Is the Latin Mass more reverent? Our readers respond.
Kerry Weber’s “Stop saying the Latin Mass is more reverent” (Short Take, online Nov. 17) received more than 150 comments from our readers. Her story was in part a response to a recent article in The New York Times, which reported that enthusiasts for the Latin Mass describe it as a “more reverent form of worship.” Ms. Weber wrote, “The Latin Mass may help many people feel closer to God, but whatever reverence it inspires need not be framed in relation to other styles of worship.”
Thank you so much for putting into words exactly how I feel. I would never go back to the Latin Mass myself but can understand how some people do feel that it brings them closer to God. That is how I always felt about a good “folk Mass.” It would be nice to have both in harmony, as opposed to disharmony.
Aren’t different words useful? Reverence means deep respect, usually expressed formally. It places the emphasis on God’s transcendence and eternity. Devotion: self-giving love, more of a personal expression. Goes with joy, which has to do with consciousness of God’s presence. Charity: love for God and others. All Catholics and Masses should have all these. Still, I don’t see anything uncharitable about saying that the traditional Latin Mass emphasizes reverence, or that the Harlem or Uganda Masses emphasize joy and devotion.
“Amen.” I say that as if I were at a “Gospel” Mass. Having been a teenager during Vatican II, I prefer hearing the words of the Mass in my native language rather than spending much of my time seeing if the priest has just said the Latin word (which I do not understand) on the opposite page of my Missal from where I am currently reading. I also prefer to enthusiastically sing or say my responses during the Mass with the song in my heart and not a droning old hymn. My faith is my joy!
I’ve had the good fortune to attend Mass all over the world, in many countries and languages. In very few cases have I felt the Mass to be irreverent. And yes, I do love the Latin Mass, in the new rite, which we attended recently at St. Peter’s during the World Meeting of Families. The holy Mass is beautiful in Latin, English, Spanish, French, Tamil, Hindi, Kinyarwanda, Swahili, etc. The faith of priests and Catholics all over the world and the music that they make is a wonderful thing to behold. I’m scandalized and fatigued by people who cannot see the reverence in this worship.
Don’t get me wrong, a sung Latin Mass is beautiful. But I don’t speak Latin.
What Kerry Weber fails to understand is that these people are having a spotlight shone on them and are being asked to justify their form of worship. “Traditionis Custodes” has forced Latin Mass goers into this position. Latin Mass goers have to talk about the Latin Mass in relation to Novus Ordo due to “Traditionis Custodes” and through no fault of their own. If they are being asked to move away from one to the other then obviously they have to explain why they don’t want to do that. Without “Traditionis Custodes,” we wouldn’t be having this conversation and there would be no division. Surely all sides can agree to let everyone use whichever form they wish and respect it?
Seán Paul Gaughan
I love this article. Holding that one style of liturgy is reverent and others are not is at the seat of the division over Mass. If the music enhances the prayer, it is reverent. That’s its purpose, whether an ancient Latin hymn or guitars and drums.
Don’t get me wrong, a sung Latin Mass is beautiful. But I don’t speak Latin. I find reverence needs attention; a language I don’t speak limits that.
The Latin Mass is more formal, certainly, but reverence comes from your heart, not from whatever variety of outward expression you use. Any Mass is as reverential as you make it. You can’t see the reverence of others.
Isn’t reverence a gift of the Holy Spirit…who also gave the gift of speaking in tongues? Reverence isn’t so much in the liturgy as it is in the people, and a gift is a gift. I’m going to pray for more of it.