QUAERITUR: Why would someone under 60 want to attend the TLM?

From a reader:

Dear Father,

I have been asked by several people in my parish "Why in the world would anyone under 60 want to attend [that] Mass?!". Some of these very same people are fast approaching that age. I have expressed some of the reasons I attend, but since I am 66, it only reinforces their statement.

I always bring up the reverence first and some do understand that, although they think if they, themselves are reverent it matters not how the priest or Mass is. Next I address their objections to "the priest with his back to the people" by telling them he is not turning his back to us, but is leading us to God.

It just goes on & on. I get frustrated & usually just give up. Maybe you or some of those who read your wonderful blog can help me.


Who can respond?

I believe that the older form of Mass helps us achieve what is the fundamental point of liturgy: an encounter with mystery.

We can expand or go in another direction.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. It is interesting that about 80% of people attending the Sunday Missa Cantata at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Toronto served by the Fathers of the Oratory are under 50 and therefore would have little if any memory of the Traditional Latin Mass (I am 52 and have slight memory from my childhood though I clearly remember the 1965 Missal as an Altar BOY) . I am edified that every week there is another young family with little children, another teenager or another university student in attendance; and they come back again! I think that there are three people that might be over 70. So what is that saying? Three over 70, a few over 50, most under 50 and about half of those under 50 being under 30. Attendance continues to grow every week.

    The letter from the reader shows what my stats reveal, that there is a generational rupture.

  2. Why would anyone NOT want to attend the old Mass ? And discover for themselves the timelessness and richness of it ? Why would anyone prefer a diet of the novus ordo, which after only 40 years is already beginning to look its age, and which compared with the old Mass, is such an impoverishment ?

  3. Lepanto says:

    As someone in my 20s I find it strange and even insulting that someone would ask “Why in the world would anyone under 60 want to attend [that] Mass?” Its true that younger people often have very little appreciation for history and tradition, and often run after the new shiny (or in the case of the new mass, duller) thing. But why should we be denied our heritage? Why should we be denied the traditions of the Church, the mystery of the Old Mass, the universality brought by Latin, the reverence for the Eucharist. The Mass of St. Pius V is a gift from God, and everyone should have a chance to experience it. I don’t know about other younger people, but I like the Old Mass because I recognize that the Church did not begin at Vatican II and that there is centuries of history to which we have a right. We want to see the old mass because we don’t believe in the hermeneutic of rupture but rather in the hermeneutic of continuity. We want to see the old mass because many liturgies are being absorbed by the world instead of acting as a contrast. If I want to listen to contemporary music, hold hands with people, and look at dull ritual I can find that in more purer form in the secular world or in a Protestant church. Now I of course am not against the Novus Ordo, but rather its worse abuses which are not uncommon. The question should not be why in the world we would want to go to a Tridentine mass, but instead WHY NOT!?

  4. in a word Transcendence, mystery, Reverence…finding out what’s been hidden.

  5. KJC says:

    A side answer of sorts; my eleven year old son (who serves the NO rite) and I attende TLM at our parish this summer and it was his first experience. After the Mass he asked how soon he would be able to serve at TLM. Now on Sundays that he is not serving he wants to go to TLM.

  6. Volpius says:

    Is it not enough that we do? (27 year old and would attend TLM daily if it was possible while I find the new mass a chore and only go because it is my duty, and no I’m not proud of that but in TLM I have found a cure for that malaise, now if only it would be more widely available.)

  7. Aelric says:

    Most of the untold number of faithful who, for over 1900 years, assisted at Mass in the Roman Rite were under 60 (given life expectancies, probably under 35).

  8. crankycon says:

    My experience with the TLM at St. Marty’s in DC is that a majority of the people – perhaps even a significant majority – are below the age of 40. I’ll basically just echo Lepant’s reasoning. As someone barely more than halfway to 60, I appreciate the rich heritage that we enjoy as Catholics. I first attended a TLM out of curiosity, and instantly I was hooked because it was more solemn and felt much more reverent than a typical NO. Now, I usually attend a Latin Novus Ordo Mass at the Cathedral, but I still find the traditional form to be much more beautiful than the Novus Ordo. It actually feel like a prayer.

  9. Aaron Sanders says:

    To keep the case positive: it far more effectively facilitates my worship of God. I’m 25, and I’d say 80-90% of the people with whom I attend the TLM are under 60. The reverence and mystery are both more apparent, the truth of the faith is taught more clearly and explicitly in both word and action, and – as I may have said here before – my first adult experience of the TLM seemed like the natural and more fitting conclusion of the love and reverence for the liturgy instilled in me by the priest who taught me to serve the NO (who, in an odd reunion, became my pastor and the celebrant of my TLM for a while when I discovered the traditional Mass).

  10. Rose in NE says:

    @KJC– Yep, my 14 year old son said the same thing. He now serves at the TLM. When the new schedule for the servers came out earlier this month, he said the only thing wrong with it was that he wasn’t scheduled to serve every week!

    When I ask him why he prefers the TLM, he says he likes the quiet and the clear focus on Christ. He also said that he understands better what the priest is actually doing. I think what he means by that is that he’s able to see the priest as a priest (one who offers sacrifice), not just someone who’s presiding over a service.

    Smart kid–I agree with him.

  11. kat says:

    As a 37 year old convert to the Catholic Church I have no memory of the TLM, no relatives that attended the TLM (well, perhaps pre-Reformation), and no strong attachment to the Latin language. What attracted me was the majesty, the focus on God and sacrifice, the order and thought-out structure of the service, and the teaching from the pulpit that aligned perfectly with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I was sadly dissapointed upon converting to find all these things lacking in the typical suburban/urban/and military parishes we attended. We found all these things as well as fellow parishoners who took their faith seriously and attempted to obey the laws of the Church(Humanae Vitae included).

    The question should be: Why are there so few baby boomers in any given TLM? What ripped their world, their faith apart that they could no longer appreciate the timelessness of the old Mass? What made them so angry and resentful toward other ways of worshiping other than the new Mass? Why are so many of them hostile (wanting women priests, gay priests, in favor of explicit sex education, dumbing down the religious curriculum…) to their own religion’s teaching?

  12. Kelseigh says:

    I am 16 years old, and our family rotates between a very reverent novus ordo and TLM. I find TLM an extreme joy; it actually makes me happy to go to bed on saturday night because I know that the morning will bring nothing but pure ecstasy. TLM never even comes close to being a near occasion of sin (unlike some Life Teen-esque masses I have attended). TLM never gets boring, tedious.

    At age 16, TLM it makes me proud to be Catholic–and it’s only going to get better as I grow in its abundance of grace.

  13. Xpihs says:

    I recently had a woman, who now attends the TLM for a variety of reasons, and yet still loves the new order of Mass in English and facing the people, tell me that no one has been able to tell her why they like the TLM without trashing the Novus Ordo.

    I offer that the TLM has an ethos that is completely distinct from the secular world and that it is therefore a sanctuary. As part of this ethos, the attention is not on those attending but on “the Mysteries”, on God and not on us. The language used, Latin, reminds one that the point of Mass isn’t the bare transfer of information. We live in the information age, but Mass isn’t of that age. Latin reminds us that it is fundamentally the Universal Church at prayer, not just this particular community in it’s own dialect. The orientation of the priest toward the altar and before it communicates the mediation of Christ and effaces this particular priest so that he can be alter christus. These things, which are not necessarily forbidden in the Novus Ordo, would seem to the vast majority of people, as being alien and undesirable. In addition, the sacred rites of the TLM are not simply the ideas of those from a particular committee or decade. They are what has been received and they will be handed on essentially unchanged. The TLM and the Novus Ordo are both Good, Beautiful and True. But the TLM is Good, Beautiful, and True in continuity with its own past and future being both well informed by its history and influencing for the better the rites to be celebrated in the ages to come.

  14. W. Schrift says:

    As a 19-year-old with 41 years to go until reaching that age of 60, I was drawn to the TLM by the idea of continuity. There seems to be a worldview that old is bad and new is good – C.S. Lewis called it chronological snobbery – but I\’ve never seen it that way (in fact, the other way around). The idea that my grandparents and great-grandparents, who were always held up to me by my parents as models of a Christian life, went to the old Mass every week until 1968, and that they drew their spirituality from it said volumes to me about its value.

    On a less emotive level, you only really need to look at what the Catholic Church teaches and has taught for two thousand years to see that the old Mass, an organic development from that tradition, expresses Catholic truth in its fullness.

    Even excepting all those reasons, it\’s beautiful. Anyone with eyes can see that.

  15. TJM says:

    These sorts of comments generally come from people who were never exposed to the EF, or if they were, it was likely a Low Mass, hurried
    through. If one is exposed to the splendor of the EF in the Missa Cantata mode, it’s pretty evident why a religious person of any
    age would find it fascinating at a minimum, and preferential in some cases, to the OF. Tom

  16. Joel says:

    From a 32 year old convert, raised as a southern Baptist, it is the most impressive and beautiful way I can join in the worship of our Lord. Heaven and earth meet at every Mass, but is much more obvious at the TLM.

  17. Geoffrey says:

    I was born in 1979. The reason I like the Extraordinary Form is because I find there what I cannot find in the Ordinary Form (as it is currently celebrated in many places, i.e. no Latin, no sacred music, no “saying the black, doing the red”, etc.). I also like the idea of worshipping in the same exact form as my ancestors did for generations.

    If the Ordinary Form of Mass was done correctly, I probably wouldn’t have that much interest in the Extraordinary Form.

  18. Romulus says:

    Because worship should be organically connected with Ecclesia Orans in all times. Because individual personality should be submerged and Christ exalted. Because the meaning of words shouldn’t change. Because language should be suited to the holiness of the occasion. Because the fact that all are facing the same direction says something about what’s happening. Because Holy Scripture bears witness to silence at the wedding feast of the Lamb, as well as at the Crucifixion. Because recourse to mystery points us to transcendence and demolishes the false notion that the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Blessed Sacrament, the Atonement, or Salvation is comprehensible to us. Because it isn’t All About Me. Because the Ordinary Form falls short of the best we can do, confuses the laity, and leads priests astray.

    For the record, I’m in my early 50s.

  19. David in Toronto: So what is that saying? Three over 70, a few over 50, most under 50 and about half of those under 50 being under 30.

    No need to repeat your whole post; it could have been written about my TLM community. Must be the same all over.

    My wife and I (and another couple or three at ours) are old enough to remember Mass before the great liturgical renewal, as are the majority of folks at our daily OF parish Mass. In addition to the joy of the TLM itself, the chance to get to know some dynamic young couples and their (usually 4 to 8) children is a big bonus (plus the 20’s singles whom we don’t see much in our regular parish).

    KJC: Yours is another familiar story. The parent who just happens to take a teenager (or younger) to a one-time TLM, and afterwards it’s the kid who’s the first to say “Let’s come back to this Latin Mass.”

    Why? Perhaps young Catholic nowadays thirst for the traditional beauty and reverence, mystery and transcendence in worship in proportion the more so because it’s been denied the past several generations. Like me at my first Catholic Mass many years ago (before Vatican II) it only takes one traditional Mass to realize it offers something they’ve never sensed at Mass before.

    Even though I know that my daily OF Mass offers the same underlying reality, they don’t realize this. To them, the Sunday OF Mass means being dragged in to hear mediocre 70s style music they couldn’t stand anywhere else, so Gregorian chant at a TLM literally sounds “divine” to their deprived ears.

  20. Andy K. says:

    I fall in this category! I’m 21. I discovered the EF about two years ago, and I attended my first one last year, in the Fall. I loved it. I even bought a Daily Missal off eBay (Angelus Press, after reading this blog! ;-)), because I knew I’d be going.

    What do I love about it? The reverence, the beauty, the devotion.

    Although most of my time is spent praying the Mass with my missal, I get so much more out of it. Everything is done properly. It conveys the Truth so much better than the Novus Ordo. One needs only look at the dedication the priest has, keeping his index finger and thumb together constantly after the consecration, lest any Particle fall to the ground.

    The prayers are above and beyond more beautiful, and they convey the Catholic spirit. Watching a priest follow a procession of 8 or more young boys approach the sanctuary, praying along with the priest as he says the words of consecration, seeing the priest follow every little rubric. It’s… amazing.

    Also, typically, EF churches are far more beautiful, and they look Catholic. The vestments too. The NO parish I attend while at college pales in comparison. The bare altar (even when the perfectly fine high altar sits unused behind the priest) and the ugly vestments (plain green? please) do nothing for me. Seeing the saint statues in the sanctuary, gazing upon the altar (most of them look there), really brings home that something IMPORTANT is happening.

    And, the thought of the priest leading us to the Mass, to Calvary is better. Like Fr. Z posted a few weeks back, a bus driver or airplane pilot faces the same way I am going. He’s guiding/leading me to my destination. Here, the priest faces towards God, and leads me towards Him.

    And there’s more mystery involved. Man has attempted to explain everything in the Universe, yet he still fails. I don’t know how Christ becomes present in a little wafer (not to sound sacrilegious…), but I know it happens.

    Plus, this is the Mass of the Saints. I love St. Jean Vianney, probably one of my most favorite priests, and one of my most FAVORITE saints. To know that he said this Mass each week… Stunning. To know that for 1960 years, this Mass was the Mass said (for all of the Latin Rite Catholics…) makes it superior, for that alone.

    And finally, it brings me to the threshold of Heaven. As someone famous and Catholic once said, it’s the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven. The vestments, the altar, the postures, the reverence, the beauty, the prayers, the silence (I’ve been to about four EF parishes, you can hear a PIN drop for large parts of the Mass, there is no low muttering or hum), it truly is the most beautiful thing on Earth.

  21. gupples says:

    Having been told by a professional lay chaplain to young people that people who are attached to these medieval practices (such as myself evidently) are childish and need to grow up, I can identify with those who become frustrated. I do not get the opportunity to attend TLM very often, as I live far away from places where it is offered.

    On the rare occasion that I do go, I do not worry about shaking people’s hands, or find myself checking out the celebrant’s facial expression, or listening to all the words. It is not about the priest, but more importanly I feel, it is not about me either. It is about the sacred mystery and finding God within the internal silence created by the Mass.

    For a few reflective moments, my 21 year old life becomes totally God’s.

  22. Andy K. says:

    Oh, and the music… is heavenly.

    Nothing sounds more proper to the worship of God than a choir chanting.

  23. Andy K. says:

    Ok, Fr. Z, sorry for three comments, but one more addendum.

    Ad orientem is also superior, because all we see is the backside of a male for the “important” parts of the Mass, which all the more reinforces the notion of Christ effecting the Sacrament, and not Fr. Richard we see at the picnic in a polo. It’s more God-focused…

  24. Lindsay says:

    In short the reverence.

    And while I used to be of the mind that it is *my* reverence that is important, it wasn’t until I had young children of my own that I realized how much they pick up by osmosis. I wanted to ensure that what my children absorb was the best. Also, while it isn’t always as apparent in adults, it was in observing the obvious difference in my children that I began to realize the liturgy must have a similar affect on me.

    Children have an innate understanding for truth. Even if they’ve only ever known inferior guitar mass music, if you played that and then played Gregorian Chant and asked which was more like Heaven where God lives, they child will tell you the Gregorian! Why keep them in an environment that will confuse that understanding as they mature?

    I was tired of being angry at mass. I also didn’t want to have to tell my children things the priest was doing (or allowing) was wrong–I hated the idea of being critical of priests in my child’s presence, and yet, I didn’t want to let abuses stand as normal. They pick up on the smallest things and imitate! We attend a reverent daily mass in the NO, but even there, we have to quietly correct our children to keep them from imitating those holding their hands in the priestly palms up position during the Our Father rather than folded prayerfully.

    At the EF, I feel relaxed in knowing my children are absorbing reverence and an accurate understanding of the mass. If I were not a parent, I might not have sought it out.

  25. Bob K. says:

    Yeah and why would anyone under 60 want to attend a Divine Liturgy, where they speak Greek!. It’s called “TRADITION”.

  26. Kradcliffe says:

    Honestly, I went out of curiosity. Is that such a bad thing? I’d go to an Eastern Catholic liturgy if one were available. Anyway, once someone goes, they may like it and want to go back. There are plenty of purely superficial reasons – the bells and smells – the EF is appealing.
    That’s just for starters.

  27. SteveJ says:

    When I attend weekday masses in the Extraordinary Form at my parish church, I (at age 50) am almost always among the oldest half-dozen or so among the 20-40 worshippers present; on Sundays at the EF mass, the statistics are even clearer, even if you don’t count the children coming along with their families. By contrast, on those weekdays when I must attend the pretty garden-variety Ordinary Form at a local parish (holding hands at the Our Father, priest riffing prayers where he likes, ugly ceramic paten and chalice, lots of hugs), I am inevitably the youngest worshipper present.

    I began attending the EF in my mid-40s, and it changed my life. I began to learn to pray, to be an active member of a parish, to become a (somewhat!) more courageous and flexible and charitable man.

    One other thing. My wife, who is in her mid-30s, is an ethnic minority, and who until we were dating had never attended a TLM, loved my (traditional) parish almost from the moment she first visited it. One of the reasons she gave was that it was so much more ethnically and economically diverse than any of the Ordinary Form parishes she had experienced up to that point.


  28. Foss says:

    I am 36 and prefer the TLM. As an adult I began to study the Catholic Faith closely. Belief in the Real Presence led me to a greater desire for reverence at Mass. The TLM clearly manifests this reverent attitude. Also, the continuity in doctrine, that is such a great proof of the Church’s divine nature, led me to appreciate the continuity in worship. The silence I encounter at the TLM fosters contemplation, and so I come away from Mass feeling refreshed and ready to do spiritual battle. Lastly, I see attending the TLM as a chance to respond generously to the Holy Father.

  29. ALL: The word “reverence” has been used some dozen times so far.

    The Novus Ordo can be celebrated with reverence.

    Could there be anything else?

  30. Jennifer says:

    We are in a new parish (local – very small – VERY) and somehow the topic came up in short dialogue with the deacon. He wondered why we would want to visit the parish 40 minutes away for the “Latin” mass. (We are in our late 30’s with small children in tow). We explained very simply that we have been on a journey since we became enamored with our faith and find the learning curve insatiable and in the most polite way we said that going to all the different churches each with their own style over 7 years of several moves and church shopping we have come to desire the stability of this Mass. He is not an advocate but we are not wiling to leave where God has placed us. In the end it is he who authors. We simply must learn to let Him. Let us see what he has in store for us to do.

    Many blessings Father
    JennE in CA

  31. Kelseigh says:

    Heaven meets earth at every Mass. However, it is much more easily comprehended in the Extraordinary Form.

  32. Kelseigh says:

    Heaven meets earth at every Mass. However, this miracle is much more easily comprehended in the Extraordinary Form.

  33. newtrad says:

    My husband and I are 38, converted from nothingism at 23, discovered the TLM 2 years ago. My husband and 5 (soon to be 6) kids attend the TLM not only for the reverence(which is quite enhanced compared to our NO) but for the silence, and the mystery. My husband and I were hesitant in the beginning but it was my children who encouraged us to keep going. My 7 year old son at the time said he wanted to be an altar boy(which he had never expressed at the NO.) My 11 and 9 year old daughters loved the veils and incense and chant. The last time we voluntarily went to the NO there was an African Music band playing bongos and instruments we have never seen before and when we left, my oldest daughter began to cry and said can we please always go to the TLM. And we have, with very few exceptions. The homilies are always challenging, inspiring and educational. Not full of fluff. There are confessions and rosary before hand…I could go on…So much more than reverence…it’s about Our Lord not us!

  34. Joshua says:

    Why do believing Catholic under-60’s prefer the EF?

    Because too many of the unpleasant dissenting over-60’s attend the OF!

  35. Andreae says:

    I’m 39 and never been exposed to Latin before. I travel 20 miles (back/forth) each Sunday for a High Gregorian Mass in order to be awed and mystified by the presence of God in His Holy Sacrifice. I just wish and pray that I can go everyday but I guess, it’s quite impossible, because there isn’t a personal parish here in Los Angeles for now. If San Diego had just gotten one, maybe LA will have soon? Our Lady of the Angels…ora pro nobis.

  36. Agnes B. Bullock says:

    I found the EF in 2001, several months before I met my beloved husband. I was 38. I remembered it from my childhood, and wept for joy to find it again. (I clearly remember the first NO in 1970, and my blood ran cold at the age of 8) My then fiance, now my hubby, and I attended the EF, and still do today. We both prefer it, and have a dislike for the NO due to the irreverence and the liberal nonsense that passes for sermons.

  37. Giovanni says:

    I am 26. Within the past year my wife and I attended the TLM for the first time (it is not offered in our diocese). During this mass we both were immediately struck by the ad orientem worship. Although we knew a little about the mass before including the direction of the priest in relation to the faithful, the affect it had on us was profound. The same can be said regarding the gregorian chant. It helped focus us and created a much more proper atmosphere for prayer.

    It’s all summed up by what my wife whispered in my ear in the middle of the mass–“it’s like we’re in another world”…exactly.

    In our experience, the NO has never allowed us to lift ourselves up to God in prayer and unite ourselves with the sacrifice of the Mass in this way. The reality of the mass is very simply not as evident in the NO. Most of the Catholics I come across in my diocese don’t even really know what is going on at Mass. The EF makes the reality of the Mass obvious, the OF does not.

  38. JM says:

    People under 60 have been attending the EF Mass for a long time–in fact, for centuries that was all they could attend since it was not the EF Mass but the only Mass. Since young people attended Mass for years in large numbers, the question therefore implies that something is different about today’s youth that prevents them from “connecting” with the EF. Is it the silence? The lack of Latin education today? The fact that they can’t see what’s going on? That the music is nothing like the music they are accustomed to? Well, maybe those are exactly the reasons they would be interested in it. As Father Goodwin said in his homily in the first EWTN EF Mass, the language, silence, and orientation reinforce just how great the separation is between our eternal God and our own sinfulness. The more removed the Mass is from the present culture, perhaps the more likely young people are to identify the presence of God, who is the totally Other.

  39. Alli says:

    I am 22, and I have advocated the book The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy on several other blogs as well.
    In addition to all the other sentiments so well expressed in the comments, we’re just plain sick of the wishy-washy religious sentiments of our parents – in times when our parents (once religious, perhaps, but now a bit disillusioned) are getting divorced, the economy is tanking, and it feels like the rug is being pulled out from underneath us … it’s nice to know there’s a Rock we can lean on.

  40. Scott says:

    I am 23. I first went to the TLM when I was 20. The beauty, reverence and truth of it all was overwhelming. You simply cannot in conscience go back to the OF afterwards, it doesn’t even compare.

    I firmly believe that if young people were even just given the chance to experience the TLM, that is all we would need to end the madness.

    Young people should never see Mass as just another form of entertainment, as happens at OF parishes (as they will always find something more entertaining eventually).

    Mass is supposed to be a time of intense prayer and spiritual awakening…the OF simply cannot achieve this in the way that the TLM can.

  41. Jayna says:

    I’m 24 (we 20-somethings are taking over the place!), and I can say that reverence (I know I used it again, Father!) is the primary reason. It doesn’t matter what form of the Mass, it just so happens that the TLM is more conducive to evoking this response. Aesthetics form some part of it, but those aesthetics are rooted in the beauty of serving the Lord in a way that truly glorifies Him. I have been to OF Masses that can achieve this – St. Joseph and the English Martyrs in Bishop’s Stortford and the Brompton Oratory, specifically – but sadly they are few and far between. I valiantly try to maintain a prayerful and respectful attitude at Mass in my own parish, but it’s not always possible when the music and chatter are so grating. The EF allows the congregation to truly experience the divine in a way that just doesn’t seem possible with the OF. The true mystery of faith and the beauty and richness of the Church’s history are so much more clearly illustrated in the TLM. It doesn’t seek, and nor can it be made, to inculcate congregants with progressive ideology.

    I think the problem with the progressive generation is that they’re so stuck in a specific time and place, namely the 60s and 70s, that the idea of expanding the celebration of Mass to embrace the true tradition of the Church, which did exist before 1965, surprising as that revelation may be to some, is completely baffling to them. I am currently being forced (yes, forced) to take an RCIA class so that I can be confirmed this spring, and the woman teaching it said that she grew up in the pre-Vatican II Church in which God was unloving and fickle, the liturgy was incomprehensible and no one had any idea what was going on. She’s presenting this as gospel truth to a group of people who don’t know that there is any other point of view on this matter. (I have taken a somewhat subversive role in this class by trying to undermine some of what she’s saying behind the scenes in individual conversations with other people in the class.) In any case, I guess what I’m trying to say is that progressives hold so tightly to the OF because it can be used as a vehicle by which their personal opinions on liturgy, and indeed the Church as a whole, can be disseminated to a broader public. There is no room for that in the TLM and they just can’t handle it. (That’s not to say that a TLM cannot be poorly done, but flagrant abuses are certainly not as common.) They’re struggling to maintain ideological hegemony in the face of a growing tide of dissatisfaction with the current state of things and a desire for a truer, deeper faith.

    That may or may not make sense. I had a rather draining week in class, so my mind is like jello at the moment.

  42. Giovanni says:

    I am 29 yes I know barely in my 20s but the reason is because I was not even praticing 4 years ago and when I go to Church today I see little reverence ven from what I remember when I was 9.

    Catholic places are suppose to be reverent and so MUST be the Mass if we truelly believe in what is presented which is the flesh and blood of the risen Lord, that is my main reason.

  43. Former Altar Boy says:

    Yes, Father Z, the New Mass can be celebrated reverently. Unfortunately, most of the time (in my experince) it is not. It is more like the priests wonders, “What can I do this time to make the Mass different and more entertaining?” Real Catholics don’t attend Mass to be entertained; they come to worship God, something the Novus Ordo typically lacks.
    Why would anyone under 60 attend the traditional Latin Mass? To undertand how absurd that question is, imagine asking the same the same question to anyone under 60 anytime before 1968.

  44. Art says:

    I am 34 and have just begun attending the Gregorian Rite on a monthly basis. I am unwilling to abandon the Novus Ordo because I have experienced it complete with smells and bells – that it could be done with reverence. Attending the EF in conjunction with the OF serves mainly as a spiritual exercise to help me grasp that which is common to both: the very presence of God. Boy, do I have a long way to go….

  45. isabella says:

    I’m under 60 and love the EF of the Mass because:

    – I feel the presence of God, find myself behaving better throughout the week, and come home humming the recessional hymn (despite having to travel). Then, I seek out something holy to read before the Sunday paper. It helps me try to keep at least one day of the week sacred for God, and ignore the chaos in the world. Read, relax, nap, meditate, eat healthy food and enjoy wherever I happen to be.

    – The EF has helped me develop more of an interest in reading biographies of saints and what made them saints. I’ve bought some books in place of junk food or junk reading.

    – I absolutely love the sacred music, as opposed to the disharmonic excuses for church music in many parishes. And I appreciate the opportunity for quiet prayer with a missal behind a veil.

    – The beauty of the reflection of the congregation reflected in the Chalice at the Elevation. Can’t quite explain why, but it gives me chills.

    – Makes me want to try harder to be reverent, holy, and good (despite failing more often than I like – I’m at least aware of it now).

    – Kneeling to receive Holy Communion. If people REALLY believed they were receiving the Body of Christ, why would they want to do so with dirty hands? Ick. I want to receive, on my knees, from the hands of a priest.

    – I wasted a good part of my adult life involved in new age, neo-paganism because if all rites are equally good, then why bother being Catholic? The NO didn’t seem much different; the trendiest priests even used “blessed be” as a greeting – like some Wiccans whom I still consider friends. Wrong, but still friends. I finally stumbled into an EF Mass when a girl who couldn’t have been more than 20 told me about it, and *she* was definitely younger than 60.

    – I just LOVE the EF Mass. I don’t think it’s related to age at all; it’s like “why do you love your wife/husband”? Because this Mass is worthy of love. There’s some old black and white movie I watched while I was recovering from surgery after an accident that went “tell me what you love, and I’ll tell you who you are . . .”

    That’s as close as I can come for myself. I dearly love the state where I live, but if there is no EF by the time I graduate for the second time – it’s time to leave.

  46. JGP says:

    I’m 22, and my number one reason for attending the EF?


    And for that reason, I actually really like Low Mass!

  47. Jason says:

    That’s like asking why anyone under 500 would want to read Shakespeare.

    Because it’s beautiful.

  48. Chris M says:

    Because I converted from high-church Anglicanism. And we have our standards when it comes to liturgy!! ;)

  49. Lindsay says:

    I understand that the NO can be celebrated with reverence and beauty. However, when there isn’t one in your area that is consistently celebrated this way, the inherent reverence found in the EF is a big draw. So that was why we went initially.

    We continue to go because the mass does draw us into the mystery and helps us to focus on the sacrifice of the mass.

    I attended a beautiful OF in Latin/ad orientem/bells and whistles at Assumption Grotto in Detroit. It was reverent, beautiful, and mysterious. If that were how the OF were consistently done, I may not have felt a need to go to the EF. I recognize the differences in the prayers and such now, but that wasn’t what I was seeking out originally.

    If one’s experience at an OF hasn’t been that of reverence, it is hard to separate the association.

    I, too, love the music, the use of beautiful vestments, the chant, etc… However, bad music can happen in an EF (our priest laughs about the “ole time” Tridentine Folk masses with habited nuns strumming guitars, where at least the music was theologically sound).

    Perhaps the “reverence” is also in reference to that certain something that is different in the community because of the kinds of people it draws? In spite of not having a “parish life” committee, we have experienced a greater sense of community in the group attending this mass than in any other parish we’ve attended. We stand forever in freezing or horribly hot weather to chat on the sidewalk outside church after mass.

    I’m sure that can happen with the OF, too, but we’ve never experienced it in other places.

  50. Christina says:

    I’m going to try explaining something that I’ve been pondering a while, but let me say first that I love the Latin mass as well as the Dominican right mass – which is very similar.

    However, I also love the new order mass, perhaps because I’ve been at a parish where it’s done correctly. I feel like I wouldn’t appreciate the Latin masses if I hadn’t been trained on the NO. When I went to the Latin masses I was struck by how little the people were required to do, there are no strict rules or formats to how you are to join in the prayers. It’s wonderful in that it allows you a wide range of freedom in your worship of God, yet it’s not clear where the walls are.

    In the NO you are specifically told, “now you will say this, now you will pray this.” Like a child learning the alphabet. You don’t get all the beauty of the other mass, but you learn the basics of prayer and response so when you go to the Latin Mass you can fully participate.

    When a child is raised with few rules they don’t know where the boundaries are. Thus when rules are imposed they rebel as much as possible – stretching the rules past their limits. Perhaps this is why the older generation rejects the Latin mass and why the NO has deteriorated so much. Not having those boundaries they rejected those initially put in the NO and created mockeries of both masses.

    Yet the younger generation has been raised in the NO and learned the basics of what is expected of them (yes, granted this is dependent upon the quality of the NO and their own observation – anyone can zone out during a lesson). This younger generation is then given a widening of the rules, they are given a situation and they know the possibilities that would work and are able to implement them more appropriately.

    Well, that’s a shot at explaining it, I think it comes down to neither mass being self sufficient. The NO should lead naturally towards the Latin Mass and the Latin mass should not be taken alone. Does that make sense?

  51. Eric says:

    The question was.

    “Why in the world would anyone under 60 want to attend [that] Mass?!”

    Not, why would someone prefer [that] mass?

    I started to attend [that] mass not because I prefered it but because I believed, and still do, that it is closer to how God wants to be worshipped than the new mass is. Even when both are done properly.

    As I believe I am trying to align my will with that of God’s, I now prefer the TLM as I can see how it benifits not only me but the community, the archdiocese and the Church as a whole.

    The reason anyone of any age should attend the TLM is because they realize there is a God and he wants to be worshipped. God knows what’s best for Him is also what’s best for us.

  52. Khairete says:

    My own journey into EF has been a complete transformation of my life. About two years ago I was one of the crowd (under 60, I might add!)who might have shown up for “womynpriest” demonstrations. It would take too long to tell what brough me to the EF to begin with, but quite simply I believe the traditional liturgy itself transformed me. It started with “well, I’ll just show up from time to time, it’s pretty, I like chant, etc.” Now about 2 years later I attend EF almost daily and I’ve found myself nearly in tears when I can’t be there.
    This experience has caused me to question so much of my life and to subsequently change it in ways that go far beyond the surface–politically, how I pray, how I interact with people in general. Not to mention the amazing lesson in history it’s been. I cringe now when I think of how ignorant I was about Church history and have done everything I can to repair that. I also have worked hard to repair gaps in my understanding of Church teaching–still very much a work in progress!
    So it’s become an issue of transformation on a much deeper level than I ever anticipated, so much so that old friends are baffled!
    One example: there’s been a great deal of debate in my diocese in the past few months over the statements of our bishop regarding our responsibility to uphold Church teaching about marriage. I had coffee with a friend of mine who ranted about the audacity of the statement–imagine, our bishop felt he needed to actually, like, do his job!!!–and she was absolutely stunned at my total lack of interest in sharing her rant. (I’ve not heard much from her since……)
    As seems to be the case with lots of others who responded, the parish I attend has a lot of younger people, including families. I would say I’m among the older people there (just turned 50). This is so encouraging to see!
    Also encouraging to know that it’s possible for change to happen among us older folks, too! Even someone like myself who shudders now at how I used to live. I think God brought me to this experience, and every day I thank Him for it.

  53. In my experience, many of the objections to the older form of the rite come from people around 50-60 years old. They were young adults in the time of euphoria after Vatican II and were told that the Church before the Council was awful and therefore anything associated with it (like the usus antiquior) will “drag us back” to the bad old days.

    Younger people have no such prejudices and see the banality of what passes for “liturgy” in many parishes. When they experience the usus antiquior, they have an immediate and striking introduction to what the Church intends as Sacred Liturgy.

    It should be this way in the newer form too but in most places that is not what they experience.

  54. avecrux says:

    For me personally, I find the use of Sacred Scripture in the EF to be breathtaking.
    The prayers express transcendence.
    You get a real sense of that in the prayers at the foot of the altar, to begin with, but also throughout.
    You become very conscious of the total otherness (should that be capitalized?) of God.
    And, there is a clear sense of the specific work of the priest.
    The reading of the beginning of John’s Gospel every week just reminds you of what this is all about.
    I also find aspects like ad orientem, Latin, beautiful music, reverence, kneeling for Holy Communion important – but as Fr. Z says, these things can be done in the NO, too.

  55. Hidden One says:

    I have nothing truly to add to the subject matter, I’d just like to correct the oft-repeated (in this comment thread, on this blog, and all through the blogosphere) notion that reverence is inherent to the Gregorian rite. It is not. :(

  56. cedomaiori says:

    This twenty-something can think of only three words: Silence, simplicity, sacrifice. My weak soul needs silence to hear the Lord who speaks ever so gently, yet persistently. My weak soul needs simplicity to encounter the One who is Most Simple. My weak soul needs the constant and corporal reminders of the Holy Sacrifice in order that it might always know the Savior as Savior … and never mistake itself for Him. My weakness, quite simply, compels me.

  57. Mary says:

    “Why in the world would anyone under 60 want to attend [that] Mass?!”

    As someone well under sixty, I’ll be 29 in December, I can answer only for myself. I don’t go all the time but the few times I’ve been to a TLM (granted 2 of them were weddings) it was truly a different experience for me. As someone who does fully participate in a Sunday liturgy (as in sings and responds)and as someone who is an Extraordinary minister of Communion, it’s honestly nice to not have to do anything at Mass other than simply be there and pray. I don’t have to worry about whether or not all the EMHCs show up, I don’t have to be an EMHC each week at Mass, and it makes me appreciate my study of Latin. I remember when my parish had a TLM in honor of our 100th Anniversary, how many people were saying I don’t want to go back to that or I’ve forgotten my Latin. I also remember the looks of surprise on their faces when I said “really I was able to follow along, but I did study Latin, and I don’t mind this Mass.”

    I’m 1st generation American, both parents are “off the boat” Irish, so tradition has long been a part of my life, be it Irish step dancing, Irish music, or other little things my parents brought over with them, so the TLM is just another way of adding a tradition to my life. I love being Catholic because whether Mass is the TLM, in English, Spanish, German, Gaelic, whatever language, it’s still Mass. That’s why I would go because it’s still Mass, just said differently. I don’t know why people are so surprised when younger Catholics look for tradition and find it in the TLM.

    I assume the graces for me being open to attending the TLM stem from my mom bringing me to the weekly Miraculous Medal Novena that our parish in the Bronx had weekly on Mondays. I remember sitting there as a child thinking “Latin again, can’t we sing it in English.” now it’s the other way around, “English, can’t we sing it in Latin, it’s better!” Honestly why I’m attracted to the TLM is probably because after a while of working for the Church as a Confirmation director, and being a EMHC, one gets tired of having to watch for things, like teens behaving, or EMCHs showing up, it’s nice just to sit and pray. Not that I don’t do that at Mass, but it’s hard when people are coming over to you asking questions and you are counting people to be fully focused on what you are about to receive, the TLM doesn’t allow me to wander in such a way.

  58. sharon stockard says:

    I am 72…………It is so simple, I happen to love ‘the most beautiful thing this side of heaven’

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