The National Catholic Review

An ordinary Sunday morning. No parish assignment, no preaching. So I decide to go to a church that celebrates the Latin Mass every Sunday at 11 AM. I knew it would be in Latin, but I wasn’t sure if it would be the old Tridentine or new post-Vatican II Latin Mass. Clearly it was Tridentine! One reason to attend was to see if I could feel comfortable being the main celebration of the Latin Mass.

The church was half-filled, older men and women, some families with children, and a number of people in their 30’s who followed with their missals. The music, all in Latin, was in abundance with 90 percent sung by the choir and little by the congregation. The opening procession included 8 servers in surplices (all male), an assistant to the priest and the main celebrant.

In most churches this Sunday would be the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, but following the old liturgical calendar, it was Sexagesima Sunday. The priest wore purple vestments, and a purple cope since it began with the Asperges. On the altar were six large candlesticks, 3 altar cards, the missal stand with Missal and the covered chalice. Incense abounded at the beginning, at the gospel and the preparation of the gifts.

The Kyrie was sung. After the opening prayer the readings were chanted by the priest in Latin from the pre-Vatican II, 1962 Missale Romanum for Sexagesima. The celebrant ascended the pulpit and read the two readings in English using an old translation, probably the Douay version, with “thy” and “thee." He preached for about 10 minutes.

The Creed followed, in Gregorian chant with choir and congregation alternating. The priest said the creed privately. He finishes and sits and listens with the congregation while choir continues. There is no prayer of the faithful. The offertory prayers are not heard at all by the people. Then incense over the gifts, the celebrant, servers and congregation. At the Orate Fratres, only the servers respond, even if the congregation knows the response in Latin. Then the lengthy preface of the Trinity, traditionally used for Sunday Masses.

The Sanctus is sung by the choir, while the priest continues with the Roman Canon which the people could barely hear. Before the words of institution, the priest stops and waits so the Sanctus can be completed. After the institution (with incense and bell ringing) the choir sings the Benedictus while the priest continues the canon up to the great Amen. Again he waits until the choir has finished singing.

Although the altar servers remain kneeling, the people stand for the Pater Noster. (I suspect that the congregation should have remained kneeling too, but maybe that is one effect of the new liturgy that has strangely carried over to the old.) No greeting of peace. The Agnus Dei is sung. The servers recite the Confiteor, and the priest turns and says the prayer over them asking for forgiveness of sins. The priest holds up the host, “Ecce Agnus Dei”, followed by the triple fold response by the people: “Domine, non sum dignus.”

Communion is distributed at the altar rail, kneeling, and only on the tongue.

After the postcommunion prayer, the priest turns, blesses, and sings Ite Missa est. He moves to the left and recites the last Gospel, the prologue of the gospel of John. The priest and servers exit. Somewhat to my surprise since the liturgy had been so faithful to the pre-Vatican II Mass, there were no Leonine prayers.

REACTIONS. During the celebration I felt very uncomfortable. It was strange and foreign. Even though I was very familiar with the Tridentine Mass from my childhood, it seemed remote and distant. The Mass seemed to focus on the priest whose words for the most part could not be heard (they were in Latin anyway!) and who rarely faced the people. The choir performed well and their singing overrode the priest, who had to wait several times until they finished singing.

In my mind I could not but think back to the Second Vatican Council, and all that the Council and subsequent documents tried to bring about – active participation, emphasis on the important things, vernacular, elimination of accretions and repetitions, etc. It was sad and disheartening. What happened? Why would the Catholic faithful seek out and attend this older form of the Mass? Is the Tridentine Mass an aberration? What does it say about the reforms of Vatican II?

After the Mass, I was tempted to talk with some of those present. But I decided not to as I feared I would have been negative and perhaps controversial. My feelings were still very raw. One thing I know: I myself will never freely choose to celebrate the Tridentine Mass.

Peter Schineller, S.J.


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Syme Smith | 12/26/2016 - 8:56am

I have been with the Catholic Church for a long time. Several decades now, since childhood. Having been born after Vatican II, I did not grow up with the Latin Mass and am just beginning to learn about it. I found this article as part of that effort.

The more I learn, the more the Tridentine Mass makes sense and seems right. I do not understand why custodians of the faith go to so much trouble today to obstruct it. It seems to me that this venerable liturgy points directly at the solution for our world in crisis.

This liturgy makes crystal clear that God must be our focus, the principle commanding our attention and guiding our action. First of all. Otherwise everything else is mere distraction. This truth and this spirit are often missing in our time. But how do you want people to keep God in front of them in the strife and stress of every day life, when God's presence in his own sanctuary must compete with so many other interests and egos? So what could we need more today than an unequivocal (and beautiful) reminder that is given in this liturgy? How could that possibly be a bad thing?

To be clear, I enjoy the Mass liturgy at my parish church and I will continue to go. Thanks to what I have learned about the Latin Mass, I will try more than ever to focus on God's presence through the modern liturgy. But I will also seek out a Tridentine Mass. I wish this were more readily accessible! And I hope that it will become so. In fact, let me thank here the priests and others who are working to keep this liturgy alive! This is a wonderful gift to humanity. I would also urge those who seem not to favor the old Latin Mass nevertheless not to ostracize those who do. At the very least, the Catholic Church should not merely tolerate but rather embrace those who ask only to praise God as best, as totally, and as beautifully as they can.

Art Doe | 8/8/2016 - 12:08pm

So what you have clearly demonstrated is that the Tridentine Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass are liturgies for two DIFFERENT religions. There is no unity between the two. As well as the newer "teachings" of Vatican II. Recall that the Church has 4 marks: Unity, Holiness, Universal, Apostolic. Therefore, one of these two religions is the Roman Catholic Church, and the other is NOT. Which one? I'll stick with Ss. Peter and Paul, St. Pius V and Pius X. Good luck to you my friend.

Patrick Burdick | 5/14/2016 - 10:41am

A sad state of affairs indeed, when an ordained Catholic priest finds the TLM repulsive. It just underscores the degree of deviation from traditional Catholic teaching and liturgical practice that has put the Church into a tailspin since the Second Vatican Council. The devolved Novus Ordo Mass has become so Protestantized that the faithful in the pews--as well as priests at the Altar, apparently--cannot recognize the orthopraxis of Catholic orthodoxy, i.e. in the TLM.

Even more sad is the fact of Francis' pontificate, which has put deconstructionist, neo-Jesuitical heterodoxy at the service of modernism with the view toward destroying the Catholic Faith.

Personally, I am fed up with this hyper-liberal order whose latest scandals must be giving cause for St. Ignatius Loyola to be turning over in his crypt. The "S.J." trailer has become, by-and-large, a proscription on orthodoxy.

Cindy Brolsma | 4/25/2016 - 9:19am

I've come to believe that many priests dislike the Tridentine Mass because they don't understand it, believe parishioners don't like it, and they feel slightly inadequate for not knowing how to celebrate it. I'm glad that Pope Benedict XVI was able to create, in his gentle way, an opportunity for there to be a big tent - so that Catholics who need the profound and spritual nourishment of the the Latin Mass can live harmoniously with Catholics who need a more communitarian approach to Mass, a majority of whom have never experienced the old Mass and would find it utterly disorienting.

Phillip Stone | 4/21/2016 - 10:39pm

I am an Australian born during the second world war and subject to the Vatican one version of the Irish Catholic church then established all over our country, then treated by Rome as a missionary area, not a fully kosher church.

In my very early teens, the dogmatic and rigid puritanical spirit of the communion was so obvious, the congregational hatred and rejection of all other baptised people as not really Christian, the forbidding of us attending the weddings, baptisms or funerals of friends and families, nay even going into their churches scandalised me.

I spat Catholicism out of my mouth, knocked the dust of the district from my sandals, and moved on. Fulton Sheen, Thomas Merton and C S Lewis aided by G K Chesterton and the Jerusalem bible were my companions on the road.

Then an obvious Christian began as the bishop of Rome - he heard the voice of God and did his duty - called the fellowship of believers together and what he started eventually began to turn the huge, inert, ponderous ship about and onto the straight and narrow.

The ceremony enacted in Catholic churches in most parishes in Australia is now following the Ordo Missae unless they are Carmelite or Jesuit parishes who have their own but very similar.

If that blessed man who is now canonised had been disobedient, the entire community governed from Rome would have soon been in apostasy - indistinguishable from other Jewish sects. They who stayed in the past did so for carnal selfish reasons and the only ones who have my sympathy are the very elderly priests and religious beyond retiring age who were permitted through compassion to stay within the discarded and outmoded culture out of our love and pity.

Stephen Johns | 4/20/2016 - 12:54pm

Bear in mind that, in 1997, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) published a volume under the title Milestones: Memoirs 1927 - 1977. In it he wrote:
"There is no doubt that this new missal [after Vatican II] in many respects brought with it a real improvement and enrichment; but setting it as a new construction over against what had grown historically, forbidding the results of this historical growth, thereby makes the liturgy appear to be no longer a living development but the product of erudite work and juridical authority; this has caused us enormous harm. For then the impression had to emerge that liturgy is something ‘made’, not something given in advance but something lying within our own power of decision. From this it also follows that we are not to recognize the scholars and the central authority alone as decision makers, but that in the end each and every ‘community’ must provide itself with its own liturgy. When liturgy is self-made, however, then it can no longer give us what its proper gift should be: the encounter with the mystery that is not our own product but rather our origin and the source of our life. A renewal of liturgical awareness, a liturgical reconciliation that again recognizes the unity of the history of the liturgy and that understands Vatican II, not as a breach, but as a stage of development: these things are urgently needed for the life of the Church.

"I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur, in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not he speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless. And because the ecclesial community cannot have its origin from itself but emerges as a unity only from the Lord, through faith, such circumstances will inexorably result in a disintegration into sectarian parties of all kinds - partisan opposition within a Church tearing herself apart".

On Sunday I was at a "happy clappy" baptism service. No renunciation of the Devil, no mention of original sin. All very Evangelical in a Catholic Church which had no crucifix - only a cross, no Stations of the Cross and crumbs of the (hand distributed) consecrated Host from the preceding Mass scattered on the table which served as an altar as well as some on the floor. Although I am a Traditionalist by nature, I accept that many prefer the new forms of the Mass and that there is room for both in the Church. But this was just too much.

Patrick Cullen | 4/3/2016 - 12:28am

Interesting perspective. The comments about feeling uncomfortable; the mass feeling strange and foreign. That's how I felt every time I attended the OF. It felt too much like a performance and not enough like Divine Liturgy. That's why I left the latin rite and moved to the Byzantine Ruthenians.

Aaron Siering | 2/7/2016 - 3:16pm

This was very disconcerting to read. I don't understand how anybody with an S.J behind their name can be so ignorant about the Mass, which should be the central focus of any Catholic's life. I also don't believe all those below who write in support of the New Order Mass when they say they participate in that Mass, because their comments betray them.

I've been to Byzantine Masses, Maronite Masses and there is arguably no more participatory a form of Christian Mass than the Roman Mass, and if you don't know how to participate in it then you have only been deceiving yourself about participating in any New Order Mass you attend.

So this is why it is important. It is not about any superficial preference. It is about those of us who have really participated in Mass and have had an experiential encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist through it, that is really changing us into a Christian (in Greek Christian literally means little Christ--not a follower of Christ, but an actual Christ too) and those of you who profess Catholicism but who apparently have never truly been initiated into the Divine Mysteries through the Mass. For me--although granted in my two years in the faith (I am a convert from Atheism) I've read a lot, certainly, but my real instruction has come through direct experience through participation in the Mass. My sense of faith is born form the actual experience of the supernatural through the sacraments--as it should be for all Baptized and Confirmed Christians.

So having said that here is one point of ignorance that really bothered me in Fr (?) Schindler's original post. The Cannon is not suppose to be read out loud. Because it is not a piece of theater. It is the one part of the Mass that the celebrate has to do alone. It is the part where the priest goes into the Holy of Holies. You know what the Priest will be praying because you'll have studied this part of the Mass on your own, and it is during this time that you offer up your own support for the Priest's work--just like children support their father--because as this point the Priest is both enacting the actions of High Priest in the Levitical sacrificial system and engaging in His priest hood through the order of Melchizedek that Christ made possible for him.

This second system is Patriarchal because the father by virtue of being head of the household is de facto a priest.The Church by the way is a woman. We all enter into womanhood through the Church and strive to model ourselves after Mary even while the Priest plays the part of Fatherhood. There is profound theology of the sexes going on here that instruct in the way that God chose to order the world--you know the order Adam and Even rejected which led to the fall. This is an order that is an imitation of the Trinity and ends in man and women in a fruitful marriage, the Church to the Lamb. This is instructive because we were made to participate as family members in the Trinity's own Divine life, in ipse esse. The Mass here is a foretaste of this.

I also think this is what people who get the Roman Mass are instinctively attracted to. It is ordered around God and Trinitian in focus, while the New Order Mass is ordered around man, himself.

Now for the rest of the comments I believe by and large people supporting the New Order Mass are confusing entertainment with participation because they've never actually ever participated in a Mass and don't consequently know what such participation is genuinely suppose to feel like.

However one can think of it this way. Imagine you are big Neil Diamond fan, because it's kitsch or whatever. You know all the words to his songs and one day you get to see him in concert. You go and it was an elaborate performance with a whole choir of back up singers. Two days later you still feel on top of the world. He really did his job in entertaining you. However you will not be receiving a paycheck for the concert unlike the back up signers who will. Because you didn't really participate in the sense of be a performer or as we'd say about the mass a celebrant. Even though you sung every word to every song you were only there to be entertained. Your participation such as it was was as an audience member. You might have done more singing than the back up singers who only sang their assigned parts, but you weren't part of the offering. You were the recipient of it all. The show was put on for you.

It is kind of perverse really because God is suppose to be the recipient of the Mass, it is being offer to him, after all. But yet in reality the New Order Mass makes the congregation the recipient. I suppose here God is the bored passive viewer?

The Novus Order Mass by its very rubrics makes you an audience member. It may move you sentimentally and give you a sense of well being., but when you left you haven't really participated in a Mass.

However when you understand the theology behind the Roman Mass and what every little part means and you stand, sit or kneel behind the priest and say your assigned parts--those server parts in the Roman Mass are your parts btw. Then you have genuinely offered up the representation of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior to our Father in heaven.

When even priests confess they don't genuinely know what its like to be a celebrant in a Mass that is when you know we have real problems, and this may actually be the most serve crises in the 2000 year history of the Roman church--although it has also spread to other sui juris Catholic churches to be sure.

Rob Howell | 2/22/2016 - 7:12pm

Aaron: Thank you for your comment on the mass, very insightful. I noticed you said you were an atheist but converted to Catholicism. What made you change your mind? I am struggling with this with a family member who now professes to be atheist - said he has been enlightened due to science and facts. I truly believe it was a liberal professor in college (philosophy) that has filled his mind with this nonsense. Any advice or input on how to go about this would be welcomed! Also, like the time that you posted your comment! Thnks, Rob

R Fedrigon | 1/16/2016 - 6:11am

Father Schineller, Although your thoughtful article was written several years ago now, I wish I were at such a mass and that you could have pulled me aside afterwards. Here are some thoughts I might have shared after learning to reappreciate the Latin Mass:

First, for me it more properly orders Jesus's two commandments of us. When attending Latin Mass, I immediately feel a real focus on God' presence more than on a community of faith as I believe the Novus Ordo Mass more purposely tries to stress.

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Moreover, in this modernist world where God is secondary or non-existent in our daily lives , it's really hard to work to put God first. For me the Latin Mass clearly helps as a more powerful and even artful weekly ritual to refocus in this respect.

Secondly think Chesterton regarding our prideful preferences to change things:

“Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead…“Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.”

Thirdly, think Joseph Campbell: " I think ritual is very important." Although he was no Christian, he ironically helped plant a seed for my eventually becoming a Catholic revert after rejecting the Church as old fashioned and not relevant anymore. I later experienced that there is no more beautiful and ancient ritual than the Latin Mass.

And finally, I wish you could have also questioned my 15-year old on this topic -- probing deeper than her initial reaction that it's boring and "I can't understand anything." You may have gained some further insights on how the keep cradle Catholics as lifelong devout Catholics which is a serious problem not apparently being corrected in the West by the Church's accommodations to modern culture.

Gerard LeBlond | 11/11/2015 - 5:13pm

"Somewhat to my surprise since the liturgy had been so faithful to the pre-Vatican II Mass, there were no Leonine prayers."

The Leonine prayers are recited at the conclusion of "Low Masses" [2 Candles lit] and not at the end of "High Masses."

John Watkins | 9/20/2015 - 5:29pm

Poor Fr. Schineller. He can't figure out why anyone (except old codgers, perhaps?) would be attracted to the old liturgy. Here's a thought experiment, Fr. Try and imagine what these people are repelled by, instead of attracted by. Can you say 'Clown Masses'? How about 'Talk Show Host' Masses? Maybe a 'Stand-up Comic Mass'? Or my new favorite, the 'Estrogen Overload Mass'. You know, the one where the 'presider' is surrounded in the sanctuary by a dozen or so grumpy looking womyn who proceed to deliver communion to the 20 or so faithful (?) who snatch the Host as eagerly as Napolean snatched the crown from the Pope's hands as he crowned himself. Ring any bells here, Padre? And by the way, when is that scheduled 'renewal' of the Church ever going to take effect? When are all those Protestants that the New Mass was supposedly going to satisfy going to arrive? And when are Catholics going to stop fleeing? Does any of all that make you uncomfortable at all, Father? Or is that what you dreamed of back in 1965?

r p | 12/17/2015 - 2:05pm

Poor you, having to witness ‘Estrogen Overload’ from all those women (yuck) waiting on the men up on the altar. We all know the church should be entirely run by men. Women need not apply. Go live in your world of just men, John, you love them so much.

Dave Wygonowski | 10/8/2015 - 8:57pm

Spot on! That is pretty much all you see these days, anywhere you go to the new Mass.

Nagash Demina | 9/28/2015 - 2:47pm

Agree 100%. It never cease to make me retch when I see the selfishness that some Catholics have in regards to the Holy Mass. The Mass is not celebrated for man's benefit, it is man celebrating the Mass to worship and give glory to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. News Flash to Humanity: the Mass is not all about you! If you think so, well then you are the illegitimate child of the Novs Ordo "mass": self-centered, man-centered, in constant need of noise, entertainment, and coddling. If that is what a person needs, then may I suggest the Protestant snake-handlers down the road, as the Catholic way of life probably isn't for you. Thankfully, more and more every day the Catholic world is waking up from its slumber, growing weary of being in the world and of the world, weary of having been neutered into mute Protestantism and not so mute Protestant heresy, and going back to the TLM and back to being....CATHOLIC.

Karen Costura | 10/19/2014 - 12:09am

I think it's so sad that instead of uniting as one Church, we find the need to, in essence, ridicule each other's Mass choice. How ridiculous to say that one is not "properly" worshiping God if one chooses to attend a "teen Mass," or that a Tridentine Latin Mass is inferior because of the formality of it. Yes, perhaps I sound "Protestant" to many of you, having been born long after Vatican II, but, to me, there is no right way to worship God when it comes to the Mass. One is not more valid than the other. Both the traditional and the modern Masses are acceptable; attend whichever you prefer.

My opinion, granted, means nothing. With that being said, I am 32 years old, and I represent the future of the Church. I have actively participated in my parish's Pastoral Council (for a five-year stint), and have served as the cantor/musician at our Saturday Mass for about 16 years now. I know what has hurt the Church, and news flash, folks: these types of issues (Latin v. Modern Mass) AIN'T IT.

My father occasionally attends a Latin Mass in the town where I live (about a half hour drive for him), and he rants on and on about how much better it is. I tell him the following each time, and now I'm about to tell you: "Saying one Mass is better than other is like putting a jar of caviar in front of me on one side and my favorite pizza on the other; the caviar sure looks pretty and is quite the special feast, but I'll be damned if I don't love me some pizza!"

Both have a place in this world, and quit acting like you're superior if you prefer one over the other.

Christian Corona | 3/11/2015 - 10:45am

The Latin Mass is the extrodanary form of the mass and most people dont like it because it dosnt let them recieve communion in the hand and it is the most holy version of the mass and if you dont agree with me look at the saints they didnt go to a mass that is like the modern mass and look at the church attendance of the modern mass they are starting to lose attendance and the sspx is reciving more members because pepole are intrested in the latin mass it is the mass that converted me back to the Catholic Church

Bob Baker | 10/3/2014 - 7:52pm

The Latin Mass brings back memories of altar serving and how I shall remember my first time (and how unprepared I was and how Father let me know it).
We are there to celebrate the Mass and not as entertainment. I have experience years of the N.O. and some of the things I've seen are just plain scandalous. For instance, a water fight with the holy water at the altar between a Jesuit priest and a deacon; another Jesuit apologizing for the readings of the Mass; still another Jesuit who felt too hot and didn't vest correctly; and a diocesan priest who conducted the Mass like a Baptist healing service to name but a few (there is also the LA Religious Ed. Congress circus of Masses, but that's another story). These were not very spiritual and it seems the Mass is secondary to what many priests want to do, instead of their primary function.
As a teacher, my students were very interested in the Latin Mass, though none had ever gone to one. Taking them to a local abbey, they also experience sext - I had been giving them elementary Latin, which also seemed to help. They ended up wanting more.
I enjoy going to the TLM and I make no apologies for it.

Martha Geiger | 10/2/2014 - 6:48pm

I recently witnessed an archbishop saying the Traditional Mass. I am old enough to remember it because I predate Vatican II. I was curious to see if I felt any pangs of nostalgia. I have never seen one man wearing so many vestments. Cassock, rochet, alb, all the in between bits over the shoulders etc. Cincture. Two green under garments (tunic and dalmatic, I guess) before the green fiddleback. Gloves. It's a wonder he could hardly move. All readings in Latin chanted etc. Here's what I think: it was lousy church but great theatre or grand opera. I had not a scintilla of interior religious thought about Christ, living a Christian life, etc. The only religious thought I did have was along the lines of "what does this have to do with people in the pews?" This was all about the Celebrant (the starring role) assisted by the chorus of understudies and had nothing to with Eucharist (in all senses of the word). If it wasn't grand opera, it was at the very least a Renaissance Faire reenactment, but without the tankards of ale and buxom serving wenches. Totally lacking in joy. I wish Jesus would appear to him and say "What are you doing? I want you to be a pastor to my people, not an actor in a play that no one understands. Put away the costumes, cut the crap and get back to work."

Nagash Demina | 9/28/2015 - 2:17pm

"I want you to be a pastor to my people, not an actor in a play that no one understands."

That right there shows your error. Selfish people assume the Mass is said on their behalf to benefit selfish people. It's not. Sorry. The Mass is celebrated for one purpose and one purpose alone: to worship God.

Here's a hint for you why you can't understand what the Priest is saying: he's not talking to you, he's talking to God.

The self-centeredness and selfishness of humanity never ceases to amaze me....

Cheryl Neshek | 9/14/2014 - 2:16am

I too find it fascinating how some articles seem to merit additional comments. What I find most disheartening about the article and the more recent posts is that no one seems to know that the current way that the common form of the Mass is celebrated was NOT put forth by Vatican II. In actuality, there was only 1 document, the first one drafted during Vatican II, that had anything to do with the liturgy. Want to the know what the Church professed as being the proper and Christ-centered Mass? Read the document. Latin was NOT tossed; it was actually encouraged! No where did it say that the priest should stand on the other side of the altar. Gregorian chant was to be given preference. Communion received kneeling and on the tongue was the overwhelmingly preferred method (Communion in the hand began as an abuse of reception and had NEVER been approved by any pope or counsel). These are just some of the changes that were never meant to be changes in the first place. The vast majority of that which we do during Mass was brought about by the agendas of a few dissenting priests and bishops who happened to be in high authority, and have been maintained by those who agree with them or do not know any better. Read the document!!! You will not find any approved documents that emphasize "vernacular", "elimination of repetition", etc. And who is the average Catholic that he or she thinks that he or she decides what is and is not "important"? Our Church is not a democracy. It is the One True Faith, the only Church founded by Jesus Christ, and we do not have the right to treat its doctrines as a buffet, picking and choosing only those beliefs that we like. Protestants vote on Truth. Their Truth changes with the times. God is changeless. And although Jesus' Church's doctrines may go from bud to blossom, its Truths, its teachings on faith and morals, in their essence, will not, cannot change. And rejoice! For that is the beauty of the fullness of Truth! And by the way, some celebrants (priests) are simply better at their jobs than others. Going to one traditional Latin Mass should hardly be enough "proof" to one that it feels "foreign". Just as with the secular media, do not believe without question all that you read in the so-called Catholic media or hear from the Clergy. To many of them I suspect Jesus would say "I do not know you". PS If you can state a Vatican approved document countering what I have just written, please provide its link. Those of you who are faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, worry not; there is no such link.

Sandi Sinor | 9/15/2014 - 2:40pm

What you say is mostly true but incomplete and thus, misleading - the old form was permitted, but reform was encouraged also.

Do you or do you not, as "faithful to the Magisterium" agree that Rome had the right to permit the changes to the liturgy that occurred after Vatican II?

You prefer the traditional liturgy, Most Catholics prefer the reformed liturgy. So, since both are permitted, why do you wish to impose your preferences on all with such a judgmental attitude?

You are welcome to the TM, the rest of us will continue to participate in the Novus Ordo with music we can sing, a priest who is looking at us as he speaks, speaking in our native languages, and in which we as community actively participate instead of being limited to "Amen" and "Et cum spiritu tuo" and reading out Latin-English missals, while waiting for the priest to catch up. (reading is faster than speaking to ones self in Latin). I studied Latin for four years, won multiple awards for Latin, but English is my own language. I no more wish to attend mass in Latin as a normal practice than I wish to attend mass in Russian as the standard on Sunday - even if someone provided me with a Russian-English missal. But those who prefer a foreign language to their own are welcome to worship in Latin - as long as they realize it is a personal preference and that Latin is not "superior" in any way to the vernacular.

The change to the vernacular was not ordered, but it was "permitted" as were the other reforms.

From Sacrosanctum Concili - they left it up to the bishops to decide what language would encourate full participation of the congregation in the liturgy (a major goal of the reforms). The bishops needed the approval of Rome - which was given freely. The document also respects the differences of culture and region and permits the liturgy to be adapted as needed.

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language

4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

D) Norms for adapting the Liturgy to the culture and traditions of peoples

37. Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not implicate the faith or the good of the whole community; rather does she respect and foster the genius and talents of the various races and peoples. Anything in these peoples' way of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error she studies with sympathy and, if possible, preserves intact. Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit.

38. Provisions shall also be made... for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples...when drawing up the rites and devising rubrics. 39. Within the limits set by the typical editions of the liturgical books, it shall be for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to specify adaptations...according to the fundamental norms laid down in this Constitution.

40. In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed, and this entails greater difficulties. Wherefore:

1) The competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, must, in this matter, carefully and prudently consider which elements from the traditions and culture of individual peoples might appropriately be admitted into divine worship. Adaptations which are judged to be useful or necessary should when be submitted to the Apostolic See, by whose consent they may be introduced.

2) To ensure that adaptations may be made with all the circumspection which they demand, the Apostolic See will grant power to this same territorial ecclesiastical authority to permit and to direct, as the case requires, the necessary preliminary experiments over a determined period of time among certain groups suited for the purpose.

3) Because liturgical laws often involve special difficulties with respect to adaptation, particularly in mission lands, men who are experts in these matters must be employed to formulate them.

II. The Promotion of Liturgical Instruction and Active Participation

14. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation...(1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism. In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else;

IOW, passive congregations watching the priest with his back to them, praying in Latin, while those in the congregation read the missal, pray silently or say the rosary was not the "aim" of the reforms.

B) Norms drawn from the hierarchic and communal nature of the Liturgy

26. Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of...namely, the holy people united and ordered under their bishops (33)...30. To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.

Gregorian chant was encouraged and holds "pride of place", but not mandated. Adapting to local cultural norms was also encouraged. Most masses I attend have some Latin - singing the Kyrie, or Agnus Dei for example, but the rest is the vernacular - and I love it. The modern settings for psalms in English sometimes leads to tears - I "feel" the words of the psalm, which does not happen in Latin. Singing anything in Latin seems more of a musical enterprise (I was in choirs and small singing groups in a secular setting and we sang a lot of Latin and classical in general), but it is is not active prayer for most people.

116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30...

119. In certain parts of the world, especially mission lands, there are peoples who have their own musical traditions, and these play a great part in their religious and social life. For this reason due importance is to be attached to their music, and a suitable place is to be given to it, not only in forming their attitude toward religion, but also in adapting worship to their native genius as indicated in Art. 39 and 40.

120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, ....But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.

121. Composers, filled with the Christian spirit, should feel that their vocation is to cultivate sacred music and increase its store of treasures. Let them produce compositions which have the qualities proper to genuine sacred music, not confining themselves to works which can be sung only by large choirs, but providing also for the needs of small choirs and for the active participation of the entire assembly of the faithful.....The texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine; indeed they should be drawn chiefly from holy scripture and from liturgical sources.

....communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity

Communion in the hand - permitted when requested by bishops and approved by Rome.

SACRED CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Letter "En reponse a la demande," to presidents of those conferences of bishops petitioning the indult for communion in the hand, 29 May 1969: AAS 61 (1969) 546-547; Not 5 (1969) 351-353......In reply to the request of your conference of bishops regarding permission to give communion by placing the host on the hand of the faithful, I wish to communicate the following. Pope Paul Vl calls attention to the purpose of the Instruction Memoriale Domini of 29 May 1969, on retaining the traditional practice in use. At the same time he has taken into account the reasons given to support your request and the outcome of the vote taken on this matter. The Pope grants that throughout the territory of your conference, each bishop may, according to his prudent judgment and conscience, authorize in his diocese the introduction of the new rite for giving communion. The condition is the complete avoidance of any cause for the faithful to be shocked and any danger of irreverence toward the Eucharist.

On separating altars from the back wall so that the priest can face the congregation - not ordered, but permitted.

[1] The instruction Inter Oecumenici, prepared by the Consilium for the carrying out of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and issued on September 26, 1964, has a chapter on the designing of new churches and altars that includes the following paragraph:

Praestat ut altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit.

[It is better for the main altar to be constructed away from the wall so that one can easily walk around the altar and celebrate facing the people. [2]

It is said to be desirable to set up the main altar separate from the back wall, so that the priest can walk around it easily and a celebration facing the people is possible.

Mary LG | 10/15/2014 - 7:10pm

Sandy Sinor - Vatican II destroyed Catholicism. If you think the Novus Ordo is Catholic then you are completely wrong and do not know your faith.

Novus Ordo Mass was created to "entertain" the people. All this guitars and hand clapping is all protestant. If you look at who made up the Vatican II council you will see that jews, protestants, communist and others made up this council. Which by the way was about 7 people, all was changed to acommodate the "church into the world".

Explain to me why there are so little vocations nowadays? Nuns, priests? If this was such a great change, why the dwindling of parishoners? Why so much pedophilia?

Latin rite Mass is traced through a series of links in an unbroken chain beginning with very first mass given by Christ 2,000 years ago at the Last Supper, until of course Vatican II.

The Holy Mass is the bloodless recreation of the Holy Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, not a guitar, hand clapping service.

I do not recall Our Blessed Mother clapping her hands as her Son was being crucified . . . . did you????

Where did the Novus Ordo place the Tabernacle? In most churches it is no longer in the center but on the side or hidden in the back? Do you know who is in the Tabernacle?


Joanna White | 5/8/2016 - 10:57pm

Thank you for this great comment!!

Nagash Demina | 9/28/2015 - 2:22pm

Correct on every count. The Novus Ordo is abject and utter Protestant Heresy. Some basic theological research and a blind guinea pig could come to the same conclusion. Anyone that says otherwise is either blind to the obvious, utter, blatant truth smacking you in the forehead, or too far gone, brainwashed by the Novus Ordo Hula Squad.

Anne Chapman | 10/17/2014 - 12:09am

Are you a member of Pius X or perhaps a sedevacantist?

It would be good for you to check your sources of information. You seem to have been misinformed about Vatican II, and you seem to also be a bit misinformed about Catholicism. Historian John O'Malley SJ has written an excellent and very readable summary of Vatican II (as well as one on Trent). It is called What Happened at Vatican II.

The decline in vocations to the priesthood and in religious vocations for women had nothing to do with Vatican II. If you believe this, it would be good if you would also pick up some good histories and analyses of the 20th century, especially of the period from WWII through to today (history written, one hopes, by a legitimate historian.)

Nagash Demina | 9/28/2015 - 2:28pm

Actually you are incorrect, she is correct on every count. The vast decline in vocations, attendance, schools, and every other aspect of Catholic life can all be DIRECTLY traced back to Vatican II. Any simple research for even five minutes shows this to be true without any shadow of a doubt. The declines and problems are not IN SPITE of Vatican II...they are BECAUSE OF it. That is simply a fact, whether you or anyone else can see that or not, it changes nothing of the truth.

Carlos Orozco | 9/3/2014 - 10:24pm

Something tells me the beauty and reverence of Latin mass will, eventually, outlive the strange "Novus Ordo". The world needs not an anthropocentric mass.

Mary LG | 10/15/2014 - 7:13pm

Carlos, the church is currently going through the passion as Jesus Christ did. The novus ordo mass is not catholic but a protestant service. The church will lose all her possessions and priests will rely on the laity for food. The church will "seem" as if it has disappeared but it won't because with one person who has the faith, it will catch fire like it never did before.

Anne Chapman | 10/17/2014 - 12:11am

Mary, you seem to be in a state of high distress, needlessly burdened by fears with no basis in reality. Could you share with us your sources of information - where are you getting these ideas from? Many here could help you find more reliable sources of information, and perhaps alleviate some of your concerns.

Nagash Demina | 9/28/2015 - 2:31pm

I would wager she got it from the "altar" girls, you know the ones who can't find the tabernacle because it's been shuffled off to the back room, not that they now or care what it is, anyway.

You are all that is wrong with Catholicism today and the sad thing is you're too far gone to even see it. I pray for your soul and all those like you, as there is a very fiery surprise for you when you die.

Bruce Snowden | 9/6/2014 - 7:21am

Many years ago, long before the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, a young priest complained to me that, praying in Latin was like praying to an unknown God in a foreign tongue! That pretty much sums up Tridentine's inadequacy, which in truth does have a certain beauty . But the time has come to let Tridentine rest in peace for heaven's sake! But that won't easily happen, for some sisters and brothers are sure that Jesus said "Dominus Vobiscum!" at the First Mass! I like the way liturgy is now celebrated and hearing "The Lord be with you!" is fine with me.

Bill Mazzella | 9/1/2014 - 9:39pm

Fascinating that a thread continues after two and half years. I mean it is possible that some posters might have died in the meantime. Nevertheless, despite the clarity (unfinished) of Vatican II the Mass remains impersonal to many Catholics. Sadly some are even choosing not to have a Mass when they die. Nor do they want a priest while they are dying. We have forgotten that this is a family celebration of us joined in the Crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ. People are cordial at Eucharist. But there is little awareness of the dynamic of our redemption--that there is no Body of Christ without each other. It is a work in progress and we have to learn to love one another as Jesus loves us.

BTW, the Council of Trent wanted to inrtroduce the vernacular. They did not because they did not want to imitate the Protestants.

Charles Schwartz | 9/1/2014 - 10:51am

You say: "One reason to attend was to see if I could feel comfortable being the main celebration of the Latin Mass." I think you mean CELEBRANT. Jesuits have a bad rep when it comes to liturgy, it's things like this that reinforce that idea - -and where were the AMERICA magazine proofreaders?

Robert Killoren | 8/22/2014 - 2:44pm

I attended a Tridentine Mass in Washington, D.C., and had a similar reaction. In some ways it was quite nostalgic to see the old Latin Mass again, and it was indeed mostly a "seeing" experience, for there was very little for the congregation to do except to witness the priest's sacrifice of the Mass. At the Mass I attended the Epistle and Gospel were read by the priest at the altar in Latin. He later read them in English at the pulpit before giving his sermon. Good thing he did or I wouldn't have had a clue as to what was said despite my high school and college Latin classes. In the old days, at least we had a missal that contained the readings and the Mass in English. I actually saw a number of people following along in reprinted old missals like the St. Andrew Missal, the 1945 edition. The Canon was said completely in Latin, whispered by the priest (the rubrics, spelled out in red in the Old Roman Missal, said that the prayers be said silently or in a whisper). It was nice to see the old Mass form but I didn't feel like I had attended Mass. Rather, I watched Mass and along with many others fingered my rosary while the priest mumbled the Latin words. I know that some feel this imbues the Mass with mystery and an elevated sense of dignity, but I totally missed participating in the Peoples' Mass. I remember serving at Mass in the seminary before the Vatican II reforms were in place. It was a private Mass, only the priest and me before a side altar. When on serving duty one always hoped to get Fr Near as the priest. He could say the entire Mass in Latin in under 10 minutes. I guess I'm glad that the Tridentine Mass is available for those who prefer it. And I do enjoy the international dimension that Latin can provide, like we saw on the Pope's visit to Korea. But even though I didn't know exactly what was being said in Latin or Korean, I knew what is always said at those parts of the Mass because I've heard and participated in them for over 50 years. I hated the division this battle between old and new caused over the years, and am glad that is put to rest. But I won't be attending another Tridentine Mass because I love the new Mass (in whatever language it is prayed).

Gabriel Galeano | 8/22/2014 - 10:48am

"The Mass seemed to focus on the priest whose words for the most part could not be heard (they were in Latin anyway!) and who rarely faced the people."

Wrong. The priest faces the High Altar of the Lord and the focus is directed towards the Lord Christ and His Sacrifice. The focus should not be on the congregation, and they're less involved in the liturgy because the priest is the celebrant - we are co-celebrants and participate in our own hearts.

I am not qualified to discuss the theology of the Mass, but I prefer the traditional Mass (and solemnly performed Novus Orodo Masses in Latin, ad orientem) to the modernist liturgy in the new rite. All focus should be on the Sacrifice of the Mass and not ourselves. We are not Protestants!

Angela Sullivan | 8/26/2013 - 1:47pm

Interesting article.I guess personal taste & familiarity are really at the core of what we as individuals prefer. Well I will honestly state, I grew up with The Novus Ordo Mass,I was born after the Council. My Father did not like The New Mass. What I find very interesting is that I love The Tridentine Mass, But unfortunately do not care for The Clicky little groups that attend it, or are Part Of a Latin Mass Community. Since I have members of my own Family who are part of a Latin Mass community, I can speak from personal experience. I notice they are exclusive not inclusive, they consider themselves better then "Regular Catholics" and are extremely critical of The Pope,this bothers me ( I am speaking of Pope John Paul II) the lack of humility love and kindness is so astonishing to me it is contradictory to the Teachings Of Christ & His Church.. But I do Love The Mass. Most Catholics in the Main Stream do not like the modern Americanized version of the New Mass and many have left the Church due to this. I do not agree with that either, but I do sympathize. I will describe my experience this Sunday. The Hymns sung were very Bland Protestant Banal sounding too difficult for The Congregation.. The Mass Settings sound like very badly written Jingles. The Mass participation as far as singing was concerned NON EXISTENT. I am a professional Musician, and can tell you the Church I attend employs excellent musicians, BUT the Music is not Beautiful nor is it singable for The congregation. The Soprano who sings has a very HIGH VOICE, The Mass settings are too difficult and not very Pretty. So no one, except a few like myself, participate.I always drop an Octave when we are singing a High E F# etc. The interval leaps in The Gloria are so ridiculous, the tune itself is laughable. not beautiful, but I can assure you most of the music is just NOT singable for the Average person. The Latin parts are more beautiful,easier to sing have the "Sacred" quality necessary and EVERYONE LIKES THEM BETTER. The Range is not difficult and The LATIN Language is much more suitable for singing. The English Language is not. The Latin Parts have Prettier Melody, and are Easier to sing. and for those who state OH but its Latin, DUH! I think we all know what Agnus Dei Means. The Pastor at my Church tries very hard, but TOO hard, as if he has to perform, his Homilies sound very fake and contrived. I think Teaching The Gospel has gotten lost in a feeble attempt to entertain. He sounds like Mr.Rogers. He is perfunctory in his duties, works very hard but, seems to have a very distant relationship with most of the congregation except The School. I doubt he even knows my name. The shaking of the Hands is a HUGE mistake no one really wants to do it so when you stick your hand out most recoil, or put up the famous peace sign which reminds one of John Lennon. Then others walk all over The Church continuing the hand shaking which disrupts THE LAMB OF GOD.
The Focus should be on Christ The Eucharist.These facts are hard to ignore The Mass has lost 75% of its attendance due to the New Mass. something is wrong. I think that more Priest should say the Latin Mass. I also believe that we need to use Catholic Music Not Commercial Jingles. Tridentine Catholics need to learn their Catechism other then The Latin Mass, they need to encourage and evangelize stop acting so snotty. That's a big complaint from many Catholics who love The Tridentine Rite! I do not agree with dividing people into groups ,that's very American NOT CATHOLIC and a GREAT weapon for satan, that is why I do think its essential That The Latin Mass be said without having to ask permission or belong to a group. Division is a mistake. Pope Benedict XVI was a great blessing to The Church. The Catholic Church is The Bride Of Christ She needs to be treated as such.

L K | 8/23/2013 - 3:07pm

Fr. Peter, I hope you have been praying about your experience as well, so that you take your initial "negative" and "raw" reaction from the natural level of feelings to the supernatural level.

You say po-TAY-to, this woman says po-TAH-to, the Church says: both the Tridentine and Novus Ordo are valid and licit forms of the Mass.

From the article above: "Sheer curiosity is what led me to first attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form...As I listened to prayers chanted in Latin, saw trails of incense floating in the air, and observed the priest offer up the Mass, I realized, this is exactly how centuries of Catholics celebrated Mass. Suddenly, I felt transported outside the constraints of time and space. I always knew we Catholics are united in the Eucharist, but now, at Latin Mass, the term “universal church” carried a fuller, deeper meaning...I returned to Latin Mass in the weeks that followed, being attracted to the indescribable beauty of tradition, sacred music, and reverence."


Luke Hansen | 8/23/2013 - 5:40pm

Per our comments policy, please include your full name. Thank you.

Carolyn Disco | 8/20/2013 - 1:08am

Thank you, Fr. Peter, Ann Chapman and others.

I graduated from college the spring before Vatican II began, so I grew up with the Tridentine mass. I think too many have an idealized view of how it used to be.

I welcomed the new mass wholeheartedly and could not be dragged back to the old days no matter what. I found it ostentatious, a format that elevated the priest in a cultic manner, and consigned the laity to a passive stance resonant of a believe, pray, pay and obey mentality. The bells and smells did not impress me or promote reverence.

I was the first woman lector at a mass in my parish, and the experience left a moving imprint. My participation was welcomed; I really belonged in this new sense of church. There was a parish council to which I was elected. A priest actually wanted to know my views. A survey was done to determine mass times, instead of the pastor alone deciding what worked in our family schedules.

Someone really did ask my opinion as opposed to issuing a directive to be followed without comment. I was treated like an adult for a change. It's about the type of church we became, manifested in how we prayed.

I too could not go back to that era of catechism answers to every question, a brittle spirituality built around fear of hell and rules for every instance. I heard of a Vatican II peritus who actually told people that no one, no one could consign him or her to hell --- and that was news.

I could exhale and breathe fresh air. Maybe some need a clearer sense of certainty, or some clergy feel a loss of prestige and control. I found the guidance to grow a deeper faith than the one I was raised in.

There is no going back, ever.

Vincent Gaitley | 8/19/2013 - 10:35pm

Geez, Father Schineller,
That priest who 'rarely faced the people' was busy facing God, and in that Church during that Mass it was an act of adoration with all facing one way. Now Mass is form of post modern theatre. The Revds. Vladimir and Estragon face the people and promise that God is there (He said he'd be here) and in stilted, staged English (something Holy lost in translation) fail to move.
You're so convinced of the efficacy of Vatican II as an act of liberation that you forget the warm, awe inspiring, tradition of the old Mass. Once we spoke to God as our ancestors did, and as all our fellow Catholics did around the globe for centuries in Latin. Now we are a globalized Babel uttering in English the most awkward translation ever. When I was an altar boy every person in my parish at Mass knew my name, I was part of a community and a school and an uncommon tongue saved for worship and study and prayer. Now we all speak English to God, and I am a stranger among strangers. Language is more than words uttered, it is a way of thinking and acting. Years ago the most unique, identifiable trope of our Roman Catholic heritage was discarded--now disdained by a Jesuit who should know better. Celebrating the Mass in Latin wasn't about you, Father. It was about the connection to the early Catholics, the bishops of Rome, a spiritual empire, and two thousand years of souls speaking to God. Together. In one voice. In one language. God help me, how could your feelings be "raw" over that Mass?

Bill Taylor | 8/24/2014 - 6:05pm

"The priest who 'rarely faced the people' was busy facing God." Sorry. I grew up with the Latin Mass, learned to celebrate the Latin Mass at the seminary, and celebrated Mass in Latin for several years. Problem one: Priests routinely referred to the Mass they celebrated as "My Mass." We all did. And I remember priests galloping through the Mass, blurring words, skipping whole phrases, and congratulating themselves for finishing in ten minutes. This is facing God? Some continued to celebrate this way when the altar was turned around and they celebrated in English. But, after more than fifty years, I relish celebrating with the folks, all of us together, side by side with John and the two Marys, one with Christ in his sacrifice.

Problem two: I went off on sabbatical and finally attended a class on Liturgy by Jake Empereur, S.J., a famous liturgist. There, I learned that the pomp and circumstances of a Latin Mass was modeled on the ceremony in some royal court. All this bowing, scraping, and kissing. The peasants, of course, were not even present. This was for the sake of the sycophants crowded around the throne.

Problem three. The Mass began as a community ceremony in a language everyone understood, with people gathered around the celebrant, sharing Christ's sacrifice together. And then, bishops and archbishops began to imagine they were the new Jewish High Priests. Clericalism was born. The High Priests vanished into the Holy of Holies. This is still most obvious in the Eastern Churches. In the West, the Communion Rail formed the barrier between the holy and the profane. Vatican Two tried to scrape away all these historical accretions and get back to the original experience. They could have done it better. But it was a step away from something that could barely represent the humility of Christ.

Nicholas Silva | 8/18/2013 - 12:29pm

To answer your question Father, people seek the Tridentine Mass because it is awesome. Catholics who seriously care about the faith in normal parishes tend to be marginalized, their piety mocked, and their ideas ridiculed. Then people (especially young people like me) go to Latin Mass parishes and the flipside is true: strong catechises, clear Catholic identity and culture, people living like they actually believe our religion, priests praying like it really mattered. If you want to know why we prefer the Latin Mass, it's because its a beacon of authenticity in a world were ambiguity is preferred. It's other worldly and takes one out of the mundanity of normal life, it's challenging and requires a discipline of spirituality which has formed countless saints.Tradition is a reaction to the fluctuation of the age that has been embodied in the instability of the common celebration of the New Mass. When Catholics want to find comfort in something unchanging for once, they go to Tridentine Mass and find it.

The Latin Mass won't go away anytime soon, nor the laity who love it or the booming vocations that come from it. We are small but resilient. While most Catholics are still soaking in the radiation from the liturgical fallout after Vatican II, while numbers in Mass attendance fall, parishes close, people leave, we still exist. That's what a people built in Tradition do, we endure, we last, we carry on, we hold out, stay steadfast. We have many children, we raise many priests and religious, we evangelize fiercely and when this game is done in the Church, we'll be what's left and have survived the longest because we have the tools that make, keep, and produce good Catholics and we use them. Soft-core Catholicism will lose eventually to the secular relativistic war machine in due time as it wears out and eats away at its adherents. The only Catholicism that will come out unscathed is a Catholicism that isn't afraid to face it head on and point out Satan where he is and move the hearts of its followers to radically resist him in all expressions of our faith at all costs.

Anne Chapman | 3/12/2012 - 11:09pm
Joseph, really - you make heaven sound a bit like the Emerald City of Oz.  Only Dorothy saw through it, the falseness of it all, and knew that it is much better to be in Kansas.

It seems that you do not believe that the mass should reflect what Jesus actually taught through his life and his words.  And apparently you also believe that the mass should be equated with various cultural institututions - churches and cathedrals as free music halls and museums, and palaces that people can walk through and be in awe of all that ostentatious wealth. 

But, perhaps instead the homeless man would be comforted to know that Jesus did not live like a king, with gold and silk and jewelry and palaces.  It might comfort him to know that Jesus was a poor man, like himself, and that Jesus understands his life, that Jesus' parents also were homeless, and so he was born in a stable or a cave. Luke could have had Jesus be born in a palace, but he did not - why not? Because this gospel, like all of them are pointing to a deeper truth, to something we are to learn. So maybe you should think this through a bit more, reflect a bit more on the choice of symbols in the story of Jesus's life and those he chose to use in his parables and teachings.  The Jewish people expected the messiah to arrive in triumph - a secular leader, wrapped in glory and power and wealth -  in other words, by all that is symbolized in elaborate cathedrals, by dressing hierarchy in gilded vestments with 40' silken trains, by having gold vessels, etc.  So they did not recognize Jesus as their messiah because his message was the opposite of what they expected. They were looking through the secular lens, but Jesus turned it all upside down, and taught us that these trappings of wealth and power are exactly what we should be avoiding, rather than seeking.

I agree with those who believe that the mass should reflect would Jesus taught us in his words, and especially in how we live.  There is much truth in Cate's observation that Jesus did not hold himself above others, he was always with them, seated at the same table, sharing the same food, speaking in the language they all shared.

Rod Larocque | 3/12/2012 - 5:13pm
I am in my early 40's and have been attending almost exclusively the Traditional Mass since 1989. I find the Old Mass to be so much more spiritually fruitful than the Novus Ordo mass.
The reason is because the Old Mass clearly demonstrates what the Church actually believes goes on at Mass. I once found an old Baltimore Catachism and read it and when I asked my Novus Ordo priest why we do such and such at the new mass when the Catachism says this.... he just rolled his eyes.
Also, I attend the Old Mass because I don't have to worry about having my faith challenged each week. In the past I would worry what the priest might say now that we no longer have to believe.
Attending the Old Mass and socializing with traditional catholics let me avoid all the church controversies and liturgical wars. I can pray with confidence that I have a valid and holy and pleasing mass, a doctrinally sound catachism and fellowship with likeminded catholics that do not question what the Church teaches on any serious issue. This means I can better progress in the spiritual life and hope to attain sanctity.
Of course my chapel has it's share of weirdos, including myself, but I do know Our Lord is there and I can pray to Him each Sunday knowing He is pleased with this tried and true Sacrifice and that I am not compromising on His teachings for the sake of making peace with the modern world or making my pew more comfortable.
Des Farrell | 3/12/2012 - 3:18pm
Nice post cate. And Campion, yes it's my pleasure to sing Fr. Donal's praises in this magazine. He is working around the clock this week. To be honest Novenas aren't really my thing but when I look at the inner city poor, sick and elderly I wake up to what Christianity really is. Its not great for my ego! 
Im a big fan of St Francis Xavier, there's a priest with guts, to use a polite phrase!
Im sitting outside the church actually typing this on my phone. For me Catholicism is more about sandstorms and shipwrecks then Latin and tassels so St Francis Xavier is the saint for me. I have to laugh when I think of all the shipwrecks so many saints survived, what they must think of our soft gadgety culture!
God bless! 
Catherine Desiena | 3/12/2012 - 10:29am
When I look at a photo like the one in this article, I wonder where Jesus the carpenter went. Have they all forgotten?  He lived a simple life, and he warned against ostentatious trappings and public piety - Woe to you the pharisees..... 

I know it's not polite to say this, but when I looked at this photograph, the first word that came to mind was ''idolatry.''   It seems to me that people can go to the theatre and museums and places like the castle in Downton Abbey if they want to see gilt and displays of worldly wealth and hear a professional choir sing Mozart and be an audience.  Churches should be simple and reflect the settings of Christ's life and the simplicity we are to seek. He was mostly outdoors - in nature - on riverbanks, in the desert, in the mountains. Perhaps that's why so many people say they feel closeste to God in nature.  These places are God's cathedrals and so much more awesome than the over-gilded palaces and museums built by men. Jesus found God there. He didn't spend much time in temples. He warned about wealth and ostentatious displays of wealth by the religious leaders and ostentatious displays of public piety also.  He also taught in people's homes, around a table, sharing the meal. He told us to do the same. He didn't say to go to castles and gild everything with gold and have a priest put on a performance for an audience in a museum setting. And he taught them in their own language. At his last dinner with his friends, he didn't stand on an altar and exclude them from the prayers, turning his back on them. He sat with them at the same table, and he invited ALL to do this in memory of him. He didn't exclude anyone - not even Judas.

John Whyte | 3/12/2012 - 10:07am
Last time I was at St Kevin's Harrington St. (18 months ago) they were packing them in.  Gardiner St. is a beautiful church. My favorite Dublin church.  Whenever I visit there I can sense Matt Talbot and all of the great Belvedere Jesuits who were there over the years.  Is Fr. Donal Neary still the PP there?

"O most lovable and loving Saint Francis Xavier..." I wonder have the Jesuits found any Caravaggios on Leeson St. lately?
John Barbieri | 3/10/2012 - 3:45pm
What a sad topic with equally sad responses.
Do we reallt think that G_D cares about this?  
While the house (church) is burning, does it make sese to argue about new wallpaper for the living room? 
Alan Mitchell | 3/10/2012 - 12:07pm
Of course, speaking of the TLM as the Tridentine Mass is a misnomer as Fr. John O'Mally, S.J. has pointed out in the pages of this esteemed magazine.  As he says, the Council of Trent never decreed that the Mass had to be said in Latin:


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