The Tridentine Mass: Why I Couldn't Go Back
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.
Trent did not "create" the Tridentine mass. Rather, the council codified and standardized readings for the masses throughout the year and it declared the missal that emerged from the council as normative for the West, thereby eliminating some small western rites like the Sarum rite in England. But the mass that emerged from Trent was essentially the Mass of Pope St. Gregory, the Roman Rite from at least the late 5th- early 6th centuries, although much of it was much earlier in origin than the year 500. Trent did not make up the Missale in the 1530s. Trent made very few changes to what was then already at least a 1,000 year old rite.
There is indeed a curious fear of the old mass by those invested in the new rite. I've never understood it. When I was in grad school I worked for Fr Bill Leonard, SJ in the Liturgy and Life Collection at Boston College. Fr Leonard was a peritus at Vatican II, brought along by Cardinal Cushing who had no Latin. Leonard was one of the pioneers of the dialogue mass and other liturgical innovations in Boston in the 1950s. He loathed the traditional mass, while at the same time he created and developed what is probably America's greatest collection of pre- V2 devotional items at BC. Spoils taken from the vanquished. A couple months before he died I met him at Holy Trinity in Boston where the traditional mass was then being offered. It was a solemn high mass of the greatest beauty; one of those rare liturgical experiences where one feels the presence of angels and senses what the Orthodox call the uncreated light. After the mass I was surprised to see Fr Leonard as he had utter disdain for the traditional mass. He was frail and weak, and had a terrified yet angry look on his face. He told me that he couldn't believe that people were trying to resurrect this thing from which he and others had tried so hard to liberate us. He died soon thereafter, and when I visited his wake at BC I realized that the look on his face that Sunday at Holy Trinity was perhaps the realization that eventually history might steamroll all he had done to muck with the Roman Rite- it was the look of Kurtz in Heart of Darkness- "the horror!"
Working "in the missions" means nothing.I have worked "in the missions" and I am a most unholy person.
That said I agree with Fr Martin that these comments are ridiculous.I think it can only be explained by a reference to a lazy narrative concerning Jesuits prominent in idealistic and traditional catholic circles.
Jesuits come in different shades and they are still "discerners" in most cases which makes some people uncomfortable.
Even If I disagree with the tone he took in his article I applaud his willingness to be honest and write as he felt and in doing so open up a great debate.
I hope he writes a follow up to this at some stage in the future that will incorporate some new aspects of the question.
As a traditional Catholic, who attends the Tridentine Mass, perhaps I can explain some of what it is all about and clear up some of the author's misunderstandings.
Though the author says he was familiar with the Tridentine Mass, he has forgotten much and apparently went in with some biases.
The Leonine Prayers have long history, being started by Pope Pius lX for local intentions when the Holy See was under seige, then modified and extended by Pope Leo Xlll, then Popes Pius X and Xl, the last of whom, in 1929, prescribed them to be said for the conversion of Russia. These prayers have always been said only after Low Masses.
The Tridentine Mass was instituted by Pope Saint Pius V in 1570 in response to errors that had crept into the Rites in various areas of the world, both due to communiation problems at that time as well as to purposeful local changes. In his Encyclical "Quo Primum" he stated that the Tridentine Mass could be said, as it was at that time, "in perpetuity". The novus ordo Mass promulgated by Popes John XXlll and Paul Vl changed this fundamentally, and, depending on which Preface is used, up to 80% of the prayers considered necessary by Pope Pius V are missing from the new Mass.
The Mass you attended was a Solemn High Mass. The many servers have different functions in this Rite, including torch bearers, acolytes, thurible/incense bearer, and two servers at the Altar. In days past, i.e. prior to Vatican ll when there were more priests available, there may have been a deacon and subdeacon performing some of the functions.
The main differences in, and complaints about, the Mass posted by the author speak directly to the differences in philosophy about the Mass. We consider it the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the whole point of the Mass is, contrary to what the author seems to think, God and the Sacrifice. The priest offers the Mass for us all. The Mass is NOT focussed on the priest, though the author may have been, but rather on the miracles of the Sacrifice and Resurrection.
The author makes the point several times that the prayers the priest is saying are inaudible or barely audible, but, of course the people there either know them or are following word for word in their Missals. The people are engaged, not with the world and each other, but with the prayers and the Mass.
There are times during the Mass when the choir is singing and the people are sitting or the priest is waiting for them to finish. This is often the traditional Gregorian Chant of parts of the liturgy, and instead of being botherd by the wait we enjoy the beautiful voices/music and the prayers being sent up to God.
Now to the heart of the author's point/question. He says "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."(emphasis added) Think about that. That is the problem with the novus ordo mass promulgated by Popes John XXlll and Pius VL "The important things" are all about people and how they feel about the Mass and how they feel about their participation in the Mass. The focus on the point/purpose of the Mass is diluted and humanistic considerations elevated. During Vatican l and ll Protestant ministers were there as consultants and much of the point of the councils, and the resultant changes that arose, were based on concerns of ecumenism and humanism, rather the on the meanings and traditrions of the Mass and Faith.
The author then asks "Why would the Catholic faithful seek out and attend this older form of the Mass?" The answer is simple. We attend because it is the pure and beautiful Rite that has direct connections to the Mass offered almost 2000 years ago, instituted by the Apostles and early leaders of the Church. We attend because at the Mass we are humbled by the Sacrifice made on our behalf and heartened by the Love and Salvation offered. We attend because we KNOW it is a true Mass, without things taken out and changed to make people more comfortable.
Think about what the changes and the novus ordo Mass have allowed. Balloon masses, clown masses, jazz masses, interpretive dance masses- all have occurred, and more. The performance becomes the point and is at least a distraction, if not a sacrilege. In addition they have fostered and nutured the liberalism in the church today that allows easy divorces, people feeling it is okay to make their own choices about which Doctrines of the Faith to follow, people feeling free to receice Communion even if they are not following all the Tentets of the Faith(for instance I know unmarried "catholics" who are living together and feel it is okay to reveive Communion because they are "committed"), and a perception by nonCatholics that Catholics can be talked out of fundamental principles(see Obama and his administration's recent appeal to "reasonable catholics" to get the Church to go along with their plans mandating contraception, abortion services and sterilization servies be provided at no cost in all insurane plans).
In response to the author's last question, our attending the Tridentine Mass says the novus ordo Mass has lost too much of the revernce, tradition, beauty, and focus on the point of the Mass. In the history of the Catholic Church there have been many times when things have gone astray, and many good people have followed the wrong paths. Some of these periods have lasted for generations, but the Church has abided and is, I firmly believe, under God's hand, as are we all. Let us all pray that we follow His will.
Yes, there's emerald too, I forgot to mention that. And many other jewels as well. If you don't like that depiction of heaven, don't blame me, take it up with St. John, who wrote in Rev 21:
 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass.
 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,
 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.
 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
> 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?
I happen to think Luke wrote it that way because that's what actually happened, but we can agree to disagree on that if you wish.
Regardless, the Bible contains imagery of Jesus' most humble of origins, as well as describing Him in unimaginable glory and splendor after His Ascension. If the homeless man only understands the first half of the story, that Jesus was born poor and died on a cross at the hands of the Roman authorities, it will only confirm what he already knows: the lot of the poor and oppressed in this world is miserable. The happy ending to the story is Easter, Jesus rose from the dead, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and has prepared a place in heaven for all who believe in him, especially the poor and marginalized of this world.
Knowing that the bible cannot be read literally does not change my belief in what Jesus taught through his life and through his words. Does it change yours if the bible is not word-for-word literally true? Do you really need a messiah surrounded by gold and silk and wealth of all kinds, a rich man with absolute power over an earthly realm?
St. Francis of Assisi didn't.
I find you and your comments repulsive. I have not read such innacurate nonsense in my life.
Is Gregorgian chant prohibitively expensive? If anything it should be cheaper, since it is performed a capella, while other forms of music require the purchase of a piano or organ for each church. Didn't Vatican II specifically encourage and promote the use of chant in the liturgy?
Is the use of incense really such an "ostentatious display of wealth?" I don't know where parishes buy their incense but I've seen it on sale for less than $10.
Gregorian chant is lovely. However, when the Latin mass was ALL the masses before Vatican II, hearing Gregorian chant at mass was as rare as hearing Mozart. All that beauty and formality of the high masses that some people (those who are too young to remember) apparently think was the norm was the rare exception. Mass was a boring ''obligation'' where the congregation sat silent and passive most of the time, the priest mumbled his prayers with his back turned to the congregation, and the altar boys mumbled their memorized responses, which many remember to this day even though to this day they don't remember what they actually mean in English. If Rome ever decides to impose the TM again, and totally get rid of the post-Vatican II mass, the parishes will revert to what we all grew up with before Vatican II. An ''obligation'' to sit quietly and look at our watches while the priest on the altar does his thing. The congregation might as well not be there. I pray in silence every day - it's called Centering Prayer. I don't attend liturgy to be a silent, passive spectator. I go to pray with the community. If that disappears - the active participation of the whole community - then the mass is reduced to spectacle, starring the priest, where the audience waits patiently to receive communion and then duck out the doors.
The idealization of the TM is wrong. And, the entire sad spectacle of silk 40' trains carried by courtiers and golden vessels and overly decorated churches and altars is very contra everything Christ taught. Those who saw the Indiana Jones movie remembers the scene where the bad guy has to choose one of the chalices as ''the'' Holy Grail. He chooses the gold, jewel encrusted one. And poof - he was gone. As the man said, ''He chose poorly.' Of course the true cup they sought was the simple vessel, the kind that Jesus and other poor Jews would have used - unlike those of Harrod and the other wealthy Roman oppressors.
There is great beauty in simplicity. It can be extremely elegant and so much more beautiful than the excess of displays of wealth in many churches and cathedrals. Too much gilt, too many carvings, too many statues, too much everything that screams the values of secularism and empire - wealth. It is suffocating at times. The most beautiful churches I have ever visited are actually chapels - one in a tiny, remote and very poor village in Latin America, another the chapel at Holy Trinity church in Georgetown. Another is a tiny, very old church, founded before the civil war. And another, with two tiny pews, and the most gorgeous sculpture of the Good Shepherd I've ever seen. And that is all - the two little pews and the Good Shepherd. Amazingly powerful. Different worlds, but these chapels are so beautiful - so simple, so elegant, and so peaceful. I don't want to feel like going to church is some kind of copy of the British coronation ceremony. I don't want to be part of an imperial church that has forgotten all about Jesus, while clinging to its imperial trappings. One can feel almost as close to God in tiny, simple, beautiful churches and chapels as in nature, although nature always wins out for me. In nature I can feel God's breath on my cheek, feel God's touch on my skin, see God's glory in the sparkling water, the shimmering light, the warmth of the sun, the majestic granite cliffs, the amazing grace of the butterfly that is exploring the exquisite, perfect beauty of the wildflowers. In nature we are literally immersed in God through our senses. The most memorable Good Friday I ever spent - the one where I felt closest to God and most heartbroken at Jesus's suffering, especially in contrast to the beauty, was at the side of a river, sitting on the grass under the trees, silently praying, giving thanks for the beauty that is God's gift - so much better than any manmade cathedral.
Best of all, no incense to make me cough and sneeze!
You wrote: Mass was a boring 'obligation' where the congregation sat silent and passive most of the time, the priest mumbled his prayers with his back turned to the congregation, and the altar boys mumbled their memorized responses, which many remember to this day even though to this day they don't remember what they actually mean in English. If Rome ever decides to impose the TM again, and totally get rid of the post-Vatican II mass, the parishes will revert to what we all grew up with before Vatican II.
I beg your pardon, but you generalize a bit too much. Some of us who were around then have more nuanced recollection. I have always appreciated the quiet dignity of a simple (!) Low Mass without music, just the beauty of the ritual itself, "mumbled responses" and all. Far from being a passive spectator, I always found myself intensely drawn into the liturgical action at these Masses, where the focus was so clearly directed toward the Lord and no one else. To be sure, my own view is subjective - but so is yours, so you shouldn't pretend that you speak for "what we all grew up with before Vatican II."
Nor should you presume that all who prefer the old Mass do so because they like pomp and circumstance, as the reality is much more complex than that - and even if they do prefer high Masses, what difference does it make that they weren't the norm before the Council? Young people who have embraced traditional liturgy have come on their own terms - they are not trying to restore a world they never knew; they are choosing a form of worship that they feel best supports their efforts to live as Christian disciples in the world that we live in today.
Finally, though I am not young, I can't help but take offense at the condescending tone you take towards younger people like Joseph Stanko who did not grow up with the old Mass but have come to prefer it. Talking down to people and saying "that's not how it really was in the old days" not only misses the point, it makes your view of the church seem curmudgeonly - which hardly makes your view of the Church any more attractive to those who might be on the fence.
If I understand sacrament right, a sacrament is not just a symbol of a thing, but becomes the thing itself, and the sacrifice of the Mass itself is not a memorial of Christ's death, but is a true and proper sacrifice in itself.
Without in any way negating the changes of Vatican 2, I would welcome back into the Catholic Church a liturgy that radically exposes the profound sacredness of this ceremony.
To Claessens1 (#29): My wife was raised in an ethnic parish near Chicago, and attended the parochial school there. Daily Mass was always on the schedule, and usually it was, as you noted, a sung Requiem. This parish had a catafalque which they always erected for these Requiems. The result was that my wife thought the parishioners were dropping like flies! It was some while (years) before she realized that there was no body present under the drapery.
If you can afford a ticket. The symphony and the opera have long been, and largely remain, a passtime for the wealthy. Whereas a homeless man can wander into a cathedral on a Sunday morning and encounter something beautiful, something that will for a short while take him out of his dreary life and elevate his mind and spirit with a foretaste of the heavenly city where the walls are made of jasper and the streets are paved with gold.
if and how it seems like a worshipful exercise for folks who come at it from this era would be an intersting conversation - somewhat like a Kaballah experience?
There is no reason to disparage it. It is a more uncomfortable experience since it is longer and has more kneeling. But then again I appreciate the actual prayers more in the Tridentine Mass and it has a more reverential feel about it. Few are late and no one talks in Church.
The advantage of the sung High Mass was that it forced the celebrant to intone the Latin clearly. A lot of priests avoided it and stuck to Lows because the Latin was as much Greek to them as it was to the laity, and they could get away with mumbling at a Low Mass.
By the way, the only times we needed more than TWO altar boys were when Benediction was going to follow immediately after Mass (the noon Mass in winter) and on, I seem to recall, Good Friday when a whole slew of us were involved. On Good Friday, the cast on the altar outnumbered the congregation. In recent years of the post-Tridentine era, my parish is SRO on Good Friday, and on Holy Thursday as well. That never happened in the good, old days of Latin.
The high masses were a bit more like going to the theatre. The priest is the star of the show, with supporting actors as altar boys, and also the choir. The congregation is again passive - an audience for those on the altar and for the choir. Their role is mostly to watch - not even to listen, as they don't understand the language being used, even if the priest doesn't have his back to them. Yes, they can read the missal in English - but that doesn't take long, and the rest of the time is spent waiting for the show to move on to the next act and then the final curtain, when everyone rushes out to the parking lot, relieved that this week's Sunday ''obligation'' has been satisified. There are little dramatic touches like incense, but this form of the mass is not an experience of a community worshipping together, but a gathering in one place of a lot of individuals and families who are basically watching a performance.
If you really want to know, at least for myself I can answer in one word: beauty.
I was born after Vatican II and grew up with the new Mass. I'm entirely comfortable with Mass in English and with the changes in the Novus Ordo, and in fact I prefer them.
But, whenever I attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form I am struck by the sheer beauty. Just look for starters at the picture accompanying this article, look at that magnificant high altar! So few are left, so many were torn down and replaced by bland white walls decorated with cheap felt banners.
Next listen to the glorious music. Why oh why did we discard our rich heritage of chant, hymns, motets, and other sacred music in favor of twee shmaltzy pseudo-pop and warmed over 60's folk?
For me the ideal Mass is the Ordinary Form, celebrated in the new accurate English trnaslation, in a church richly adorned with beautiful art, beautiful music, and the beautiful smell of incense. That for me is a foretaste of heaven, which is what the Mass ought to be.
From Campion's comment: <i>He told me that he couldn't believe that people were trying to resurrect this thing from which he and others had tried so hard to liberate us. He died soon thereafter, and when I visited his wake at BC I realized that the look on his face that Sunday at Holy Trinity was perhaps the realization that eventually history might steamroll all he had done to muck with the Roman Rite.</i>
Reading Fr. Schineller's comments and the reaction of Fr. Leonard reported by Campion, it strikes me that the anger felt by many of the 'Spirit of Vatican II' generation reflects a personal sense of finding oneself on the wrong side of history. Though I disagree with them - I personally prefer the Tridentine Mass to the Novus Ordo - I can understand how people like Fr. Schineller would be disappointed that the dreams of their youth have been dashed. My hope is that Fr. Schineller and others like him can learn to accept that the tides of change have simply passed them by.
Last Wednesday (March 7, the traditional feast of St. Thomas Aquinas) I attended my first Dominican Rite Mass at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in NYC. It was simply beautiful. The priest who offered the Mass looked as if he were barely 25. He was ordained last year. When I spoke to him after Mass, he said that interest in the Dominican Rite is very high among the younger Dominican Friars in our Province.
If I may speak for traditionalist Catholics around the world Father, I would tell you that we don't want you to be forced into offering this venerable Rite of Mass. But we would ask that you not stand in the way of, or attempt to undermine, others who do wish to offer it, and hear it.
No matter, they have written very well in defense of the Old Mass or the Tridentine Mass.
I have been to that Mass a few times in Rome and found it a strange experience and saw a greater devotion and more transcendental focus on the part of the Priest.The Priest looked more exposed than he does at the Novus Ordo Mass .
As much as I respect the experience of those commentators I wonder if it helps them truly to be more Christlike .
Can a person who engages in such a self-conscious act ever really be as free as Christ was and is? Would any of them consider themselves even in jest as "Drunkards and Gluttons"?.
Is it possible to like this Mass without being guilty of the heresy of clericalism?Think of Cardinal Castrillon , a prime example of a man removed from all that is good and just and in love with the Tridentine Mass.
Again ,I want to thank those who wrote and gave me a little education or at least piqued my interest.
Also the first words of the Mass after the the blessing are ''Intriibo ad altare Dei'' or ''I go to the altar of God'' which emphasizes that this is a sacrifice. I doubt if there were mass Latin Mass attendance there would be this focus.because those who go now are self selecting and not just to fulfill an obligation that to most is meaningless. The Latin Mass is another way of praying and I think anyone who denigrates it says more about themselves than about the Latin Mass and those who attend.
Ordinary Catholics stopped attending because there wasn't enough Latin, not for any other reasons. That sentence is meant to be funny but I guess it isn't.
The connection to Catholics that Paul Coutinho and Richard Leonard have, who I also heard this week, are the future of the Catholic church. Jesuits of their quality are welcome every day of the week in Dublin.
I believe Jesus knew a few words of Greek but that his Latin was a little shaky.
When it comes to the practice of confession, I get vastly more competent confessors who can deal effectively with scrupulosity and difficulties of conscience in the confessional, because by and large Tridentine Catholics still confess but are not willing to opt out of contemporary American society by refusing to use birth control and having the large families that would result from that particular practice. There are probably divorced-and-remarried Catholics too. Mostly these Tridentine Catholics just mainstream Americans other than happening to attend the Tridentine mass, so they live all the contradictions between official teaching and real life much more acutely than non-Tridentine Catholics. On the other hand, I tend to get terrible pastoral direction from more mainstream priests, I think because for the most part only conservative Catholics confess (so non-Tridentine priests are less experienced overall?) and most mainstream Catholics would never think of confessing in cases where their conscience and a traditional examination of conscience based on the official teachings of the Church differ. So priests who may be less experienced in hearing confessions in the first place may have no experience at all in handling difficulties of conscience. I once confessed to a liberal priest nearing his retirement who said he had never once heard the confession of a scrupulous penitent, which makes it completely understandable that he didn't know how to deal with the situation at all.
There is also a definite undercurrent of (ideally celibate?) gay male homosexuality among many of the participants in the Tridentine mass. Gender/sexuality issues are picked up upon, even without anybody having to be very direct about them, and are generally dealt with in a sensitive and circumspect manner. No ugly stares or confrontations in the pews over being queer or working class or whatever. When I attend mass in more mainstream parishes, I _never_ feel socially welcome. Homosexuality has become such a politicized issue that even where most of the people in the congregation might be supportive in theory, there is a de facto situation where visibly queer people don't attend services and no one is used to seeing them or dealing with them in parishes, so the supportive people are standoffish or confused or whatever and all you end up noticing is that one guy who gives you the evil eye or the people who don't want to shake your hand during the passing of the peace or the fact that you always have a bubble of people not sitting anywhere near you in an otherwise completely full church. This is a whole new level of social awkwardness that most people have no interest in dealing with, and fortunately there are enough queer people (closeted and otherwise) at Tridentine services that you never have to deal with it.
Then there is the beauty of the liturgy. While some parishes have enough resources to do a good job with post-Vatican II liturgy, the results are often very bad. The Tridentine mass usually holds up very well despite a small cast of principal players and a serious lack of money and musical talent in the congregation, because in the end it's very simple to do and requires little additional ornamentation to be done well. One cantor or a small schola can carry the service, and the priest is not on centerstage trying to hold up the entire thing.
With all these benefits, it's difficult not to like Tridentine masses, even for people like me who would prefer to like post-Vatican II liturgy for all the theological reasons Peter Schineller details.
There are wonderful forms of silent prayer and devotions for those who want quiet. The mass is meant for the community to worship as a community.
But, those who strongly prefer the Tridentine should go to a Tridentine mass. The rest will go to the ordinary form. There is no need for those who prefer the post-Vatican II liturgy to impose it on those who want Latin and incense, nor is there any reason for those who prefer the TM to impose it on those for whom it is not the most meaningful form of liturgical worship. To each his or her own. One form is not ''better'' than the other.
Not everyone has studied Latin, so instead of ''pax vobiscum'', I will address the majority rather than the minority - Peace be with you!
I am 46 and do not remember the Old Mass.
But I attend it regularly now.
My reflections. I HATED THE TRIDENTINE MASS the first 4 times I went.
So why did I keep going back? Because I'm an historian. I figured, this is the mass of the past 1500 years basically, so there must be something to it.
Please remember that "Feeling" contrary to 21st century humans, is NOT the highest human faculty. That feeling could be due to ignorance of the Mass, unfamiliarity, so don't put too much into it. Others...non Catholics too, see it for the first time and are wowed by it. SO who's feelings are right? (they're not right or wrong, they're just feelings!)
I find the new Mass HIGHLY clerical, more priest centered than the Old Mass. The old Mass has the personality of the priest diminished so that the symbol of him as an "alter Christus" is more apparent.
Active participation? Father, please remembre that the Latin is "actuoso" poorly translated as "active" the nuance of the Latin is that one should be participating in the Mass, not saying other prayers. One can do this aloud or silently. Sometimes not focusing saying or singing everything (and I do prefer the Dialogue Mass myself), allows one to participate more deeply in the Mass through awareness of the ritual, listening to the chant, or following in the Missal. I GUARANTEE you that most old folks know the Mass better while it was in Latin, than my generation who grew up with the vernacular. The ancient desert fathers knew this because they recommended the monks for lectio, speak softly as they read at the same time. In other words, there is something very passive to simply sitting in the pew and "listening" since humanly, we often drift, even the best of us. The Old Mass knew this instinctively, even before the hand missal, which is why they built the Churches they did.
Lastly, a bit ignorant to put down the Mass that so many English martyrs died for, the Mass that shaped Western culture, the Mass that produced so many saints. Maybe your reflections are proof positive that the Liturgical Reform was a miserable failure. Perhaps the conciliar and post conciliar documents should have started with understanding the theology and rubrics of the Mass first, before it was changed???
Why do you feel that need? Have you thought about that at all - the reasons you seem so intent on imposing your reaction to the two forms of the mass on others?
Why do you say people are ''afraid'' of the TM? What gives you that idea? I grew up with the TM. Nobody was afraid of it, mostly they were bored because they simply sat there watching passively, or reading a missal. Since most can read faster than the priest could mumble with his back to the congregation, there was ''dead'' time and a lot of people prayed the rosary (not the right time or place) or simply daydreamed until it was over. Every now and then we got to say ''Et cum spiritu tuo'' or ''Amen.'' That was it. I'm guessing your experience is exlusively with the ''high'' mass, with chants and bells and smells. But, when the TM was the norm, high masses were celebrated only on special occasions.
Everyone does celebrate the ''same'' mass today and are ''united'' in the form. Some celebrate it in English and some in Spanish and some in Mandarin but it is the same mass. Nobody in the entire world has Latin as their native tongue - it is foreign to all.
Also, unlike Mr. Dumakaitas's assumption, we ''old'' folk (I grew up with the TM - the change to English occurred somewhere around the end of my college years) did NOT know the Latin mass ''better'' than people know the NO. They knew it less - it was in a foreign language. Nobody knew the prayers unless they read them out of the book. My children knew all the prayers by heart when young. We old folk never knew the prayers by heart except for the two brief responses we were permitted. Without a missal we would be hopelessly lost as to where we were in the mass and what was going on. Mass on Sunday was the height of boredom. And you are a bit confused about mass and lectio, which are two totally different things - the mass is not intended as an occasion for lectio. The changes in liturgy were made for a reason - the bishops knew that the people were not involved in celebrating the mass as community - and they changed it so that ALL in the community would be active participants, not silent and passive members of an audience watching a stage production on the altar - a stage production in a foreign language so they had to read a book to follow.
Those who like this are quite welcome to it. But for those of us who, like Fr. Shineller, have no desire to return to this particular version of the mass which we knew very well, please stop trying to impose your preference on everyone else. There is nothing ''sacred'' about Latin. It is a language once used in the world and now dead. Latin was not the language of Christ or of the apostles or of the early church communities. They met together and they used their own languages when they came together to pray and learn and share the bread and wine. Unless they were Roman, they did not use Latin. It came into regular use in the church after the church entered into its too-close and unholy partnership with the Roman empire - it was the language of those who murdered Christ. The bible was written in Greek. People spoke Latin at one time if they lived in parts of the Roman empire - they don't now. The attachment to Latin seems a bit ludicrous on multiple levels, but if some like it, feel free to go to a Latin mass - just leave everyone else out of it.
A couple of folks said it here already, but it bears repeating. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass isn't necessarily about making us feel good. It's an awesome, mystical ritual of bringing Calvary into our very midst. All of us, celebrant and congregation , focused on the sacred Mystery, rather than inward, facing ourselves. The reverence, and meticulousness of the ritual. Receiving the Eucharist kneeling, with a paten under our chin "lest He strike His foot against a stone." To me, the Latin on intensifies the quality of Mystery and sacredness.
I've been to only a handful and probably would attend more, but celebrations of the Eatrordinary Form has become scarce in our Diocese. I've no real issue with Mass in the vernacular and I personally have never experienced "clown mass"-type irreverence.
What bothers me is the politics and animosity the very existence of the Tridentine Mass seems to cause; I've had to defend myself from other progressive Catholics for supporting such an antiquated, exclusive, elitist ritual. And the traditional Catholics I know generally are of an ultra-Conservatove mindset, and can't imagine how I could ever go back to a vernacular Mass.
The Latin Mass can't and shouldn't be made the Ordinary Form of the Mass again...but IMHO, it has its place in our Church and it ought to be celebrated.
Thank you for your perspective. It was an eye-opener, highly informative for me.
Somewhere there has to be a meeting place, a sense of all times and people who have gone before us and upon whose shoulders we stand, that foundation we call the Church and its tradition, and the current and unique requrements of the time in which we live. We need not necessarily expect "O Magnum Mysterium" to communicate fully what it once did, but we must also be mindful that "Yo, Big Mystery!" won't get the job done.
I just re-read Thomas Day's WHY CAHTOLICS CAN'T SING. A funny, insightful book on why the usual was the English-language Novus Ordo occurs isn't quite right and a return to the Tridentine Mass definitely isn't the way to go.