An ex-Catholic Quaker on the beauty (and danger) of the Latin Mass

Tridentine High Mass at Saint-Laurent Chapel, in the Strasbourg Cathedral Notre Dame, for Sainte Jeanne d'Arc. (Wikimedia Commons) Tridentinel High Mass at Saint-Laurent Chapel, in the Strasbourg Cathedral Notre Dame, for Sainte Jeanne d'Arc. (Wikimedia Commons)

A major feature of my childhood in the 1970s was the bitter animosity in our parish between those who loved the new English liturgy and those who hated it. (My parents loved it.) The rancorous liturgical battles made me intensely curious about the old Mass. A friend of my parents had a Maryknoll Missal on their bookshelves—Latin on the left, English translation on the opposing page—and I would pour through it, trying to figure out how it differed from the new Missal and to gain a sense of what sitting in Mass must have been like before the Second Vatican Council.

Along the way I fell in love with the Latin language.

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I took four years of Latin in high school, then majored in Latin and Greek in college. That led to a Ph.D. in medieval church history (and more Latin) and a 15-year academic career. I also developed a secondary expertise in the history of the Western liturgy. All thanks to that Maryknoll Missal.

The rancorous liturgical battles made me intensely curious about the old Mass.

My exposure to the Tridentine liturgy was purely literary until my mid-20s, when I finally attended the Latin Mass at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago. Since then, I have been to three others.

I have also left the Catholic Church.

In graduate school I felt an overwhelming call to ministry but was deeply in love and wanted to be married. I saw no conflict between these vocations and a pile of historical reasons why there should be none. I chose marriage and remain married to the same person 26 years later. I have been a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) for 30 years now and a “recorded minister,” as we say, for nearly 15.

Today, the liturgy wars I witnessed in my childhood parish are also fought online. Timothy Kirchoff wondered recently in America why Pope Francis suspected fans of the Tridentine liturgy of being psychologically rigid. He was puzzled and perhaps offended that enjoying the pleasures of the old Mass cast suspicion on him and those like him.

Today, the liturgy wars I witnessed in my childhood parish are also fought online.

The aesthetic pleasures of the extraordinary form are considerable. During the Reformation and again after Vatican II, enormous stock was placed in the ability of the congregation to understand and participate in the words and action of the liturgy. But across the world and its great religions, ritual that is celebrated in foreign or antique languages, shrouded in mystery and difficult to access, continues to attract great loyalty and admiration from adherents. Rituals that lead adherents into a different landscape of sound, sense and meaning invite believers into an experience of transcendence.

I like aesthetic pleasures. I am a classical pianist and executive director at a professional symphony orchestra. It is not clear, however, whether aesthetic pleasure should be a key feature of worship grounded in the agape-feast of the Gospels rather than the Temple of the Old Testament. Nor is it clear that mystery and inaccessibility are desirable features of a liturgy intended to nurture us into mature followers of Jesus Christ, who are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation and who have received every spiritual gift. Apart perhaps from the Book of Revelation, the New Testament gives no encouragement to the aesthetic enhancement of worship, no special instructions about the use of unfamiliar languages, complex poetic scripts, distinctive architecture, sophisticated music, iconography or statuary. These can enrich worship, no doubt, but they can also distract, distort, obscure and, at worst, generate a fetishism that has nothing to do with the Great Commandment or the Great Commission.

I do not believe the mass abandonment of Catholicism after the council was chiefly a reaction against the new liturgy.

Younger Catholics (and non-Catholics) who are attracted to the aesthetic joys and richness of the Tridentine liturgy have missed something else, too. Many Catholics of my parents’ generation were happy to jettison the Latin Mass because it was intimately associated with a culture of clerical domination, physical and sexual abuse and unwarranted intrusion into private and family life. Many chafed under a spirituality that treated the faithful like ignorant children subject to the strictures of a punitive God. For some, these things could never be unwound from the liturgy around which they revolved.

That is not the whole story, of course. Plenty of people had good and wholesome experiences of the preconciliar church, and these are not to be discounted. But I do not believe the mass abandonment of Catholicism after the council was chiefly a reaction against the new liturgy. Most of the former Catholics of my parents’ generation who left the church did so because they finally felt free to turn their backs on overwhelmingly negative experiences. They have far more in common with George Carlin than with the disgraced schismatic Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

I have joked with friends, I’ll come back to the church when it restores the old Mass—celebrated by women priests.

Further, advocates of restoring the Tridentine liturgy over the last 40 years have also advocated for the return of a preconciliar culture, theology and mindset. They often believe fervently that the Second Vatican Council is at best an aberration and the vernacular liturgy an abomination. They have not advocated the extraordinary form as an expression of liturgical diversity in the body of Christ but as a beachhead from which to recapture stolen territory. The briefest perusal of the paper and electronic publications of the mutually-hostile Societies of St. Pius X and St. Pius V finds powerful, if extreme, examples.

I left the church not because of which liturgy was being celebrated, but because of who was (and was not) permitted to celebrate it. The pleasures of the Tridentine liturgy are considerable, and in a different universe I could imagine enjoying them regularly. As I have joked with friends, I’ll come back to the church when it restores the old Mass—celebrated by women priests.

But the dangers of the Tridentine liturgy are also considerable. It was the center of an ecclesial culture that younger Catholics may know little about and could probably not tolerate. Behind the movement for its restoration stand forces that many modern Catholics might find considerably destructive.

The fruit is alluring. But proceed with caution.

Correction: Dec. 1, 2017
The name of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.

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Šime Skelin
2 weeks 3 days ago

What is this? Heresy Review or Jesuit Review? God forgive me but we Catholics deserve attacks from everybody because we are first who display voices of anti-Catholic myths and hysteria.
PS. I am married too and my wife wasn't Catholic but we married in the Church. Leaving the Church,change it with some organization founded by people and condemn my soul to eternal damnation wasn't option. I love my wife but I love God too.
Bellatores (retired soldier) from Croatia

Dionys Murphy
2 weeks 3 days ago

It's the Jesuit review. Where people can discuss actual challenges within the Church without throwing around ridiculous assertions of "heresy" when heresy isn't present. What is it with neo-Evangelicalists throwing around "heresy" whenever someone says something they simply disagree with, but is not theological heresy.

Šime Skelin
2 weeks 3 days ago

No it's not. It doesn't matter are you member of Christ's Church or some "church" with vipers,married homosexual "bishops" or followers of "angel" from US hills.

Dionys Murphy
2 weeks 1 day ago

Goodness. Claims of "heresy" followed by evidence of mental illness.

Battista Castigglia
2 weeks 3 days ago

Well, Maybe we can take your views seriously when you first use grammar in an intelligent way. Your title should read "AN ex-catholic Quaker........

Šime Skelin
2 weeks 3 days ago

I am not English speaker. Errors in grammar don't change gravity of my words.

Raphael B Babin Jr
2 weeks 2 days ago

There, Their, They're. I took his views seriously. Don't forget. Not everyone is perfect like you.

Battista Castigglia
2 weeks 2 days ago

Just remember, It's I before e, except after c. Got that?

Lisa Weber
2 weeks 2 days ago

I am glad the Latin Mass went away and I would be happy to see it remain in the past. With the priest facing away from the people and mumbling in Latin, the Mass was hard to pay attention to and therefore kind of meaningless. The Latin Mass now is associated with those who love clericalism and Phariseeism. Latin Mass may have been the best that was available at one time, but Mass in the vernacular is far better. Having the Latin Mass available only divides the church.

Dave Johnson
2 weeks 1 day ago

The Holy Father asks, "Who am to judge?" In contrast, you've said that some Catholics love Phariseeism? Because some seek the Lord differently? Consider the true meaning of the full and active participation in the liturgy called for by Vatican II. The Council called for the continued use of Latin and Gregorian chant, and it did *not* mandate that the priest face the people. It did *not* mandate ripping out old altars or installing new ones. Is there no virtue at all to the notion that priest and people together face Our Lord in prayer? Or is it all about us after all? The Church is big enough for more than one form of the liturgy - we would not, I hope, condemn our Melkite and Byzantine rite brother and sister Catholics just because they don't worship as some might demand. The Church used to pray in one language - Latin - does having the Novus Ordo in many languages divide the Church? Or is the problem just with the traditional Mass? There are Catholic perspectives other than your own, and I hope you make room in the Church and in your heart for those who seek the Lord in a different way. God bless you.

Jong Ricafort
1 week 5 days ago

Lisa weber...yes your on points...I guess If the Vatican II was not inspired...then most Catholics will go the evangelicals during the 60's...the Latin Mass is so Sacred and has it's own battles in their era...but the writer is correct Jesus has been given the Ministry of Reconciliation...as the Father Wills " that we may be one as they are one..."Latin Mass has to pave the way to Ecumenism and all other doctrines that would hinder the Unity of Faith among our Christian bros/sis. and also of other Faiths as God created all of us in His Image & Likeness...I always said that we should be careful not to act like St.Peter or else Jesus will REBUKED us...""Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns" (Mt16:23)...it is God's Will...Ecumenism must be embrace as God's Loving Mercies for us all...and not for us to criticize more so to judge by our limited minds...we should all be thankful for the effort of Vatican II Popes to Reconcile with our separated brothers.God bless!

Jong Ricafort
1 week 5 days ago

ok

Richard Neagle
2 weeks 2 days ago

Who can take anyone seriously when they turn their back on the body ,blood,soul and divinity of Christ truly present in the Eucharist in both the traditional and Novo Ordo mass , to join a protestant sect. I will never understand that.

Toby Gillis
2 weeks 2 days ago

Turning away from those pagan practices will help you find the true freedom Christ wants you to have.

Stuart Meisenzahl
2 weeks ago

Toby
Why are you on this site? You do not subscribe to the views of Mr Nugent, nor of the Church.
You really seem to find a new bridge to hang out under, as we are crowded enough by our own trolls.

scott scalf
2 weeks 2 days ago

Interesting but uninformed article.

Kenneth Francis
2 weeks 2 days ago

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein

Raphael B Babin Jr
2 weeks 2 days ago

One thing everyone should get clear is the question,"Do you need the Catholic Church OR does it need you?" At a billion members it would seem the church is not going to crumble over this one person choosing to be Quaker. I was an altar boy during Latin Mass times. The sermons, gospel readings were all in vernacular. I treasure the education from association with Latin though. Case in point is the word "Bible". Is it derived from Latin or Greek? In my discussions with other faiths i have learned how little they understand about these books gathered into a collection or library. But biblioteca spanish for library or bibliotheque french for library makes it clear that it is a "Holy Library". Judicial terms, scientific terms, astrological terms,botanical terms et.c still use Latin and haven't changed it. So the church being universal used Latin. I can watch mass by satellite from Rome and still know just what is being saId.

Raphael B Babin Jr
2 weeks 2 days ago

One thing everyone should get clear is the question,"Do you need the Catholic Church OR does it need you?" At a billion members it would seem the church is not going to crumble over this one person choosing to be Quaker. I was an altar boy during Latin Mass times. The sermons, gospel readings were all in vernacular. I treasure the education from association with Latin though. Case in point is the word "Bible". Is it derived from Latin or Greek? In my discussions with other faiths i have learned how little they understand about these books gathered into a collection or library. But biblioteca spanish for library or bibliotheque french for library makes it clear that it is a "Holy Library". Judicial terms, scientific terms, astrological terms,botanical terms et.c still use Latin and haven't changed it. So the church being universal used Latin. I can watch mass by satellite from Rome and still know just what is being saId."Semper Fi" short for Semper Fidelis uses the word from the Christmas song Adeste Fidelis. But there are jillions of such ways latin is used all over. One comment mentioned the priest mumbling and that is the lack of education/appreciation that meant the church could not have its universal language. Ignorance won out.

Bernard Brandt
2 weeks 2 days ago

I find several problems in the author’s argument:

1) The assertion that the sexual abuse of the clergy before Vatican II that caused many to leave the RC church. But an examination of the Jay Report, possibly the most accurate treatise on the sexual abuse crisis of that Church, indicates that while such abuse was endemic before VII, it became epidemic afterwards. Something else was going on here.

2) The assertion that "other than the Book of Revelation", there is little in the NT which indicates a concern for liturgical worship. Bosh! Christianity is borne out of a judaic temple worship, in which one of the books of Torah (Leviticus) is devoted to the minute detailing of its liturgical worship. That focus remains constant in the Prophets and the Writings. Acts indicates that before they were expelled, the early Christians at Jerusalem worshiped at the Temple daily. Revelations is replete with imagery which Christians for centuries have used to inform their liturgical worship. Finally, the actual worship of the Early Church was liturgical, and the earliest examples we have of it are both complex and ornate.

3) The assertion that the reforms that happened after VII were caused by Vatican II. Again: Bosh! Musicam Sacram and Sacrosanctum Concilium mandated that Latin be preserved as a liturgical language; that chant be given pride of place; that the treasury of polyphony be preserved; and finally, that the hymns of the people were to be encouraged, especially those of the last five centuries.

What in fact happened was that American prelates after VII elaborately ignored the above teachings, dropped Latin, chant, polyphony, and traditional hymnography like a live hand grenade, and only favored stuff written after 1968. Attempts to correct this imbalance have been decried as 'traditionalist', and have been repeatedly repressed.

Theodore Harvey
2 weeks 2 days ago

While I applaud your refutation of this horrible article, if the problem after VII was just "American prelates," why is it that the same dismal situation exists in other countries all over the world? In 2013 I heard some dreadful "music" at Saturday evening mass in, of all places, Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral that was no better than the average AmChurch dreck.

Personally I would never regularly attend a church with garbage music. That's one reason why I remain an Episcopalian.

Bernard Brandt
2 weeks 2 days ago

Thank you for your kind words, Mr. Harvey. To answer your question, I limited discussion to American prelates because of the eponymous nature of the present magazine, and because of my experience of the rot in this country. I am reliably informed that the same wretched condition obtains elsewhere, alas.

And, while I share your distaste for poor liturgical music, my reasons for avoiding most modern RC liturgies are not limited to aesthetics, where partisans of the poor music can simply respond by saying, "you have your tastes; we have ours. De gustibus..." I prefer a liturgical spirituality which is informed by Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium, instead of one which is bereft of those three fonts of the Holy Spirit. I believe that those prelates who have deprived the faithful of their spiritual birthright for 'a pot of message' will have much to answer for, when they appear before the dread judgment seat of Christ.

Simon Reilly
2 weeks 2 days ago

The logic behind this article is flawed from beginning to end; I'll comment on two of the fallacies he comes up with. Firstly, the author conflates his memories of the Latin Mass with memories of social culture within the Catholic Church, and, furthermore, a social culture confined within the parameters of his own childhood experience. When you consider that the Latin Mass spans numerous generations, each with their own distinctive social attitudes, it should be apparent that their is no logical connection between the two. Therefore, his claim that bringing back the former would bring back the latter isn't logical either: that era of Church history is over and will never be repeated. Secondly, he measures the Latin Mass against how imagines the liturgy was celebrated in the early Church, which appears to be that of an informal meal round a table. The problem here is that his ideas are just fantasy, since there is no historical evidence to back them up. His ideas aren't supported by the narrative of the Last Supper (which was a highly ritualised ceremony), nor by the lives of the Apostles, who continued to attend the Synagogue and pray in the Temple (clearly, they weren't uncomfortable with ritual); and the only time the Agape is mentioned is in the context of condemning an abuse. The reason the New Testament gives no instructions on worship is because it is an account of the New Covenant, not an instruction manual on how it's to be implemented: it takes the pattern of worship and pattern of Church life for granted.

Ellen B
2 weeks 2 days ago

I'm not entirely sure of the writers timeline. I'm a baby boomer who never attended a Latin mass. My parents were happy to see the Latin mass go because they didn't understand everything being said. In fact, it wasn't until the 1980's when I first heard there were people who wanted the Latin mass to come back. I can't speak to mass abandonment at that time, the churches always appeared full on Sundays. I've only seen wholesale mass abandonment since the rampant abuse was uncovered in 1990's. I don't see a Latin mass as healing that problem, it appears more of a retrenchment among those who knew of abuse and covered it up. At least for those of us who have learned not to trust the church hierarchy here in the U.S.

William Yearout
2 weeks 1 day ago

I'm a 23-year old convert from atheism, I've found the Latin Mass (the Extraordinary Form, as it's now technically called) to be a wellspring of spiritual life. It speaks to everything in me that led me to the Church, and I'm not alone in that either. My local Traditional Mass community in the Diocese of Knoxville is filled with people - some older, who remember the Latin Mass from their youth - but most of us are under 30 and have never attended one before Benedict XVI made it available again. I would be distraught were the Church to somehow censor or prohibit it. The Traditional Mass and the Novus Ordo can enrich one another, but not if people keep attacking the Traditional Mass without actually bothering to attend one.

William Yearout
2 weeks 1 day ago

.

Ken Maher
2 weeks 2 days ago

I was anxious to comment on this article because of the unusual similarities and differences between the author and myself. However, the tone and content of the other comments gave me pause. I do not want to be considered just another angry reader.
I, too, was born and raised Catholic but at an earlier time. I had already left the Church (inasmuch as that's truly possible to do) by the time of Vatican II. I went to RC schools though my second year of college, served on the alter at hundreds of Tridentine masses, and briefly flirted with seminary life. And I still love the Latin mass, even though I've been a Quaker for fifty years and don't consider it a Protestant church--not being much of a church at all, actually. Thus, I have sometimes even called myself a Quatholic.
The author's idea that the church should restore the old Mass—celebrated by women—is something I have often suggested to Catholics as a reconciliatory measure, but none have taken me seriously. The likelihood of women priests in my lifetime is minimal, but slightly increased by the amazing papacy of Francis. On the other hand, I have a Pandora channel on my computer for Gregorian chant and languish in it not infrequently.
I would make further comments, but I'm satisfied now to enter into the silence of holy expectancy.

Michael Bradley
2 weeks 2 days ago

Without intending to sound harsh, it's important to understand there can never be women priests in the Catholic Church. The Church has no power from God to ordain them. Pope John Paul II reiterated the principle, invoking the fullness of Petrine authority, so the matter is closed forever. Anyone who suggests differently is either misinformed or is engaging in magical thinking. Even if a bishop or pope went through the ordination ceremonies for a woman exactly as he would for a man, no ordination would be effected. In the same way, if we had a ceremony wherein I crowned you King of England with exact precision in the words and clothing and whatnot, you would not be king afterward — I don't have the power to crown you.

Toby Gillis
2 weeks 2 days ago

Without intending to sound harsh, the Catholic church has no power from God to ordain men priests. There is but One Priest between men and God. God holds your man made tradition of "ordination" in derision.

Bernard Brandt
2 weeks 2 days ago

How nice it must be, to think that one speaks with the voice of God. Delusion, perhaps, but it is a fine madness.

Toby Gillis
2 weeks 1 day ago

Just ask your Pope

Robert Lewis
2 weeks 1 day ago

I accept that because I believe that the priest figures the Incarnation of God as a man to devotees. However, what I WILL NOT accept is that women should not have a wider role in decision-making within the Catholic ecclesia. The diaconate is--or should be--open to women, and when princes and ministers of state in the past found no canonical impediment to their being created cardinals and cardinal-electors, there is still, to this date, no canonical impediment to the creation of female cardinals, so long as such electors of the pope vow to recuse themselves from being themselves selected for the position. This would be a step, as well, toward the much more sensible Orthodox practice of allowing parish priests to be married, but not selected as bishops. Ofttimes, I believe that the theological impediment, which you refer to--and which I agree with--is being used as a justification for male clericalism. In fact, it is not a legitimate objection for amplifying the role of women in decision-making within the Church, because the sacerdotal role is confined, theologically, to sanctifying the Eucharist, hearing confessions and ordaining priests. That's it, that's the whole of it, and there are many, many other roles for people in the life of the Church.

Michael Bradley
2 weeks 1 day ago

Well, there's the whole "in persona Christi capitas" thing, which is kind of a big deal, on the level of ontological change and all that, much more than a "role." Married priests are a big deal too, because in the West, celibacy was/is the chosen means of safeguarding perfect and perpetual sexual continence, which was understood to be obligatory by Apostolic Tradition for all ordained men, many of whom were married at the time of their ordination. That's a difficult cross, for even a very holy married couple, and the possibility of scandal was very real, so it made sense to impose celibacy. The East went a different route, and came to see the fullness of the obligation of perfect continence as belonging to the fullness of holy orders in the episcopate, while lesser (non-monastic) clergy are only obliged to periodic sexual continence (leading up to celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy). Well, we're not the East! We've basically developed amnesia with respect to our own understanding of Apostolic Tradition by failing, from the top down, to communicate the need for perpetual continence to the permanent diaconate. No... it won't do. It's time to recover our way of being faithful to Tradition, not to drift into further decay.

Robert Lewis
2 weeks ago

I think that what is required of all seeking to lead a holy life is chastity, not "continence," and "chastity" can be lived out in the celibate or the connubial state. Also, you did not address my suggestion that there is no canonical bar to women serving as cardinal-electors and in other positions of real responsibility. Because the "Apostolic Tradition" is a LIVING tradition, to be lived in the SPIRIT, and not necessarily in the "letter" of the "Law," and because the Petrine Commission gives the See of Peter the right to "bind and loose," there is really no obstacle to the innovation I propose.

Michael Bradley
2 weeks ago

There is a lot of confusion on the matter today, but in fact the belief and practice of the Western Church were that married men who were ordained were, after ordination, bound to live not only chastely but also to practice perfect and perpetual sexual continence, and not as a disciplinary measure but rather in keeping with apostolic tradition. The discipline of celibacy was introduced later, to safeguard the obligation of continence among non-monastic clergy.

Kenneth Wolfe
2 weeks 2 days ago

Nugent concludes: "The fruit is alluring. But proceed with caution."

I would say the same about believing this guy actually attended the traditional Latin Mass on a regular basis.

Sorry, but a liberal who happened to attend four Latin Masses in his life does not qualify for a liturgical argument of this magnitude. Shame on the Jesuits and America magazine for taking such pathetic bait.

Tiffany Borges
2 weeks 2 days ago

And yet we clicked! Heh. (Agreed)

Tiffany Borges
2 weeks 2 days ago

Such a special, unique case of special uniqueness. In my culture we call these folks dissidents and wish they'd either align themselves with Church teaching or flee, flaunt their credentials and write for America. Brava! Oh wait, it was a man writing? Couldn't tell by the fragile tone.

Michael Bradley
2 weeks 2 days ago

Filled with caricatures, strawmen, and hearsay; written by an avowed schismatic-heretic; the author even misspelled "Lefebvre" (and the editor didn't catch it — what's that take, like 2 seconds with google?). There are some good points worth discussing, but they're obscured by leaden biases about 1,000 ft. thick!

Christopher Meehan
2 weeks 2 days ago

Any life spent praising God and living fully is a good life. I commend Patrick for following his conscience and choosing the most fulfilling path for him.

Until reading some of these comments I didn’t know so many people had a direct line to God to be able to pass judgement so easily.

Andrew Wolfe
2 weeks 2 days ago

Nugent is tragically blind. He can't recognize Jesus in the Eucharist, and he sees priests not as servants but as rulers. The Mass isn't the "Father Mac" show - it's the Jesus show. This is just so sad.

Jim Spangler
2 weeks 2 days ago

Wow! Thank you for a very open opion that we in the Catholic Church are trying to prevent from happening. The whole theme of Vatican II was to come together as one community and praise the Lord. The Lord is present through the music, gospel, the Eucharist, the light and the COMMUNITY gathered together with all participating. We are to participate, hear and celebrate the liturgy together as ONE. Then go out into the world taking Christ into the world by living the Gospel, and loving our brothers and sisters of the greater community. It has been so interesting to see the conservative movement swing back into force where it is centered on the Priest and all of his actions. The Priest plays a roll as leader of worship, but God does the rest, including the consacration. Now Eucharistic Ministers cannot be at the Alter until after the Priest consumes the host and drinks the consacrated wine. I think if the church continues in its conservative knee jerk, that many more will be leaving, and real soon!

Johnny Flores
2 weeks 2 days ago

The permanent Diaconate allows a man to be married and be a minister. As for Latin versus “vernacular,” have any of you attended a mass in any language you don’t speak natively? I’ve attended masses in Spanish and I know English speakers who’ve attended mass in Japanese while living in Japan. Latin is still “lingua franca” everywhere. Going back to sources, most were written in Greek and Latin. Anyone who has tried translating literature between languages knows that much can be lost in translation. Why is it so hard to return the beautiful Latin that cannot be directly translated into our “modern” English.

Kathleen Gibbons Schuck
2 weeks 2 days ago

Enjoyed reading your article Patrick!

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we recognized a continuum and allowed both those who lead and those who participate to choose? Envision a Tridentine option, a traditional Roman Missal option, a progressive parish option, a Neumann Center option, and an intentional eucharistic community option.

I am an ordained Roman Catholic Woman Priest (RCWP) who lives in Pennsylvania with her husband... whose daughter attends a Jesuit university. It's true Rome does not recognize my ordination. More importantly, the people to whom I minister do.

I am a member of the pastoral team at the community of St. Mary Magdalene. We have worship sites in Drexel Hill, PA; Palmyra, NJ; and Wilmington, DE. Communities like ours (which has been around 10 years) are growing as those who come together recognize themselves as church, the people of God. We use inclusive language, gather as an empowered community where every voice is heard, strive to live the way of Jesus grounded in love, and welcome all to the table. I was introduced to Ignatius and Jesuit spirituality in college. I was ordained a deacon at Pendle Hill, a Quaker Retreat and Study Center, where our regional retreat was held that year.. The bishop who ordained me lives in Annapolis, Maryland. Multiple Quakers have joined us.

Recently, while in Rome, I lunched at a lovely Asian restaurant not far from the Vatican. I noticed that at almost every table besides ours, there were men in black (priests and bishops) and vowed religious, many in white veils. Can we allow that in 2017 the black and white model still speaks to some while others have moved from black and white to color?

Michael Bradley
2 weeks 1 day ago

You're not ordained, it's impossible. Yes, a ceremony was performed according to the rites of the Church, but no ordination was effected. In the same way, your daughter could crown you the queen of France, but it would not make you so — she lacks the power. No bishop, not even a pope, can ordain a woman. Even if the pope performed the rite, it would be utterly null and void, because the Church lacks the power to ordain women.

Kelsey White
2 weeks 1 day ago

edit

Qedlin Saltum
2 weeks 1 day ago

A tragic example of how we can become so consumed with religion and fail to fully and truly understand our relationship with Christ and submit to His Church in response to the Holy Spirit's direction as God is always calling His Church to himself. Sad that, supposedly knowing of problems and flaws within the Church, I did not see any record that she was seeking the Spirit's prompting to work for change. There are flaws in all Churches, God calls us to work through His direction to purify His Church. We are only fulfilled when we are precisely where God calls us to be, working for His glory, not our perception of it.

Qedlin Saltum
2 weeks 1 day ago

A tragic example of how we can become so consumed with religion and fail to fully and truly understand our relationship with Christ and submit to His Church in response to the Holy Spirit's direction as God is always calling His Church to himself. Sad that, supposedly knowing of problems and flaws within the Church, I did not see any record that she was seeking the Spirit's prompting to work for change. There are flaws in all Churches, God calls us to work through His direction to purify His Church. We are only fulfilled when we are precisely where God calls us to be, working for His glory, not our perception of it.

Pamela Brink
2 weeks 1 day ago

The author says: "But I do not believe the mass abandonment of Catholicism after the council was chiefly a reaction against the new liturgy. Most of the former Catholics of my parents’ generation who left the church did so because they finally felt free to turn their backs on overwhelmingly negative experiences" I disagree with this statement as a devout Pre-Vatican II Catholic. There are no studies or statistics to support this statement. I loved the Tridentene Mass. I love the English Mass. Both are the Mass. I would not become a Quaker because the language changed. In addition, I never experienced any "overwhelmingly negative experiences," so that would not make me a Quaker. In fact, the only negative experiences were from people, not the Church. I would never abandon the sacrament of the Eucharist. I love the Mass in all it's forms and in all languages. Where else can I be fed? Certainly not by a Quaker preacher.

Anne Chapman
2 weeks ago

Your personal reaction is yours alone. My personal experience is different. I also grew up in the pre-Vatican II church, with Latin mass and everything that went along with it, much of which was very negative. Vatican II ended while I was in (Catholic) college and it kept me in the church when I was ready to walk. I eventually did walk away, but not for many decades, because I was fortunate enough to live in a "Vatican II" parish and was blissfully unaware for far too long about what John Paul II and Benedict were up to. My experience of those of my generation leaving (and we are hitting 70 soon), is different from yours.

Most of my friends and family went to (mostly) Catholic schools, including college. I memorized the Baltimore catechism, made First Fridays, etc. All of my college friends did the same. One group, more forward thinking, turned their backs on their negative experiences right after graduation. Catholicism was very often not a happy, constructive part of our lives, but simply something we accepted. We had been indoctrinated to do so. So we hung in there, a lot longer than the first group.

But gradually the "John Paul II" and "Benedict" priests began showing up in our parishes. The gospels of the four evangelists were gradually replaced by the gospel of EWTN. We felt as though the Catholic church we had known as adults, holding out all the hope and joy of Vatican II, had been systematically destroyed, and the not-so-good old days of the 50s and early 60s were back. As noted in the article, the lovers of the Latin mass not only wish to impose their aesthetic on all, they wish to also recapture the pre-Vatican II mindset. This is the mindset that almost drove me out as a young woman, and did drive away about half of my college friends and acquaintances right after graduation. The rest of us became increasingly appalled as we saw Vatican II being attacked, symbolized by efforts of the "traditionalists" and those who wanted a "reform of the reform" to return to the Latin mass. We stayed until we couldn't. And when we left, it wasn't because of liturgy per se, because of language or music etc, it is because of the restoration of the pre-Vatican II mindset, closed to the world, closed to new understandings of scripture, closed to all new insights, to be closed to the voice of the Holy Spirit in so many ways, including by maintaining the ancient patriarchal structures that reduce women to second-class members of the church. All of this is symbolized by the efforts to return to the Latin mass.

At this point, I would say that about 75% of those I knew as a young woman, raised and educated exclusively in the Catholic church, are no longer practicing Catholics. Some have joined other denominations, and some are unchurched - spiritual but not religious. The young of today who leave organized religion as soon as they can are called "nones". Those of us who fought to stay, but in the end were too disillusioned and too tired to spend the rest of our lives mentally fighting with the "EWTN" priests and laity, are called "dones".

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