New to the older Mass? Your experiences.

I have a favor to ask those of you who did NOT grow up with the older form of Mass. 

If sometime along the way you decided to check out the older form of Mass, the "Tridentine" Mass, I am interested in your experience and reactions.

  • Were you "hooked"?
  • Are you hooked now but it took a while?
  • Were you indifferent ("What’s the big deal?")
  • Were you put off and don’t want to go back?
  • What was it that captured you?
  • What repelled you?
  • Do you go now?  Often?  Exclusively?  Rarely?

Folks, I am not so much interested in discussion between you readers in this particular thread.  I simply want to give space to those who discovered the older form of Mass. 

I guess this could also leave space for those who grew up with the older form and then rediscovered it after many years and now either love it, hate it, or something in between.

Laypeople and priests alike!

I am really hoping people who never knew the older Mass will post their comments. 

If you disagree with someone (or agree), don’t jump in to react. 

Just let people speak their piece.

Okay, folks!   Get to it!

UPDATE:  I am going to highlight points of special interest to me in RED.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Suzanne from Okla. says:

    I am 43 years old and had not been exposed to the Tridentine Mass as a child because the
    older form of the mass was quickly done away with and the N.O was embraced
    (complete with songs of Kumbaya and felt banners). This is what I grew up
    with and knew nothing different. A few years ago, we moved two blocks away
    from a Catholic church with the blessed sacrament and adoration.
    It changed our lives. We also started reading apologetics and Church teaching.
    We attended our first TLM about 4 years ago and were at first put off, by what we
    thought was hostility (it was a deep reverence!). We now search for a TLM and
    try to attend at least twice a month. We have found the NO (at least in our
    Parish) lacking in reverence and substance. We started out disliking the TLM
    but now wish that is all there was!

  2. John says:

    I was impressed by the sense of awe and majesty I struggled to follow the missal I would say that I am happy for those who like it, but it is not something I am likely to make steady diet of. I prefer a reverent Novus Ordo mass– one that follows the rubrics

  3. lourdes says:

    Father Z, I went twice to the older form of the Mass and kept waiting to be “hooked,” but it didn’t happen. I really wanted it to happen, but, perhaps I was too unfamiliar. My reaction was somewhat akin to being an outsider. Everyone else seemed so attuned to what was going on. I did feel a little bit like an observer rather than a participant. Believe me, I am no fan of the meet and greet strain of the novus ordo, and would love to increase the reverence and solemnity. Because I live in the Brooklyn diocese, the Mass is only offered every other week in the cemetery chapel. It’s not that easy to get to and I can’t seem to remember which is the “on” week and which is the “off” week. Perhaps if the Mass was offered on a more regular and frequent basis I would begin to be “hooked.”

  4. I had heard about it, and was living in Arlington, TX at the time, and one Sunday afternoon I dragged my wife to the indult mass at Our Lady of the Assumption in Ft. Worth.

    Attendance was low, I had a lot of trouble keeping up, the bi-lingual missal was unfamiliar, and there was a great deal I wasn’t understanding.

    I wish I could explain what there was about it that intrigued, but I don’t understand it myself. My wife didn’t like it at all.

    In the years since, I have from time to time attended the older form, and now am a parishioner at a parish that has one of Chicago’s three indult masses. I attend that mass when my schedule makes 12:15 more convenient than the other mass times.

    This works about to be about once per month, including yesterday.

    In my parish, I always see a good mix of older people and young families in attendance; I’m there with my wife and three small children.

    There’s still a lot I’m missing, and still a great happening that I don’t understand. I feel like I’m been robbed of an inheritance that should rightfully have been passed down to me. I’m only now coming to properly appreciate it.

  5. Bernadette says:

    I was about 7 years old when the Latin Mass changed. I have “rediscovered” this treasure in the last year and now attend the weekly Sunday Mass @ Holy Name Church in Providence, RI. I have found the Mass to be so beautiful and inspiring and heavenly. I could almost say that I feel as though I am at the gates of heaven, expecting to see the glory of the Lord. There is such a reverence and peace. It’s hard to put into words. I am a daily communicant who has a great love for the Holy Mass and I also love the Novus Ordo Mass – well said. But I can’t help thinking that the Tridentine Mass gives greater glory to God. Deo Gratias for the Motu Propio.

  6. Mark says:

    As a convert from “High-Church” Anglicanism, sometimes the Catholic Church seemed a bit of a let-down (depending on where you went). That sounds awfully negative, but it was truly how I felt at times. I would not like to sounds as though my discovery of the usus antiquor is the only solution, for it is not, and let me make clear that there are plenty novus ordo Masses where the reverence and solemnity of the divine sacrifice taking place is made very clear.

    Anyway, I had heard of something often called the “Latin Mass”, and was not quite sure what it was all about. Once I figured out it was actually in Latin (that was not quite apparent at first!), I was then quite pleased to hear its rubrics were very similar to what I had been used to (the Scottish Episcopal Liturgy of 1929, spliced with–essentially–the Missal of Bl. Pope John XXIII).

    So I thought I would go. I was completely bowled over. At first it was a lot to take in, and whilst I was “hooked” by dint of the form of the Mass quite clearly emphasising the correct disposition to be had by all present, I was a bit flustered by not knowing my place (and getting lost in my Missal). After some diligent study on my part (because I realised it might just taken some effort on my part too), attending the “Latin Mass” was beginning to pay off. Though I am in the tricky situation where I use the Tridentine Mass as my ‘escape’ from annoying children and bad music, I am also finding a distinct appreciation for a particular set of values that those within the milieu of the forma extroardinaria seem to exude, and which I find it harder to note in the ‘modern’ Church.

    To sum up, I find the older form of the Mass refreshing and a good instruction to myself of why I am bound to go to Mass and what it is all about. Most of all it highlights the dignity of the supreme sacrifice we are witnessing and the unique honour, respect and reverence which must be accorded. However, I still find the Church at times full of contradictions: whilst the older form may seem perfect (and maybe is, who knows; I wouldn’t claim to), it is highlighting a real need to “fix” the majority of misconceptions and misunderstandings within the post-Conciliar Church, not just regarding Mass.

    As to how often I go: I go as and when I can, depending on my duties to my home Parish; this often works out at twice per month. However, because I feel I owe a duty to my community, I make myself go to the vigil Mass the night before I go to the Tridentine Mass anyway.

    Sorry for rambling, Father, but I found it a bit hard to “sum up”!

  7. dcs says:

    Ave Fr. Z.,

    I’ve been going to the traditional Mass for eight years now. I came into the Church in 1998 at the age of 25, so I did not experience it at all while growing up (of course I think I only went to Mass 2-3 times in that span).

    The first traditional Mass I assisted at was a Low Mass and I was “hooked” immediately, even though I could barely make out what the priest was saying (yes, it was the famous “mumbled Low Mass” over which so much ink has been spilled). The priest who celebrated it was 87 at the time (he is 95 years old now and still celebrating the TLM for this same community). I am not sure what captured me about it — it wasn’t the music, since it was a Low Mass. Perhaps the austerity of the ritual.

    I brought my wife along a few weeks later. I figured she would get “hooked” too and we could stop going to Mass at our nominal parish altogether. Didn’t happen. (She is a cradle Catholic and hadn’t experienced the TLM either.) The community was mostly older and a lot of the congregants were not locals — they got into their cars immediately after Mass and drove off.

    We now attend the TLM more or less exclusively, but that is a longer (and more boring) story.

  8. Ellie says:

    I’m 18 so I didn’t grow up with it…I was not “hooked” right away but I certainly am now. I now attend it exclusively when I am at home – when I am away I really miss it.

    I fell in love with the solemnity, the beauty of the liturgy, the care taken and the Latin. Also, the atmosphere in that Rite is very conducive to prayer

  9. Vox Borealis says:

    Hi Father,

    To be honest, the first time I attened the ‘Tridentine’ mass, I was rather put off by it. But I think that is because of my own mistaken expectations. I had actually never heard about the two indults in the 1980s allowing the older form of the mass–this had never been mentioned in any of the parishes that I attended, and it was certainly downplayed in the various dioceses. I did want to see mass in Latin, but I assumed that any ‘official’ mass in Latin would be Novus Ordo, while any older form was schismatic.

    So, a few years back, when I was visiting my family in my home town, I came to find out that my childhood parish offered a Latin mass. I assumed that it was Novus Ordo, of course, and studied up all of the responses, etc. Well, when I got there, I soon found out it was the older form. Not only was I lost, I was upset that my parish had become schismatic! Then, when I talked to my then current parish priest about the experience, instead of telling me about the indults, he sadly decried how ‘some of these groups’ were really out of whack.

    Only after a little more research did I figure out that older form masses could be celebrated in full communion with Rome (and that my hometown parish was an indult parish, not a splinter group). I was still a little put off by the older form the next couple of times I went. I think this is because I was mainly drawn to the Latin language, but not necessarily the form of the liturgy. If anything, I was frustrated that most of the ‘legitimate’ Latin masses seemed to use the 1962 rather than 1970 missal.

    But after about four time attended the older form (I usually attend when I visit or travel out of towm, since the local diocses is very stingy with the older form, and also because I find that attending mass in latin–whether old or new form–when I travel tends to eliminate the occasions of liturgical goofiness), I started to really ‘get it.’ By about the sixth time I was absolutely in love with t heolder liturgy.

    I still get frustrated because I am not as ‘fluent’ in the older form, but this is frustration with myself (and with the lack of opportunity for me to attend where I live), NOT with the older liturgy itself. I have also found that reading over the older missal and attending the older form has given me new appreciation for the novus ordo (when the latter is celebrated with dignity). One CAN really see more potential points of continuity.

    One final note. You may or may not remember that I wrote you earlier this summer, about an experience I had taking North American students to an older form mass in Florence. The students, as you may recall, found it a very moving and spiritual experience, even though most of the group was not Catholic (and, really, not particularly religious). Why did they have this experience, and not my own? Again, I think that it is a matter of expectations. I told them ahead of time what to expect, what would be going on during the periods of silence, etc. I told tham how to follow in the hand missal. I even pointed out aspects fo the older mass that some fans liked, but also what critics did not appreciate. Overall, I think that I was even handed in my description, and they were better prepared for their first ‘Tridentine’ mass. If, on the other hand, I prepared them not at all–or worse, I only prepared them by highlighting the preceived negatives (the priest’s back to the people, long ‘boring’ stretches, etc.), the students may have reacted much more negatively.

    I’m not saying that it is only a matter of psychology or advertising, but I do believe that one’s prior expectations probably goes a long ways in shaping one’s initial response to the older form of the mass.

  10. danphunter1 says:

    I am presently 40 tears old. The first time I assisted at a Classical Rite mass was when my uncle was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Lefevbre in 1983 in Oyster Bay Long Island
    It was like being at mass for the first time. My two sisters[who have since ceased practicing their faith] my brother and I were in ecstacy.Our eyes were riveted on the Sacred action like they had never been before. It was completely otherworldly and it was the last time that I saw my two sisters in reverential awe at Mass.
    I had never participated so fully or followed so closely the Mass in my previous 15 years of life.
    God bless you.

  11. Joe says:

    I am 32 years old and grew up without the Tridentine Mass.

    In my experience, I found that it was like a fine wine. Your first (or even second or tenth) impressions may not be the right ones. If fine wine tastes bad to you, it’s because you haven’t acquired the taste for it yet, not because the wine is flawed. Give it time and you will come to appreciate it.

    In my case, I think I needed to attend the Tridentine Mass exclusively for about a year before I developed a real appreciation and love for it.

    Why have I fallen in love with it? It is beautiful and deeply spiritual. I always felt that the Novus Ordo was a bit hokey and childish. The old Mass filled a void that my soul has been longing for since I was a child.

  12. paul zummo says:

    My first experience with the old Mass came a few years ago. It was a Low Mass, and I didn’t have a Missal, so it took me a while to figure out what was going on. But even though I was a little lost the first few times, I was impressed by the reverence of the Mass. Even kneeling at the altar rail to receive the Eucharist – the first time I ever received Holy Communion in that fashion – was an awesome experience.

    I went back the next week, purchasing a Missal along the way, and was hooked. My first High Mass was a profound experience in and of itself. The beauty of the chanting, the feeling that I was taking part in a historical and transcendent event, the moments of silence and reflection, the fact that the Mass is a communal prayer – these are the primary reasons that I love the old Mass.

    I attended every week, but once I started going to Church with my now wife, I attended the Latin Novis Ordo instead, going to the Old Mass once a month for High Mass. I still regularly attend the monthly High Mass. I love and prefer the Old Mass, but my wife isn’t quite comfortable enough to go every week, though she does also appreciate it.

  13. Theodoricus says:

    The NOM could never get to me. There was no mystery and it seemed dull and even boring. Instead I was always drawn to the high altar because it was so beautiful. I began to read about the older form of Mass and I learned that it was in Latin and very sacred and mysterious. My parents told me that it was so solemn and pius. So I wanted to attend such a Mass. The first time I had to cry. It was sooo beautiful and the Gregorian chant was heavenly. Then I was hooked and now I am acolyte in the old Mass in Amsterdam. It changed my whole life and it deepened my faith.

    Ohh I’m 32 years old…

  14. cheyan says:

    The only time I attended the older form of Mass was a couple years ago, at a SSPX chapel. Neither my husband (then my boyfriend) nor I knew that it was a SSPX chapel before we went; we were visiting his grandmother in another state and she had told us only that it was “the old Latin Mass”. (She didn’t go with us.)

    I was completely repelled, though I had been expecting to find it at least interesting as a curiosity.

    * There was a stack of lacy veils in a box in the entryway, as well as a sign indicating that women must cover their heads. I took one, and struggled to keep it on my head for the entire time I was there.

    * There were no missals in the pew we sat in, and when I reached for one in the pew in front of me, I was glared at.

    * The homily was about how “modern Catholics” aren’t really Catholics, just Protestants who pretend to be Catholics, and how unlike the people at the chapel, they didn’t know any of their prayers, or know what was going on at Mass, and all of that was due to pretending to say the Mass in English.

    * I didn’t know that some of the prayers of the Mass would be said inaudibly, and kept getting lost in the missal I had finally obtained.

    * After I received communion, I was watching the other congregants receive, and the priest dropped the Host. An older gentleman reached for and picked it up. The priest snatched it from his hand, and began to scold him for having presumed to do such a thing with his filthy hands, then washed his (the man’s) fingers and told him and his wife that they were to go back to their pew and pray for forgiveness.

    Obviously, that experience would have been different in a different place, and if I were to find somewhere near me to attend the older form of Mass, I would go, if only to see how it “should” be done. But as it is, my only memory of attending the older form is entirely negative.

  15. Cara says:

    Hello Father,
    I’m 36 so I didn’t grow up with the Tridentine Mass. My husband found out about St John Cantius in Chicago & wanted to go. We were thoroughly confused at first, but still we liked it & kept going (it didn’t take long to catch on). We eventually joined the parish & bought Missals. I love the majesty of the Tridentine Mass, and feel that I’m actually worshipping God, not congratulating myself on how cool I am, I’m going to church. I also find that I PARTICIPATE MORE—I have to pay very close attention because I don’t speak Latin (YET, I can’t wait for the fall classes at SJC to start). And I don’t know if all indult parishes are like this, but SJC is the friendliest, most active parish I’ve ever seen!

  16. AMDG says:

    Yes, I was hooked and it was and is the only time in my life that I have experienced love at first sight…

    Silence, Sense of the Sacred and Reverence for the Real Presence is what I witnessed and what saved us.

    My wife and I were desperately searching for a parish at which to land shortly after we were married. So many abuses and distractions are all we found week after week from church to church. We found ourselves “picking” on the Mass, the priest, the church, the people sometimes even before we were out of the parking lot some days; not to the point of offending Charity but definitely a problem. Shorts and t-shirts and sports emblems by the faithful… 17 choir members front and center on the altar with the priest off to the side for the whole of Mass… “The bread of Jesus” uttered by the priest as he offered us The Holy Eucharist… etc etc. We had to stop.

    I searched on-line and found a local chapel with the TLM. I went myself one Sunday and was awestruck. Quiet before Mass except for the rosary, Mass began and we all went to knees { introibo ad altare dei..} The sense of the sacred was most profound throughout. The rhythm of Latin in just sufficiently audible tones for the Ordinary prayers was moving and stirring and peace-giving.

    Gregorian Chant was only present at the Presentation and Communion. The Canon and accompanying silence was beautiful beyond description. I was moved to tears of Joy at the beauty overall and also the sudden prominence of Calvary.

    Five years later we continue to glorify God and to be enriched spiritually by this TLM treasure. Our children are exposed to the Mass now as well and the great imitators that they are, the boys have set up an altar at home and periodically mimic what they have seen. Once they had experienced a High Mass, their mimicry grew into processions and singing around the house. The beauty grows as we hope our holiness does as well.

  17. Phil says:

    I am a convert so I did not grow up with the TLM. I first attended 2 years ago
    on Father’s Day (when my family couldn’t object to going). I fell in love with
    the TLM immediately. Unfortunately, my wife does not share my enthusiasm, even
    though she grew up with the old liturgy. The beauty of the liturgy, and especially
    the quiet, impressed me. It moved my soul like no other mass I have ever
    attended, including the night I was baptised. Ever since that Sunday I think,
    “Where has this been all my life?” I only get to go once a month to the indult
    mass when it is in my area (I’m in the LA Archdiocese-enough said.) I’m working
    on getting a regular group together at my home parish so we can request the TLM
    on a regular basis closer to home.

    God bless you Father.

  18. Rob in Maine says:

    Fr Z,

    I’m 40 years old and I don’t *remember* the old Mass, but I have a memory of the old alter before our Churche’s 1970’s renovation (gold carpeting! wall to wall!)

    I’ve been to the Tridetine Mass twice in the last five years. I studied Latin in Catholic High School and have always held an interest in it, so I was looking forward to the Mass.

    I struggled to follow along in the Missal (I have since collected two 1959 Missals). Even when there were responses by the congregation (I think there were a couple of Amens), no one said a word. Even though many of the prayers are _secretus_, I think if the Priest had a wireless microphone it would make a difference!

  19. Big Tex says:

    Were you “hooked”?

    Are you hooked now but it took a while?
    No. Only been once.

    Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”)
    Somewhat. The impression I received was not, “Ooh! This is magnificent!” But in the same regard, it was not “This is awful. I want my tambourines and guitars back.”

    Were you put off and don’t want to go back?
    I wouldn’t say “put off.” I was more frustrated than anything. First, I was ingnorant of how the Mass was to proceed. I expected that the “older form” of the Mass would follow the “newer form” a little more closely. I would like to watch Archbishop Sheen’s explanation of the Mass before I head back to Tridentine Mass.

    Secondly, I had trouble navigating the missal. It’s not easy following along when your training in Latin amounts to little bit you learned in biology class. I think the bigger problem I had was dealing with my young son. He was rather squirmy at the time, and we were also quite sensitive (bad experience from another parish) to him making noise and distracting the other people.

    Third, the architechture was not what I was expecting for a liturgy that has been lauded as the Mass of the Ages. I walked in and thought, “You’re kidding, right?”

    What was it that captured you?
    Just how silent it was before, during and after Mass.

    What repelled you?
    Basically, it was my own ignorance and expectations. One of which was my poor understanding of “full and active participation.”

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely?
    No. Not at all. Truthfully, I would love to give it another try. As mentioned above, I would love to watch Archbishop Sheen’s explanation. I’d also be wise to get better acquainted with the missal. At this point, I don’t think it will ever become our primary source of Eucharistic nourishment, but I can appreciate its role in the liturgical life of the Church, and hope its influence on the “newer Mass” will come about quickly.

  20. DebbieInCT says:

    Fr. Z.:

    Thank you for your question!

    I am 53 years old and have been Catholic since the Easter Vigil, 2006.

    I love the older form of the Mass and am so happy and grateful for the Motu
    Proprio! My first experience of this Mass was at an SSPX Chapel … I felt
    the reverence and the majesty while I was just sitting there in the pew before
    the Mass started. The majesty of the surroundings and the quiet
    prayerful-even-before-they-sat-down attitude of the people immediately
    struck me….and started “hooking” me. The visual impact was, and is still,
    SO important to me, as well as the ritual and the reverence of the Mass itself.
    I don’t remember too many details of that first Mass..but I do
    know that I felt strongly that I had found a holy place, that I wished
    I could sit there
    forever feeling what-ever-it-was I was feeling (some combination of awe,
    gratitude, history, curiosity, love, and anticipation),
    and that I knew then that I wanted to become a Roman Catholic. It was not
    easy to get up and leave.

    Using a Missal appeals to me, even though it’s confusing. Plus I’ve always been a fan of Latin
    although I don’t know any of it….yet!

    I also _love_ to wear a Chapel veil, for many reasons, and I wear one always
    regardless of which form of the Mass I’m attending.

    The things that might be considered to have “repelled” me are 1) sometimes
    the incense is very unpleasant and the irritation will stay in my sinuses
    for days (is there any reason the incense has to be unpleasant??) and 2) I
    have difficulty following along with what is going on when I cannot hear the
    priest at _all_ …plus flipping back and forth in the Missal takes some
    getting used to and preparation, if I were better about it. But these are
    minor frustrations that can either be overcome or borne.

    I don’t often get to this Mass, probably only 3-4 times over the past year…
    this summer I have been trying to go further afield in order to get there.
    The main reason, currently, that I don’t get there is because the locations
    are an hour or more away (except for the SSPX Chapel which is _very_ close but I
    don’t attend there anymore).

    With the Motu Proprio we have reason to believe that a closer location
    will be made available, although still over 30 minutes away. How wonderful if
    it could be in my home parish but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

    I consider my conversion to Catholicism, my daily morning Novus Ordo Mass, and
    the possibility of a weekly Sunday Extraordinary Mass to be wonderful
    blessings for which I am extremely grateful!

    And your blog too, of course!

  21. Arieh says:

    I am 30, raised unchurched, at 19 became Evangelical (completely non-liturgical) and spent 10 years there. My first TLM was a first mass offered by a newly ordained FSSP priest. “The most beautiful thing this side of heaven” is an understatement. I was a little lost following along in the missal, but there were so many things that captured my curiosity: The server kissing the priest’s hands, silence, the priest facing east, the numerous signs of the cross and genuflections, the way the priest is almost overly cautious when approaching the altar at the start of mass rather than just waltzing in from the sacristy, priest and servers bending over and swaying side to side during the Confiteor, among many others. In addition, the prayers in the missal seemed so much fuller than those of the NO (especially the offertory prayers).

    I guess you could say I was hooked. I immediately went out and bought a missal, several videos, and numerous books to help me learn this liturgy so I could penetrate it even more.

  22. Mark says:

    A convert of 11 years, I first discovered the Byzantine Rite, fell in love, and was going to go there, but then it was no longer available here (and Orthodoxy was unacceptable). Then I discovered, through reading, the existance of the classic mass, and have realized that what attracted me to the Eastern Rite was really what was missing from the mass as celebrated on Sundays. The nearest indult mass is 300 miles away one Sunday a month, so I’ve prayed for 7/7/7 for quite a few years. Continuity vs. rupture, one hermaneutic is good and true, one is not. I’ve been waiting 11 years to see the tradition which converted me; I had a preview a few years ago when the only FSSP priest in the diocese was in town and I heard he was offering mass; the wait was worth it, the wait is worth it.

    I’ll admit that at first I was put off and even indifferent, and I lay that at the feet of the people I know who attend the local Society mass, and their apologia. If what they said was true, then the church was not indefectable, and therefore what was I doing leaving everything to become a Catholic?

    There is a local priest in a nearby town who plans to learn the Ext. Form.; and I plan to assist in a Schola. There is so much talk of “justice” these days, but the first act of justice in a biblical context is rendering what is due to God. I pray that beginning Sept 14, justice will spring forth from the earth, as men offer fitting praise to God.

    thanks for asking.
    Mark (54, former Quaker)

  23. M Kr says:

    Hello Fr. Z,

    I am 24 and I first attended the old-rite 3 years ago at a parish staffed by the fraternity of st. peter in my diocese out of curiosity. I’ve been going to this parish ever since.

    I noticed that the old rite is very similar in spirit to the Eastern liturgies. I had seen a Byzantine Liturgy before (and several times since) and noticed the profound resemblance. The most important point, I believe, is the orientation of the priest. I was also very impressed by the Gregorian chant, the use of incense, and overall the rich ceremonial. I was impressed with the deep reverence that permeates the whole ceremony. I also found it very comforting that the old mass is a connection with the way my ancestors and all Latin-Rite Catholics worshipped for many centuries.

    Personally, I find following in a missal distracting and so I don’t use one. I’ve familiarized myself with the structure and many prayers of the mass and I follow along saying prayers relevant to what’s going on. During the prayers at the foot of the altar, I prepare by saying the Confiteor and prayers very similar to the priest, even if not exactly the same words. During the Canon for example, when the priest prays for the church and for the living, I pray silently for the Church and for my relatives, friends, the sick, etc. After the consecration, when the priest prays for the dead and for the congregation, I pray likewise for the dead and for my own needs. I am somewhat turned off by the great anxiety of some to follow every word, but that is everyone’s private business I suppose.

  24. Augustine says:

    I began attending the Traditional Mass, but until I actually picked up one of those “red booklet-missals” and followed the Mass, I wasn’t moved.

    Now I understand the Mass and love it!

  25. Ma Beck says:

    I am 35 years old, and grew up in the Spirit of Vatican II.

    I started going to St. John Cantius because of the music.
    The old Mass had the best music, in general, lots of Mozart/Palestrina.

    I didn’t like the old Mass at first, because I didn’t have a Missal.
    But I kept going because the music was awesome.

    Next thing I knew, I had a Missal, went to Confession, and was back in the Catholic Church.

    I’m hooked.
    I’m never moving.
    The music drew me, the Truth, proclaimed from the pulpit (and the beautiful prayers) kept me.

    I usually always go to the High Mass, but occasionally go to the 11AM Latin Novus Ordo.
    It’s nice too.

  26. Beau says:

    I’m 36 and I’m a convert (about 6 years now, so never experienced the Tridentine Mass before) and went through RCIA in a Novus Ordo parish. I have to say that it was fantastic, as the priests “did things right”. Very little if any liturgical abuse, and very reverent. Both priests also had a gift for speaking and writing homilies. I have since had the opportunity to experience the other end of the spectrum at Mass, but thankfully I am now in a parish with a good priest, and even if he doesn’t have the gifts for speaking/writing that my first priests did, he still does things right.

    I went to my first Tridentine Mass about two years ago. It was a high Mass and it was amazing. I think the silence moved me more than anything. People came in and left without making a sound (barring the odd cranky child). I would go every day if I could. As it is, the nearest parish that offers it is about 160 mile from where I live, so once every month or two is about all I can make it.

    There were a few other things that attracted me and keep me attracted to the Tridentine Mass. Foremost would be that even more than in my first parish, the priests do things right, and that they take the obligation to do things right very seriously. Another thing that attracts me to it is the parishioners. It’s not that they are any more or less friendly or welcoming. It’s that they obviously take it seriously too. Mass is not a social outing (maybe afterwards but not during Mass). The adherence to modesty in dress is also highly appealing. At my home parish, I sit in the front pew so that I’m not distracted by teen-aged girls that look like they’re dressed for the night club.

  27. mike says:

    Father Z,

    My Piece: When I was a student @ CUA I stumbled upon a 300 yr old missal mouldering in the stacks in the main library’s basement. What a treasure. About the same time I was working in the school’s music library and was exposed to classical liturgical texts – Palestrina, chant, Buxtehude, etc. One day came upon an old guide for pronouncing liturgical latin (lots of black & red stuff)that I found fascinating for some reason (I probably had the germ of a vocation in me at that time). I was soon attending the 1pm latin Novus Ordo at the basillica next door. Within a year or two of that I’d graduated to an Indult mass in D.C. Totally blown away by my first mass – high mass with a professional schola. COMPLETE AND TOTAL EMOTIONAL SATISFACTION.

    The indult mass is a long haul with 3 kids in tow – so we go half english & half 1962 on average. I’m looking to get registered (out of boundaries) in a closer parish that will be offering a weekly Motu mass in October (pastored by a certain lazy typist from these parts).


  28. Andy K. says:

    Dear Fr. Z,

    You ask many questions regarding the Tridentine Liturgy. I will answer those pertinent to my experience.

    Were you “hooked”?

    I feel this question is out of place in this sequence. I will say, though, that I have gone and it felt wierd, but not in a good way. Perhaps because the priest was very old and coughed a lot. Anyway, it did not capture my imagination.

    Now, saying that, I will say that I have found the Ruthenian Liturgy and the Anglican Use Liturgy very moving. I think the a feature these have that the Tridenitne Liturgy does not is the dialogical format like the ordinary form.

    Were you put off and don’t want to go back?


    What repelled you?

    The more I think of this, it certainly was not solely the lack of dialogical form. I have attended the Ordinary form in Latin before, and I still got the wierd feeling…but that could be because that was a 6 PM on Sunday. Perhaps the lack of dialog coupled with the coughing of the priest.

    Do you go now? If so, Often? Exclusively? Rarely?

    I do not go. I have moved so often in such a short span I have no idea where I would even go.

    Thank you for laying ground rules for this. I do want to make it clear that while I do not find the Tridentine helpful to me now, I wish those who do/will find it helpful for thier faith to go.

  29. Fr. Z,

    My first Traditional Latin Mass was at the Feast of the Assumption in Camden in 2004. What a great way to begin!

    I was hooked and still am hooked. I attend the EF frequently, though not quite exclusively.

    What captured me? Perhaps, even though I am a musician, what struck me most was the silence at the Consecration. The air was so thick with prayer; it was unlike anything I had every experienced before. The other thing that captured me was the participatio actuosa. (Of course, the silent praying of the congregation is part of this, too.) I never heard a congregation sing like this one did. Truly, they were living out the goals of the Liturgical Movement and of the Second Vatican Council. Finally, I was struck by the choreography of the liturgy, the way the ministers carried themselves, and the general way in which everyone present carried themselves. There was both a healthy discipline, and a great love of the liturgy that overflowed and completely shook me, in a good way.

    At the time I was working for a priest who said that if I ever attended a Traditional Latin Mass, I would see that it didn’t make sense. Well, I went, and I saw. And I said, “Holy cow! This makes perfect sense.”

  30. Marcus says:

    Father John:

    I grew up with the new Mass, and even as a teenager, I knew that something about it was amiss. Although we had some good priests, much of the “hippy songs”, aesthetic blandness, and lame preaching were a turn-off. I didn’t like when Mass turned into performance, a bad one at that. If God existed, I thought, this wasn’t how one worshipped him. I knew there was a grand and glory history to the Catholic Church, but I couldn’t see any evidence of it. Twenty years pass…

    I went to my first Traditional Mass on a whim at Stella Maris church on Sullivan’s Island, SC whilst on vacation a few years ago. I was very confused, and mostly just sat back and took it in, not even trying to follow along. I was hooked. This was how the saints worshipped who had written so much about the glory of the Eucharist; this was how one worshipped God! No false human spectacle here; only the true spectacle that God himself provides.

    I found a parish nearby to home that celebrated the Traditional Mass, and I began to attend regularly, in addition to participating in my local parish. I felt it was part of my re-education in the faith, and my reponsibility as an adult educator. One can grasp the various parts of the Mass more clearly in the older form; this also gives great insight into the newer form, all of which has joyfully nourished my relationship with the Lord – in prayer, in the Eucharist, in service – in a wonderfully unexpected way.

    I feel so blessed to have the Traditional Mass available after so long in the desert. I invite everyone I can!

  31. Francis Brennan says:

    Fr. Z.,

    I am too young to have attended a Mass according to the 1962 Missal. I once went on a “reconnaissance mission” to an Old Rite Mass when I was working in the UK – it was held on a weekday afternoon at St. Etheldreda’s Church in central London. I went out of pure curiosity.

    I have to say that I wasn’t wowed. My overriding impression was that the Mass had a very similar feel to the Novus Ordo Masses at St. Etheldreda’s. When I used to attend Mass at that church (1999-2003), the N.O. Masses were always celebrated with great reverence and strict adherence to the rubrics, and the practice of kneeling to receive communion had been preserved. (I don’t know if things have changed since).

    Given the similarity of atmospherics at that particular church between the traditional Mass I attended and the N.O. Masses, I never felt impelled to start attending traditional Masses there on a regular basis, and I have not done so since now that I am back on this side of the pond. But with one or two exceptions, I have always been lucky enough to live in parishes where the celebration of the N.O. has been of a very high standard, and this absence of a “push factor” has played a big part in my not pursuing opportunities to attend traditional Masses.

  32. John Paul says:

    I am 48-years-old, and as a cradle Catholic, was never exposed to the Traditional
    Mass, but grew up in what would be termed today a “conservative” parish setting.
    I was active duty Navy and traveled around quite a bit, and was in a number of
    parishes. I can best term my spiritual life as “asleep at the switch,” since I was
    slowly losing my focus and belief in the Real Presence with each change to the Mass or
    Church design. (It never bothered me when our tabernacle was placed in a wall in
    the “day chapel,” out of sight to most on Sunday.) After I started to read about the Mass
    and what was and wasn’t supposed to be happening, along with the teaching of the late
    Father John Hardon, I found that when I went in search of the Real Presence and the
    re-presentation of Calvary, I couldn’t find Him (and it) in many parishes in Virginia Beach
    A friend told me about a chapel offering the Traditional Mass, and everything came
    together. The reverence, the Real Presence, the sacred, the dignity of the Priesthood,
    are all clearly present in the Traditional Mass. It is our Catholic faith in full
    glory. I don’t see it as being “nostalgic” to believe that all those souls sanctified
    by this Mass (and all those priests and Saints who offered it) couldn’t have been
    wrong for all those centuries by not have Extraordinary Ministers give Communion in
    the hand, or having Communion under both species as the “norm” at all Masses. I feel
    completely at home, but still sad over the fact that my wife remains at our N.O. parish,
    along with the majority of Catholics (at least of the 25-30% who go at all). I pray
    and hope that this is truly the start of the restoration of Holy Mother Church.

  33. John says:

    My wife and I (in our mid 40’s)were introduced to the Tridentine Mass about 15 years ago and after that first Mass I knew I was at home. (My wife took a little longer) It is more than the rubrics of the Mass that are different but a whole theology IMHO. There is no question that the Tridentine Mass is Catholic whereas at a N.O. Mass I could be at service of several protestant denominations.

  34. jeffrey says:

    I am a (32 year old) convert to Catholicism from the Episcopal Church (of the Anglo-Catholic tradition). Anglo-Catholic’s frequently use the common examples of liturgical abuse, lack of reverence, and poor language and music to prove to themselves that they are “more Catholic than the Catholics”; therefore giving them the justification they need not to covert. However, when I converted I did so knowing full well that the liturgy was a mess in most parishes. I believed the Roman Catholic Church contained the fullness of truth even though a large portion of its members are rejecting that truth. Since I was attached to more tradition forms of worship (ad orientem, chant, knelling for communion, incense, etc…) I did a lot of parish shopping. There wasn’t a traditional parish around so I tried to just find one that was reverent. I had difficulty praying and refraining from cringing at the Novus Ordo Mass (due to the Haugen and Haas music among other things). I was actually born into an Evangelical Protestant (Presbyterian) church and I had no desire to return to that type of worship even if they call it “catholic”. My search for a more reverent (and catholic) liturgy and a RCIA class that was actually taught by a priest lead me to St. John Cantius in Chicago. So, I moved from Central PA to Chicago to go to church.

    I attend the Tridentine Mass every Sunday and on Wednesdays (low Mass with Rosary followed by Compline). At first i was shocked by the silence (and tried to fill it by frantically reading from the missal)… but after a while I was able to pray. The Mass actually trains you to pray and focus on Christ. In the beginning I would follow my St. Joseph’s Missal to the “T” and read every word that the Priest was reading. However, I found that I wasn’t really praying and I was just distracting myself by reading and trying to past it off as prayer. Now, after becoming more familiar with the Mass I am able to unite my own prayer to the prayers of the Priest (instead of just reading what he is saying) and also enjoy the silence as it teaches me to focus and be with God and listen to Him.

    I knew no Latin at all, however just from going to mass and following along with my missal I am learning. I think Latin is important in the mass, whether it is the Ordinary or Extraordinary Mass (for unity, reverence, and tradition).

    I am grateful for the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius and I doubt my prayer life would be as rich if I remained in Central Pa, where I was in danger of just becoming a spiritually empty and bitter curmudgeon.

  35. Patrick Rothwell says:

    I was born and raised Episcopalian. I was in the high church or Anglo-Catholic camp, so I had been exposed to and an enthusiastic champion of liturgy which was Book of Common Prayer-based but with Tridentine propers and ceremonial added on (with certain exceptions). That said, I found the Tridentine mass as actually practiced to be off-putting in certain ways. I was (and remain to this day) NOT a fan of the silent canon and am especially galled by traddy American resistance to the dialogue mass. There’s no reason why the laity shouldn’t be making the responses or saying/singing the Creed, Gloria, etc. if they can pronounce the words – even more so if they understand the Latin (which I mostly do). In addition, the preconciliar hymns that are often sung at low mass are often quite sappy and sentimental – a far cry from the meaty hymns that I was accustomed to – often based on the hymns of the Roman Offices.

    While I’ve led off with the negatives, there is much to be said for a liturgy that is less liable to celebrant abuse than the Novus Ordo (though the low voice covers a multitude of sins that would not otherwise be obvious to the regular pew-sitter) as well as a liturgy which, at least in the canon itself, remained virtually unchanged for more than a thousand years. Longevity has its own considerable weight of authority. And, the high mass itself is quite glorious if done properly.

    I regularly and contentedly attend a decently celebrated ordinary use (the new PC term) of the Roman Rite, but I occasionally pop in a Tridentine mass at a parish within walking distance, and I am usually glad I did.

  36. Dan says:

    I’m 48 years old, left the Church shortly after my first communion, which was in 1967 (I think), started attending Mass again about 10 years ago after having children, and then came back to the Church about 4 years ago. When I began attending Mass again about 10 years ago I was still outside the Church. I noticed the changes that had occurred since I was child — communion in the hand, both species, etc. — but because I was still outside the Church I didn’t think anything of them. When I came back into the Church, I did so with a great deal of enthusiasm and then I became very sensitive to liturgical abuse, which is rampant in my parish. I’m sure that as a young child I attended traditional Latin Masses but I have no conscious memory of them. As I began to recoil at the liturgical abuses in my parish I began to yearn for the old Latin Mass even though I had no memory of it. When I finally attended one as an adult, I loved it as much as I expected to. I began on my own to study the Latin needed to follow along.

    The reasons I love the traditional Latin Mass are the following (not in order of importance):

    (1) it is beautiful
    (2) it is reverent
    (3) it reminds me of the glorious history of the Church and brings that history to life, and into the present
    (4) it is both complex and mysterious and the complexity adds to the mystery

  37. Benard of Arezzo says:

    I am 30, and grew up with churches-in-the-round and ‘Mass of Creation’… My first ‘extraordinary mass’ was in NYC, at St. Anns (?) in Manhatten. Other than kneeling for communion I wasn’t blown away (looking back, I think it was a low mass, but at the time, I know nothing of those distinctions). Kneeling for communion made up for a lot of my ignorance, though, and that was good enough to keep me intersted and sympathetic.

    Later, in Atlanta, I went to the FSSP parish, St. Francis de Sales for their mass, and I wanted to go back every week, but I lived far away and my wife wasn’t feeling it. I did go often enoguht to carry me through my local parish and their love of the rain-stick as musical accompanyment for the psalms. lame.

    Now, I don’t live near one, but would go if I could (and I think my wife has come around). Maybe our new bishop and the MP will change things, but for now its like wanting a beer in a dry county.

  38. Jon K. says:

    Man, Sweden, 34

    I discovered the old rite at 17. It was everything I was looking for in Catholicism. And more. The sense of mystery, eternity, divine poetry, contemplation, reverence, harmony between Grace and nature, dignity… and silence, true silence… It was as far from my secondary school and its sick world as it should be if religion be true…

    This happened in France. Therefore, I might add that I was fortunate to discover the old Mass in a Benedictine monastery. The Gregoriant chant… the solemn liturgy… silent low Mass early in the morning… the monks…

    When I discovered the dialogue Mass, alas very frequent in France, it shook me severely, something from which I never fully recovered. I have yet never seen anything more modern and less suitable for prayer than the dialogue Mass. I´d much rather go to Solesmes (although I dispise the new liturgy) than to the next dialogue Mass. In liturgy, few things annoy me more than didactivism and participationism.

    To-day, 17 years later, I remain deeply attached to the classical liturgy, which I help organize locally (mostly singing). I was married in the old rite and my children were baptized in it. I go to the new Mass only because I have to : in Sweden, the traditional liturgy is still a rarity. Whenever I can, I skip the first part of the Pauline Mass, including the sermon. Being married and the father of three, this is no longer often possible, though, so I suffer in silence.

  39. Zach says:

    I am 17 years old and have only attended the “old Mass” once in my life. However, there is a sense of mystery that one does not achieve by attending the Novus Ordo. I am so sick and tired of going to mass and being more puzzled than I was before. Furthermore, I have witnessed numerous ill conceived ideas presented in the Novus Ordo some even steming from the mass. IT is just so disgusting. With the “old Mass” I feel a greater connection with God, even though I don’t understand much Latin. It is rather simple though with the side by side English to Latin tranlsation guides. I’ll take the Mass of Bl. John XXIII any day over the Novus ORdo.

  40. Francis Brennan says:

    Fr. Z.,

    One further point, if I may, to supplement my previous comment. It occurs to me, looking back at the time when I was working in London and attending Mass at St. Etheldreda’s Church, that the Novus Ordo Masses celebrated there were clearly being influenced by the regular traditional Masses held at the church.

    This is exactly what Pope Benedict wants – start having more traditional Masses, and it will raise the liturgical tone generally and improve the quality of N.O. celebrations more effectively than the (largely ignored) stream of Vatican instructions attempting to curb N.O. liturgical abuses.

    So I guess my attitude is that I am all in favour of Summorum Pontificum, if only because it will lead to better Novus Ordo Masses, which I think are my preferred “spiritual home” provided they are celebrated properly.

  41. John Brown says:

    I’m a 43 year old convert from atheism in my college days, who then left the church for 16 years after marrying a protestant and returned with my family 4 years ago. We started attending the TLM after feeling more and more frustrated with the “aren’t we the wonderful people of God and isn’t He lucky to have us” type N.O. masses. We didn’t want our children to think it was OK to dress like a bum or a floozy in church, or eat and drink in a bored fashion in the mass, or treat Jesus in the sacrament like he was freebie sandwich. We thought the TLM might be the answer and drove 2.5 hours to the closest Indult mass. The children were fascinated and loved it. I enjoyed it more when I relaxed a bit and didn’t fixate on trying to find out where we were in the missal. It is still difficult to go to the TLM because of the distance, but every time we have attended a TLM it has been a greater and greater blessing. So, started out with low expectations (anything had to better than what we had been experiencing) and were very pleasantly surprised, with a pleasure that just keeps increasing with time and experience. I would be satisfied with a more reverent N.O. mass, if such things were not so very rare in my part of the world.

  42. Jim McM says:

    I was hooked. I attended a Christmas Midnight mass in 2005. My cradle Catholic wife spoke of wishing for an old Latin mass for Christmas while we sat in a chain restaurant on a Saturday afternoon. I had bought the Washington Post and was browsing as she spoke. When she said that, I turned to the religion page with the advertisements and saw the paid announcement of the 1962 missal mass at the indult parish (Old St. Mary’s in Washington, DC). A couple of weeks later, we arrived early. The carols were nice while we waited. It was a high mass with professional schola. It gave me repeated shivers. Daughter thought I was sick or sleepy, but I was emotionally overcome by the chant, the majesty and the divine celebration. (I have spent many years as a chorister in protestant and secular groups, so I may have been more thrilled with the music with that background. It was the beautiful simplicity of Gregorian chant that made the first overwhelming impression.)
    The mass gave me the sense of experiencing the closest contact with heaven that I had ever had or could believe possible. It was so deeply moving that we each voiced our wish to return a few days later. We have continued to attend the extraordinary rite regularly, while I did a quick study of Roman catechesis and began to read many blogs which supplied many important facts and ideas.
    I came across the series of exotic N.O. masses on several blogs–truthfully these fit with my wife’s experiences in the suburban RC churches. She still held belief, but she decided to remain unchurched, feeling that was preferable to insulting demonstrations.
    I had become prepared for this striking change in attitude about the Church by reading for six months of English history and one slim volume on “Christian history” by an evangelical minister. I was ready for the Roman church when I attended that Christmas mass in 2005, though I had not realized it until that night.
    At this time, I can’t think of going to N.O. mass for fear it will be like the juvenile version of the real thing–“The mass of the ages.”

  43. Paulo says:

    I am a cradle Catholic born in the middle of the Second Vatican Council and was too young to remember the Traditional Latin Mass at all. I did not know what I had been missing until I started to look for TLM for the first time in 2004, thanks to Mr. Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” which along with his traditional Catholicism were fiercely attached by the enemies of the Church. I started my spiritual journey of rediscovering my Catholic heritage and was transformed from a lukewarm Sunday Mass goer to a zealot.

    I was hooked immediately and began to learned about the Church and the Mass I was so ignorant of. Recently, I started to serve as an altar “boy” at the age of 42 at a Latin Mass chapel where the altar servers’ ages range from pre-teen to over 70. It gives me great joy to be so close to the altar of God where the priest offers the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus Christ to our Heavenly Father.

    What captures me? The sacredness, the solemnness, the mystery, the silence, the devotion of the people, … everything. And none of it can hardly be found at local Novus Ordo parishes.

    Do I go now? Where else shall I go! Exclusively? Absolutely! And now I understand why Martyrs died for the Faith. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

  44. Credo says:

    Pretty, simple… I grew up protestant and converted Easter of 06. I found that the Catholicism I studied in history was not being lived out in the Mass of today very well. I discovered the TLM with the help of a dear friend that led me into the church and the rest is history. The more I learn about the Extra. Form the more I love it. Thanks to Father Z. for his readings from Card. Ratzinger’s “Spirit of Liturgy”. WOW! Just wonderful. I love the TLM all the more after listening to those podcasts!

  45. Anne says:

    The Novus Ordo Mass has been destroyed. It does not exist in a reverent form. I’ve searched for years to find any parish that seems remotely “Catholic.” Even on the rare occasions when one gets a orthodox, devout priest, the music “ministry” controls the “show” and it’s almost never good. Where is there a parish where silence is observed (even for a moment!) after the readings or, more important, after Communion. People are not properly catechized, they talk, laugh, clap and chew gum. Tabernacles are hidden or removed altogether. Orans and holding hands are encouraged by ignorant priests. So it’s not that I’m so “attached” the “old” Mass, and I cannot attend one anyway because I live in a remote area and the bishop is quite antagonistic. But I would seek out the extraordinary form if it became available around here, because I want MASS, I want to experience my Jesus, I want to pray, I want to be able to think and ponder, I want Communion to have a chance for prayer and spiritual reflection.

    What has struck me about most people’s comments on the “older” Mass is they like the “smells and bells” the grandiosity, the solemnity. Those things are OK, but not the reason for me. I don’t think that is any less “theatrical” than liturgical dance or other abuses. I am not looking to be swept up in an emotional experience induced by sensation-provoking external props. I just want real reverence, the prayers to have meaning, a homily that is not full of heresies, really, just to be able to concentrate on the MASS ITSELF. A very “plain” old Mass (“low”?) would still be preferable to the now-sacreligious N.O. form.

  46. Pam says:

    I am a convert and have been Catholic for only 8 years. The only Latin Mass in our diocese of San Diego, CA is an hour away so I have been only once–more out of curiosity and a desire to experience this ancient rite. To be honest I was totally lost as to what was being said and done most of the time. But at communion I was able to kneel to receive my Lord. I wept for joy for 15 mins. Could not stop. I long for more reverence and beauty.

    The Novus Ordo mass can be very beautifully done with a mix of Latin and English with great reverence. But our ordinary masses are not like this. I would very much like to go to a VERY REVERENT mass all the time either in Latin or English.

  47. CPT Tom says:

    I was born in 1963…I don’t remember the old Mass, though where I lived in the Archdiocese of New York things died slowly. 10 years ago I accidentally attended the TLM. I was floored. It amazed me and humbled me. Such beauty, even if I didn’t understand it all (no missal, but I watched closely, and I know some Latin). Two years ago, I drove almost two hours to take my family to the indult mass we have in our diocese for the monthly high mass. Again, I was floored and awed by the mass. In the middle of Mass, my oldest son who was just starting college, looked over at me and said “Is this the way it was?” meaning before VII…I said “Yup.” He replied “We’ve been robbed!” I have to agree with him. Such transcendence and beauty I have not often experienced in the new mass, especially in this diocese.

    PS: Since then, my son attends the indult mass weekly (His college is in the same city). He attends “hippie” mass as little as he can.

  48. Joshua says:

    I am 21 from the Los Angeles archdiocese. I first went when I was 17.

    I felt more at home at the Old Mass right away, even though I had only been to very pedestrian Novus Ordos (I have since been to more reverent ones, and now attend a Latin N.O daily, the Tridentine on Sundays). It probably helped that it was a beautiful Missa Cantata in Solemn Form, said by a priest who could sing well, and everything went just right (including the light that shone in through the stained glass illuminating the incense). I was certainly lost at points, and thought the priest hadn’t said the last gospel (he had said it quietly, and the choir had already begun), but I still felt at home.

    My experience with low Mass was different. My first low Mass was much later, said by a priest who was in bad health, didn’t want to be saying it and thought that the students who liked the old Mass were, therefore, “anti-Church” and “hated the Church.” The low Mass celebrated like that paled to the Latin N.O I had already been to. Since then I have seen the low Mass celebrated more reverently by priests who cared about the Mass (even if they made mistakes–at least for me a mistake is less distracting if one knows that the priest cares about how he says it, then if he doesn’t even care) and the low Mass has grown on me, especially the silence.

    I go weekly. I would go daily if it were as convenient as the Latin N.O I go to (I just have to walk across campus, not much of a walk at that).

  49. Pius VII says:

    I started going as a freshman in high school. It was a bit confusing at first, but then I really began to love it–the regularity, order, silence, reverence, beauty, everything. It was too beautiful to give up, and at the very least I’d know I’d hear good music and a reverently-offered Mass (Although the Missa de Angelis was kinda a stumbling block…I’ll take it over Marty Haugen any day, but it’s still reeeeally long and tedious, in my opinion [Mine too! – Fr. Z]) that I couldn’t help but love it. The more I attended and the more I’ve studied it and learned the thought of Pope Benedict and others on the liturgy, the more I came to appreciate the various aspects of the Old Mass.

    As an aside, I really appreciated your recent podcasts during which you read from Ratzinger’s “Spirit of the Liturgy” to explain ad orientem, silence, etc. They were very helpful, and they gave me a much better understanding of those aspects of the Old Mass, and helped me to explain them better to others. Maybe you could do a podcast on the question of why we would use a dead language rather than the vernacular. I have some thoughts on why, but you are much more learned on the subject of the liturgy, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, as would most of your readers I’m sure. In fact, since your goal was to help people understand aspects of the Old Mass which are confusing to them, I think it would be excellent to do. In my experience, having the Mass all in Latin is maybe THE most puzzling thing for people who haven’t been exposed to it.

    Thank you so much and God bless you, Father

  50. CPT Tom says:

    I do not attend the TLM anymore…I decided to stay with my parish and try to help bring more to our celebration of the mass. After a year of working with our PA (our deacon) I’ve been able to help him reduce the amount of silliness and we are about to mount a more traditional Ordinary form Mass. Reason for this is that an extraordinary form mass would be rejected out of hand. One step at a time. We’ll get there eventually.

  51. Chris says:

    My interest in the Tridentine liturgy is a few years old. I am a 36 year old American laywer with four
    children. I am essentially a convert — having not been raised in the Faith to any extent. About ten years
    ago, I began to really want to take my faith more seriously and I began reading more and more about the Church
    and apologetics, etc. I was very committed to my various churches — getting involved in a number of ministries.
    What progressively (pardon the pun) bothered me was the pervasive hostility to traditional catholic things —
    not that I was a “traditionalist” at that point. But there was a real anti-clericalism and feminism that
    grated on me. There was also no preaching on birth control or hell or even the necessity of being Catholic.
    As I continued to search for people more like-minded — aspiring to lead a holy life — I kept finding that
    the acid test was large families. Many of the people willing to sacrifice their lives for their faith were
    the same ones willing to embrace having large families. They also homeschooled and such. They also were
    interested in the older liturgy. Then I started reading more about liturgy and finding out more and more about
    what essentially was thrown out following the Second Vatican Council. I then started going to indult masses.

    While one could say I backed into the Tridentine movement (liturgy was not the initial primary driver), I have
    come to appreciate the reverence of the worship and I am reaching a point where the contrast between new and old
    liturgy is so stark that I have trouble concentrating at the new mass because of all of the “noise.” The new
    mass doesn’t seem to give you any time for sacred silence in prayer.
    In any event, I am “convert” again of sorts —
    I really prefer (strongly) the older liturgy.

    God bless!

  52. Paul says:

    I’m a former Protestant, so I certainly didn’t grow up with the Traditional Mass. I’ve never actually attended a Traditional Mass before, as there is no where that does one in the country where I live. Eveything I have learnt about the Traditional Liturgy is from either literature on the Liturgy, or from a 1962 Missal and 1963 Monastic Diurnal I bought a while back. I have grown to love the Traditonal Liturgy by praying the prayers and studying the rubrics. We have an FSSP priest coming to our Parish on the first weekend of October, so that will be the first time I will have ever assisted at the Traditional Liturgy.

  53. Romulus says:

    I was exposed to the TLM as a small boy, but retained only vague memories. I rebelled against cheesy, improvised, self-congratulatory AmChurch smugness, longing for the Real Deal I’d never really seen: first, by all but abandoning the Mass in my college years; later and more fruitfully in my early 20s, by seeking out a Latin Mass according to the Pauline missal (though in my ignorance I thought it was the pre-conciliar liturgy). That parish later became the home of an indult Mass, and is the center of my religious life today. Why was I drawn to liturgical reverence and dignity? I’d had a bellyful of the post-conciliar anti-catechesis and liturgical monkeyshines. More than anything else, I was ready for authenticity.

  54. Paul says:

    Dear Fr Z,

    I was well into my thirties before I attended the Traditional Latin Mass a few years ago. Like a previous commentator, I was not overly attracted at first sight (it was just so alien to me then) but soon I was hooked once I started to understand what was happening. Unfortunately, I can attend the TLM only once per month in this diocese (Cork, Ireland). I love being part of our local (NO) parish but the local indult Tridentine mass on the first Saturday of the month is a spiritual treat for me.

    I am not old enough to remember general use of the TLM but I am old enough to have studied Latin in school (I’m 39 now). The resonance of the language is so evocative of simpler times in my life. Overall, the peace, reverence and solemnity of the Extraordinary Rite are breathtaking.

    My late father left me with a strong impression while growing up that the Church had lost something precious; I now know what he meant.

    Thanks for all your work on the website,


  55. Michael says:

    I ma 47 years old and have no memory of attending the older mass. I have attended the older form of the mass a few times in the last year. My wife and I were moving and looking for a new parish.

    I had several impressions. First, I felt lost and confused. I could not keep up with where things were is the missal. After I attended a few times, this got only a little better. Second, the mass did not appear to me to be more solemn than a well-said current mass, in which much of the older music is used (which, I admit, is rare in most parishes I have been). In fact, the priest seemed to be mumbling in latin altogether too fast. I find, for example, the current mass as said on EWTN usually to be more solemn that the older masses I have attended. Third, I missed being able to actively participate — this was especially true in the low mass. I have sung in choirs and wholeheartedly agree with the idea that he who prays singing prays twice. Finally, my wife and I decided not to attend that particular parish because we sensed a mood of hyper-criticism among the parishioners.

    All that being said, for the sake of our children, I hope to be able to attend the older mass on a regular basis. I believe the older mass is much richer in the traditions of the Church than the current mass, especially in how it is practiced in most parishes I attend. My ultimate preference (and prayer) is for a mass, based on the 1962 mass, that adopted what I would consider the “organic” changes that were really intended by the Second Vatican Council. (What could be wrong with a third reading?)

  56. ben whitworth says:

    Were you “hooked”?
    As one is hooked by the opening of a clever whodunnit: I knew I was missing some clue and my response to
    that sort of experience is to go look for the clue.

    Are you hooked now but it took a while?
    It took a few Masses, a few Vespers, but then it was hook, line & sinker.

    Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”)

    Were you put off and don’t want to go back?

    What was it that captured you?
    Finding a liturgy that was adequate to what the Church teaches us regarding the Eucharist.

    What repelled you?
    Not being able to follow the action.

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely?
    I sing at the monthly Mass in our parish. Other weeks, having a young baby daughter, we settle for the
    newer use.

    The history of my religious opinions:
    1974 born to a non-religious family
    1992 first Mass (novus ordo in Latin)
    March 1994 baptized (C of E)
    December 1994 first old rite Mass
    1997 received into the Church
    It takes me a while but I always get their in the end.

  57. Michael says:

    I grew up with the NO and went to the diocesan indult offering out of curiosity. My initial reaction was actually one of annoyance that I could not follow what was going on and could not hear every spoken word.

    It was compelling enough that I went back and split time with my parish, though. What it forced me to do was to actually study the mass and as I learned more it became more and more difficult for me to not get angry with the liturgical abuses that occurred in my home parish, and I eventually went full time to the TLM just to avoid the discontent of soul I experienced at my parish services. It also spurred me on to study the Latin language which has been tremendously satisfying.

  58. Cameron says:


    I have to admit that I am now hooked. I was 17 (now 25) when I went to my first Traditional Mass. Our school had a visiting priest come and say the Trad Mass for us in place of our normal Friday Mass. Two brothers that were in the school were meant to serve for it, but one was sick, and at the last minute I was asked to serve. So, my first Trad Mass was also the first (and only) one I served.”

    But it awakened me. I spent the next two years studying the history of the Mass and why there was such a difference between the Mass this priest said and the Mass at our local parish. I had no idea of the rich history of the old Mass and the actuality of the sacrifice. I had no idea that Christ was once again becoming the Lamb of God, sacrificed in an unbloody manner. I had no idea of how powerful the time between the Consecration and the Agnus Dei was. I had no idea why I had never been taught this before.

    After my epiphany, I went through this phase where all I would do is be bitter during the Novus Ordo Masses that I attended, knowing full well that there are ones (albeit irregular in their occurrence in my area at the time) far superior in respect, love, worship, and solemnity. I have to admit, I still am sometimes when I see girls in hootchie-momma shorts smacking on gum go up and receive our Lord.

    As for now, my wife and I usually attend our local Novus Ordo, trying to be a good example in dress and decorum. I have to admit, I absolutely love getting asked why we kneel for Holy Communion. If a parishoner asks, I try to communicate the honor and humility of doing so. If the parish priest comes and asks us (which they usually go out of their way to), I love telling them an answer my sister gave when she was asked…”Well, Father, because it’s the right thing to do, dontya think?”

    I will admit, though, that about once a month or so, we get tired of the lack of respect and we will go to the nearest SSPX chapel to get our “parish respect” tank filled. I am in the process of preparing a letter requesting the Traditional Mass in our N.O. parish, but I fear that my wife and I may be the only ones.

    Thanks Father for the opportunity to tell our perspectives.

  59. Dan P. says:

    I’m 29 years old. Yes, I was hooked, but I was already hooked. My reversion coincided with my walking into St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, MN for their “latin mass” (which I did not know was Novus Ordo at the time, nor knew that there was a difference; I just heard that it was in Latin and was curious). I was hooked on the reverence and solemnity from the beginning, but it was the solid, orthodox, no-apologies preaching that kept me there over the long run. But, yes, from that day on, I never looked back. It was through my subsequent flurry of reading and re-learning the faith that I discovered the “old” mass, and I loved and still love it. But I love them both. Had I walked into the old mass that day, then I would likely attribute my reversion to the old mass, but I know that not to be the case: I was brought back in through the new mass done right. But the proper formation I received in those years at St. Agnes put me in the right disposition to understand and appreciate the old mass. I.e., even though they never even mentioned the old mass, they presented the faith to me in such a way that the old mass just seemed like a natural “fit” with everything else. And so, off I went to see the old mass, and instantly loved it (although I was lost at first and still don’t consider myself fully able to keep up, but so what.) But I belive my reasons for loving it are different than most others: rather than seeing it for the first time in stark contrast to the hootenanny mass we are all so familiar with, I saw it in comparison to the new rite done right. So in the former, there is a contrast of good vs bad, the latter (my experience) was good and good. But I also understand the practical reality of the situation and know to look for the “old mass” first whenever I am traveling, because that’s where I’m most likely to find solid orthodox priests, a reverent mass, and good donuts.

  60. Cole M. says:

    I am a 22-year-old law student, and I was first drawn to the older form through music. I was a music minor in undergrad and took a course on the history of early music, which was almost entirely a course on Catholic liturgical and sacred music. It helped that I attended a Catholic institution (Notre Dame) and had a Catholic teacher for that class. Additionally, I was a member of the Glee Club at Notre Dame and we sang sacred polyphony and chant as part of our repertoire. Fond though I was of some of the more modern liturgical music of my youth, it could not compare to Lassus’ Crucifixus or Tallis’ Lamentations or even a Morales Kyrie from a paraphrase Mass based on the Ave Maria plainchant. That kind of music is powerful stuff, more deeply spiritual than the best Haas, Haugen, or anyone else of that bunch could offer.

    The music I experienced made me curious to see what it was like to go to a Mass where music like this was actually used. In addition, my music history course had made me interested in Catholic liturgical history. I finally got the chance to go to a Mass at Brompton Oratory, London. I had been to Masses with quality music, in beautiful spaces, and with the proper seriousness and focus before, but this was on a whole other level. It was an amazing experience. It felt out of the ordinary, something altogether different than everyday life, which as the celebration of a supernatural mystery it ought to to some extent. I enjoyed the music greatly, of course, but it was the whole ceremony, including receiving the Host kneeling, on the tongue at the rail, that got me. I changed from receiving in the hands to receiving on the tongue because of my experiences there. Mass at home, Mass in ugly or poorly designed churches, Mass in many places just seems to be missing that same aura of sacredness, of otherworldliness that I found at those Brompton Oratory Masses.

    The language, the music, and the elaborate ceremony have a meaningful effect, I think, one which is both necessary and often lacking in many Masses. Not everyone can have a good schola or a beautiful cathedral, but certainly there is some sense of the sacred to be found in the old form that deserves to be recovered and reintegrated into the new form. My current parish (St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Washington D.C.) has a Latin Mass (Novus Ordo) with a schola, but when I went for the first time this Sunday, it seemed a bit half-***ed (can’t think of a better word). Hopefully it was an anomaly. I look forward to growing up in a Church where quality sacred music gets its due and the important and useful things we lost in the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms will be restored to the liturgy.

  61. James says:

    I went to my first-ever traditional Mass a little over a year ago. It was Holy Trinity in Boston. It was (I found out later) a pretty poorly-done Low Mass (the parish’s future was in limbo and the elderly priest assigned to celebrate it was no friend to the extraordinary form). I went with a gay “progressive” Catholic roommate. I appreciated the silence but had no idea what was going on. We sat in the back and all we could hear were babies crying and the loud fans blowing. To be honest, I wasn’t very impressed but expected that it was a taste I would need to acquire. My roommate thought it was the most boring thing he had ever experienced and went later to his normal pro-gay clap-happy Mass at the Paulist Center because he didn’t “feel” like he had gone to Mass.

    I went back two weeks later to another Low Mass before I broke my foot and had to leave the area to recuperate for six months.

    I ended up near Raleigh, NC, and after enduring some very chatty Protestantized liturgies at nearby parishes, I resolved to drive the 40 miles to the local indult parish, Sacred Heart in Dunn. What a magnificent rural parish. An oasis of faith and tradition and superlative liturgy in rural North Carolina! The pastor, Fr. Parkerson is a godsend. I fell in love with the traditional mass almost immediately, and I also got to see what familiarity with the extraordinary form does for the ordinary form (Father celebrates the finest Novus Ordo I’ve ever seen). I bought a 1962 missal and spent every week enraptured, even at the Low Masses, which were three times a month. The climax was the Bishop of Raleigh’s glorious pastoral visit to a Solemn High Mass there in January.

    Now back in Boston, I go to the new location of the indult in Newton probably once or twice a month (not very easy to get to without a car, especially in the summer heat), though I expect to be a more regular attender this fall. I also often attend the ordinary form at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine, which is pretty well-celebrated there. I am also blessed to occasionally attend the Anglican Use chapel.

  62. RC2 says:

    I was introduced to the extraordinary form because my now-husband is hooked. It was the mass for our wedding, and for the first years of our marriage we lived in the parish where one of the “indult” masses for our diocese is celebrated.

    I adore the solemn high mass –I’m a smells and bells sort of person and chant is like a foretaste of heaven to me– but I must say the low mass doesn’t do anything more for me than the ordinary rite when it is followed faithfully (which it generally is in my diocese; I know some folks aren’t so lucky).

    When I entered the Church, I was taught to follow the Mass with a missal. I follow even the ordinary form of the mass with a Latin/English missal, just because I was taught to. I think that practice makes a difference –since either way I’m reading the prayers along with the priest and trying to unite myself to them, I simply don’t experience the two forms as all that different.

    I appreciate the silence during the canon and communion in the extraordinary form. But I also love being part of a fervent congregation when it rises as one to proclaim the Creed. Aloud. Feels like taking a stand against the devil in a way that praying that particular prayer silently doesn’t.

    I should add that while my husband & I were attending the indult mass every Sunday, at the parish coffee afterwards I was not once but several times on the receiving end of bitter comments about converts for some odd reason. Which, since I am one (my interlocutors didn’t know), didn’t precisely feel welcoming, though I tried to receive those remarks with a sense of humor.

    The attendees –people drove from all over for that mass– were good people, probably not aware how hard some of them could seem. I understand they were probably just battle-weary, but I found it wearying to come from the Eucharist week after week directly into the most depressing conversations about the Church, filled with discouragement and suspicion. It was morose parish life and not the liturgy itself that was off-putting to me.

    It seems to be difficult for parishes to manage orthodoxy & beautiful liturgy and warm community life and interest in evangelization at the same time, for reasons I don’t understand. Incidentally, the shining exception I’ve experienced is in the parish of your frequent commenter Fr. Franklyn McAfee. We used to be parishioners of his 2 parishes ago. Gorgeous liturgies; carefully crafted homilies; warm community life; active pro-life work AND active commitment to the poor simultaneously; robust programs of evangelization (lots of converts each Easter); frequent lectures from top Church men in town; and his generous blessing on any orthodox group’s activities –in essential things unity, in doubtful things, charity. So even if he doesn’t use his space bar, I’m grateful for him :)

  63. Lisa says:

    I grew up with an appreciation of Latin, and took 4 years of Latin at my public high school. My father was always complaining about ICEL, and the translations of the Novus Ordo, and of liberal catholics. Even so, the first time I went with my husband I really did not like it at all. I tried to follow everything, and was really lost. The second time was better, but not much. Then my husband recommended maybe not trying to follow every word the priest said, but listen to the music and just absorb everything. We have been going regularly for awhile now, and even though I am in the back with my infant daughter, I can follow it, and absolutely love it. I never understood the Mass before I started attending the TLM, even though I had a very solid Catholic upbringing, and I am so grateful to my husband for “dragging” me there.

  64. Ager Flandriae says:

    I am a 24 year old seminarian for an East Coast diocese. I have been attending Holy Mass according to the Extraordinary Form since January 1, 1999. I recall being very young and finding my grandmother’s old hand missal for the John XXIII Mass, and being intrigued by the prayers of it. I recall taking the missal to Mass the first Sunday after I found it, and not being able to follow the New Mass with it. It was then I realized that something happened to the Mass in the past forty years. It was my junior year of high school that I was told by a friend that the Latin Mass was being celebrated at a church in the diocese. I attended a very simple Low Mass but I was completely hooked. The mystery and solemnity was mesmerizing. It was then that I began to read books on the traditional liturgy and theology, and even learned to say the 1962 breviary (in English first!) I look forward with great joy to being able to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the Extraordinary Form and to use the corresponding liturgical books throughout my priestly life.

  65. William says:

    I met my wife in Germany. I grew up baptist and she is Catholic. At the time I met her I was no longer a regular church-goer, but I started attending mass with her.

    The parish we attended was St. Matthias in Berlin-Schöneberg. In many ways it is a typical novus ordo parish. It’s a pre-war church that has a modern interior, no high altar, a weird, even distubing, crucifix (see the website for that), and one time the deacon told me that if I wanted to become a Catholic all I had to do was go register at the appropriate government office and start paying church tax.

    The parish priest, Fr. Kotzur is a pretty old guy – in his 70’s I’d guess, although he doesn’t look all that old. None of his sermons ever blew me away. They’re not usually very instructional. More often they are along the lines of “let’s all be nice to each other”.

    But there’s one thing that make Fr. Kotzur stand out. He’s really good at liturgy and really good at Latin. St. Matthias has a novus ordo sung High Mass every Sunday, with great gouts of incense, a chanted psalm, sung gospel, torchbearers, and almost as much reverence as the novus ordo can muster. The language of the Mass alternates every other sunday between German and Latin.

    I really grew to like that Mass.

    Later my wife and I moved to the USA (I am American), and of course we went to the nearest Mass… I was less than impressed. We tried another parish… it was worse. We tried the Cathedral… well not great, but acceptable, so we started going there. After a while though I was still pining for the Mass at St. Matthias in Berlin, so I googled for “Latin Mass” and found an FSSP parish nearby. We decided to try it out, so we attended the High Mass one Sunday.

    I had a very clear expectation, based on my experience in Germany. I was expecting something familiar. What I got was… strange. What was the priest doing up there at the beginning? I couldn’t hear a thing he said! Instead there are some guys chanting some weird stuff I didn’t recognize. I experienced a flash of familiarity at “Dominus Vobiscum”, but the Gloria and Credo weren’t the right melody! (At St. Matthias, Only Mass III was ever sung). At “Sursum Corda” I finally felt right at home – until the end of the preface. Then there was a bit of singing that I didn’t recognize and then everything was silent! After a few bells, the priest raised the host – wait! had he said anything? Then after a while I heard “Pater noster”. I always like to sing along – ummm no one else was singing along… And what about “Per ipsum et cum ipso…”, I always liked that part. Where did it go? Sigh… I was so confused!

    We went back to the Cathedral the next week, and for a few months after that – then we decided to try it again. Well it wasn’t so bad after all but I still found it very hard to follow, so I made the effort to attend low mass on a couple of weekdays. After a few times I could follow along fairly well with the little paperback missal.

    The next time we went to high mass I finally got it – I suddenly realized that multiple things were happening at the same time. Once I understood that I didn’t have much trouble following in the missal. And this time it was Mass III – the music was as I remembered it! After mass I told my wife that I wanted to go to the traditional mass every Sunday. We attended 3 or 4 Sundays and then went back to the Cathedral one Sunday… Uggghhh… Had I sat through that for more than a year? No way! I want my Latin Mass!!!!

    So we went back to the traditional Mass and afterward found the priest in the parish hall and told him we wanted to register in the parish.

  66. Red Cardigan says:

    Late 30s, been twice, not hooked, totally puzzled the whole time even with the missal, would take years to be able to appreciate it.

    LOVE the N.O. in Latin. Why can’t we have that more often? Easy to follow, easy to pray aloud when we’re supposed to, readings and homily in vernacular. What’s not to love?

  67. Rev. Jose E. Losoya, C.O. says:

    I have never experienced the Tridentine Mass. I’m not sure what to call it anymore: Tridentine, Extraordinary, 1962 Mass, etc. In any case, I am a 41yo priest that has been studying for the last 3 weeks or so preparing myself to offer the Mass according to the 1962 Missale. I’ve been a priest for 16 years and am excited about offering the Extraordinary Use of the one Missale (By the way, please pray for me since I have no one around that can show me how to do this so I’m studying on my own. I purchased the Missale Romanum, the Rubrics in English, and a few other books from the FSSP’s. I have also used the Sancta Missa website as a reference. I’ve watched a few SSPX’s masses on YouTube. I have memorized everything I need to up to the Confiteor–I think I have just a few more things to memorize up to the Introit. I think the altar cards should help me with everything else–I got the altar cards from eBay! I still need the vestments though. ) I am trying to get ready by the 14th of September because I want to offer the Mass using the 1962 Missale on that day. However, if I don’t think I’m ready or don’t have all the required vestments, etc–I’ll probably wait until I can as soon after that date as possible. I haven’t even started training altar boys since I need to know what I’m doing up there first to help them learn the Mass. (At least that’s what I think–maybe I should get them started now–I don’t know.)

    Now, I do know that as I have studied the Missale Romanum (1962 ed) I have fallen in love with the “old” Mass. I have been celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass in Latin at 9:00AM every Sunday and I can see, now, how the two are connected and how the vernacular translations are lacking.

    Fr. Z, this post might be off topic a bit but I thought it would be a good place to get lots of people praying for me as I prepare.

    Thanks–Fr. José, C.O.

    [Father, I am sure we will all pray for you. – Fr. Z]

  68. A Lay Dominican says:

    I’m 38 and grew up in a church that maintained some of the traditions such as communion under one form only, altar boys, some Gregorian chant and Latin hymns. As a child I always had a curiosity about the older form of the mass but I forgot about it as I wandered aimlessly in my late teens and twenties. Various elements (all prompted by the Holy Spirit) lead to my current parish which is a very traditional NO parish. I’ve met quite a few local TLM devotees who assist at the local indult mass but I’m not impressed by their attitudes, so I avoid that parish. A friend invited me to experience the TLM at a church in another city. Before I made the trip I watched several videos on the old mass and read as much as I could to prepare myself. My first TLM was a Saturday daily mass. I didn’t have much trouble following along. To me it was the same mass as the NO mass…just different in the externals. The Sunday mass was a Solemn High Mass. I was kinda confused but not horribly so. I’m neither hooked nor repelled. I guess that makes me indifferent. I’ve been back to this parish three or four time over the past two years and I’ll probably go again when visiting friends. I don’t feel any need to go to the TLM when I can go to a reverent NO mass.

  69. Daniel says:

    I went to the Traditional Latin Mass for the first time when I was 23. I am now 26 and have assisted exclusively at the Traditional Latin Mass for nearly 3 years. I was not intimidated by the Rite, but I was very much in awe. I deeply resented not having access to the Rite for 23 years, but I am now simply grateful for having such accessability to the Mass of All Time. (My city has 4 daily celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass; none more than 30 minutes away from my house.) I was hooked during that first time I assisted at the Mass, but it took my wife (who had only converted about 6 months before we first went to the Traditional Mass) about 6 months to become fully comfortable. Now, though, she feels incredibly rejuvinated by the Mass and is as “hooked” as I am. It has been a true blessing to our spiritual lives.

  70. Atlantic says:

    I am 40. About four years ago I moved to a parish with a reverent Latin ordinary form (sung Latin, ad orientem) as well as a once-a-month extraordinary Low Mass.

    I wanted to love the older Mass instantaneously. I didn’t. Even after I got used to the form of it, I still liked the sung Latin newer form better, although I did wish the latter had more quiet. It was definitely preferable to your average newer Mass. I keep going to the older Mass once a month, but not because I liked it better than a sung Latin NO on a gut level. And I really, really like singing the Gregorian chant ordinaries, so I felt the lack of this at the Low Mass.

    Then I attended a sung extraordinary Mass (St Bede’s in London) – the priest sung pretty much all the audible stuff, except when the professional choir got going. And it seemed especially reverent (I remember the main server kissed the priest’s hand several times), and it also helped that the homily was outstanding.

    And it was the most beautiful thing I have ever been to in my life. I found out people drive 50 miles and more for that Mass, and I totally understand. I am going back as soon as I can (it’s not very easy for me to get to).

    When I read that sung Mass is supposed to be the norm, and Low Mass is a sort of aberration, it made perfect sense to me.

    I want more sung Masses!

  71. Felix says:

    I grew up as an Episcopalian with the 1662 Prayer Book. After entering the Church, I initially attended the Novus Ordo. I started to attend the Traditional Mass because I knew the pastor of the Trad Mass community.

    Given my Episcopalian upbringing, I didn’t have difficulties with the traditional liturgy.

    I sometimes go to the local Novus Ordo, because it takes me two bus trips to get across town to the Traditional Mass. Each time, I wonder why I did so. The liturgy is banal and the sermons are bland or heretical.

  72. Tedster says:

    I am 44 years old and cannot remember the TLM as a child. I have grown up in the Novus Ordo, but have always seen the Latin Rite in movies and other media and was in awe of the REVERENCE that appears to have disappeared in the Novus Ordo.

    As soon as a went to a TLM, I KNEW I was home! Unfortunately, it is very hard to attend the TLM in our Archdiocese. Hopefully that will soon change!

    My family feels the same way, and I have a 17 year old son who now feels a calling to the ICRSS (Institute of Christ the King, High Priest) or the FSSP (Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri)! Please keep him in your prayers, Father!

  73. I’m 26, was raised Catholic and was one of those countless lukewarm young adult Catholics. I didn’t take my faith seriously, and my parents I think expected the Catholic schools to teach me the faith. We did the “legal” requirements and that was it. I always hated Mass; it was not that it was boring, it’s that it was stupid (I thought) and pointless and that no one really believed any of it anyway. I don’t remember a single homily growing up, and for music I still get earworms sometimes of “On Eagles’ Wings” and “Hear I am Lord” and “Gather Us In”. Honestly, though, I don’t think the liturgies I attended were really bad, not compared to what many others dealt with. The whole experience was just medicore to me, and if something is mediocre, why bother?

    In my early 20s (all of 4 years ago) I moved to the Twin Cities and BAM! somehow God got me listening again. It didn’t happen through the EF (yet) though, but through the architectural beauty of the Cathedral and the celebration of Mass there by a young priest who, for the first time I remember, made me actually stop and think during the homily that “he really believes it!” After a few months at the Cathedral I got to know some people, and one of them said that if I loved the beauty of the liturgy here I needed to go visit St. Agnes church (yes, Fr. Z’s St. Agnes. :) and attend the Latin Mass there. Well, I wasn’t much keen on that, I hemmed and hawed, and finally went with a friend. I was confused and a bit bored, honestly, and both of us walked out of it saying “that’s nice, but I sure wouldn’t want to go every week!”.

    Weird thing is, though, how it STUCK with me. Especially the reception of Communion on the tongue (my first time ever, and I wasn’t expecting it, I didn’t know how to do it!). Suddenly, I began noticing things in the daily Masses I was attending – not necessarily in a negative way, but noticing them. I ended up going back to St. Agnes again sooner than I thought, and liked it much better this time.

    After a year or so of attending St. Agnes’ Latin “Novus Ordo” every couple of months, someone else mentioned to me that the “real Old Mass” was available down at St. Augustine’s and that I should go try it. I was really excited now to see it, I had been doing some research and had peppered my parents with questions about the old Mass they grew up with (my Dad, I discovered, had almost left the Church when the post-Vatican II changes happened out of grief at the loss – I never knew that before!)

    Then I went and… nothing. I didn’t really care for it at all, truth be told. I still can’t really put my finger on what it was exactly, but I think it was a combination of A) not really understanding the substantial differences between the liturgies (at St. Agnes, it was a different language but still the same form I was used to) and B) being “left behind” trying to figure out the missal. Additionally, the social atmosphere at that church, at least at that time, was not positive at all – in the narthex after Mass was any number of nasty conversations going on about the Pope, bishops, priests, laity, you name it. I didn’t like that at all!

    I went a few more times to the indult Mass, but really wasn’t “hooked” on it, the way that I was the Mass in Latin at St. Agnes.

    Then I went to Rome, and a friend there took me to the FSSP chapel there. Ok, BAM! There it was, I was hooked. What was different? I think by this point, I was comfortable enough with using the missal (and not feeling the need to use it at all if I didn’t want to) and also had a more realistic expectation of the Mass. Plus, it was the first time I had been to a Low Mass – this helps one be introduced to the EF in a way that is difficult with all the pomp and beauty of a High Mass, which is what most of us are thrown into at first since most EF Masses now are only on Sundays.

    Nowadays, back in the Twin Cities, I still do not go very often to the indult Mass here (though I hope to this Sunday), but I do attend St. Agnes at least once a month and if the Motu Proprio does indeed bear fruit here, I would like the opportunity to go to other parishes for the EF more regularly.

    What I love about the EF goes deeper than the outward signs of reverence and the more traditional “trappings” of altar rails, ad orientem, smells n’ bells, or cool birettas. I can get all the appearances of the EF at a OF Mass, here in St. Paul anyway. No, I love the EF because it is a true experience of worship that by the very nature of it’s ritual action teaches us how to pray (including praying the “New Mass”) better. I also greatly appreciate how the EF does NOT have all those myriad “options” that Fr. can pick from at every point in the Mass. Having all those options means that I can never really get to the point where I am truly entering into the sacred liturgy – because I never know exactly what “theme” Fr. is going for today. To use a somewhat Chestertonian image, by having limited “options”, the EF sets the Eucharist apart in a golden frame that keeps the lines within the picture, and the lines of liturgical action all converge on Christ truly present. Gorgeous!

    My advice to any newcomers to the EF of the Mass would be:

    1) Get a missal before going, just to look over the Order of Mass and get a sense of where things will “look” different.

    2) DON’T bring the missal with you the first time you go – you will just be more confused and frustrated that you can’t follow every word, which is a temptation in particular for those of us raised in the “active participation means reading, talking, and singing!” mentality. Instead of getting lost in the missal, try getting lost in the prayer of the Mass! :)

    3) Don’t be self-conscious about not “knowing” this form of the Mass, most of the other people you will see there were in your shoes too once, and would likely be more than happy to help you out in the future – catch them after Mass and make a few friends.

    4) The first experience of the EF may be a bit of a “shock”, and like all the best things in life, it takes some getting used to. Give it a good chance, go a few times, and try going to both Low Masses and High Masses if you can. I’d even suggest going to a Low Mass first, it’s a little less overwhelming IMO. :)

    5) For women, realize that many will be wearing chapel veils. You are NOT required to wear one, but they really aren’t such a bad tradition. I didn’t wear one until very recently, and never felt uncomfortable at any Mass for not wearing one. But one day I realized that the women who wore a veil didn’t seem to be as distracted (proving that I, on the other hand, was distracted!) – so I wondered, are the type of people who wear veils less distracted anyway, or do the veils have something to do with it? I tried one and WOW! Personally, I really am much less distracted when I wear a veil (I’m talking about the kind that drape down, not the doilies!), because I’m much less inclined now to turn my gaze (or my head) away from my Lord. The veil takes getting used to, as there is a trick to placement, but once it’s there, it’s just Jesus, you, and all the people around you who are praying WITH you and not praying instead of you! Then again, if you don’t like it or are bothered by it, then don’t worry about it.

  74. Ana says:

    I converted to the Catholic Church ten years ago while attending a very conservative and liturgicall correct ordinary form of the Mass parish. I’ll admit I was initially disappointed about the lack of Latin in the liturgy, because all of the “stories” I heard about Mass were wrong. Heck, even most liturgies enacted on TV use more Latin than the average parish. However, I still immediately fell in love of the Church and the liturgy.

    Unfortunately, I soon found out that this parish was unusual and other parishes were hotbeds of dissent, sexually active priests, and circus like liturgies when I changed parishes shortly after my baptism, Confirmation, and first Eucharist. After exploring and rejecting the a local High Church Anglican Church and a local SSPX Chapel, I finally found the extraordinary form of Mass. I immediately fell in love again!

    I love the silence of the Liturgy first and foremost. The modern world is so filled with action, noise, and music that actively participating in a low Mass makes my week. I attend the extraordinary form as often as possible — usually each Sunday and holy day and occasionally I am able to attend Mass when a local priest says his private Mass using the extraordinary form. At the same time, I am fully active in my parish, although it does not offer the extraordinary form, as lector and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

    My preference is obviously for the extraordinary form, but encourage liturgically correct ordinary forms of the Mass. I have high hopes for the future of our ordinary Mass, which I believe is not what the Bishops of the Second Vatican Counsel expected, so that it can be more in union with what they envisioned.

  75. Thomas Burk says:

    (What I began to write was turning into a longish conversion story, but I could see it was rapidly becoming much too detailed. I do want to finish it, but won’t tell all here. What follows is only a brief part related to my experience of Latin in both uses. I’m going to compress it as much as I can.)

    Having converted in 1974 while with the USAF in Thailand (after having been refused instruction by 2 priests previously!), I knew only the new mass in English as a Catholic until I was attending the Boeing 757 school at the Northwest Airlines training center in Minneapolis in 1995. One of my classmates and good friend, who was a very well-formed Catholic (I wasn’t) began to teach me so much that I had never known about our faith, began “dragging” me to St. Agnes in St. Paul that Spring, (even “introduced” me to confession – another long story in itself) At Easter that year we decided to check out the “Latin Mass” and music there (he knew about it, I didn’t). It quite completely “blew me away” – I was astonished and moved by it. (It was only later that I realized that it was a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin.) I was so stunned that I had to meet Msgr. Schuler, knocked on his door and told him I needed to be confirmed! (Another long story — the priest in Thailand thought it unnecessary.) But I was soon to return to Denver, where I lived at the time. Msgr. Schuler introduced me to Fr. Anderson at Holy Ghost Church downtown Denver, who also had an impressive music program along with a Novus Ordo Latin Mass, and arranged for my confirmation. After that experience I began seeking out other Masses that were celebrated with reverence and care, having come to associate that with the Latin Language; that led me to the FSSP in Pequannock, NJ — my airline career had taken me to Newark. I have been fortunate ever since to be living near FSSP parishs, even though it sometimes meant many miles of driving to and fro.

    That’s the “short” story – I owe so much of what I consider to be my “real” conversion to Msgr. Schuler (and one of his well-known friends, Fr. Z!) and the tremendous liturgy he gave to St. Agnes! The liturgy has been quite central to my conversion, I realize in retrospect. (And of course, I owe much to many other people whom God sent — and continues to send — into my life as a result of much earnest prayer.)

    What an amazing response, Fr. Z — over 70 replies now!

  76. Ana says:

    Two last points I forgot to mention above:

    Yes, I am hooked!

    At the same time, I do not worry about keeping up in my missal. I try to respond when appropriate, but for the most part I simply listen with an open heart and mind so that “soak up” the prayers being offered and pray silently. If I miss a response I don’t worry, because I know my heart, mind, and soul are where they should be.

    High, sung Mass complete with incense is beautiful, but the low Mass is truly extraordinary too!

  77. Diane says:

    Born in 1962 so it’s possible I had exposure to the old form of the Mass in the womb. Does that count as experience?

    All kidding aside. I have recollections of being a teen and yearning to learn Latin. I recall when Lefebvre broke away and I felt sad about it. I remember feeling overjoyed at the thought that the [old form of the] “Latin Mass” would be available, and I was intrigued by the idea.

    While the Latin Novus Ordo at Assumption Grotto really seemed to fill a void once I grasped what was going on – I learned to love the silence, the stillness, the sovereignty, and majesty of what was taking place and that is what kept me going back for more.

    Still wanting to experience the old form of the Latin Mass, I had an opportunity to assist on Ascension Thursday this year at St. Josaphat. I see the Latin Novus Ordo as a contemplative’s stepping stone to the much more contemplative old form.

    While some are upset at not being able to recite some of the prayers and to say things, I don’t see this as negative. There have been times that I was in a meditative mode and didn’t want to speak during the Latin Novus Ordo, but had to because responding is the proper thing to do in that setting.

    I learned to respond in my heart.

    It is in the silence and stillness that I feel the greater community – that which includes not only those here on earth, but with all spirits, as well. That is where the “community” idea of worship falls flat for me because it caters to the living human community.

    I think it comes as no surprise that Assumption Grotto will be offering the old form of the Mass, starting on the Feast of the Holy Cross, and in place of the Latin Novus Ordo at 9:30 on Sundays. I welcome it along with many other parishioners who have anticipated it with joy (I’m sending you an email on this Fr. Z with more info).

    Deo Gratias!

  78. brenda says:

    I had only the vaguest memories of the trad mass, having been born in the early 60s. But I attended a sung Le Fevreist Mass in my early 20s I found it a stunning experience. When the indult became available in my city in the late 1980s, I went to it, and have stuck with it more or less ever since.

    I love the trad mass, and can’t thank the Pope enough for what he has done for us as a Church.

    All the same, I have to admit I’ve struggled with the trad mass at times. First, the priests (and congregations) I’ve experienced in a number of different cities often seem to me to have some fairly odd ideas – I’m a traditionalist liturgically, and want orthodoxy. But in sermons I don’t want exhortations that amount to calls to go back to how things were in the 1950s, odd theological speculations, or proclamations of traditionalist superiority/evilness of the bishops. I’d rather sermons focused on practical suggestions about how to get to heaven, or explanations of doctrine! And half the congregation, even at indult/FSSP masses, typically seems to think the NO is probably invalid.

    Secondly, I strongly prefer the sung Mass to the Low Mass – I do like some silence, I hate having to give the responses, but somehow the low mass just doesn’t really work as well.

    But every time I’ve dropped out and tried to go back to the NO I’ve found it impossible to do. Partly it is about liturgical abuses – there almost invariably are at least some (many priests seem unable to stop themselves from extemporising here and there, or using extraordinary ministers when there is absolutely no need to do so). But even when it is well done, I still find it less reverent, less transcendent than the trad mass. Once, after a week on retreat at a NO monastery (where Mass was sung daily in Latin), I went to a Church where I could sit through half a dozen masses in a row, in almost every variant of NO and trad (English sung with hymns, English said, Latin sung NO, trad low, etc) trying to understand what it was that made the trad seem more ???satisfying/real/holy/???.

    There are certainly things about the NO I really dislike – the kiss of peace is just disruptive, as is the mysterium fidei. The offertory procession is distracting. I’d rather a priest did the readings than the amateur voices I generally hear when I go to the NO mass. I hate having the priest looking towards me rather than towards the altar. But none of these really explain it – Brompton Oratory’s High Mass in Latin for example is ad orientem and drops most of these things, yet still doesn’t quite do it for me. So I still don’t know the answer, just know that the trad Mass is a splendid treasure that should be widely available.

  79. Thomas F. Miller says:

    Father Z
    Thank you for doing this. The information is invaluable.
    Our chapel in Petaluma California has been operating for thirty years; my attendance is approaching six. We will be moving, I hope shortly, to one of four churches in the Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park area. The reactions described should be very, very, useful in our missionary work – as we see it – in supporting Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio. Benedict the Great as I see him.

  80. TKS says:

    I am 59, remember the Mass of my youth. Decided to attend the “Latin Mass” as I am so put off by the lack of reverence in so many parishes, along with the new ‘parts’ of shaking hands, holding hands, all the talking, no tabernacle in sight, Communion in the hand, and Eucharistic Ministers (can we not stand in line for a bit anymore.) So I went locally and it was not well done. Then I went to Hanceville, AL to the Shrine of Our Blessed Sacrament where I was completely captivated by the Nun’s Mass (Latin). So reverent, calm, prayerful. With their new Bishop, I think this will be televised and then all can it.

  81. Barbara Swan says:

    I am a convert, received into the Church in 1986. I found the NO Mass difficult at first but soon got used to it. The priests at my first parish were reverent and orthodox, as were 2 of 3 at my second parish. (The one priest liked to refer to his red ceramic chalice as “Big Red.”)

    In 1991, I experienced my first “old” Mass and have been hooked ever since, although I am not always able to attend. I used to drive 120 miles each way to an FSSP parish in Scranton PA for the entire Easter Triduum! Well worth the trip!

    I find the Extraordinary Rite (well-named) to be a more beautiful, reverent and contempletive Mass . I liken it to Mary seated at the feet of Jesus, hanging onto His every word while Martha is busy about other things.

    I am so grateful to Pope Benedict XVI for the Motu Proprio and I am shocked at the absolutely vicious reaction of some of my co-religionists to it.

  82. Scott says:

    I am 38 and started going to Mass again after a 20+ year hiatus. I attended 3 or 4 N.O. Masses and was less than enchanted by the informality (chit-chatting before Mass, guitars, being instructed by the priest to give fellow parishoners a “howdy neighbor” greeting at the beginning of Mass, people showing up in shorts and flip-flops, etc. etc.).

    I came across Fr. De Pauw’s website and watched his video of the TLM. I knew absolutely nothing of the Tridentine Mass, and recall how odd it was that the priest wasn’t facing the congregation. I had no idea that such a change had occurred in the Mass (much less in the Church)around the time of my birth. Despite this, I felt a odd, yet very strong, familiarity with that Mass and watched that video over and over.

    Using other online resources, I printed out the Ordinary of the Mass and read through it several times. I was fortunate enough to have the FSSP in my city, and I finally got the nerve up to attend Mass. I was literally brought to tears when I walked into the traditional old church to the sounds of the Rosary being prayed by the parishoners before Mass. I felt as if I had just stepped into a time machine and had gone back 50 years.

    The reverence of the Mass, the discipline, the silence….all of these things attracted me to the TLM. At least initially, I think one of the most powerful elements was knowing that this was the exact same Mass that so many generations of my family knew. I could envision my relatives witnessing what essentially the same liturgy 100, or even 1000, years go. The more I learned about the Church prior to the late 1960’s, the more cheated I felt.

    After several Masses and much reading, I finally got the nerve up to go to the second confession of my life. My last confession had been my first…in 1977. I started praying daily (another practice abandoned since childhood), began abstaining from meat on Fridays (something I hadn’t even realized Catholics used to really do), bought several missals and an old Baltimore Catechism on e-bay, and the list goes on.

    At first, following the Mass was difficult. But, I quickly figured out how to use certain elements (bells, movements of the priest and servers, the “Orate Fratres” and “Nobis quoque peccatoribus”) to reorient myself when I got lost. It probably took me several months, but I finally reached the point where I could follow along perfectly. Now, I will occasionally not even open up my missal except for the readings of the Propers.

    Needless to say, since attending my first TLM, I was “hooked” from the beginning. I’ve never looked back. When the option is available (and, fortunately, for me, it usually is), I will go to the reverent Tridentine Mass rather than suffer through the potpourri of abuses and the irreverence that unfortunately always seems to be present at any N.O. Mass I attend.

    I haven’t read any of the other responses yet, but it won’t surprise me if there are many similar tales here.

  83. Kim says:

    Were you “hooked”?

    Yes, immediately

    Are you hooked now but it took a while? N/A

    Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”) Certainly not

    Were you put off and don’t want to go back? N/A

    What was it that captured you?

    Where to begin…..I was “wounded” by the beauty of it. By it’s very nature it was awe-inspiring and reverential. It allowed me to enter more fully into the mystery of the Mass by my own silence.

    What repelled you?

    Nothing about the Mass itself repels me, but the location is not great. It is in, ironically, one of those Church centers where the chapel is barely recognizable as anything Catholic. For example, the Stations of the Cross are just that: crosses with Roman numerals inscribed. But yet it is transformed during the Mass. Also the distance caused me to not go for a long time. At least until recently when I found out a woman who knew my parents her whole life sings in the beautiful choir every week. So I go with her.

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely? Due to other obligations, I will only be going to the Tridentine Mass about 2-3 times a month.

  84. Paul says:

    I am a cradle Catholic who grew up with the NO, who has attended the Tridentine a few times. The thing that really strikes me about usus antiquior is its unhurried nature and “monumentality.” Perhaps this last comes because I have attended only “high masses,” in a fine old church. The length of the priest’s devotional material helps to bring this about too, though. I find the relaxed pace both a wonderful and challenging environment for prayer. The NO basically asks you to always be paying close attention or you miss whole sections of the mass, whereas the Tridentine is more forgiving of lapses, and gives you more time to get recollected. But for that reason I’m tempted to “sluff off” and just take in the scene. The mass itself was hard to follow the first time, but I found out if you pay attention to the *actions* in the sanctuary it’s not too hard.

    I intend to return once in a while, but I find the quite reverent Latin NO mass celebrated ad orientem in an even more lovely old Church in my area a strong “competitor,” when I need a break from my suburban parish. My Latin is pretty good, and I like doing some responses, as well as keeping up on the new readings cycle. The cleanness and clear structure of the NO also has a certain “aesthetic” appeal to me. I guess I’m “modern” that way.

  85. Geoff says:

    I have been twice and have to say that, on a personal level, I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. Perhaps I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t been exposed to that many over-the-edge Novus Ordo celebrations. But I am still interested in learning more about it, and am very happy that Pope Benedict has made wider use possible.

  86. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    I prefer the TLM, but would not say I am hooked.

    It took about 4-6 weeks for me to catch on. I read a lot of materials furnished by the chapel.

    What captured me was a comparion of the NO mass vs TLM version. It seemed like prayers were watered down in the NO. I loved the Last Gospel. I preferred the Roman Canon. The English translations in the old missal were uplifting. Taking communion at an altar rail. When the two forms are compared, I was dumbfounded as to why so much was changed. I liked the old calendar: Holy Name of Jesus, Ember Days, Sexagesima etc. It seemed like the old missal had a spirit that invited a person to more fully encounter Christ and his salvific work.

    What I would change in the TLM: readings done in vernacular only, priest could pray a little louder and more plainly.

    I go about 25% now; inconvenient time and place. I hope that will change with MP.

  87. Jim says:

    I was a convert at age 19, in 1961, so I did not “grow up” with the ancient mass. I was immediately attracted to it. I am not proud of this, but I stopped going to church around 1966 mainly because I was turned off by the new liturgy, then came back in 1986. I love the traditional mass. I would go more frequently but it’s a 2-3 hour trip to the nearest church where it is celebrated. My thoughts: it makes little sense to read the epistle and gospel in Latin, then repeat the readings in English. Also, I think the dialogue form of the traditional mass (which was commonly employed when I first came into the church) is the most appropriate form. Why shouldn’t the ordinary of the mass (kyria, gloria, sanctus, agnus dei) be sung or recited by all the people? It’s an academic question because most of the priests in my diocese (Santa Rosa) are hostile to celebrating the tridentine mass.

  88. Gen X Revert says:

    I am 37 and attended my first traditional Mass some years ago. I first “reverted” to the faith and learned much about Catholicism through websites, blogs, EWTN, etc.. and then got the nerve up to attend the Traditional Mass. I took my late father’s 1943 Missal with me and found it hard to follow. When I first sat down, about 30 minutes early, the choir was practicing and the sounds made me think “now this is Catholic”. The Mass was reverent, the congregation devout, the prayers were meaningful, everything I had been looking for in parish after parish. I have attended about 2 dozen times but mostly go to N.O. Mass at a good parish, where the Masses have no abuses and the homilies are very good. It is just too much trouble to get to the Traditional Mass. I will often get a feeling of missing the Mass and keep wanting to get there, to “recharge”. I am not hooked however, as I prefer the N.O. and only wish there were more reverence, more latin, and better hymns.

  89. John Hudson says:

    The first Tridentine Mass I attended was a low Mass (at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, in London), and I found it interesting but but also somewhat confusing. At the time, I has recently made the decision to leave the Anglican communion and join the Church, so the structure of the traditional Mass was familiar to me from high Anglican services, but I wasn’t prepared for the silent canon, which threw me a bit. But as an experience it stayed very much in my consciousness, and I found myself thinking about it more and more as I experienced, over the next few months, a variety of contemporary Roman services, both good and bad.

    The second Tridentine Mass I attended was a missa cantata (at the FSSP parish in Vancouver), and this time it got me completely: this was my religion!

    I had the wonderful experience of being received into the Church in the traditional rite.

    I now most often attend a novus ordo Sunday Mass, because that is all that is available on the island where I live (there is an SSPX chapel a ferry ride away, and I pray for their reconciliation). But my heart is very much in the traditional Roman rite: it corresponds most closely to my spirituality.

  90. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I will have something to say on the matter Wednesday night, after returning from Berlin, NJ (Mater Ecclesiae’s evening weekday Mass).

  91. Nicole says:

    I did not grow up with the Tridentine Rite, but was exposed to it while attending University near Pittsburgh, PA. A friend brought me to St. Boniface for a Tridentine High Mass, and I was hooked. In years since, I have attended the Tridentine Rite in Washington DC, Virginia, and Florida, any chance I get. I would say that St. Boniface has been my favorite celebration of the High Mass, due to a wonderful priest, Fr. Myers, who encourages a gorgeous chorale, smells, bells, the works. He also spends time throughout the year explaining the Mass and how and why it is celebrated in the Tridentine Rite. What a blessing to have a priest who lives out his priestly role of governing, sanctifying, and teaching!

  92. Geoffrey says:

    Fr. Z:

    I was born in 1979, therefore knowing nothing of the (now) extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. I attended Catholic elementary school and knew nothing but Mass in English, with nuns playing guitars and directing all of us students to sing.

    Aside from hearing my grandmother mention Latin in a type of found nostalgia, I first became intrigued with Latin and Chant when in my teens (mid to late 90s) I watched the Disney animated film, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” The score contained much Latin, and since Notre Dame was a Catholic cathedral, I became intrigued…

    Also in my possession was an old English-only Sunday Missal that belonged to my father. It was from the early 1960s. I always found it odd when looking through it… parts of it resembled the liturgy I was used to, and yet it didn’t…

    Around this time the Internet became popular, and I did some searching on the issue. I had always been under the impression that “in the old days”, Mass was what we have now, except for two differences: language and the position of the celebrant. How wrong I was! There was no “old” Mass in my diocese, so I did nothing but collect and read articles and old Missals. I felt cheated… and yet torn. There were (and are) aspects of the “new” liturgy that I like, but it really doesn’t convey what it should (at least here in California).

    Just a few years ago I attended my first “old” Mass, as part of a conference in a hotel conference room. I found it very moving, and VERY quiet. It was a Missa lecta, and I wasn’t used to so much quiet!

    Even now, with rumors that our bishop will soon take the initiative and establish regular Masses in the extraordinary form, I am both ecstatic and sad. Will I go to it regularly? Definitely, but there are elements of the ordinary form that I like very much… I only wish it was done properly! Of course, I am looking forward to the influencing of both forms by both, until, someday, long from now, we have a Roman Missal that the Council Fathers REALLY wanted.

  93. Fr. Gabriel Possenti says:

    37 years old.
    Ordained 8.5 years
    Never exposed to the Extraordinary Form until I assisted at a Missa Cantata in S.C. 3 years ago.

    Hooked IMMEDIATELY! and was ANGRY at such sublime beauty being kept from me throughout seminary and priesthood to that point.

    First Impressions? “If this [Missa Cantata] is the timeless Roman Rite, the Eastern Orthodox have NOTHING on us!”

  94. Joe Marier says:

    I went once, a couple of years ago. Can’t say I was hooked, but I did gravitate heavily towards more “high church” NO masses ever since. I liked kneeling for communion, and I liked how quickly I caught on to the square notes and could follow along with the chant (then again, I’m a music major, and not easily intimidated). I did not like seeing a copy of The Remnant in the vestibule! I didn’t like the feeling that I was in 1962, with all the good and bad of that time painstakingly preserved… specifically, 1) the hymn choices, and 2) the cheesy plastic devotional stuff they had for sale in the vestibule.

    These days, I gravitate towards the more “high church” NO masses that are semi-prevalent in my area (Northern Virginia).

  95. Joe says:

    Dar Father Z,

    Great blog!

    I am almost 44 and have no memory of the Latin Mass, as it was done away with before I can remember going to Mass. I went to Catholic school in the 1970s, in a neighboring town that had a small but beautiful church, with a crown over the altar that had “SANCTUS” and Latin inscriptions on the crossbeams. We did the silly guitar hymns, “God mixes with man” nonsense, and felt banners. I learned next to nothing in five years of Catholic school and three years of CCD.

    My first TLM that I can remember was in 1999 at St. Mary’s in DC. It was a Low Mass and I had some trouble following along. Since then, I sporadically attended the Latin Mass at St. Boniface in Pittsburgh and I have only grown in appreciation for the ancient rite of the Mass. Banal music, seeing every Tom Dick and Harriett run up to the altar to hand out Communion (this wasn’t going on when I was a kid!) hand holding,…some days I want to say ENOUGH! If I could get my wife to go along, we would go to the TLM High Mass at St. Boniface each week. As it is, I go there for First Saturday Mass every month.
    I appreciate the quiet, the reverence for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, even being in a church that looks like a Catholic Church should look – and the prayers in Latin! As an aside, to listen to Gregorian chant or O Salutaris Hostia or Ave Maria (Schubert’s version) is such a moving experience.

    The TLM is part of the process that made me into a more educated Catholic. I am still a sinner, but now I am much more aware of it and go to Confession much more often.

  96. Terri says:

    I have not attended one … YET. But I am planning on attending one or two times. I have a hard enough time trying to remember what I am supposed to say and do in a regular mass in English. One think I really really wish that there was no singing during communion- I like to pray and a lot more quiet before the mass. Seems like people come in blabbing about all manner of things not related to God… Mass… or anything else…

  97. Tommy says:

    I’m 53 but didn’t convert from the Methodist Church till 1978. Have attended the ordinary rite for 30 years and watched it go from something I loved to something that resembled the Methodist Church.

    (1) “Were you “hooked”?”

    From the moment I pulled up in the parking lot and saw men in suits, women carrying veils, and well dressed children.
    The beauty of the reverence shown by the parishoners brought tears to my eyes. [We must always remember that we influence others by our examples. – Fr. Z]

  98. mortalis beatus says:

    I’m 35 years old and converted from a protestant upbringing to the Catholic Faith. I attend a Novus Ordo parish. I had the opportunity to attend the Baptisms, First Communions, and Nuptial Mass of my childhood friend, his wife, and child when they converted to Cathlicism, albeit of the sedevacantist variety. I found the traditional liturgy difficult to follow, but with a tanglible sense that something important was going on. I’ve since attended only one other traditional Mass at the same community, but this time had a better grasp of the structure of the liturgy. For myself, my experience wasn’t so much the traditional liturgy itself, but what I missed when I returned to my parish, that being space. Space to listen, space to contemplate, space to worship. I’ve found my parish liturgy to be increasingly difficult to assist at because of the general business, noise, and contrived sentiments beyond just the poor selection of hymns. I’m tempted to find a parish that celebrates the traditional liturgy, but I feel an obligation to support my current parish. However, I’ve spent the last three years studying latin and familiarizing myslelf with the traditional form in my spare time so I’m ready when I have the legitimate opportunity to assit at the extrodinary form. Imagine my joy at the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio!

  99. jim says:

    Fr. Z

    I am 34 yrs old and started attendending the Tridentine Rite because I was put off by what was being preached in all of the different Catholic parishes in my home town. The more I studied the more I realised that all the false teaching went hand and hand with liturgical abuses. I decided to check out the “Latin Mass” that was offered at a chapel in our diocese. I was amazed at the reverence and the beauty. I could not believe that this was what the Mass used to be. My father would always say, when I was young, that the church should have never changed the Mass and that he new things were going down hill when sister showed up with a guitar on the altar. I had no idea what he was talking about. When I went to my first Tridentine Mass I had a hard time following but it did not matter because it just seemed so Holy. Furthermore , the preaching was the best I had ever heard with great commentaries on the Father’s of the Church. I have continued to go as often as I can but it is difficult because it is a crowded small chapel and I have a small child. It is my wish that we can get our own parish so that my children can recieve the sacraments this way.

  100. Dr. Brian says:

    I am one of those who never knew the TLM as I was a convert from Protestantism back in 1988.

    I attended the TLM at St. Patrick’s Church in New Orleans several months after Hurricane Katrina struck. I must admit I did it just out of curiosity and went with a friend of mine. I didn’t think I would like it at all mainly because of the language barrier. We walked into the church, which is quite beautiful. It was during Lent, so the first thing I noticed was the statues were all covered with purple cloths. The organ was playing softly as people entered quietly. To my surprise, many were young families and many had their own missals. The women (and girls) almost all had their heads covered. I was also impressed that there were 2 confessionals in use that morning, quite a difference from many churches which these days only offer confession for one hour one day a week. At one point I caught the smell of incense burning and turned to see the servers in black cassocks and white surplices lining up, and before I could turn back around, that’s when it happened.

    A bell rang, the people stood up, the celebrant with a couple of servers entered from the sacristy, genuflected, turned and chanted Asperges me, and then the choir began chanting Domine hyssopo et mundabor… I was so overwhelmed at the absolute beauty that I found tears welling up in my eyes. I had attended Mass almost weekly since my conversion and never had I experienced anything that so filled my soul with joy. It continued throughout the Mass and all of the cliches such as “the priest’s back is to the people” and “the priest mumbles the prayers” and “you won’t understand what is going on” just vanished. I knew enough of the common prayers of the Church in Latin to be able to know what exactly was going on. As for the priest with his back to the people, suffice it to say that was not what I experienced. I experienced the priest praying for those present and me. All through my mind I kept getting images of Moses praying for Israel in the Tent of Meeting and Jesus praying for us to the Father in heaven as described in the letter to the Hebrews. For the first time I really understood what in persona Christi meant. I was able to see clearly that the Mass was a continuity of the liturgy of the temple in Jerusalem. We were praising God in the same manner as Moses and Aaron and David and Jesus right there in New Orleans. I kept telling myself, “Oh! This is what heaven is like!” And then to think it is just a foretaste! By the end of Mass I walked out of the Church, and the first thing I asked was, “What time is it?” I had completely lost contact with time, and I could have been there 15 minutes for 2 hours. I honestly didn’t know. I had my first real experience of eternity.

    Needless to say, Fr. Z, I was hooked. For weeks I continued to contemplate what I had experience. I make the trip (about 45 minutes since there is not much traffic in the city on Sunday morning) about once a month.

  101. Elizabeth says:

    I am 39 and was raised with the Pope Paul VI Mass. I never studied

    Were you “hooked”?
    YES!…Finally with the Tridentine Mass I found a Mass conducted with
    a “dignity” worthy of Christ.

    Are you hooked now but it took a while?
    I did read the beginning of the Fr. Lasance Missal very carefully
    prior to Mass a few times in the beginning. That was useful.

    Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”)
    NO! Rather, I was shocked that the Church essentially wiped the
    beauty of this Mass out of the minds of at least two generations
    worth of Catholics.

    Were you put off and don’t want to go back?
    Just the opposite..

    What was it that captured you?
    The reverence…the fact that priests and laity are not up at the
    altar acting like clowns putting on a show. The fact that the center
    is GOD , and not the guitarist. Also, with the Low Mass, I have come
    to appreciate that “silence is golden” when one is trying to
    concentrate on The Sacrifice. I am much LESS distracted at a
    Tridentine Low Mass than at the Paul VI Mass.

    What repelled you?

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely?
    I go exclusively to an Indult Mass now.

  102. Ben Fischer says:

    I’ve been to a 1962 mass 3 times. The 1st time, I went in knowing that I’d be lost, and expecting to just mimic everyone else’s posture. Indeed, I was lost and just followed along. After I got home, I found I couldn’t get the Mass out of my head and ordered a Missal online, telling myself I’d go back when the Missal arrived in a couple of weeks. It showed up that Friday so I went back to try it out.

    Total confusion! I couldn’t follow a word that was said, nor could I keep up with when to kneel and stand. It was pretty frustrating.

    But the music was beautiful and the sermons were great and I found myself back there in two weeks with a simple guide to the mass printed off the internet (with just the ordinary). The 3rd time I found I could pretty easily keep up.

    – Hooked? Sort of. I still can’t get it out of my head, but the NO at my local parish is reverent and I’m happy to attend it.
    – What captured me? Two things: first, the Priest is just excellent. His sermons are very practical and instructive. He’d be one of my favorite Priests no matter what mass he was saying. Secondly, the Missal I got (the one that confused me the 2nd time around) is also excellent. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I learned more about the Mass in a week reading that missal than I had in 12 years of Catholic grade school and high school. Again, there’s nothing TLM about that. The same info could be printed in a NO Missal, I just never thought to look.
    – Will I keep going? Probably about once a month or so. Maybe more often. The little chapel in Dallas gets pretty crowded, so I may not go again until it cools off some…

    As a tip, I’d like to echo the previous posts about not trying to follow along. In fact, many people don’t. They leave their missals on the pew and listen or pray quietly. All the flipping back and forth can be frustrating. Either take a booklet missal or something printed off the internet. In this mass, at least, the readings are repeated in English at the homily, so there’s really little point in trying to follow the Propers of the day. I only use my hand missal as a prayer book before and after communion and for the prayer of thanksgiving after the mass.

  103. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I’ll try to be brief.

    1)I came to the Traditional Mass, initially, because I knew I had not converted to the “Conciliar Church”, if that was something other than the Church of Sts. Peter, Thomas More and others.

    2) The more I listened to the rantings of the “Spirit of Vatican II” crowd, the more I realized what a hollow sound that noise had.

    3) I’ve never been a fan of microphones in Church. In the Traditional Mass, they’re entirely unnecessary.

    4) Pope Paul’s Missal inspired Eagle’s Wings. Pope Pius’ Missal inspired Palestrina.

    5) The more I read the Latin of the Pauline Missal, the more I realized ICEL had failed to translate it. Then I ran across a Pian Missal and, knowing it was better by instinct, I set about giving this new phenomenon a chance.

    6) I don’t remember who it was who said these to me, but “when is a repetition superfluous”, and “would you only tell your wife you loved her once, tersely” really hit home.

    7) Since I’ve been swimming in the water of Trent, I’ve discovered that there isn’t less of Holy Writ in the venerable Mass, and there certainly isn’t less participation: at my new parish in Sacramento, attentive participation is definitely the order of the day.

    8) I have been to Mass in Spanish, and still knew roughly where we were in the Mass. I pointed out to my students that even if we didn’t follow every word in the Latin, we still knew, from our Baltimore Catechism, what was going on.

    9) Just recently, my 6-yr-old said to me: “Daddy, why in the English Mass does the priest have his back to Jesus the whole time?”[Ex ore infantium… – Fr. Z]

  104. jm says:

    I have been to the traditional latin mass 2 times, a high and low. Since I’d have to go to go to another state- 75+ miles away. But I first saw the beauty of Latin in the 1970s mass, when I went to the noon N.O. mass on Sundays at St Mary’s Church New Haven, CT. It had a schola and the Dominicans(OP) there were AWESOME-great homilies based on truth, incense and bells, including the bell tower to let the whole city know when the consecration was happening– especially since it is surrounded by Yale! But at that point I did not know Indults existed but I was spoiled by the worship at St Mary’s and their liturgical practices full of respect and dignity( I guess there’s an indult in New Haven, just down the street. It was beautiful and when I moved to where I am now, I had a difficult time ever hearing Latin although priests were reverant and faithful.
    So if anyone knows of a mass according to the Missal of JohnXXIII in New Hampshire-please pass it on- VT just had one said by their bishop, I hope we’re next! It just needs to be at a normal time in an easy to reach place. Now with the internet more people can find revelant info about traditional Catholic worship and the variety in the Roman Catholic Church :)

  105. Brian C says:

    As a convert to Catholicism at age 33 a number of years ago, I have never attended a Tridentine Mass. I have read a good portion of “The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975” by Bugnini. It requires quite a bit of ‘reading between the lines,’ much like Goebbel’s Diary. I have 1st year understanding of Latin, and find that language quite instructive in understanding English from a constructive sense. The ‘Novus Ordo’ is too close to rumours of the ‘Novus Ordo Seculorum’ which to me ties into the 3rd Secret of Fatima that was supposed to have been released by 1960. That said, I am in possession of a beautiful Saint Joseph Missal from 1959 which I obtained from a Catholic Book Sale for basically nothing. It has the the Traditional Mass with English translations. This Missal is remarkably well constructed and has outlasted the 1970 3 volume ‘New Saint Joseph Missal’ of inadequate binding. It is rather bothersome that so much of ‘traditional’ Catholicism was omitted by the Novus Ordo, such as the ‘Glory Be’ and other traditional prayers. What is even more bothersome are the more recent Biblical translations that ICEL has introduced into the Readings. As an example, the ‘Tabernacle of David’ is now referred to as ‘David’s hut.’ It is particularly aggravating that there is no Bible on the face of the earth from which these readings are based, and the Faithful are obligated to regard these ‘hegelian dialectics’ as “The Word of God.” Despite these aggravations, I have never personally ever doubted the Eucharistic Presence of the Mass as Christ Incarnate, so in this sense I do not doubt or question my conversion to Catholicism. However, I wonder how on God’s earth how the Latin word “Calix” ever got translated as ‘cup’ rather than “Chalice.” There are changes we have have to tolerate, but I truly wonder why the Readings are not extracted from the Douay-Rheims Bible and leave ICEL and ‘ecclesiastical freemasony’ out of the Church enitirely.

    I did notice on a ‘comments off’ thread that Father dismissed this site as ‘Traditional.’ To me, Father accepts Vatican II as legitimate but lacking in a more ‘literal interpretation’ from Interpretations which are extremely diluted from the efficacy of the Traditional Latin. We might want to avoid others’ interpretations or subjective impressions of what “Tradtional’ conveys, but an honest translation of that which is ‘traditional’ is in no means in contradistinction to the Papal decree, on the contrary, it (and Father) seeks to more firmly establish that which separates and distinguishes us as “Catholics” and not just mere “Christians.”

    God bless you all!!


  106. John H says:

    My first experience with the older Mass was somewhat negative, insofar as I was told that only schismatics attended it in SSPX chapels. I had a chance to go to such a Mass when I was in my early teens, but I don’t recall very much of it. When I went to college I picked up a copy of The Spirit of the Liturgy and quickly realized that I had been misled. I immediately sought the Traditional Mass, and having been informed of the foundational principles of true worship from the Cardinal’s book, I immediately fell in love with it, and with all the Tradition surrounding it.

  107. Gavin says:

    I was raised in the post-V2 church, born in the 80s. My experience was solid mediocrity. I can’t really say I remember anything horribly bad, but I also don’t remember anything incredibly beautiful. I became a musician because I wanted to add something to the liturgy, namely the organ. I remember my first organ teacher had nothing bad to say about Catholicism – “Stay away from Rome or your carreer will be a disaster” he said. I had heard of Latin, chant, and such, but always with the “party line” spins. After performing a Mozart Mass in high school choir, I knew the liturgy could be better, but didn’t know how. I knew it had something to do with “older”, but didn’t quite know what. Then I saw an add for the Tridentine Mass in the diosecean paper…

    It was a low Mass. Frankly, I found it profoundly boring, musically below banal, and thought “so THAT’S where Vatican 2 came from!”
    Were you “hooked”? NO I wasn’t!
    Are you hooked now but it took a while? Nope, I’ll get to that.
    Were you put off and don’t want to go back? Absolutely
    What was it that captured you? None of it. I really mean there was nothing about how the liturgy was carried out that appealed to me.
    What repelled you? Everything. The priest was completely inaudible, the sermon was beyond abysmal, the music was like tortured cats (and remains the very worst music I have ever heard in a Catholic Mass)
    Do you go now? No

    As you may know, I now work in a “reform of the reform” parish, and have been doing a great deal of chant for a priest who celebrates each liturgy with total reverence. To be honest, I’m now “hooked” on the Ordinary Form of the Mass – I think it can be done right, and I think it ought to be THE Mass of the Roman Rite. That said, I have attended another Tridentine Mass, particularly a High Mass for Trinity.

    This time I understood it much better. I knew the structure of the liturgy, had a book to follow in, and even sang out of the Kyriale as the schola sang. Still, I am not impressed. It was all very lovely, but to be honest it would be just as lovely if I were not there (nay, a bit better since my singing was roughly approximate since I was sightreading). I can not stand the Silent Canon. The Canon is so beautiful, why hide it from the people? Everything I loved about it, the music, ad orientem, Latin, is all proper to the Ordinary Mass. Why go to the Tridentine Mass when I can get much of that in my own parish? I do intend to return to that particular church for the Tridentine Mass, and my boss may yet begin celebrating it here, but the Ordinary Form is the Mass I grew up with, the Mass I put all my energy into serving, and I don’t see how the extraordinary form, no matter how skillfully done, can replace it.

  108. Luke says:

    I am a young Australian Catholic, 24 years of age. I grew up in an ultra liberal diocese and knew no better than the bad doctrine and liturgical abuses I was being fed. Then, upon moving to a better diocese I instinctively became inherently attached to the fullness and beauty of Catholic doctrine and liturgy in all it’s orthodox richness (albeit still in the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite). This triggered my interest and further research. Now, after discovering the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (about a year and a half a go) I have become deeply attached to it. So much so that I now exclusively attend the Extraordinary form (unless this is impossible). The extent of my attraction and attachment to this form of Holy Mass is so strong now that when I return to the Ordinary form (even relatively well celebrated ones) I feel as though there is still something missing. I am certainly not an SSPX adherent, nor do I believe the Ordinary form of Mass to be invalid, but so strong is my attachment to this most Holy and traditional rite that I now exclusively attend it. The true sense of the sacred, so often missing in the newer form of the Roman Rite is what attracted me, the constant genuflections of the priest, the congregations kneeling more often, the care taken with signs of the cross and incensation etc. etc. It’s the attention to detail in the traditional rite that really sets it apart for me. Such care to detail shows true devotion and it cannot be mistaken (just by hearing the extraordinary form) that Catholics truly believe this is our Lord Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity and this is the heavenly court temporarily opened before our eyes in this temporal world. Such is the wonder and awe the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite inspires in me!

  109. PB says:

    It took a while for me to get hooked. I was born in the 70s, after the changes. As I was finishing up college, I felt a need to become more deeply involved and committed to the faith. I started going to daily Mass, frequent confession, Adoration, etc. (I remember being absolutely bowled over when I heard the congregation singing the Tantum Ergo at Benediction for the first time….I was 25 or 26 years old and had never heard it before!) In the late 90s, I attended a TLM at an SSPX chapel (I didn’t know anything about them at the time, it was just what I found in the phone book). I had studied the missal carefully beforehand and pretty much knew what to expect. I was impressed with the prayerfulness and reverence, but didn’t immediately return. After a few more years of reading about the faith and the Mass and struggling to find a place to go to Mass that wasn’t annoying, I started attending the local indult Mass once or twice a month. It took a combination of a few more bad NO experiences, the first experience of a Tridentine Missa Cantata, and a chance meeting with the chaplain of the indult Mass (which I took as the guidance of the Holy Spirit) to finally decide that I was going to be a regular at the indult Mass. Now I’ve been going for over five years and sing in the choir. There’s no way I could put into words what a privilege it is to attend the TLM, how it has brought everything together in my faith and prayer life. If anything made me hesitate, I suppose it was the fact that I had to work out for myself whether I had some sort of indecent, kooky, schismatic tendency by preferring the traditional Mass — I remember how even just a few years ago, there was much hostility against the traditional Mass even among orthodox Catholics. Happily, our Holy Father’s “hermeneutic of continuity” is really having an effect now and is changing all of that.

  110. Jonathan Bennett says:

    I’m 18; I was raised with the Pauline Mass, fell away from the Church for a number of years with my family, returned a few years ago and subsequently discovered the riches of the Church’s Liturgical traditions in the older form of the Mass. I now attend once a month (that’s the only time it is offered here), and I have the honor of being an Altar server. God-willing, someday I hope to celebrate that Mass myself as a priest.

    The spirituality of the older Mass took hold of me and didn’t let go. In the new Mass, the priest speaks and my voice responds; in the old Mass it is as if the entirety of the Church, past, present and future, speaks through the priest, and it is my soul that responds in prayer. There is an overwhelming sense of the sacred in every word, action and symbol. At times in the new Mass I have felt bombarded noise and constant, almost flamboyant, action; there is always somebody prompting me to shout responses or sing or hold my arms out– it feels artificial and too focused on external actions. The older Mass allows me to participate with my mind and soul, with my interior prayer taking precedence over my external actions.

    If only I were a poet, there is so much I would like to say but I cannot find the words to describe it…

  111. fxr2 says:

    Father Z,
    I am 41 years old and do not remember the “Tridentine” form of the mass as a child. I do remember some controversy which in hind sight was due to the changes. I remember our pastor saying prayers under his breath in Latin during the mass when I was an altar boy in the early 1970s.

    My first experience with the “Tridentine” mass was a low mass. I went for weeks and found myself completely lost. I simply read the missal as quickly as I could and waited for the ringing of the bells. After weeks of attending I attended a high mass. I still found myself lost at times, but I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the chant. I found the Credo being chanted actually gave me goose bumps. It was truly magnificent. It took some work, but I seldom find myself lost any more and can generally follow along with out much difficulty.

    I strongly suggest to any priest who is contemplating instituting a mass in the extraordinary form to take his time, work with the choir and sing the high mass. The uninitiated will be shocked at the majesty. It is truly what all masses should be. After some time the low mass will be understood and will also be appreciated. I encourage all of the brave priests in the world to work towards this goal. A low mass is much harder to follow.


  112. Patrick says:

    I am almost 30, and had no experience of the older form. I now go to a Ukrainian Byzantine Church when I have the chance, though my babies often force me to more convenient locations. That is the Liturgy that has my heart.
    While I was awestruck by the experience of the “extraordinary rite”, I was not hooked because I was not prepared for how hard it would be to follow along the first time. It is hard to track without knowing the ques.
    However, I was immediately struck by the idea that something was terribly wrong and missing in the contemporary Church. I was no longer sure that the faith I was practicing in the Novus Ordo was the faith of my fathers. This happened again when I read the texts side-by-side. It made me wonder what could possibly have prompted someone who loved the Lord to remove so much beauty from the mass.
    The problem with explanations like the one offered by Card. Daneels is that they are often presented as if they were theologically imperative, rather than simply an opinion. “We needed to bring the Mass back to the people.” Did we? Did it come back? It is all declared with such certainty.
    I have always found such reasoning suspect. The proof should be in the pudding,and my experience of Mass growing up, along with all of my friends as far as I know, was apathy, boredom, and indifference. Maybe the N.O. was not the cause, but it certainly was not the solution. Was it worth losing so much?

  113. I converted from Lutheranism in 2003, and didn’t know the older form existed until about 2002. Since then, I’ve attended the older liturgy perhaps six times. My first experiences were tagging along with a friend.

    Most of my encounters have had at least a slightly negative tinge to them, though not always because of the liturgy. First and foremost were the people who tended to frequent the “Tridentine” Masses; they all seemed to be belligerent folks, despite their thriving families and communities, and came across as cynical about the world outside their little Traditional world. This, more than anything, keeps me from identifying myself with the “Traddies” — I don’t want to become soured towards my newfound Church home, nor do I want to box myself into a room within that home and be afraid to leave.

    The other major negative part of my experience with the older rite has to do with, yes, the silence. Don’t get me wrong; I love silence and contemplative prayer, and I understand that my role at Mass is different than that of the priest. But especially in Masses which are not sung, it is a stumblingblock for me that I cannot hear the beautiful words of the prayer which the priest is pronouncing over the Sacrifice. I can and do unite myself with the Victim on the altar, but it is a much more profound experience for me when I can hear and unite myself with each word of the priest as he speaks it to God (as I can do in the Ordinary Form now). The language of the older rite is so rich, pregnant with meaning, and though Missals are useful things, it seems to me that we ought to be able to know what Father is doing and saying without that crutch. The “Tridentine” silence saddens me every time I’m present.

    What keeps me coming back every so often (and more frequently of late)? The language (not Latin…the words and phrases themselves), which I can’t get elsewhere. The solemnity, the majesty, the incense and vestments, the Latin; all of which are present at my Novus Ordo parish (St. Agnes), but which I crave when I’m away.

    If I could hear the Canon of the Mass, I would probably attend the Extraordinary Mass regularly even when I am within driving distance of St. Agnes. I know it seems like a silly point to get hung up on, one that perhaps should be outshone by the splendor of the older liturgy. But hearing the liturgy is an important part of the Mass, and one of the true blessings of the Novus Ordo.

  114. I was ordained almost 40 years ago. At that time the readings were already in the vernacular. The last time I celebrated a public Mass ad orientem, in the New Rite, was in a rural church in Missouri the day Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. I have celebrated public Masses twice in Latin, again Novus Ordo, once with Dutch Carmelites nuns in Iceland and once with retired German Sisters near Munich who delighted in singing the Gregorian chant. I rarely have occasion to celebrate Mass ‘privately’ but sometimes I use Latin when I do so.

    I attended an approved ‘Tridentine’ Mass in my native Dublin in 1990 while home from the Philippines, where I’ve been based most of the time since 1971. The celebration was very reverent, well attended and with many young people present. For me the experience was like being at a re-enactment in a museum of something from the past. Ten years later, while supplying in a remote island in Europe, a visiting priest asked my permission to celebrate a ‘Tridentine’ Mass. I gladly served him.

    At this stage I would welcome an opportunity to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form, provided I had prepared properly. I’m not sure that that opportunity will arise in the near future. I must confess that in the past I have ‘stretched’ the rubrics of the Novus Ordo on occasion but I also avail of the choices that it offers. For example, I always use the Roman Canon on the feasts of the saints mentioned in it. And I find a great richness in the Lectionary. But I find that people respond to a reverent celebration of the Mass in whatever form and have long since discovered that following the rubrics makes this possible.

    One thing that bothers me deeply here in the Philippines is that English is widely used in the celebration of Mass, especially in the cities, even though it is not the vernacular of the vast majority of Filipinos. I find this phenomenon to be unfaithful to both the letter and spirit of Vatican II and yet I’m caught up in it.

  115. William says:

    Dear Fr. Z:

    Thanks for the opportunity to tell you about my experience with the 1962 Mass. I am 28 years old and grew up in a suburban parish in California. My parents always knew which Masses were orthodox without being able to specifically point out what was right or wrong.

    In August 2006, I attended the lone 1962 Mass in San Diego, at Holy Cross Chapel. It was a Low Mass, chanted, with no song or accompaniment. I loved it. The Mass was reverent, mysterious, meaningful and probably the most nourishing Mass I had ever attended.

    Since this, the only Indult Mass in San Diego, is 60 miles from my home, my wife, children and I rarely attend. I do attend Mass at Holy Cross on most holy days as I work nearby.

    If there were a parish within a half-hour’s drive, I would gladly register there and live my life accordingly. I pray that His Excellency Bishop Brom will experience a change of heart and comply with the Motu Proprio.

  116. Ben says:


    I echo the sentiments of others here…what a splendid idea to ask your readers to do this! I only regret that I speak my piece rather late in the day, and can’t possibly sit down and read so many posts.

    I first assisted at a Tridentine Mass in the Spring of 2004, at the age of 19. Since then, I have gone with some regularity, seeking them out when I, well, grow weary of the typical liturgies at my home parish. Fortunately for me, I grew up in St. Paul and had been to St. Agnes a handful of times, so a Latin Mass was not entirely foreign to me. (And what a great blessing it is to have a beautifully celebrated Novus Ordo nearby as well.)

    I cannot say I was immediately hooked. This was probably because the first few TLMs I attended were low masses and I was quite lost, despite having a brand spanking new St. Andrews Daily Missal in my hands. Soon enough, however, I got the hang of following along and praying intently with the priest. Really, it was not that hard…Five or six masses, tops, and I was enjoying an active participation the likes of which I’d never experienced in my life (except of course at St. Agnes). Not long after I began to go to the TLM, I realized that that Mass possessed the ability to speak to my soul in a way that, as strange as it sounds, I’d been waiting for my whole life. The great transcendence of the Mass was finally made real to me. More than anything, I began to love the Eucharistic Lord more profoundly when I could see the altar for what it really is — the place where the Eternal Sacrifice is offered! When I attended Catholic grade school, my teachers spoke of Latin Mass as a something that was dead and gone, and of how much better it is that now we can all gather around the Table of the Lord as a community. For some reason, I was never satisfied by this account of things. Now, having seen the real thing, I know why I wasn’t satisfied. How refreshing it was to find that the Mass in Latin (both Forms) was not dead and gone (albeit relegated to the margins)! How refreshing it was to find that guitars and banners and myriad ministers and goofy vestments did not constitute the upper limit of beauty for the liturgy! I could go on and on. Long story short, I found something that I’d been yearning for without really even knowing it existed anymore. And I believe that the Extraordinary Form can do the same for most anyone who loves Our Lord and seeks an answer to the question “What can I render unto the Lord, for the things he hath rendered to me?”

    I really want to remain a loyal son of the Church, especially in her liturgical life. Moreover, I want to maintain that loyalty in my home parish, where I’ve grown up. Most Sundays and almost all weekdays I go to Mass there. But sometimes it gets very difficult to maintain my loyalty when I know I can get ten times more spiritual nourishment just a few miles away where I don’t have to endure the same old liturgical abuses (which simply become distractions) Sunday after Sunday.

    I pray that Summorum Pontificum will endure all the slander and misinterpretation(from within the Church and without)and achieve all that it is so very capable of achieving for the Church (and the world!). I thank our dear Holy Father for it with all my heart.

    Best regards, Father. God bless you and everyone here.


  117. Leslie says:

    I’m a former protestant, joined the Church in 1997. I attended my first Tridentine Mass a few years later. Was I hooked? Not completely, but I was floored by the reverence, the music, and the quiet. What most captured me was that even though it was hard to follow the Missal, it was most obvious through the priest’s actions that this was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He was a priest, not a ‘presider’. For the first half of the Mass, he was presenting us to God and when he faced us, he was presenting God to us. I thought it was akin to the Old Testament priesthood, but I was seeing its fulfillment in the New Covenant. It had never been so in my N.O parish, where we celebrated a ‘family meal’.
    Soon after that, my N.O. parish was hijacked by a heterodox priest, and I’ve been at 4 subsequent N.O parishes, trying to find a Mass that isn’t managed by a Liturgy Committee or a Music Ministry. I attend the Tridentine Mass occasionally, but it is at an inconvenient time for the rest of my family, and a bit of a drive, and the readings are different, and the Indult LM community is somewhat ‘separate’ from the rest of the diocese. That separateness can easily become ‘exclusivity’, or at least be perceived as such. In a perfect world, the Tridentine Mass would be celebrated in my parish, maybe one of the Masses on a Sunday, and would be integrated into parish life. It is the Mass I would choose to attend.
    And, if this 4th parish goes south, the ‘Latin Mass’ community is my next stop.

  118. maynardus says:

    I am a 43-year-old cradle Catholic “revert” who fell away from the church around my 18th year and returned little-by-little starting when I was 26. I must have some latent memories of the TLM in my earliest years since I was always wondering about the Latin versions of the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei in the back of our missalettes (which I never heard sung) and the architectural incongruities in the magnificent old churches near my family’s home: how come some had Communion Rails, why did some have tabernacles which were no longer used, etc.

    I discovered the TLM in the mid 1990s thanks to an article by William F. Buckley, Jr. I found that there was one in a major city nearby and decided to attend one Sunday…

    Were you “hooked”? – My first Mass was a Missa Cantata so I was confused. The celebrant continued with prayers I couldn’t hear and actions I couldn’t see while the choir went on with the sung parts.
    The parish bulletin indicated it was a “High” Mass but where were the Deacon and Subdeacon which my grandmother’s dusty Missal indicated should be present. My “expectations” were very much unmet and yet after Mass I felt that this was where I should be.

    Are you hooked now but it took a while? – I felt the pull immediately despite the aforementioned difficulties. My second time a few weeks later was a low Mass said by a nearly deaf elderly priest who boomed-out nearly everything but the Canon. I was able to follow it much better. After about five or six visits over the next year I felt comfortable with following Mass and also felt that it was where I belonged

    Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”) – Never, even when I was clueless something was grabing at me.

    Were you put off and don’t want to go back? – Somewhat. After my second or third visit I dared to venture into the after-Mass kaffeklatsch. I got the cold shoulder from all but a few people, those few struck me as nuts! In fairness, although I now attend the TLM elsewhere I number some of those folks (both the cold-shoulder’ers and the “nuts” as friends!

    What was it that captured you? – the utter authenticity. EVERYTHING I saw at Mass and read in the Missal was compatible with what I’d been taught growing up (no, not in CCD!) as opposed to the increasingly-bizarre spectacles which were enacted weekly in my local parish.

    What repelled you? – the nuts. The “Extra Missa Tridentinum Nulla Salus” attitude. The ghetto feeling. The drive. The inflexibility of the schedule (one Mass per Sunday, one location)

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely? – Exclusively (despite the hardships). We drive 45 miles each way every Sunday and holyday of obligation, as well as many other feast days and Saturday mornings (we have a TLM at 0800’s on Saturday). I was married in 1995, in the midst of my “trad-version”, to a wonderful woman who had been raised as a Methodist. After two weird attempts at the RCIA in our old parish she reluctantly agreed to my demand in 2000 that we attend the TLM exclusively. A year later she was a Catholic and she credits the TLM and the example of the Catholics who frequent it as the moving force in her conversion.

    The “extraordinary form” of the Roman Rite has certainly had an EXTRAORDINARY effect on our lives and our family. Sorry for the lengthy post but perhaps it will serve to convey the amplitude of our attachment to the Mass of the Ages!

  119. Jonas says:

    For the first time I have attended the Traditional mass was this year. However, it was only few week ago when with a big group of people singing the Gregorian chant we spent the entire week both praying nearly entire divine office and singing a mass that I have discoverd the true grandeur and fullness both of the liturgy itself and the mass as its true center. It was namely through that experience of full liturgy – the sung divine office and the sung mass (missa cantata). I believe, this way could open it to many people. Actually, it became much more difficult to attend ordinary form of the Sunday mass (since we still do not have it on regular basis), although I know that as a catholic I am obliged to do that. In any case – Te Deum laudamus, te Domine confitemur!

  120. Katherine Therese says:

    Dear Father,
    I’m 35 and I converted 5 years ago. I attended my first Tridentine Mass about a year and a half ago, being fed up with with the Kumbayah-type Mass. My first impression was how Catholic it was. This is what Luther hated so much, this is what the Jack Chick’s of the world gripe about. This is also the Mass (more or less) that my favorite saints had assisted: St Maximilian Kolbe, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Faustina. This was the Mass they knew.
    But. It left me off for some reason. I wasn’t overcome with affection for it right away. On the (2 hour) drive home, I pondered this; why didn’t I feel like “coming home” or how “right” it was? Then it hit me: this Mass puts all it’s focus on God, not me. I (or shall I say We) wasn’t the center of attention at Mass! Imagine that, worship of God directed towards God.
    I now go whenever I can afford the gas. I found a closer, “indult” Mass, but still can’t always make it with gas being so expensive. I truly hope that there will be a regular older form Mass here in my own city.

  121. BT says:

    I first attended the Traditional Latin Mass when I was a senior in high school. I read online that the Mass was offered at a downtown parish on Sundays. I don’t recall the very first time that I attended it all that well. I know it was a low Mass, and that I was mostly confused trying to follow along from my mother’s old Missal. I also remember that I was intrigued and awe-struck by the whole experience. I had been to a Ruthenian Divine Liturgy with a friend several times, so the simple fact that the old Mass was “different” didn’t put me off at all. The silence during the Mass was also quite wonderful to experience for the first time–the parish I grew up in had one of the organists who believes that there is no such thing as good silence.

    I started attending it every couple of weeks. I remember telling one of my gradeschool teachers that one thing that struck me about it was that it was clear that it was a Sacrifice. It made clear by its orientation and prayers that the Holy Sacrifice was the central action of the Mass.

    That was around 7 years ago now. Over the past year or so, my wife and I have started to attend the old Mass more and more exclusively, going from once a month or so to most Sundays in recent weeks. We’ve recently resettled in a new city, and we’ve found an indult Mass that’s very close by. We think that it will be where we pretty much exclusively go on Sundays.

    So, to answer your questions:
    I was “hooked” at least enough that I’ve gone to them with regularity since the first, and while I was confused by the first one I attended, I was very intrigued and awed by it. We’re definitely “hooked” now.

    As I said, what captured me above all was the clarity of what was happening. Although I had been told (perhaps not quite often enough) that the Mass is a sacrifice, this was the first time that I just saw that it was so.

    Nothing “repelled” me, but as I said, following along was a little confusing, and I was a little disoriented.

    My wife and I go nearly exclusively now. We’ll attend at the indult Mass (I guess that’s a title that will change on September 14th) nearby unless something extraordinary prevents it.

  122. Janet says:

    I attended the TLM for the first time on July 8th, the day after the Motu Proprio was issued. As a convert, I’ve only known the Novus Ordo Mass, but since I live in a good, orthodox diocese that also houses EWTN and M. Angelica’s Shrine, I really don’t have any complaint
    against the N.O. mass.

    What I loved about the TLM was: the way it was God-centered, and the personality of the priest didn’t intrude. Also really loved wearing a veil (mantilla), and now also wear it when attending Mass at EWTN (not tried that at my own parish yet). Also loved the silence, which gives more chance for prayer. And most of all I loved kneeling at the prayer rail to receive Communion.

    I was able to keep up in the Missal because I’d ‘done my homework’ and read through the pertinent parts ahead of time. I only got lost during the Eucharistic prayers, so put the Missal down and just watched. Felt a bit ‘left out’ by not hearing the consecration, but with more familiarity that won’t bother me in the future, I’m sure.

    One thing I think makes a difference when experiencing the older form of Mass: what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. Meaning that if you’ll read through the prayers and readings on your own before you get there, it helps alot. And more importantly, if you remember that you are there to worship God, NOT to be entertained, you’ll find God rewards you with more graces (plus an awareness that you have been present at something very grace-filled.)
    Best word I can use to describe the TLM is: glorious!

  123. Therese Warmus says:

    Next spring I’ll be fifty years old. Where does the time go?

    I recall the ancient Mass from my earliest memories at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Kansas City, KS. I attended as an adult when our third eldest daughter attended a summer camp run by the Franciscan Friars of Mary Immaculate here in ND. I was entranced immediately, and recognized the feeling from childhood. The oddest thing is, I didn’t question this experience. I felt entirely united with the priest in his prayers at the tabernacle, and when father knelt down before it during the recollect, I sensed the union that I knew was present in our communion with Jesus.

    Yet words like “sense” and “felt” are inadequate to express what happened to me in that little clapboard chapel. I reject the notion that what is striking about the TLM is a “sense of reverence,” or “the preservation of tradition.” What is striking about the ancient Mass is the inescapable fact that you are pulled along with the congregation as a whole toward the tabernacle and the altar. You cannot get away, there are no distractions. It’s you and God, and a union for which there are no words.

  124. torear says:

    I converted to the faith while in college in 2001 and first encountered the traditional Mass about a year later. I wasn’t raised Catholic (or with much religious background to speak with) and I’m only in my mid-twenties, so I really shouldn’t have known of much beyond the new Mass, but even still I felt like there was something missing. My first knowledge of the traditional Mass was through reading of it on the internet and studying the Mass and reading the second-hand descriptions. I found out that it was celebrated here in town so I took the plunge and showed up one Sunday morning. I don’t know if I was bowled over or any sort of road to Damascus moment came when I first assisted at the Mass, but it was very apparant that this was the sort of reverence and piety that I had been looking for when I came into the Church. It wasn’t long after that I started attending regularly and thus was history.

  125. Jim R. says:

    Father Z, let me first say that I enjoy your blog more than any other Catholic blog. May God bless your work here.

    I am 46 years of age, baptized under the old rite. My first memories of Mass was the hybird missal of 1965, under which I made my first Communion. I remember the priest always using the Roman Canon with the two long lists of saints. I also remember saying “I believe” and “visible and invisible” in the Credo.

    Being about 10 at the time, I have little recollection of the propagation of the Novus Ordo. But then again, my hometown was mainly a collection of ethnic parishes that had a strong Catholic culture and identity to them. During the 1970’s, except for Mass in the vernacular and the freestanding altar, Catholic life was probably not that much different than before Vatican II.

    Even when I moved and went out into the workforce in the 1980’s the parishes that I chose to attend both in my new city and my hometown were the most conservative around. I think both tried to preserve as much of the traditional ways as they could get away with. Both had Masses with the ordinary parts still in Latin, kneeling for Communion with the rails intact, no “sign of peace”, etc. So I was insulated from a lot of the innovations. Yeah I knew some of the wacky things that were going on, but it didn’t affect me.

    I went to my first Traditional Latin Mass (indult) in 1990, just out of curiosity. I was surprised and a little put off at first by 1) not hearing the Canon 2) people do not say the Pater Noster 3) not saying Amen at Communion 4) the Last Gospel having to be said everytime. 5) Not even good traditional Catholic hymns were sung except after Low Mass. But I couldn’t help but being attracted enough to keep coming back.

    I have attended the Extraordinary Form (EF) as periodically ever since then. I probably average 10 times per year. Having got married and started a family, it is not as often as I would like to. My wife went with me one time when we were dating, and does not want to go back. So now I am kind of limited to when we have split schedules.

    My wife is typical of the neoconservative label. I know she would prefer more reverence, but is more willing to just go along with the flow and not rock the boat. She is more interested in the social aspects of going to church, the fellowship, seeing your neighbors, getting involved in the local community. Going to the indult where people come from all over does not foster that. That’s where I think the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio comes in by allowing the EF in local parishes. It seems that most Catholics are not liturgy experts and simply content to be part of their familiar, close by, parish environments.

    I always learn more and more about the Catholic faith each time I attend the Extraordinary Form. Then I think of all of the typical Novus Ordo Mass going Catholics who seem totally oblivious to even the basic beliefs of the Church and it makes me sad.

    One part of me is in total shock and disbelief when I think about how much things have changed even during my own lifetime. I have to struggle to believe that the typical Novus Ordo Mass is really supposed to be the same faith that I was born into. The art, the architecture, the music, the terminology is all so radically different. All stuck in a 1960’s time warp. It’s like VII was one of the most profound revolutions in human history. I like to think of it in terms of the Russian revolution. The same old Russian land and people were still there after 1917, but now it was this “Soviet Union” with all name changes, new symbols, and new social system. But the good news is that it only lasted a little over 80 years. And it looked pretty strong and invincible after 40. But as we all know, eventually Russia and most the pre-revolutionary stuff was restored.

    That’s what my hopes are for the Catholic Church. That the Motu Proprio will be the first sign of Glasnost. A realization that the Church cannot continue on the present path for much longer. And there will be an eventual restoration of a truly reverent, holy, universal Catholic Mass that is really what VII intended. Sure the majority of whoever is left going to Mass now tell the priests and bishops what they want to hear. But what of all the disenfranchised Catholics who shudder or are embarassed at the silliness of the typical Novus Ordo Mass. Are they not to be heard? Are their souls any less valuable to save?

  126. sub axe australi says:

    I was certainly “hooked” the first time that I assisted at the “old Mass”. It was a Missa solemnis. When the sacred ministers stood at the foot of the altar and began the prayers, I had a “vision” of sorts: I “saw” the Church, Magdalen-like at the feet of our Lord, breaking the alabaster jar of devotion and pouring out the balm of contrition and love. I understood that the sacred minister did not dare to approach the Holy of holies until they had humbled themselves before God, confessing their sins and suing for the divine assistance. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

  127. sub axe australi says:


    I ought to say, however, that I found the first Missa lecta that I attended less enrapturing. It took several low Masses for me to begin to appreciate the “blessed mutter”.

    It may be of interest to know that I was born in the early seventies.

  128. David says:

    About six years ago I converted to Catholicism (from a protestant group); I was received into the Church at a Novus Ordo Easter Vigil (one conducted by two Archbishops with proper soloemnity and dignity).

    I had always found a lot of the modern NO trappings distracting, and quite frankly, dated, 60s-70s camp.

    I remeber that at about this time I begain infrequently attending the Older Use at our local “indult” parish; I was not immediately “hooked”, even though I had prepared myself by familiarising myself with the 1962 Ordinary. It was not until I had assisted at a Missa Cantata that I began to prefer toh Extraordinary Form – well, he who sings well, prays twice!

    Interestingly, my town has both a strong “official” TLM Chaplaincy and a SSPX Chapel (I have not visited the latter). I have, however, never experienced the sort of congregational sourness that has made some people feel unwelcome at TLM celebrations. Indeed, there is a group of people in the TLM community here who have gone out of their way to build a real community, which is praiseworthy indeed.

    I still attend both forms of the Rite (the extraordinary when I can, the Ordinary the rest of the time).

  129. David says:

    Oh yes, I’m 30.

  130. Jamie says:

    Hi Father,

    I was raised in the new Church (born in 1974) and had never seen the traditional Mass. As a youth my mother often mentioned how much she loved the Latin chants at the traditional Mass so I knew of its existence but little else. One evening I was at home with a friend and she asked me a question about one of the Apostles – I didn’t know the answer so I went to IRC (Internet Relay Chat) to a Catholic chatroom to ask. I was met there with some very hostile traditional Catholics (of the Feeney bent) who called me a liberal and a heretic (now I know I was, but then I was quite shocked). I was very drawn to their arguments because they had evidence to back it all up. I eventually sought out a traditional Mass in my diocese of Wellington – New Zealand (luckily a retired Priest lived not far from me and he was offering daily Mass). My mother and I went together the following Sunday and my life has not been the same since.

    I was totally in awe – it was a Low Mass but it was truly the most Holy thing I had ever seen. I just couldn’t believe how different it was. Prior to that Mass I had totally lapsed as a practising Catholic (though the new beliefs I was taught at school were hardly Catholic anyway) and while I admitted to being a Catholic I denied virtually all of the Dogmas. From my Low Mass on I attended Mass every Sunday and Holy day and often on weekdays (my Priest had a celebret and said Mass every day in his home). He was sympathetic to the Society of Saint Pius X so quite often their parishoners would come to his house when the Society couldn’t provide a priest for a Holy day of Obligation – it was quite an amazing thing seeing well over one hundred people pressed into a small room at the Priest’s house and it really gave one the sense of being part of a remnant.

    I learned the rubrics so I could serve at the Altar which I did for a number of years. The Grace that flowed from the Mass also effected other members of my family – the only practising Catholic was my mother – a year after I started going to the Traditional Mass, my nephews and nieces were all baptised in the Traditional Rite, my sister was going to Mass with me, and my nephew and I were confirmed by the Holy Bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X. My sister stopped wearing trousers and wore skirts and dresses exclusively. It completely changed our lives. In time I went to the SSPX seminary in Australia but did not stay long. It was a great experience nevertheless.

    I have now moved to London and (luckily) live not far from the Oratory where I am now attending Mass.

    When the Summorum was issued, I wrote to the priest of the Parish that I live in (I am not in the Oratory Parish – I have to travel there to Mass) and said who I was and that I would very much like the Traditional Mass to be said. He has not replied to me at all. I am very disheartened by this – especially as the Parish bulletin advertises something called a “Folk Mass” every Sunday.

    One thing that struck me particularly about the traditional “Parish” I attended in NZ was that the people of the parish were not like a parish I had known before – I was very sad because it was so different from what I knew a Catholic Parish to be that I thought there is no way that a restoration could happen. I thought that I would be part of a small group left in the Church that believed and that I would never see a restoration. Thank God for Pope Benedict XVI!

  131. Richard T says:

    I was born in 1971, so am at the older end of those who cannot remember the Tridentine Mass.

    I was brought up fully within the Novus Ordo, and was taught at school that it was a great improvement because it expressed more clearly the fact that the Mass was a gathering of the faithful, and that all were involved rather than withdrawing into their rosary.

    Although I was taught about the Real Presence, I was never told that the Mass was in any way a Sacrifice (and only heard that it was when a protestant friend challenged me over it).

    This is relevant to my experience of the Old Rite.

    As a schoolboy I was perfectly happy with the Novus Ordo, but in my late teens I was increasingly dissatisfied with the Masses I was attending, feeling that something was missing (as well as feeling that too much bad music had been added). At university I almost stopped going to Mass (the chaplaincy offered the worst kind of banal “guitar-and-mild-socialism” services), but was saved by finding (being guided to?) a decent(ish) Novus Ordo offered by the Dominicans.

    Shortly after this (aged about 20) I experienced my first Tridentine Mass, I think a Missa Cantata. My initial reactions were one of awe at the solemnity, and I found it much easier to worship, but a feeling of distance made me feel unable to receive communion.

    This was I think partly conditioning, being used to the NO Mass, but also how I had been taught; I was still focused on the Mass as a gathering of the community. This was over-laid with a personal devotion to the Real Presence, but I still had no concept of the Mass as Sacrifice to explain the Tridentine Rite. I think if the Tridentine Mass had been available regularly I would have attended it on some Sundays and the decent(ish) NO on others, receiving communion only at the latter. However the Tridentine Mass was only a one-off.

    I then started to read a little more about my faith (including Ratzinger), and learnt a bit about the Mass as Sacrifice. This then increased my feeling that something was missing from the NO (not in the theological sense, but in my ability to react properly to it). I then experienced another Tridentine Mass in my late 20s – this time a Low Mass – and this time found that it answered my needs.

    In conclusion, from my experience the Tridentine Mass clearly spoke to my heartfrom the first. However I first held back from it, partly due to conditioning but mainly through my defective knowledge of the Faith. I cannot help wondering this was due to deliberately defective teaching, but I feel that it is an important issue for us to resolve before the Old Rite can bring its full benefits.

  132. Were you “hooked”? — not immediately but very quickly. We came to the Tridentine Rite after my father met a few people at a meeting fighting a sex ed program in Catholic Schools. I was 12 yrs old and had already been the head server at my local parish (with altar girls or serviettes) at the time.

    Are you hooked now but it took a while? — am I ever!! I quickly learnt to serve and never looked back. I have been the MC for a while and occasionally act as Subdeacon. I also try and make a point of introducing people that I’m involved with through various Catholic orgs to the rite. (Student and young adult groups as I’m 22yr old).

    I haven’t served a NO since as I really attend so infrequently it is not worth having me – I’d be dead wood even with a number of bishops and where we have the most conservative NO possible.

  133. Norman says:

    I am 29 years old. I was hooked at the first time I attended a TLM, which was a Missa Cantata. There were three reasons for this.

    (1) the use of Gregorian chant gave a totally different atmosphere – one that immediately took my mind off the secular and entered into the Divine. Never mind that the singing was littered with mistakes then …
    (2) I also saw for myself that all the usual objections, “cannot participate”, “priest with back to people” etc etc could not hold water.
    (3) The prayers in the Missal. It was interesting to see that, in my own parish before the start of each (Novus Ordo) Mass, everyone would gather in the sacristy and recite a “prayer before Mass”. And yet in the TLM the priest starts with “Introibo ad altare dei…”

  134. GPQuartano says:

    I am 43 and attended my first Latin Mass several months ago. I found the experience frustrating. I wasn’t able to follow along in the missal (I guess because my ear just wasn’t accustomed to hearing Latin) and I never really knew when to stand, kneel, or sit since others around me were doing all three at various times. I came away thinking that unless I received some type of education about the Latin Mass and how to follow, my experience was unlikely to improve with any revisit. There have been some web sites that have helped so I may give it another try sometime.

  135. Gregory W.A. Murphy says:

    I first “encountered” the old rite, as a journalist covering the scene, some 14 years ago and, having been born in Liverpool, England, in 1967 with no familiarity whatsoever with the pre-conciliar church, I was immediately sceptical about what I was witnessing. I found it disturbing. Alien. Very, very disconcerting. Borderline creepy. And even though I was present, I kept a “safe” note-taking distance away from the action in a choir-loft as I observed these people, one-time fellow Catholics, who were now, as I’d been told, out-of-step with Rome. As far as I was concerned, to all intents and purposes, I was witnessing a mad sect in action.

    Yet I was struck by the depth of the reverence the congregation was clearly demonstrating. As the years passed, my appreciation of what I observed deepened and I always felt that, choir-loft or no, something that day had stuck with me. As my curiosity of the old rite continued and my research improved, I became more and more disillusioned with what I was experiencing at my weekly NO Masses (by now I knew the clear distinction). I began to really yearn for the reverent NOs I attended in the early 1970s as a small boy. I started to realise that the Masses that I knew from school, those that prompted me to become an altar-server in 1977, the old Benediction Sunday afternoons were nowhere to be found anymore. And then it hit me that the Church I was part of as an adult bore little, if any, resemblance to the Church that nurtured me in my earliest years.

    Increasingly curious about Latin Mass, now knowing all the distinctions between, say, SSPX and ICKSP, I simply felt myself being drawn inexorably away from the NO. Nevertheless, I still resisted and kept “delaying”. Eventually, in October 06, I took myself along to a Latin Mass (3 miles away – how lucky is that!?) and not only did I instantly, and I mean instantly, feel a huge sense of calm descending but I curiously felt “at home”. Even though this was a rite I’d never previously participated in, I felt nearer to the NOs of my early youth than I had for almost three decades.

    Attending the pre-conciliar rite has not only been a joy to me but it’s also made me understand the NO that much more (and I now actively seek out those rare, properly done new rite celebrations). My Sunday ratio of NO to LM is now 50:50. It’s probably going to shift in favour of LM as I ease my way in. I’m glad, though, that I snook in prior to the MP so that I was able to appreciate the rejoicing that accompanied it.

    As a 40-year-old, I can honestly say that my LM attendance has nothing to do with a “yearning nostalgia for a Church that I never knew” – so the insulting liberal chestnut goes. I actually once knew what I thought was a great Church, namely that circa 1972-77. It was all I knew. Once. That’s gone, like sand slipping through my fingers. And, ironically, I’ve now found something far better than that for which I was vainly searching.

    As a final note, I have a huge family tree going back some 200 years and the sense that I’m attending the same Mass that my ancestors experienced – through tough times let’s not forget – is just wonderful.

  136. AED says:

    I have avoided reading the other comments so as not to be influenced. I am 26. 10 years ago, 1 year after God had begun manifestly to work some amazing acts in my life for my slow healing, sanctification, and God-willing, final salvation, I began visiting different churches for Mass. Only at 16 did I have my license, which made such possible. I saw a small ad in the diocesan newspaper for Mass in Latin at 6:30 A.M.—the ad no longer appears and it was for the Traditional Latin Mass(T.L.M.) although it did not use an explicit term—and I went. It was a low Mass in a large Church; I had never studied Latin; and it was not a missa dialogata—which now does not bother me at all. I understood little, but I returned the next day. I was hooked; I knew very little, but I knew that Latin was the language of the Church and that something powerful and therefore, perhaps not necessarily, mysterious was occurring. I wanted to go continually, but some issues of convenience and obligation limited my attendance. Now, I attend the T.L.M. exclusively, except when on occasion I visit an Eastern rite.

  137. Andy says:

    I am 30 years old and have been attending the Traditional Latin Mass (nearly) exclusively for about 5 years. My first time was about 8 years ago in Chesapeake, VA while visiting a friend at Norfolk Naval Station. I was hooked immediately, though I had a very hard time following. Beyond being simply hooked, I was quite angry at what we had been deprived of. I had an overwhelming feeling of having been robbed. This was exacerbated by the fact that there was not a Traditional Mass anywhere close to Camp Lejeune, NC where I was stationed at the time. I began to study the differences between the two Masses and a couple years later, after moving to an area where a few Masses are within easy driving distance, decided to attend exclusively. My children are being raised entirely with a traditional sacramental life. We now have a Sunday Mass 10 minutes away at our local parish (we no longer have to drive over an hour), which has the added benefit of supplying us with the parish life that we, by necessity, could not have as fully when commuting long distances. After September 14, we will have all the sacraments as well as Holy Days and some daily Masses, which will save us a long drive for these as well.

  138. Fr. W. T. C. says:

    I first attended the Traditional rite over 23years ago; I believe I must have been 19 or 20 years of age. I heard of Mass in Latin being celebrated at the Warwick Hotel in New York City. I disliked my first actual encounter with the rite. It was a Low Mass being celebrated in a hotel conference room; the people were odd, the setting was odd, and I was very young. I recall saying to myself: “If this is what Mass was like, I am happy that it was changed”. Nevertheless I became hocked; I wanted to know more about the tradition of the Church. Then I discovered the Mass at Sacred Heart in New Haven. I started to make the 2hr. train ride to New Haven on a regular bases and fell in love with the Tradition of the Western Church. I have been madly in love with it ever since. I am now a priest 5 years (one of the consequence of been so deeply taken with the tradition of the Church is that I had a difficult time once I accepted the fact of my vocation, of trusting any of the diocese or orders to be totally faithful to Tradition—that included the indult groups unfortunately). The over the top magnificent thing about the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio is that finally the tradition of the Church is placed back at the center of the Church. It is no longer an oddity it is legitimate, not just tolerated and granted out of the largesse of officials in the Church. I intend to say a low Mass on the 14th of September, and thereafter organizing the faithful in the area into a society for the promotion of the Extraordinary Use of the Roman Rite. Love makes us do wonderful and strange things.

  139. I am 28, was born into a Catholic family, and only ever attended the Novus Ordo until 2003 when I attended my first Old Rite Mass at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane London. Between 14 and 23 I didn’t attend Mass particularly often. I didn’t like the cringe-inducing modern hymns and 1960s mentality I encountered at Mass. Later on I became more interested in my faith (studying theology at university helped) and I began to look into it a bit more. Articles about receiving communion led me into a wealth of other topics about the Church before and after Vatican II, including the reform of the Mass. I was intrigued to see what an Old Rite Mass was and located the regular Monday Mass at Maiden Lane. That was the cause of a dramatic change in my faith. Here at last was something that spoke to me on a more intellectual – and emotional – level about what my faith actually meant. It was a far more serious and dignified celebration of Mass than I had ever attended. I was not able to comprehend everything that was happening but it inspired in me a sense of awe that I had not felt before. Instead of people talking about belief in the Real Presence the priest, servers and congregation showed by their outward actions their belief. The result was an experience far closer to the transcendent than I had ever found in the Novus Ordo. Since then I’ve tried to attend the traditional Mass wherever possible although it hasn’t helped not living particularly near anywhere the traditional Mass is celebrated. Nothing about the Mass repelled me and I didn’t find it ‘unwelcoming’ or that I had not participated. I was a bit concerned (and still am) about the ‘eccentric tendency’ amongst some of those attending. Not that I would rather they didn’t attend just that I am afraid that the Mass could become the preserve of eccentrics – which it shouldn’t do – it is a gift to the whole Church – young, old, rich, poor, eccentric and mainstream. I have seen the eccentric tendency in some Anglican Anglo-Catholic circles and I really wouldn’t like to see that replicated in the Catholic Church.

  140. Devalos says:

    I’m a nineteen year old recent convert to Catholicism.
    I went to my first (and so far only) high Tridentine mass a few months ago and in the last couple of months I’ve been to low mass every couple of weeks – about four or five times. I’ll base my observations mainly on low mass. You’ll see that my feelings are somewhat mixed.

    First of all, I think the experience depends partly on the setting. I find that Low Mass in a large church with only a few people there feels a bit flat and gloomy. In a smaller and packed church, the atmosphere is very different; there’s a feeling of intense prayerfulness and reverence all around you and the mass is given a powerful edge.

    The TLM takes some getting used to. I’ll admit I wasn’t blown away and I’m certainly not hooked yet. And yet I keep going back every now and again so it clearly has some special appeal to me.

    One thing about it is I’m (almost) guaranteed a reverent mass celebrated according to strict rubrics. I don’t have to sit through some inappropriate introduction (“Good morning everyone…”) or grit my teeth every time the celebrant decides to change the words a bit.

    I love much of the style of the TLM: the Latin (although that’s a personal taste and I wouldn’t want to enforce masses ENTIRELY in Latin on everyone), the ceremonial, the extra reverence (communion kneeling, etc). I also like the opportunities for silent prayer instead of constant hustle and bustle. I particularly like the ad orientem orientation; it expresses so clearly what mass is all about. I think a return to ad orientem would improve NO masses 500%.

    One element I don’t like: the priest praying in silence. I appreciate the idea of not barking the prayers out (they’re prayers to God, not an announcement to the congregation) but I do wish they were said so that they were audible enough for me to follow along more easily in the missal.

    In general, I’d say I prefer a well done “hermeneutic of continuity”-style Novus Ordo mass. I like the use of some English, responses said by the people, the wider selection of readings and the prayers said aloud. I think some of the streamlining of the mass by removing some prayers and accretions was right (esp. prayers after low mass!) and I like that there’s less kneeling! Sorry but sometimes I find the discomfort of almost constant kneeling to be a distraction from prayer.

    On the other hand, I think some beautiful elements have been lost in the NO and some tedious ones added (e.g. dragging ‘Prayers of the Faithful’, too many alternative options, scurrying legions of “Eucharistic ministers”) and I’m decidedly a “Reform of the Reform” guy.

    Sorry if this comment has been too long and gone off too much into My Thoughts About the Liturgical Reform but these are all things which affect my perception and appreciation of the TLM.

  141. Craigmaddie says:

    I was received into the Church last Easter. During the RCIA when I started going to Mass regularly with the intention of becoming Catholic I felt a lack of something, bordering on a real disappointment. I was particularly saddened that we were not allowed to kneel to receive Communion and heard the parish priest describe how he would wait for people to stand up before he would allow them to communicate.

    When the time came for me to be received into the Church I had a shock when I realised that I didn’t actually believe that the Host was the Body and Blood of Christ. For the next few months I prayed at every Mass for light, but it still felt as if I all I was receiving was a small wafer – and nothing more.

    Previously whilst I went through RCIA, the topic of the “Latin Mass” occasionally came up – usually as the subject of denigration. My character being such this was like a red rag to a bull and I sought out, with some difficulty, an Indult Traditional Latin Mass. I went with feelings of real trepidation and even some guilt as I felt I was going behind the back of the parish priest. I even had a couple of troubled dreams before going as I really felt I was doing something beyond the pale.

    The day I went I was just transfixed. It was so beautiful. I felt something like a kind of recognition and felt that this is what I had been looking for. I can’t begin to express the other emotions I felt – although I did feel mostly lost. At Benediction I suddenly felt a light go on and for a moment I glimpsed something. Since then I have not struggled with the doctrine of the Real Presence in quite the same way.

    Another thing was that I started to realise that the Mass is the Sacrifice of the Cross made present before our eyes. I had never heard this at the RCIA which at most spoke of the Lord’s Supper.

    After this what I call my “Tridentine Troubles” began. It became quickly clear that for many people my occasional attendance was at best something to be tolerated but not to be encouraged and at worst a schismatic act (remember I was going to the Indult Mass). I personally found the hostility very distressing and I found myself sliding into a defensive attitude of bitterness at times.

    I also began to read up on the liturgical changes to understand what had gone so badly wrong and I was quite shocked at what a small group of intellectuals had done with the beautiful, sacrificial prayers of the older missal. A priest friend gave me a copy of an essay he wrote at seminary to prove the enrichment in the new missal – but this confirmed me in my preference for the older missal as a great many of the omissions were justified with the words “medieval accretion”.

    I sing in a schola and when I sang Asperges me Domine for the first time I had goosebumps.

    I go to Mass most days in the Ordinary Form and I realise that this can be celebrated quite reverently and in light of tradition but if I had the choice I would go to an “Indult parish” and seek the stability of daily Mass in the older rite.

    However, that isn’t going to be an option for at least the next few years as I live in Glasgow!

  142. Alan Mackowiak says:

    During the first week of May 2005 I was able to experience the tradtional mass in Detroit and Flint, MI. As my wife suspected I was hooked immediately. The Diocese of Gaylord has no traditional mass currently. I am planning to request this in my home parish of Gaylord. I eagerly await my first experience at a high mass.

    Gaylord, MI

  143. Sumiko Yamashida says:

    I found the Tridentine Latin Mass by accident, scrolling the INternet sites. I bought a DVD of the Tridentine Mass from an SSPX site. I found it wonderful. I felt like it was the Mass of all times, the same Mass as all the Saints saw.
    After that, I found a parish that had the Tridentine Latin Mass (not easy 2 years ago), but now don’t go to anything but the TLM.
    Having gone to the TLM and seen magnificent ceremonies and hear ancient Gregorian chant, I don’t understand why it was ever supressed? Going back 1x in June to the Novus Ordo I was appalled at how horrible it is in comparison to the TLM.
    No wonder why so many stopped going to Mass!

  144. Sean Gallagher says:

    I was born in 1970. The first time I went to Mass in the extraordinary form was, I believe, a couple of years ago. Along the categories you have laid out in this post, I would have to describe myself as “indifferent.”

    However, this does not mean that I don’t appreciate the form. By all means, I do, especially as a person who has earned a master’s degree in medieval Church history, been in a schola that recorded a chant CD, and sung in a choir that specialized in Renaissance polyphony (really my favorite kind of choral singing).

    It’s just that, at this time in my life, my wife and I have three boys under six and so it’s hard to move deeply into a liturgical form that is new to me, however beautiful it is, when our attention is often focused during Mass on the behavior of our little ones.

  145. Martin says:

    Fr Z.

    First of all, thank you for providing the opportunity for people to tell their stories about this. I am a somewhat reluctant but now convinced recruit to the older form.

    As background, I am 41yrs old and Australian. I grew up in a fairly normal suburban parish and don’t specifically remember the older form. I do remember sanctuary rails (with both the communicants and the priest/altar boys kneeling during the distribution of communion, which is no longer done, even in the older form) and lots of veils. I can’t remember much else because the church was always full and my family sat near the back, so I couldn’t see very much. By the time of my First Communion, there were no rails and communion was received in the hand. There were far fewer people at Mass, so I could see much better!

    I moved to another diocese some ten years ago, and live in the Cathedral parish. Perhaps I was just being hard, but each year I was more and more disturbed by how the NO Mass was celebrated. Each new priest introduced their own innovations to the ‘script’, usually to pander to some particular interest, the homilies were banal, if not occasionally heretical, the sanctuary became crowded by all manner of folk, and the sense of holiness gradually disappeared.

    In 2005 I decided that if three incidents in the celebration of the Mass seriously offended me, I would go elsewhere. It did not take long (but that is another story). By mid-2005 I had found out about an older form Mass (FSSP) celebrated nearby, thanks to the internet (the diocese, while generously permitting it to occur, did not advertise it at all). I went, was confused by the liturgy, and extremely impressed by the sermon. I have kept going, bought a Daily Missal (why isn’t there a older form Sunday Missal yet?) and enjoyed a renewal of my faith. The FSSP priests (mostly American) I have encountered are young, passionate, articulate, very educated and highly motivated. I cannot speak too highly of them.

    Were you “hooked”?
    Not initially by the liturgy. By the quality of the preaching and the fervour of all involved, yes.

    Are you hooked now but it took a while?
    Yes. Definitely.

    Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”)
    No. The lack of individual priestly ‘innovations’ was refreshing.

    Were you put off and don’t want to go back?
    I was intially apprehensive, as it is a close-knit community. But not now.

    What was it that captured you?
    The holiness and reverence of the service, and the quality of the preaching.

    What repelled you?
    The thought that knowing nothing about Latin would hold me back.

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely?
    Every Sunday and Holy Day, unless there is an occasional family scheduling issue which takes us back to the Cathedral. From time to time I also additionally attend the Cathedral, to see if the NO celebration has improved. It hasn’t.

  146. Trevor says:

    I am 17, and I never experienced the actual Tridentine Mass before this year. I grew up learning about the liturgy in the Baltimore Catechism, but there were no parishes close to us that were devoted to the Latin Mass.

    As I started learning about the Tridentine Mass, I was amazed and fascinated. I could no longer stand the irreverence and “Charismatic Masses” at our parish. We decided to go to this parish (run by the FSSP), and I was hooked immediately.

  147. Kyle says:

    When I was about 11 years old, my grandmother gave me an old hand missal from her younger days. I was amazed…Latin on one side, English on another – but the English in the missal didn’t match what I was used to hearing at a typical Mass on Sunday. With the help of my grandparents, and a little help from the Internet, I began the slow process of discovering what has been called as the Tridentine Latin Mass.

    After a few years of trying to figure things out, I finally went to the Traditional Mass. I was maybe 14 or 15. It was a Low Mass and I was a little lost, but I was utterly fixed on what I was seeing. My youthful eyes were drawn to the altar and fixated on the actions of the priest. From that very moment, at that simple Low Mass, I was hooked.

    I’m 20 years old now and have experienced the Traditional Liturgy in more fuller ways. Sung Masses and High Masses, Requiems and Baptisms. As I write this today I am getting ready to leave for seminary. Thanks to the Holy Father, this Mass I fell in love with may now truly and really be a part of my priesthood (God-willing.)

    This Mass, celebrated in the Extraordinary Form, is the Mass of my parents and grandparents…it’s the Mass of my ancestors…it’s the Mass of my patron saints. How can one not fall in love with something so rich in tradition and so beautifully preserved by countless martyrs and saints? How much blood was shed in England to preserve this Mass which sings of our rich Catholic faith? The Ordinary Form of the Mass certainly has its place in Church (when celebrated correctly), but let’s make sure the world knows that the Extraordinary Rite is something we are not ever willing to part with.

  148. thomas tucker says:

    Wow- look at all these posts!
    Sorry I’m so late to chime in.
    Like many others, I hated it the first time, was intrigued the second and couldn’t stop thinking about it, and was hooked the third time. It is more majestic and more sacrificial, and I have to agree with Ben above that suddenly the altar made more sense.
    Unfortunately, now when I attend the NO Mass, it truly does seem banal by comparison, even when celebrated reverently- like the richness and imagery of this incomprehensible sacrifice is being attnenuated.

  149. Brendan says:

    I was born in the year of Vatican II and had never been to an Old Rite mass until two years ago. I never knew it existed and no one ever told me about it. If I know one thing it’s that I would never have lapsed in a million years if I had been brought up with it ( I lapsed as soon as I left school as so many of the Vatican II babies did and didn’t start going back to mass until I was 30 ). Everything seems so much more serious and has so much more gravitas. The priests are miles better trained and their sermons of a far superior quality. I try to go as often as I can but this is usually only once a month because it’s a long trip and I don’t want to lose contact with my parish. If it was available in my own parish I would go every week for sure. My biggest shock was seeing just how much of the prayers and the cannon had been changed and that the whole character of the mass was so much more catholic. I wasn’t expecting this. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Vatican II bishops and priests wanted to get rid of it. They speak for themselves but they don’t speak for me.

  150. I discovered, after wringing my hands in prayer for vocations each week at the N.O., that the Fraternity of St. Peter was looking to build a seminary in this country (USA) and I couldn’t help but wonder why there was not cause for rejoicing, why there was no appeal for money in parishes and why no bishops would arrange to sell closed seminary properties. I discovered that they say the old mass, which I immediately checked out at a nearby chapel in Tuxedo, NY, which is just north of New Jersey. Over time, I discovered that there would be a pontifical high mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, which I attended and it was PACKED!
    My first experience was a low mass, and I did not find it difficult to follow at all. In all honesty, I felt gypped that this had been withheld from me (I am now 38). I felt like, “oh, yes, this is what I have been looking for”. I have read everything I can get my hands on regarding the new mass, the old mass, the way it came to be changed etc. I have found my prayer life improved exponentially when I discovered the old mass, and I understand the sacrifice of mass more than ever. I think more people would attend the old mass if there wasn’t such a stigma attached to it, that people who go there are schismatics, but I disregard that type of ignorance.
    I do recall the 1988 episcopal ordinations being reported in the local paper. At that time I was in college, and I just remember thinking, “I wonder why he would do that” and then I dropped it. I wish I had looked into it at the time, but at least I found the old mass a few years later. If I could, I would attend the old mass exclusively.
    Thanks for this blog!

  151. Andrew says:

    I attended my first “extraordinary” Mass in fall of 1998 at the age of 20. I had come back to the Church while at university, at the same time I discovered the world of sacred music, and had become very interested in liturgy.

    I was struck by the beauty of the service, but I was not “hooked” per se. I have attended a few “extraordinary use” Masses now and then in the intervening years, particularly if I know a very good choir is going to be singing the Mass, but the ordinary use is what I grew up with and remains what I am most comfortable with.

  152. Schultz says:

    I returned to the church after about 7 years of absence and read about the local indult Mass in the newspaper and decided to give it a shot. I grew up in a relatively orthodox parish where the NO was said in Latin every now and then and I was always fascinated by the thought of the “old Mass” after I discovered my father’s old hand missal one afternoon. I read what I could on the internet about the classic rite and was very excited. The very first Mass I went to was a Missa Cantata and I was hooked by the time the priest finished the Asperges. I do remember feeling a little disappointed when I finally experienced a low Mass, but it wasn’t nearly as much disappointment as some of the nonsense I put up with in other churches.

    I eventually rediscovered the Byzantine liturgy and have been attending the local Ruthenian church for the past 6 years and am eventually going to get a canonical switch into that sui juris church, but I recall with fondness my time attending the classic rite.

  153. Actually, I was first exposed to the “Tridentine” Mass due to their charity. At our college we were going to have a “Novus Ordo” Mass in Latin. We were in need of some cassocks and surplices and through a friend, the local Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter priest allowed us to borrow some of theirs for the weekend. So we ended up picking them up after Mass and figured we would just go to the Mass. Even though it was a simple low Mass, it was amazing at how it wasn’t so “busy” compared to the typical modern Masses in parishes. The silence allowed a focus on the priest and the Sacrifice of the Mass.
    After that, I would occasionally go to that Mass if I got the opportunity, or when I would go home to visit my parents, I had found an indult Mass in their diocese (because the liturgy at their parish was not very tolerable). The indult Mass in my parents’ diocese was a Sunday Mass with chant and polyphony. It was even more amazing.

    What really solidified my love of the older form of Mass was in getting to make a retreat at Le Barroux in France. Their liturgies are absolutely amazing. The beauty, the knowledge of the liturgy those monks have, their precision is stunning. And yet, they were not “cold” or “stern” or whatever other negative stereotype you often hear about “Traddies.” My experience has usually been the opposite.

    On a more scholarly level, the more I study the “Novus Ordo,” the more I see how artificially created it was. I certainly hold it is valid and licit, but when I compare the two forms, so much has been lost in worship in the new use.

    My only complaint related to the old use is not due to the Mass, ritual, or rubrics but usually due to the priest. I have had experiences where the priest will race through Mass, which is something that drives me nuts. If they are saying the Latin faster than I can read the English, there is something a bit irreverent with that in my opinion. However, I find the same problem happens much more frequently in the “Novus Ordo” in the vernacular, so it’s not like it’s a problem only in the “Tridentine” use.

    Overall, I find I can “actually participate” more in the worship of the “Tridentine” than I can when I am distracted by all the busy-ness of your typical “Novus Ordo” parish.

    And as a side note, I am 35, grew up with the “Novus Ordo,” I work in a “Novus Ordo” parish, and usually attend “Novus Ordo” Masses.

  154. Brian says:

    I’m 38, and I’d never experienced one before, though my father reminisces about the “good old Latin Mass [sic]” and he despises the Novus Ordo.

    I first experienced the extraordinary form a few years ago, when my wife and I missed our normal Mass due to the daylight savings time change; the only Mass we could reach was a 1 PM “Tridentine” low Mass, and we didn’t know that it was “Tridentine” until we arrived! :)

    I found it to be a mixture of intriguing and perplexing; I knew a smattering of Latin (from College), but most of the Latin was said so quietly by the priest that I could only catch a bit of it. What really moved me, though, was receiving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament while kneeling; it felt like–I don’t know–a joint “coming back into place” that had been dislocated (and aching) without my conscious knowledge. Now, when I receive Our Lord at a NO Mass (which is our standard–and we *do* have a wonderful priest who celebrates it reverently!), I still “ache” a bit, and I wish that kneeling were an option for us.

    Beyond that, I have a bit more thinking to do about the ER. A priest friend of mine is intending to celebrate the ER Mass privately at the school at which I work, and he’s promised to train me as a server for that form (and I’m trying frantically to memorize all the responses–pray for me! It’s been about 20 years since I took Latin, and it was all of the “Classical” type, like Cicero, Catullus, etc.), and I’m looking forward to that…

  155. Elizabeth Fitzmaurice says:

    Hi Father,

    I was born in 1957 so must have gone to the Traditional Mass as a child but I have no memory of it. By the age of 16, I had lost any faith that I may have had and spent the next 25 years degenerating into disbelief and disdain for Christianity until my conversion at the age of 41 or 42. My discovery of the Traditional Mass came 5 years after my initial conversion and has been like a second conversion in itself. It did take me a bit of individual research and reading to figure out what is going on with this Mass, but the Holy Spirit has led me to firm devotion and love of it now.

    One of the most striking things about the Traditional Mass was the awareness that it’s a SACRIFICE. I truly did not know that; looking back now I can see why I didn’t know that – it’s all but been stripped from the new Mass.

    I’ve passed through a few stages since my initial discovery – anger at what had been taken away from us, outright disdain for the new Mass, sinful pride. I do still struggle often when I have to attend the new Mass during the week, but I try to keep my eyes and heart on Jesus and receiving Jesus, even in the Novus Ordo. I happen to work somewhere that the Novus Ordo is offered everyday, so I go everyday, but given the choice, I would not attend Novus Ordo at all if the Traditional Mass were offered here everyday.

    God bless.

  156. Suzanne says:

    I am now 32 and started attending the Tridentine Mass once a month when I was 18.

    Were you “hooked”? Not immediately. I was just so confused. The first Masses were silent low Masses and I had a really, really hard time following what was going on. So I wouldn’t say I was in love and hooked on it immediately.

    I mostly chose to go because the local NO liturgies in my diocese at the time were distracting and filled with nothing but lukewarmness and squishy doctrine. I think I kept going back because the priest offering the Mass was Fr. Calvin Goodwin, now with the FSSP. His homilies always knocked me over with truth.

    One thing that made a huge impression on me, even when I was young, was that I examined my conscience far more closely before approaching Communion than I ever did at an NO Mass. This is still true for me.

    Are you hooked now but it took a while? I am very much hooked now. It took being able to attend the Tridentine rite weekly to catch on. I now positively love the Tridentine Mass and feel I couldn’t do without it — whether it’s a silent low Mass or a sung High Mass. We have a very reverent Novus Ordo where I live now, and I will go there on weekdays. But I still prefer to worship God in the Tridentine liturgy.

    What was it that captured you? The prayers. I love the reverence and the beauty and the silence, but it is the beautifully formed and worded prayers that still capture my heart. If Latin were really and truly a barrier for folks, I could do without the Latin. Just leave me the prayers.

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely? I attend on Sundays and Holy Days, and soon I will also be attending during the week when SP goes into effect.

  157. Sometime shortly after I entered the seminary, I discovered that Latin still had a place in the Church’s liturgy. I bought Fr. Socias’ little Hndbook of prayers and discovered the ordinary of the Mass in Latin and English. At the time, I thought the only changes in the Mass from before the council until now were the use of English and the priest’s positiion vis-a-vis the altar. So, one sundy, armed with my latin/english ordinary, I convinced my parents to accompnay me to the local indult Mass. They had both grown up with what we now call teh “extraordinary form of the Mass.” I believe it was a sung Mass and we went,me armed with my (Novus Ordo) Latin/English ordinary. I was compltrely lost, but at the same time, there was something about this form of the Mass that I could not quite articulate. I later came to discover it was the silence, the awe, the reverence (though I encountered some of that in my home parish at the normative Mass, but this was different – again, in a way I still cannot articulate). Afterwards, at Breakfast, I spoke with my dad and my stepmom about the Mass – they seemed indifferent, if a little nostalgic. They were not hostile, but neither was very interested in “returning to” this form of the Mass as a norm. About a year later, I began going with a small group from the seminary to another indult Mass (in the neighboring diocese) where I gained a greater appreciation for the aesthetic of the old Mass, but I will was not able to discern any spiritual or interior difference. Later, when studying Theology, I was briefly exposed to the liturgical life at St. John Cantius, and wheil the Mass was beautiful, I was a bit put off by the attitude which seemed to characterize many of those in attendance (including a few members of the society which was in its infancy at the time.) In conversations with a friend, who had been very much involved in the Traditional Mass at one time, I began to discover the way in which the old Mass assists in facilitating a more prayerful disposition, both for the clergy and for those assisting (i.e. attending the Mass). The priests and seminarians at Denton (FSSP Seminary) were able to more clearly articulate the how AND why behind those rubrics which are particular to the extraordinary form. With that explanation, I now have a greater respect for it. It is my desire to share this with my parishioners, but i feel that every precaution must be taken to guard against the elitism which is such a turn off to so many who have not yet experienced the majestic beauty of the extraordinary form, but which seems so endemic among those who are clamoring ofr it.[A very good point! – Fr. Z]

  158. Max says:

    I’m a convert so I didn’t grow up with the Tridentine Mass. I do attend the TLM about once every six weeks; but, all in all, I don’t care for it that much. I wouldn’t say that it repels me because I still go occassionally. The priests and servers seem to have a race to see who can fly through their parts quicker and the parishoners seem to be paying more attention to where we are in the missal than to what is happening at the altar. To be honest, I think the Latin NO is the way to go. There are things about the TLM that I prefer (mainly the priest facing the proper way, communion rail). Given the option between the Tridentine and a Latin Novus Ordo, I chose the Latin NO every time.

  159. Daniel Muller says:

    Dear Father Zuhlsdorf:

    Here are my answers to your questions. I am forty-one, so I heard all the “used to think” homilies (priest later laicized, as I recall) and the “pendulum” homilies (better-adjusted priest went looking for the pendulum to swing back a little in a new rural diocese made from the archdiocese) without really knowing what they were talking about. I only remember attending one Mass in Latin (1965 missal, I guess) when I was little; it was at a local Catholic university, and I believe that the homily was given in Latin as well. I probably was not even speaking yet at the time, and I certainly do not remember anything about the liturgy.

    * Were you “hooked”?
    * Are you hooked now but it took a while?

    No. I really do prefer the novus ordo, but sung in Latin, which I had the fortune to attend for quite a few years in three different locations. I would love to have the novus ordo celebrated ad orientem, but that has never been an option in this diocese. I only only go to the 1962 because I favor singing and Latin — and singing in Latin — and because I can be sure that there will no liturgical nonsense or deliberate musical silliness. And the novus ordo in Latin is no longer available in our urban county.

    * Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”)

    Yes. A reverently celebrated Mass is a reverently celebrated Mass. Again, though, it is nearly impossible to get this anywhere else in the city.

    * Were you put off and don’t want to go back?

    I was definitely repelled by the low Mass. As I am when it is the novus ordo in English. There is so much beautiful liturgical music to be sung, and frankly I am used to the usual novus ordo disposition that singing just some of the Mass is permitted; I prefer this at weekday Masses, for example.

    * What was it that captured you?

    Reverential celebration and attempts at real sacred music using the propers and appropriate unmutilated hymn texts. Again, this should have nothing to do with the missal used, though.

    * What repelled you?

    During the high Mass, the silent canon and the priest-only Pater noster, as well as the fact that the priest sits down during the Gloria in excelsis and the Credo (right at the resurrexit, ironically enough). I do believe that this indicates too much of a separation between his Mass and our Mass.

    * Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely?

    I have been going to high Mass every Sunday. But I can only actually get a seat in the chapel if I am there at least half an hour early. And now we have been scolded once again that there are not enough men giving up our seats … And my “back-up” parish church has just burned … Please pray for me as I look yet again for another parish home. And please do not throw any money at me if you see me on the street corner with a sign: Will play organ and supervise choral activities for reverent Mass.

  160. RosieC says:

    The first time I went to TLM was during daily Mass. Father had received an indult and was “practicing” at a daily Mass. The day happened to be the Traditional feast of Corpus Christi

    >>Were you “hooked”?
    Are you hooked now but it took a while?
    Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”)>Were you put off and don’t want to go back?>What was it that captured you?
    What repelled you?>Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely?

  161. Barb says:

    My husband is a convert. We drove over 3 hours one way to Tulsa to the Traditional Mass one Sunday – I forget why. It was his first TLM and he was hooked. After Mass was over, he said, “We have to come back.” When I asked why, he couldn’t tell me. He found following in the missal difficult at first, but I taught him how to use it. We both are praying that we will have access to the extraordinary rite in Springfield, MO some time in the future. Right now things still look very bleak and the shortest travel time one way in any direction is 3 or more hours.

    When we finally get to have the extraordinary rite, I plan to offer my services to have classes for newcomers on how to use the missals, how to make the responses in Latin, how to sing the various chants the people are supposed to sing, and also the meaning of the Mass.

    Please pray for us in southern Missouri.

  162. techno_aesthete says:

    I am a 43-year-old cradle Catholic who fell away from the Faith shortly after my Confirmation in 1977. I had a conversion/reversion about nine years ago. I waited until I felt 110% ready to return to the Church before I set foot in one again. I didn’t want to just go through the motions of being a Catholic. Around six-and-a-half years ago, I found a TLM near me and started going. I was attending a low Mass and was immediately hooked. I didn’t have a missal so I just stayed toward the back of the nave, watched the activity at the altar and followed the movements of the other congregants. My soul was moved in a way it never had been before! I would attend the sung Mass on special Holy Days.

    About a year later an indult Mass began in the same archdiocese. I joined the choir for that Mass and have been singing at that Mass ever since. I love both the low Mass and the high Mass (sung or solemn). I tend to attend the extraordinary form exclusively, although I will attend the ordinary form when circumstances require it.

  163. DwD says:

    When I started attending the TLM, my parents had already been going to that Mass-(8am,while we went to 10am-same parish/priests-NO Mass). I felt some frustration at first with ‘getting lost’,but by the 3rd of 4th time I was getting it. I remember when, probably in the 2nd or 3rd month of attending the TLM every Sunday,I got through the whole Mass in perfect sync with Fr., even though much of it was too silent to hear. By now,(2 years later) 8:00am on Sunday morning is my favorite moment of the week! What an amazing, beautiful thing our Church’s Liturgy is!
    On a side note:
    My recently-converted,southern Baptist-raised,(hard-of-hearing) husband, only agreed to start going to the 8am TLM because he’s a morning person and likes to ‘get the day started early’.I accused him of just wanting to get Mass over with as quickly as possible.
    Well, after 2 years he’s of of the biggest supporters of the TLM that one could meet! And– he’s not in such a big hurry to duck out of coffee and doughnuts after Mass! What a blessing it’s been for our entire family!
    God bless you and your work Father Z.

  164. K.D. Williamson says:

    I’m a 34-year-old convert who attended his first Mass in 1999. I started attending a Tridentine Mass from time to time a few years later and was quickly hooked. It’s not really so much the Latin and the music, though I enjoy those aspects, but two simple things: having the priest face the altar and kneeling for the Eucharist.

    Meaning no disrespect at all for those who prefer the new Mass, it seems to me that, if we really believe what we say we believe about the Presence, it is more fitting to kneel to receive the Eucharist.

    Having the celebrant face the congregation (to say nothing of various lectors, cantors, and other assistants) makes the Mass feel more like a performance than an act of worship.

    I’d be perfectly happy at a vernacular Mass that incorporated these two elements of the older form.

  165. lourdes says:

    I also believe that some adjustments to the NO would make it far more reverent including ad orientem, kneeling to receive communion, some Latin and proper music. I pray for the NO to become more reverent because of the motu proprio.

  166. Sue Sims says:

    Just spent 40 minutes reading through these posts: fascinating to see the variety, but also the common themes which run through so many ‘testimonies’.

    As for me, I’m Jewish by birth: converted to evangelical Christianity in my late teens, and received into the Church in 1998, when I was 46. I’d never attended a TLM, though my parish church (in Bournemouth on the south coast of England) had a NO Latin Mass each Sunday, done reverently; but I was friendly with an elderly lady with the same background as myself (Jewish become Catholic) who’d rejected Vatican II completely. Antonia went to every indult Mass she could reach, but that wasn’t many, since she didn’t drive. So when I saw that the Latin Mass Society was organising an indult Low Mass at my church, I offered to take her.

    Frankly, I was the opposite of hooked. The congregation were mostly in their seventies and eighties, and rattled around in our large church – there were, I suppose, about 40 people. Antonia gave me a spare missal, but I couldn’t make head or tail of it; and, worst of all, a bell rang, the priest elevated the Host, and I felt dreadful because I hadn’t noticed the consecration. I came out of church deciding that I’d better just offer it up next time Antonia wanted to go.

    ‘Next time’ turned to be about three months later. Everything was similar (save that it was in a different church), but somehow it was a little easier: I realised that I needed to watch what the priest was doing rather than struggling to follow in the Missal. And this time, the feeling of it – the silence, the kneeling, the stillness – all begn to penetrate my heart and my mind. I didn’t need to offer anything up, though certainly I still didn’t understand how anyone could prefer it to a nice, comprehensible Mass in English.

    Then Antonia asked whether I could take her up to the Latin Mass Society’s AGM and Solemn High Mass in Westminster Cathedral. I was happy to spend a day in London, so off we went. And that Mass…I wasn’t ‘hooked’: it was more like being hit over the head or punched in the face. The beauty; the glory; the sheer holiness and transcendence – I’d never experienced anything like it. It was like a sort of heavenly ballet, but a ballet which incarnated God on earth. When the priest exchanged the kiss of peace with the deacon, and the gesture was given from one to another through the sanctuary, I burst into tears – not just from the beauty of it, but because I suddenly realised that this was the source of the ‘Peace’ in the NO – and that the Mass I’d attended since coming into the Church bore the same resemblance to the real thing as Disney’s ‘Sword in the Stone’ bore to Malory. And even more: the TLM was Jewish. Not its theology, obviously, but the whole rite was more like a Sabbath service at an Orthodox synagogue than any NO Mass I’d ever been to. It was like coming home, but a home which was a palace when one had assumed it was a tent.

    Now? Well, there’s no possibility of going regularly to the Extraordinary Rite: the nearest place is Reading (or Oxford), both of them a couple of hours’ drive away, and I’m heavily involved in my own parish. But whenever there’s an opportunity, I’ll go; and I’m praying we can get enough people at Corpus Christi, my parish, to get one of the priests to say it. I’m not hopeful: our parish priest isn’t keen, [How happy might a priest, with a little effort, make so many people who otherwise have to travel so far for something that is theirs by right? – Fr. Z]and the other priests are in their eighties, and (though obviously the Extraordinary Form was what they grew up with) it would be difficult for them to adjust now, I think. But just perhaps…

  167. Roberto Helguera says:

    Fr. Z:

    I am 40. I attended the first Latin Mass at an SSPX chapel in Argentina. I was 18 then. While I have vivid recollections of being chided for my somewhat lukewarm confession prior to the Mass (I was a child of the age, and must have been woefully unprepared and not used to priests who took moral standards seriously), I do not have many recollections of the Mass other than the priest’s words at the homily being less than charitable towards the Holy Father.

    Still, my girlfriend went there and she looked beautiful with her chapel veil on, and that was good enough for me. [think about that ladies! – Fr. Z]1988 closely followed my first Traditional Mass and by now I had some understanding of Lefebvre’s fight with Rome, so I felt I could not go back to an SSPX chapel anymore, opting to side with the Holy Father on that argument (when in doubt….). I was then in my first year at Thomas Aquinas College, in California, where the Novus Ordo Mass is celebrated daily in Latin and on Sundays the Schola and Choir participate fully. Once a month the Tridentine Mass is celebrated on a Suunday, too. I was thus exposed to both liturgies side by side. I served both, but mostly the Novus Ordo. I served it asas solemn Mass, as a low Mass, a private Mass, too. SOmehow I found these last ones, in a small chapel, at night, to be the most touching Masses. I also deepened my spiritual life considerably at the time, while studying my Faith through the Fathers of the Church, St. Thomas, and the Great Books. All this informed my experience of the Mass.

    What hooked me at first? Really at first it was not the Liturgy but the Latin and the reverence of the Priest in the NO, whome I knew well as my confessor. It was not the beauty of the Chapel, as the temporary chapel at TAC cannot be called “beautiful” — it is reverent, yes, very much so, but beautiful it is not. Knowing the priest’s holiness and his reverence helped me much, it attracted me to try to imitate that characteristic of Holiness and love for the Mass in him — as an altar boy I never felt so closely that “this man really believes” when obverving our priest celebrating Mass. Eventually the reverences, signs of the cross, deep genuflections and moments of prayerful, unhurried silence at consecration moved my intelect to follow my heart and solidify its own convictions. I am still talking about the Novus Ordo…. but in Latin, that is, in so far as it affected me in those areas where it borrowed from the old and distanced itself from this world. The English version was never as attractive to me.

    Latin gave the Mass an out of the ordinary feeling to start with. Then it took it away from my own day to day experiences, which I now see it was good. It was a following Christ to the desert to seek the silence of prayer, as it were. I could not ruin the sacrifice of Calvary with my own worldly pettiness. My imagination could not intrude as often. I did not think it that way but now I see it was that way. I was simply a spectator and that was good. It was my proper role, I now know.

    I indulged my desire to “participate” by joining the force of altar boys available to serve, and by joining the Schola and Choir. Vesting as an altar boy, polishing the candles, making sure the best was used for Our Lord. All that gave meaning to the Mass. Seeking the beautiful, wanting to please Our Lord by doing things the way the Church had been inspired by the Holy Spirit to do. Inventing nothing but following the rubrics. Somehow it was all liberating.

    Gregorian Chant was my next step forward in “participation”. It really deepened my sense of the sacred, of contemplation, of the quiet unhurried need to be there with God praising Him in His own words (would not presume mine to be better!), in His own tunes, given to us through centuries of monastic tradition and holy men and women. In fact, I see that it gave me a small window into what makes monasticism so attractive. It placed me in the company of the best of the best. I was a part of something greater than I and that was good! Palestrina simply clenched the deal: Singing Sicut Cervus once after Communion would be enough to make anyone weep and feel what Peter felt at Our Lord’s Transfiguration – “Lord, it is good for us to be here!” I felt like telling Our Lord: Make it last! I wanted to be at Mass, I wanted to chant and pray and sing and praise, but in that quiet, traditional way, and Latin always made sure our spiritual “tone” was the correct one. Impossible to make it this worldly, to bend it to our fashions, to use the wrong tone of voice with it.

    At the same time, and through my four years of college my understanding of philosophy, theology and all that man deems good was deepening more and more and complementing my spiritual journey. It was then that I began to feel that the Novus Ordo, while properly celebrated and beautifully rendered at the College, was not enough. Somehow, the image that came to mind to summarize it was that it simply did not match the traditional icon of the Cross behind the Altar, the more beautiful art that surrounded the Altar.

    The Tridentine Rite seemed superior in its conveyance of the mystery. The silence of the priest became it well, drawing me to wonder about what mystery all of God’s love is. Leaving the college and returning to a regular parish Novus Ordo was enough to have me searching for the sacred again. Providence put me in Chicago for my law studies, and Fr. Phillips at St. John Cantius did the rest.

    Music, beauty and the sense of the sacred, combined with the most practical “we live in this world but are not of this world” forgiving towards human nature approach of Fr. Phillips (I should know, he was my confessor for a few months), did away with any lingering Jansenism I may have had as a young man and nourished my desire for the sacred in a city like Chicago where the world tempts one every day and often.

    I have since moved many times and now am in Texas. I am hooked now, I have been since my College days. I considered my every job move with the Old Mass in mind. While in New York I had St. Agnes, in Austin, the St. Joseph Latin Mass Community (now in the Cathedral!), and in Houston, Annunciation. I still baffles me when I hear rabid reactions against the Old Mass. I simply cannot fathom such feelings.

    My story above also answers the other questions. Only the last remains to be answered:

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely? I go, but about once a month now. In Houston I attend the Anglican Use Catholic Mass at Our Lady of Walsingham, and what makes me do such a thing (other than the 8 am Tridetine Mass schedule and my inability to get 7 children ready for Mass at such time) is the sense of Parish life that I have there, combined with a beautiful Church, liturgy and sense of the sacred of our converted priests. Anglicans kept intact what we deemed unworthy for years. Now it all comes home.

    I explain this because I think it is a final part of th puzzle that the new Motu Propio may bring to bear as very important and I experienced it in my life: Because different “Latin Mass Groups” are always invited to, but rarely a part of, a parish, they never supplied the sense of belonging to a parish that now with a large family I see as essential to man. Thus, when faced with two good Liturgies I opted for that very important aspect of a parish life for my family, and am willing to sacrifice the Latin (for the time being) because the Liturgy remains sacred, oriented properly, the theology of all symbols in it is the proper one, and the English translation is to Liturgical English and not the “vernacular”. A parsih life well lived seems to have taken away the temptation to different less that good attitudes in me and those traditionally minded. The children now belong to a larger family as well and have a sense of continuity, are willing to participate and help where needed and see the priest as an integral part of their lives.

    Slowly, I am sure the Latin Mass will also make it into this parish thanks to the Motu Propio and to the already existing sense of the sacred among the priests and parishoners. I just wish Palestrina would be more present than John Wesley in some of the hymns, but we make do. We have a great choir and a proper Catholic oriented parish life.

    My wife? Never wavered on the Old Mass. Learned her tradition in France, almost joined the Barroux Benedictine Convent and is the one that insists on attending the Latin Mass when the opportunity allows us. Our children have been exposed to both liturgical uses, but mostly to the Old Mass, and I think that has given them a much better sense of the proper order of things and behavior at Mass, even the New Mass.

    I now understand and can make my own the words of Fr. Bryan Houghton in his book With Mitre and Crook, about the role of the laity — just stay put, contemplate, do not seek to “participate” as any word out of our mouths while present at Calvary during Our Lord’s Sacrifice can only diminish, not add to the mystery. Do as Our Lady did and simply contemplate in silence the greatness of God while Christ acts through the priest and speaks through him. Yes, I follow the Missal, but mostly as a crutch to bring me back from my distractions into what is really going on.

    I sense I am truly free when I look up, see the priest silently intent on the Sacrifice, the Crucifix in front of him on top of the Tabernacle and we are all looking at Our Lord, and the exclamation “My Lord and My God!” comes out unbid. I then tighten the hug on whichever child I happen to have in my arms and feel that all is well, all is aligned in this world again.

  168. LD says:

    I’m a 27 year old revert who has developed a whole bunch of hangups about liturgical abuses in a lot of NO Masses… I experienced my first indult low Mass last year, and really was blown away by the silence, reverence and the sense of mystery. I had never been to a traditional Mass before and had no real clue as of what to expect. For the first while I tried to follow things in the little booklet I had (which was great in explaining what was going on) but was just getting confused as to which page we were on, due to not being able to hear. When I gave up on trying to read every single line in the booklet and just watched what was going on, I got a lot more out of it. I found the silence during the Consecration to be really powerful.

    Due to there only being a couple of indult Masses in my diocese per year (something that I hope will change now) I didn’t get to attend another one until March this year. After that, I definitely became hooked, invested in a missal, and would now attend as often as I can in another diocese… so I would probably go on average once a month now. If there were a regular one in my diocese, I would definitely attend, although I think I would still attend well said NO Masses also.

  169. Maureen says:

    Born in 1970. Raised Catholic by my Catholic mom and United Methodist dad. During the 70’s, even the folk mass at our parish was very reverent. I don’t think things got undecorous around here until the late,
    late 80’s. I love early music. I was also thoroughly propagandized by mey mother that Mass was better in Latin back in the old days.

    I’ve gone to the ordinary form in Latin a couple of times, without much trouble following it. I’ve only been at an extraordinary form Mass once, and that was at St. Josaphat’s in Detroit. (Sung Mass.) I was slightly late, didn’t find any missal, and found my pronunciation of Latin veering between Classical and Ecclesiastical, based on what I’d run into at choir. I’m also fairly sure I made some responses that everybody else wasn’t making, and that I looked a tad untidy. Needless to say, I received glares.

    (You walk and run several miles to catch the bus on time, and see how you look. But my hair was combed, my duds were respectable, and I had a stylish hat.)

    I liked the choir, had trouble following Mass as closely as I’d like, couldn’t really hear the homily, but found the experience more interesting than not. If I’d had a chance to go with more prior preparation, I would have. (Missal of some kind is a must!) But man, some people have to quit all the glaring. What happened to genteel ignoring of anything untoward?

    I would like to attend again, and probably fairly regularly if I had my druthers. But the indult Mass in this area is really really early in the morning on Sunday, more than one bus ride away, and I’d never get back in time for choir at my parish. (If I could even get there. I’m not sure the buses run that early on Sunday down in that neighborhood.) ANd waiting an hour and a half between buses on Sundays is for the birds.)

    But honestly, I’m pretty sure that I can take or leave it. The ordinary Mass is just as conducive to mystical union with God, if people actually act like they’re at Mass and not at a spectator event. [I am forced to wonder if her perception would have been different had people been kinder. –
    Fr. Z

  170. EVERYONE:  I am very moved by your responses.  I think this thread could be very useful to bishops and priests who are thinking about the older form of Mass.

    You can spoken of things that “worked” for you, and elements that did not.  You have shared thoughts and feelings.

    I originally posted the questions after a telephone conversation with a journalist who was picking my brains.  We were talking about the reactions people have had to the older form of Mass.  I decided to create this entry.  Never did I imagine it would draw this much attention. 

    This is very illuminating.


  171. maynardus says:

    If I might be permitted a second comment… having attended the TLM exclusively for the past seven years I would note that in general we need to do a better job of making newcomers feel welcome. No need for phony “Ministers of Hospitality”, just real people who are comfortable approaching folks who have the “deer in the headlights” expression either before or after Mass. My observation is that it seems to take the average Catholic about five or six Masses to become unconsciously familiar with the order of Mass and then suddenly they “get it”. But far too often I hear about people who came once but were turned-off by the “hyper-trad-itude”: “don’t you have a mantilla?” – “we don’t do that here” – “this is the only real Mass” – “what do you mean you’ve never heard of Fr. Gruner?” – etc.

  172. Philothea says:

    I became Catholic 5 years ago (I’m 53). I have experienced the new Mass in Latin, but only recently experienced the extraordinary form. I had been eagerly anticipating it; I was sold on it before I experienced it, and am even more so now. The biggest difference to me seemed to be that the priest is allowed to be a priest! I found this very refreshing. I had already regularly experienced the Mass celebrated ad orientam: the absence of the talk-show host is a huge relief. The natural silences of the extraordinary form were, for me, very conducive to prayer and more profound “participation” in the liturgy. The extraordinary form would be my preference, and I’d attend regularly if it were possible, but it’s not likely to happen in my small parish.

  173. stylin19 says:

    I grew up with the “Old” Mass…in every shape, size and form (Low Mass, High Mass, Solemn High Mass, Pontifical High Mass, Requium Low Mass – different type depending on the type of day it’s celebrated …might as well throw in the Corpus Christi procession Mass, Euchirist & Benedictions at three different stations..and don’t get me started on Holy Week… ad nauseum)

    The Latin was great except for the Greek part.

    I have no use for it.
    Christ didn’t teach, preach, cure with His back to the flock.
    I’m guessing He didn’t preach in a language foreign to the flock.

  174. Andrew says:


    I am 34, and a cradle Catholic. I attended my first TLM about seven years ago, alow mubblede Mass . To say I was put off would be an understatement.

    I attended again some years later on Easter (2005) because I walked into my home parish and was horrified to see neo-Pagan Liturgical dancers so I ran to someplace I knew there would be none. This High Mass blew me away, it was celebrated by Fr. John Rizzo a younger Priest who preached very well. I felt more comfortable, but still a bit lost.

    Later on, I attended a low Mass and was put off by the lack of reverence of those around me, chatting, and doing other things. A third time I tried the low Mass – same experience.

    Then I again ended up at a High Mass for Corpus Christi with the Girlfriend (it was the first one) at Holy Name of Jesus in East Providence, RI and was blown away again, we were met with the long encouraged and equally absent Congregational singing. We both really enjoyed it.

    Since then every time I attend at Holy Name of Jesus I’m blown away, it feels right and I’m often left wondering what a Lutheran Pastor friend of mine would do if I ever brought him along…just might convert him. At times I attend another Indult Mass (which is closer) and I am put off by the lack of singing and t and the way folks run for the door at the end.

    I attend irregularly and only the High Mass, mainly because of inconvenient Mass times but also because there is a very reverent Novus Ordo High Mass close to home, but if there were one close by that had Congregational singing and early Masses I’d have no doubt I’d be there every single Sunday.

  175. Matt Robinson says:

    I’m 33 and from Canada.

    My journey to the traditional Mass has been a long one.

    The beginnings for me came at Taize France when I was 17. This was the first
    time I had ever heard latin in a worship setting. I fell in love with this
    strangle language instantly.

    The second was delving into apologetics in college, after a host of protestant
    friends chided me about being Catholic.

    I read the Fathers, and fell in love with the Early Church.

    A vocational journey and a philosophy degree at Christ the King Seminary,
    run by devout Benedictines, reinforced my journey towards tradition, though
    at that time, I was more into the Reform of the Reform, having
    never experienced the TLM personally.

    A watershed was an excellent series of courses on the history of the
    liturgy using excellent primary sources and textbooks. It struck me how much
    the New Mass was a radical break
    with the Church’s inestimable patrimony
    of prayers and symbolic gestures, many of which dated to the Early Roman Church.

    No matter how the good-natured Benedictines tried to “gussy up” the Novus Ordo
    with chant and by following its rubrics, it nonetheless always felt like
    we were “short-changing” Our Lord
    with its watered-down symbolism and prayers.

    It just felt wrong…like the Novus Ordo was a “liturgy of shame”
    …we had a rite which had an uncertain identity and lack of
    comfort and confidence with its own theology and past.

    For instance, one pet peeve was how we would kneel on weekdays during the
    consecration, but then stand in a circle around the altar all together on
    Saturdays, both priests and sems.

    The Novus Ordo for me, contains an inherent principle of contradiction
    and confusion.

    Years of further study on Hebrew background to the liturgy, the theological
    standpoint of the Early Church, and the history of the Roman Rite, lead
    me to an intellectual conversion to the traditional Mass.

    The prayers of the TLM were in harmony with the ancient faith, a faith
    more sacred, other-wordly, historically-rooted and demanding than anything
    the modern version could offer.

    My emotional conversion came through the a profound crisis of faith and morals,
    a heartfelt disappointment with WYD 2000 in Rome (and YES we DID sing Kumbaya
    at the Papal Vigil). This despair was coupled with a growing love of Gregorian
    Chant with its humble, authentic spirituality.

    The last step was actually attending a TLM for the first time several years ago,
    but by that point I felt completely at home with the Missal and rubrics, having
    studied them for years and “imagining” what the traditional Mass would be
    like. My lonstanding exposure to the Byzantine Rite, was also a major factor,
    as the atmosphere and vertical aspect of the Eastern Rites are much closer to the TLM
    than the Novus Ordo. My first TLM did not disappoint my high expectations.

    I attended the most wonderful TLM to date at St. Clements Parish run by the
    FSSP in Ottawa this spring. Truly awe-inspiring.

  176. Derik says:

    Dear Fr. Z

    I was born on 1970 in México and during my religious instruction never the extraordinary liturgies were mentioned. I heard once my elders talk about the Mass using what you call clichés. I abandoned Catholicism for some years, and then I returned when my life was in shambles, and religion offered real solutions. I am a tertiary Dominican. With my brothers and friars I had the opportunity to grow in the Faith and love the Ordinary Mass (when it is done by the Book).

    I have been working in USA for three years, and a (Anglican) friend told me about the existence of the Latin Mass. I imagined an Ordinary Mass in Latin (I attended one in the Vatican and loved it). I went to the Extraordinary Mass with my bilingual missal for the Ordinary Mass (by mistake missed to pick up one bilingual missal for the Extraordinary Mass in the narthex of the church). I was lost 90% of the time, and loved Gregorian chant.

    I decided to learn about the Extraordinary Mass, because I like to understand things. What I found was that I didn’t understand Mass completely. Now I attend both forms of Mass whenever possible, aware that complete understanding of the mysteries of our salvation (forgiveness of sins, transubstantiation, Peace of Jesus, etc) is impossible. I learned to be humble and recovered my capacity to awe during Consecration. I bought a bilingual missal, and a Liber Usualis for I am trying to learn chant, and I am training to be an altar server.

    The rigidity of the Extraordinary rite is not a problem. Every gesture in the Mass has a meaning, I interpret this using the Scriptures: the Catholic finds liberty in God’s law, ‘for my yoke is easy and my burden is light’ said Jesus (James 1:25, Matthew 11:30).

    One final word. It is very sad that the Church seems to be divided into “traditionalists” and “modernists” attacking each other. I am behind you to try to improve this.

    Derik Castillo

  177. Tim says:

    I am 40 years old. I first attended the Latin Mass in 1995. I already knew some Latin, but that first Mass was a mixed experience for me. There were several problems: 1) I had little idea what I was doing even though I had my father’s old missal, 2) the priest, who I got to know later, was frustrated because certain things just weren’t working in the little university chapel he had to use.

    I soon afterward attended the parish at which that same priest said Mass every Sunday. It was an indult Mass in a beautifully restored church and I was blown away. After that first time at that parish I knew I would continue to attend the old Latin Mass every chance I got. I was more than willing to drive the 50 or so miles each way to get there and that was after staying up all night working a third shift job while I attended grad school.

    My discovery of the TLM came just a few months after I recommitted to Christ and the Catholic faith after going through a difficult time. I can’t possibly estimate the number or value of the spiritual gifts that I have found through the TLM. Mass became the single most import even of my week. Through the people and priests I met I discovered a whole world I previously knew nothing about – even after 12 years of Catholic schooling! I found old books with clear and precise teachings, music that uplifted and moved me, strength and support I needed, and truth that changed my life.

    I actually changed as a person. I know I changed, for the better, because God gave me grace through the Latin Mass and the parish community I found. I have never once doubted the value of the TLM. Thank you Lord Jesus for the beauty of Your Church’s old Mass!

  178. Eric says:

    I found it by accident. I always heard about it from my Dad.
    I went to another parish that had mass said all morning up to 1pm. They never advertised it as the latin mass.
    anyway I went to the 1pm mass because I missed it at my parish. Before we went in, one of the altar servers said it was done in latin and that automatically made me curious.
    That week was low mass. Another person mentioned that the next week was a sung mass and that made me come back to see it. Once I experienced the sung mass I hooked. I could not believe the difference betweent the novous ordo and the old rite. Because at the time, it was offered at 1pm I only went to the sung mass that was offered once a month. Now the mass has moved to another church close by and its offered at 11:30am each sunday with a sung mass once or twice a month. I go each week to altar serve or sing in the schola. I now cringe when I go to my usual parish and hear “on eagles wings” which they make a point to sing each wing using the piano.

  179. Eric says:

    Back in the 1970s I was attending a high school where we had regular Latin Mass according to the new missal, as well as English Masses. Around this time my mother became involved in the SSPX, and insisted that I attend their local chapel when I was home on weekends. I would go because I was required, but always first attended Mass at my local parish, which of course infuriated her.

    Every moment at that SSPX chapel was excruciating. Mass was always low Mass, with horrible old sentimental Marian songs (imagine the worst you can think of, and they did all that and more) sung with screeching voices by a miserable choir to the accompaniment of an electric organ. The priest raced through the Mass, except for the sermons, which were long rambling diatribes against “the conciliar Church” (Typical homily material: “You know that beautiful statue of St. Joseph at St. So-and-so? WELL THEY TOOK IT DOWN!” And the tsk-tsking of the congregation would ensue.)

    Since then, I have attended many Masses according to the old missal in various SSPX chapels and “independent” chapels when I had to be there for various family occasions (weddings, funerals, etc.) because three other members of my family are also SSPX adherents. In all cases, the Masses have been miserably celebrated — all low Masses in horribly tacky settings, with priests whose poor pronunciation of Latin is maddening (I had six years of Latin). The SSPX chapels I’ve been to are like museums of bad ecclesiastical art, assembled because “old is good” with no taste or appreciation for good art. Of course, those attending these chapels think they are beautiful. I love Gregorian chant, but have never heard it in a SSPX chapel, only syrupy hymns sung badly. Most of the people had their rosairies out, and all were decidedly inhospitable. I once asked my mother if she had any friends from her SSPX chapel. She looked at me like I was crazy, and explained that everybody left immediately after Mass. There was no socialization, and the people there don’t really even know each others’ names unless they were involved in the school.

    I am a deacon at a parish with some 2400 households. None of our parishioners have expressed any interest in a Latin mass using the new missal, much less the older one. Our liturgies use mostly contemporary music, but it’s the best music, and done flawlessly. Still, we don’t do anything outrageous — nothing like any of the abuses I read about — nor have I been to any such liturgies in the various parishes of this archdiocese. I am, however, sometimes annoyed by the attitudes of some priests, who are overly casual or chatty during liturgy and who improvise, seemingly for no other reason than to improvise. Still, the annoyance is not long-lasting, and I am usually over it by the time I communion comes around. To me, that’s not enough of a problem to flee to the old Mass, although I would be glad to be rid of these priests’ banal manner.

    I am very much at home in Latin, and know all the responses to the new missal. I also know and understand the structure of the old missal. I would be happy to participate in a Latin Mass according to the new missal, but have no burning desire to do so. I’d do it if someone asked. As for the old missal, I would also participate if someone asked, but I hope that doesn’t happen, as all the people I have met over the years who are attached to the old missal are angry, bitter and contemptuous of those who like the new missal and so would be poisonous in our parish environment. I must stress this is MY experience from years of familiarity with SSPX, and not meant to insult ANYONE who reads this blog and does not fit this description!!

    So for me, I like Mass in English and the new lectionary’s three-year cycle. I’d certainly assist at a Latin Mass according to the new rite. But it would take some convincing to get me to assist at a Tridentine Mass, not because there’s anything wrong with the old missal, but because of all the baggage that so often comes with it.

  180. Mark says:

    I’m 27 years old and now attend the traditional Mass weekly. I had always had an interest in various liturgical rites and forms and was always fascinated by the way different traditions worshipped but what always really fascinated me was the ancient form that my own Church had abandoned. I recall taking my grandmother’s old Missal when i was child and just being intrigued by this older form of worship. Nonetheless, I had never attended a classical rite Mass until I was 23 or so. The first time I went, I was intrigued byt could never ever had imagined worshipping in such a church weekly. It was a low Mass, I sat in the back and tried to follow along to the best of my ability, but even missed the consecration, I was completely and utterly lost to be honest which has been the same expereince of a number of my friends who have attended a traditional Mass, I always try to explain some basic concepts and guide them through the Mass before I take anyone now.
    However, my local parish options at this time were not stellar, the choice was between an orthodox but funky charismatic church where everyone would speak in tongues or a liberal Jesuit one where God was a she. So needless to say, I started spending more and more time at the traditional Mass. I found an old missal at a book sale, and enjoyed the challenge of truly exploring the liturgy. I attend now weekly at a thriving community and am blessed. The attraction for me is being able to truly PRAY the Mass, go through each part line by line and enter fully into the experience, also the connection with history. I am deeply comforted that this was the liturgy celebrated by my fathers at the Mass rock in the West of ireland countryside when the English were trying to hunt them down and kill them. The fact that this form goes back for centuries REALLY MEANS SOMETHING. Historical connectivity is VITAL to a COMMUNITY’S survival. Of course, I’m a historian so I would say that wouldn’t I? In any regard, obviously the reverence, devotion, Triune focus,a nd solid orthodoxy are also critical element of my attachement.

  181. thetimman says:

    Ironically, it was the late John Paul II who convinced me to attend the traditional Mass. I had known of it in college, but there was never any real opportunity to go regularly.

    After marriage, I moved to St. Louis, where there was an indult Mass run by the Archdiocese, but I went maybe once or twice without experiencing anything momentous.

    When JP2 died, my wife and I woke up early and watched the funeral Mass– novus ordo, in Latin (mostly), with Gregorian Chant and polyphonic music, reverence, great sermon. [And maybe commentary from Fr. Z if you were watching Fox! – Fr. Z] I remember turning to my wife and saying, “They’ve robbed our patrimony!” Yes, I actually said that; I’m a geek.

    That’s when I resolved to go to daily TLM every day that week at the indult location, now run so wonderfully by the ICRSP. First day, eh. Second day, eh. Third day– Damascus road moment that changed my life.

    There is so much that I could say, yet, as St. Paul says it is so hard to be intelligibly uttered. It is not merely the “smells and bells”– that is to say, the Latin novus ordo isn’t the same. With the traditional Mass, I feel the presence of God and that I should and do worship Him in a way I never felt at the n.o. I discovered real, interior participation in the propitiary sacrifice instead of merely talking all the time.

    It changed my life. It has led me to the complete practice of the Catholic faith in all its truth and beauty. It led me to a greater understanding and interiorization of Catholic Tradition, teaching and practice. I credit Mary with this, as with so many other graces in my life.

  182. AnnaTrad says:

    I am a convert to the Faith now for 28 years. My husband is a cradle Catholic. Our journey to this wonderful Mass of the Ages began under the influence of a very holy priest. He opened our eyes to what was going on and what was wrong in the church. He led the way for many to form a group to start requesting the Latin Mass and all that goes with is. Over a period of 18 years we now have a parish, a priest from the FSSP, and all the sacraments. My journey was from knowing nothing, as I was not even baptised till my conversion to the place now where I am NOW, so grateful that our Lord has lead me to this Mass where the sense of the sacred and the strong feel of the true presence of God is so strong that some days it is hard to get up off my knees. I am blessed to be able to go to daily Mass now and I WILL NOT AND CAN NOT GO BACK TO THE OTHER.

  183. Teresa says:

    I am a convert, although my mother was Catholic. She stopped going to Mass after the changes occurred, so I grew up with a bit of subconscious sympathy for what had happened and a good deal of respect for what had been lost (although I didn’t know what it was). A couple of years ago, I went to my first “Tridentine” Mass. I had really geared myself up for it by reading, etc., but I was not hooked after the first time. I had no strong feelings about it one way or the other. I think I tried too hard that first time to understand everything that was happening rather than just experience it and let it be. After that, I started praying with a 1962 missal, and that has changed everything. The next time I went to the extraordinary form, I was completely overwhelmed. I could effortlessly sense the presence of God and pray the Mass in a way that I had never known before. In fact, I don’t think I had ever prayed the Mass before; I had prayed *during* Mass but not *the* Mass. One thing that I find remarkable every time I attend is that I actually leave there a little tired. I have really been engaged during the entire time of the Mass, rather than distracted or distraught for 95% of the time (as is my usual experience with the ordinary form). I must strenuously disagree with those who think there is no active participation with the extraordinary form! It has radically changed the way I see the Church and the depth of my understanding of Catholicism. It’s very hard to explain because I think it is primarily an interior change. Unfortunately, I can only attend the extraordinary form rarely because the only one available (for now, please God) is quite far away. Nevertheless, thank God I found it.

  184. MamaJen says:

    About a year ago my family and I began attending our local FSSP parish exclusively. I am a 36 year old “revert” (raised nominally Catholic, left for about 15 years in my late teens and twenties before coming back), and I had never encountered the old mass before finding our FSSP parish here in Georgia. The first time I attended the older form of the mass I was *shocked*. For some reason, I had expected it to be mostly like the Norvus Ordo mass, only in Latin. I am still shocked when I think about how drastically things changed between the two forms – how could that have happened? I was definitely “hooked” immediately, though I do admit it took quite awhile to become “comfortable” – it was pretty overwhelming and confusing at first. It took about 4 months for me to feel like I finally “got it”, though I know there is still much for me to learn, depths to explore. I just feel that the older mass soothes my parched and starving soul. Every week, I leave mass feeling like I have had a glimpse of heaven. I can’t begin to express the graces heaped upon myself and my family from attending this mass. It is now very, very difficult for me to attend even a respectful, pious Norvus Ordo mass. I adore the older mass, and it is SO worth all the extra time and trouble it takes to get there.

  185. Jose Wong says:

    I grew up attending the Novus Ordo. Guitars and tambourines at Mass never seemed quite right to me and this let me to wonder on how Mass had been celebrated in the past. My curiosity let me to the Traditional Latin Mass and into a quest to find out more about it. My parish priest was of no help and often dismissed my questions by telling me to “get with the times.” Ironically, I obtained (rescued) my first Latin Missal from the trash at my parish. Along with the missal, I also managed to save several other gems such as a set of Breviarium Romanum and a Liber Usualis.

    My first experience with the TLM was a private Mass celebrated by an Old Catholic priest during the early 1980’s. I later attended Masses at a St. Pius X chapel. At that time, the TLM was not sanctioned by the local dioceses. It has since been made available.

    I currently attend Mass at my local parish (where the Novus Ordo is celebrated reverently) and occasionally attend the diocese’s TLM. There is beauty and reverence in the TLM, and the same could be said of a, property celebrated, Novus Ordo liturgy. But given the choice, I would choose the TLM.

  186. Jennifer E says:

    A bit of background: I have been to the Tridentine Latin Mass twice. Once last year, and for the feast of the Assumption. I am a revert 7+ years now. I am currently living in Rich Leonardi’s diocese (Cincinnati). Tough place to get a Mass I enjoy. But am learning that all Masses are good if I was able to receive our Lord. To quote something I learned recently “The greatest liturgical abuse I’ve seen at Mass is me”

    . Were you “hooked”?

    No. I spent too much time trying to follow what is happening in the booklet (I was thoroughly new and unprepared)

    . Are you hooked now but it took a while?

    Actually, I immediately was hooked to a Mass done in Latin the way I am learning it was supposed to have been done (the NO) but not with Gregorian chant, polyphonic chant. I was able to follow with my heart much easier because I already “knew” the parts. This sung Mass is available at noon in Stamford, CT at St John the Evangelist. I went to this Mass last year after already having gone to a Tridentine Mass earlier in the year.
    . Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”)

    Not indifferent in the least. I see the need. Liturgical dancers for the high Masses at my parish of record are the times I have to go to a different Mass. Otherwise, I am forced to look for Him in the details and all that is good and true. I am forced to do the work of using my heart and what does using my heart mean. So you can say it is an ascetic work not of my choosing but He knows best. (I have three little ones so my time is limited in getting involved, but thankful all things great or small count in the Kingdom and I love the blog world even for a quick read!) God Bless the ones who go to the Tridentine Mass, but the time is awkward (8:30)
    . Were you put off and don’t want to go back?

    Not put off, but desiring that Mass in CT more and more (my husband even was captured so much that he is convinced he saw a miracle, besides the Eucharist!)

    . What was it that captured you?

    The reverence of the Mass. In CT. Here, I know a few of the people that go to the Tridentine Mass. God Bless them. But I am not interested.

    . What repelled you?

    The growth curve in being able to follow and the inability of three little ones to be quiet (mine that is). I went by myself the last time and I have to be honest that I am not desiring to go again. I am not from this area. I had my reversion in AZ. Actually at St Tim’s – place of drums and what not! I did have a head ache afterwards but I KNEW I was home in the Catholic church. We did not become parishioners there. But AZ is an awesome place. I think I am nostalgic but if this restlessness continues I will get back there someday! Or to Stamford, CT! Anywhere with reverence and the parishioners are on the pilgrammage to heaven! not thinking they know it all (I do that enough on my own)

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely?
    See above.

  187. I was hooked the first time I attended a traditonal Mass. I also learned to serve it, and loved it even more. It brought home to me one thing: the origins of the Mass in the Jewish passover sacrifice. Liturgically, we are Jews, albiet Jews who have the benefit of the fulfillment of the promise of a savior: Jesus Christ.

    I’ll also say this: I took my then-6-year-old son to midnight Mass last Christmas at St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, Mo., which is staffed by priests of the Institute of Christ the King. My son is notorious for being squirlly and restless at Mass. Not for this one. I figured he’d just go to sleep. But despite the lateness of the hour, he was mesmerized the whole time, focused on what was going on at the altar. I won’t pretend to know what got his attention (when I asked him, he couldn’t exactly say, probably being too young to articulate it himself), but he was the best behaved he’d ever been at Mass.

  188. Mark Johnson says:

    I am 41 years old, converted to the Faith at age 26 (or “reverted”, having been baptized but not raised in the Faith), and attended my first Tridentine Mass about 3 months ago.

    Before that, the best mass I had ever attended was a Latin Novus Ordo which was done very reverently and professionally. The TM I attended, by comparison, was in a much smaller and humbler church, with an amateur choir as opposed to the professional organist and cantor at the NO. During his sermon, the priest had a habit of rushing his words so that they slurred together, and was hard to understand. In sum, my first impression was that I found the TM not as “nice” as the really nice NO masses I had been to. It was also hard to follow, even though they provided handbooks to guide you through it.

    Nevertheless I felt myself drawn back the following week, and as the weeks go by I appreciate it more and more. I have learned to follow it all the way through and have got used to the priest being inaudible much of the time. I have come to appreciate the long periods of silence, as opposed to NO masses which generally are peppered with hymns — in any place where no one is talking, someone feels obliged to insert a hymn, so that periods of silence are short and far between. I have come to love the Gregorian chant, even though it’s sung by a choir that is obviously composed of amateur volunteers.

    On a couple of occasions, I have been overcome by a sense of the simple beauty and reverence of the actions, language, music and surroundings, as humble as they are, as well as the realization that I was participating in rituals that were known and loved by generation upon generation of Catholics, including undoubtedly some of my pre-Reformation English and Irish ancestors.

    In short, I have come to love the TM and strongly prefer it to the NO. NO masses can be done well, but by and large they’re not, and when they’re not, they’re awful. I find it hard to escape the idea that the NO was slapped together by “experts” within a few short years, whereas the TM gradually and organically evolved and has been proven by centuries of use. So, without getting into specific comparisons between the two, the TM just feels more deep, reverent and substantial.

  189. Tom says:

    Fr Z:

    I should say that I am 48, and (just) remember the tridentine rite from serving the early morning masses of an old retired monsignor in my parish. His masses were rapid, and you had to be on your toes to keep up (I was about 8 when I started serving for him!). But he was a kind man, and a born teacher – he had been headmaster of our local catholic grammar school for a while. He made no concessions to our youth and inexperience during the mass, but afterwards, he would talk to us, and would – subtly and often humorously – check that we knew what the prayers of the mass meant, and he would draw our attention to latin words and phrases from the readings. I still remember learning a great deal of latin vocabulary, as well as absorbing much sound religious instruction, during those after-mass walks from church to school.

    So my memories of the old rite were positive, and I always had a lingering regret that I did not have the chance to grow up with the “extraordinary form”. I used occasionally to read my father’s and mother’s old missals, and was very struck by the beauty of the old prayers and rituals. But all of this faded into the background for many years, while I grew up, attending mass in a variety of churches. When I had the choice over where I attended mass, I always sought out those churches where there was a measure of beauty and reverence in the liturgy, but for over 20 years I did not attend a tridentine mass. To answer your questions:

    Were you “hooked”? I was – my rediscovery of the extraordinary form took place at Fontgombault, in Holy Week 1992. I was captivated not only by the beauty of the old rite of Mass, but by the coherence of the liturgy as a whole, and the beauty of the traditional office which underpinned the whole monastic observance. It had always seemed to me, from reading my parents’ old missals, that the rites of Holy Week in the old latin rite were a masterpiece of religious art, and I had always been saddened that I could never experience them in their fulness. That Holy week was a total revelation to me.

    What was it that captured you? Exactly what captured Thomas Merton at Gethsemani on his first visit: “the deep, deep silence of the night, and of peace, and of holiness, enfolded me like love …” The feeling of having regained contact with the profound roots of our faith and our practice.

    What repelled you? – Nothing!

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely? – Actually quite rarely, but I go whenever I can. I often have sunday duties which generally mean that I attend mass in the Novus Ordo, but I always seek out – as far as possible – masses which are reverent, quiet, and recollected.

  190. Thomas Stinger says:

    I am a seminarian in the western United States who became interested in the TLM while in the seminary. My first experience was not very impressive as I didn’t understand the priest and couldn’t follow very well as much of the Liturgy was said at a low voice of the priest. This made me interested and I began to become full, active, and conscious about understanding this long tradition which predates St. Gregory the Great. So why do I now feel drawn to the TLM:
    -This Mass is very scriptural. (Try to find a place where scripture is not being used)
    -Invocation of the Saint and Relic. (Where have all the relics in the Altars gone)
    -Absolute respect for the Holy Eucharist. (I actually had a priest in the seminary tell me not to worry too much about the crumbs that fall to the ground. Are we talking about the True Presence of our most Holy Lord Jesus Christ or not)
    -Kneeling to recieve the Eucharist. (Now we just come forward in a line as would happen at the local store. What type of theology is being taught here.)
    Well there are many other reasons but that’s all for now.

  191. Anne Marie says:

    I went to a Tridantine Mass for the first time in 40 years last week. Impressions were; it was much more reverent, spiritual and prayerful. But i didn’t like the gospel being read in Latin. Didn’t see the point of this as i couldn’t understand it as i didn’t have a missal. I remembered the latin prayers from my youth.

  192. Bob Diorio says:

    It was only this past weekend that I have had my first real experience with the Tridentine Mass. I am 47 years old and my only memory of the Mass previously was during the brief period in the late sixties when we used an English translation of the Latin text (Remember saying “And with your spirit” as the reply to “The Lord be with you”?) Let me also preface by saying that my experiences with the Novus Ordo have been extremely good since reverting seven years ago. This Sunday my sister and I went to St.Agnes in NYC (Bishop Sheen’s old church where the Tridentine Mass has been said since the indult was first given) Let me just say that we were both STUNNED (that is not too strong a word for it). The beauty, the tranquility…it is hard to find words for exactly what we felt. In talking later, something that spontaneously came out of me was, “This is worship for grown-ups”. Seeing the priest approach the sanctuary and altar as something holy, something to be treated with reverence and awe, only made me reflect on the times that people in my home parish treat the sacntuary as their personal backyard to be crossed and recrossed at will (even after the start of Mass). Suffice to say that we decided then and there that whenever possible (every week) we would be coming back to St. Agnes

  193. Steve says:

    I attend the Tridentine Mass one week and the New Mass the next. In truth I prefer the NO, but because of the extreme variance from priest to priest in its “delivery” and the wide (and often false) variation in catechesis received, I have found I need the Tridentine Mass to keep me focused on the essentials and the meaning of the Mass, as well as exposure to the fundamentals of the Catholic faith. I wish it were not so. So it is a question of more than liturgical form for me; it is more a question of sound theology and a God-focuesed Mass rather than a “minister-centred service” (a term I hate to use since the Mass is still the Mass) with really poor preaching not grounded in the Catholic faith.

    The one part of the form of the Tridentine Mass I dislike is the Readings in Latin; I feel strongly they should also be given in the venacular so that we can understand them. At least half the congreagation do not have missals at the Mass I attend and so they miss the meaning of the Scriptures, although they understand the true meanig of the Sacrifice.

  194. I guess I don’t quite fit with those who “discovered” or “rediscovered” the older liturgy, but here goes. Hope this isn’t too long. I am 53 years old, a Dominican priest and historian, and remember the Pre-Vatican II liturgy quite well, even though I was only 10 when it started to change. My first memories of Mass were about 1960 when I started to learn to read and was given a “St. Joseph Children’s Missal” to use on Sunday. I was always jealous of the parochial school kids because they got bilingual missals when they made first communion.

    My missal had only the Ordinary (no propers or readings) and was only in English. I remember kneeling through virtually the entire Mass and reading along, unable to hear anything (we always sat far back) or see anything (I was too short to see over the pew). When the bell would ring, I would jump ahead to where the next bell was printed in the margin. Eventually, I learned to read faster and had to wait for the bells to tell me to start reading again. I liked Benediction better because I could hear it (Tantum Ergo) and smell it. Couldn’t see it though; I always wished my parents would sit closer up. Our NY Irish parish had music only at Christmas and Easter: the reign of Low Mass–and we never went to either of those two High Masses.

    As a public, I didn’t get to be an altar boy until 1965 when a friend from the Catholic school got me in. I served the old Mass at the High Altar with the old rubrics (more or less) just as it was going into English. A big change came with the turning around of the altar and the arrival of readers (and soon a folk group). By 1968, I had stopped being a server and became a junior usher. We had the Tridentine in English with the Novus Ordo rubrics by then. I had just discovered Gregorian Chant and longed to hear used in Church. I was excited (and almost immediately disappointed) when Jubilate Deo came out. Guitars ruled. I remember my frustration when the 1970 Missal in English translation came along. I vividly remember the Sunday that the change came from English Tridentine to English N.O. because of the new Confiteor. The week before was the last Tridentine Mass I ever attended–although not the last old rite Mass.

    As a student in college and graduate school I attended both Latin N.O. Masses, both with and without music, as well as vernacular parochial Masses which followed the fashions of the times. I always considered the loss of the sacred music tradition the most tragic event for worship in the 1960s and 1970s. As a medievalist, my Latin was good enough so that I never experienced the Latin Mass as mysterious or alien because of the Latin language. In fact, when I first went to Italy to study in 1985, Italian Mass was much more alien than Latin. Ditto French and German.

    During my formation and studies, I was present and often served Dominican Rite Masses for various different priests of my province. I have to admit that the greatest impact on me came during the noviciate in 1977 when I was present for 50th Anniversary Mass of one of our priests. It was a Solemn High Dominican Mass with all the ministers and all the ceremonies. He was well-known and the church was packed. They all sang the Missa de Angelis with gusto. The friars sang the propers. I remember thinking “Isn’t something like this what Vatican II wanted the liturgy to be like?” This experience has been repeated a good number of times.

    I said my first Mass in the Old Dominican Rite the day after I was ordained in 1985–my first public Mass was the next day, Corpus Christi: a sung N.O. in English with the Ordinary and Propers all in Dominican Chant. That earlier first Low Mass was in a small chapel, ad orientem, and using the Dominican Missal of 1965 with the modified rubrics of 1969, which most Dominicans thought had to be used when (with permission of the provincial) one said the old liturgy. After Ecclesia Dei, I converted to the 1962 rubrics for the Dominican, as others I know who used it did. I have said the old Rite at private (and occasional public Masses), always with proper permissions, ever since. The frequency varies. I have gone for months saying only the N.O., and for a couple of months saying only the old Dominican. I do fairly regularly say pubic Mass, and that is nearly always in the new rite and virtually always in vernacular, but I almost always say private Mass in Latin no matter which rite I use.

    I don’t feel the kind of disconnects between the different forms that others often describe. And I feel sad when I hear people say they are alienated from either the old or the new form and “would never go” to one or the other. I guess this is, in part, because I lived through the changes and they seemed relatively undisturbing to me–except for that Confiteor, ad populum celebration, and the introduction of folk music. I never, however, directly experienced the loss of the chant (what I most love about our tradition) because of the reign of fast Low Mass in my youth.

    I guess now after the motu proprio, I should get around to assisting at a Roman Extraordinary Use Mass. Obviously, I will never say one. I expect this will be done when I go on retreat at La Barroux next month. I expect that when I go, I will still perfer the sung Mass. Although I have said many “Low Masses” myself, and think that form should be provided for those “attached” to it, I do believe that the sung Mass with its full ceremonies (no matter which rite) is the normative form–and I think that in that I am in accord with “the Spirit of Vatican II.”

  195. KH says:

    Born in the 60’s, I went to the first TM that I can remember about 10 years ago. Hooked from the beginning, I knew that, had I been crazy enough to do what I felt like doing – which was prostrating myself in front of the altar – I knew that everyone around me would have understood why I would do that. (And no, I didn’t. Wanted to, but didn’t.)

    Keep in mind that although I am a thoroughly orthodox Catholic now, it wasn’t *until I was about 30 years old* that I found out that that Eucharistic bread really and truly turned into Jesus Christ Himself. But then…how would I know? No one told me. I had so much dopey, self-indulgent embarrassing nonsense I had to swallow at that local NO cheeze-fest, but they managed to leave that last bit out. To me it was plastic-y, polyester, sappy and disposable. The TM was regal, gold, silk velvet and eternal. It was my connection to great saints; this is how they went to mass, too. That, imo, was pretty awesome.

    But here’s the funny part: in the meantime, I found the above-mentioned St. John the Evangelist sung high NO mass in Stamford, CT. If you’ve never been, it’s absolutely nothing like any other NO I’ve ever attended. It’s similar to the way I felt at the Byzantine Divine Liturgy: This is legit for us, too? Oh, too awesome.

    So I love all three: the TM, the high, sung Latin NO and the Eastern Rite. I’m registered at the sung NO, as it’s at a convenient time, has a great, family-oriented parish with something for everyone to get involved with (e.g. my son loves to serve that mass) and it just so happens to have the best choir I have ever heard in my life. Seriously, that I can expose my children to that beauty is worth the 30 miles we drive to the next state over to go. But I sure am lucky; I can have all 3 any time I want. I only wish it were so for everyone.

  196. elizabeth mckernan says:

    I have been very moved by the comments given above. I still remember how I felt after attending the first NO Mass – I was close to tears but having been received into the Church a few years before I accepted the changes because they had after all been brought in by the Church. I have always felt sorry for those who have only experienced the NO Mass and can understand why so many have lapsed since its introduction. At least those in my age group can still remember the devotion of congregations and hopefully will one day see a renewal of devotion with the return of the Traditional Mass which nourished the Saints. It’s been a long wait and it is encouraging to read so many testimonies from those who have found new strength from attending the Old Mass for the first time.

  197. pomofo says:

    I’m in my mid-20’s and grew up as an altar server in a parish with a relatively decent Novus Ordo in the Arlington diocese. I went to college at an Episcopalian university in Tennessee and after dealing with four years of cinder block churches, the celebrant strumming the guitar in the sanctuary, and the declining quality of music at my home parish in Arlington, I decided to begin attending the Tridentine Mass.

    My parents had taken me to a few Tridentine Masses when I was a child, but it never ever made an impression on me then. As an adult, however, I was hooked from day one and never looked back. When I went to grad school in London I attended St. James, Spanish Place, where I absolutely loved the old priest’s (I wish I knew his name) homilies. He loved to use the phrase “the Faith of Peter” and that really stuck in my mind. Too many of my co-religionists in college had rejected wholesale the Church’s moral and theological dogmas, and I realized that the radical break in liturgical use was symptomatic of the desire to cast off everything that was seen as anti-modern. When combined with the lack of catechesis in the parochial schools and CCD, it is no wonder that so many young people fall away from the Church. I thank God that my parents (especially my mother) are as conservative as they are, and that I was able to pick up quite a bit of understanding of the Faith through osmosis from them and from my maternal grandparents.

    Three years ago I began serving at the monthly Solemn High Mass here in DC, I serve and MC at the Missa Cantata when needed, and only really attend the Novus Ordo when there is no Tridentine nearby. I even got my father (a convert from Episcopalianism) to regularly attend the Tridentine, and now he also finds it difficult to stomach the Novus Ordo.

  198. Tim Ferguson says:

    I’ve hesitated to post, but, since everyone else in the world has, I might as well :)

    I grew up in a very liberal parish in a very liberal diocese. The only exposure I had to traditional liturgy was my mother’s missal, which she faithfully brought to Mass every day, even though the liturgy in her missal was not what was going on in the sanctuary. I tried to teach myself Latin from her missal.

    When I got to college seminary in St. Paul, I heard fellow students speaking in hushed tones about St. Agnes. My first visit for high Mass was a Sunday in October. The music was Beethoven’s Mass in C. I was completely overwhelmed. My constant thought through the Mass was, “this is what I’ve been missing!” It wasn’t the Tridentine Mass, but it was the most exposure to tradition I had ever had at that point.

    After St. Agnes, my first experience of the Tridentine Mass was a bit of a disappointment. I was put off by the total silence (it was a low Mass) and felt lost trying to follow along in the missal. I first went to a chapel of the SSPV in St. Paul.

    After I left the seminary, I went a couple of times to the SSPX seminary in Winona for Mass. The retreat center I lived at for awhile hosted a priest who had an indult and I served my first several Tridentine Masses there.

    I really developed my appreciation for the extraordinary form when I went to Ottawa to study canon law. A priest-classmate of mine had an indult, and I would regularly assist at his daily Masses. On Sundays, I would frequently, and then almost exclusively, go to St. Clement’s where the warp and weft of the traditional Mass and the traditional calendar began to sink into my skin. Now, in Detroit, I belong to St. Josaphat. The more I attend the extraordinary form, the more appreciation I have for it. I love the feeling of immersion – into a realm outside of time and space. I love the God-centeredness and the connection to centuries of my forefathers. I love the constancy of chant and the lack of “surprise” each week. I love and appreciate the devotion of the community worshipping with me and feel supported by their prayers. I love being able to relax and hear a homily without feeling the need to be attentive for fear of any heresy creeping in (though, on occasion, my radar has gone off a bit :)

  199. Cathy Dawson says:

    I am 45 years old and have been Catholic for 12 years now. Prior to my conversion I was unchurched and pretty much an atheist. I really didn’t have a clue about worship (the Mass seemed almost surreal to me), but I believed that Jesus founded a Church and that the Catholic Church was it, so I stuck with it. When the FSSP began an apostolate in Indianapolis (about a half hour from my home), I started going there so that I could learn the faith and so that my kids could hear authentic Catholic teaching as well (from somebody other than me).

    The first time I went to the traditional Mass, I didn’t get it at all. I felt like I’d entered a foreign country. I didn’t feel at all comfortable. The priest, servers, choir, and congregation all seemed to be doing different things and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. But the preaching was shockingly orthodox, so I decided to stick with it. I say shockingly because in parishes I had been in, you just didn’t talk about sin, hell, judgement, the Blessed Virgin Mary, sacrifices, angels, demons, or anything that hinted at what we really believe. I was beginning to feel like what I read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church was a carefully guarded secret.

    I’m glad I stuck with it. I invested in a Fr. Lasance missal and that was a huge help – it is chock full of information about the Mass on top of having all the translations. I stopped worrying about not knowing where the priest was in the missal, but I did work my way through the prayers of the Mass starting at the beginning trying to pray with the priest. I would pray with him as far as I could then simply carefully pray from the missal, absorbing the beauty and meaning of the prayers and deeply entering into the presence of God. It didn’t take long before I could easily follow the priest for the entire Mass. I was finally truly praying the Mass. Now when I go to the Novus Ordo I realize that it is very difficult to pray and be conscious of the fact that Our Lord is present on the altar and that we are all participating in His sacrifice.

    I’m completely hooked on the TLM – the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite. Two and a half years ago I moved to a place where the nearest TLM is 60 miles away and I just can’t get there often. The loss is profound and excrutiating.

  200. Ann says:

    I vaguely remember the old Mass and started going again recently after coming to the USA. Like many others, I was put off by the wacky NO liturgies in America. I would probably not be going if I was still in the UK.
    I’m very glad to have rediscovered the old Mass. In short, the sense of the sacred mystery is much stronger. Also I naturally dislike hand-shaking, hand-holding, phony greeting, priests saying “good morning” and generally improvising, Eucharistic Ministers, dumbed down music, etc. Getting rid of the old Mass was like the world of music deciding to abandon opera…The Tridentine Mass is truly “Mass for adults” – but I notice children love it too! I also love the sense of history – this was the Mass of my grandparents and ancestors and generations of saints and martyrs…
    My reservations about the old Mass are: readings in Latin, congregation not saying the Pater Noster with the priest, and the Low Mass in general. At Brompton Oratory in London, you just cannot hear what the priest is saying.
    I also have problems with some of the practices associated with the Latin Mass. My pet hate is mantillas – rather unfortunate, that! I find the practice meaningless in this day and age when head-covering is no longer required as a sign of modesty, by the Church and otherwise. Therefore I find I spend a lot of the Latin Mass getting irritated by families who staple doilies to their daughters’ heads. At one church in Jacksonville, Fla, they were handing out leaflets that explained why women at the Latin Mass wear mantillas. It was in effect “to show submission to their husbands” (hmmm) I would worry if there is some broader agenda on these lines among among Latin mass “communities”. Not everything has to go back to how it was in the 1950s.… I was delighted when the Motu Proprio came out as I feel the old Mass should be accessible to all mainstream Catholics not those who like to stay in some “holier than thou” ghetto.

  201. Anthony says:

    Were you “hooked”? Yes. I was born after VatII and as an altar boy during the 70’s
    I watched the N.O. degenerate before my eyes. Any vestiges of solmenity were all but
    gone in most parishes on Long Island NY, by the 80’s. During college I became some
    what of a Barthian-Lutheran-high-church-Anglican. I never left the Church, it was
    just that no other choice seemed valid at that time! My first experience of a Latin Mass was a
    Latin N.O. at St. Etheldreda’s London. The next week I sought out the Tridentine Mass
    at the Brompton Oratory — what an epiphany!
    Are you hooked now but it took a while? n/a
    Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”)n/a
    Were you put off and don’t want to go back? No
    What was it that captured you? The silence, beauty, music, ritual, prayers and
    devotion of the congregation. There’s time to pray.
    What repelled you? Have heard a few extreme sermons (i.e. the suffering baby Jesus
    pricked by the hay in the manger — drawing his blood) and an occasional tone-deaf
    priest singing a missa cantata.
    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely? Often, and usually in a
    diocese not my own.

  202. sean says:

    I was born in 1963 so while I was baptised in the old rite I have no conscious memory of it. Circa 1989 a work colleague told me he went to the old mass at a certain church. I more or less accused him of snobbery, asking him ‘are us normal Catholics not good enough for you?’ and similar. Circa 1995 finding myself nearby on a Sunday morning I went out of curiosity. It was very confusing as I expected it to be identical to the new mass, only in Latin. I filed it away as an interesting but definitely ‘one-off’ experience. Circa 2002 having fallen away from regular attendance I engaged in some desultory parish (and denomination) hopping and chanced upon an old mass. This time it left me completely cold, even resentful. By 2006 after some more hopping I settled upon desultory attendance at a parish having an unremarkable new mass. A new ‘trendy’ priest arrived and decided to change the creed. Even in my ignorance I knew that was just not on so I moved on not knowing whether I would ever go to mass again. The memory of my first old mass kept coming back to me and so after a month or two I googled some details, managed to find the tiny chapel it had been relegated to and, on what was perhaps my last ever shot at going to mass, I was unexpectedly blown away by the rhythm, the movement, the silence. Since then I have attended the old mass almost exclusively and feel that I have been catching up, having been robbed of something that should have been an integral part of my upbringing. I now hear that the old mass is to be offered at a parish much nearer my home. The church is a ‘concrete tent’ of 1960s vintage and it will be beautiful.

  203. Bill says:

    Raised a “high church” Episcopalian, I discovered the TLM by sneaking into the local Roman Catholic church up the street during mass. The Anglican rite celebrated in my home parish was very beautifully done and, except for the English, included many aspects of the TLM — prayers at foot fo the altar, Canon in low voice, and Last Gospel. I was hooked at that time as to those elements of the TLM as I experienced them in an Anglican setting. Years later, after joining the Church in 1975, I became increasingly dismayed at the deteriorating state of liturgy. In my travels to Europe and other parts of the US for my job, I discovered that the TLM was still celebrated. At the same time, I increasingly became discouraged that the so-called “reform of the reform” was having any effect at the average parish level. It certainly wasn’t and isn’t in my diocese. Now, I attend the TLM whenever I can, although opportunities in Seattle area are virtually nil. Last week, I attended a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in Portland, OR. I’m hooked and will remain so, although I have no objection to the NO IF it were celebrated with the same dignity, beauty and sense of the sacred.

  204. Sam says:

    Hmmm. I’m not sure that I fit neatly into either category (those who “grew up with” the extraordinary form of the Mass, or those who “[re]discovered” it), but here’s my story:

    My mother (and, subsequently, I) converted to Catholicism when I was 7. Fairly soon after, Mom began going to the Tridentine Mass whenever she was able. At first, I’ll have to admit that I positively loathed it. At that point, I found going to Mass in either form was torturous – I just sat/stood/knelt/spoke when everyone else did, and, while I “knew” much of the Catechism by heart, none of it made any impact on me whatsoever. However, Mom was persistant and kept pulling me to the Latin Mass every Sunday for several years.

    After those several years, my best friend joined the choir at the TLM parish. I promptly decided that, since it was easier to get away with whispering in the choir loft (… false assumption, I found out!), it would be much more “fun” to be in the choir loft than to be stuck in the pews below.

    It didn’t take long for me to completely fall in love with the music. Singing the chant and polyphony really helped set me on the right track with the Faith, and once I fully understood what the Mass actually was, I never wanted to go back to a NOM. The splendor, glory, mystery, and reverence of the TLM were virtually nonexistant in every NO parish I’d ever gone to.

    I’m now 17, choir director for the TLM apostolate that we’re starting here in Ft. Collins, CO, and going to Mass is quite the opposite of “torturous”!

  205. Chris says:

    My wife, myself, and our four kids, between the ages of four and eleven, drive approximately seventy-miles, one-way, to attend an indult mass whenever feasible.

    We have become disinchanted by the almost Johnny Carson Showesqueness of our local parish, where the priest cracks bad jokes, and women in white gowns sometimes perform a liturgical dance, and appear like swirling dirvishes.

    So, initial we drove to the indult as a place of spiritual sanctuary from our local parish, and not so much because of an attachment to the liturgy.

    But we came to find out that our kids actually sit through a traditional mass better than the NO. They seem to want to slouch, sleep, and get distracted at the NO mass, which tries so hard to be “entertaining”; whereas at the indult, they watch the priest with rapt attention. They seem to understand, even as young children, that something profound is going on at the altar: the gentures, the reverence, the solemnity are present, even if they can’t, yet, understand the words.

    The girls actually enjoy wearing mantillas; and it should be noted that the requirement to wear them was never abrogated from canon law.[This give the wrong impression. The requirement for women to wear chapel veils was simply eliminated with the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which is silent on chapel veils. They may be worn, or not, as anyone desires. This is not something that had to be abrogated. – Fr. Z]

  206. Marc says:

    I am 30 years old from St. Paul, MN. I never knew of any other Mass than the ordinary form. After seeing “The Immemorial Tridentine Mass” DVD narrated by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I knew at that moment what the Mass could be. After struggling with seeing so many abuses (many by people who are ingorant) but worse yet by those Priests who day after day let these abuses persist.

    I decided to find out if our Archdiocese offered the Tridentine Mass. Well I can say what I experienced was so much deeper than what I experience at the ordinary form Mass. I was not distracted by the usual things but rather I was “distracted” by our Lord on the Altar and us entering into his sacrifice. I am so happy that the Holy Father has released the restrictions on the TLM I am working along with a few friends to educate and bring the extraordinary form to other Parishes in the Archdiocese. I pray that one day very soon our Archbishop or Coadjutor Bishop will say the TLM at High Altar of the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul MN. (Would that not be a great site!!!!)

    God Bless your work Father Z!

  207. When I converted, I converted reading old books about the Church. All of them made reference to the Mass as it was. When I defended the religion I learned from those books against my RCIA instructors, I grew increasingly curious about the Mass they used as a starting point for how much better the Church was, since the bad-old-days when those books of mine were written. I asked the pastor for an old missal-he gave me three (including the small but ornate Roman Missal for Sunday’s that was carried to the missions our parish served in Eastern Kentucky in the 1920’s.)

    Years passed. I got the opportunity to travel to Cleveland when I was 19 to see my great-grandmother. I called around in Cleveland and found where the indult was. I went, loved it, moved to Lexington to go to school, learned how to serve it, moved to D.C. to attend law school, kept serving it, got married in it, now go in Pittsburgh as often as I can.


  208. When I converted, I converted reading old books about the Church. All of them made reference to the Mass as it was. When I defended the religion I learned from those books against my RCIA instructors, I grew increasingly curious about the Mass they used as a starting point for how much better the Church was, since the bad-old-days when those books of mine were written. I asked the pastor for an old missal-he gave me three (including the small but ornate Roman Missal for Sunday’s that was carried to the missions our parish served in Eastern Kentucky in the 1920’s.)

    Years passed. I got the opportunity to travel to Cleveland when I was 19 to see my great-grandmother. I called around in Cleveland and found where the indult was. I went, loved it, moved to Lexington to go to school, learned how to serve it, moved to D.C. to attend law school, kept serving it, got married in it, now go in Pittsburgh as often as I can.

    While it started as pure reactionism, my infatuation has become a true love. The theology expressed in the extraordinary form is deep enough to capture the full attention of my mind and soul. I love the ordinary form, too, but I try to stay near the EO.


  209. historyb says:

    If sometime along the way you decided to check out the older form of Mass, the “Tridentine” Mass, I am interested in your experience and reactions. (I never have been to a live one, I have seen them recorded, so I hope that is ok)

    * Were you “hooked”?

    Yes I was

    * Are you hooked now but it took a while?
    * Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”)

    No, in fact when I went to my very First Mass 10 years ago I asked the Father what happened to the Mass, it was not what I had heard.

    * Were you put off and don’t want to go back?

    I was by the NO 10 years ago, there was not a whole lot of difference between it and the other Protestant Churches I went to. I was not put off by the traditional Mass though

    * What was it that captured you?

    The history and richness of it.

    * What repelled you?


    * Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely?

    No I am not able to, the closet one I know of is many towns away at 7 am in the morning and there is no bus at that time.

  210. Gregor says:


    I first assisted at Mass in the extraordinary form nearly two years ago. I was 18 at the time. I had familiarised myself with the order of Mass beforehand in some detail, and had seen several videos online, so I knew more or less what to expect. The liturgy was truly beautiful: reverent, mystical and imbued with prayer. It was quite unlike anything I had experienced before. It gave me a sense of the majesty of the Sacrifice that was being offered there, where sometimes in the new Mass I find that I need periodically to remind myself of this. I now attend the older form of Mass whenever I’m in the area where it’s offered, which I would estimate amounts to about a third of all the Masses I assist at. I would certainly do so exclusively if I had the opportunity.

    To enlarge a little on the above, there are aspects of both the manner in which I have found the older Mass to be celebrated, and in the Missal itself, that attract me to it over the newer form. With regards to the former, the meticulous care of the celebrant and servers, the Latin and chant, and the orientation of the altar all contribute to the impression that the liturgy is God’s and not ours, although we do derive a great many graces from it. This could, of course, all be done with the new Missal, and I would love dearly for it to be the case more often.

    Returning to the differences between the Missals themselves: the extended preparation before ascending the altar, the reference to the Holy of Holies, the ritual repetition, that other parts of the Mass continue while the choir sings the propers, and any number of other differences, all enhance the mystery and sense of the Sacrifice that I mentioned earlier.

    I came to the old Mass after first discovering that I knew so little of the faith, and not the other way around (although I must admit that it took me altogether too long to get my act together and get back to Confession in between the two). I suspect that if I had stumbled into Mass in the extraordinary form some years earlier, I would only have been bewildered. I hope that, as the old Mass becomes more widely available, people finding it by accident who are in the situation that I was at that time might rather be driven to find the fulness of Catholic faith that God desires of us.

    God bless you, Father, and all your work on this blog and elsewhere.

  211. Dennis DeVito says:

    I was formed in the old mass in my early years until I was about 12 years old when the new mass took over but it was not just the mass everything changed –our religion classes changed from learning adout God and the church to social action , the nuns changed habit from long dresses to mini skirts — I was fully into the new forms , I liked the rock like music, my parish in the Bronx Ny would have Godspell masses – I accepted communion in the hand , I became a reader for the mass at my new parish. I rediscovered the old mass in 1991 after listening to a local radio show by the late Bill Marra did I find a Traditional mass was being offered at a college chapel not far from my local parish – yes when I went it was a low mass offered by a fairly young priest and it did take a little time to get use to it after being away from it for so many years the latin , the quite, the new rite I was use to was very busy — so many lay people at the altar ( the readers ,all the EEM’s who gave communion, the bad music) I took the time to go over the latin so I can follow the mass ( and yes it does take some work on our part – and a note to those who were not hooked on the old mass the first time they went – give it a little time to sink in ,to get use to it , for in most places it is a lot different then your parish mass. To me the traditional mass was a lot more reverent , the priest facing east, communion kneeling and on the tongue. I rarely attend mass at my parish any more or any of the local parishes around where I live – I find the new mass less then reverent ,bland and ho-hum (it celebrates the community not Our Lord who seems to be secondary-the music is poor at best – at my parish the children are called up to stand at the altar with the priest ,then after holy communion happy birthday is sung to them with a big round of applauds ). I attend the Traditional Mass almost exclusively in Westchester Ny , if I can’t I’ll go to the eastern rite parish not far from where I live. I am not closed minded to a reform of the new rite or its proper celebrating as I found at a church in Stamford,Ct. where mass is offered at the high altar facing east, in latin with only male servers, no EEM’s , chant and other sacred music and one may receive Holy Communion on one’s knees if one so wishes

  212. Sheila says:

    I am 46 and my husband is 43. I have not read any comments on this blog yet. Here goes. The only thing I remember about the ‘old Mass’ was that the adults in charge at our parish were determined to move quickly after some big news. The next thing we saw was a priest on a stool singing songs during Mass. Two things that stick in my mind: the destruction of the Communion rail and my mom sobbing at every Mass for years. The ride home from Mass was full of questions. All she could manage was, “You have no idea what we have lost.”

    We have attended the Novus Ordo in Latin for about four years. Our pastor offered it and he taught Latin to anyone who wanted to learn in evening classes. We have only had a Tridentine Mass available here since our new bishop arrived three years ago. I was NOT hooked on the Tridentine Mass the first time I attended. I have only been to two Masses. I hated, really hated many things about it. I had an odd, visceral reaction to what felt like being “shut out” of the Mass. I would not go back for about two years. My husband began attending the Mass this summer. He worked hard to learn about it and he shared what he was learning with us. He is hooked and he is patient with me about attending or not. He goes every day at 6:30 am. I am not sure about wearing the veil. I have researched it and found some sensible comments by a priest on the EWTN site. What makes me want to go to the Tridentine rite is that the music at all English novus ordo masses, in my opinion is awful. Also, there is no mistaking what is happening and who is in charge at the Tridentine. The priest who says it here is a very humble, good man. That helps too! I think it takes Grace from above to accept the Mass in this rite and to love it. My husband absolutely loves it. I am struggling to catch up! I will go again, I think.

  213. Al says:

    I have been to only a few Tridentine Masses in my entire life, but rather prefer the Pauline Missal said ad orientem, with most externals identical to the Tridentine (good liturgy overall, healthily nice vestments, and reverence), and in Latin (Saint John Cantius in Chicago was one such place I liked going for this sort of thing). Many of the Tridentine Masses I have been to just irritated me because I could never understand the priest even when he was supposed to be speaking in a Dialogue Mass, ect (a LOT of mumbling or slurring of responses). But I never minded much. I just rather liked the Pauline Missal said in a more solidly Roman context.

  214. Dan says:

    I have to state that I am 31 years old and I am have been a Catholic for a year, however I have had my nose pressed against the window wonder if I could experience the wondered of the Church but was too scared to. I can to the “extraordinary rite” by a natural progression of learning about church history because I was thristing to know more about the Church I emraced so fully. I can blame E-bay and the site . When I saw the vestments I wondered why the priest did not wear the fiddleback chasubles during the mass. I figured nothing of it when I won my bid on a vestment and present it to the church and the Msgr was so great but he told me he could only wear it in private. Ever filled with questions he explain to me that there was an older expression of the mass Tridentine Mass. Filled with curiousity I was to experience the tradition mass, at first the Msgr was hestiant on telling me where I go to a service yet he found me after service three weeks later after the Stations of the Cross and told me that I could go to St. Anges.
    My experience at first was one of wonder and awe, sprinkled with a heavy dose of confusion but I witness a heartfelt love for the ligtury that I did not witness in my church. I can say that at St. Raymond’s I never witness the liturgical abuses as I have heard here and at other blogs. I was not thrown off by the latin language because I always watched the Midnight Mass from the Vatican with my mom, so my ear as use to hearing the language. I had to say one of the greatest things happened to me my first time there a member of the church shared there missal with me and taught me how to follow along. I came home and told everyone about it and explained that this is it should be (maybe it was the heavy doses of inscense), I found myself wanting to see the litgury at my parish. Needless to say I head down to St. Anges at least once a month filled with awe and no crying baby during the service.

  215. We are mid-50’s, converted from Episcopalianism in 1985, and never knew the Tridentine mass until late last year when we encountered in at the tridentine rite at the Benedictine Monastery at Clear Creek in Oklahoma.

    Hooked-ness comes in different levels of intensity.

    High mass with chant from a trained choir of monks on holy days of obligations followed by an hour visiting with the folks from around the area yields a very high degree of hooked-ness. To note: high mass with choir chant “works” very much like the Novus, minus the Tony Bennett like performance of the priest crooning an awful English translation of the canon of the mass over a sound system to the congregation. In the high mass, the Introit is chanted, the Kyrie, the Gloria, then Collect, Readings, and so forth. Once I got past wanting to keep up with every little thing the priest was saing or doing (most of which is done towards God) there is a very deep continuity between the Novus and the Tidentine High mass. Minus the Tony Bennett part.

    High mass with less capable chant here in the City in a crowded crowded crowded small chapel for an indult mass yields a much lower level of hooked-ness. Most of the time not high enough to make us forego the local Las Vegas Liturgical Sacramental Show. Although we do our best to avoid ones wih guitars in favor of the local Cistercian order.

    Low mass?? Very low hooked-ness for this layman. Any time, any sort. Most of the lay folk are working their way through the missal trying to keep up with the priest. For me it is just not The Liturgical Work with the Priest doing his part and Us doing our part. A big part missing is the Readings Out Loud (it’s sort the opposite problem of the Novus Microphone: I mean, God wrote it, why does he need the Priest up there reading it silently back to Him); and the Collects and such (which after all are supposed to Collect something!)

    My take after being immersed in the Tridentine rite done right for the last six months or so, if God would strip the Novus priest of the microphone, burn the Haggen Dass hymn books, make the priest face Him during Mass instead of Us, there wouldn’t be such a huge difference between the two forms of the Rite done Right. The Big Missing Piece in the Tridentine world seems to be a Done Right when there is no trained choir, and an ordinary daily celebration that includes the lay people assisting in something other than just receiving communion.

  216. Franz says:

    Like many who have already commented, my love for the Tridentine Mass comes from the culmination of a theological/spiritual journey. As a student in the Twin Cities, I would attend the sung Novus Ordo Latin-language Saturday Mass at St. Agnes Parish most Saturdays. The reverence I experienced there led me to further study of the liturgy and the Latin language. The friendship I experienced from Monsignor Schuler and others at that parish helped as well. I developed a great love of Gregorian chant, liturgical reverence and sacred language as means of bringing the mundane into contact with the divine. As a divinity student in Rome for the next two years, I attended very occasionally the Fraternity of St. Peter’s Tridentine Mass or Vespers at their small, run down chapel. Now back in La Crosse, Wis., I occasionally attend the Institute of Christ the King’s Sunday Tridentine Mass at St. Mary’s Ridge although I remain a paying (and praying) member of my parish in La Crosse. I am of the school of thought that believes elements found in the Tridentine Mass are part of our liturgical heritage, and therefore belong in the Novus Ordo Mass. These elements include the Latin language, Gregorian chant, as well as many other liturgical elements that were by no means slated for elimination at Vatican II. God bless our Holy Father for his motu proprio. It is my sincere hope that the proliferation of the Tridentine Mass will have an impact on the Novus Ordo Mass.

  217. Frogprof says:

    I grew up in parish in the UK where our dedicated pastor, a Benedictine, said the NO with the reverence of the old, where nothing, including the orientation of the altar, had changed following Vatican II. No-one received on the hand. I suppose I always had the idea that the New Mass was simply a translation of the Old.

    When I was 15, following John Paul II’s indult in 1984, we had a weekday evening Mass in the Old Rite. The church was packed, and I was absolutely transfixed, amazed at the Mass. It was like being punched and completely winded; nothing prepared me for the dignity, spirituality, and atmosphere of this ceremony. I kept thinking to myself “What have they done? Why did they try to destroy this?”?

    I now attend the Old Mass exclusively.

  218. Christopher says:

    I attended my first Tridentine Mass in Pittsburgh, PA as a field trip for my Geibel Catholic HS Latin Class. I was, at first, a little put off by being lost in the Mass, as it was a low mass and I expected things more like the new Mass. Following, however, I loved it and wanted more and so eventually I assisted more. It seems that after that first Mass, though I was a little “lost in the liturgy”, I was hooked.

    As a side, other seminarians and myself love your blog.

    May God bless you.
    Holy Mary protect you.

  219. Barbara Rickman says:

    I discoverd the old rite through of all things, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. A traditional Anglican priest friend of mine, took me to my first TLM and boy, what a change. It looked so much like the celebration of the Anglican mass, but, well, better. I had before that time, asked my anglican priest if he believed in transubstantiation and he exploded! He told me never to talk about that ever again, and shut the conversation down. I was shocked. That incident and another prompted my survey of the Roman Catholic Church. When I decided to convert, that TLM and it’s traditonal sacraments were used for my home coming. I have been born and bred in and with this rite and I feel very out of place outside it.


  220. I’m not totally hooked on the Tridentine Mass, but my daughters are. The local indult Mass community moved to our parish, and Oldest Daughter (11) was excited about the chance to try out her Latin skills: she’s been studying it for years and has a battered 1959 missal given her for Latin practice by a sympathetic nun. She also wanted to see what the Mass described in her 1940’s catechism, My Catholic Faith (Bp. Morrow; I can’t recommend it enough as an alternative to whatever anyone’s parish is using for catechesis) was really like, and talked me into buying a little chapel veil she found in our local Catholic store. Armed with missal, veil, and the adventurous spirit girls of that age have, she dragged her reluctant mother – Latin-less, happy with the NO, and self-conscious about the scarf tied over her hair – to the Tridentine Mass. It was a low Mass, and at no point did I have any idea what was going on.

    We’ve gone a few times since then, and I’m starting to get used to it: oldest daughter helpfully points to the English side of the missal for me. Last month I brought Middle Daughter (4), and she was raptly attentive – as I learned on the way home, mostly attentive to the fact that every other little girl there had on a Pretty Princess Lacy Headthing, except of course for her, and that this state of affairs could not be tolerated.

    Finally Youngest Daughter (5 wks) arrived, and after a month-long recovery from a difficult birth (how I wish they still did churching of women, I needed a ‘welcome back, glad you survived’ after that delivery, but Fr. Z. will have to make that another topic someday), everyone went to the Tridentine Mass. That’s when I discovered that the traditionalist women were, completely contrary to my expectations, much more accepting of small nursing babies in the back pew than the attendees of the NO Mass. No glares, lots of women with slings as well as veils, a few of them discreetly nursing their own babies in the back near me. No wonder the TM is so much quieter! Somehow, realizing that these are people who really like babies made me feel much more at home.

    My only complaint isn’t about the Mass itself – I’m getting used to it–but that Father is inaudible during the homily unless you sit in the very very front. When I’ve been able to hear his homilies, though, they’ve been excellent: no jokes, no endless introductory anecdotes, no references to popular culture that tell you what tv shows are watched in the rectory… clear explanations of the faith instead. I’d love to hear more of them.

  221. Ryan says:

    I’m 27 years old and was raised in a fairly conservative midwestern diocese. When I was very young, in the late 80s, there was a little bit of clappy nonsense, but for the most part we had good solid priests, and reverent Masses. I remember being told that Mass used to be in Latin, but no more detail of the differences.
    It was only when I went to a “Catholic” college in Chicago, and attended Mass on campus that I really was hit in the face with what was wrong in The Church. I was so revolted by the whole experience that I went looking for an Eastern Catholic church (I had some Ukranian friends) and happened across the Tridentine Mass on the internet almost accidently. Luckily there was a parish with several Traditional Latin Masses a week nearby, and I started going.
    I agree with several of the previous posts that I felt like something had been hidden from me. Once you’ve been to a Latin Mass, you start to understand why your ancestors (Irish in my case) couldn’t just “get along” and accept anything less than the True Faith.
    My wife – raised in a very liberal (although she never knew it) suburban diocese – and I were married in th Traditional Rite, and though we now live in the country, quite a distance from a Latin Mass, still attend as often as we can (at least monthly). Thanks to Summorum Pontificum, we hope that we will soon have the Mass near and hand, and that someday our children (please pray for us that we may be blessed with some soon)will know it from the beginning.

  222. Tony says:

    My first Traditional Latin Mass was in 1998, when I was 19 years old. I was an engineering student who was in the college choir, and I would often wander the halls singing random songs. One of the college staff heard me singing one day and, knowing I was Catholic, asked me if I would be interested in a paid choir gig on Sundays at a Catholic church. He then explained to me that the choir sang Gregorian chant for all the Masses and I would have to learn chant. I knew as much chant as was on the few CDs I owned, but I was intrigued – and poor – so I took the information. I auditioned with the venerable Dr. Timothy McDonnell, and he allowed me into the choir of Opus Mariae Mediatricis, the mission church of the Oblates of St. Jude in Berlin, NJ, that would become Mater Ecclesiae in 2000. I don’t remember if I knew that it was the 1962 Missal when I started, and I don’t remember my first time there for Mass. I do know that I loved it then and I love it now. I think what captured me is the otherworldliness of it. We talk about the Mass being this exalted, sublime event, Earth being raised to Heaven, the very sacrifice of Calvary. However, even at orthodox Catholic parishes, I often feels more like we’re playing Mass more than truly encountering the living God. “Please stand.” “Please turn your missal to page 81.” “The offertory hymn is number 331.” “Our response is, ‘Lord, hear our prayer.'” I don’t need the Mass explained to me. I’ve been through it a thousand times, literally. Even the fact the priest is facing me while he’s supposedly addressing the eternal God gets to me. To whom are you really speaking? Do you need to remind God that “On the night he was betrayed, he took bread…”, especially when that pesky little Latin word “qui” is still there, or am I having yet another thing explained to me that I should know intuitively? To end this rant, I sense that the Mass of John XXIII lets me glimpse the other world, while the Mass of Paul VI, at least in English as I usually experience it, condescends down to my world and loses something of itself in the process. I can see, after what I know is an experience common to most serious Catholics, why many traditionalists charge that the Novus Ordo was composed by Protestants.

    I don’t get there as often as I would like, primarily because my wife is heavily involved at our NO parish (St. Peter’s, Merchantville), but I go at least once a month, I’ve only missed the Assumption Mass once and I’ve never missed All Souls Day. I will probably be attending the Traditional Mass exclusively once the 1st Sunday of Advent comes, because St. Peter’s is instituting a weekly (at least, knowing our pastor) Mass in the Extraordinary Form, and I will be in the schola. I really hope that the Ordinary Form is heavily influenced by this, and that those attached to the authentic traditions of the Church don’t run away from the Novus Ordo and leave it for dead. I hope that I can sing the authentic chants from the Graduale Romanum in the Ordinary Form every week, too, instead of the same 4-hymn Special (which I detest, even with the most traditional and reverent hymns) that has universally characterized the Novus Ordo in my experience. I hope the priests can bring back the language of the Roman Rite and that the people can take an hour a week to learn it. I hope priests go back to praying with their backs to the people and stop the irreverant (and theologically juvenile) practice of praying with their backs to the Persons. That’s what the Church expects, especially from a parish with 3000 families and 6 Sunday Masses – reverence and majesty at every Eucharistic encounter with the living God. Lex orandi, lex credendi. And a Church infused with a correct belief in the Eucharist will want to be holy in order to be joined to Christ in the Eucharist. That’s how we converted the whole world the first time, and it will work again if we let the Spirit do His work.

  223. Ben D. says:

    My first experience of the older use came, oddly enough, when I was assigned — in “Comparative Religions” in my senior year at a Catholic high school — to observe and write a reflection on the religious services of three other faiths. I got special permission from the teacher to attend the local indult mass — not strictly a service of another faith, but different enough from what I normally did on Sunday that it would fulfill the requirements of the assignment.

    A small but excellent schola chanted the propers, with at least one polyphonic communion motet, and the old pastor, who had founded the parish and established perpetual adoration more than 20 years before, celebrated. It was awesome, in the original sense of that word. I still remember being particularly awe-struck by the elevations.

    A few years later, at college, I started meeting people who tended in the direction of the SSPX, and I became a little suspicious of the whole phenomenon of “attachment to earlier liturgical forms”. The college I attended had 3 ordinary-form masses every day, all in Latin other than the propers, with a polyphonic, renaissance-only choir at the principal mass on Sundays. And as I reflected on the insistence of those who rejected the “novus ordo” entirely, I thought, “what’s their problem?”

    Then I read “Looking at the Liturgy” by Fr. Aidan Nichols, and then I was intellectually convinced that the older use was liturgically superior to the newer. Not that the newer form was invalid, or to be rejected, but that we had genuinely lost something of great value in the post-conciliar reforms. At the same time I was learning more about the pre-conciliar Divine Office, and experiencing pre-conciliar Roman Compline, and Benedictine Vespers, with some regularity.

    I reflected with some regret on the treasures that we had lost, in particular practices like Tenebrae, and in the general availability of a full, uniform Gregorian liturgy. I still think that it is one of the most telling hallmarks of the problems with the post-conciliar reforms that there cannot be an ordinary-form equivalent to the old “Liber Usualis” — simply because the chants do not exist for much of the modern Liturgy of the Hours.

    But even now I find myself at a bit of a loss when I’m hearing mass in the extraordinary form (frequently because I can’t actually hear a lot of what the priest is saying!). Presumably comfort will come with practice, but for me, I think I had to be convinced intellectually before I was comfortable enough to begin the practice.

  224. Nate says:

    I accidentally attended my first latin mass fullfilling my Sunday Obligation in another city. I was amazed by the mystery and sacredness of the Liturgy. Disheartened by many liturgical aberations and abuses in the new mass I often look forward to attending the latin mass when I can travel an hour away to the next diocese.

  225. Kristy says:

    I am 30 and in the “did not grow up with the LM” category. Thanks, Fr. Z, for these questions.

    Were you “hooked”?
    Not really. While interesting to watch a different form of Mass, it should be noted that I attended a Catholic university with very holy NO Masses, sometimes the NO in Latin.

    Are you hooked now but it took a while?
    No, but thanks to a kind FSSP priest who explained things to me and said it was OK to prefer the NO, I at least grew to respect the TLM.

    Were you indifferent (“What’s the big deal?”)
    A bit. I couldn’t understand why some of the traditionalists from the community claimed that it was the most reverent and therefore the best. To me the Mass was the Mass.

    Were you put off and don’t want to go back?
    Yes, but not to the point where I would never set foot at a TLM ever again. I prefer the NO and respect those who prefer the TLM.

    What was it that captured you?
    The fact that my dad used to be an altar boy and had to memorize all that Latin! Actually, kneeling to receive Communion was rather powerful.

    What repelled you?
    I felt like an OUTSIDER. Just watching. Not being able to hear the Eucharistic prayer made me feel lost. Additionally, I didn’t see the point of listening to the Bible in Latin when the priest was going to read it again in the homily. I found it difficult to adore God as He seemed so far away in the many actions & words that were beyond my understanding.

    Most of all, the PEOPLE repelled me. Many of the people who attended the particular TLM community were convinced that the only good Catholics are those who: attend TLM exclusively, homeschool, and keep their kids away from any English Mass.

    They refused to acknowledge that the NO was valid and constantly told of all the illicit things wrong with it. One person actually passed along Fr. Feeney pamphlets.

    With attitudes like this, I developed a resentment towards the Mass. Very rarely did I find a TLM member who respected my preference. It doesn’t help that my brother-in-law (a priest in love with the Old Rite) constantly slams the NO just to get under my skin.

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely?
    No. I only went to the occaisional Low Mass when the FSSP came to the school where I taught and a couple Sunday High Masses.

    My husband and I have no plans to attend the TLM on a regular basis. We are blessed to attend a parish that has excellent music, uses plenty of incense, and has priests that greatly attend to our spiritual needs. I hope that the TLM will help the NO integrate more Latin into the Mass.

  226. Martha says:

    I have been to a solemn high Mass once, 10 years ago. I could not understand why the priest was silent or mumbling so much of the time. I could not figure out where we were in the missal. I felt as though I might as well not be there, if I wasn’t going to be able to hear, see, or understand anything.

    Then, when Father gave the homily, it was in this odd, flat, almost robotic voice. I was told by a woman who went more often that the priests of that order purposely talk that way, in order to suppress their personalities and put on Christ. (this may or may not be true, but it’s what she said.) Anyway, that was really repelling to me. I don’t think the Son of God is flat or emotionless, so the analogy doesn’t do much for me.

    I have not felt any promptings, call, whatever, to go back. Although I sure do hope that the quality of N.O. Masses will improve.

  227. Hello Fr. Z.,

    I was first exposed to the extraordinary form in 2002 via a copy of the Liber Usualis that my campus ministry’s bookshelf had at the time. (I had just taken the newly-formed position of Liturgical Music Director and spawned my now-dormant blog.)

    As a former music major, I was immediately intrigued by the notation and what it might represent. I spent a number of months learning the method contained in the Liber. So you could say I was hooked on the Gregorian chant first.

    My first experience of Mass in the extraordinary form was at a short retreat given by the Servants Minor of St. Francis and while it was rather exhilirating to actually sing the music that was intended for the Roman Rite (here is the music list,) and the reverence was way beyond anything I had seen at my campus ministry, I was still a bit unfamiliar with the order of Mass.

    My second experience of the extraordinary form was at New York City’s Church of St. Agnes, after I had left aforementioned music position. I wept, quietly but openly in the back of the church during Mass. Tears of joy at hearing this music within its proper context; tears of bitterness towards those who suggested that my music selection responsibilities
    at my now-former job should be curtailed, tears of despair that this music would remain on the fringe; tears of hope that it would not.

    Fast forward a couple of years, the blog has gone dormant, but I now have been chanting/assisting at organ at an normative-form Mass on Long Island since December 2006, singing fully chanted ordinary and propers (the dialogue chants are hit-and-miss depending on the celebrant).

    Frankly I’m torn between the two forms. Both have its positives in my view:

    In the normative form, I appreciate: the richer fare of readings as provided by the three-year cycle; the vernacular (if only it were truly translated); the fact that the readings are proclaimed facing the assembly.

    In the extraordinary form, I appreciate: the buttoned-down specifications of the rubrics; the orientation of the priest during the highest point of the Mass; the multi-layered nature of the Mass (most notably in the priest’s prayers).

    I am put off by: mispronunciation of Latin – has happened in both forms. (Simple fluency in pronunciation can cut possibly up to 5 minutes from the length of the Mass, but more importantly, gives a better flow to the Mass);
    poor preaching; poor singing.

    None of the above peeves are unique to either form, and I have experienced them in both forms of Mass.

    In my ideal world, I would love to attend a High Mass that would be a hybrid of both forms. Vernacular or Latin readings (in any case, sung) from the 1970 cycle. Gregorian chant and polyphony. A Pater Noster sung by all. Prayers from the 1962. A truly reverent kiss of peace. The Roman Canon, sung. With well-chanted Latin, challenging preaching, and excellent music, of course.

  228. Karen Russell says:

    I was born in 1947, but since I was born of Baptist parents, attending Mass was most emphatically not part of my childhood. Nevertheless, from the time I was old enough to realize that there were these two different forms of belief, I was strongly drawn to Catholicism. By the time I was 16, I knew I couldn’t be anything else.
    My parents requested that I wait until I was 21. However, we all knew changes were coming (this was 1963) and I asked if we could attend that Christmas Midnight Mass at the Cathedral, so I could experience it once under the old form. Even then, the connection with the past was important to me.
    That remains my only experience of a solemn high TLM. The church was packed, we were well back so I couldn’t see much; and it was of course very unfamiliar,–but the memory–beauty, reverence, worship, peace, rightness– has stayed with me all the years since.
    I managed to slip away to one or two low Masses, and later, after I had left home, the older form was permitted in the diocese where I was then living–on one occasion. Ignorance on my part limited my participation, but had it ever been available again, I would have gone again. It still felt “right.”

    About 6 years ago a visiting priest obtained permission to do a full Latin Novus Ordo once a month. He “pulled out all the stops” liturgically–ad orientem, schola with Gregorian chant, fully sung (it didn’t hurt any that he had a good voice!), incense, altar boys in cassocks and surplices, biretta, etc. It was wonderful. Sadly, after a few months, he was transferred away. But it showed me that the Novus Ordo, properly done, can be so, so much better (and we had a pastor who was careful to avoid abuses.) And I found that I approached to the next ordinary Sunday Mass much more prayerfully and reverently. . (This effect would wear off after about two weeks and I would have to wait for my next “Latin Mass” fix.)

    Then the pastor too was transferred, and with his replacement the abuses began. Eventually I found another parish with a younger, orthodox and reverent priest, and Mass is about as good as your average North American English Novus Ordo gets. It is also a warm, friendly parish and I am far more active in it than I ever was in the former one. However, the music is deplorable (even the occasional decent hymn in the hymnal put out by the CCB has been carefully “sanitized” to remove gender-specific language–don’t get me started on that angle!). Latin is nonexistent. The congregation is “chatty” before and after Mass. Father manages to get one brief period of silence after he finishes purifying the vessels, but the rest is your typical constant “busyness.”

    As my knowledge has grown, both of what the Mass really is, and of the gap between the traditional Latin prayers and the banal translations of the present English liturgy (Thank you, Fr. Z!) I am realizing that I have great difficulty in remaining recollected and prayerful during Mass. The “immediately understandable” words of the liturgy tend to slide through my brain and out the other ear, with little to hold onto, and the constant activity disrupts my attempts at prayer.

    Since I have been unable to attend a TLM in over 35 years, I can’t say how I would react to it now. But I hope that finally it will be possible to have one regularly within reasonable distance. I don’t want to abandon my present parish, so what kind of balance would work remains to be seen.

    However, I feel as though for all the 40 years I have been a Catholic, I have been deprived of a large portion of my inheritance.

  229. Jacob C. says:

    I suppose what I can tell you about my experience with Latin Mass is this:

    I was a cradle Catholic, but born in 1982. I grew up knowing only the Novus Ordo. The first Latin Mass I attended was at the age of five, on a trip to Washington, DC – in the cathedral where (as the mosaics on the floor can tell you) John F Kennedy’s funeral was held. From what little I can remember, I think it must have been an N.O. Mass in Latin, but at only five years old there was so little I could understand.

    Shortly after my graduation from high school (about eight years ago) I found myself falling away from the church. There was – how shall I say it – there seemed to be nothing to keep me there, nothing that held my interest.

    Some time ago, I began feeling the pull of Mater Ecclesia again, for reasons I can’t really explain. But what kept me from going back was my memories of N.O. Masses that played out more like pageantry than anything else – it wasn’t a sacred ceremony, it was just a little mystery play.

    I live in Phoenix, Arizona, and they do have a mission dedicated to spreading the TLM (Mater Misericordiae); reading about the TLM and about the local Latin Masses piqued my interest. I went, one Sunday, to the Tridentine Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle – which is about a fifteen-minute drive from my apartment – and I felt it. Something telling me that this was how it should be done. There was in the air a sense of something HAPPENING (regrettably, the Tridentine Mass at St Thomas is always the low mass except – apparently – on special occasions).

    The next Sunday I went early, and said confession for the first time in five years – and received Communion on my knees for the first time in twenty-five years.

    And I was, to borrow Fr. Z.’s term, hooked. So hooked, in fact, that I said confession again the next week, hoping to maintain that state of grace. (And, just for a few days, the voices of all my usual temptations were mercifully silent…)

    Last Sunday, nobody was able to receive confession; there are two priests in attendance at every TLM at St Thomas – one hears confessions while the other prepares for Mass – and the other priest was off at a retreat, I believe. So I went up to be blessed instead of taking the Eucharist. But I will tell you, having the cross drawn on your forehead while the priest says “In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritui sancti…” is not nearly as fulfilling. I WANTED the Host. And that’s a very strange feeling – to have been Catholic all my life (with the exception of seven years of spiritual silence), and yet to be utterly SHATTERED by knowing that I am not in a state of grace and can’t receive Him whom I am there to worship, and to look forward to the next opportunity to get my sins off my chest…to actually LOOK FORWARD to Mass, instead of seeing it as a rather awkward obligation.

    The TLM has unlocked something in me. I still need the missal with translations in order to follow what’s going on, but I think I’ve found something in Mother Church that finally speaks to me.

  230. Andrea Brown says:

    First of all, it is wonderful to read all the submissions from the younger generations, and in particular the many converts who have a deep love for the TLM.

    I am 63 years old, and attended a parish grade and high school at which a daily high Mass was celebrated. The choir was the student body – grades 1 to 12. During my freshman year, our pastor gave instructions about the Mass every Friday during the entire school year. It’s amazing the things that I remember from his talks.

    After Vatican II, my husband and I attended the Novus Ordo exclusively until 1998. I must admit that the many years of attending the Novus Ordo resulted in me becoming a lukewarm Catholic. Our son – in –law mentioned that there was a Tridentine Mass in our area. Heavens, I thought that the TLM had completely disappeared. Yes, the first Sunday was nostalgic and brought tears to my eyes.

    From then on, it was preferred not only because of its reverence and beauty, but because there are more prayers that focus on God in a very humble and loving manner – e.g. prayers at the foot of the altar and more preparatory prayers during the Offertory. Words such as ‘thy’, ‘brethren’, ‘beseech’ and ‘vouchsafe’ contribute to the beautiful and special language of the TLM.

    For those who are new to the Extraordinary Mass, take the time to study. Read the information provided in the missal about the history and the organic development of the Mass. Have a good understanding of what the different parts of the Mass mean. Use the internet. Ask God for help in following the Mass. Be patient – it will come in time. Your humble heart and perseverance will pay great spiritual dividends.

    More than likely, many of the Masses that will be celebrated in new locales after September 14th will be Low Masses. Perhaps the priest has just learned how to celebrate the Low Mass (which is easier to learn), or a choir may not be available. Please do not expect every Mass you attend to be a High one. There are pluses to the Low Mass, so do not disregard or discount them.

    I have gained a deeper appreciation for the Low Mass (the silence which helps in concentrating on God) since reading an article by Father Myers from St. Boniface Latin Community in Pittsburgh. He wrote a very enlightening piece in the March 2007 edition of Homeltic and Pastoral Review .I would encourage all to read what he has to say about the Low Mass.

    Pray daily for our priests, bishops and Church.

  231. Jacob C. says:

    If I may say something in addition, what fascinates me about the TLM is its being, in a sense, a continuation of our history. Every time I go I can’t help but think that if Maximilian Kolbe or Gilbert Chesterton or even Thomas Aquinas were somehow to walk into St. Thomas the Apostle at that moment, they would be momentarily nonplussed by their surroundings, but all equally able to follow the Mass. This is the same service they prayed, with very few changes. And THAT has me perennially stunned.

  232. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    I grew up in a Catholic town, just before the Novus Ordo arrived. Mass as a child was not something to look forward to; because there were so many people, we were hustled into and out of the church. The homilies tended to focus on sin and hell; nothing wrong with that, but there was little joy to complement it. Many of the fathers seemed more energetic and joyful when they took us to football matches than when they celebrated Mass. When there was music, it was sometimes traditional, more usually rather sappy 20th century settings. It was never well played. When we could hear the Latin, it was often badly pronounced and run through very quickly. So I found little of the transcendent mystery that so many people have reported here.

    “Dialogue” Mass was coming into use, back then, and we were allowed to say some of the words that the server would otherwise have said for us. In fact there isn’t a huge difference between a Tridentine Dialogue Mass and a Novus Ordo if the latter is celebrated in Latin, using the Roman Canon (EP1) and according to the rubrics. The two forms are not identical, but the continuity is very clear.

    I was lucky to have studied classics from an early age and, from the time I really made the faith my own, to have found parishes (sometimes by complete accident) where the Novus Ordo form of the Mass was celebrated in Latin, with traditional music, orthodox preaching and reverent ceremonial. I have never been to Fr Z’s St Agnes, but his memories of it resonate.

    As a result of this, I never really experienced the deep “rupture” that so many report. Yes, there has been the occasional guitar Mass. Every tradition nods now and then! Mostly I have been fed, feast after feast, Sunday after Sunday, with Latin and fine music and holiness. I am personally not bothered whether or not the priest faces the people or whether we receive in the hand or on the tongue. The Mass is the Mass!

    I don’t intend to return to the extraordinary form, exclusively or even very often. But I am glad it is back, because I think it will kindle faith in many people and “reinfect” many ordinary form Masses with a “virus” of reverence and transcendence. Deo gratias!

  233. Becky says:

    My husband and I have tried out a couple of TLMs in different places we’ve lived across the country. We read testimonies in publications like “The Wanderer” and “New Oxford Review” about how the TLM is a revelation, but we just don’t “get” it. Maybe part of the problem is that due to having small children and switching off Masses, we’ve only been to Low Mass, and at the Low Mass where we currently live, the priest doesn’t use any microphones except when giving the homily. Thus, even though we both studied high school Latin and bring missals to Mass, we’ve found it impossible to follow what’s going on.

    We both retain a preference for the Novus Ordo done reverently and well. The problem is finding that.

    We wish we could “get into” the TLM because the FSSP parish in the city where we currently live is the most vibrant, family-oriented parish in the area, and we’d prefer to raise our children in that parish rather than in a garden-variety Amchurch. Perhaps we will just have to keep trying out the TLM to see if we can get used to it.

  234. Marc P. says:

    As a teenager, I lived in Italy, and used to hear Mass on Vatican radio in the morning. It was at 7:30 am Novus Ordo but in Latin as it was for an international audience. Solemn Masses at the Milan Cathedral were in the Ambrosian Novus Ordo, but had retained Latin and solemnity, and a beautiful Mass there on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception struck me and made me seriously think about my faith. Then as a student at a Jesuit institution in France, I discovered that a group of fellow studend sung compline every evening in the chapel in Gregorian (in the old style). It was a group of 10 to 15 depending on the years, many of which went to TL Masses. I first attended some Low Masses at a local chapel on week-days, then a High Mass at the movingly beautiful church of St Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris, a parish run by the SSPX. I was reluctant at first because I had been told that Mgr. Lefebvre was schismatic etc, but the TLM truly showed me the depth and beauty of the Catholic faith. It became quickly obvious that it could not be wrong to maintain the integrity of the Catholic faith and liturgy (then I truly understood that Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi). The Novus Ordo simply does not express the Sacred anywhere near as well as the Traditional Ordo. In particular, the prayers at the foot of the Altar at the beginning of a Mass, even in a Low Mass, show so clearly that the action about to begin is not to be taken lightly. The role of silence, bowing, kneeling, is very important to bring greater relevance to those words that are spoken aloud. As for the Latin languages, I have had to learn the Novus Ordo Mass at different times in Italian, French, English, Portuguese and now Russian (and the translations never correspond to one another). Frankly, it is so much simpler to know the texts in Latin! I participated a few times in the wonderful annual pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres at Pentecost. Three days of prayer with participants from around the world, all using latin together and the Traditional Ordo. I remember the days when the Bishop of Chartres would close the doors of the Cathedral to the thousands of pilgrims who had walked in the footsteps of Charles Péguy. These times are happily over, and last year the Mass in the Cathedral, in the presence of the Bishop was incredibily moving and beautiful. I have had the good fortune to live in Paris for many years where the TLM can be found in a few parishes. I now live in Moscow where there are Novus Ordo masses in latin, and where I deeply hope the TLM will one day come back to Catholics whose faith it sustained during the long years of Soviet repression. I am extremely grateful to our Holy Father for the publication of Summorum Pontificum. Not only did he reaffirm that the TLM is authorized, but he emphasized the reverence and dignity owed to the liturgical tradition of the Church, and clearly and authoritatively stated that it had never been abolished. This will appease much suffering. Truth and justice can only lead to the peace, unity and good of all the Church.

  235. embajador says:

    I spent all of my childhood in an Opus Dei-ran school. I, therefore, grew accustomed to an inmensely reverent way of celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass. Add to that the fact that I was in the altar-boys list and in the school’s choir. It was really only after I left for university when I realised how horribly pathetic can a Mass become. I have since greatly missed the Novus Ordo as it was celebrated at my school.

    A couple of years ago one of my younger brothers who is involved with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest insisted (rather stubbornly I must add) that I should go and attend one of their traditional masses. I had always been put off by the apparent “lefevrist” character of this celebrations, but at last I accepted my brother’s invitation.

    It is a different world. I am not an emotivist person in the least, and yet seriously felt like crying during Consecration. The reverence, the silence, the contemplation, the music, the Mystery,……. Do you have any doubts about the Real Presence?. Do attend a traditional mass, then you will UNDERSTAND with your heart, truly.

    Where I live there is only traditional mass celebrations on weekends. I do not attend often, first because for my wife and I it is an absolutely essential part of our children’s education to go to mass all together at least on Sundays. We have five young girls. It really is inconvenient to try to get all the family to go where the traditional mass is celebrated (although we have done it in a few occasions). And second, this may sound a bit jansenistic and stupid but I fear that if I go too often I might become accustomed. I’d love a few words on this by Fr. Z., by the way.

    It is true, though, that I never became accustomed to the NO celebrations at my school….

    All in all.over the past few years I have undergone a deep personal conversion that still carries on. The traditional mass has been an key element (not the only one) of that conversion without a doubt. For me the traditional mass has arrived at a providential (exactly that: providential) time in my life.

  236. BobP says:

    This last Sunday I had a chance to go to a Latin NO (with Polish readings and homily).

    It was valid and most reverent and I will probably go back.

    However, there seemed to be a lot missing there in the way of prayers. Mass was much shorter and I
    didn’t feel as if I got my money’s worth. I guess I’m too used to attending the Traditional Latin Mass.
    I am extremely grateful for both JPII and BXVI for making the TLM more accessible and making me a most
    happy camper.

  237. Dear Father Z.,

    Thank you so much for your site and your zeal. I was drawn to the Catholic Church and after being discouraged by three priests (Novus Ordo) who advised me to stay in my own religion, I found the SSPX and a young priest who taught me my Catechism, weekly, over a nine-month period. All this time I attended the Latin Mass and so this was the first I learned. My Catechism included intense instruction on the meaning of the Mass, the ritual, the gestures, the symnbolism and also the Latin. As a result I am very comfortable with the missal. Although I no longer attend the SSPX Mass, I now attend a church which offers the Novus Ordo Mass in Latin and will soon, God willing, offer the Tridentine Mass. I also go on a regular basis to a Latin Mass out of town. The Extraordinary Mass is mystical, reverent, universal, and transcendent. I do believe that if people were taught, as I was, how to use the missal and what the various parts of the Mass represented—and if they could be exposed to the solemnity and grace of the Tridentine Mass by priests who loved this Mass—the churches would be overflowing.


    CD in Connecticut

  238. A Lowly Seminarian says:

    I’m nineteen years old and discovered the extraordinary form a little over a year ago. Like most my age, the existence of a different mass than what I had grown up with was a surprise to me. I found out about it from my high school chaplain, who would occasionally reference it during classes, or just in conversation.
    A lot of older people who are against the TLM will say the younger generation is just looking for the “smells and bells,” or that they have some grandiose but false idea about what the mass used to be like. This couldn’t be more false. What first made me want to go to the TLM was viewing the text of the ordinary online. I couldn’t believe the depth and beauty of the prayers. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was missing out on something at my mass.
    My first mass was a solemn high on Assumption at a church more than an hour away from my house. It only took that one mass to become hooked. Here was a mass that was focused on God, celebrated with reverence, and, above all, sublimely beautiful. Even if the mass did not express such awesome mysteries, even if I was a believing man, it would still be beautiful. I’ve been to the extraordinary form a few times since then, but it’s difficult, both because of distance and because of seminary requirements. I’ve been to low masses and high, and love them both equally. I appreciate not being chained to poorly translated responses and banal music and being allowed to really pray and experience the Sacrifice of the Mass. Every time I attend the TLM, I am reinvigorated and feel a renewed zeal for Christ and His Church.
    For the benefit Summorum Pontificum will have on my soul and to the souls of countless others, I am supremely grateful to Pope Benedict XVI. It is my prayer that no matter wherever one is or whatever his circumstance, he will have the opportunity to often assist at this most beautiful expression of Catholicism.

  239. Peter says:

    I am from Australia and 43 years old. I don’t have any recollection of the pre-Pauline liturgy, but did have Mass ad orientem in my primary school for a few years. My earliest memories of the liturgy are from about 1970, and when I recall the praxis then and compare it with the average parish in Australia now the contrast is almost unbelievable.

    I am overjoyed at the motu proprio.

    Were you “hooked”? Not at first, but eventually.

    What was it that captured you? In short it was the package of the reverence, transcendance and the music. This appreciation has only grown with time and study.

    My arrival at the traditional liturgy was part of a broader journey of faith/recapturing of orthodoxy in which the liturgy, new and old, played a part – the truth of lex orandi, lex credendi

    Initially I was hostile, (incorrectly) identifying the ‘latin Mass’, indeed the use of Latin, as contrary to the dictates of the Second Vatican Council (the inculcation in the early 1970s that the Church had finally managed to correct a centuries old mistake and get up to date was very effective). When at university I eventually ended up in a choir singing for the novus ordo while attempting to adhere to Sacrosanctam conciliam (SC). When I first actually read SC I was rather shocked at the disparity between the document and its ‘implementation’. Thus my first encounters with Gregorian chant and renaissance polyphony. My first introduction to the EF was when the choir sang for a couple of indult Masses. I was somewhat nonplused initially, but ….

    My regular attendance was precipitated by a move to Adelaide in 1993, just after the then ordinary had introduced inclusive language to the liturgy in that archdiocese. What seemed the only choice to attend a liturgy without such violence done to it was at the indult Mass. That’s when my study of the EF really began in earnest.

    The whole ‘package’ of the SOLEMN liturgy, and learning that this was the NORMATIVE form, was a revelation but one that seemed entirely normal and consistent. I think I would describe myself as aligned with the ethos of the liturgical movement and the gothic revival. It isn’t JUST about the texts, and it IS about the actual participation the SC called for, building on the writings of St Pius X and Pius XII regarding the proper place of chant as belonging to the faithful assisting at Mass – not everyone having to do everything, but what is proper to them.

    What repelled you? (what issues do I still have?)
    With the advent of the motu proprio there are some challenges for those of us who love the EF to patiently, politely and persuasively offer its riches to the rest of the faithful.

    I am concerned about tendencies in (some) EF congregations/devotees towards 1950s recreationism, and occasionally extreme (individual) views equating adherence to the traditional liturgy with ‘full’ orthodoxy. Some of the terminology adopted often unthinkingly doesn’t help – there aren’t ‘traditional Catholics’, ‘traditionalists’ or ‘traditionalism’ (anything that can be described with an ‘ism’ should be watched closely ) – we are all Catholics.
    I can also see how the low Mass, especially if it is also devoid of any singing, can seem alien to very orthodox Catholics coming from the novus ordo. The instinct to want to sing in the public worship of the Church is not a disordered one!! (What gets sung can be disordered of course!) This may be a greater barrier than the Latin (in countries such as Australia, USA, Europe, the ability to provide translations easily and cheaply really ought to obviate objections about the intelligibility of the language).

    Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely?
    My wife and I have attended the extraordinary form almost exclusively since about 1993. Our 3 year old adopted son seems to behave better in the EF than the OF. Here in Canberra we have been incredibly blessed with the stable provision of the traditional Mass, most of that time daily, for almost 15 years. We do attend the OF, especially when visiting family, but lament the standard we often encounter.

  240. Trevor says:

    BTW, the last Latin Mass I went to (last Sunday) was at a parish run by the FSSP. This parish is growing so fast that they can’t hold all of the people who come to their church. They are preparing to ask Archbishop Chaput if they can look for another place to build.

    The sermon was something I’d never heard before, either. The priest actually criticized his parish!!!! *Gasps in shock*

    He said that his parish hadn’t been attending daily Mass enough, that they weren’t attending adoration, and that they were doing very badly in supporting the missions.

    It was like music to my ears…

  241. James says:

    Ben Whitworth (comment 20 Aug 5:05 pm) said it perfectly in his response to: What was it that captured you?
    His answer: “Finding a liturgy that was adequate to what the Church teaches us regarding the Eucharist.”

    The Church’s teaching on the Holy Eucharist staggers me. How sublime! How total! How beautiful! What love!

    I’m 34. I yearn for Masses in Latin, and sung, and for the priest and congregation to all face Christ together. For periods of silence. Too often I am distracted in Mass…but there are so many elements of the extraordinary form which help center one on Christ, over-coming worldy and/or self-centered thoughts. I love it, though I am lost.

  242. Iosephus says:

    When I was still a Luthern (LCMS), I was drawn towards the Catholic Church because of my interest in the liturgy. I wanted to find the real liturgy, the Mass, not just some watered down, half-hearted Lutheran (albeit liturgically aware) version of it. I was disappointed to learn that the Mass as celebrated in Catholic parishes of late was not the historical form of the liturgy.

    Somehow or other, I found that there was a celebration of the historic, classical form of the Mass on Sundays in Flint, MI. The website billed it as a sung high Mass. I figured that, if nothing else, it would be a pleasing spectacle with good music. I drove an hour to attend one Sunday afternoon. (It was my first TLM, though not my first Catholic Mass.)

    It turned out to be a low Mass. I tried to follow along in the red booklet, but got lost very quickly. I knew how to follow the red booklet, but I couldn’t seem to keep on the same page as the priest at the altar. On the whole, it was rather diasppointing. My failed attempt at “active participation”, I mean, by following every little detail in the booklet, had added to the frustration.

    I can’t remember how long it was after that time that I decided to become a Catholic – no more than a few years, at the most. Though I was received at Blackfriars in Oxford, I spent my Sundays at the Oratory. They seemed to have the Mass! Glorious music, Novus Ordo in Latin – I loved singing the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer in Latin according to the standard chants, beautiful vestments, etc. I can’t remember quite what all I thought about the liturgy at that time, though I do remember being disappointed with the offices and Mass at Downside Abbey when I made a retreat and my first confession there: it was almost all in English.

    Strangely enough, it wasn’t until I came to Ithaca, NY, into the Diocese of Rochester, that I again attended the TLM. This time, a new friend, Ambrosius, who had blazed the traditionalist trail before me, invited me to come with him one Sunday to St. Michael’s in Scranton, a parish of the FSSP. There, I distinctly recall leaving aside missals and booklets while I simply prayed, mentally, and allowed the Gregorian chant of this Missa Cantata to carry me along. It was beautiful, prayerful, and left me eager for more.

    Roughly since that time, I began to attend the TLM, though not regularly, for it meant driving two hours one way on Sunday mornings or even renting a car when no other ride was to be found. At first, the distance made every Sunday prohibitive, but over time, attending the Novus Ordo became so awful, in comparison with the old Mass, that I was willing to make the effort to leave town every Sunday.

    In sum, for me, it was the music and the overall beauty of the celebration which hooked my interest in the extraordinary form of the RR. But it was also a concern for doctrinal orthodoxy which pushed me towards becoming a regular TLM attendee.

  243. jaykay says:

    Sorry for coming a bit late to this. I’m 46, almost 47, and so do remember the Older form from when I was young (first brought to Mass around age 3). Our family always went to the High Mass with choir and for a small child it was just fascinating. I distinctly remember the excitement when I was about 4/5 and the first English came in, although still ad orientem on the glorious High Altar (this would have been 1965). When I made my first communion in early 1967 the canon was still in Latin but audible, though most priests still used a lowish voice. We kids used to call it the “blahdy-blah bit” :)

    Anyway, to cut a long ramble short, having attended an exclusively religious school with compulsory Latin, and having been familiar with the layout of the old Missal I thought my first TLM, in the early 90s, would be a “breeze”. Boy was I wrong! While I knew what was going on I was unprepared for the silence and the fact that I couldn’t follow anything, even with 6 years Latin in school and more at college. It rather put me off and I attended the sung Latin NO Mass from them on. I think the off-putting thing was the silence, really, although the reverence was beautiful and being able to receive kneeling was great but I think, looking back, that I was infected (if that’s not too harsh) with the “participatory” mentality and just couldn’t adjust that quickly. So in a sense I turned my back.

    Anyway, the turning point came a few years ago, in France. I had been in the day before, a Sunday, for what was a pretty tacky experience that really made me sad, and the following day was 15th August. Right beside the hotel I was in was an SSPX church. I just couldn’t face another performance like the day before so I went to the Mass there. I still had “bad vibes” from the previous experience but I thought nothing could be as bad as the NO I had attended.

    And it was so different! Of course it was a low Mass but by this stage, being over 10 years older, I had rather got out of the “must participate” mentality and, in the regular NO mass, would often just listen along without rattling off the prayers but while still taking part fully – immersing myself, if you know what I mean.

    Well, something must have happened in those years because I just totally “got” that TLM even without using a missal. I couldn’t find one anyway buit it just didn’t matter. I made the responses sotto voce – it certainly wasn’t a dialogue Mass – and even though I didn’t get all of them it just so much didn’t matter. And I came to realise that since I had gotten away from
    the “must participate” mentality in the NO I was actually much better prepared for the TLM.

    Currently the nearest indult Mass is over 50 miles from where I live but I am so much looking forward to making a special trip.

  244. Indra says:

    I am 28 years old. I grew up as a Catholic in Indonesia, where I never encountered the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), but I’ve been in the US for about 10 years now. It was around 2002 when I first encountered the TLM. I had been going to Our Lady of Peace (OLOP) in Santa Clara, CA, and I noticed that on the first Saturdays of each month they had the Traditional Latin Mass. I decided to check it out one time. When I was going to college in NYC at Columbia University, one time during my freshman year the Catholic campus ministry had a Latin Mass, but it was pretty much a typical Novus Ordo Mass with Latin being the language instead of English. So being unaware of the differences between the TLM and the NO Mass, when I went to my first TLM at OLOP I was expecting roughly the same kind of Mass that I encountered at Columbia. Boy, I was in for a surprise! This is different! It was a little bit of a struggle trying to follow the Mass using the red Ecclesia Dei missal. However, somehow that experience didn’t close me completely from the TLM. Despite the struggle, I knew subconsciously that there was something valuable present there. I attended one or two more TLMs when I was there (could have been more if they had had it more than once a month, but fortunately, there is now weekly and some weekday TLMs in the area, albeit at a different church, after the establishment of an oratory run by the ICK).

    In 2003, I moved to Pittsburgh, PA for graduate school. In the beginning, I started going to the Masses celebrated by the priests of the Pittsburgh Oratory. I sang in the choir there for the 11.30am Sunday Mass at Heinz Chapel, and apparently, our music director had some connection with the Pittsburgh Latin Mass Community (PLMC). In October of 2003, the choir helped with the PLMC Triduum celebration for the feast of St Therese of Lisieux, so I got the chance to attend my first TLM after my move to Pittsburgh. The reencounter revealed to me the beauty of the TLM. I felt drawn to it. I started to go there occasionally. After Easter 2005, the Pittsburgh Oratory announced that they would stop having Masses at Heinz Chapel, so the choir was not needed anymore. The music director lost his job, but apparently, there was an opening for as music director for the PLMC, and he got the job there. He asked me if I could help out with the choir there. So it gave me the chance to go to TLM regularly and to contribute musically. I’ve been going there regularly since, and I’ve found a lot of graces doing so.

  245. Truelove== says:

    It is wonderful to see so many comments!

    My family and I are converts. We became Catechumen in 1999 and finally entered the Church in July, 2006. Our first Mass was a Divine Liturgy of the Melkite Rite, by the Rt Rev Fr. Constantine Belisarius in Front Royal, VA. A Most Holy Man of God with an excellent voice and a beautiful heart. That made our first experience of The Faith absolutely bone-jarring. I cried through the whole thing from the sheer overwhelming beauty and reverence, you could FEEL it. After that, Novus Ordo was kind of like eating plain rice after having the whole feast.

    After we moved we tried to find an Eastern Rite Parish, but those are few and far between. Some Ukranian friends of ours talked us into trying the TLM at a FSSP parish in Tulsa. I cried through that too! The same feeling of reverence, and of Worship was present. When something is right, it is just right! The young boys would scramble out of their cars and run around the outside of the building to get to the Sacristy to report for Altar Server duty. The N.O. parishes that we’ve seen can’t even talk the girls into serving half the time, there was definitely a difference.

    All that to say, we love the TLM almost as much as the Diving Liturgy and they both express the Beauty of worship that is the best we can do here on earth. We won’t go to a N.O. Mass unless it is the only thing we can get to and we always come away scandalized and grumpy. We can see bare legs and tattoos in the grocery store, we don’t need it at the Mass!

  246. Royce says:

    Fr. Z,

    Thank you for posting this up, it’s been neat to read different people’s stories. I spent the first 13 years of my life in a very turbulent parish. In those 13 years we had 5 pastors, each with their own styles. Overall, it was a model of liturgical dumpiness (with a new building constructed in the 1970s for no particular reason other than the parish thought it was necessary). We later moved to a bigger city and joined a parish that looks about like a Florida condo complex. I joined the Contemporary Choir. When I got to college, I was dissatisfied at the liturgical dumpiness at the only parish in the small town in which I go to school, but mostly because I thought it wasn’t modern enough. After Mass one day towards the end of my first semester, a couple of guys were talking about how distracting it is to have women in miniskirts distributing Holy Communion, and how women shouldn’t be admitted to the sanctuary. I remarked that we might as well just turn the altars around too, to which they readily agreed. Well, my eyes about bugged out of my head, and I told them, “If the Church ever went back to how it was before Vatican II, I’d leave.” It amazes me know how ignorant I really was, being as I had no idea how the Church was at all before Vatican II, only the typical lies we’re all used to hearing.

    Well, before long curiosity got the best of me and I agreed to go with them to the FSSP parish (Holy Rosary in Indianapolis) that is about an hour from my college. They gave me the whole talking through about everything, so I at least had a little bit of an idea of what to expect. I was coming from the opposite direction (geographically, in addition to ideologically) and planned to meet them there, but for a rather complicated reason they didn’t show and I was left there by myself. I had no clue what was going on, I had no idea the red booklets were there. It was, though, a Misa Cantata. At first, I was very angry. I had no clue what was going on (obviously). I did like the music, though. By the time the priest got to the Canon I had gotten used to it, though, and had begun to see how some people might like this. However, then came the elevation, with the server clanking the incense, the altar bells ringing, and all the tower bells as well. I was absolutely frightened at the awesome power of God. Immediately, in that moment, I knew that this form of the Mass was not only nice for some people, but what was really best for the Church. It took a while for me to follow everything, but I was hooked right from the start. That Mass and the experience I’ve had in my life following it have totally reinvigorated my relationship with Christ and His Church.

    It took me a few more times to understand it, but I was hooked right from the go. I had a very similar experience the first time I went to Low Mass, but have since come to experience that as well. When I am at school, I drive one hour to the EF at Holy Rosary twice a month for the Misa Cantata. The other two times per month I drive a half hour to a parish that has a reverential OF in English (but which makes use of Latin during the Mass). It’s a bit more complicated when I’m back home, though I go to the EF about half the time and have been slowly divorcing myself from the liturgical dumpiness of my parents’ parish while shopping for a new parish (which I finally found right before leaving town). I am currently living in Argentina for this semester. There is not a single Indult Mass in the whole country, and the diocesan parishes completely out-do American parishes in terms of liturgical abuse (and I’ve seen some pretty bad stuff in my days of thinking Mass needed more of the music I was listening to on Evangelical Radio and trying to start a Mass Band at our parish). I have been unable to find a parish that is at all close to the level of orthodoxy to which I am accustomed. Last Sunday I went to Mass at the SSPX chapel in town. No one should have to put up with liturgical abuse, and really one of the most depressing things in life is to finally arrive at the end of a very long road (as I did at my first EF Mass), and then to have all that ripped away from you. I have little desire to support the SSPX, but if that’s the only other option to horrendous liturgical abuse, I’m going to continue to Mass there until I return to the States.


  247. Danielle says:

    Sorry that this will be long, but here I go:

    I’m only 18 right now, a soon-to-be convert to the Catholic faith, and although I haven’t yet, I would love to attend the older form of the Mass. (I guess you can use that bit of knowledge against anyone who says that young people and/or converts would never want to “go back” to the days of “yore”.) I am within the Archdiocese of Detroit, and (as you may know), only one Church provides the “TLM” once a week. Across the river, in Windsor, there is also another Church with the older Mass. Both of these are a bit unaccessible due to the fact that I’m a student with a small budget, and I do not like going into Detroit alone. So I’m someone familiar with the NO Mass only.

    That being said, I would like to agree and disagree with some of the things being said about the Mass that brought me into the faith. First, I agree with the problem of irreverence of the people. However, I doubt it’s due to most NO Masses being mostly in the vernacular. It’s due to social ideologies that are beyond control. People are so used to the instantaneous gratification that technology has brought us. I have read about parishes using projectors and large video screens to keep people entertained, and it makes me mad. The more people give into the idea that people need to be entertained to keep them around is insulting to the people who think the Mass is already “entertaining” by itself. I say the last entertaining in quotes because I enjoy going to Mass. Listening to the readings, learning about the faith through the homily, hearing the words of the Consecration, watching others partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, etc, is more entertaining to me than a movie. It’s an hour of spiritual gratification in which I can stand in the presence of not only the Saints and Angels who are up in heaven, but also before God Himself. The others who do not see that due to ignorance or carelessness should not be the ones people try to keep. And I know that trying to entertain the ones who do not love the Mass as I do due to poor catechesis is not going to help them love the faith, but leave them with a sour taste in their mouth. The parishioners who demand this of their priest, or of the priests who allow it are to blame I do not blame, however, the priests who’s control is gone in the administration of the parish (another bone I have to pick), since there is a surplus of parishes with a decrease in priests to serve. Sometimes, laypeople are in control of too much, and that has something more to do with certain conferences of Bishops than the Mass being in vernacular.

    I would like to point out as a convert (or convert-to-be or whatever you would like to call me) that I would be perpetually lost in the Mass if it wasn’t for English. I know that there were plenty of converts pre-Vatican II that could be fine with just hearing the Latin and reading the English translations. However, for me, it probably would’ve pushed me from embracing the Church as I have so far. In my opinion, it’s like starting to learn a new language. The language being Catholicism. At first, you have to start with baby steps. You learn certain words that you can directly translate yourself. (i.e. les pommes = the apples in French, etc.) Spiritually, it’s understanding what’s happening around you. One of the first big baby steps in converting to Catholicism from agnosticism or atheism is knowing that God is there in the Eucharist. God is in the tabernacle, He shows Himself in the species of Bread and Wine at the Consecration, and He is really, truly there. The words to me, reading them in English while hearing them in Latin wouldn’t affect me as much as hearing them in English. Point being, for someone who doesn’t know what’s going on, hearing it in your own language will tell you directly what’s going on. Reading it may make you think “really? it is!?” and distract you from the Consecration. Once you know what’s going on, just like when you learn enough words of another language, you can take the next step. (I do want to make a side note here agreeing that the words of Latin seem more beautiful than their English counterparts. Ave Maria, Gloria, Agnus Dei; all of these are so awe-inspiring to sing or read aloud.) Once you’re familiar with the meaning of the Latin and not the beauty of the language, you’re ready to move onto your soul being stirred by the meaning of the Latin Mass.

    The reason why this wouldn’t necessarily apply to a cradle Catholic is because although they go through the same type of learning process, theirs is over a period of many years. For most converts, the typical RCIA year is from September or October to Easter Vigil. Especially since Easter is early this year, it’d be harder for someone just jumping into RCIA (without any previous catechesis) to fully understand what’s going on in Mass in English, let alone having to deal with the Latin. Interestingly enough, I’m taking Latin next semester. And although it’s Classical (might not have the Ecclesiastical) Latin, I look forward to being able to go to the old Mass and understanding it in my head without having to look at the translation.

    I have other things I’d like to share, but I can share them at other times. :)

  248. DebSTS says:

    I am 45 years old and attended Latin Masses when I was very young. So I don’t remember them very well. However, I attended a Latin Mass in 2001 at Immaculate Conception Church in Cleveland, Ohio. There were very few people there, and I did not understand what was going on. I got married a few years later and attended a couple of Latin Masses again at that same church while visiting family in the Cleveland area. I was somewhat more appreciative then, as I noticed the reverence of those in attendance. Furthermore, there were many, many more in attendance at IC than in 2001. Perhaps this is because the Church is “moving to the right,” as some might say. I believe our parish will have a TLM soon as many parishioners want one. Also, our priest is well-versed in Latin and used to teach it in a seminary. My understanding is that he is ready and willing to do TLM’s but waiting for the green light from the bishop (in September). I believe that the opening up of the TLM is symbolic of the direction that Holy Mother Church is moving, and needs to because we live in such a chaotic world.

    Thank you Holy Father for liberalizing the use of the TLM!! And thanks for being a sign of sanity in a mixed-up world!



  249. Ryan says:

    First off, my background – I’m a 24 year old Anglo-Catholic, originally from an evangelical background. It may be worth noting that I’ve studied Latin, so I don’t find it as intimidating as others might.

    My first Latin Mass was the recent Assumption Mass in the Camden Cathedral, so a lot of my comments will be just about that and could very well have been different elsewhere. I have to say, unfortunately, that I wasn’t hooked. While it was certainly far far better than the three ordinary form Masses I’ve attended (though I think more likely because the ordinary form was not being done well and because of the terrible English translation than inherent defects in it), it was distinctly less conducive to prayer and worship (for me) than my usual Anglo-Catholic Mass or the vernacular Orthodox liturgies I’ve attended.

    One obvious difference is that the later two are in the vernacular. I was able to follow along in the missal booklet printed for the occasion just fine until a certain point, where apparently they decided to just stop printing the text in English or in Latin. So, being both way in the back of the church and with no text to follow along in any language, I spent about the last half of Mass with only the vaguest clue what was going on (my Latin’s okay, but not good enough to understand at that distance). Even worse, there were lots of congregational responses in this session, so everyone who was familiar with the Latin Mass could make them and everyone who wasn’t couldn’t. Not very inviting. As someone sympathetic to what Latin Mass supporters are doing in the Catholic Church, you guys have *got* to make it so people understand what’s happening at least a little bit, or many people are just going to try it once and never come back. Some people have commented that people should not worry about what’s being said and just pray on their own, but I have to say that sounds incredibly repugnant to Anglican ears with our long (not just “modern”) tradition of vernacular worship (though, of course, a Catholic might very understandably not really care what the Anglican tradition thinks).

    Anyway, I would far rather attend a reverently celebrated ordinary form Mass than TLM, and I hope as the Pope hopes that TLM will influence the ordinary form. But I don’t see TLM spreading widely on its own.

    (just in case anyone is wondering, I didn’t receive, of course!)

    Overall, I came out of the Mass feeling really, really Anglican, and praying even more fervently that conservative Anglo-Catholics can find a home in the Catholic Church as a body and bring the gifts of our tradition with them. I honestly think proponents of a Reform of the Reform could hardly find a better liturgical model than flagship Anglo-Catholic parishes like St. Mark’s in Philadelphia.

    (A couple other impressions on the Mass itself:
    – I know nothing about them, but the Blessed Imelda society looked vaguely creepy marching along in veils and gloves. And the society for Tradition, Faith, and Property or whatever also sounds rather weird. I’m sure they are perfectly nice organizations, but it did lend the feel of this being a weird little subculture rather than, well, Catholic. Erm… not that we Anglo-Catholics have a lot of room to talk here.
    – the sermon was far more about the motu propio than about the Assumption. Understandable, given the circumstances, but it still contributed to the feel this was something more for a smaller community than really open to the wider church.)

  250. Mark Wyzalek says:

    I grew up with the TLM and Vatican II came along when I was becoming an altar boy. Like another commentator I have a “preference for the Novus Ordo done reverently and well” and we are very fortunate to belong to St. Joseph church in Macon GA where our pastor has especially ensured that is so.
    My wife (former Southern Baptist) and I attended a TLM on a Sunday last year while in Fla. We both came away with an attitude of “no thanks but if that is your preference please be spirit filled by it”.
    I worry that our priests, who already have so much to do to be our spiritual leaders, must get up to speed with this new challenge so as to try to please some folks who want the TLM.
    The idea that if TLM was the common denominator then the church would be more universal is false – I remember as a kid all the ethnic (German, Irish, Italian, etc) parishes up north, how they each had the TLM, and yet were in their own worlds even they were just a couple of blocks from each other.

  251. Syriacus says:

    This I wrote Wed Aug 22 …2001 (exactly 6 years ago) in a presentation post to the Yahoo! Group (devoted to traditional Catholicism) CTNGreg :

    «After my very first TLM I was so enthusiast…First of all,in
    general, I “understood” centuries of Western Christian Spirituality
    in an hour… (Hyperbolically speaking…)
    Second, as “a musician”, I understood what meant “Domine non sum
    Dignus” for Tomas Luis De Victoria, as he composed the homonym
    motet. (Or Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus”.)
    I heard,saw and felt something very different from the
    vernacular-Italian-N.O. “O Lord, I’m not worthy to take part in your
    meal” (Rough translation of the Italian-N.O.-traslation of the
    “Domine non sum Dignus”: “Signore non sono degno di partecipare alla tua

    The “Tantum ergo” and “Lauda Sion” suddenly became -so to say- more
    “familiar”… {And for a while came back the times when -as a child-
    I served the mass of an old priest -the late Don Ferreccio- in the
    Ligurian country…He was still a surviving follower of the Cure
    D’Ars, as many others of his generation (10s, I suppose)…
    With his reverent vespers and litanies in Latin, and mass ad
    orientem… }»

  252. Syriacus says:

    [Footnote to my previous comment — I attended my first TLM in February 2001 : hooked. ]

  253. Embattled Catholic says:

    Hi, Father!

    I was first “exposed” to the Extraordinary form around age 10, back in the very early 80’s. A periodically visiting priest would say it in peoples’ houses, and we would attend that upon invitation.

    My parents being very conscientious about our Catholic education, we generally only attended the modern Mass in places where it was offered with little to no liturgical abuse.

    I attended a boarding school at age 13, where only the Tridentine rite was used for all sacraments (an “independent” chapel). That also left an impression. Eventually, an indult Mass was offered in our home diocese (now extinct).

    For 99.9% of my adult life, I have attended the modern form of Mass, and have been blessed to have it with little abuse, but my heart is always with the Tridentine, especially the sung. I love the depth of it, the quietness and time allowed to really contemplate the mysteries. And of course the music is far and away better than anything around here, I could go on about the atrocities committed here in the name of Church “music”…

    As of January, once a month, we now drive 2 1/2 hrs one way to attend the neighboring diocese’s FSSP Mass. We would like our children to grow up with an appreciation of and familiarity with, the older form of Mass. I sincerely hope they grow to love and appreciate it the way I do.

    Only in the Pius X society Mass which we occasionally attended in my youth (and this occurred in only one particular parish), was there any hint, overtly or otherwise, of elitism or snobbery–or criticism of hierarchy or the modern Church to the exclusion of anything helpful.

    The current FSSP we attend is very welcoming, and the homilies are very good. Things are not “dumbed down” for the flock. Pre-and post-vatican II sources are quoted, as well.

    God Bless,

    Embattled Catholic

  254. Liz says:

    => Attending the TLM had a welcome effect on my spiritual life. After years
    of weekly liturgical ministry (sacristan, acolyte, etc.), I had been unable
    to simply sit in the pew. I was missing out, spending time worrying about the
    quality of the liturgy and not focusing on the reason for being there. The
    mission has allowed me to be reborn to the Mass, letting go of active
    physical participation and gaining actual spiritual participation.

    => Of course, when the homily makes people perk up and listen, the homilist
    tends to put more effort into it. I have never heard a bad homily at a TLM
    and rarely hear a good one at a NO. There is something to be said for a
    parish where 1) There are as many men as women. 2) The celebrant tells the
    young people that it is important to dress and behave modestly. 3) Every
    family has made a conscious choice to come to THIS Mass, and usually makes a
    choice to participate in all the other activities that are available.

  255. I have been to a Tridentine Mass twice in my conscious life. (Having been born in 1964, I attended many as toddler, but don’t remember them. But I remember very well the Pauline rite in the early 1970s, with communion rails, never in both species, always on the tongue, hymns rather than Marty Haugen songs, and praying by folding one’s hands rather than joining hands. So even at age 42 the Mass has changed a lot in my conscious lifetime.)

    The first of these two Tridentine Masses was in the diocese of L.A., in 2003. At the time, the only indult Masses were at San Fernando Mission. The mission church is extremely long and narrow, and we were more than halfway back, so we could see nothing and hear nothing.

    The second was last Sunday, at St. Margaret Mary (Oakland, CA).
    It was very unlike what people claim: the congregation had a lot to say, and since most of it was dialogue, our cues were much more complex than in the Pauline Rite. For example, in the Pauline rite there is only one “cue” you need for the Credo: when you hear “We believe” you start talking and talk through the whole thing. But in this Tridentine Mass, the lines of the Credo were alternated between the choir and the people, so you had to watch all your cues.

    However, I can’t say I enjoyed it a lot. What I mostly watched were (1) the booklet telling me what my lines were, and (2) a giant green trapezoid which was the back of the priest’s chasuble.

    As a side point, I have attended the Latin Novus Ordo (Pauline Rite) Mass at St. MM several times, and it is one of my favorite Masses. The dialog parts are more sensible to me — I get to say the entire Credo, Agnus Dei, etc. Since my Latin is not too bad, I can experience this as a Mass without having to constantly focus on figuring out my part.

    Still, if there were an English-language Pauline rite in this diocese that actually was as reverent as the Latin Pauline rite at this church, I would probably go there a lot. But given a choice between a Latin Mass where the priest sprinkles the congregation with water solemnly, reminding us of our rebirth during baptism, and an English Mass where the priest smiles as he sprinkles everybody as if this is a fun game, I would take the former any day….

    But I will go to the barricades to defend the right of the traditional crowd at St. Margaret Mary’s and the charismatic crowd at St. John the Baptist to worship in the ways that bring each of the closer to the Lord. And I pray that those whose Mass is less than completely fulfilling will try a different style rather than simply leave the Church.

  256. Karen says:

    At age 35, not even hearing, or being aware of the TLM when I was baptized and entered the Church in 1999 (any surprise?), I attended my first TLM, a high Mass, in June of 2004. I began to be aware and learn about it, about two years earlier, while following the filming of The Passion of the Christ.

    It was right then and there when I realized the answer to my on-going question since entering the Church: “what about Vatican II caused so many Catholics to leave the Church, or make them so angry?” There was no question in my mind then, that Catholics had been deprived what had always been promised to them, and at least in our area, was returned.

    All I had to do, was look around at the many elderly folk seated around me, with tears in their eyes, to convince me. It opened my eyes wide and clear.

    Since then, I have maybe attended a N.O. mass a handful of times, each time the abuses and omissions of the new mass were more and more obvious to me, than I had ever realized.

    I attend the TLM only, the true Mass of all times, and will never go back to the N.O.


  257. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I have just gotten back from Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, NJ — an hour away from Princeton: my first Extraordinary Mass (and it was extraordinary!).

    Were you “hooked”?
    No (not yet). But I do already feel drawn to it.

    What was it that captured you?
    The reverent silence before Mass. The reverent silence DURING Mass. The close attention of the priest and the servers to what they were doing. The beauty of the words being spoken in Latin.

    I was not expecting as much response from the congregation as there was — I thought the servers would supply most (if not all) of the responses to the priest. I was glad I got to speak many responses (in Latin!) with the rest of the faithful.

    I united my prayer to the priest’s — or at least, I tried. I was very still during the Canon, and now I understand the skew of detractors who say (without context) that people pray their own prayers and do their own thing at the “old Mass”. Rather, they are praying their prayer as the priest prays his prayer, uniting them… and, as far as I could tell, no one did anything but adore the Lord during the elevation!

    And there was extra ringing between the consecration of the Host and the Chalice. Someone’s CELL PHONE went off in the middle! (Ad orientem, the priest doesn’t know who!) Sure enough, he mentioned it after the Mass, immediately prior to the novena to St. Jude. I must say, I was both pleased and shocked: I was hoping the priest would say something, but I was surprised with his tone, but this was clearly a priest who has had to put up with cell phones many times before — but he admitted this was the worst time, during the consecration! — and he implored people (as do the signs outside the church) to leave their cell phones in their cars.

    I am mystified, I am in awe, I am grateful to have been there. I felt something I don’t usually feel at the Ordinary form. And to receive the Host on my tongue (which I do already) but kneeling (for the first time) was amazing. It was light as a feather.

    That’s my take. I really hope the Vincentian center across Route 1 from me, which has a rather beautiful chapel, begins celebrating this Mass. I would attend that religiously. ;)

  258. Matthew says:

    I have mixed feelings about the Extraordinary Form (i.e., the Mass of John XXIII). I’ve seen the liturgy on video before, and I once attended an indult Mass celebrated by an FSSP priest. What struck me was the attention paid to the non-essentials – kissing the cruets and chains of the thurible and choreographed movements that portray not necessarily “reverence” but rather “rehearsal”, for instance. There was a certain tone of unfriendliness in the congregation, which struck me as unbecoming to what St Thomas Aquinas calls the “sacrament of charity.” I also wonder about the “nostalgia” entertained by young people who really have none to talk about, since they were born in the decade of the 1970s.

    I do not see why the reverence that is intended at an indult Mass cannot be transferred to the Restored Rite [What an unfortunate way to express it. – Fr. Z](Mass of Paul VI). Gregorian chant and Latin are most certainly not extrinsic to the sacred liturgy according to the Second Vatican Council.

    However, I do have a sense of indignation akin to those to speak of being “robbed of an inheritance.” To my mind, the Divine Liturgy of St John Crysostom, of St Basil the Great, or of St Gregory Dialogos as celebratede by the Eastern Church is liturgically rich and theologically dense. Yet there is a “conspiracy of silence” about the grandeur and majesty of the Byzantine Rite and, worse, a condescending attitude by the Romans that amounts to a material iconoclasm and everything Greek or Slavic. In point of fact, the roots of the Roman Liturgy has been demonstrated to have – speaking anachronistically – “Byzantine” roots (i.e., the Liturgy of St Peter).

    Thanks for your time.


  259. Rose says:

    Fascinating accounts. Reading them I’ve struggled to clarify for myself why I’m partial (not hooked) to the Tridentine Mass. So far this is what I’ve got: the Mass is more than a cognitive experience; it is an experience of mystery. It is not primarily for catechesis. It is for love and adoration. The actual language used does not matter EXCEPT to the extent that the language helps to move you to mystery, to wound you with beauty. For that, the senses are much more important than the brain. Posture (ad orientem), gesture (kneeling), silence and music (emotion and expression), incense (memory) are much more important than words. I speak a few languages and Mass in every language is a moving experience when the rest is there: silence, solemnity, msytery, awe. I am hoping that one of the more “plebian” effects (learning Latin is not plebian) of Summorum Pontificum is more emphasis on SACRED MUSIC, SILENCE, DEVOTION and SOLEMNITY as key traits in our Catholic identity-at Mass and in Church in general, instead of the incessant chatter and fellowship that happens inside Church after Mass and during Communion (some ladies in my parish think that the best time to catch up with friends is on the way back from receiving communion, since they spotted them in the line). I am hoping that the present Holy Father with his immense erudition and culture, can influence and bring about a great flowering of art, culture and music in the Church at the beginning of the 21st century, and maybe SP is a start. Hope this post does not stray too far from the parameters of the thread first posed by Fr. If it does, just delete.

  260. I’m a convert from Protestantism, and the TLM truly IS the most beautiful thing this side of heaven. While I do recognize the N.O. as valid, it pales in comparison to the TLM.

  261. Daniel says:

    Father Z,

    I have attended exactly one TM in May, 2006. Under the indult, it is available where I live in western Massachusetts only on the first Sunday of every month. At the suggestion of a very pious and gracious Catholic bookstore owner, I decided to “give it a try”. He and his wife told me the priest who offered the TM at this particular parish was an excellent priest and young (mid-30’s, hmmm). I am 41 myself so I did not grow up with the TM. Not knowing anything about it, the bookstore owner suggested that I sit in a pew behind everyone else so I could follow (standing, sitting, kneeling).

    And so I went. There were, of course, the Latin/English missals with the red cover so before Mass began I went through it to at least get an idea of what was going to happen. I must admit that I got lost several times during Mass because the priest spoke Latin so fluently that I simply could not keep up while trying to read the English at the same time. The choir was excellent and overall there was a pervasive sense of holiness throughout. As mentioned above by someone else, it appealed to my sense of history also. Furthermore, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about it in hopes of being prepared should it become a weekly Mass here. I am sincerely hoping it will be said regularly at a nearby parish after 9/14; I will attend weekly if it is and here’s why.

    Right now I am very down on the N.O. because I have seen it ravaged in several parishes, both in my diocese and in other states where I travel to visit family and friends. Last Christmas while visiting my brother in NJ, the recessional “hymn” at the only Catholic church in his town was something called (I think) “Going To See The King”, which was a full-blown, Protestant-sounding, Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clapfest with almost full participation by the parishioners there. On Christmas Day, mind you. No one there seemed to think anything was wrong with this and I did something I never thought I’d do: I got up, walked up the aisle and left the church before the priest even left the altar. I was disgusted.

    Last year while visiting my parents in FL, I unknowingly went to “Mass” at what seemed to be a very “hippie” parish. There was a drum kit just to the left of the altar, a guitarist and a lead singer in the “band”. During the sign of peace, one would’ve thought that Mass had ended for all the moving around, crossing over to other pews, etc., for handshakes and hugs. It gets worse. The bread (and yes, it was regular, store-bought whole wheat bread) was co-“consecrated” by the priest and two altar boys. When I went up to receive what I thought would be Holy Communion, I was presented with a basket of torn up pieces of wheat bread. I didn’t know what else to do so I partook of this travesty. A few weeks later, I described this debauchery to my spiritual director and he concluded that it couldn’t have been a valid Mass. That made me even angrier than I was when I left that church that day.

    There are several other abominations I’ve seen at N.O. Masses here at home, as well. To summarize, I’ve experienced: the priest intentionally (it could not have been otherwise) leaving out The Gloria and The Creed for expediency’s sake; a homily comparing Jesus Christ to Buddah during this past Lent (!); too many stand-up comedian priests to mention; a Polka Mass; altar girls walking down the aisle during the sign of peace to shake hands with parishioners; those same girls holding hands with the priest during the Our Father; I think you all get the point. Let me mention here that these things all took place across three different parishes at different times. I have not yet seen the “liturgical dancing” that I read about on so many Catholic blogs; if I do, I promise I will walk out at whatever point in the Mass in which that should take place.

    This utter foolishness has got to stop. I am praying that the TM will be offered in my area. If it is, I will go EVERY Sunday and take the time to learn all about it so that I may properly worship, with reverence, Our Lord. Having been to only one TM, I can’t say that I’m attached to it because it is only offered here monthly. At this point, I am VERY attached to the idea of attending it weekly, however I don’t know what the chances are of that happening here in Leftychusetts. Sorry this was so long but I got on a roll and wanted to vent. May God Bless you all.

  262. Joshua says:

    (Some of this is recycled from an older post.)

    My very first exposure to the Traditional Mass – when I was an undergraduate – was going along to a Low Mass, offered late in the morning once a month. It was a ‘hybrid Mass’ – Novus Ordo readings inserted in place of the epistle, chants, and gospel. This was part of what made it so boring, looking back… It seemed very sombre, and didn’t really attract me: all the silence was so unexpected.

    Then (in late 1994) I attended a Solemn High Mass: the music, the liturgy, blew me away, I was in tears. How could this have been taken away and kept from me? I thought. From what I’ve read and heard here and elsewhere, so so many have had the same epiphany.

    I caught the Traditionalist bug and have been one ever since. I was given a great gift, a 1955 St Andrew’s Missal, which has been a huge influence on me. The liturgy of the Church fascinates me, and I love to read and learn about it, to get food for prayer from it.

    Because of circumstances I haven’t been able to regularly attend the TLM each Sunday and Feast until this year. While still studying at University, I sang with the schola at the monthly Missa Cantata in my parish. We were blessed with a very good priest, whose Masses and homilies were always excellent, whether NO or TLM.

    I then had the experience of being a seminarian, and of trying my vocation as a religious… during this time, I again was lucky in that I attended many reverent and dignified celebrations of Mass in English, but would also slip out and make my way to the FSSP’s Low Mass on a weekday every so often: even occasionally a Solemn HIgh Mass. Unfortunately, during my time as a would-be religious I endured the worst Sunday Masses, and yet the community weekday Mass was usually fine, and moreover I would occasionally serve private Masses in the older Rite for one of the fathers. Talk about schizophrenic!

    Now that I’ve moved to a different city, I belong to the local Latin Mass chaplaincy (we’re petitioning to have it made a Latin Rite personal parish), and am really blessed by so many wonderful chances to attend the EF of the Roman Rite. Our priest likes to have sung Mass on feasts even on weekdays, which is great – I try to help back-up the better singers in the choir, and it reinforces to me how much the Missa Cantata more fully reveals the richness of the liturgy.

    Because of my work and study, since I try to remain a daily Mass goer (I need the grace), I attend the OF on some weeknights, and it is offered reverently, but if I could I would go to the EF alone.

  263. Dominic says:

    Father Z,

    I have only recently discovered your blog, and am grateful to you for it. Thank you!

    I’m 41, from England, living in a diocese where there are not only no Traditional Latin Masses, but also no Latin NO Masses.

    I know Latin quite well now (having learned it only in my mid-20s), and used to be able to travel to a neighbouring diocese where there was a Sung Latin NO Sunday Mass.

    I have attended the TLM on only 5 occasions (and only during the past 10 years), with long intervals between each. The first four occasions were generally disappointing, mainly because, although I had a Missal, I found it difficult to follow. I hadn’t realised so much was inaudible.

    At the last TLM I attended, I felt I was beginning to ‘get it’ more. I think that if I were able to participate in the TLM more frequently I would soon become more familiar with its ‘rhythm.’

    While I am not opposed to Mass in the vernacular, I greatly dislike the ‘folksiness’ associated with it (“Good morning everybody,” “Good morning Father” –Yuk). Although I have a personal liking for Latin, my main objection to (so many, though not all) celebrations of Mass in the vernacular is the lack of reverence. Solutions to irreverence include the (re-) introduction of communion altar rails, communion on the tongue, priest and people adopting the same eastward orientation. Funnily enough, all of these things (and more that foster reverence) are already present in the TLM.

    I am delighted with the motu proprio, and hope it will provide more opportunities to attend the TLM. I think a sad consequence of it might be if it diminishes Latin in NO celebrations. [This is a good point! – Fr. Z] I suspect that, in the coming decades, Mass in its extraordinary form will not be exactly as it was in 1962 (e.g., if the calendar is updated/harmonized with the ordinary calendar). I think such developments would be a good thing, though probably unwise to rush into. It would be especially good if the ordinary form were affected by the extraordinary, especially in terms of its being celebrated with more reverence: and please God this will happen without delay.

  264. Dominic says:

    Father Z,

    I have only recently discovered your blog, and am grateful to you for it. Thank you!

    I’m 41, from England, living in a diocese where there are not only no Traditional Latin Masses, but also no Latin NO Masses.

    I know Latin quite well now (having learned it only in my mid-20s), and used to be able to travel to a neighbouring diocese where there was a Sung Latin NO Sunday Mass.

    I have attended the TLM on only 5 occasions (and only during the past 10 years), with long intervals between each. The first four occasions were generally disappointing, mainly because, although I had a Missal, I found it difficult to follow. I hadn’t realised so much was inaudible.

    At the last TLM I attended, I felt I was beginning to ‘get it’ more. I think that if I were able to participate in the TLM more frequently I would soon become more familiar with its ‘rhythm.’

    While I am not opposed to Mass in the vernacular, I greatly dislike the ‘folksiness’ associated with it (“Good morning everybody,” “Good morning Father” –Yuk). Although I have a personal liking for Latin, my main objection to (so many, though not all) celebrations of Mass in the vernacular is the lack of reverence. Solutions to irreverence include the (re-) introduction of communion altar rails, communion on the tongue, priest and people adopting the same eastward orientation. Funnily enough, all of these things (and more that foster reverence) are already present in the TLM.

    I am delighted with the motu proprio, and hope it will provide more opportunities to attend the TLM. I think a sad consequence of it might be if it diminishes Latin in NO celebrations. I suspect that, in the coming decades, Mass in its extraordinary form will not be exactly as it was in 1962 (e.g., if the calendar is updated/harmonized with the ordinary calendar). I think such developments would be a good thing, though probably unwise to rush into. It would be especially good if the ordinary form were affected by the extraordinary, especially in terms of its being celebrated with more reverence: and please God this will happen without delay.

  265. Andrew says:

    Hi Fr. Z.,

    I am 37 years old and have been to the Latin Mass twice in my life. I have to admit that I was expecting something miraculous to happen when I did attend but I never did feel any increase in awe or wonder that others talk about. Maybe I haven’t gone enough.

    The NO church I attend on weekends has a Latin Mass community that has been around for years and less than 100 members. I live in a big metropolitan area and I am surprised that this community is not bigger.

    The times I have been and followed the missal I did lose track and eventually put the missal down and tried to focus on the priesty prayers. But when it comes down to it, it’s just another languge being spoken at the altar, like Spanish or any other language I don’t understand. After the mass, one of the attendees handed me a brochure that condemmend the NO and I ended up throwing the brochure away. Silly.

    If you want the Latin mass to be popular, you’re going to have to start teaching Latin again. Otherwise the Latin mass will remain the small charism that it is today, proprio or no proprio.

    I have attended NO masses in Latin and thought that there were highly reverent. This seems to me to be a reasonable solution to the dual problems of too much goofiness with guitars and a desire for a more reverent mass.

  266. Michael says:

    Hi Father Z,
    I’m 17 and just about to start at university in Scotland. I’ve never been able to go to a Tridentine Mass as most of the clergy in Scotland seem completely opposed to it. The few times I’ve heard of it occuring its been senior clergy and normally only one offs. I have started looking at a few bits on the internet about it and started trying to learn the order of service.
    I suppose the main draw is pobably the universality of it, applying to the entire church rather than sections dictated by language. It also seems more reverent than the ordinary form, even on the principle of involvement it seems to put spirituality and relations with God above other factors which seems more important.
    The idea of actually having a more doctrinal basis in the sermon is also appears more appropriate. It seems quite sad that most people regardless of ‘Catholic Education’ still know very little about their own system of belief and where it originates, although these days they can probably tell you the five pillars of Islam quite easily.
    I noticed Fr. José’s post earlier there’s a guide at for altar servers on how to serve the low mass including the instructions etc.


  267. Alexandra says:

    I first went to the Tridentine Mass 11 years ago. My first Mass was very confusing and intimidating but beautiful at the same time. Luckily my sister had told me to cover my head so I didn’t have any of those feeling-out-of-place issues (which I can understand fully but would hate to think that someone would NOT go to a Mass because of them.)

    I had a hard time following the liturgy but I knew that something really extraordinary was going on. And, as you say, I was hooked. Completely hooked. I continued to go to the NO because I was teaching CCD there but I would almost always then go to the LM afterwards. And for someone who wasn’t all that theologically minded up to that point, this is saying a lot about the Mass. What I loved most was the pomp of it all. My theology at the time wasn’t great but it was clear that whatever we were participating in was more important than anything else out there. All those smells and bells and the vestments and the choreography of the altar boys really got me. After that the NO became more and more difficult to understand and the Latin Mass much more easy to understand. There was a there there with the Old Mass that even to my untrained eyes seemed lacking in the New Rite.

    Today we (I met my husband at that same Tridentine Mass and we have baptized all 4 of our children in the old rite) are devoted to the Old Mass but usually have to go to our local NO. The closest Trid. Masses are about 2 hours away and we do go to those about once a month. We are currently working with our priest to have him say the Extraordinary Rite. My soul looks forward to that.

    Thanks for the questions!

    Alexandra from Waco.

  268. Therese says:

    Were you hooked?

    No, I grew up with the Latin Mass. My memories of it were okay but it always seemed very rigid in its rituals. I witness abuses back then too but I felt it was more the exception than the rule.

    As a young adult when the NO was introduced, I was very adaptive. I didn’t mind the changes and I appreciated “being included”. The pastor and especially the nuns in the parish where I grew up were not much on warmth at all. Rules and regulations were most important.

    That being said, I was appalled by the abuses I witnessed after Vatican II! I truly felt that our Mass was hijacked by the liturgical gurus of the time. So, since then I have sought out good and holy priests who celebrate reverent NO masses. At the present time, my husband and I attend a wonderful parish. Our pastor celebrates a most reverent NO mass. Additionally, he is a wonderful preacher. His homilies are not the watered down PC you hear so many other places. We are truly blessed.

    All in all, I am pleased that the Holy Father has lifted the restrictions on the Latin mass. My hope is that it will positively influence the celebration of the NO.

    What put you off?

    I have a problem with the “attitude” by many Latin mass attendees that I know and from what I have read. I get the feeling that they are the only true Catholics. They seem rather elitist and from what I have been reading, it seems that most of them think that every NO mass is replete with abuses!! Not so, I have personally attended many, many reverent NO masses!!! I hope those promoting the Latin mass don’t do what the liturgical abusers did that after Vatican II and throw the baby out with the bathwater. I don’t want the reverent NO celebrants and masses to be lumped in with the abusers. Please, those of you in love with the Latin mass, recognize that the NO is valid, and that not every single NO is full of abuse and awful music!

    My daughter recently married and her friend attended the wedding. This friend belongs to a Latin mass community and refused to receive communion at the Nuptial mass because she felt it was not a valid mass. This ceremony was a very, very reverent NO Nuptial Mass. It made me wonder, what is the Latin mass community teaching about the NO or was this just an isolated “hard-liner”?

    We recently had an article about the Latin mass being offered in a town nearby. The diocesan priest at the parish gave a wonderful explanation of the Latin mass. His explanation was very balanced and welcoming. However, in the sidebar of the article we were instructed what to do if we came to this mass that was being offered on a weeknight after work. I think the following directions were submitted by someone from the Latin mass community and not the diocesan priest. Women were to cover their heads and wear ONLY dresses not pants. Men were to have closed toe shoes, long pants, a shirt AND a tie. I am all for dressing properly for mass and people should be reminded of that fact but I don’t appreciate a “required” attire in order to attend mass (especially on a weeknight after work). I have been known to wear a pantsuit outfit to work and my husband is not required to wear a tie to work. We are both professionals and dress appropriately for work and for Mass. Will they stop us at the door for not being dressed properly (pants or no tie)? What about a person who works a manual labor job during the day and wishes to attend mass after work? Will he or she be refused entry since they may still be wearing their work uniform? I am not sure how welcoming this group would be to orthodox faithful Catholics who love Latin but may not be dressed according to their standards. Even when I was a child attending the Latin mass, there were NEVER requirements such as those listed in the article. Needless to say, I don’t plan to attend this Latin mass any time soon.

    I love reverence at Mass, no matter whether it is NO or Latin. I hope the church authorities will come to realize that Latin is a unifying language. Liturgists try to hard to include all nationalities in the language of the NO but someone is always left out. The answer is more Latin!

  269. John Fannon says:

    I grew up with the Latin Mass, and in the sixties was (sort of) part of the groundswell which was interested in liturgical reform.
    But when I heard the first Mass in the English language, my reaction was complete shock – the language used was so banal and the mystery of faith had evaporated. My thoughts were ‘What have we done?’
    For many years I was a lapsed Catholic, but reverted in the eighties. The Mass of course had further changed. While the priests in Weymouth UK were very good and conducted the NO reverently, it was exclusively in English, I did not get a lot out of it. I looked forward to Credo III once a month, but when the Parish Priest moved on, his successor did not keep it up. I joined the Latin Mass society in 1988 and and and for a short time while I was posted to London, I managed to get to the weekly Low Mass at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane. Also I attended the half yearly high Masses at Westminster Cathedral, organised by the Latin mass Society and with the approval of the Cardinal.

    I have never found any ‘elitism’ in the Latin Mass Society (LMS) during my time as a member. Rather, it has always been fiercely loyal to the Holy See. I did feel out on a limb, regarded perhaps with amused tolerance by the main stream. I first heard about Cardinal Ratzinger and his support for the Latin Mass through the LMS. So I was overjoyed when he became Pope in 2005.

    Now being able to attend a Latin Mass from time to time, I use it to recharge my spiritual batteries. It is rare for me to get spiritual benefit attending a NO Mass in English. Sometimes I get so grumpy about a ‘Missa Happi-Clapica’ that when I go up to Communion I wonder whether I am receiving Our Lord in the right state of mind. I wonder whether many of the congregation believe in the real presence or or Transubstantiation. Cardinal Arinze has remarked on the lack of reverence in Mass and tells us that a Moslem said to him ‘If I believed that God himself was present on the altar and in the Bread, I would be coming to Communion on my knees’.

    I have heard the NO Mass in Latin at Westminster however, and loved it. But the NO Mass in Latin is almost unknown outside the capital.

    With the Pope’s Motu Proprio, it is hoped that the Latin Mass will now have a chance to flower again and more people realise its majesty and mystery and get closer to God. I’m not concerned about those who dislike it or wish it would go away. It’s back – it’s there as an option and it’s supported by a Great Pope and the Church’s timescale is Centuries not years.

    In the previous correspondence, people coming new to the Mass have found it difficult to understand what is going on. My advice is to watch the Priest. They will soon find that observing the actions of the Priest, will indicate which part of the Mass he has reached.

    In the old days, when the Latin Mass was the norm, there were plenty of Priests who gabbled the prayers at great speed, ‘making noises like a steam engine’ as my Jesuit teacher once said. The Priests who will celebrate the Latin Mass have a great responsibility to conduct it with the utmost reverence and clarity, so that the congregation, most of whom are still coming to terms with it, can understand what is going on. I would like to hear the Priest say the Last Gospel out loud, for example as it is so inspiring – but the rubrics seem to require the priest to say this sotto voce.

    Finally I would like the Pope to reintroduce the prayers after Mass – but this time for England because this country is in such a moral mess and getting worse.

    Thanks for listening Father. I really appreciate this website. Keep up the good work! God Bless you.

  270. Renee says:

    I went to my first Tridentine Mass about a year ago. I am a convert (grew up Pentecostal) and my husband suggested I try it out at St. Joseph in Richmond to see how I liked it. I wasn’t immediately hooked (mainly because, as many others have stated, I had difficultly following what was going on). I didn’t have a driving desire to go regularly. My parish always had a very dignified and reverent NO mass (we still have an altar rail, kneel for communion, moments of silence and some prayers in Latin) so I was content.

    That changed when our Pastor of 20 years was removed and replaced by a priest whose homilies mostly consist of lots of jokes and “funny” stories about his younger days (Ugh) and who seemed to believe the faster the mass is the better. He fired our organist of 40 years (an incredibly gifted one) and replaced him with a Liturgy and Music Director in her mid-twenties who hasn’t met a piece of liturgical music written after 1970 she didn’t love. Gone were all the things I loved about my parish. I went back to another Tridentine Mass and realized that what I had previously loved about my old parish the Latin Mass had in spades. The more I went the more I appreciated its beauty, reverence and holiness (something completely lacking now in my parish and in all other nearby parishes) and purchasing my own missal (and studying it) helped my understanding of what was going on. I believe now that even if I had my old NO mass back I would now prefer the Latin Mass.

    Unfortunately, the nearest one is a 3 hour round trip from my home (St. Alphonsis in Baltimore) and it is difficult to get there but I make a point of going to St. Joe’s whenever I am in Richmond (about once a month). I have joined a group of people in a nearby town who will be requesting the Tridentine Mass out here in the sticks so I keep my fingers crossed that we will eventually be blessed with one. I’m tired of holding my nose and “getting my card punched” (as my former pastor suggested we do) every Sunday morning.

  271. James says:

    I am a 36 year old Catholic from birth and, after attending my first TLM at an FSSP parish a few years ago ago, instantly felt that I had found the long lost and missing part of my Catholic heritage- that which I had only understood pieces of from my parents and grandparents. How could we have ever allowed such a reverent and beautiful thing to pushed aside for so long? If it were available at my home parish, or even close, I would attend exclusively and permanently.

    It seems that many of the responses to this thread, by those who were not ‘hooked’, seem to indicate that their main issues are not understanding or being able to follow the Mass. My suggestion would be that, before attending regularly, buy a copy of the Missal, and read it. Study it. Re-read it until you can reasonably understand what is happening, and follow along. I think you will soon discover that this is not at all an issue of language, but of substance.

  272. Brian Miles says:

    I went to my first Tridentine Mass–while still a Protestant Evangelical–at the
    behest of my Catholic friends. In short, I was blown away. Many things struck me
    as awesome and many others left me gaping. But for the first time in my life I
    decided that it might be a good idea to actually kneel before God. Now let me
    clarifiy. By these expressions, I do not in any way intend to imply the sense of
    “O cool! These are things I *like*!” To the contrary, they were things I did
    *not* like. As an Evangelical Protestant, I strongly preferred a simple church
    (I was going to a house church). I also preferred contemporary Christian music
    as a means being relevant and appealing to non-Christians. And I also held to
    sola scriptura and the belief that there was *nothing* more important than having
    the Bible accessible in clear plain English. But nevertheless, I could not help
    but be struck by the Mass because is was a truly awe-full experience; and by
    struck I mean the force of being confronted by a reality which was doing great
    violence to my theological and conceptual preferences of the way things ought to
    be. In that place, and at that Mass, I was being confronted with Transcendence
    and Immanence on a scale I had never imagined, and the result was that I was
    being subdued by it–*despite* my preferences. I didn’t even have the categories
    to comprehend what was going on around me. If I had had things my way, I would
    have walked out of that building with the same smug chip on my shoulder and the
    same condescending grin on my face. But I couldn’t. The fact is, my heart was
    being conquered by something so *objectively* good, beautiful, and true that I
    could not deny it.

    I’ll never forget watching a woman after Mass fully prostrate herself before the
    Tabernacle. Never in my life has a witnessed such a worshipful act. The whole
    experience simultaneously made a powerful statement and posed a provocative
    question. Namely: Wow, these Catholics really do love the Blessed Sacrament
    *that* much…I wonder why? It remains the most enlightened question I have ever

    Thanks be to God for his grace. Without it, none of this would have even phased

    Needless to say, I am now a Catholic.

  273. Ben Perry says:

    I am 27 years old and I attended my first Traditional Latin Masses this april. I loved it and am hooked. It was possible to pray at this mass which sorry to say is difficult at most masses availiable to me. I was somewhat dissorented, I became a Catholic 7 years ago so the feeling of being disorented at mass is not new to me. [Perhaps cradle catholics who dislike their first Latin Mass because it is disorenting don’t have a viable complaint and any different form would be confusing] I wasen’t aware that the Eucharistic prayer would be silent I think this is good the priest is really praying and paying attention to God not being distracted by letting the congregation see the ‘drama’. Unfortunatly it is almost a 2 hour drive to the nearest traditional mass. Hopefully that will change soon.
    Ben in Corning NY

  274. Monica says:

    I’m 47 years old, and was rarely taken to Mass before I was six. I have no
    recollection of the Latin Mass, though I remember slight differences in
    Novus Ordo before 1969.

    I went to an indult Tridentine Mass in the mid 1990s, and it seemed
    to me the Priest and Altar boy (who was about 87 years old- the altar
    boy, I mean) were mumbling to each other. I could follow nothing. I
    greatly missed the participation. It was indeed “hearing Mass” but
    I couldn’t hear much and I understood less.

    I was not “hooked”. I was grateful for the Novus Ordo.

    And I am greatly distressed by problems in the Novus Ordo and all
    sorts of abuses done “in the spirit of Vatican II” (which have little to
    do with the Holy Spirit or Vatican II).

    I do know it was Mass, and Christ is Christ and His is offering Himself
    to the Father- whether I can hear and understand the mumbling or not.

    I’ve been a few other times to an indult Tridentine Mass, but I’m still not
    “hooked” and I much prefer a reverent Novus Ordo Mass.

    I will say the prayers used in the Tridentine (when I could read them
    in English) are very beautiful, and I might prefer the Tridentine if
    it were said in English.

    I am taking a course in the Tridentine Mass at my parish, which
    starts in September. That might help me understand and appreciate more.

    But count me a Novus Ordo (done obediently and reverently) type of person.

  275. Danielle says:

    Fr. Z,

    I attended the indult Mass for the first time about 4 years ago, at the age of 33 years. I went dragging my feet, wearing pants and my head uncovered. To this day, I still have not embraced the veil, and while I understand the arguments, I have a hard time accepting them.

    My impression of the Mass was overall positive. I appreciated the respect of others, although, suprisingly, SOME of the little kids at the Latin Mass I attend act worse then the Novus Ordo! I appreciate not having to see the underwear of the lady in front of me at mass, as well as midriffs, etc.

    I still do not feel “hooked”. Honestly, I don’t feel like I have a home anywhere in the Catholic Church and it makes me very sad. I love the Parish life that does not occur at our indult Mass, and I love the reverence and obedience that does not occur at my home Parish. This is part of the disconnect.

    I currently attend the Latin Mass once a month in our area, because that is all it is available, unless I want to drive 30 + miles. With 2 toddlers in tow, the extra time in the car would not help with their attention once we got to a far away mass.

    Thank you for your wonderful forum.
    I love your commentary. You have helped me to understand more tremendously!

  276. Kirk M. Rich says:

    My immediate family converted to Catholicism when I was 4 (1990). As a professional musician (I’m an organ performance major at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in Ohio), I began to hate going to mass because of the ridiculous music (amateurs with guitars, drums, cantors blaring into microphones). I wanted to become Anglican (let’s face it, they value traditional music and the training of liturgical musicians). Then I started my undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas. A professor friend, who had been in an SSPX seminary once upon a time, took me to Blessed Sacrament Church in Kansas City, KS (local indult, FSSP priests). I didn’t know anything about the old Mass. I had been told in Catholic high school by theology teachers that it was all in Latin, the priest had his back to the people, and that everything was horrible until Vatican II. The usual clichés. When I walked into that KS church and saw every pew packed, and long confession line, and the start of the Mass, I thought it was a totally different religion. And I loved it. I finally understood the great musical heritage of the Church. It was difficult to follow, as I didn’t understand that the priest continues on with the mass even if the choir is still singing a proper. But after going to 5 or 6 old Masses, I’m now just fine. I finally have a great love and respect for the Church, for Pope Benedict XVI, and for the traditional Latin Mass. I find very little beauty in the Novus Ordo Missae (especially knowing how it came about and knowing about Archbishop Bugnini), and once I move to Oberlin to commence studies this fall, I will solely attend the old Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Cleveland. The Tridentine Mass makes me want to be a better Catholic, a better human being. I suppose if the “Ordinary form” were celebrated in Latin, ad orientam, with traditional Catholic music, it would be ok. But let’s face it, the new Mass omits about 70% of the old prayers, and communion in the hand and extraordinary ministers is just not ok. And people wonder why so many Catholics don’t even realize they’re receiving our Lord. Long live Benedict!!!!!

  277. peregrinator in terra says:

    I’m 28 yrs. old & a cradle Catholic. I’ve attended the “Novus Ordo” in Latin nearly all my life at the parish of my baptism- consequently, I’ve never been deprived of Latin, chant, reverence, etc. in the Mass. I’m also blessed to have been taught Latin in grade school & college and so am able to understand the Mass in Latin.

    I can’t remember when I attended my first TLM. My parish priest got the Indult for my parish in the ’80s and I presume my family went to the first Mass, but I don’t remember it. However, about 4 years ago, I started attending a TLM low Mass as a part of my job.

    * Were you “hooked”?

    No. The priest had difficulty with the Latin where he didn’t know the prayers and sped through the prayers he did know- that put me off initially. I was curious, though, and went to the TLM High Mass at my own parish a few times- but was still generally underwhelmed.

    * What repelled you?

    1) Other posters have already articulated my reasons for disliking the silent canon.

    I really feel that the audible prayers of the “N.O.” are a gift. I remember my high school chemistry teacher telling us that we should all learn the number of moles in a gram (?) so well that it would be “engraved on our spinal chords” and we would “wake up in the night repeating it.” Although I will never pray them aloud, I know the prayers of canon that well- because I have been blessed to hear them chanted all my life.

    2) I prefer the simplicity of the N.O. prayers – all the -issimi and floweriness in the TLM feels redundant & false to me.

    3) I love being permitted to chant the ordinary & responses in the N.O.

    Although I value total silence greatly, it seems to me that it is more fitting to private prayer than to public worship. The “call-and-response” structure of the N.O. allows the congregation to both listen and silently participate (when the priest is praying) and to affirm their faith and praise God by vocally participating. Because I was exposed to this aspect of the “new” Mass, I fell head-over-heels in love with the Divine Office when I discovered it as an adult, even though I had never been exposed to it (the Office) as a child.

    * Do you go now? Often? Exclusively? Rarely?

    I believe that it is due to my experiences with the Latin N.O. in my childhood parish that I have a great love for the Mass & the Eucharist. I would attend a Latin “N.O.” or even a simple and reverent English “N.O.” in preference to the TLM.

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