Opinion piece on TLM in Charotte Observer

Here is an opinion piece in the Charlotte Observer.

My emphases and comments.

IN MY OPINION
Latin Mass is fine, but I like the new ways
MARY C. CURTIS
mcurtis@charlotteobserver.com

When in Rome – and you need to go to Mass – do as the Romans do. A few years ago, I did just that, dashing into a beautiful church a coin’s throw from the famous Trevi Fountain.

As I made my way through the ritual, following along, just barely, in Italian, I had a sudden longing for the Latin Mass of my youth. The feeling was only part nostalgia for lace mantilla head coverings and the soothing sound of “Dominus vobiscum” and its answer, “Et cum spiritu tuo.”

I wanted to fully share in the celebration with those gathered in the pews around me.  [But, by wanting to, and by being baptized, and by trying to, you were fully participating.] When Latin was the common language of the ancient liturgy, you could go to any Catholic Church anywhere in the world and be at home.

In the little church in Rome, the people were friendly, the handshakes sincere and the communion inspiring. [hmmm] But if we shared the words in Latin, I thought, there would be the comfort I did not feel stumbling my way through prayers and responses in bad Italian.  [Fair enough.]

The Latin Mass [Remember that the term "Latin Mass" should not be applied only to the TLM (traditional Latin Mass, according to the pre-Conciliar form)] retains a sense of mystery [YES!] at a time when little in life offers that particular quality. And it restores a sense of community with Catholics of every race and region[And era.]

I was curious when St. Ann Catholic Church became the first parish in Charlotte to begin offering a weekly Latin Mass. [I think she means the TLM.] Would a return to the rites of the past – with Mass a silent time of reverence and contemplation – bring a peace that’s needed in today’s complicated world?

At 8 in the morning on a recent Saturday, I joined the few, the proud, the traditional at St. Ann.  [For those of you not reading in the USA, the United States Marines has the phrase "the few, the proud, the Marines".]

I noticed the lace mantillas, lots of them, on the women’s heads – and the quiet.

The Mass has become more convivial of late, with lay readers and ushers and Eucharistic ministers. Someone or other is always marching up and down the aisle. Lay people – and altar girls – get to play a part.

I missed that.  [hmmm   She poses the question "Will the older rites and silence with contemplation bring the peace which is lacking but needed today?"  She asks the question and then veers into something else.]

Following along in the Latin-English Booklet Missal isn’t difficult. I did it easily enough as a Catholic grade schooler. But it isn’t the same.

I’ve also gotten used to the priest facing the congregation, drawing us in. [Into what?  His personality?  A sense of "peace needed in the world"?]  When he turns toward the altar, the feeling is just the opposite.  [Opposite of being drawn into what?]

It seems less inviting and more like a secret society, one I’m not sure I’m good enough to join[Okay... we are back to the challenge of being a Marine?] The sermon – about being vigilant in your faith – is fine, but a little muscular, a little Mel Gibson.  [I wonder if she has been exposed to effeminate priests for a long time?  Or if there is something in Mass facing the people, with all those other things she talks about, above ("lay readers and ushers and Eucharistic ministers. Someone or other is always marching up and down the aisle. Lay people – and altar girls") is not "muscular", that is, ... atrophied Catholicism?]

The Catholic Church was once more exclusive, [Um... "Catholic" means "universal".] the one true faith, we were taught. The one thing it wasn’t about was dialogue.  [Grrr.]

And I missed that dialogue at the Latin service.  [This is a problem, I think, with the way the TLM is often celebrated, wherein some communities nearly repress congregational responses.]

We’ve grown up a lot since the days when the watchword was silence and the priest had the last word. Secrecy can be suffocating and mystery just an excuse not to ask questions[For pity's sake.]

Openness is not heresy.  [My heavens!  She has gone spinning off into the void!] As the lay organization Voice of the Faithful [Riiiight!] says: “provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church.”

There are things we know now that we never knew or chose not to see.

If the Latin Mass provides a clearer path to faith for anyone, it is worth having the choice.

But I see the world differently now. You can’t go back. I don’t want to.

 

This article exhibits some pretty sloppy thought.

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68 Responses to Opinion piece on TLM in Charotte Observer

  1. Supertradmom says:

    Sloppy thought is a direct result of the culture which allows and emphasizes emotional, personal reactions to everything, including the most sublime mystery of Faith, the TLM. After fifty years of mushy catechesis and a lack of intellectual content in sermons, sadly, what is here expressed is fairly typical. For Americans, it seems to me that an anti-intellectual attitude towards the Faith, probably a carry over from Protestantism, has led not only to a suspicion of intellectual approaches to experience and the Faith, but to a preference for emotional, or at least, personal language with regard to all things spiritual. Feelings seem to be regarded as “more sincere” than rational discourse. I suppose that the atheism of the Enlightenment is partly to blame, but for the person in the pew, how one “feels” about the Liturgy takes precedence over learning the more sublime truths of the TLM.

  2. Pierre Hountet says:

    This article exhibits some pretty sloppy thought.

    Indeed Father, but I am not surprised. Long-time exposure to non-muscular Catholicism leads to sloppy thought. At least she did not write that the TLM was “not inclusive”.

  3. Interesting. I had no experience or exposure to the TLM until I found it by accident one day when I was exploring some other Catholic churches in my city. Uncatechesised, it was remote and foreign and left me feeling very… small. Uncomfortable. I didn’t want to do it again.

    So when I’d return to this Mass a few years later with a little more learning attached to it, I had a better appreciation!

    In an odd sense of parallelism, I agree with the author when she says “But I see the world differently now. You can’t go back. I don’t want to.” (except I don’t agree with ending sentences in prepositions) I see the world differently now, too. And going back to an Ordinary Mass is just something I don’t want to do either!

  4. Austin says:

    Pretty sloppy, but I suspect representative of what most half-educated
    bien-pensants wil say about the Latin Mass. Most seem to believe that the
    Church declared itself one among many denominations in the religious supermarket
    after Vatican II.

    I do agree about the participation. In the Anglo-Catholic churches of my past,
    the congregations sung lustily (there was far more opportunity) and responded
    firmly in speech. When I do the same in a Latin NO or TLM, people stare at me as
    if I were a madman, even when there is a hymn printed in the bulletin for the
    congregation to sing. There seems to be an understanding among trad Catholics
    in the US that the more serious one is the more silent one must be. I did not see
    this in France, Germany, or Poland.

  5. Roland Jacobs says:

    I thought this article was profound and showed a lot of
    insights that need to be developed, although I don’t think she’s up to it.

    While the TLM looks like a sacrafice, it seems a little too judaised and hardly
    reminds me of the Last Supper. In fact, at times, it seems more like high class
    vu-doo or a santaria ritual.

    But, I trust the wisdom of the Church on this and believe that if we
    react to in it this manner (or worse yet, the way the wide and generous
    bishops have) we call our organisation’s very legitimacy in to question;
    to paraphrase the Holy Father.

    So, it doesn’t float her boat. It doesn’t float mine either. So what?

  6. Cathguy says:

    The article is clearly shows why the Latin Mass is so necessary.

    The feminized liturgy, feminized theology, and milquetoast homilies of the new order has lead to MUCH confusion. In as much as the author was challenged by the experience of assisting at the TLM, and is as much as she has concluded it is not for her, it has done its job. Notice the author is a woman. The masculine homily bothers her. I bet the fact that there were MEN at the Church bothered her also. I mean… young faithful men on a mission from God. How… gauche! Isn’t Church just for the old and the women and children these days? :)

    In reality, the author (she even cites Voice of the Faithful!) is not a Catholic. It is clear that she doesn’t believe what the Church has always taught.

    That is the beautiful thing about the clarity of the old Mass. It confronts heresy by its very nature, and challenges one to CONVERT. If the new Mass just makes us comfortable in our apostasy, that is a serious charge against the new rite; for if it doesn’t lead us to repent, conversely and obviously, it can lead us to Hell by failing to lead us away from it.

  7. magdalen says:

    In my parish of the round church (so we can see Christ in each other) we are going back to the 80s. There are changes in the creed and kyrie and the bulletin says that our new liturgy committee will make our lliturgy more ‘hopeful, compassionate, and welcoming’. Who knows what more innovations will be inflicted upon us. Sacrifice? What sacrifice? Everyone knows it is a gathering of the assembly to sing about how wonderful we are…

    The entertainment is better at the Fellowship of Excitement though.

    That is the stuff that is inflicted on ‘vatican two’ Catholics.

  8. Michael J says:

    Roland,
    Is that the purpose of the Mass? To “remind us of the Last Supper”?

  9. m.a. says:

    Why is it that whenever anyone ventures to disagree that the EF is the be-all and end-all liturgy, they are immediately put to the sword?

    I prefer the OF; but I would not want to refuse those who love the traditional ways from having the EF available to them. I would hope we could live together amicably.

  10. Jack Regan says:

    Is that the purpose of the Mass? To “remind us of the Last Supper”?

    The purpose (or perhaps the action) of the Mass is to bring to life that which Jesus intended to institute at the Last Supper.

    Other than that, here are a few observations:

    1. I too have missed the dialogue at the TLMs I’ve attended. Though I have enjoyed many things about them, I still prefer the OF and that’s largely because of the dialogue. It’s not that it’s about me, and it’s not that I need to be heard. But, to me the life with Christ is a constant dialogue and I find that the new liturgy bears that out in a beautiful way.

    2. Supertradmom… to me, Jesus’ claims speak to the very heart of who we are as people and they transform us in love. So I don’t see how the liturgy when done properly (whatever that might be) can evoke anything other than an emotional, personal reaction. It touches the heart of who we are with the love of God. That is what Truth really is. It’s not separable from intellectual truth, but it precedes it and perfects it. British though I may be, I cannot remain stow-faced through that :)

    3. This lady has written a polite article giving her opinion. And she is entitled to it. I hope therefore that this doesn’t descend into ripping her to shreds, disagree as you all might.

  11. RosieC says:

    Over in the Eastern NC diocese, the parish with the longest approved TLM (now Extraordinary Form) Mass started, just about 8 years ago, with moving the Tabernacle to the middle behind the altar. From there the pastor led the parishoners through a series of steps, along with quite a bit of in depth Catechesis, such that for many of the faithful the final step to the TLM was reasonably natural. Even so, some parishoners had difficulty with the transition. It sounds like Ms. Curtis went straight from her home parish to this one for just the one Sunday and so it must have been a bit of culture shock.

    I’d be interested in hearing what Ms. Curtis would say after she’d gone to the Extraordinary Form Mass for several weeks, myself.

  12. Jack Regan says:

    *Why is it that whenever anyone ventures to disagree that the EF is the be-all and end-all liturgy, they are immediately put to the sword?*

    *I prefer the OF; but I would not want to refuse those who love the traditional ways from having the EF available to them. I would hope we could live together amicably.*

    I agree with all of that. Very well said.

    I also prefer the OF. I can see the attraction in the EF and I am pleased that the Church is now catering to those who feel spiritually attached to it. I am sure too that most of them have the same feelings toward us OF fans, despite their (perhaps legitimate) grievance at having the EF denied to them for so long.

  13. Is that the purpose of the Mass? To “remind us of the Last Supper”?

    To prepare an answer, one could consult Chapter One — The Mystery of Faith of his encylical Ecclesia de Eucharistia ( http://www.adoremus.org/EcclesiaDeEucharistia.html ) where John Paul II gave one of the fuller recent explications of the meaning of the Mass. In this complete chapter he uses the word “sacrifice” over thirty times. He does not use the word “supper” a single time.

  14. leo says:

    i heard a remark yesterday by a devout catholic that the old mass has its place the implication was that it was not here in a surburban parish. i derad the next trial of two different forms of the new mass with every variation inbetween when the revised translation into english is made mandatory

  15. Chironomo says:

    Her quote from “Voice of the Faithful” gave a much needed context to this article. Sadly, the context is a misguided one, and points to an agenda, in spite of the “even tone” that some see in this article. This is an example of what I call a “minimalizing the enemy” article… adopt a position of agreeing with a position you disagree with and then note that although you accept their position, you prefer your own view for a variety of reasons. This sets the argument up as a choice between two equally valid options, both of which you accept as valid, but one of which you believe is better. In the end, the author is simply saying that the TLM is valid and she’s OK with that…. thanks for your concern! I find it hard to believe that someone quoting from Voice of the Faithful to make a point has any real concern in this area…

  16. Jack Regan says:

    *adopt a position of agreeing with a position you disagree with and then note that although you accept their position, you prefer your own view for a variety of reasons. This sets the argument up as a choice between two equally valid options, both of which you accept as valid, but one of which you believe is better. In the end, the author is simply saying that the TLM is valid and she’s OK with that…. thanks for your concern!*

    I the absence of any evidence that she has an agenda or a game plan, can I suggest that we give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that the above genuinely is her point of view.

  17. I too have missed the dialogue at the TLMs I’ve attended. Though I have enjoyed many things about them, I still prefer the OF and that’s largely because of the dialogue.

    This is puzzling. In the typical week, I attend one Sunday TLM and five or six daily OF Masses. I experience less \”dialogue\” in the ordinary form than in a high TLM. Indeed, with the congregation singing the whole ordinary as well as the dialogue responses, there\’s surely more actual participation in the TLM than in the OF (which, indeed, is one reason I\’m fond of the quiet daily OF Mass).

    So whatever is the fundamental difference between the ordinary and extraordinary forms, it\’s not a difference in dialogue participation. Although it\’s possible to have less in the TLM, it\’s also possible to have more.

  18. R says:

    Why is it that whenever anyone ventures to disagree that the EF is the be-all and end-all liturgy, they are immediately put to the sword?

    No one is being put to the sword. Father Z disagrees with the author; if you disagree with any of Fr Z’s remarks, feel free to discuss what you take issue with.

  19. Jack Regan says:

    That hasn’t been my experience of the TLM at all. In fact in a few I have barely said 2 words all through. The OF, to me, offers a lot of dialogue throughout. In my own launguage. In song. In word.

    I like it :)

  20. Pierre Hountet says:

    Roland:

    While the TLM looks like a sacrafice, it seems a little too judaised

    Language appears quite vague and sloppy here: \”it seems a little too\”. Can you please elaborate?

    and hardly reminds me of the Last Supper.

    Perfect then, since this is not the goal of the Mass.

    In fact, at times, it seems more like high class
    vu-doo or a santaria ritual.

    You must be referring to the puppets, masks, and various similar ornaments so often see during traditional Masses.

    So, it doesn’t float her boat. It doesn’t float mine either.

    More sloppiness. Why do modernists use such vague expressions? Probably because vague expressions prevent blatant contradiction from being exposed too visibly.

    So what?

    I will remain charitable and thus not answer this question.

  21. Jack Regan says:

    Pierre, I have found that a common debate tactic employed by people on the internet is to constantly make people define terms until they get bored and give up. Roland does not use very academic and precise language, but we know what he means. In my experience of debating, asking people to elaborate on every point they make is often a stalling tactic designed to distract from the debate in hand and make people so fed up that they lost interest.

    The EF doesn’t float my boat either! Then again, neither do puppets.

    ‘…in all things, charity,’ folks!

  22. Boko Fittleworth says:

    I quite agree that those who do not see the superiority of the EF over the OF should not be put to the sword. Unless they’re Roman citizens. Then they have that right. Non-Roman citizens should be stoned.

  23. Phil says:

    Ah well, sloppy thought processes aplenty, but let’s give her at least some respect for trying, and a bit more for not making up her mind beforehand. It’s clear that she would benefit from some more education, and the lack of it is probably not entirely her fault either. yes, it’s a failing grade for the first test, but there’s hope not all is lost for the finals.

    And one final thought: she does seem responsive to aspects like the universality of latin, mystery and reverence. To me, it sounds like she’d be one of those for whom a good NO in latin, properly done, would be a very good option.

  24. Catherine-Lucia says:

    just a friendly reminder here, folks: Catholic liturgy is NOT about Latin (traditional, trindentine or otherwise) Mass vs. the “English Mass” or whatever it is called. I apologize for my lack of up-to-date vocabulary. Some like the universality of the Latin Mass; others like the more personal feeling of the English (or whatever native language) Mass. Arguing or debating about the merits of each Mass is pointless, especially when it leads us INTO sin rather than AWAY from it. Both are Masses, both make Christ present. Neither is superior to the other, if Christ is present in both. So why does it matter if one person prefers one form/rite of the Mass than the other?

    By the way–what Pierre refers to as sloppy writing (the use of the idiom ‘float your boat’) is simply an expression. Stop picking away at details.

    As a regular reader–not so much commenter, although I read them sometimes–I think that the majority of people here could benefit from not nitpicking at each detail of someone else’s opinion.

  25. Jack Regan says:

    There are numerous people in the Church who fail to understand why people can’t see the superiority of the OF over the EF too.

    Life’s funny like that.

    Ironically, the Anti-spam word for this post is BROAD. Maybe there’s an answer somewhere in that.

  26. Jack Regan says:

    my last comment was in response to boko. A fact which may have been lost by the posts in between!

  27. Vox Borealis says:

    I far prefer the EF, and I still agree with m.a.

    Look, this article does not represent the most profound thought, and at the end it falls into a number of problematic habits. That said, the first half was fairly balanced, and even highlighted aspects of the EF that most of us champion (silence, not hard to follow in the missal, more masculine). And she basically concludes that there should be choice with regards to liturgical options. If only our bishops would be so generous of thought.

    For those who are convinced that the EF is vastly superior and will only continue to grow and grow, articles like these are to be embraced. Yes, give people choice. Yes, tell people it’s not hard to follow. Let them be drawn in. Given a choice, the market will decide, and the EF will win out in the end.

  28. m.a.: Why is it that whenever anyone ventures to disagree that the EF is the be-all and end-all liturgy, they are immediately put to the sword?

    I don’t have a problem with people preferring the new Mass to the older form.

    I do not especially for this sloppy thinking.

    Unless, perhaps, you think the article was well reasoned?

  29. Pierre Hountet says:

    Jack,

    You may have observed that I am not using stalling tactics, since I directly addressed Roland’s remark about the goal of the mass. I also tried to remain charitable by not answering his “so what?” question.

    However, I found the oblique reference to a “judaised” aspect of the LTM too vague to be addressed directly. The same could be said about the floating boat analogy, which, I am sorry to repeat it, is quite sloppy. This may be because English is not my native language.

    On the other hand, sloppiness is often used not only because of ignorance, but by malice, in order to obfuscate the debate so as to not exposing the writer/speaker’s contradictions. An excellent example in this lady’s prose is, for instance,

    Openness is not heresy.

    Of course it is not, per se, because “openness” is one of these sloppy terms that does not mean anything when it is not preliminarily defined, since it is over-loaded (in the semantical sense). In other words, openness to our Lord’s Word is not heresy, for example, but openness to Arianism certainly is. Modernists love to use such vague, feel-good sentences, because modernist ecclesiology is founded on sentimentalism, not on logical thought.

    That sad, I pray for the modernists’ conversions. This is charity. Not pretending I believe their absurdities are correct.

  30. Jack says:

    Notice here, though, that the desire for the TLM hits her in the Eternal City, the vibrant heart of the Faith. I guarentee you that if she found the new FSSP parish in Rome, or one of the other TLM’s, the reaction would be much different. It’s only when she’s back, surrounded by American craziness, that the TLM looses its appeal.

  31. Cornelius says:

    “The Mass has become more convivial of late, . . . “

    But that’s just it, isn’t it? The very “conviviality” of the OF, along
    with its use of street-language in the prayers, has banalized the Mass
    and rendered it commonplace. Instead of elevating us to the divine, the
    OF attempts to bring the divine down to the level of the lowest common
    Western denominator, in language and ritualistic character. In fact, the
    OF is about as close as you can get to an anti-ritual. This anti-ritualism
    is why so many priests insist on chit-chatting with the faithful at odd
    moments, effectively shattering whatever sense of sacrality has been
    built up.

  32. Cornelius says:

    Pierre Hountet – for someone for whom English is not the native tongue,
    you’re doing pretty well. I wish I could write so well.

  33. Jack Regan says:

    *This may be because English is not my native language.*

    Indeed.

  34. Jack Regan says:

    Having said that, I doubt I could debate in French. Unless the debate involved asking the way to the channel tunnel. Or asking where I can find a hotel.

  35. Pierre Hountet says:

    Cornelius,
    Thank you. I fell in love with the English language as a child, thanks to an Au Pair who lived with us for a few years, and find it is especially disgraceful when native speakers deliberately botch it. When I first went to an OF mass in the U.S., I was appalled by the trivialization of the chants as well as of the homily. I could not agree more with you when you write:

    the
    OF attempts to bring the divine down to the level of the lowest common
    Western denominator, in language and ritualistic character.

    Speaking of language, I find it interesting to notice that the beginning of the collapse in reading and writing proficiency (among other things) amongst U.S. school pupils coincided (in fact, followed with a few years of lag) with the introduction of the New Mass.

  36. m.a. says:

    No, Fr. Z, I don’t think this article was very well written, which is one of my problems with your use of it. However, I think it was written from the heart and thus didn’t deserve to be dissected in the way it was.

    Surely, you could have found a well-reasoned article on the same subject that we could all have benefited from by reading your comments.

  37. Pierre Hountet says:

    Jack,

    The more I advance in age, the more a single language emerges as my TRUE native language amongst the various ones to which I have been lucky enough to be exposed. It is Latin, the language of our Mother.

    God bless,

  38. David Deavel says:

    While I agree with Fr. Z that this is a poorly-reasoned piece, I’ll also agree with that last-minute convert Oscar Wilde that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Somebody might see her column and notice the positive things she says about the EF, not knowing such a liturgy is celebrated, and go down to try it out.

  39. Patrick says:

    “I find it interesting to notice that the beginning of the collapse in reading and writing proficiency (among other things) amongst U.S. school pupils coincided (in fact, followed with a few years of lag) with the introduction of the New Mass.”

    LOL!

  40. Kradcliffe says:

    But, why do we insist that she be logical in presenting her feelings? She went to the EF, and it didn’t appeal to her. You can’t argue with that. It would seem that her reasons for not liking it have to do with having been catechized to expect something different from the Mass. She noticed, with distaste, the ways in which the EF did not do what she had come to expect it to do. She didn’t understand what it *was* doing, but that’s not anything to do with her reasoning abilities. She has simply never been taught.

    I have heard many people say that they went to a EF and had epiphanies and were instantly won over. That doesn’t happen for everyone. To tell you the truth, my first experiences with the EF weren’t positive. The congregation responded out loud and so I was very conscious of not being able to “keep up.” Not to mention simply not being able to find my way around in the little red missal booklet. It all felt awkward and sounded foreign and I didn’t feel anything special. As I said to a friend, “I don’t see the big deal about listening to some guy mumble at the wall.” I much preferred reverent Novus Ordo Mass I was accustomed to until, after a lot of reading and learning, I gave it another try years later.

    If you want John and Jane Catholic at St. Suburbia to welcome and embrace the TLM, you’re going to have to explain to them what is so special about it. And, you would probably find them more receptive to your information if you can present it without denigrating the faith they already have.

  41. Kim Poletto says:

    Mr. Regan:

    The request for the defining of terms, while for some may be a debate topic, is actually part of Catholic tradition. A review of the early Church Fathers, as well of some of the Church’s greatest theologians, e.g. St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquanis, JPII and Pope Benedict XVI, do so in order to faithfully teach the Faith. St. Thomas in his Summa, as well as in every day life, sought clarification of ones position in order to gain an understanding so that he could accurately and effectively respond to those issues involving the Faith.

    While it is true that there are times when comments posted here are uncharitable, that is hardly the case by identifying in an article, sloppy thinking. This of course maybe be the result of an editor slicing and dicing her article which happens way to often, but the fact remains, the end result is sloppy.

    Without an accurate understanding of the words people use, there can be no genuine exchange of ideas. Kim

  42. Jack Regan says:

    *Speaking of language, I find it interesting to notice that the beginning of the collapse in reading and writing proficiency (among other things) amongst U.S. school pupils coincided (in fact, followed with a few years of lag) with the introduction of the New Mass.*

    Apparently the rise in oil prices is also due to the New Mass. As is the El Nino effect, the millennium bug, the Watergate Scandal, the overrunning cost of the London Olympics and the decision to cancel Hill Street Blues.

  43. Jack Regan says:

    Yes, Kim. I agree that precision and exploration can be a great teacher. But it can also kill exploration stone dead. It’s what a colleague of mine used to call ‘paralyse by analyse.’

  44. Jack Regan says:

    P.S. You can call me Jack :)

  45. Warren Anderson says:

    I, too, love the OF Mass. However, it is an ignoble form of discourse to defend one’s position by merely deriding those with opposing views. The EF truly is extraordinary – it is awesome, beautiful. For more than a decade-and-a-half I had the privilege of directing choirs at a parish where what we now call the OF was also truly “extraordinary”: Latin hymns, chant, torch bearers, incense, weekly benediction, properly attired altar boys, reverent laity and priests. Unfortunately, too often the OF is distorted by pushy laity who know nothing about the content and direction of the Divine Liturgy.

    The more frequently people are “exposed” to the EF, either directly or through well informed individuals, the more likely the notion that Christ is the one acting in the Liturgy will correct the tendency to see the Mass as an opportunity to clutter up the Liturgy with cheesy songs, bizarre pseudo-ritual and chit chat.

    Something that always disturbs me, whether OF or EF, is the machine gunning of the prayers by the priest. If we in the pew are to graft our intellects and wills to the words and actions of the priest who is Alter Christus, let’s slow things down a bit. One aspect of the renewed Mass (OF) that is inspiring is the potential for silent, attentive and deep reverence of Christ. The OF, when prayed reverently, is a magnificently dramatic journey into the Mystery of the Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ. The OF recapitulates the Paschal Mystery clearly and perfectly to my ears and eyes – the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem (processional), the Word-made-flesh (as the Holy Scriptures are read and listened to), the journey from the first Eucharist to the climax of the Cross and the silence of the Tomb (Eucharist-Sacrifice), and the joy of the Resurrection as we are commissioned to go out into the world with the Good News (processional).

  46. m.a. says:

    Apparently the rise in oil prices is also due to the New Mass. As is the El Nino effect, the millennium bug, the Watergate Scandal, the overrunning cost of the London Olympics and the decision to cancel Hill Street Blues.

    Jack Regan (chuckle),

    You said it before I had a chance to!!!

  47. Michael J says:

    Catherine-Lucia,

    If neither form of the Mass is superior to the other, why was the new form created at all? I cannot imagine that the Church would promulgate a new Rite of Mass on a whim. Don’t you think that there must have been a real or perceived deficiency in the (then) existing rite?

  48. Romulus says:

    This lady has written a polite article giving her opinion. And she is entitled to it.

    Jack, I can’t agree with you here (a point you make several times). I put it to you that the mere fact of holding employment as a newspaper columnist often deceives people (and their readers) into the misapprehension that their opinions are worth anything at all. Yes, the lady is polite, but she is ill-informed, unreflective, and confused. She sees herself as entitled to comment for one reason only, and that a deeply disordered one: she’s the customer. She wouldn’t dare, on the same “qualifications”, to broadcast her opinions on structural engineering, financial derivatives, or what the weather will be like this weekend. Those topics require expertise, after all. But the wide world is just one subjective supermarket of religions she believes (as she’s been taught at school and, I’ll venture to say, in her religious education), among which the sovereign consumer’s at complete liberty to choose whatever gratifies her private sentiments — “meets her needs” is the cant expression.

    Anyone who chooses any form of liturgy to gratify a sentiment or taste chooses badly. It has nothing to do with the objective quality of the choice; what’s defective is the principle — that the atomised self is sovereign without reference to authority.

    Ms Curtis is undoubtedly American, as am I. Resistance to authority is central to our national sense of self; private judgment is the stuff of our civic DNA. It is toxic to the Catholic sensibility: we must either strictly limit self-reliant individualism to its proper sphere or else become our own gods.

    For the record, and to be perfectly clear, “that which Jesus intended to institute at the Last Supper” was the sacrament of his Body and Blood. What you omit to say is the essential fact that the Mass “brings to life” this sacrament for a specific reason: sacrifice. The Mass is infinitely more than a fellowship event, and anything that threatens to squash it to merely horizontal dimensions must be opposed. There’s no lack of gifted theologians who’ve pointed out that the OF of the Mass has lost much of the EF’s verticality. Though dialogue has its place, including in the EF, it’s not a dialogue of equals. There are times when as Spouse of the Bridegroom, our part as Church calls for receptivity and silence.

    There was not much talking at the Crucifixion. It’s not recorded that Our Lady — who prefigures the Church — said anything at all. In the Mass, Christ — the principal Actor — submerges his personality in the form of pale wine and a fragile, translucent wafer. Who are we to encroach on such self-denial?

  49. Jack Regan says:

    Romulus I agree with some of that. Some not.

    The only part I’m gonna pick up on is this: A preference for the NO/EF is not a choice about taste, nor is it devoid of authority. It’s about what helps the individual to feel the greatest connection to Christ. Nothing could be more submissive to authority, nor less to do with taste or autonomy.

    I am sure that those who prefer the EF will claim pretty much the same reasons as those who prefer the NO once it comes down to it.

    Of course, both sides will claim that they are right and it would be easy and simple if one side would just go away. But that’s not debate is it.

  50. Jack Regan: Although my initial reaction was a bit of puzzlement, I now understand your reaction to attending what I assume are EF low Masses with no congregational response, certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, even among traditional types — most of my acquaintance (especially those who simultaneously are OF types) prefer the sung EF Mass. Even with abuse versus non-abuse issues, there probably is less variation in practice among common parish OF Masses than between rubrically acceptable EF Masses. To see the opposite extreme from a silent low Mass, you might view the

    SOLEMN HIGH MASS ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD (LIVE) 2 hr.
    Solemn High Mass of the Solemnity of the Precious Blood in the Extraordinary Form. The Traditional Latin Mass from the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, Alabama.
    Tue 07/01/08 8:00 AM ET & 5 AM PT LIVE
    Tue 7/01/08 7:00 PM ET & 4 PM PT
    Wed 7/02/08 12:00 AM ET & 9 PM PT (Tue)

    That is, tomorrow Tuesday morning, with the listed times being U.S Eastern and Pacific daylight times. Though daylight-saving time especially puzzles me, I believe our daylight Eastern may be 5 hours behind Greenwich time.

  51. Pierre Hountet says:

    Jack,

    Apparently the rise in oil prices is also due to the New Mass. As is the El Nino effect, the millennium bug, the Watergate Scandal, the overrunning cost of the London Olympics and the decision to cancel Hill Street Blues.

    You may have observed that I did not observe more than a coincidence, and did not try to prove a causal relationship. In other words, I did not succumb to the infamous cum hoc propter hoc fallacy. However, your less than charitable answer insinuates that I did. The cum hoc — or, in the case of the new Mass / reading profiency issue, post hoc — clause is by no means a sufficient condition when one tries to establish a proposition. However, it is more than certainly a necessary condition. I am sure you can distinguish between both. In fact, it is the essence of the scientific process, by which evinced correlations are used to formulate hypotheses which can subsequently be tested. Refusing this approach is a characteristic trait of anti-intellectualism which refuses any attempt at having logical arguments.

    That said, anti-intellectualism as is so common amongst post-Vatican II laity and clergly alike is not unrelated to the collapse of decent public (and catholic) education. By the way, anti-intellectualism is also quite common amongst heretics of all stripes.

    Now, regarding the millenium bug, it did not occur, and therefore I won’t blame the OF for it, and I don’t know anything about Hill Street Blues.

  52. Patrick says:

    I am not surprised by the tone and content of the Observer article. Here in NC it has been a tough go getting the EO. There are hardy souls in the Triad and Charlotte who have labored mightily to achieve great strides and more masses, but there are still those mired in Post V2 syncretism and relativism blocking the way actively and passively. I would love to state their names here, but respect their privacy. Suffice it to say that dedicated laymen and women, and good and holy priests have wrought a miracle here in NC.

    I was told by a person in the Chancery a year ago that the Diocese had the EO before, and that there was little interest. That was before Bishop Jugis and others began to pursue an active and public course to bring about the flowering of tradition and holy worship that we now see.

    There are still plenty of people holding hands across the aisle during the Pater Noster, still many dragging out the horrid concoctions of Marty Haugen and others as “liturgical” music, and still plenty of poorly said Masses and bad catechesis. It will be the work of years to turn back the tide of half baked feelgoodism that masquerades as Catholicism.

    That is probably the biggest hurdle, bad catechesis, fostered by lazy or poorly catechised priests who were formed when guitar masses and an alb and stole alone were the mode of the day.

    But now there are priests and laymen who know better and have found their voice. There is a bishop that fosters reverence and Eucharistic Adoration. We march forward, Deus Vult.

  53. Pierre Hountet says:

    Romulus,

    Ms Curtis is undoubtedly American, as am I. Resistance to authority is central to our national sense of self; private judgment is the stuff of our civic DNA. It is toxic to the Catholic sensibility: we must either strictly limit self-reliant individualism to its proper sphere or else become our own gods.

    Not being American, I would not dare to write it myself. However what I can add is that this unfortunate sense of self has now crossed the Atlantic and solidly established itself on the shores (and beyond) of the Old World. I will venture to add that this is not unrelated to the collapse of our own civilization. The “Enlightenments” were very blinding indeed.

  54. Jack Regan says:

    *Now, regarding the millenium bug, it did not occur, and therefore I won’t blame the OF for it, and I don’t know anything about Hill Street Blues.*

    It was good. Personally I prefered NYPD Blue. Although it did annoy me that they couldn’t keep the camera still.

    As for the rest, let’s chalk it down to experience and move on.

    Good night all.

    (it’s late here!)

  55. Sid Cundiff says:

    1 On 31 May 2008 I had the privilege of being present at the first MEF at St. Ann, Charlotte, the same church attended by the reporter. Before and after Mass I was able also to talk with the priest, the pastor Fr. Timothy Reid. I can verify and confirm that Fr. Reid BOTH (1) is a preacher of the Faith with Industrial Strength, AND (2) is a very, very personable man. I’m not sure that the reporter has done him justice.

    2. The Dialogue Mass for Low Mass I prefer, and I welcome at High Mass the people singing the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. Yet I can understand the other point of view: Our day and age sorely lacks the practice of silence and a time and place for silence. Others’ viewpoints on these matters I would welcome.

    3. Henry’s experience reflects as mine: Often there is more participative, activa AND actuosa, in the MEF than in the MOF. And with more souls singing.

  56. Romulus says:

    It’s about what helps the individual to feel the greatest connection to Christ.

    Jack, if personal response is the criterion, we’re in for a lot more than two forms in the Latin Rite. I put it to you that the EF is objectively superior because it better conveys the sign of what the Mass is. Furthermore, I’ll suggest that the Vatican Council authorised changes in the Mass only because it judged that something objectively superior could be produced. We needn’t argue about whether the result was successful or even reflects their intent; the critical point is that the Council was in no sense concerned with individual preferences or private responses. Agencies that do so engage marketing consultants and poll-takers, not liturgists. I don’t doubt the sincerity of the preference you feel, but the OF was not crafted with your desires in mind. It was the hasty work of an empowered elite, composed and subsequently imposed, top down.

  57. I don’t think it’s fair for all these articles of people’s opinion to be based on attending 1 Mass, especially when they have little to no idea about what is going on. I remember how strange it was back in the ’80′s in the U.S. when we changed the reading closing from “This is the word of the Lord” to “The word of the Lord.” It was so odd sounding, but we got used to it. Just trying to introduce new Gloria or Creed music (even in English) will make the congregation feel awkward.
    Of course everything new often feels strange. I would give more weight to an article in which a journalist really took the time to understand things and attend the TLM at least a dozen times in a row. Then I would like to see how “awkward and strange” it still seemed.
    I would bet that once you got over the initial “culture shock” people would more open to it. Which is why I think Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos was saying the TLM should be offered even when not requested.

  58. Guy Power says:

    Roland writes: …at times, it seems more like high class vu-doo or a santaria ritual.

    With good reason: Vodou and Santería use Catholic ritual.

    1. Vodou. the [Vodou] traditions have changed with time and have even taken on some Catholic forms of worship. One of the largest differences, however, between African and Haitian Vodou is that the transplanted Africans of Haiti were obliged to disguise their loa (sometimes spelled lwa) or spirits as Roman Catholic saints, an element of a process called syncretism.

    Roman Catholicism was mixed into the religion to hide their “pagan” religion from their masters, who had forbidden them to practice it. Any practitioners caught doing anything outside of the Catholic religion would be subject to execution. To say that Haitian Vodou is simply a mix of West African religions with a veneer of Roman Catholicism would be correct. To this day, many uneducated Haitians practicing this religion will integrate Roman Catholic practices by including their prayers in the ceremony.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Vodou#Liturgy_and_practice

    2. Santería. Santería, a pejorative term that characterizes deviant Catholic forms of worshiping saints, has become a common name for the religion. The term santero(a) is used to describe a priest or priestess replacing the traditional term Olorisha as an extension of the deities. The orishas became known as the saints in image of the Catholic pantheon.” (Ernesto Pichardo, CLBA, Santería in Contemporary Cuba: The individual life and condition of the priesthood)

    As mentioned, in order to preserve their authentic ancestral and traditional beliefs, the Lukumi people had no choice but to disguise their orishas as Catholic saints. When the Roman Catholic slave owners observed Africans celebrating a Saint’s Day, they were generally unaware that the slaves were actually worshiping their sacred orishas.[2] In Cuba today, the terms “saint” and “orisha” are sometimes used interchangeably. The term Santería (also known as “the Way of the Saints”), was originally a derisive term applied by the Spanish to mock followers’ seeming overdevotion to the [Catholic] saints and their perceived neglect of God. It was later applied to the religion by others. This “veil” characterization of the relationship between Catholic saints and Cuban orisha, however, is somewhat undermined by the fact that the vast majority of santeros in Cuba today also consider themselves to be Catholics, have been baptized, and often require initiates to be baptized. Many hold separate rituals to honor the saints and orisha respectively, even though the disguise of Catholicism is no longer needed.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santer%C3%ADa

  59. Kim Poletto says:

    Dear Jack:

    Thanks. Kim

  60. MAH says:

    Austin

    Check out Thomas Day’s ‘Why Catholics Can’t Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste (1992). It helped me to understand why many Catholics in the US prefer to stand/sit in silence rather than sing and why liturgical music is often of such poor quality

  61. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Sloppy thought? I think that Ms. Curtis is someone traditional Catholics should be interested in. Her article clearly wasn’t intended to be an argumentative essay. There’s nothing wrong about discussing emotions, impressions, and feelings. I, for one, desire a greater feeling of mystery and transcendence in the mass, but this is a very personal, subjective feeling that cannot be measured or discussed in a rigorously logical way. Nor does Ms. Curtis claim that all of her feelings are without contradiction. I think many Catholics have mixed feelings/beliefs about a great many liturgical issues. She may not have studied all the Church’s teachings on the liturgy, but she is probably fairly representative of where college-educated Catholics are in this country. The fact that she has a yearning for increased tradition should be applauded rather than that she has “sloppy thought” derided. She deserves a break and some prayers!

  62. Joseph says:

    The writer clearly shows a love of her church, both old and new, but the issue for her, the sticking point, as some have pointed our already, is clearly authority, for while she acknowledges the existence of some pluses the old right imparts (i.e., sense of mystery through silence, uniformity throughout the world) she just can’t concede these as very important to her now after trying to “go back” (i.e, praying using the same words — Latin — but “just not the same” effect) to the old rite. At least she does give it a chance, which is a lot better than some. And her job is, on the CR, after all, writing opinion. And so, when writing “fluff” pieces like this, one would expect a certain amount of “how do I feel about this or that.” And so, this is not, if not already obvious, a piece for the diocesan paper.

    And the reasons for the disconnect and obliteration of those once important pluses of the EF: no altar girls, no “dialog” — which becomes for her symbolic, giving weight to her view of the old church as basically “pray, pay and obey,” especially the “obey” and really, also “just shut up.”

    And then, of course, lately we’ve gotten rather used to sermons that really do not cut too close to home or really make us think that our modern ways were somewhat in conflict with traditional Catholic values. In other words, let’s not go back to black and white, when gray shades will do just fine, thank you very much.

    And, by the way, just a little side note: Ms. Curtis, as I understand it, in the RCC, the priest still DOES have the last word. Or, pray tell, when did that ever change? (Well except in parishes run by pant suited “sisters” acting as parish life coordinators, hiring and firing “rent a priests.”) Not a priest, myself, I am glad it is a priest who has the “last word” about our church. I guess for me, “authority” is fine. Seemed to be OK with Jesus as well. But I guess that might be a little to “Gibsonesque” for some, but, ‘Oh well, what can I do?’

  63. Jack Regan says:

    *Jack, if personal response is the criterion, we’re in for a lot more than two forms in the Latin Rite. I put it to you that the EF is objectively superior because it better conveys the sign of what the Mass is. Furthermore, I’ll suggest that the Vatican Council authorised changes in the Mass only because it judged that something objectively superior could be produced. We needn’t argue about whether the result was successful or even reflects their intent; the critical point is that the Council was in no sense concerned with individual preferences or private responses. Agencies that do so engage marketing consultants and poll-takers, not liturgists. I don’t doubt the sincerity of the preference you feel, but the OF was not crafted with your desires in mind. It was the hasty work of an empowered elite, composed and subsequently imposed, top down.*

    I believe that my preference for the OF is precisely because it better brings home to me what Mass is meant to be. It’s not a taste thing.

    You may well disagree. That’s okay :)

  64. jane in memphis says:

    I believe that those who rail against the Extraordinary Form are those people who just love to talk and carry on in church. I am always amazed at the socialization in the sanctary before and after Mass in churches who don’t have the Extraordinary Form. Maybe this is the reason some people are so afraid of the EF…then they will have to show some self-restraint until after the Mass to tell someone about their new grandchild. It really irks me that priests don’t educate their parishes on respectful church demeanor and encourage their membership to shut up in the Sanctuary. Some people might actually be praying in there!

  65. jane in memphis says:

    MAH–I couldn’t agree with you more…I would rather get up at 5 am and go to a Mass where there is NO music instead of getting up later when there is, more than likely, BAD music. In the EXtraordinary Form, one is assured of great, non-distracting music…or, equally as good, silence and reverance in the church without people running up and down the aisle in streetclothes.

  66. Pat says:

    Should we not respond as someone above suggested because the article is written by someone who writes poorly? Let those like Mary Curtis (who actually gets paid by The Charlotte Observer) write articles that are full of clichés and misrepresentations about the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, but don’t respond because she’s not qualified to write even a simple article. Now I know we live a touchy feely world but this is truly amazing.

    Obviously I don’t believe she could get a pass because she can’t write and look at exactly what she says in the article. She compares the MEF to a secret society, an exclusive organization full of “suffocating mystery” which she says is just an excuse not to ask questions. “Suffocating mystery”? How does the holy Mystery as celebrated in the MEF “suffocate”? Excuse not to ask questions? How is the MEF an excuse not to ask questions for goodness sake?

    Through an amazing sleight of hand she even managed to bring up Mel Gibson when discussing Fr. Reid’s sermon, which she calls a bit “muscular”, apparently because it was about being vigilant in the faith. Aren’t we supposed to be vigilant in the faith?

    Mass according to Ms. Curtis is more “convivial” these days, more like a family gathering with all the coming and going, someone or other always “marching up and down the aisle”. This is the Mass as a social gathering school of thought that stresses the communal meal but does not mention that the reason we are there is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our existence as Catholics.

    It is argued that the Mass is a recreation of the Last Supper when Our Lord instituted the Eucharist. This is key to understanding why conviviality is so important to modern Catholics. This is really the heart of the debate. If this is a recreation of the meal only,then of course have a convivial gathering. But if we are indeed at the Foot of Cross as the Church teaches then it seems that reverence and awe are in order.

  67. bryan says:

    I have heard this priest preach before. As a “home to Rome” Catholic, I really enjoy his ….hell-raiser homilies. I have been made to sit through a fair number of forgettable psycho-babble homilies in the Charlotte Diocese, but the priest at St. Ann’s can sock-em wock-em good. But, for people raised on milk, his sort of meat is hard to swallow…

  68. Rusty says:

    It nothing else, this blog of the article let me know where to attend Mass in the Extraordinary form during my visit to Charlotte this week.