The old form, with its deep theological symbols and texts, allows the faithful - including the priests themselves - to experience in an almost tangible way the intangible mysteries of the Mass; the Latin and the times of silence promote and encourage the personal prayer of individuals.
The new form on the other hand emphasises - not without good reason - the communal character of the Eucharist. The Confiteor is uttered in common, the Suscipiat, the Our Father and so on - which brings with it an emphasis that each individual Christian is called as a member of the mystical Body of Christ to participate in the Holy Sacrifice in an interiorly-active way (as opposed to an externally-activist way).
Both aspects are correct and important. Strictly speaking, both aspects are contained in both forms. In the old form also, the faithful are involved in the happenings of the Mass in their own way, as also the mystery of the Mass is emphasised in the new form. Each of the two has its strengths. For this reason, the priests of the SJM consciously celebrate and treasure both forms. According to the conviction of the SJM, a liturgical renewal of the Church will not come about through an ideological "against one another" of the two forms, but only through a fruitful "with one another" - without at the same time giving the green light to a liturgical "through one another" in the sense of a mixing of rites.
With the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (July 7, 2007), which allowed all priests to celebrate the Mass according to both Missals, Pope Benedict XVI. expressly approved the liturgical lines of the SJM.
What does this mean for the liturgical practise of the SJM in every day experience?
In the communal celebration of the Mass in the Seminary, the SJM takes care to have a balanced ratio between both forms. In all other situations, the Priests seek to choose unbiasedly that form that has the greatest prospect of deepening the relationship of the faithful with Christ.
In parishes at the present moment, this is usually - as long as the Bishops do not determine otherwise - the new form. In this case it is the objective of the SJM-priest to choose from the many allowed options those which best lead the faithful to a deep participation in the Mass and which reveal the inner unity of the two forms. This includes, for example, the use of the Roman Canon (where appropriate in Latin), times of silence for personal prayer, a common direction of prayer with the people (ad orientem) as an expression of the vicarious function of the Priest in the performance of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, encouragement towards Communion received on the tongue, and so forth.
In the Holy Mass with individual groups - at days of recollection, retreats, and with youth groups - the forma extraordinaria proves itself more and more often to be both fruitful and desired.