A priest learns the TLM and it changes him

A reader alerted me to this piece in the Ave Herald:

My emphases and comments in this excerpt.

Fr. Tatman: "We’re Off to a Wonderful Start"      
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 08:34

It was not a typical parish appointment, and not a typical parish. When Fr. Robert Tatman walked down the in the procession ahead of Bishop Frank Dewane aisle at the dedication of the Ave Maria Oratory a year ago, only a handful of the people crowded into the 1,100-seat church realized that he had been appointed the pastor. "Everyone’s going to be really surprised," he remembers thinking.

The community all knows him now, though. A year later, Fr. Tatman says he has grown more comfortable in the community and that his experience as administrator of the Quasi-Parish of the Ave Maria Oratory has "invigorated me spiritually."  [Brick by brick.]

Fr. Tatman also firmly established the celebration of the Latin form of the mass every Sunday at 12:30 p.m. and twice during the week. He had to learn this Extraordinary Form of the Mass, as it is known, which he believes has helped him in many ways. "It has not just benefited the community," he said, "but it increased my own involvement and understanding of the Mass. I think it shows in all my Masses as well."

During the academic year, when students are available to sing, this rite is celebrated as a High Mass, the only one in the area. "It’s our fastest-growing Mass," he said.

As I have been saying all along….

Pope Benedict has a vision to reinvigorate our Catholic identity, call it his "Marshall Plan".  A sound reform and restoration of our worship is a part of this plan.

I have said again and again that Summorum Pontificum was a part of that "Marshall Plan" and that it is especially a great gift to priests.

When priests learn or relearn the older form of Mass, that experience changes they way they say Mass in with the Novus Ordo Missale Romanum.

Using the older form changes the way a priest thinks about Mass and about who he is at the altar.

These changes will affect a congregation, a parish, a region.

Also, it should not be any surprise that the TLM is the fastest growing Mass for the students.  No surprise at all.

As a matter of fact, it is so clear that this would be the case that the enemies of Pope Benedict’s vision, the "rupture-ites", will do what they can to suppress the implementation of the Holy Father’s provisions in Summorum Pontificum.  The TLM is the monster lurking under their beds.  It is their terrible nightmare.

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51 Responses to A priest learns the TLM and it changes him

  1. Tominellay says:

    …”rupture-ites”…hehehe

  2. Paul says:

    Not sure whether it would be useful or interesting to the readers to get into the history of controversy on the Ave Maria campus between the traditionally inclined (many of them students) and the charismatic dominated administration, and I’m not especially qualified to comment. But there’s a back story here.

  3. TJM says:

    This is splendid news indeed. The young will revive the Church and its ancient liturgy. The double-knit dinosaurs are in mourning, I’m sure. Tom

  4. irishgirl says:

    ‘The TLM is the monster lurking under their beds’-oooo, that’s a good one, Fr. Z!

  5. RichR says:

    Fr. Z,

    Have you ever celebrated a Novus Ordo Mass? [Yes.] If so, has it affected the way you celebrate the TLM? [Yes.]

    Just curious.

  6. We have a saying that should be better known: We don’t change the Liturgy; the Liturgy changes us.

  7. teresa says:

    We are all learning by going to the TLM, and benefiting immensely from the Tridentine Rite.

    Our organists are two young fellows who practice much. A year ago they couldn’t sing the Introitus and Graduale, so we sang the venecular songs instead. But now they have learned them and are still learning to sing more.

    Last week one of our young organists has practiced singing with us, and our ministrants, also young fellows about 20 and 30 are doing better and better, sometimes they can even give hints to the priest. We have several priests, some of them are very sure about the procedure, but there are also one or two of them who are still a little bit uncertain.

    And of course, we lay people are also learning to do better. Our organists take care that we sing the same songs over weeks, so that we can get acquainted with the melody.

    And yesterday our organizer managed to get a group of young men who sang in the most wonderful way, that they attracted also the tourists who are visiting our church.

    Than a group of nuns from Asia who happened to have a walk in the city saw our mass and they stayed, and went to communion.

    And at that time I felt that it is so wonderful to be catholic, because the Mass, especially the TLM is universal to everybody, regardless of which country he comes from and what kind of culture background he has: as God himself is present in the Mass, He unites us all.

    It was a most wonderful experience for me yesterday.

  8. Athelstane says:

    As an Ave Maria graduate, I’m very, very pleased to hear this.

    When I was there – but a couple years ago – an EF mass seemed like an unattainable goal. So much has changed, thanks to a very good bishop and Summorum Pontificum. Deo gratias.

  9. TJM says:

    RichR, surely you jest. Are you trying to bait Father Z? Tom

  10. Marcin says:

    Rightwingprof,

    very much so! How can we change something through which “we have seen the true Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true Faith, worshiping the undivided Trinity, who has saved us”?

  11. chironomo says:

    I know Fr. Tatman very well…he was a frequent visitor to the parish where I formerly served and was a close friend of our pastor. His appointment at Ave Maria did raise some eyebrows as he was not known to be particular “conservative”… but as this article demonstrates, he is at least very open minded. I truly hope that such a statement like this by a well-known priest in the Diocese will give other priests some pause and consider that there may be more to all of this than what they are assuming…

  12. Henry Edwards says:

    Tom: I thought his question was really quite “rich”. But perhaps he really doesn’t know that for its first 6 or 8 years, WDTPRS (the column first, then the blog) dealt almost solely with the Novus Ordo, with the TLM rarely mentioned (indeed, never, so far as I recall in the early years).

    But if you’re serious, RichR, what would you expect? That a traditional priest would suddenly go slack-jawed and start smiling in every which direction after celebrating a Novus Ordo Mass?

  13. chironomo says:

    “Not sure whether it would be useful or interesting to the readers to get into the history of controversy on the Ave Maria campus between the traditionally inclined (many of them students) and the charismatic dominated administration,..”

    Paul…

    It was discussed at great length here and on just about every other Catholic blog at the time when Fr. Fessio was let go, and when Diana Silva, the Chair of the music dept. was let go. What is more interesting is the relationship between the Diocese of Venice and Ave Maria… Bishop Dewane has played a most interesting game of chess with the administration, and seems to have them in “check” at this time…

  14. david says:

    This person is from the class of 1954 (as they say in Italy about your birth
    year) and have been an organist since the 3rd grade. We sang alot of High
    Masses in grade-school, have been accompanying the Choir for the EF, for a
    High Mass Once a month….

    One thing you can say about the EF of the Mass, no matter where you go in the
    world it is all very much the same.

    Sorry to say the N.O. is lets try this, this time and that the next…..

    Was this really what the Council Fathers wanted??? Bugini, ah its Holy Week
    ……

    Praise GOD for Pope Benedict.

    David

  15. Daniel says:

    That includes the Holy Father. I think of yesterday’s Palm Sunday Mass at Rome…heavy emphasis on the vernacular, novel Eucharistic Prayer (aloud), Communion in the hand (standing), the casual dress of certain Faithful who participated in the presentation of the gifts, etc.

    Should the Holy Father offer the Traditional Mass regularly, he will be transformed…he will question why he maintains the novel Novus Ordo. [Wow... is this over the top!]

    To truly launch the Traditional Mass throughout the Latin Church, it is imperative that the Holy Father return to offering said Mass regularly.

    Otherwise, bishops and priests will simply continue to follow the Pope’s lead by offering the Novus Ordo exclusively.

    We cannot expect that bishops and priests will offer the Traditional Mass publicly when the Pope refuses to offer the Traditional Mass publicly.

  16. Fr. BJ says:

    Should the Holy Father offer the Traditional Mass regularly, he will be transformed…he will question why he maintains the novel Novus Ordo.

    Getting back to reality, I think you are not giving the Holy Father enough credit – AT ALL. Read some of his books, and look at the well-known history of his celebrating Extraordinary Form Masses as a Cardinal, and before that as a priest. He knows the Extraordinary Form very well, and knows better than any of us probably how it can influence and edify one\’s celebration of the Novus Ordo.

    He is constrained by papal precedent, the need to move prudently and slowly in making changes, and also by the need to bring his brother cardinals, bishops, priests by the hand slowly. Could he go in, guns a-blazin\’, and just change everything? Sure, probably. Would it be a good thing to do? No. If anything, it would only alienate any more people. Look at how things have changed during his own pontificate, how there has been steady and gradual progress, and that should give you hope that things will continue to change. We got into this mess almost-overnight — the transition from 1962 Missal to 1969 Missal was almost non-existent. And it was extremely disruptive. We cannot get out of this situation overnight, without creating even more lasting damage. Let\’s be reasonable.

  17. Marcin says:

    Fr. BJ,

    But Holy Father could decide to make TLM an exclusive rite of Papal Curia, and at the same time say _nothing_ about the choices (EF vs OF) individual bishops and priests outside Curia make. This would not be the first time when Rome was liturgically in variance with the rest of Latin Christendom. Rome happened in the past to both defy the change for some time (preserving Old Roman rites vs. new Franco-Roman developments) as well as clear the field by imposing her own (curial) missal after Trent. Not a big deal, historically speaking.

  18. Daniel says:

    Rich R asked…”Fr. Z, Have you ever celebrated a Novus Ordo Mass? If so, has it affected the way you celebrate the TLM? Just curious.”

    That is an interesting way to turn the table on Fr. Z. [piffle... hardly!] I agree with his claim that the Traditional Mass has the power to transform priests in the manner in which he has described.

    But in fairness to the “other side”, if you will, I am certain that 99 [99?] percent of bishops and priests disagree with Fr. Z’s claim (a claim that I support). To insist that the Traditional Mass transforms priests for the better is to claim, for all practical purposes, that the post-Vatican II priesthood (within the Latin Church) is deformed as few priests offer the Traditional Mass.

    The bottom line is that the Novus Ordo is a disaster. We need the Holy Father to return to the Traditional Mass. We must reverse the past 40 years. The Traditional Mass needs to displace the Novus Ordo.

    We need Peter to return to his Traditional Mass.

  19. Antiquarian says:

    Daniel, hope, pray, and advocate for what you think best. But also face the fact that His Holiness is on record as stating that some of the reforms are good. He has especially lauded the use of “some” vernacular as an improvement, and I think he generally means what he says. (Well, I think he always means what he says, but he sometimes phrases it subtly.)

    I see nothing in any statement or action of his that indicates he believes a complete return to the TLM is desirable. His insistence on the need to return to the Council’s intent instead of its “spirit” is somehow getting tuned out by those on both ends of the spectrum– progressivists who ignore him and traditionalists who tell themselves he has said something that he hasn’t (which is another way of ignoring him, I suppose.)

  20. Daniel says:

    GFr. BJ wrote…”I think you are not giving the Holy Father enough credit – AT ALL. Read some of his books, and look at the well-known history of his celebrating Extraordinary Form Masses as a Cardinal, and before that as a priest. He knows the Extraordinary Form very well, and knows better than any of us probably how it can influence and edify one’s celebration of the Novus Ordo.

    He is constrained by papal precedent, the need to move prudently and slowly in making changes, and also by the need to bring his brother cardinals, bishops, priests by the hand slowly. Could he go in, guns a-blazin’, and just change everything? Sure, probably. Would it be a good thing to do? No. If anything, it would only alienate any more people. Look at how things have changed during his own pontificate, how there has been steady and gradual progress, and that should give you hope that things will continue to change. We got into this mess almost-overnight—the transition from 1962 Missal to 1969 Missal was almost non-existent. And it was extremely disruptive. We cannot get out of this situation overnight, without creating even more lasting damage. Let’s be reasonable.”

    Getting back to reality, what I wrote is 100 percent correct. My description of yesterday’s Mass at Rome is accurate.

    Regarding my comment that we cannot expect bishops and priests to offer the TLM publicly when the Holy Father has refused to do so…

    I have encountered in person and, via their remarks on the Internet, bishops and priests who have insisted that they won’t offer the TLM publicly as long as the Pope does not do so publicly. As long as His Holiness refuses to offer the TLM publicly, bishops and priests will claim that the TLM is of little importance to the Church…something that is of interest to just a relative handful of folks.

    As to your argument…”Could he go in, guns a-blazin’, and just change everything? Sure, probably. Would it be a good thing to do? No.”…I disagree.

    We are in desperate need of guns a-blazin’ Churchmen. We need another St. John The Baptist…somebody who is radical in line with Holy Tradition.

    The Latin Church is in a state of total collapse. We can’t play the “proceed sloooooowly game.” Thousands of Catholics are bolting daily from the Church. The Faith is all but disappearing in many parts of the world.

    Feel free to proceed slooooooowly. I wish to proceed rapidly.

  21. Paul says:

    “It was discussed at great length here and on just about every other Catholic blog…”

    Wasn’t meaning to suggest that I had any new information, just that some readers might not be aware of the background. And yes, the interplay with the diocese is a big part of the story, although I wouldn’t really call it a chess match — they built a town in the middle of a swamp in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, thought they could call the shots, and found out (surprise!) that their invented town was in a real diocese with an actual bishop.

  22. Megan says:

    I am currently a student at Ave Maria, and I know Fr. Tatman fairly well. He is a blessing to have here, and at many (most, actually) EF Masses he celebrates, he preaches on how deeply spiritual it is and how much he, as a priest has benefited from learning and praying this Mass. I pray that God may continue to bless him in his service at Ave Maria, and that more of our other priests will follow his lead..!

    Chironomo: “It was discussed at great length here and on just about every other Catholic blog at the time when Fr. Fessio was let go, and when Diana Silva, the Chair of the music dept. was let go.”

    If I could just clarify a thing or two here, just to avoid confusion… Fr. Fessio was let go in the spring of 2007, but he was brought back in as the Theologian in Residence and as an active priest for the Ave Maria community the following day. I wouldn’t want anyone to think he was permanently let go. Secondly, Diana Silva was not the Chair of the Sacred Music Dept. when she left Ave Maria (she had been previously, but not when she left) but she voluntarily resigned and was not asked to leave. Thanks for letting me clarify. :)

    As for the situation with Bishop Dewane…may God grant him many years. Pray for our little university. :)

    ad majorem Dei gloriam

  23. liebemama says:

    My dh told me yesterday in no uncertain terms that he would only attend an EF Mass as a tourist. He believes there are remnants of anti-semitic theology in the texts and that there is no reading from the old testament. He is very wary to say the least. I am writing this in the hope that someone can clarify and maybe refute his beliefs. Please be gentle. He is a good and faithful man, who happened to study theology in Germany.

  24. TJM says:

    anti-semitic theology, like the reference in the Roman Canon about offering the sacrifice “like the Chief Priest Melchizedek?” I think this friend of yours, with all due respect, is out to lunch. Tom

  25. RichR says:

    Gee, all I did was ask Fr. Z a question. He talks about a “gravitational pull”, so if the analogy holds true……….

  26. teresa says:

    liebemama,

    why, just tell him to attend a Tridentine Mass as a tourist. If he likes it, he will stay.

    I can make an analogy: people keep telling me that a certain person is bad, so I avoid meeting him, but one day, I had to encounter him and found out that he is such a kind man and we became big friends.

    So why should we try to repute prejudices, they disappear if we give the people a chance. So why don’t give the Tradition of the Church a chance?

    But if he is such a theoretically thinking person that he would like to reason, he can read the following site (in German):

    http://summorum-pontificum.de/meinung/missverstand.shtml

    and here is a Rabbi (the dear Rabbi Kula) talking about the so called “antisemitism” in the Good Friday Prayer.
    http://summorum-pontificum.de/meinung/kula.shtml

    more about the anti-semitic debate:
    http://summorum-pontificum.de/meinung/antisemitismus.shtml

    And as to the readings of the Old Testament – I think we should also read the Bible at home, don’t we. And the texts of the liturgical singing of the Tridentine Mass are mostly taken from the Old Testament.

    Best wishes

  27. Paul says:

    Megan:

    Will do.

  28. Supertradmom says:

    Please pray for the college where my son attends. It is a Catholic college, but still does not have the Latin Mass. I shall withhold the name at this time. Prayers are needed to remove whatever block there is to this sublime expression of God’s Mercy and Salvific Plan.

  29. mbd says:

    Liebemama,
    The assertion that the TLM contains no readings from the Old Testament was one of the grounds raised by those opposed to the expansion of its availability a couple of years ago to support the claim that the TLM is anti-semitic. This claim is as false as the more general claim of the rite’s anti-semitic nature. If you have access to a hand Missal , it should be rather easy to demonstrate to your husband that in some 70+ Masses in the course of the year the ‘Epistle’ reading is actually taken from the Old Testament and not from the Epistles in the New Testament. If you refer to the Masses for the Ember days – three days, four times a year – you will find multiple, lengthy Old Testament readings (somewhat similar in number and length to those of the Easter vigil which are still retained in the OF). A number of the shorter readings in the Propers for each Mass are taken from the Old Testament. Various portions of the Ordinary – such as the prayers at the foot of the altar – are taken from the Old Testament. The claim that the TLM ignored the Old Testament is as false as the claim that it is anti-semitic.

  30. Well, good father you have been directly confronted: Has the TLM changed your view of the NO? [If you meant that for Fr. Z and not another priest commenting in this thread, it helps to say so.]
    I think most of your readers would like to know, myself included [I don't many would care, frankly.]

    [Suffice to say that I taught myself the old Mass before I was ordained. I have always had faculties from the Holy See to say either form from the day of my ordination. Also, I was fortunately enough to have a strong command of Latin long before entering seminary. I was also at a parish where liturgy was taken seriously and worship was conducted in the Roman style.]

  31. Maureen says:

    *eyebrow raised*

    If you want to know how celebrating the various forms has affected Father Z’s views, you have only to start reading Father Z’s blog archives.

  32. Fr. BJ says:

    Daniel: We are in desperate need of guns a-blazin’ Churchmen. We need another St. John The Baptist…somebody who is radical in line with Holy Tradition.

    Uh huh. Daniel, keep on pontificating. In the meantime, we’ll see how Christ continues to lead his Church through his Vicar on earth.

  33. Daniel says:

    I said…”Should the Holy Father offer the Traditional Mass regularly, he will be transformed…he will question why he maintains the novel Novus Ordo.”

    Fr. Z responded…”Wow… is this over the top!”

    Really? Why would a priest who offers the Traditional Roman Mass regularly ever wish to return to a novel Mass that was created during the late 1960s? [Are you a priest?]

    Even Monsignor Bugnini acknowledged that during the 1967 Synod of bishops in Rome, when introduced for the first time to the Novus Ordo, the majority of bishops rejected said radical liturgical novelty. There were brave bishops who declared that the pews in their churches would empty should they return to their dioceses with the Novus Ordo.

    We know that the Novus Ordo has emptied our parishes and seminaries. [It was the Novus Ordo that did that?] We know that interest in the Traditional Roman Mass is growing, particularly young Catholics. We know that the Traditional Mass fuels vocations.

    Therefore, why would a Pope (or any priest)who turned to the Roman liturgical tradition wish to promote the failed Novus Ordo? [Too polemic. "We know" you have no interest in discussion.]

  34. Daniel says:

    But in fairness to the “other side”, if you will, I am certain that 99 percent of bishops and priests disagree with Fr. Z’s claim (a claim that I support).

    Fr. Z responded…”99?”

    I would think so. My understanding, Father, is that you insist that the TLM transforms priests (positively) and grants to them a greater understanding of what it is to be a Catholic priest.

    The only logical conclusion, [piffle] Father, that one can reach should they agree with your claim, is that about 99 percent of Latin Church priests ordained during the past 40 or so years (they certainly have had little, if any, contact with the TLM) are deformed liturgically and, of therefore, spiritually.

    I doubt that 99 percent of said priests would agree with the above. I believe that said priests would insist that speaking liturgically and spiritually, the Novus Ordo feeds them well.

    Either the Novus Ordo can instill priests with all they need liturgically and spiritually or not. [Clearly the TLM didn't, for the whole thing collapsed very quickly and almost completely.] If the Novus is unable to fulfill that function, then the Novus Ordo is tremendously deformed liturgically and spiritually.

    If the Novus Ordo is deformed in such fashion, then priests (and religious and laity) are deformed liturgically and spiritually. [Okay... you have just insulted a lot of priests, bishops and Popes. That is not welcome here.]

    If the Novus Ordo is able to provided priests with the same spiritual fruits as the Traditional Roman Mass, then then need not turn to the TLM.

  35. Daniel says:

    Rich R wrote…”all I did was ask Fr. Z a question. He talks about a “gravitational pull”, so if the analogy holds true…”

    I believe that the “gravitational pull” argument — that each Mass supposedly benefits priests greatly — is nonsense. [You are free to disagree, but get it right. That is not what I mean by the "gravitational effect".]

    The Traditional Roman Mass, the Mass of the Ages, is the only Mass that a Latin Church priest requires to form him to the hilt liturgically and spiritually.

    What “gravitational pull” can the novel Novus Ordo Mass, created during the late 1960s, possibly exert upon a priest…other than to pull him toward novelties? [This is not welcome on this blog. Also... three extreme comments one after another. You are a spammer.]

  36. Antiquarian says:

    Daniel said– “We know that the Novus Ordo has emptied our parishes and seminaries.”

    It depends on what you mean by “our.” In Africa, the years since the introduction of the Novus Ordo have seen a huge increase in conversions and vocations. So did the Novus Ordo “fill” their parishes and seminaries?

    Or is it possible that both cases– the decline in Western Europe/America and the increases in Africa/Asia– are not so simplistically explained?

  37. ssoldie says:

    All who are interested in the “Mass” should read “The Mass” A Study of the Roman Liturgy: Adrian Fortescue

  38. Antiquarian says:

    “I have read that the percentage of Catholics who assisted regularly at Mass in Africa was greater prior to the introduction of the Novus Ordo. The percentage of African seminarians as compared to the overall population was greater prior to the introduction of Vatican II.”

    Entirely untrue, so perhaps your source was grinding an ax. The Vatican’s own statistics show an enormous upswing in African vocations in the decades since the introduction of the Novus Ordo.

    “The main reason for the decline is linked clearly to liturgy.”

    Any actual evidence to demonstrate this “clear link”? If we look at Mass attendance, of course, statistics show that the greatest period of decline was the 7 years from 1958-1965. The decline slowed in 65, and after the introduction of the NO, there were nearly 7 years where there was little appreciable decline at all.

    http://cara.georgetown.edu/AttendPR.pdf

  39. TJM says:

    Antiquarian, I would be careful with statistics if I were you. You are correct that the Council ended in 1965. However, the first liturgical changes were introduced early in 1964 and the affects on fall off in attendence were fairly immediate. I had 2 uncles who were outraged by the initial changes and stopped going to Sunday Mass. I knew many other folks who did too. The Novus Ordo was introduced in 1969/70. Around that time according to your chart about 60% of Catholics went to Sunday Mass. Now that number stands around 23%. That seems like a very precipitous drop to me and not a resounding affirmation of the Novus Ordo which
    was supposed to be “relevent, meaningful” and in the “language of the people.” Well I would suggest that people have voted, with their feet. The only
    reason I go is my belief in the Eucharist. If I went based on the language, style, and music, I would never go. And a lot of my family and friends feel the
    same way. The elder clergy is in deep denial if they believe that the Novus Ordo (as implemented) has been a success. It is an abject failure of
    monumental proportions. If they were in the business world, they’d be fired or sued under state “lemon laws.” Tom

  40. Antiquarian says:

    TJM, I think you missed my point– statistically, the greatest plunge in Mass attendance since the 30s happened between 1958 and 1965. The decline slowed a bit after the Council, and again after the introduction of the Novus Ordo. It then began a another drop in the late 70s and a precipitate one after the clergy abuse scandal. The posts I was responding to have been removed, so my argument may not be clear, but the demonstrable fact is that the decline in attendance is far more complex than simply the introduction of the NO. I remember the Church of the late 50s and 60s well, and despite all the anecdotes we can all come up with, there was a decline before the Council that is rarely addressed by those of us who support traditional practices. The claim that the Novus Ordo is entirely responsible for declines is not an effective argument because it’s so easily disputed.

    If we want to be effective– whether in encouraging wider availability of the TLM, fostering a “reform of the reform,” or even quixotically wishing that the past 40-some years would just vanish, we need to rely on truth, and not sentiment, to make our arguments. Otherwise those already disposed to oppose tradition can all to easily dismiss us. Fact is more powerful than fallacy, and there are plenty of facts to support the cause of tradition. But ignoring the truth because it doesn’t fit our preconceived notions is to concede the debate.

  41. TJM says:

    Antiquarian,

    Thanks for your response. I believe the years 1964 and 1965 count when determining the stastical drop you mention for the time period 1958-1965. I for one, would like to see the data for the years 1958-1963 before drawing any conclusions. I suspect the “researcher” was aggregating data in a manner designed to make the argument that not everything was “hunkey dorey” in the period before the Council ended. However, this aggregation glosses
    over some important facts. The years 1964-1965 were when many of the disruptive changes to the Liturgy began such as turning of the altars, English in the Liturgy and new liturgical music being introduced. I recall that period well, and the initial changes did not sit well for many Catholics, who rightly or wrongly, believed that the Mass was “unchangeable.” I think you probably remember that phrase. I recall Andrew Greeley (an outcome determinative researcher if there ever was one) tried to make the thesis that Humanae Vitae(promulgated in 1968) was responsible for the precipitous drop in Sunday Mass attendence among American Catholics while totally ignoring the liturgical changes in 1964, 1965, 1966, and 1967 which had already sent a lot of Catholics heading towards the door.

    I think part of the problem with the data you cite is that it was likely put together by folks who were supportive of the liturgical changes. Be that
    as it may, the introduction of the Novus Ordo made the situation worse. The priest sexual scandals became widely known long after the introduction
    of the Novus Ordo and the accompanying precipitous decline.

    You see, I am interested in the truth as well.

    Tom
    Sunday Mass attendence was already dramatic, so the raw numbers in decline

  42. Henry Edwards says:

    Antiquarian and TMJ,

    Your discussion is interesting. Of course it is simplistic, and probably false, to simply claim that the observed declines in belief and practice are due to the introduction of the Novus Ordo.

    As a mathematician, I know that I could select and (especially) aggregate that available data to support a wide range of disparate theses. Indeed, having been there — as an itinerate academician in four different dioceses in three different U.S. regions — during the the 1960s, I have more confidence in my own observations than in any statistical analysis I have seen.

    It is clear to me that the decline came largely either during the mid to late 1960s — or from seeds sewn in this period — before ordinary pew and parish Catholics had even heard of the Novus Ordo, which was not actually implemented most places until 1970.

    Whereas the chaos and destruction in catechesis, devotion, faith, and liturgy took place beginning around 1964 most places, and had pretty much run its course (in my observation) within a half dozen years.

    It is my personal conclusion — as evidently it is that of the Church’s most prominent analyst — that the disintegration of the liturgy was the catalyst for the chaos in all other areas of Church life.

    But it can be argued that the Novus Ordo was not the origin of the liturgical problem, and was, in fact, intended instead as the solution to the problem.

    In 1968, before the existence of an official Novus Ordo was public knowledge, there were some 300 eucharistic prayers in use, new ones spawning monthly. Hence, accounts that Paul VI was persuaded that a new order of Mass with only 4 officially approved eucharistic prayers was needed to stabilize the situation. And, in fact, it seems to me that it had this intended effect.

    Of course, the pace of change varied greatly from place to place. But to me, in a place that had been in the vanguard in the 1960s, the 1970s after introduction of the Novus Ordo seemed relatively sane and calm in comparison (perhaps only because so little was left to demolish(.

  43. TJM says:

    Henry Edwards,

    Thanks for calling me a simpleton. I really appreciated that. By the way, I was in Church music in the 1960s and 1970s. I can state emphatically that only the Roman Canon was used in the United States in the typical parish until the Novus Ordo was introduced. I cannot speak to experimental Masses which may have occured in religious houses or outside of the US. Where we do agree is that the liturgical havoc started in 1964. I believe the aggregation of the years 1958-1965 in that particular study was ideologically driven to suggest that attendence at Mass was already falling off in the US prior to the Council when it was not. For all intents and purposes the late 1950s into the early 1960s was a golden age for Catholicism in the US. Seminaries were overcrowded, convents were bursting at the seams, and many parishes, like mine, used the Missa Dialoga/Missa Cantata on a daily basis. As someone in Church music, the Novus Ordo created more chaos, more options, more nonsense. Sorry to disagree. Tom

    Tom

  44. Henry Edwards says:

    TMJ,

    I have long regarded you as one of the more astute commentators both here at WDTPRS and at NLM — not least because your views typically show so much agreement with mine — and when I see you name at the bottom of a post (where I habitually look first) I immediately jump to the top and read it with anticipation.

    Of course you are correct that the period immediately preceding the deluge was a golden age of Catholicism, and any suggestion of any decline prior to the Council is not only false but mendacious. And I would go further to deny the usual argument that the rapidity of the collapse revealed a cloud in the apparent golden lining, and suggest that alternative “perfect storm” explanations are readily at hand. But that’s another topic.

    However, you are mistaken in your impression that only the Roman Canon was used in typical U.S. parishes in the mid- to late 1960s prior to the introduction of the Novus Ordo. Very typical parishes I was familiar with used only loose-leaf binders at the altar, and it seemed that different experimental eucharistic prayers showed up in them on an almost weekly basis.

    The correct argument, I believe, is not that the Novus Ordo originated the liturgical chaos that has tortured the Body of Christ for the last 40 years, but rather that — if indeed it was intended as a solution (however misguided) — it perpetuated and institutionalized the problem instead of solving it.

    Incidentally, the argument that Pope Paul VI was persuaded to promulgate the Novus Ordo in an attempt to stabilize the then existing liturgical situation is the most charitable explanation of its introduction that I know of. I do no know of an equally understandable explanation of the fact that the chaos was permitted to continue in the decades following Paul VI.

  45. Antiquarian says:

    “any suggestion of any decline prior to the Council is not only false but mendacious.”

    Unfortunately, verifiably reliable data from the period contradict this, which is one reason Tom’s theory that the stats were manipulated to make the period before the Council look bad falls apart– they predate the Council. Likewise, we leave out 64 and 65 if that muddies the waters– from 58-60 there was a sharp drop in mass attendance.

    But I am, in fact, more or less playing Devil’s Advocate here– I’m not trying to absolve the Council or defend the Novus ordo, as I said above. I am simply trying to stick to facts, not anecdotes about disgruntled realatives or memories of a golden age, both of which I could have offered as well.

    “The correct argument, I believe, is not that the Novus Ordo originated the liturgical chaos that has tortured the Body of Christ for the last 40 years, but rather that—if indeed it was intended as a solution (however misguided)—it perpetuated and institutionalized the problem instead of solving it.”

    Yes! I agree, and this would have been a fine response to the now-removed posts. I fear we have gone down a rabbit hole after Father Z exiled the rabbit.

  46. TJM says:

    Henry Edwards,

    Thankyou for your kind reply. I too enjoy your commentary here and at the NLM.

    I was a member of the Fort-Wayne/South Bend Diocese during the relevant time period and we did not use any Canon other than the Roman Canon. I know our bishop was fairly traditional so perhaps that was the reason.

    LIke you, I recall that the Novus Ordo was “sold” as ending experimentation. Given all of the options contained therein , in my opinion, it reinforced and institionalized the “cookbook” method of liturgy. It is my hope that either Pope Benedict or some future Pope will suppress most of the “options” of the Novus Ordo so that the Sacred Liturgy regains the stability it enjoyed prior to the Council and is reflective of a more organic outgrowth of the Extraordinary Rite.

    All the best,

    Tom

  47. TJM says:

    Antiquarian,

    I would very much like to see your 1958-1960 data on Mass attendence. Then we can talk.

    Tom

  48. TJM says:

    Antiquarian, I am still waiting for your data, if it exists. Tom

  49. Antiquarian says:

    Tom,

    I assumed you had looked at the material in the link I posted– it’s right there. The Gallup Poll has tracked Church attendance (for many faiths) since the 1930s. The drop that began in 58 is clearly marked on the chart. The Gallup Poll numbers date from the years in question, and they are cited in a number of religion-based studies.

    I fear, however, we have gone down a rabbit hole after Father Z had already exiled the rabbit.

  50. William L McCaughey says:

    I am no statistician and am not going to argue the poll figures. I do know that the churches I attended from 1958 until I joined the army in 1966 were well attended. As a student at Loyola University (Chicago),in 1963-66, I had to wade through a sea of nuns from various orders on their way to class. When I left the army in 1969, I started to notice the decline in attendance and enthusiasm. Perhaps it was due to the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius” or some other factor. However, one fact remains: the liturgy has been in a state of constant flux since 1965-69!

    WLM

  51. TJM says:

    Antiquarian,

    I think that you are still avoiding the point I made about the aggregated data. I believe that in 1958-63 there was not a precipitous drop so that’s
    why the statistician added 1964-1965 to get the desired result. I was around then and I can tell you that your conclusion is bunk. It is not bunk,
    however, that a small minority of Catholics who had routinely gone to Mass stopped doing so when the first liturgical changes were introduced in 1964.
    That’s why I believe there was a conscious decision to aggregate those years with 1958-1963. The data you refer to does not support a big drop from
    1958-1963.

    But let’s for argument sake accept the suspiciously aggregated data that there was a 7% drop from 1958-1965. That pales in comparison to the non-stop drop that has occured since that time. The drop now is well over the 60%. If the liturgical changes were supposed to reel people back in, they failed miserably.

    Tom