Tulsa World on older form of Mass – YEEHAH!

An interesting take on the older form of Mass is found on Tulsa World.com in a story by Michael Overall.  As usual, my emphases and comments.

Reinstated Latin Mass will reduce nonsense

by: MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff Writer

One priest wore an orange wig with a red clown nose and performed magic tricks during the homily.  [Okay… in medias res, is it?  I’m engaged.] In another video, people brought their pets to church for a K-9 Mass, where dogs surrounded the altar while the priest consecrated the Sacred Host.

Don’t throw pearls before swine, the Bible tells us. But it doesn’t say anything about Labrador retrievers.

Thank God, I’ve never seen this kind of silliness in my own church, but only on YouTube, where traditionalist Catholics have put together a "Hall of Shame" for liturgical abuse.

Another video shows several parishioners leaving in disgust as a nun — at least, allegedly a nun — dances down the aisle in a leopard-print leotard.

I wouldn’t have walked out of that service. I would’ve run. God doesn’t send down hellfire and brimstone often, but when it comes, it comes fast.

Ecumenical foolishness: Buffoonery, of course, is not a uniquely Catholic sin. I was backstage once at a non-denominational "worship center."

The word "church," you know, sounds too churchy. We have convention centers and sports centers and shopping centers, so why not "worship centers?"

The stage hands wore headsets to get cues from a director in the sound booth.

"Spot lights on three . . . two . . . one. Now the smoke machine!"

It was like Jesus on Broadway. Or more like Jesus in Branson, Mo. "America’s Got Talent," and so does the congregation.

Did the disciples give a standing ovation after the Sermon on the Mount? Did St. Paul use dry ice when he preached to the Corinthians?

But I was never more tempted to leave a church service than in Waco, Texas, where I lived after college. New in town, I went to the parish nearest my apartment, and I didn’t notice the sign out front was in Spanish.  [Here we go!]

Mass is an interactive ritual — the priest speaks; you respond.

It helps to know the language.  [Got your attention yet?]

I could’ve slipped discreetly out the door. But the mysterious beauty of the service — a modern Mass, but celebrated with old-fashioned solemnity — kept me in the pew.  [HUH??  What about… about… understanding the language?]

This must have been something like going to church before the reforms of Vatican II, when you could understand what was happening even if you couldn’t understand the words.  [Threw a curve, didn’t he?]

The fragile wisp of incense. Sunlight filtered through stained-glass. A hushed reverence as the priest lifts the bread over his head. The silence broken by a crystal-clear bell to announce that Christ himself has come to us.

I didn’t need to hear it in English. I knew to get on my knees.  [There is a lot of foolishness out there on the part of the left that people must (nearly under threat of force) understand every word.  They forget that Mass is a mystery.  Understading that… that it is a mystery is the biggest step.  Understanding the words?  What if you are deaf and blind?  What if you don’t know the language?  What if you are, well… not too bright or not very well educated?  You can still understand the mystery.  Do people need to know every word?  Just start asking after Mass what the Second Reading was.]

Back to the future: [Hey!  Did this guy listen to my last PODCAzT?] This month, Pope Benedict XVI issued a papal decision that will make the old Latin Mass more widely available around the world. The pope doesn’t want to drag the church back to the 1950s — Latin will remain an exception, and the vernacular will remain the rule.

Instead, I think, the pope wants to use the old liturgy as a kind of fertilizer, [Not the analogy I would have chosen.  I think spreading fertilizer is what the nun in the leopard leotard was doing.]  sprinkling a little Latin through the church to nourish a sense of wonder.

Or rather, he wants it to be a kind of poison, a weed-killer, [Okay… this is the analogy he really wanted to set up, I guess.]  to uproot the childishness that has been disgracing too many parishes in recent years.

Clowns behind the pulpit. Nuns in leotards. Worshipers bringing Fido with them. And some critics are worried that Latin will distract people?  [Years ago, I had a discussion, polite on my part, with a sacristan at St. Peter’s.  He objected with vigor and threats that the older form of Mass would "confuse" people. I proceeded to ask him how that was possible in a building where each morning you could find Mass in a dozen different languages, by priests who seemd to know a dozen different versions of the Novus Ordo, in a building where you could find Ukrainians singing their Liturgy, Latins stumbling around like dolts, and Syro-Malabar priests dressed in pink chifon and gold lamé, in a building where if a priest says Mass in Latin with the Novus Ordo, people can generally make all the responses in Latin except for  the novelities of the Novus Ordo, such as the response after the Mysterium Fidei  and the Quia est Tuum est regnum?  How could poeple  be confused?]

Benedict just wants to give every Catholic what I’m already blessed to have in Tulsa — a church where grown-ups worship like adults.  [Oooo…. nice tag!]


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. DoB says:

    Fr. Z
    What you call “polite discussion” I think most people would call a ton of bricks. LOL. To the point in a sort of neutron bomb sense!

  2. Michael says:

    The Clear Creek Monastery is located within the Diocese of Tulsa so maybe the fertilizing that has been going on is already bearing fruit in that lucky part of the world.


  3. Catharine says:

    Well, my Latin isn’t as good as yours. My theology is from a solidly conservative Roman Catholic seminary. I understand it’s a mystery. One I deeply love. One to which I took my infants before they could comprehend it in any way intellectually. I still believe there is a value in the vernacular as well as in the Latin. They each provide access to the mystery, neither encompasses the entirety. I wonder what Christ would make of your denigration of those who advocate for the vernacular?

  4. bernard beckstedt says:

    My son led me to this site. We have had the latin mass being celebrated every week since vatican 2 in 2 of our parishes in our diocese of fort wayne /south bend. I am positive our bishop would never allow dancing down the asle in any parish, nor would he allow animals around the alter while mass is being celebrated. I do know many parishes in our diocese bless animals once a year out in front of the church.

    I think the bishop is responsible for how mass in celebrated in his diocese and how catholics are taught their religion on an ongoing basis. He will be held accountable. If any bishop allows anything goes in his diocese, he will also be held accountable.

    I feel the reason we have had so many problems accepting change after vatican 2 is because bishops allowed anything goes and seemed to forget their responsibility. I feel the pope putting emphasis on the latin mass is nothing more than bringing diverse catholics back under his authority.

  5. G says:

    I’m not sure anyone denigrated anyone who advocates use of the vernacular on this thread.

    “I wonder what Christ would make of your denigration of those who advocate for the vernacular?”

    Can you show what you mean by that?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  6. Lance says:

    I live in Tulsa, and go to our local indult parish, the Parish of St. Peter, staffed by the Fraternity. It is truly a lovely place. Our bishop, His Excellency the Most Reverend Edward Slattery, is an ally of liturgical renewal, even if sadly he is not always the most disciplinary of bishops. Our community is thriving, however, and we have many diocesan priests who are more than capable of saying the old Mass.

  7. William says:

    Catharine: The language is truly not that important for me; and I suspect that many other people who attend traditional Mass feel the same way.

    I once attended Mass in a parish where all Masses were new Masses, but alternated every other week between Latin and vernacular. Neither one was better than the other – all of them were beautiful, reverent, and inspiring. At the time I didn’t know it, but those Masses, both Latin and vernacular, were celebrated in such a way as to make the new Mass as much like a traditional High Mass as possible.

    After I moved, my search for a comparable Mass led me to the traditional Latin Mass. I really wouldn’t mind English but if I am to have English, I would now much rather have the traditional Mass in English than the new Mass in English – not only because the traditional Mass is a more beautiful form, but most importantly because the text of the traditional Mass correctly expresses the theology of the Mass.

    By the way, I have never studied Latin at all. I know a little bit from reading my missal, but that’s it.

  8. Legisperitus says:

    The author must have forgotten the part about “do not give what is holy to dogs.”

  9. pjsandstrom says:

    I am often distracted in these discussions on this site by the obvious confusion
    between ‘mystery’ (what we really want to enter into via the Liturgy) and ‘mystification’
    (that which obscures the ‘mystery’ — like the ‘smoke and mirrors’ of the

  10. Veiled Woman says:

    The writer’s comment about “worship centers” isn’t far from what we are going to see. The Diocese of Rockville Centre covers two counties in Long Island, which is 118 miles long, or 1,112 square miles. The population of over 7.5 million is made up of an official 1.4 million Catholics, probably more if you count in the huge population of undocumented immigrants. There are 133 parishes. There are two locations for the Tridentine Mass. A weekly Mass is offered at the Chapel at St. Pius X Residence where priests who have committed indiscretions are housed. The other is in a tiny Church at the far eastern end of the island. That one is offered only on a monthly basis. The Bishop sent emails to the pastors of each parish telling them that there would eventually be three “centers” – the two previously mentioned are among them. I guess it will be easier to contain those with a traditional bent in these worship centers than have them let loose among the general population. The Bishop has yet to issue an official statement. Other parts of the country are starting to look rather appealing, if only from a purely Catholic point of view.

  11. dad29 says:

    a church where grown-ups worship like adults.

    EXACTLY what Mgr Shuler (RIP) told me when I asked him what he thought of “chilluns’ Masses.”

    He stated that at St.A’s, he expected the children to grow up…not remain children.

  12. Catharine says:

    My parish celebrates carefully (in the vernacular) the Novus Ordo, in a Church renovated with the requirements of the Novus Ordo kept in place (altar moved out, but the original altar still left in place, for example). My father, who does not care for the new rite, and misses the Tridentine celebration greatly, finds it satisfies his longing for sacred mystery.

    As to what I found to be mocking in tone regarding those who prefer the vernacular, one example might be: [HUH?? What about… about… understanding the language?]

    It’s tone, much of this conversation (in general, not here specifically) centers around who are “better” or “more faithful” Catholics. I’m uncomfortable with such polarization, and am concerned that Peter’s barque might tip over if we all move to one side.

  13. Catharine: So, you thought would contribute. I see.

    You might just let us know which document says that the Novus Ordo requires the altar to be “moved out”, or another altar be placed before the main altar.

  14. pel says:

    The “extraordinary” form mass in my parish makes use of the vernacular. The priest re-reads the epistle and gospel at the front of the homily in English and then delivers the homily in English.

    The caretakers of that mass provide Latin-English missal booklets with side-by-side translations of all the prayers along with rubric & gesture notes in the columns.

    So I guess I don’t understand why so many people object to the use of Latin.

    I take great pride assisting at those masses, which nourished so many saints for so many centuries. The Novus Ordo mass is a derivative of that tradition, and it is holy, but it is not the same.

  15. michigancatholic says:


    No one has said you must go to mass in Latin. The whole point of the Motu Proprio was that both forms are licit and both forms are to be understood as part of the one Latin rite.

    It’s also the case however, that the old mass is also licit and many people believe it is more beautiful and more theologically literate than the Novus Ordo. We can think that if we like.

  16. michigancatholic says:

    Besides, Catherine, you’re very, very fortunate if your N.O. masses are reverent. Many aren’t. Many people have gritted their teeth through all kinds of nonsense for years, literally decades. Myself, I’ve learned to be very careful which parishes I walk into because I hate walking into free-for-alls.

    I’ve flinched through more than my share of Marty Haugen. I’ve heard the Brady Bunch hymn, the Sing a New Church song and the YooWho song all too many times (& mostly off-key at that). I’ve heard homilies on the wonders of the Omega Principle, baseball and gender diversity. I’ve heard “guitar homilies,” dissident nun homilies and lay homilies. I’ve seen full grown men & old women baptised in Donald Duck kiddie pools from WalMart. I’ve been asked to pray for the “oppressor” whatever the hell that means. I’ve been in masses where it was de rigeur to stand in a circle around the altar with everyone else–and refused, all by myself. I even once heard an intentionally spoiled consecration. I’ve seen too many shrieky song leader people with arms and pride upraised. I’ve been told too many stupid homily jokes about golf. I’ve seen far far too many mass abuses, paraphrases & ad-libs of Mass. I’ve seen picnic table masses, beach masses (swimsuts & all) and gym masses. I’ve seen too many people in the communion line chewing gum. I’ve been treated like crap for pointing out the Roman Missal when it’s ignored (which is pretty much constantly). It’s been painful. I’ve been part of a captive crowd for a long time. This has been the experience of many Catholics, like it or not. The truth is the truth. If the people who love the contemporary English mass so much hadn’t taken advantage of so many people for so long, they wouldn’t be listening to this now.

    You can go to the N.O. in English anytime you want, and I don’t care because that’s your decision to make. Let me have the same courtesy because it’s my decision if I prefer the old mass &/or Latin.

    On these things, I reserve the right to think what I think, know what I know, and relate what I’ve seen when the topic comes up. It is, after all, still a free country, liturgists notwithstanding.

    I also happen to think that the pope is a brilliant man, that he had a good reason for the Motu Proprio and that he knows what he is doing, and I can think that if I want.

  17. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    Fr Z, replying to Catharine, asked her to “let us know which document says that the Novus Ordo requires the altar to be “moved out”, or another altar be placed before the main altar.

    I wonder whether she isn’t referring to the GIRM (I’m quoting the edition provided by the USCCB):

    299. The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.

    303. In building new churches, it is preferable to erect a single altar which in the gathering of the faithful will signify the one Christ and the one Eucharist of the Church.

    In already existing churches, however, when the old altar is positioned so that it makes the people’s participation difficult but cannot be moved without damage to its artistic value, another fixed altar, of artistic merit and duly dedicated, should be erected and sacred rites celebrated on it alone. In order not to distract the attention of the faithful from the new altar, the old altar should not be decorated in any special way.

    I have heard that there are issues with translation and interpretation here. But in any event this is a document I have seen quoted on the topic of “moving out” the altar.

  18. cor ad cor: I didn’t start doing this yesterday you know!


    The fact is that none of those documents require that an altar be moved.  The case of new construction is not a case of “moving” an altar.  You will not find any document that requires that an existing altar be moved.

    And the issue of translation of 299 is a HUGE one.  The translation you cited is deceitful.  I have written about it at length.  

    An accurate version:

    The main altar should be built separated from the wall, which is useful wherever it is possible, so that it can be easily walked around and a celebration toward the people can be carried out.

  19. RBrown says:

    Notwithstanding the aforementioned problem of translation of the GIRM, Vat II (Sacrosanctum Concilium) makes no reference to the position of the altar.

    The 1964 Document Inter Oecumenici from the Consilium (cf. Lercaro and Bugnini) seems to be the first to call for a freestanding altar. Interestingly enough, IO* also calls for the continued use of Latin.

    Gee, I wonder why the text on the free standing altar was enforced, but the Latin requirements were ignored . . .


    *IO of course also can mean In and Out: As the vernacular went into the Church, the people went out of the Church (with apologies to GB Shaw).

  20. Catharine says:

    Fr. Z – I apologize if my final question came across as an attempt to “skewer” you or anyone else. My second comment might have been clearer stated this way: a church with the requirements of the Novus Ordo kept in mind. I did not mean to imply that it was required that the altar be moved. Celebration of current rite is easier with the altar moved out, and certainly one way to do (if you so interpret the GIRM) is place the altar table in front of an existing altar piece.

    I have no objections to celebration in Latin. I have been, will go, have and will take my children to Mass in Latin. When I teach religious education in the parish I teach the children Latin each and every week.

    I still find the conversation around these issues polarizing, and am left with the sense that we are using these issues to decide who is “a better” Catholic. And I’m uncomfortable with that. This is the first time I’ve commented on such a blog, and I appreciate the time readers and the blog author have taken to respond.

    Perhaps I’m afraid that having tossed the baby out with the bathwater in the last transition, we might do the same in reverse. For example, I find a patronizing clerical culture as frightening as a clown Mass. (I do not mean to suggest that the discussion here is patronizing – by the way! Merely that both extremes are difficult for me to tolerate. My point perhaps is that advocates for the vernacular are not all clowns, nor are all Latin Mass advocates patronizing clerics and that we should not seek a media res, but perhaps be accepting of a more diverse table.

    Exaudi nos, Domine. Dona nobis pacem tuam.

Comments are closed.