About the “Whither Latin Novus Ordo?” entry

I got a wonderful e-mail:

Dear Fr. Z,

Thanks for the thread regarding Wither the Novus Ordo in Latin? I think it’s the best thread this blog has ever seen. It is one that makes your blog/journal by far, the most balanced religious blog on traditional Catholicism. I am grateful for you permitting us to have a chance to discuss it and I  think it was highly successful. I have learnt a great deal from hearing these different opinions, in particular those which contradict mine. In the end, I realized that I was stating realities that i didn’t like but could not help but admit.

You are in my prayers. I am not expecting a reply,

I am glad when WDTPRS is helpful. 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. Phil says:

    Indeed, it is a very interesting topic.

    Also, I’m sorry to read that the comments drifted away. If Fr.z doesn’t object (otherwise I apologise in advance, and I’m sure he’ll find the delete button) I’d like to offer my 2c on the subject, as I haven’t seen the point I want to make in the 199 (!) comments on the original threat.

    The issue is that many of a traditional oriententation see the NO in latin as either a surrogate or a transitional state. A surrogate for the days and places were a TLM wasn’t available, or a transitional state to make Mass – and especially the latin – more accessable (‘easier’) for those unfamiliar with it or of insufficient ‘maturity’. (I use that last word very broadly and without any intention of a pejorative meaning). In that way, the NO in Latin prepares the people, Deo volente, for the TLM.
    Fr. Z.s analogy contains many elements that point to a similar position, though I leave it to him to say if he thinks it summarizes his opinion as well.

    In my opinion this is not a complete picture. NO masses in Latin can have those functions, but for a lot of people it will be neither surrogate nor a half-way station, to be forgotten when the final destination is reached. For plenty of people, NO in latin is and would be a suitable end station. I can see two kind of people for which this would be the case.

    The first group would consist of people who do not strive for ‘more’. People who are not unlike those in my own parish, so allow me to use it as an example. I live in the Netherlands, and I’ve seen plenty of the things one rather doesn’t see or hear at Mass. Yet my current parish offers the high Mass on Sunday as a NO with a great deal of latin (not completely, the eucharistic prayer is also in the vernecular). Mass is reverent, with a sense of mystery and the choir is competent in gregorian chant and classical masses. The parish attracts quite a number of people who technically live in to neighboring parishes – myself included – because of the Mass.
    If me and (presumably) many of my follow parishioners were given the choice between the standard NO as is customary in the large majority of Dutch parishes and a TLM, they’d go for a TLM without a second thought. But given the choice between what we have now and a TLM, few would actually go to much trouble for a TLM. Our priest wasn’t expecting much demand for a TLM. That may sound an awful lot like the party line (and maybe the bishop was reading the parish bulletin too), but in this case it’s probably true. More so because our priest is rather tradionally minded and would have no problems celebrating a TLM at all. The point is that with a NO mass in latin, all negative excesses that plague so many NO masses are pretty much out of the question. Once you do a NO in latin, you are past the point were the priest would allow Mass to acquire undignified elements. Using latin creates and atmosphere where mass will be dignified. You can argue that a TLM would be more so, with a greater sense of mystery and with some other aspects that may count as a ‘bonus’. You’d probably be right, but Mass in latin at least doesn’t combine with the common abuses. A NO mass in latin tends to eleminate the negative reasons to want a TLM. Maybe more is better, but a NO in latin can be enough – and people tend to be quite content with it, and change may bring risks.

    Which brings me to the second group: people who have been subjected to the NO in all it’s less satisfactory forms. For them, moving to a TLM would be quite a culture shock. They probably wouldn’t be able to cope. And still they are catholics, part of the flock. Hopefully, at some point the abuses will be ended. That will require some action from the hierarchy which isn’t going to go well in a lot of places (especially here in the Netherlands). If more reverent NO masses would be available, and especially those in latin for the reason mentioned above, they would be exposed to it more frequently and cleaning out the mess would go a lot smoother. Many people will discover the beauty of mass – Mass as it’s supposed to be – at some point. Yet we have to realise many won’t, and for a lot of them a TLM will be a bridge to far. Their children or grandchildren may feel differently one day, but for some a drastic break after 40 years will be hardly less traumatic as the one some experienced when the NO came. And in a current situation of priest shortage, people tend to have limited options in practice, especially in more rural areas, leading to potentially drastic breaks. If the NO in latin is distributed far and wide, the beneficial effects could be very great indeed. It could be a mechanism for Fr. Z’s gravitational pull. It’s the No that needs to be cured in many places, but a TLM would be a bridge to far, while a NO purely in the vernacular wouldn’t work either.

    Conclusion: The NO in latin has it’s uses, and I think and hope it will be with us for a long time to come.

  2. Cathy says:

    Father Z.

    The very thread I’ve been waiting for you to begin and I totally missed it! Thanks for highlighting it. Looks like it will take me a day to wade through it!

  3. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    Fr.Aidan Nichols has suggested that the TLM with modifications (optional readings in the vernacular,prayerof the faithful,and communion under both kinds)be made the ordinary form for the universal church while the NO would become the ordinary form for ecumenical groups and possibly mission lands. One reason I believe that the Latin NO has not caught on (even with ad orientem and kneeling for communion)is that there never was a length of time when it was the only way to celebrate mass (in the Roman rite).If the NO had been introduced solely in Latin and allowed to flourish for 100 years then there might be some attachment to it.Personally the flaws in the NO (obvious when you celebrate both forms)would still be there no matter how long it was accorded the role as the only form.

  4. danphunter1 says:

    Wither indeed.
    The action that the NO in Latin will take.
    Summorum Pontificum, whether intented or not has tolled the death knell for any version of the NO.
    With or without Latin.
    Please pray for His Holiness and the Church.
    “Save the Liturgy. Save the World”

  5. Phil says:

    I’d say we have to take into account what a large number of people have used (put up with, if you want) for the last decades. 40 odd years is a long time; for better or worse, I don’t see many people switching rapidly, if at all. If there is to be a profound change towards the TLM, it will take many years, and probably a generation or two.

  6. Scott says:


    There were Gallup Polls in 1985 and 1990 concerning the TLM: http://www.traditio.com/tradlib/polls.txt

    Is anyone working on an up-to-date Gallup poll concerning the TLM?

  7. Different says:


    Just to let you know that Traditio article has a rather glaring error in it’s statistics. They claim the Gallup Poll reflects an declining attendance of 74% in 1958 to 17% in 2001. The number for 1958 is correct. However, it appears that many of the rest are mistakenly noted. In order to clear things up, I am including the Traditio numbers followed by the actual Gallup numbers:

    1958: 74% – 74%
    1965: 71% – 67%
    1968: 65% – 65%
    1969: 63% – 63%
    1970: 60% – 60%
    1971: 50% – 57%
    1988: 48% – 48%
    1993: 25% – 45%
    1995: 22% – 46%
    1999: 19% – 45%
    2001: 17% – 45%

    I have to wonder if they made such gross errors on these Gallup statistics, then how accurate are the rest of these numbers?

  8. Scott says:

    The Gallup Poll and the CARA Catholic Poll (CCP)on attendence is also different: http://cara.georgetown.edu/bulletin/index.htm

Comments are closed.