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Have We Reached Peak Latin Mass?

Monsignor Charles Pope writes that the Traditional Latin Mass (which he supports) is a boutique phenomenon among American Catholics, and looks likely to stay that way [1]:

Some years ago (as far back at the early 1980s) we who love the Traditional Latin Mass often said (or it heard said) that if we would just return to the beautiful Latin Mass our churches would again be filled.

At first this appeared to be happening. As many dioceses (through the various indults of the 1980s and 1990s) began to offer the Traditional Latin Mass, those churches were filled, often to standing room only. Liturgical progressives were horrified and traditionalists were joyfully pleased and felt vindicated.

But as the availability of the Traditional Latin Mass has increased, it seems that a certain ceiling has been reached.

In my own archdiocese, although we offer the Traditional Latin Mass in five different locations, we’ve never been able to attract more than a total of about a thousand people. That’s only one-half of one percent of the total number of Catholics who attend Mass in this archdiocese each Sunday.

One of our parishes generously offers a Solemn High Mass once a month on Sunday afternoon, a Mass that I myself have celebrated for over 25 years. But we have gone from seeing the church almost full, to two-thirds full, to now only about one-third full.

He challenges the complacency of Latin Mass supporters:

If we who love the Traditional Latin Mass thought that it would do its own evangelizing, we were mistaken. It is beautiful and worthy of God in many ways. But in a world of passing pleasures and diversions, we must show others the perennial value of the beautiful liturgy.

The honest truth is that an ancient liturgy, spoken in an ancient language and largely whispered, is not something that most moderns immediately appreciate. It is the same with many of the truths of our faith, which call for sacrifice, dying to self, and rejecting the immediate pleasures of sin for the eternal glories of Heaven. We must often make the case to a skeptical and unrefined world.

Evangelization is hard work, but it is work that matters if we want to maintain a viable presence going forward. The lovers of the Traditional Latin Mass are not exempt.

Evangelize or else close and die. It’s a hard fact, but numbers matter. Too many in the Church today demand respect and support without showing the fruits that earn respect and that make support prudent and reasonable.

Read the whole thing.  [1] I was not a Latin Massgoer when I was a Catholic, but I considered myself a supporter. I do recall, though, the attitude that Msgr. Pope speaks of: an unspoken belief that the Latin Mass is so obviously superior that if people simply had it around, they would naturally choose it over the Novus Ordo.

Msgr. Pope’s piece makes me think about why I never got the hang of the Latin Mass, though I was ideologically predisposed to like it. The reason was not the “ancient language” part — that was something for which I was eager — but the “largely whispered” part. I very much wanted a more reverent liturgy than what we had in standard Novus Ordo parishes, but the experience of the liturgy as mostly a ghostly silence was hard to embrace.

It’s also true, I’m afraid, that some Latin Massgoers had a way of thinking about the old liturgy and the new mass that framed the contrast in a way that posited Novus Ordo Catholics as deficient in sanctity. There was a pride there, and it was deadly. If you think that the Latin Mass is obviously superior, and those who can’t see it are aesthetically and theologically cloddish — well, it’s hard to evangelize from that stance. Plus, if someone who visits the parish doesn’t sense joy in the congregation, they’re not coming back. I’m not talking about happy-clappiness. You can be very reverent, but also radiating joy.

Here’s the thing: all these criticisms of the Latin Mass crowd could also be made of much Orthodox Christianity in this country. 

We Orthodox very much occupy a boutique niche in American Christianity, and though I hope I’m wrong, I don’t see us breaking out of that anytime soon.

If you are a convert, or in a convert-heavy parish, you know how common this experience is: you discover Orthodoxy, and are so overwhelmed by its theological and aesthetic richness that it seems right that everybody in the world would want to have this too. This year marks my tenth year as an Orthodox Christian, and I still feel that way. Once you are inside Orthodoxy, and get the hang of the liturgy, a whole world opens up to you.

In my case, it was perfectly obvious from the beginning why one would want to be Orthodox. But I know myself well enough to admit that I’m a rare type, in that I am unusually moved by beauty. (Recall, it was seeing the Chartres cathedral for the first time at age 17 that brought me back to Christianity.) Beauty alone isn’t enough, but in my particular case, it is so central to my experience of God that I can scarcely do without it. This has been a blessing to me, because it has made me deeply grateful for the role of beauty in holiness, but also a burden, as far too often I am aware of certain disdainful impulses towards low-church worship, a spirit of criticism that is spiritually harmful. (Believe me, it was very much there when I was a Catholic too).

It’s not just an aesthetic thing. Rather, the aesthetics are inextricably tied to the theology, in ways that are difficult to see from a drive-by visit to an Orthodox liturgy. If you’ve only been to one Orthodox liturgy and decided it’s not for you, I would invite you to make two or three more visits before you make your mind up.

Still, Msgr. Pope’s words about the Latin Mass ring true to me re: Orthodoxy. The bottom line is that if the superiority of Orthodox worship were obvious, we would have many more converts than we do. Many of us Orthodox — and I’m pointing at myself here — do a poor job of evangelizing. Granted, we face enormous hurdles. Yes, we say the liturgy in the language of this country, English, and Orthodox worship is incomparably more participatory from a congregational standpoint than the Latin Mass is. But mostly, we are alien to American expectations, in ways that make us seem inaccessibly exotic.

Like the Latin Mass folks, we Orthodox have got to do a much better job of evangelizing. And like the Latin Mass folks, we have particularly high hurdles to clear. Like the Latin Mass, the Orthodox liturgy will never be able to offer the kind of “plug-and-play,” seeker-friendly experience. That is a hidden strength; Orthodoxy is very “finder-friendly,” in the sense that if you commit yourself to it, the Orthodox life gives you an experience of Christianity that, in my experience, is unparalleled in its depth.

But we live in a culture in which everyone expects things to be tailored to their own preferences, and if it doesn’t suit us instantly, we move on. Most of us are like that. More often than not, when I sit down to find a movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime, I end up surfing for half and hour then decide to go read, because I can’t find anything that I’m willing to commit to. That same mentality tends to govern our decisions about everything. I constantly have to resist this tendency in myself. I’m reminded of David Brooks’s great line from Bobos In Paradise: that many of us today try “to build a house of obligation on a foundation of choice.”

So, you can be a Latin Mass Catholic or an Orthodox Christian, and be frustrated with the masses who fail to appreciate the richness, beauty, and theological profundity available within your church and/or liturgical tradition … but that doesn’t get more people into church. If we want to push past Peak Latin Mass and Peak Orthodoxy in American life, we have to figure out a better way to evangelize.

I have been to Orthodox parishes that are booming with converts. I have been to frozen-chosen parishes that are dying on the vine. And I have been to parishes that are terrific, but struggling for worshipers. Let me ask you readers: what makes the difference in these places?

Let me put the question to you Latin Mass Catholics as well: what makes the difference between a thriving Latin Mass parish community and one that’s just holding on?

Understand the spirit in which I am asking: I want both Orthodoxy and Latin Mass Catholicism to thrive in this country. 

 

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126 Comments To "Have We Reached Peak Latin Mass?"

#1 Comment By JonF On January 14, 2016 @ 6:01 am

Re: “Re: “Social justice” has become a swear word.

No, again, because the elite do not like being called on their sins– and the spouted nonsense of a handful of young and inexperienced big mouths is hyped way, way out of proportion to bring disrepute on any attempt to challenge the wrongs and injustices of our day.

Also, do remember that “Faith without works is dead”.

[NFR: Nobody likes being called on their sins. It is especially characteristic of the identity politics movements of the left that their members consider themselves to be without blame, and all the evil in the world to be inherent in the hearts of those they have identified as their oppressors. — RD]

#2 Comment By dominic1955 On January 14, 2016 @ 7:51 am

Nfr,

Pretty much my point. I don’t think it’s that hard to get why someone would rather say “corporal works of mercy” or “social teaching of the Church” rather than “social justice”.

Yes, faith without works is dead, that’s why I said the corporal works of mercy are obligatory as are the spiritual works of mercy.

So I push back again-it gas nothing to do with the “sins of the elite”. Most “social justice Catholics” I’be met are raging heretic activists. If I want to do something with feeding the poor, etc. I’m calling it a corporal work of mercy. That is the tradition term anyway.

#3 Comment By red6020 On January 14, 2016 @ 9:54 am

As to what makes the difference….

Anecdotally, in my current diocese, the TLM parish has been much more friendly and easy to connect with than other ones. And I’m the socially anxious guy who hates putting himself out there for the first time. I’ve literally asked priests how to get involved who tell me to go to a parish with a school (but i don’t have kids!). At my TLM, people take their faith seriously and are happy to meet other faithful Catholics. So, I think that’s a good thing.

I was gonna list why TLM communities might struggle but I think “John” nailed it.

More availability, more invitations, and more community are key. My current priest has really been trying to emphasize the last two and I think those are the real key to growth. The Mass itself is evangelization. I don’t mind to brag that the schola/choir at my TLM is the best in the diocese. People can be attracted by the beauty and etherealness of a chanted Mass. That can connect even with people who aren’t traditional Catholics/Christians.

I would note that Msgr. Pope seems to be a little distanced from the perspective of his flock. The Mass scheduled on a Sunday afternoon is actually a pretty bad time for many families with small children (who often take naps in the afternoon). These families often make up the vast majority of TLM communities.

Also, once a month is somewhat inconvenient too. Unless you have a strong devotion to the traditional liturgy already, you’re probably not going to make it to the Mass that’s held once a month while going to other parishes in the meantime.

The biggest thing holding the spread of the traditional liturgy back is a lack of a traditional Catholic Faith and/or a traditional community. Joseph Shaw hit it well.

If somebody dislikes the Latin Mass, it’s often over some disagreement/misunderstanding of the Catholic religion or the TLM itself. E.g. “Why does the priest have his back turned?” “Well, it’s because he’s offering a sacrifice for the people, like in the Temple, not leading a community dialogue” “Nah, I don’t think that’s right.” Just an example.

Current Catholics have been too indoctrinated into a non-Catholic/MTD/secular liberal mindset for the TLM to be “dominant”. I think without better catechesis/explanation you eventually hit a wall. After all, once you understand WHY such-and-such is done this way, then you begin to understand you WOULDN’T /shouldn’t do it any other way. Ad Orientem is just one example.

#4 Comment By red6020 On January 14, 2016 @ 9:55 am

@Brom Bones, that’s like saying that Charles Dickens is as old as Harry Potter because somebody just released a new version of his books. Also, re-read Sean W’s comment.

@bt, Just as an FYI to some of the other commenters, attendees at the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) tend to skew younger not older.

@CatheineNY, I think what Shaw was getting at is many of your average Catholics don’t value their faith very much. At least for me, it’s pretty obvious there’s a lot of Novus Ordo Catholics who are zealous about their faith. But there’s a lot in the pews who don’t even believe it. Just see polling numbers. It’s rare to find that at a TLM parish.

@UncleBilly, many folks aren’t “yearning” for some bygone era/liturgy/practices, they’re living it right now. So I’m not sure your comment makes sense.

But it’s much nicer to have a sense of stability and expectations in one’s relationship with God. At least for me, it allows me to grow into a deeper relationship with Him. I think it’s like learning strict poetic or artistic rules can help you compose a better piece than being told, day one, to do it free-form and “express your feelings” when you don’t even have the vehicle to express your feelings in.

#5 Comment By red6020 On January 14, 2016 @ 10:00 am

Rod: “NFR: That’s a really good point, but I would like to say that it’s not all Paul VI’s fault. Modernity has dismantled it.”

1. I have to respectfully disagree about Paul VI and Modernity. As Shaw points out, it wasn’t “Modernity” which erased Catholic traditions, it was often priests and bishops. Many of those para-liturgical, para-church activities (BenOp activities) were prevalent pre-1960 and nearly absent post-1960, often for ideological reasons and a hatred of the Catholic Faith. “No processions, because that’s triumphalist!” “No habits/clericals because that’s not ‘of the people’.” Etc.
2. I liked Joseph Shaw’s post. I’ll also recommend this one since it gets to relevant BenOp-type points about Evangelization and the Church.
[2]
3. Modernity has been with us long before the ’60s as you know. Catholicism pre-1960 could offer an ideal BenOp community since it (largely) was the story of Catholics maintaining their Faith and culture in the face of an antagonist society (both in the US and abroad). Modernity doesn’t provide a hard ceiling for the Faith. Only if we abandon the Faith and allow it too by accepting it, a la MTD.

Rod: “I very much wanted a more reverent liturgy…but the experience of the liturgy as mostly a ghostly silence was hard to embrace.”

Rod, I would just like to point out that your statement isn’t true of the TLM. What you may have attended (if you did attend something) was probably a Low Mass. If the TLM isn’t enough like the Eastern Rites it’s often because it isn’t “traditional” enough, e.g. pews and movement around the church.

In fact, my usual experience with the Traditional Latin Mass has been a Sung Mass. In this, there are very few times except for the Canon (which only lasts a few minutes).

The Low Mass is, in origin, a priest’s private mass and isn’t the only form of the TLM. The Sung Mass and the Solemn High Mass are the ideal norm and most TLM-goers or TLM-priests strive to have these at their communities for obvious reasons.

#6 Comment By CatherineNY On January 14, 2016 @ 11:28 am

@red6020, what those polls that you cite show is that people who rarely show up for Mass do not believe — so I think you are wrong about the people “in the pews.” And sorry, but Shaw’s remark was really insulting. My question to you is, what do you mean by “a TLM parish”? One which offers the TLM exclusively? Or one which offers it as one of the Masses? Big difference. As I mentioned in an earlier post, here in NY, even the regular TLM at Our Saviour, offered by the very, very well-known Father Rutler, attracted only a small group, by his own testimony. So I’m curious what constitutes “a TLM parish,” and if that is an exclusively TLM parish, how many congregants such a parish might have.

#7 Comment By panda On January 14, 2016 @ 11:31 am

“[NFR: Nobody likes being called on their sins. It is especially characteristic of the identity politics movements of the left that their members consider themselves to be without blame, and all the evil in the world to be inherent in the hearts of those they have identified as their oppressors. — RD]

Except that at a guess, the vast majorities of SJWs are White, and their main analytical tool is white privilege. If anything, they might be accused of excessive penance: endlessly harping on sin, in a way that becomes a pleasure rather than a burden.

#8 Comment By JonF On January 14, 2016 @ 1:04 pm

Dominic,
No one should ever be ashamed of the word of the word “justice”. It is one of the principle virtues, recognized as such by both Christian and ancient pagan moralists. Letting a handful of annoying loud-mouthed college kids run away with it is as silly as letting the excesses of Carrie A. Nation forever nullify our consideration of “temperance” as a virtue. (And our world could certainly do with some lectures of temperance– in the traditional vein, nary a mention of Demon Rum). I am left always feeling that’s there’s a whiff of the old Throne and Altar Catholicism about the trads when they discuss social justice issues. Oh, not that anyone in the US (except maybe the recently departed Florence King) wants monarchy in the USA, but that their concept of justice is stunted by the strict rule that it must never, ever trespass on the privilege of the elite– or of that vast herd of scared cows, the American upper middle class.

Rod,
Yes, there are sanctimonious, neo-Puritan hypocrites on the Left. Welcome to the human comedy and its burlesque show of besetting sins. That does not mean their complaints are necessarily groundless, any more than MLK Jr’s adultery or the fatuous nonsense spouted by the old 60s radicals meant that Jim Crow was OK and Vietnam and just and good war. And of course I have said before, I believe you very much exaggerate the effects and influence of these people. You confuse volume with numbers. But the old proverb about dogs barking as the caravan passes holds true: the issue is not the barking dogs, but exactly where it is our caravan is going.

#9 Comment By Patrick On January 14, 2016 @ 3:35 pm

“what makes the difference between a thriving Latin Mass parish community and one that’s just holding on?”

Vocations and birthrates.

If the FSSP and Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest – whose priests don’t even know the Novus Ordo – are growing, then the future is automatically more Latin Mass-y than the present. If the Latin Mass women are out-breeding the N.O. women (on babies-per-woman, not raw numbers), then the future is more Latin Mass-y.

Whether or not a bunch of blue-hairs evangelize other blue-hairs has nothing to do with it: nobody who “grew up with” the TLM is the future of this country (a fact that both supporters of and detractors from the TLM of a certain age seem unable to accept.)

#10 Comment By dominic1955 On January 14, 2016 @ 5:34 pm

Red6020,

“In fact, my usual experience with the Traditional Latin Mass has been a Sung Mass. In this, there are very few times except for the Canon (which only lasts a few minutes).”

Yep, I’ve been to more Solemn High Masses and Pontificals than you can shake a stick at. They are every bit as glorious as anything from the East, although there still is a different feeling to them. At many of the parishes I’ve attended, the priests would encourage the people, from the pulpit and in the bulletin, to sing. With some people, they’ve got that Irish Jansenist Low Mass mindset and just won’t but most folks participate. I suppose if they can’t sing, its good they don’t as well.

“The Low Mass is, in origin, a priest’s private mass and isn’t the only form of the TLM. The Sung Mass and the Solemn High Mass are the ideal norm and most TLM-goers or TLM-priests strive to have these at their communities for obvious reasons.”

This is true, the archetype for the Roman Rite Mass is the Pontifical and from that, the standard parish Mass should be the Solemn High (if at all possible) and then the Sung/High Mass. Low Mass should basically be a daily Mass/Sunday pastoral concession.

I actually really like Low Mass-for daily Masses. It allows one to assist at Mass on a lunch break, or after work, or before work. At most of the parishes I’ve been to, a daily Low Mass is right about 30 minutes, maybe 40. Its perfect for a daily liturgy especially coupled with the Breviary.

#11 Comment By Anne On January 14, 2016 @ 8:42 pm

Before this thread goes off to blog heaven, I’d like to say I remember when all Catholic Masses were said in Latin, and really, although children and outsiders undoubtedly found the Mass more imposing and/or mysterious in that form, the average Massgoer was no more reverent then than today, possibly even less so because most had no clue what was happening at any given moment, except during the gospel reading (to which “the people” could read the translation as the priest droned along in Latin), the homily, and Communion, of which under half those in attendance partook. Most attended because (unlike today) they’d been made well aware of the rule that made missing Mass a mortal sin. That’s called a captive audience, and audience is a word well chosen, since all could hear, but few knew what they were hearing without reading along in English, which few — what with kids and Rosaries to manage — took the time to do.

Back then, people who cared joined the liturgical reform movement, whose main goal seemed to be to have the people’s parts of the Mass translated into “the vernacular.” I don’t remember anybody thinking Latin would ever be totally gone. In fact, the first “vernacular Mass” (the 1962 Vatican II Mass) was mostly in Latin. During my freshman year in college, we were thrilled to be able to do Gregorian chant in English. Those versions seemed very beautiful to me. People hoped for more and more….and amazingly, within a few short years, Masses in English were the rule.

There was a short period when people seemed mostly happy with “the changes,” and then, with the addition of the Kiss (or handshake) of Peace and hymns that sounded to some like Protestant castoffs, people began to grumble and complain about “bad taste,” etc. I know I missed the chants especially; the Latin never seemed that much of a loss. But it was quite awhile before people began organizing or calling seriously for a return of the Tridentine Mass in Latin; by the late 80s a dowtown church offered one every Sunday evening, to which I took my husband (at the time, an agnostic) because he was curious. Most of those in attendance — around 60 people — were super-conservative looking (long hair, longish skirts on women;men with beards), although one or two college-age students were seated in the back taking notes (go figure).

There are at least two churches in town that offer the Latin Mass (one Tridentine, one Novus Ordo) today, and they each have a modest but faithful following. Interestingly, almost every priest offering Mass in churches I’ve attended in the past few years says at least a small part of the Mass in Latin, usually the Kyrie eleison (yes, I know, that part’s Greek). And smells (incense) and bells are back.

All in all, any neutral observer would have to say reverence, if anything, has increased, not decreased since the days when Rosary saying, children coloring or reading books (sometimes aloud) and men sleeping off the night before often distracted attention from the priest at the altar, and priests every now and then hummed at least part of each prayer as they sped along to make it through the last Low Mass on Sunday morning. I’m not saying there weren’t reverent, beautiflly sung High Masses or parts of the old Mass I miss (e.g., the processions and priestly prostration followed by “I come unto the Lord, to the Lord who giveth joy to my youth”). But if the Latin Mass has peaked as nostalgia goes, so be it. May it rest in peace. The Mass lives…even in languages the people actually understand.

#12 Comment By Anne On January 14, 2016 @ 8:47 pm

Edit: “I come unto the altar of the Lord…”etc.

#13 Comment By Anne On January 14, 2016 @ 8:54 pm

Correction: For what it’s worth (as if many, if any are reading this), the first Latin Mass offered in the 1980s in my town (Portland,OR) was the 1962 Vatican 2 Mass, not the Tridentine, which could not be offered until the Vatican eventually agreed.

#14 Comment By dominic1955 On January 15, 2016 @ 11:42 am

JonF,

No one should be ashamed of the word “gay” either but that is besides the point. It’s not the word “justice” that is the problem, it’s the term “social justice” because practically anyone who uses it (in Catholic circles at least) us virtue signaling for Modernism and other sorts of errors. Look, if you can’t understand how a term could get ruined by the manner in which it is used, I don’t know how else to explain it to you and I can’t draw pictures on this thing so, I guess I got nothing…

A whiff of throne and altar? I don’t see what is wrong with that concept at all, and the moral theology manuals would consider noblesse oblige legit.

The problem with so-called social justice is that it’s worshippers do not approach the matter with temperance or prudence and the obligations (at least put upon the people they rail against) are sky’s the limit. That is simply not sober moral theology, that is bleeding heart nonsense. The poor you will always have with you. The Church has always seen fit to spend large sums on art to the glory of God and such. Noblesse oblige seems to only legitimate way to approach it.

#15 Comment By Drew On January 15, 2016 @ 12:01 pm

In my modest opinion as a new catechumen of Orthodoxy, doing the liturgy in the “language of the people” is key.
Latin Mass or The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

There is nothing magic or necessary about Latin or Russian or English. The essential power and importance of both liturgies translates and maintains no matter what language, so we are better off removing the language barrier, which itself can impede “evangelism” to a degree if the language is not the normative language of the culture in which the parish resides.

If I was in a parish that still held on to the Russian language despite the majority of the parishioners being native English speakers I would have a hard time explaining to a potential convert why the service was done that way. Holding on to a particular language arbitrarily becomes anachronistic, not the content of the liturgy itself. The liturgies themselves are self-evidently sound, are wonderful to explain to novices and worth passing on.

#16 Comment By red6020 On January 15, 2016 @ 12:39 pm

@CatherineNY: “My question to you is, what do you mean by “a TLM parish”? One which offers the TLM exclusively? Or one which offers it as one of the Masses? Big difference.”

I guess I should just say “TLM community” or “among those who happen to frequent the Traditional Latin Mass.” But the people who go are often the same type of crowd anyway.

“[W]hat those polls that you cite show is that people who rarely show up for Mass do not believe — so I think you are wrong about the people “in the pews.” ”

No, those polling numbers hold even for those in the pews. I mentioned that explicitly. If you don’t believe me here’s a 2009 poll which shows a majority of churchgoing American Catholics believe that fornication, divorce, embryonic stem cell research, having a baby outside marriage (almost), and homosexual relations (almost) are morally acceptable. [3]

I’ve seen some polls which show some of those numbers (like gay marriage) increasing over the past few years. [4]

But you’re just being extremely unfair to Shaw.

“[This comment] is what Rod was pointing to when he suggested that TLM Catholics do not do the greatest job at making other Catholics want to join them.”

Have you ever considered you might be wrong here? You might not have read the original post, but it was Msgr. Pope who originally brought up the “lazy” “Novus Ordo” folks to compare them to Traditionalists. In fact, Msgr. Pope criticized the very thing you brought up! In the full post, he criticized “Novus Ordo” parents for not standing up and saving their school when they had the means to do so. Now, that’s not so bad on Msgr. Pope’s part because sometimes facts are just facts and people don’t have some hidden agenda.

Your comments here: “However, I do not think these problems are solved by a separatist movement within the Church that disdains engaging with the rest of us.” are uncharitable and untrue.

They are also deeply ironic when you understand that you have just disdained engaging with an entire group of people and disparaged the use of the traditional form of the Roman Rite which Pope Benedict has called “a legitimate aspiration”.

Sometimes, people are truly acting in good faith and not just trying to beat you over the head and make you feel bad.

#17 Comment By red6020 On January 15, 2016 @ 1:04 pm

@dominic1955: “I actually really like Low Mass-for daily Masses. It allows one to assist at Mass on a lunch break, or after work, or before work. At most of the parishes I’ve been to, a daily Low Mass is right about 30 minutes, maybe 40. Its perfect for a daily liturgy especially coupled with the Breviary.”

I agree with that completely.

If I were elected Pope tomorrow, I would re-establish the traditional liturgy and calendar. (I actually think that’s doable, but that’s a subject for another post.) I would emphasize (in the West) Solemn Mass for Sundays, Holy Days, etc. Low Mass for weekdays, especially for workers. 3-hour Communion Fast. Restored fasting the rest of the year. Processions on Holy Days. Regular public devotions offered in church. Public keeping of the Divine Office. Restoration of the minor orders, filled with purpose again, and given to married laymen. Vernacular sacrament of penance (I actually like the new one better). Vernacular translation of parts of other liturgies (like laymen’s parts at baptism). Prayers of the faithful (but of the pre-ordained type, like on Good Friday and how they used to be before they fell out of use, not the priest or laymen making them up). Sign of the peace (a more liturgical “kiss” too, like how it actually used to be, not a handshaking talking time. Also, it should proceed from the clerics at the altar to the people).

A lot of the changes in the ’60s get me not because they are a restoration, but because they aren’t. But this would lead you to a Mass much closer to what VII actually laid out. And it would be a much richer parish liturgical life, the type that Rod always talks about. (And the type that a lot of people desire)

#18 Comment By CatherineNY On January 15, 2016 @ 3:59 pm

@Anne, much of what you say about how the liturgy changed after VII chimes with what I recall. I remember the introduction of the Vatican II Latin Mass — at our grade school, we were taught the prayers very carefully, so that we could participate as the laity were now supposed to. I liked this Mass, and I wish we had stuck with it. I remember being taught Gregorian chant in Latin, but I have never heard any Gregorian chant in Latin until 2014, when I heard it sung at a local Catholic high school. I have to say I do consider the Latin a loss. What I miss is going anywhere in the world, and hearing the same Mass. Again, at my school they taught us the prayers and what they meant very carefully. I guess not everyone had that experience. I do recall that there were people who objected to the Sign of Peace, which does not bother me, and I have been to some really horrendous Masses with “canons” written by dissident Dutch theologians and the like that were probably not Masses at all (that was at my grad school university Catholic chaplaincy in the 70s). I have never seen anything like that elsewhere, thank goodness. I was quite surprised when I became aware of the TLM movement, which came up on my radar screen when I moved to New York in the late 80s. I tried going to one TLM in Manhattan, and never went back. I do have friends who go to the TLM every day in NYC, and it means a great deal to them. I’m happy with our local parish at present. However, I am always aware that, next time the Cardinal applies “term limits” to our parish, a new pastor could change everything. It’s not a happy thought.

#19 Comment By dominic1955 On January 15, 2016 @ 5:33 pm

Anne,

“All in all, any neutral observer would have to say reverence, if anything, has increased, not decreased since the days when Rosary saying, children coloring or reading books (sometimes aloud) and men sleeping off the night before often distracted attention from the priest at the altar, and priests every now and then hummed at least part of each prayer as they sped along to make it through the last Low Mass on Sunday morning.”

Yes, but that was always so. The Fathers and Medieval writers describes things like that in their own times. Catholicism is a huge religion, when you religion can be aptly characterized as “here comes everybody” that is what you are going to have.

“I’m not saying there weren’t reverent, beautiflly sung High Masses or parts of the old Mass I miss (e.g., the processions and priestly prostration followed by “I come unto the Lord, to the Lord who giveth joy to my youth”). But if the Latin Mass has peaked as nostalgia goes, so be it. May it rest in peace. The Mass lives…even in languages the people actually understand.”

The actual liturgical argument has nothing to do with supposed golden times. Like it was said higher up in this post, folks like us would take the previous ritual in English over the present one in a snap. Its the ritual and theology behind it that we want.

“For what it’s worth (as if many, if any are reading this), the first Latin Mass offered in the 1980s in my town (Portland,OR) was the 1962 Vatican 2 Mass, not the Tridentine, which could not be offered until the Vatican eventually agreed.”

The 1962 Missale Romanum is the “approved” one by the various motu proprios of JP II and Benedict XVI, most notably Summorum pontificum. Its often called the “Tridentine Mass” because it preserves the ritual of the Mass as codified by St. Pius V after the Council of Trent. There were some small changes here and there between Trent and 1962 and again between the Roman Missals of the early 15th and 16th Centuries and the Rite of the Roman Curia etc. ad nauseam but they are remarkably similar. The details that are different wouldn’t likely be noticed by anyone but people like me. Through the Vatican II 1970 Roman Missal in the mix, and its a considerably different ballgame.

#20 Comment By dominic1955 On January 15, 2016 @ 5:41 pm

Drew,

“In my modest opinion as a new catechumen of Orthodoxy, doing the liturgy in the “language of the people” is key.
Latin Mass or The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

There is nothing magic or necessary about Latin or Russian or English.”

There is nothing magical, that is true, but at least for Latin Rite Catholics, Latin is part of our patrimony. There is no way to read the moto propio of St. John XXIII Veterum sapientia and come away thinking Latin is just some historical detail to be left in the dustbin of history. Absolutely not.
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“The essential power and importance of both liturgies translates and maintains no matter what language, so we are better off removing the language barrier, which itself can impede “evangelism” to a degree if the language is not the normative language of the culture in which the parish resides.”

But we also loose something of the patrimony of our respective Churches if we just throw it all away. I’m all for vernacular as a strong option, but all Catholics should know at least the basic prayers in Latin and basic Mass parts (common to Old and New Rites alike) in Latin.

“If I was in a parish that still held on to the Russian language despite the majority of the parishioners being native English speakers I would have a hard time explaining to a potential convert why the service was done that way.”

My local Ukrainian parish still does their liturgy in Ukrainian (and sometimes some in Old Church Slavonic) with a bit of English thrown in. I’d have it no other way, even though I don’t know Ukrainian. Its just not that hard following along in the transliterated book, I’ve even picked up some Cyrillic when following along in that one in the process.

“Holding on to a particular language arbitrarily becomes anachronistic, not the content of the liturgy itself. The liturgies themselves are self-evidently sound, are wonderful to explain to novices and worth passing on.”

But they are not held on to arbitrarily-its part of our patrimony, its part of the same texts and tunes our forefathers prayed. Like I said above, I have no problem with some vernacular, even a lot of vernacular, but you’d think just from being a Catholic you’d want to learn some basic Latin. Or as an Eastern Orthodox, you’d want to learn some Old Church Slavonic or Koine Greek or the newer language (Russian, Ukrainian, etc.) of the Mother Church your parish is part of!

#21 Comment By Darth Thulhu On January 15, 2016 @ 8:04 pm

Pretty late to this thread, but it seems to be the exact inverse of the Contemporary Worship Megachurch thread far above. Same topic, opposite direction.

Again: every single liturgy is an entirely man-made creation, and inherently flawed and imperfectable as a result, and the initial work is, per Sturgeon’s Law, always 90% excrement.

Old-school traditions have had more time to prune out the excrement, but consequently have many dangers of falling into smug idolatry.

New-school traditions have the usual Keystone Cops perils of desperately trying to escape from the 90% excrement that suddenly erupts everywhere … but they are far less likely to be willfully prideful and falsely worshipful of their new Icons and Symbols. The very obvious imperfections of their new Icons and Symbols make them un-tempting targets for false self-adoration and prideful self-worship.

There’s pros and cons to each method. Being fully aware of the pros and cons of each is the important thing. Everything else is an issue of taste.

#22 Comment By CatherineNY On January 16, 2016 @ 11:58 am

@red6020 writes: ‘Have you ever considered you might be wrong here? You might not have read the original post, but it was Msgr. Pope who originally brought up the “lazy” “Novus Ordo” folks to compare them to Traditionalists. In fact, Msgr. Pope criticized the very thing you brought up! In the full post, he criticized “Novus Ordo” parents for not standing up and saving their school when they had the means to do so. Now, that’s not so bad on Msgr. Pope’s part because sometimes facts are just facts and people don’t have some hidden agenda.
Your comments here: “However, I do not think these problems are solved by a separatist movement within the Church that disdains engaging with the rest of us.” are uncharitable and untrue.They are also deeply ironic when you understand that you have just disdained engaging with an entire group of people and disparaged the use of the traditional form of the Roman Rite which Pope Benedict has called “a legitimate aspiration”.’ Thanks for your explanation of what you mean by a TLM community. As for your comments above, enough other people here (including Rod) have commented on the often very unwelcoming attitude of TLM Catholics that I don’t feel the need to defend my comments. Never mind the kind of things that a number of TLM Catholics say about the vast majority of Catholics in the Church both here and on their favored blogs. Yes, I know the original “lazy” characterization came from Msgr. Pope. He may have encountered one parish’s worth of “lazy Novus Ordo” Catholics who didn’t want to fight to save their school. We had an entire Archdiocese full of energetic “Novus Ordo Catholics” who dedicated hours of time and millions of dollars to try to save their parochial schools, only to be slammed down in the end by our own Cardinal, who had dangled the hope of saving the 50-plus schools on the endangered list in front of us for reasons that remain a mystery. At our school, we formulated an excellent plan to convert the school to a classical Catholic academy on the model of St. Jerome’s in MD, but it was ignored, although we had our own pastor’s backing (and he had done it before in another parish). We are now homeschooling our daughter with a classical Catholic program (including daily Latin class), because the Archdiocese has chosen to give us cookie-cutter Common Core schools, against the wishes of many parents. I have friends — priests and laity — who are TLM Catholics. I know the TLM landscape pretty well, and respect my friends’ love of the Tridentine Mass, but I have also seen a tremendous lost opportunity created by the way many in that community have chosen to deal with other Catholics. So I am not being uncharitable in my comments — I am just stating some sad truths about the polarization that now exists.

#23 Comment By CatherineNY On January 16, 2016 @ 2:49 pm

PS I looked back at Monsignor Pope’s article. No where does he blame “lazy Novus Ordo” Catholics for the school closing. He says that the parish, which was in an inner city, simply could not afford the school — they were already “very generous” in their support of the parish and the Church, but could not possibly come up with another million per year: “The congregation was not poor, but they were already very generous in their financial support of the Church. An additional $1.1 million was simply not possible. Even with a great deal of fundraising it would still be nearly impossible.”

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#24 Comment By TBOU On January 17, 2016 @ 8:03 pm

It’s an interesting concept. As one who regularly attends the Latin Mass, and has for the better part of 20 years, I have a few observations:

1. Quality and availability varies widely.
2. It’s not exactly free of nutters, might scare off more rational types who like the order and quality, but don’t want to socialize. Example: I’ve been to a few Pius X masses at their center of power in Kansas and their homilies tended towards sedevacantist. In the 90s the nutters seemed less vocal, but the Pius X crowd seems to be more vocal than before.
3. Church politics are at work. Some churches might be growing, others not. Despite what this priest says, generosity was and still is rare on their offerings.
4. A few things caught my eye in this passage. He doesn’t say it’s weekly and makes a comment about “generous” offerings once a month. It’s been my observation over the past 20 years that generous is rarely that. Plus, if it’s not weekly, then families must juggle sunday school timing with latin mass timings.
“In my own archdiocese, although we offer the Traditional Latin Mass in five different locations, we’ve never been able to attract more than a total of about a thousand people. That’s only one-half of one percent of the total number of Catholics who attend Mass in this archdiocese each Sunday. One of our parishes generously offers a Solemn High Mass once a month on Sunday afternoon, a Mass that I myself have celebrated for over 25 years. “

#25 Comment By dominic1955 On January 17, 2016 @ 11:36 pm

TBOU,

“4. A few things caught my eye in this passage. He doesn’t say it’s weekly and makes a comment about “generous” offerings once a month. It’s been my observation over the past 20 years that generous is rarely that. Plus, if it’s not weekly, then families must juggle sunday school timing with latin mass timings.
“In my own archdiocese, although we offer the Traditional Latin Mass in five different locations, we’ve never been able to attract more than a total of about a thousand people. That’s only one-half of one percent of the total number of Catholics who attend Mass in this archdiocese each Sunday. One of our parishes generously offers a Solemn High Mass once a month on Sunday afternoon, a Mass that I myself have celebrated for over 25 years. “

Generous indeed. Its better than nothing, but to really foster a spiritual life in the TLM it needs to be more than a once a month showpiece.

In a few of the TLM parishes I’ve been part of, Solemn High Masses were often a weekly thing. Why? Well, for one thing, they were their own parishes fully staffed by FSSP or ICRSP priests and weren’t shared. Second, I have been lucky to be part of TLM parishes that, one could say, were headquarters of sorts for their respective Orders.

So, what that translates into in having the Old Rite daily. Usually Low Masses for daily and at least a Sung Mass for the principle Sunday Mass. It is not unusual, however, to have certain votive or special Masses (First Friday, Requiems, Nuptials, etc.) as Solemn High’s.

Having a dedicated TLM parish also means Confession according to the old Rituale, Baptisms according to the old Rituale, Confirmations according to the old Pontificale, weddings and funerals according to their respective traditional renderings, all holy water and sacramentals blessed according to the old Rituale.

The whole kit and kaboodle is needed to foster a Catholic spiritual life. A monthly Solemn High Mass with none of the other support is ever going to be anything more than a showpiece, a spiritual curiosity of sorts. Certainly better than nothing, but I’d be hesitant to draw any conclusions for a fairly lackluster attendance at such an event.

#26 Comment By Lisztmaniac On September 15, 2018 @ 11:40 am

I live in a twin-city area with two dioceses. My family and I are converts who came in to the Church through the diocese which is thoroughly “Vatican II” in spirit. The buildings tend to be plain and the music mostly banal and cheap, altar girls tend to be the norm, and the feel of the liturgy is more akin to the style and substance of the ever-present ubiquitous ELCA Lutheran parishes that stand on every corner in the region.

We were fortunate to discover a parish across the river that celebrates the Ordinary Form in a full-throttled fashion, with incense, bells, altar boys only in white gloves, music that is traditional and befitting the sacred mysteries being celebrated, and homilies that speak the truth, no matter how culturally unpopular or politically incorrect. The parish also offers the Extraordinary Form on Sunday afternoons, and on Feast Days and Solemnities. The 10am OF Mass is the most well-attended. A significant portion of attendees at that Mass are young, large Catholic families (and growing all the time. It is an amazing sight. It is the noisiest liturgy in town. Baptisms are plentiful.

Many of the arguments for the EF of the Mass are given in contexts where the OF parishes seem little different than Protestant liturgical churches. People desire beauty, tradition, and substance that can be passed on to their children. The statistics of the younger generation seem to be bearing this out. If Catholic bishops and priests want thriving parishes, then evangelism is absolutely necessary, but one that includes the need for tradition, ancient practical wisdom, visual and aural beauty, and providing a “way of life” for families to enter into. Both the OF and EF can incarnate that for people searching for substance.