QUAERITUR: I was supposed to love the TLM, but I hated it!

From a reader with my emphases and comments:

I’ve been following your blog quite attentively for a few months now and all my reading convinced me that I needed to give the Extraordinary Form of the Mass a try ASAP. This Sunday I attended a High Mass at the EF here in ____. I loved the sense of reverence, mystery, and sacred space that filled the church. I really appreciated the symbolism of ad orientem posture. Praying in Latin is something I always enjoy since I studied that language from age 11 into my college years.

Still, the Mass was overall a very frustrating experience for me. I thought I was prepared – I had researched the order of the Mass beforehand, I knew my participation would be mostly interior. [very good] Even following along in my little Latin-English booklet, though, I often had no clue what was going on before me. This was mostly due to the fact that I could not hear anything the priest said for most of the Mass. I understand that some prayers are "secret" or whispered, but I honestly heard about 5 sentences after the homily. Is this normal for an EF Mass, or was I just stuck in a back pew with poor acoustics[I obviously can’t answer that!  o{]:¬) ] By the end I was so frustrated that I began to understand the attraction of Vatican II reforms and even Protestant tent revival services.

Anyway, here is my question. Afterwards I discussed my impressions with my roommate, who has her master’s in sacred music but is much more liberal than I. I told her about the attack of Catholic guilt I was experiencing – "I’m supposed to love this [the EF] because it’s all sublime and profound, but mostly I hated it!" She told me that she opposes the EF – not a big surprise. Her reasoning is that we believe the Holy Spirit is at work in Church councils. If the Church ultimately rejects the Novus Ordo and goes back to the  older form of the Mass, doesn’t that claim the Holy Spirit was somehow absent at Vatican II?

How would you answer her?

There are several things to address here.

First, I wonder if you didn’t experience Catholic growing-pains?  You might have made an important step in your own liturgical/spiritual growth.  On the one hand you were tuned in to all the right things (reverence, the sacred, mystery)!  On the other you were frustrated because you were being called upon to participate in a way different from your previous and habitual experience.  You are young and have not had this older, traditional experience yet.  You are used to sensory things being fed to you in easy to swallow form.  You are used to the chattier nature of the newer form of Holy Mass.  It is understandable that, not being familiar with the higher form of the older Mass you might have been a little overwhelmed.   The next time you go, it may be a very different experience for you.. or the time after that.

About your roommate’s comments I must say that while we of course believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church’s Councils, the documents of the Councils were not written by automatic writing while the Spirit guided the pen.  They are the work of men aided by grace.  Pope Benedict in the past described the work of a Council or conclave in healthy terms saying that the role of the Holy Spirit was to make sure that we, in our own efforts, didn’t bring about a mortal disaster for the Church. 

Secondly, the Church gets to decide how we pray as a Church.  Changes are necessary at times.  Even abrogation of the Novus Ordo would not mean that the Holy Spirit wasn’t involved in the Council.  It would only mean that the proper authority recognized that our times require something else.

Thirdly, the Council Fathers mandated that some changes be made to reform the Church’s prayerlife.  However, the changes we actually got went far far beyond what the Council Fathers ordered.  The history of this is pretty complicated but those who were put in charge of the reform had their own agenda.  The central characters involved, in their own subsequent books describing what they hoped to do, expose their motives, their goals and their methods. 

In short, the reform the Council mandated is not the reform we got!

Pope Benedict is working to help the Church return to a better understanding of liturgy and liturgical reform.  He is trying to bring our liturgical life into continuity with our millennial tradition of prayer.  He is trying to heal the rupture that took place as a result of the distortion of the Council’s mandates.

You are fortunate to be the age you are, for you missed the truly bitter years.  That doesn’t not mean that their won’t be challenges.  You experienced some growing pains, as we all must.

Finally, I have posted here a couple entries whereunder people gave their own accounts of their first impressions of the older form of Mass.  I don’t have the links handy at the moment.  Perhaps a reader can dig them up.  There were many responses and some of them might be helpful.  I’ll add the link here when I get it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Rob Cartusciello says:

    A low TLM can be rather boring for those unfamiliar, and even to those who are. My fiancee and I would have had an EF wedding had it not been for the fact that the priest wouldn’t be heard for most of the Eucharistic Prayer.

  2. LCB says:

    Did your booklet have pictures of what the priest was doing at the current time?

    I find the booklets that have the small pictures of what activity is taking place most helpful, since my mind tends to wander and I easily lose track of where we are in mass.

    Also, I would be very interested in hearing your reflect on your next EF mass, and on your next NO mass.

  3. sacerdosinaeternum says:

    Your experience is not uncommon to most who attend Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the first time. Even for those who have been Catholic their whole life- and especially for them- there is something a little unsettling the first time they attend the traditional Mass. I would say give it a few more times- usually we grow with it- both in experience and understanding.

  4. chris p says:

    I can totally relate. Actually, the first few EF masses I attended were very poorly done by priests who had little to no training in how to offer an EF mass. When I finally did get to a well-done EF mass, I got to see the point of it…the beauty, the reverence, the splendor. Sometimes, it’s a struggle to keep the ‘interior participation’ going, especially when I bring someone new to the EF, but I do try to follow along in my hand missal. I believe that I have received many graced by going to this form of the mass…so keep going, it grows on you.

  5. Chris says:

    I love that she has put so much time into this. And, her reaction is perfectly normal.

    My wife and I years ago had that reaction at first, but we also couldn’t stomach going to the novus ordo so we kept going. And now we cannot fathom life without it.

    And these reactions won’t stop here.

    Once she’s going regularly, she’ll have people suggest she covers her head for Mass and she may reject it. And there will be people suggest she wears a dress or skirt and not pants and she’ll possibly reject that as well. But, slowly, she’ll come to see the beauty behind both practices and lovingly accept them and urge new ladies just like her to do the same.

    Then, years down the road, if she marries, the traditional ladies will urge her to not work as mothers shouldn’t outside the home, to reject contraception, etc. She may struggle with that as well but the TLM and all the graces it provides will help her through that if she has struggles.

    Keep this up! You have no idea the positive changes that will take place in your life if you just keep going.

  6. Dr. Eric says:

    The first time I went to an EF Mass (this was before Summorum Pontificum, a local priest in the Diocese of Belleville had an indult to do it) I didn’t like it because I couldn’t hear what was going on. About 4 years later I started going to a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church off and on, and a few months later a Ruthenian Catholic Church exclusively. I didn’t really get into the EF again until I saw the Rorate Caeli Mass on EWTN and some other pictures of other Rorate Caeli Masses and how beautiful the churches looked. I also didn’t quite fit in with the Byzantine Rite as the customs of the Eastern Churches don’t match our American culture and my childhood experiences. (A Maronite nurse related this to me as well as she goes to an OF Mass for Christmas since the Maronites don’t really do much for Christmas.)

    I attended a Low Mass at St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis a few months ago and really felt like I had to control my mind to keep my attention focused. I was close enough so I could hear a few things going on, but mostly I had to really focus.

    I also had the pleasure to attend the Good Friday Liturgy at the Oratory. It took three hours. I have to say that my mind only wandered about 3 times. I mostly read the prayers in English and then read them in Latin while the Deacons and Schola were chanting. Once again, it is a great exercise for the mind in controlling ones thoughts to keep focused during the EF Liturgies.

    Now, I’m only 33, so I haven’t had the pleasure of serving an EF Mass as a kid, I only served the OF. The EF is not the Mass of my youth, but I wish it was. I would like to offer some advice to the person who wrote Father. Keep an open mind. Read the prayers of the EF Mass over and over for the next couple of weeks. Eventually, you’ll get it. It will sink in and you will be drawn in. It will take time. You will see how much is based on Scripture (like the prayers at the foot of the altar) and how the rubrics have been finely crafted down the centuries. Once you start to worship in a traditional manner, nothing will be the same. You will not want to worship any other way. It’s like drinking a good wine, you will not want any other inferior product once you develop the taste for it.

  7. Clement says:

    I would have to say that the opposite happened to me at my first Gregorian Rite Mass.

    I had suffered through 30 years of irreverently offered Novus Ordo Masses and was so very disgusted and dejected with going to Mass.

    When I had only been married for 6 months,at the age of 38, my wife and I discovered the only Traditional Latin Mass in our diocese of over 2 million Catholics [this was 2005]

    I was absolutely blown away by the solemnity, reverence and awe of the TLM.
    The church offered the red Ecclesia Dei missals to follow along in and we had no trouble praying the Mass while using them.

    The best way that I can describe my physiology during Mass was,healthy.

    My pulse slowed down.
    My breathing slowed.
    I felt very warm and extremely calm.
    Before, at almost every Novus Order Mass I had been to, I felt agitated and restless, even angry sometimes.
    All that was gone at my first Gregorian Rite Mass

    On the spiritual side, I could focus on praying with the Alter Christus as he offered the Supreme Sacrifice.

    After 38 years of being a Catholic I finally had some concept of what the Mass means!

    I have gone to maybe 20 NO Masses in the last 4 years since that experience.

    I would say to you, do not give up on the TLM.

    Go again and again.

    Become accustomed to the Missal and follow and pray the Mass with the priest.
    Bask in the warmth of the silence and the glow of the grandeur.

    Let yourself love what you are present at.

    You will grow so attached to the Gregorian Rite that you will crave it every day.
    I know I do.
    God bless

  8. I also hated my first EF Mass. At the time, I was attending a very “normal” American parish, and the chasm between the two ways of worship was too much for me to understand. However, after attending very beautiful and reverent Latin Novus Ordo’s, the switch to the EF suddenly became easy. It just took some time and some real liturgical formation. Now I go to the EF Mass almost exclusively. Humans are creatures of habit, so sometimes change can be very difficult. I can only imagine how horrible it was for people in the late 1960s, who had the change forced upon them, usually against their wills.
    What helped me a lot was having a hand missal. I tried to follow along with that, and each time I found I followed better, though I was very lost the first few times. I’m surprised you could not hear much, it being a high Mass. A high Mass should be sung, so much more is heard than would be at a low Mass. Odd. Perhaps the priest also was new to the rite, or had not done it in a long time?

    In answer to your roommate: One of the things that convinced me to give the EF another try was reading the documents of Vatican II. I began to notice that almost every prominent change that had occurred in the Novus Ordo was not directed by Vatican II. Vatican II suggested some minor changes, but not a completely new rite. I think that it is more in line with Vatican II to attend the EF, since that Mass is closer to what the documents ordered than the OF.

  9. Carolyn says:

    I grew up with the Latin Mass. Churches were packed, no a/c, no microphone, we just followed along with our missals as best we could. We questioned nothing.

    After surviving the barrage of changes that followed VCII and sickened by the liturgical abuse in my current diocese, I dusted off my 1962 missal and attended the TLM again. Like the author, I went there prepared. Instead of the sense of coming home to the ancient Latin Mass of my childhood, I left with a better appreciation of why the Church called the laity to active participation in the liturgy.

    I entrusted a plea to our Lord for guidance and direction. He directed me to the Maronite Catholic Church. Here I have found the beauty and reverence of a chanted liturgy, replete with incense, and the active participation of the congregation in chanted response to the prayers. Communion is by intinction and on the tongue – no EMHCs or communion in the hand. Here the bishop and priest foster a prayer life built on the daily office and rosary. The spiritual experience has profoundly touched my soul.

    As Catholics, we are truly blessed to have 22 Churches sharing 8 different Rites, that are all in communion with Rome.

  10. Fr. Pasley says:

    I could not agree with Fr Z more when he wrote the follwing, “I wonder if you didn’t experience Catholic growing-pains?” and, “The next time you go, it may be a very different experience for you.. or the time after that.” or I might add, the time after that, and that and that… There is a major shift in experience between a well done High Mass and a Novus Ordo Mass as it is often very poorly done in many places. It is often earth shattering for many. In a similar realm, really good music or art is often dismissed by those who have no understanding and experience of it. After deeper study and experience the music or art becomes alive. In my early days, even though I respected Gregorian Chant, I thought it was somewhat bland without accompanyment and even boring compared to some beautiful hymn arranged with brass and organ. But after experiencing it week after week, year after year, I cannot see anything more beautiful in order to truly sing the liturgy and not justsing at the liturgy. I still love the brass and organ and all Baroque splendor, but nothing can compare to chant sung the way it is meant to be sung. It is sublime beyond belief and I didn’t see it at first. The same with the EF. It takes time. I often tell people that they have to come on a regular basis for at least 2 months to finally begin to see the fullness and become more comfortable. We are in a time of major re-evaluation. I am pretty sure that if the Novus Ordo were celebrated the way it is supposed to be, with some Latin and the proper Gregorian chant, without all the variety show familiarity and casualness, with abuses removed and especially when the new translations finally come out, the same disorientation, if not more, will take place. Human beings can get used to anything and grow comfortable, let us try to grow comfortable to that which is correct, not to the things that we like.

  11. Ioannes Andreades says:

    I had a similar reaction to my first TLM. My motives were more frustration with the O.F.’s in the area than because I had been convinced that the TLM was inherently preferable. I still rarely go to TLM’s. Ultimately, the question is supposed to be less what am I getting from the liturgy (catechesis, etc.) and how well does the form of the liturgy assist in the worship of God.

    As a teacher, I think that the best teachers are those who grow ever more invisible as an intermediary between the students and the subject matter. Teaching is not about my personality. Similarly, I think that personalities get in the way far too often in the O.F. and the stark, mystical, meta-verbal interaction between human and divine gets obscured. Moreover, I think that the primary action, that of Christ’s sacrifice to his Father, can also get obscured in the O.F. I think there is a great amount of truth in Fr. Z’s idea that the O.F. is more like a child’s form of worship and the E.F. the grown-up version. Kid’s sometimes need the personalities in a way that adults don’t.

    Finally, the idea that the O.F. so well reflects Vatican II that not to prefer the O.F. is somehow a rejection of Vatican II is whacky.

  12. Fr. AJM says:

    As one who celebrates both forms of the Mass, we should keep in mind that both are to have an influence on the other. Yet, we only hear of the EF having an effect on the OF. But the OF should also influence the EF. I watched Cardinal Hoyas celebrate an EF ordination. He prayed the Roman Canon aloud–this is not a bad move. Helping people to respond to the “server’s” parts is also in order. We read the readings in the vernacular and facing the people–this makes it more like the Liturgy of the Word in the OF–not a bad reform!Also, allowing the current lectionary would be a welcome reform. I would also propose trying to make postures during Mass in sync with each form of the Mass. After the prayers at the foot of the altar, stand through the Collect, sit for the readings, stand for the gospel, sit for the homily, stand for the Creed, sit for the offertory, stand at the Orate Frates, Kneel for the canon after the Sanctus. Stand for the Our Father, Kneel after the Agnus Dei. Bringing a little of the OF to the EF would be a big help for many who are experiencing it for the first time. Eventually it would be nice to have the option of the EF in the Vernacular. This would really help it to get off the ground and spread.

  13. priest up north says:

    I think this person’s experience gives good example to the type of reform needed at the time of the Council. However, this person’s experience can in no way be considered an affirmative vote for only the Novus Ordo. Thus, we have to be careful of an “either/or” mentality when it comes to Novus Ordo or the Extraordinary Form. Pope Benedict’s lead on the “Reform of the Reform,” especially with Summorum Pontificum, are clearly leading to an authentic reform, aware of the “both/and” reality that we live within.

  14. Girgadis says:

    My first Mass in the EF was also the first Mass that our pastor celebrated
    publicly in the EF, a Missa Cantata. I had no idea what to expect and out
    of sheer ignorance, I thought the Mass would be similar to the NO Masses I
    attend at the Monastery where the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, etc are chanted in
    Latin. I think that ignorance had at least something to do with how awestruck
    I was by the beauty of this Mass. Of course the booklets that Father prepared
    were very helpful to someone as uninformed as I was, but I appreciated the
    opportunity for interior participation, and the mystery of what was happening
    contributed to the overall sacredness of the prayers and rituals. I cannot wait
    until Father offers another Mass in the EF, which he is planning to do soon.
    Is there a such thing as being too prepared? Of having too many expectations?

    I hope the writer will not give up on the Mass in the EF. I am a revert to
    the Catholic faith after a 15 year absence spent mostly at Anglo-catholic
    (Episcopal churches) where we didn’t have to suffer through the Marty Haugen
    hymns, the casual attitudes and the short attention spans of some of my
    fellow Catholics. Yeah, we were missing the Real Presence, which is what
    brought me back, but I do find myself longing for the reverence( albeit toward
    an empty ciborium) and sense of mystery that is lacking in so many NO Masses.
    Since the inability to hear seems to have caused the most frustration
    for this writer, I hope he/she will give the EF another try, perhaps at a
    different church with better acoustics.

  15. Jayna says:

    I don’t know about her, but attending the OF Latin Masses at the Brompton Oratory definitely helped me to ease my way into the EF, which I’m still trying to adjust to as I don’t have the opportunity to attend all that often. I know that a lot of parishes don’t celebrate the OF in Latin because it seems that with Latin Masses there is an all or nothing attitude (which is sad, really). Anyway, that’s my two cents.

  16. Antonio says:

    Last Sunday, I participate in the first public Mass in the Extraordinary Form in our diocese, here in Argentina. I have already participated in a Mass before, serving as an acolyte to the same priest, in a “private” Mass (my first and only time – until Sunday – with the Extraordinary Form, and after a couple of days studying the movements).
    It was celebrated in an old crypt in the basement (or “subsoil”, I don’t know the correct English word).
    Nobody knew when to sit, or when to stand, or when to kneel. But I think the “experience” of the participants was good, even though we know there is a lot to improve.
    My “impression” was that I needed to continue praying after Mass. I needed to keep the silence with me.
    On Monday, when I participated in the Novus Ordo once again, I could re-live the silence in my heart and mind, and it was something very positive.
    Well, that’s all.

  17. Girgadis says:

    just to clarify – the empty ciborium comment refers to the Episcopal service,not to an NO Mass.

  18. MargaretMN says:

    I had the same reaction going to a TLM. I haven’t been to one since mostly because all of the TLMs are way on the other side of town for me. My spouse is a recent convert and he has to be “sold” too. I thought that although the Mass was beautiful, it was kind of like a living museum in which I was only a spectator, not a participant but I can see where I need to work on the interior participation. I also was completely confused by the communion rail order not having experienced such ever in my lifetime. My first communion in 1972 or so was in line, standing. I think I knelt in the wrong place. I am sure it’s just a matter of learning and becoming accustomed. I need to know more about the parts of the Mass. I am fluent in Spanish so I can figure out quite a bit of Latin just by following the written page. But it also requires a different mode of participation and mental discipline. My regular world is constant sensory overload and multitasking. It’s tough to slow down and be quiet.

  19. Daniel Latinus says:

    I sometimes think that for people unfamiliar with the TLM, attending a properly celebrated Low Mass would be a better choice than a Missa Cantata. (By properly celebrated, I mean the parts meant to be said aloud are said aloud, and the parts said in an undertone are said in an undertone. The FSSP and SSPX usually are pretty good about this.)

    I also think that those of us who love and know the EF sometimes give those who are unfamiliar excessively high expectations.

    I would counsel the young lady to try again, perhaps in a different venue if available. Eventually she will pick up the cues, and find her way of praying with the liturgy.

    I have been attending the TLM since that late 1970s, and I still get lost sometimes…

  20. fxavier says:

    I sympathize with the writer here.

    I made the intellectual conversion to start attending the Traditional Mass a few years ago after reading Msgr. Gamber’s book, Reform of the Roman Liturgy. Although I was tired of the typical Jesuit and liberal Masses I had attended, I felt alienated when I first went to the Traditional Roman Rite.

    After 3 months though, the Trad. Mass grew on me, and I wouldn’t go anywhere else unless necessary.

    As to Vatican II: When I was a high schooler, I randomly picked up a copy of Vatican II at a local Catholic bookstore. I began wondering what the Old Mass of the Church looked like, what kind of music was used, etc. One thing I realized with my limited knowledge back then… the New Mass is not organic to the Old Mass and not what Vatican II asked for. To follow Vatican II is to go to the Rite that is “organic” to the Traditional Rite, and these days, the only option is the Traditional Rite.

  21. teresa says:

    I am curious to know why it is so important for her to hear the prayers if you can read it in the book.

    I attended last Sunday our TLM-Mass, by the way, (pace Chris) women in our group don’t veil themselves and they have mostly pants on. This time the Mass was held in a small chapel, and I heard most of the prayers the priest said. Having only the venacular version of the Schott-Massbook for the propria-part, I was very proud of myself that I understood the Latin well with the help of translations.

    But it doesn’t disturb me when I don’t hear the prayers so clearly. You have a lot to see, to smell, to hear (the music, the chanting of the Mass, and so on).

    Before my baptism I went to a TLM-Mass purely out of curiosity and was immediately captured by its beauty and solemnity. And I started to read about Gregorian Singing and Liturgy. I think you hate the TLM-Mass because you don’t understand it and you feel yourself frustrated. If I guess it right, I will suggest that you simply start learning to understand the Mass (There are so a lot of good books in this topic). The hearing of the Prayers alone won’t promote the understanding so much as you expect.

    Don’t hate it, do try to understand it. Would you hate a person only because you can’t understand him well at first? I think No. So do start to understand the Tridentine Mass, which was instituted also by a Council, the Tridentine Council, and the very Council which saved our Holy Mother Church from the Reformation.

    God is present in the Tridentine Mass, so how can anybody hate it?

    I prefer the Tridentine Rites, but I don’t hate the Novus Ordo, if done properly, because I know it is a service to God, in whichever rites.

  22. Tina says:

    Fr. AJM

    Aren’t we supposed to do this in the OF already? I did all of this at the OF Mass I was at last Sunday…

    If she is Catholic it doesn’t matter if she goes to a traditional or new Mass, contraception is still against Catholic Teaching. I didn’t think the traditional community had a different set of rules….. I won’t touch the mothers working outside the home view.

  23. Mary says:

    Maybe the problem wasn’t the Mass itself, but the parish/celebrant? Like the NO, I’m sure there’s plenty of variation in how the EF Mass is done in different parishes. I’d try again at a different parish.

  24. Bob says:

    Fr. AJM,

    I understand the points that you are making but I think that in trying to make concessions in the EF so that people might more readily approach it, subverts the thruth. What is the motive of going? because as many have said it is not a bad thing that it takes work to “participate”.

  25. Father AJM: I watched Cardinal Hoyas celebrate an EF ordination. He prayed the Roman Canon aloud—this is not a bad move.

    The celebrating bishop at an EF ordination always prays the Canon audibly — so the concelebrating ordinand(s) can follow along. This is the only EF circumstance in which either an audible Canon or concelebration has been considered permissible.

  26. Aaron says:

    After years of music videos, fast-paced sitcoms, and 15-minute cartoons, I find it very hard to sit through classic older movies, even though intellectually I can recognize their superior quality. I think attending an EF Mass after a lifetime of OF presents much the same challenge. For most of my life, there was very little silence at Mass, maybe an average of 30 seconds or so after the Communion song before Father got up and moved on to the closing prayer. Eucharistic Prayer II was used 90% of the time (99% for the last few years), so that was no more than a few minutes, broken in the middle by song, and of course it wasn’t silent.

    Silence is really foreign to us today. Most people I know run their TV all day long, whether they’re watching it or not. Some can’t fall asleep without it going. In the car, the radio is always on, and for outdoors we all have iPods now. Learning to appreciate silence and turn it into contemplation instead of boredom or daydreaming takes work. Lots of practice, lots of catching your mind wandering every five seconds and pulling it back to the matter at hand.

    As for the rest, a good missal (not sure if that’s what she meant by “Latin-English booklet”) helps a lot. The red ones from Ecclesia Dei are helpful for newbies in that they say when the bells should ring and when the priest moves from side to side, when he genuflects, kisses the altar, etc. If all you have are the prayers, it will be tough to keep track when you don’t already know the rest.

    Even with a good missal and a smattering of Latin, it probably took me 3-4 Sundays before I had a good handle on it. My brother went for the first time the last two Sundays. The first time, he didn’t find the proper that we print out, so he was utterly lost. The second time, he had the right equipment, and he only got lost a couple times. If he comes back next Sunday, I think he’ll be able to keep up.

    Because of his experience and what a couple other people have said, I’ve been trying to come up with some sort of “quickstart guide” for new visitors, but the missal really covers it pretty well. I’d hate to think anyone would come once and reject it because they were confused, but no matter how much you prepare, you’re probably going to be confused the first time. After all, for two thousand years, our ancestors grew up with the Mass or learned it in Catechism classes. We’re the first generation of Catholics to have to jump into it cold like this.

  27. Gary says:

    I too attended my first EF a couple months back. It was a daily low mass at an FSSP parish.

    I understand the “growing pains” comment, however, one of the takeaways that still bothers me is how fast the priest rattled off the prayers. I mean the speech pattern was supersonic. I talked to someone more familiar with the EF and he remarked that he thought that was a hallmark of the FSSP priests in general. Can anyone confirm that? Can there be true reverence in such quick prayer recitation?

  28. William says:

    Father AJM, you are on to something. Not quite with you re EF in vernacular; but we traddies need to do everything within acceptable limits to make the EF comprehensible to the many who are unfamiliar with it. Small, developmental changes to the Mass were made under Pope Pius XII that some hard core traditionalists now reject. Holier than Pius XII are they? Suggestion: for the foreseeable future, all EF Masses include a trained cleric, or even lay person, seated in the Sanctuary and visible to all so the folks in the congregation know when to stand, kneel, sit. Microphones are permissible around the Altar so that even when speaking “sotto voce,” those celebrating can be heard.

  29. Deirdre says:

    I prefer the OF in Latin to the EF. Not that I dislike the EFM, but, even after attending it for a long period of time, I still find myself out of sync (in the booklet) with what the priest is saying or doing and follow the Mass at my own pace. That feels quite odd. Maybe I’m doing it wrong?

    At the OF in Latin I have audible and visual cues. I know where I am in the liturgy.

  30. stmonicaprayforus says:

    I can very much relate to this reader. We have been doing about a 50/50 split in the past 18 months b/t the EF & OF. If my husband & our older kids had their way, we would only attend the EF. We split b/c I want our kids to be acquainted with a reverent OF (which we thankfully have access to) & to, quite frankly, not get an elitist attitude about the superiority of the EF over the OF – when the OF is done properly.

    I was raised in the OF and it is hard to shake that upbringing from my foundation. I crave to “know what’s going on” during Mass & hate when I am “lost”. I still somewhat wish the EF Mass could be said in the vernacular. It took me about a dozen EF Masses before I finally got over myself & MY wishes/desires & really took in that it’s not about me. I think that is one of the biggest problems w/the OF – it becomes about me & not about the Sacrifice being offered. It becomes about making it “my” Mass. And we see where that’s gotten us.

    At this point, when I don’t know where we are in the Mass, I’m really OK with that & thankful that I don’t need to be following. The priest is taking care of the Mass. I often take those moments to pray for the priest while he is offering Mass, to ask the angels to be guarding the altar, to pray that my guardian angel be presenting my offering to the altar as well, to offer thanksgiving, etc. I now do those things at the OF Mass as well (especially if we have to attend one that is, what I would term, less reverent), b/c quite frankly I don’t know if anyone sitting in the pews is praying those things. They haven’t been catechized to.

    I think the EF teaches us about the value of sacrificing and that everything in life is not about us understanding it, making us happy, or giving us control. I am still certainly on that journey.

  31. vox borealis says:

    I had this exact same experience when I first went to an EF mass several years ago. In fact, I wrote a comment on a thread on this site along the same line, which Fr. Z. published (as he did here). It’s all about expectations–the EF is just so very, very different from the way a OF mass is celebrated in 99.44% of the time. I thought that I was a basically going to get an OF mass, but in Latin with some more bells and lace. Thus what I experienced was jarring.

    However, I went back a few more times, and by the third or fourth time I was completely hooked. I was able to follow along better–after all, I had been going to OF masses my whole life, so I would know what to expect in ANY language…but why would I think that I could hop right into the EF and “get it” the first time around? I was also able to see points of connection between the EF and the OF. In my opinion, the basic flow is the same, the basic structure. This in turn heightened my appreciation for the differences.

    I don’t know how I would answer the friend, but I would implore both to keep an open mind and attend the EF several times. At least then they can make a more informed judgement.

  32. Derik Castillo says:

    I grew up with the NO, and got used to the idea tha “I understand the Mass” because of cathequesis and it is in my language. I understood half of my first EF Mass and was very confused. After much research and thanks to the invaluable WDTPRS, “I understand EF Mass” in the sense that I know what is going on. I realize that Holy Mass is a mystery and beyond my understanding. After much practice, I can keep up with the priest celebrant, uniting myself to his words and actions. When the Mass goes silent, I no longer get lost.

  33. Mattk says:

    I started attending a TLM 4 months ago, and I did feel some frustration at first. But like Fr. Z states “you were being called upon to participate in a way different from your previous and habitual experience”. This is right on the money; it takes a while to adjust. But you will have your first “ah ha” moment(I had mine gazing at the alter crucifix). Sit close to the front once you feel comfortable. Receive Christ, don’t take Him. We have been trained we must be doing something at all times to experience God’s Love at Mass(and have everything explained to us so that there is nothing at all mysterious left to bother us). Let your soul be still. God loves us because of who we are.

    Also look online for the chants proper to the season, I listen at work, it is a bit foreign at first but by the end of Lent I knew the Kyrie and Sanctus by heart.

  34. plisto says:

    Sounds familiar to me, too. I went to my first EF-mass many years ago on the all souls day. I found that very scary -it was in a tiny chapel in Cologne and somehow the walls echoed the whispers and it was very spooky indeed. Also the priest looked very dracula-like in his black soutane when he asked me and my (then) fiancé : “Habt ihr vor zu kommunizieren?” (are you going to receive Holy Communion?) -that was because he wanted obviously know how many hosts to consecrate (there were just us and two elderly ladies and not much room for more people anyway). In order to be able to take Holy Communion I had to think intensively about our (then) youth-pastor, who used guitar in his masses and was very “low church” (but otherwise orthodox in his teachings) -that it was the very same Jesus here, present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar… Well, well :-D
    Also one of our friend (the godfather of our younger daughter actually) didn’t hink anything special about EF-mass when he first got there in Rome, but nowadays he is very fond of it -so seldom as we here have it.

    So, it is worth going there another time and yet another. One learns to follow it also after some times. Take a missal with you. Our very lively daughters also prefer EF -maybe it leaves more (silent) space for their playing….

  35. Speaking for myself, I would say that your reader’s
    reaction was perfectly normal. When I first started
    going to the Latin Mass again, shortly before my
    conversion to Catholicism, I would often find myself
    racing through the hand missal because I eagerly
    wanted to follow along and pray with the priest.

    I remember going several times and thinking about
    just giving up on the whole thing altogether. Why even
    follow the missal if you can just say rosaries instead?
    I remember seeing old ladies doing that in high school.

    Yet the more I went, the easier it got. Even today,
    when I attend the Latin Mass on an irregular basis,
    I still can follow along no matter how silently
    the celebrant is praying. I’m not sure what I would
    attribute it to, but it must be either force of habit
    or God’s grace or both.

    As your readers probably understands, the Latin Mass
    is not for every one. There are those people who will
    attend the OF for their own reasons and purposes. It
    seems to me, though, that exposure to the Latin Mass
    is essential if we are to understand the reforms of
    the Council.

  36. Chris says:

    Tina: “If she is Catholic it doesn’t matter if she goes to a traditional or new Mass, contraception is still against Catholic Teaching. I didn’t think the traditional community had a different set of rules….. I won’t touch the mothers working outside the home view.

    First, obviously Catholic rules are for all Catholics. Yet most who attend Mass outside a TLM are contracepting. No need to debate it — facts are facts.

    Second, you don’t need to touch the mothers working outside the home view. The Church has taught mothers should be mothers for centuries. You can’t have as many children as God intends, be a real mother and work outside the home.

  37. Origen Adamantius says:

    1) “I am supposed to love this” The Church does not demand that you love the EF, or that certain emotions must be present. Despite the opinions of some, the NO is the current ordinary form of the liturgy in the Church and it is legitimate to prefer worshiping in that form of the liturgy. That said, the style of prayer and worship in the EF is foreign to our modern culture of short attention spans and noise. One should allow oneself time to acclimate oneself to it. You may be having growing pains, you remain frustrated with it, but if you are interested you should allow the time.

    2) “Holy Spirit was absent” Your friend misunderstands both the Council and the liturgy. The Council Fathers desired change in the liturgy to deal with changes in Church Culture affected by the world’s culture. As culture changes the the liturgy can be adapted to the changes in the Church, to met the present pastoral needs of the Church. Core components of the Liturgy are rooted in the history of the Church and must remain, however, other parts can be adapted to each age. The NO is not the permanent way the Church worships. It can be adapted when the Church sees fit, to fit the needs of the Church.

  38. Nick says:

    I would go to the TLM more often but the congregation is full of young marrieds with young (active) children and the priest has a penchant for the High Mass. Makes for a very long morning.

  39. MargaretMN says:

    I think what Chris is saying is that once you become a member of a more conservative community, you will adopt and feel supported in many of the rules and practices they share. Most of them being orthodox and faithful to the Catholic tradition. Contraception is a big one, if they are already doing it but some people have crossed over and are happier for it. Working outside the home? Sorry, but in this economy, your mileage may vary. If it’s simply a question of adopting a simpler lifestyle maybe, but I know plenty of traditional couples where the wife works some hours outside the home. It’s not a “career choice” so that they can spend lavishly it’s by necessity. It all depends on what your attitudes are toward marraige, children and work. Obviously what kind of work matters too. And women wearing pants? Give me a break! There are practical as well as aesthetic reasons for people’s dress choices. As long as modesty prevails who cares? We aren’t Amish or old church Quakers.

  40. Mark says:

    I think I can guess where you attended this, actually…

    Don’t worry, other TLM’s are much different and done much better and easy to follow along.

    Places like this make me mad, because they are reproducing exactly the problems that led to the Novus Ordo in the first place.

  41. Mitch_WA says:

    I understand the feeling, and I still have it sometimes at silent Low Masses. I much perfer the theology of the EF, but sometimes because of being raisd solely on the OF and at a charasmatic parish for a while at that it is sometimes hard for me to adjust to the EF over time though my understanding, and action at the EF is coming to match my beliefs about it.

  42. growing pains are normal, took me about 3 times for things to “click”

  43. DM says:

    It is hasty to judge something to be hateful based on one experience. The Traditional Mass is not immediately accessible. It was not designed to be. Indeed, the whole notion that accessibility is a quality so desired in the liturgy that it would compel reform is modern – and heavily influenced by modern technologies (microphones, video cameras &c) and the peculiar way that they train people to observe phenomena.

    Also, the manner in which the TLM was promoted to you [Try it! You’ll love it!] was unfortunate. Catholic traditionalism, at root, is not about liking the traditional liturgy so much as believing that the traditional liturgy is not something that exists to be liked. Ecclesiastical tradition is governed by incommutable principles and has an objective content. If the essential elements of the TLM – ad orientem celebration, the exclusive use of the Roman Canon, the mandatory inclusion of the propers, the reservation of the ministry of Holy Communion to the ordained &c – really represent the authentic traditions that the Roman Catholic Church has received from the Fathers, and if the departures from them really represent novelties, then we are ought to uphold the traditional forms as a matter of religious principle. Whether we like them or not is irrelevant. They’re not marketing tools.

    As for the notion that the guidance of the Holy Ghost necessarily validates whatever decision the most recent Council or Pope has made: it’s theologically dangerous (the Holy Ghost seems awfully fickle, doesn’t He?) and historically untenable. The limits of infallibility are defined, and the postconciliar reforms are not within them.

  44. ssoldie says:

    “Hate” strong word, sorry the young lady used it. I hope the next time she goes to pray the T.L.M. she will pray to the Holy Ghost to open her heart and remember that actual particpation,does not mean moving around. Get close enough to the front, and then use all the sences, eyes, ears, nose, hands, knees, fist’s,.Read the black and do the red, as Father Faber said ‘the most beautiful thing this side of heaven’

  45. mbd says:

    The writer – and anyone lacking a familiarity in the EF of the Mass – could probably avoid the sense of frustration of being at sea with no visible landmarks by acquiring a video of a Mass in that form that will allow her to comprehend visually what is occurring (something which is not easily projected from the printed page of a missal or a guidebook) and to learn what, to the congregation, are the rather subtle signs from the priest and servers of what is happening at any given moment in the liturgy. I believe that EWTN and several other sources provide videos of recent Masses (I also believe that Bishop Sheen may have recorded one that was a classic). Following such a video presentation with a missal at a relaxed pace should make attendance live at a Mass much less frustrating.

  46. Child of the Novus Ordo says:

    I’m the author of the email Fr. Z answered here. I wasn’t sure about “outing” myself but I wanted to respond to a few comments here.

    “I thought that I was a basically going to get an OF mass, but in Latin with some more bells and lace. Thus what I experienced was jarring.” Hahaha, that is exactly how I felt. Looking back, I was pretty cocky, thinking I could just waltz in and be a master of something completely foreign to me.

    Why did I want to hear the prayers of the priest? First, so I could know what I was supposed to be reading in the red Ecclesia Dei missal I clutched. Second, what is the point of employing beautiful language about the ineffable God we worship if no one hears it?

    Fr. Z, you are probably spot-on about the “growing pains” bit. I remember when I was 9 years old and disliked the more reverent, traditional Mass at my parish because it wasn’t as “fun” as the guitar Mass. My parents, God bless them, had to drag me to Eucharistic Adoration for months before I finally appreciated it.

    Chris, peace be with you, but please do not make assumptions about me or the way my parents formed me in the Faith. I have been chaste all 24 years of my life and have ALWAYS opposed contraception. Skirts are a regular part of my Sunday Mass wardrobe. I even covered my head with a shawl at the EF Mass and rather enjoyed the practice.

    I’ve seen some really horrendous NO Masses, but I don’t think the form is worthless. Attending lots of reverent NO Masses is what made me into the Culture of Death- opposing, Eucharist-loving Catholic I am today. The EF may be a higher form of worship, but that shouldn’t mean all my previous NO experiences are trash.

    Overall, thanks for the encouragement and honest discussion here. I won’t give up on the EF – obviously I still have a lot to learn about it! Like why there is so much lace, for instance… :-)

  47. LCB says:

    Child of NO,

    One minor problem with the Ecclesia Dei booklet– it doesn’t let you know “These texts may not be the text uses in the mass”, so sometimes keeping exact track is tricky. Many places photocopy the texts of the day.

  48. The Ringmistress says:

    This was my experience as well and to some degree I still find it frustrating. Partly because I am used to following the words and if I try to use my hand missal, I always end up hopelessly lost. Second because I am very visual and if I can’t see what is going on (the chapel where we attended had poor lines of sight), I don’t know what is happening. I found that personally it was easier to not follow the words and instead meditate upon the general action. That way, instead of focusing on where we were in the script, I could just wait for the verbal cues for my responses to follow the transitions.

    Incidentally, my husband has never had a problem with following it. I don’t know if this is because of years of serving the OF he has an intuitive grasp of the order of the Mass or just because he is strange.

  49. Dylan says:

    I’m writing a little piece for our local TLM Newsletter on this very topic! When we face silence and self-denial (in the form of stripping away our need to be emotionally “uplifted”) we are better prepared to grow in prayer depth. The repulsion we feel initially is normal but it will pass. Long term, attending the TLM will bear fruit in our lives and in the life of the Church.

    A quote from St. John of the Cross: “Many individuals think they are not praying when indeed their prayer is intense. Others place high value on their prayer when it is little more than non-existent.” (Ascent of Mt Carmel)

  50. Tina says:

    Some of us don’t have a book to follow along in or the means to get a book. Besides, if I have to read I am not focused on what is going on, on the great mystery

  51. DM says:

    What is the point of employing beautiful language about the ineffable God we worship if no one hears it?

    God hears it. The priest isn’t talking to you.

  52. Aaron says:

    I agree with Daniel that the Low Mass is probably more accessible to the neophyte who is worried about keeping up. If your first experience is with a High Mass, you might as well sit back and take it all in, appreciate the beauty and reverence in a general sense without trying to follow along in a missal and understand every bit. But to start *learning* the Mass, the Low Mass is simpler and easier to follow.

  53. Sue Sims says:

    Even after attending the TLM whenever possible (which isn’t, actually, very often) for about 10 years, I still can’t always work out precisely where the priest has reached in the Canon. My solution, though, is to close my missal at the Offertory, watch the priest as far as possible, and just let my mind become…empty and silent. (I’m not yet very good at it!)

  54. Tina says:

    First, obviously Catholic rules are for all Catholics. Yet most who attend Mass outside a TLM are contracepting. No need to debate it—facts are facts.

    I’d like to see some statistics on that fact. It is not a fact to me. How many is most? 50%? 99%

    I don’t the problem is which Mass is being attended…I think it is a different problem entirely.

    be a real mother and work outside the home
    A real mother. That comment is offensive to working mothers; mothers who may have no choice to work outside the home. You’re telling me that my mother was not a real mother because she had to work so I could go to Catholic school.

  55. MargaretMN says:

    I was actually struck by how during the Eucharistic portion of the NO Mass I attended, how many times hymn-singing covers up crucial parts of the preparation. Literally, you are looking down at a hymn book while Priest is doing a lot of important actions and his prayers. We aren’t directly part of them, but does that mean that we should actually be looking away doing something else? Maybe, if that’s our role at that point. But when the music is loud, I wonder whether the Priest himself can hear himself think over the din.

  56. magdalene says:

    I am able to attend the EF once a month. And sometimes when I travel I also will look one up. I had been praying with the 1962 missal for some time which helped me to remain calm and focused in poorly offered OF of the Mass.

    I do NOT like it when the epistle and gospel are only read in Latin!!! Please, dear priests, also read them in English so we have some idea of what the reading is. Otherwise, I am fine with the EF although I only ever have access to low Mass.

    I also like Anglican Use with the beautiful prayers, much reverence, and Holy Communion at a rail by intinction and administered by a priest or deacon…naturally, only on the tongue.

  57. Lirioroja says:

    I had the same reaction as the writer when I first went to an EF Mass (it was before SP was released). I left understanding why the Council took place and why my parents feel the way they do about the Church. After going a few more times, I can’t say that I still dislike it but it’s not my preferred liturgy. I go to a parish that has a beautifully and reverently done OF Mass where we chant the ordinary in Latin, so I consider myself very fortunate (and spoiled).

    There are two reasons I can think of as to why I don’t like the EF more, even though I’m pretty traditional – I even wear a mantilla in church. The first is that I’m a very, very, very, VERY distracted person. Even when I’m working hard to pay attention my mind wanders (and in directions you don’t want to know about.) I prefer having (good) music to listen to during the parts that would otherwise be silent. Chant and polyphony help to keep my mind on higher things. The other reason is that I’d already been exposed to the Divine Liturgy a few times before going to my first EF Mass. (I am a Latin Rite Catholic.) I LOVE Divine Liturgy. When I go I have no doubt that I’m at the intersection of heaven and earth. I do believe it’s all the chanting. I’m a musical person (and a trained singer too.) That is my instinctual way of worshipping God – a musical offering. Divine Liturgy doesn’t leave me lost and scratching my head if I lose my place in the booklet the way the EF does. So I joke to other traddies I meet that the Divine Liturgy spoiled me. ;-) These are all personal observations and may or may not apply to the writer.

    I’d echo what others have commented here. Give the EF another chance. It’s certainly not my preferred liturgy but I’m understanding it better on it’s own terms the more I go. I learn a lot too about what worshipping God really is and my role in it. I’ll be attending the Solemn Pontifical Mass here in NYC on the feast of the Sacred Heart. I’m really looking forward to that as I’ve never been to a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the EF (does it even exist in the OF?) All the traddies I talk to, when I tell them of my preference for Divine Liturgy, reply to me that I must go to a Solemn Pontifical Mass if I get the chance. Here’s the chance. So I will.

  58. Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe says:

    Chris, you and St. Paul, and the men who have trotted up to me, veil in hand, at the EF Masses can take a hike on trying to force the veil on me. [The issue of the chapel veil or mantilla has been rehashed here many times. It is settled. But I hope never to read that the Blessed Apostle Paul can “take a hike”. I will probably lock people out for that sort of thing in the future.] I’ve refused 3 times now (some people are slow learners, the last muttering and whimpering “but you’re SUPPOSED to…”) and will refuse 100,000 million more times. I had enough of idiots running up with kleenexes from my youth. Frankly, I don’t think men are more glorious than women and there for should have their heads uncovered while, women, worms that they are should be covered. IF some woman wants to, if it floats her boat, fine. But leave the rest of us alone.

    As it is, the EF is a nice form of Mass, and I like to attend weekdays. But I’m not putting on a long down to the floor dress (what is with that? Women didn’t do that in the 50s? Is it a Duggar dowdy competition with some of the women at the EF Mass? I don’t get that.]

    As far as following the Mass goes, I’ve had Latin, have been going regularly since just before lent, and it’s still a little tough. I try and sit front row, far right, where I can see the priest’s hand movements over the chalice and posture VERY well. Which helps a lot, and I am pretty much “right on” where the priest is. That said, I still wish he’d say the Canon out loud. Then I wouldn’t need to be looking back and forth between him and the missal.

    But as for the women barefoot and not earning money concept, that can take a hike. [And I think you ought to tone it down. This doesn’t help this discussion at all.]

  59. Tina wrote:

    “Some of us don’t have a book to follow along in or the means to get a book. Besides, if I have to read I am not focused on what is going on, on the great mystery.”

    I completely agree with you. We are not meant to bury our noses in a book when worshipping.

    As Catherine Doherty wrote:

    “We must fold the wings of the intellect and bow down to the mystery!”

  60. Deirdre says:

    Er. Is there something wrong with wanting to follow or understand the Mass as best you are able? (Which is not to say that the Mass is not a mystery.) That’s a bit of a vibe I’m picking up. =& [No. I don’t think you are. That is clearly not the case.]

  61. Jeff M says:

    I had some similar problems when I first started attending EF masses. And I’ve had problems with people I’ve brought along for the first time. Especially during the canon, which is silent, I’ve found that friends get bored, start reading stuff at the back of the missal, the church bulletin, etc. For myself, I try to focus on what’s taking place instead of the specific words the priest is using. If you’ve read the missal a couple times in advance, you have enough of an idea what he’s saying. The other thing I found immensely helpful was to watch some EWTN DVD’s of EF masses. They have camera angles that show you what’s taking place at the altar, and you can even hear the priest’s voice. If you purchase and watch a few of those DVD’s, you will have a much better idea what is taking place at the altar.

  62. Richard says:

    First of all, one does not follow the Mass in the congregation based on what one hears in the TLM as much as what one sees. You have to go a few (or more) times to catch on to where you are in the Mass based on what you see the priest doing (for example he just went to the right side of the altar toward the beginning of Mass – the Collect; -OR- he then goes from being at the right side of the altar, genuflected at the center, and is now at the left side, reading a book in Latin that the altar boy just brought over from the right side – oh, it’s the Gospel!) For one to know the Missal exclusively and think he’s going to be able to follow along fine doesn’t cut it – you have to go a few times. As far as being familiar with what one SEES going on at the Mass, the little drawings in the margin of the missal pages just don’t cut it compared to actually witnessing it a few times – even if one just has to watch the Mass without being to concerned about following along every moment.

  63. RJM says:

    Like other responders, I would encourage this reader not to give up on the EF too quickly. The first time that I attended the EF I felt completely lost and even a bit frustrated. Honestly, it took me a couple of months to get acclimated. Besides comprising the awe and adoration that is due Almighty God, the Church’s liturgy is also a kind of spiritual formation, analogous to physical training. It’s tough at first, and it requires dedication and sacrifice. After a period of sufficient formation, though, it becomes not only “easier” in a way, but also enjoyable. For me, there’s something reassuring about the rhythm and constancy of the EF that is lacking in many OF Masses. One shortcoming of the Novus Ordo, at least in how it has been implemented, is that this whole element of spiritual formation was lost. The goal became to simplify the liturgy as much as possible, so that it was “accessible.” As a result, the liturgy was flattened out, such that it lost much of the mystery and sacredness that was intrinsic to the ancient form.

    For me, the NO doesn’t produce the same joy of participating in something that is ancient, transcendent, and also somewhat difficult.

  64. “Er. Is there something wrong with wanting to follow or understand the Mass as best you are able? (Which is not to say that the Mass is not a mystery.) That’s a bit of a vibe I’m picking up. =&”


    I certainly would not argue that position. I think reading should be a helpful guide in the beginning to facilitate individual participation in the worship. But ultimately I think one should dispense with the reading as one grown in familiarity with the service. Certain prayers, however – like the collects, may still be good to read on a regular basis.

    This of course would apply whether the mass in in Latin or in the vernacular.

  65. peregrinator says:

    Apologies for the very tangential post… [But you are going to post it anyway? o{]:¬( ]

    Fr. Z,

    I always come to these threads “late,” (darn real world interferes with blog reading!) but the questions that often nag at me when reading your liturgical posts are needling at me in response to this post. You said your correspondent was used to a “chattier” form of the Mass, and this strikes me, because that’s just about the opposite of my experience of the (chanted, Latin) OF. Not a lot of words with little substance, but a sort of focused absorbing prayer…

    And, humbly (very humbly, really- I’m no expert and work only from my limited experience) why do you say the engagement of the senses in the Pauline Mass is “easier?” (Easier to follow, I guess, but is that bad, in prayer? I find it’s easier for me, a lay person, to remember (and think on and pray on) the Canon when it’s chanted. Which strikes me as a good thing…)

    Ooof. You’ve probably answered all these questions three times over… I will email.

  66. When it comes to following along in the Mass and knowing exactly where the priest is at any particular moment I have an observation. One thing that may make it difficult to follow along, if you are not used to it, is the fact that in the EF Mass sometimes there are several things going on at the same time – i.e. the choir or schola may be chanting the Introit while the priest is silently praying the prayers at the foot of the altar.

    I remember reading once that the post-VII “reforms” removed about 70% of the prayers of the Mass. I don’t know if that is necessarily an accurate number but it is undeniable that many, many prayers were cut. So, being that there are many more prayers in the EF than in the OF and given that they both last roughly the same amount of time in my experience (approx. 1 hour in the OF and approx 1 hour and 15 to 1 hour and 20 minutes in an EF Missa Cantata) it is a necessity that several things be going on at one time. And this just isn’t the case in the OF so it can be a hard thing to get used to.

    Once I realized this it became so much easier for me to follow along. Also it took about 3 or 4 weeks in a row of attending the EF before it “clicked” and since then I never want to leave. Give some consideration to going back the next few Sundays and you just might find yourself as addicted as I am.

    God bless

  67. Eric the Read says:

    I hated the EF the first time I attended too, and didn’t even think about coming back for, gosh, almost half a year I think. The second time was pretty uncomfortable, and not a lot of fun. Somewhere around the fourth or fifth time, I got into it. After that, when I went back to a NO Mass, I was surprised and a little annoyed by all the bustle– when was there going to be some silence, so I can collect my thoughts and pray?

    So yeah, I’d encourage your emailer to come back after the shock wears off, and try to attend the EF Mass (from the front row, if possible) for a month or so. I think she(?) is lucky, in that I have found a High Mass, while more intimidating in a way, more accessible to my NO-trained sensibilities than the Low. I’m an amateur musician, too, so maybe it’s just that I love listening to a properly-played organ. :-)

    These days, I’m pretty comfortable going to either form; I try to attend the EF at least two Sundays a month, but I don’t worry about it too much either way. I think this is ideal, personally; I can appreciate what each form has to offer in its own way, and I don’t have to sweat it if I can’t make either Mass for whatever reason.

  68. Deirdre says:

    It is great that you have not experienced that. But, it can’t be stressed enough that your experience is not the norm.-James Straight

    Yes, but the question is not as pertains to experience but to the nature of the OF.

  69. peregrinator says:

    @ James Straight:

    I’m not trying to argue that my experience is the norm…. nonetheless “chatty” is not not what the reforms called for.

    What I have experienced is, I think, rather closer than that. Every Traditionalist I’ve talked to has pointed out how rare my experience is, but I really think that’s begging the question.

    If you can’t get the chatty English OF Masses you’ve experienced out your mind, then what I’ve experienced at the Latin OF is pretty similar to the chanted Divine Office.

    I’m sure you could pray (though I doubt anyone ever has) the Office in a chatty fashion – nonetheless, I don’t think “chatty” is the right word to describe that method of prayer….

    That’s what’s got the bee in my bonnet. That’s why I find the response of “oh, your experience is rare” just … begs the question.

  70. Paul Haley says:

    Before the novus ordo came into being we were instructed by priests and sisters on the Mass, its prayers, and its component parts. If we had the opportunity as altar boys to serve Mass, we became even more intimately familiar with what was taking place on the Altar. When we were given traditional missals as youngsters, we were able to read the instructions on the actions of the priest and follow it with pictures describing the important actions. This is not what we see in many parishes today and that is because the novus ordo or OF has become the rule. So,I would recommend anyone attending the EF for the first time, study the traditional missal & sit up front so you can hear what is being said in the sanctuary.

  71. John 6:54 says:

    I find it interesting how there is always a number of folks in these comment strings who try and point out that TLMers are supposedly more “catholic” than those who regularly attend the NovusOrdo. I think the comment in this string was based on the use of contraception of those who attend the TLM vs. the NO.

    The pridefulness, arrogance, and elitism that is display by many who regularly or only attend the TLM causes me concern. [Hoist on your own petard, perhaps?] While the Extraordinary Form is a higher form of worship it does not mean all those in attendance every day or week are more holy than those who attend the Novus Ordo.

    I suggest we all re-read Luke 18:9-14 the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.’ May we humble ourselves before the and strive not to become Catholic Pharisee’s [It seems you might read that chapter again yourself.]

  72. Chris says:

    Child of the Novus Ordo: “Chris, peace be with you, but please do not make assumptions about me or the way my parents formed me in the Faith. I have been chaste all 24 years of my life and have ALWAYS opposed contraception. Skirts are a regular part of my Sunday Mass wardrobe. I even covered my head with a shawl at the EF Mass and rather enjoyed the practice.”

    That’s great — and you’re right, I didn’t mean to imply you were doing any of this. I was simply stating that I know some folks, including MYSELF, who fought all of what I mentioned until I went to the TLM, was “worked over” by traditionals and came to see the truth. I’m glad you’re already there!

    Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe: “Chris, you and St. Paul, and the men who have trotted up to me, veil in hand, at the EF Masses can take a hike on trying to force the veil on me. I’ve refused 3 times now (some people are slow learners, the last muttering and whimpering “but you’re SUPPOSED to…”) and will refuse 100,000 million more times. I had enough of idiots running up with kleenexes from my youth. Frankly, I don’t think men are more glorious than women and there for should have their heads uncovered while, women, worms that they are should be covered. IF some woman wants to, if it floats her boat, fine. But leave the rest of us alone.”

    I think you said enough to prove my point for me.

  73. Stephanie says:

    If this would help, I would just like to encourage the writer that it takes time to understand what is going on at the EF. It took me over 20 masses to finally be able to follow along with ease. If it is any consolation, just think back to when you were a kid going to the Novus Ordo… I know that I personally didn’t follow along or understand everything. Anything worth while takes time. So please don’t give up and have patience with the EF Mass. I know you will grow to love it :-)

  74. Mark says:

    I honestly hated my first TLM too. But I just kept reminding myself of the objective differences in the texts.

    I have been very fortunate to mostly attend the Old Rite in very small congregations where I can hear all the parts I’m supposed to, where the priests read the texts slowly and reverently, where dialogue mass is encouraged, etc.

    Some places, Low Mass really is silent. Some places, they sing music over most parts of Mass and it is very hard to follow. Some places they rush through and use gestures so minimalist it is impossible to use them to follow.

    I’ve been lucky to have TLM’s where active participation and engagement really is fostered.

    But I’ve been to those where it basically seems like something I’m merely watching “up there” and it is indeed terrible. One sees why people thought changes needed to be made. But really, the changes needed were in the ars celebrandi, not in the text objectively itself.

  75. Tina says:

    I’ve only had that experience of the priest trying to get the congregation to be louder once and maybe twice. The one time I clearly remember, it was a Charismatic Mass, and the priest was like you are supposed to be Charismatic.

    The other time may have been at African Church. But really most of the stuff ya’ll claim goes on in a typical NO Mass, I’ve never seen and frankly had never heard of until I started coming to this blog.

  76. @peregrinator (and Deidre)

    Fr Z was addressing a particular person when he said “You are used to the chattier nature of the newer form of Holy Mass.” Your response was essentially “but, that is not my experience” and then when informed that that is the norm for many your response has essentially changed to “experience doesn’t matter. What matters is what the reforms called for”.

    But, in a way it does not matter that a “chattier form of Mass” is not what the reforms called for. For many, many people this is what the Mass has become. This is their only experience.

    For whatever reason this is what many priests have made it into. And because of that it becomes possible to say that one may be used to a “chattier” form of Mass.

    I don’t believe anyone is saying that the OF is intended to be “chattier”. What is being said is that in many (most?) places it is “chattier”. And because of that a less chatty Mass may be hard to get used to. Someone who is used to a properly celebrated, reverent OF Mass is not going to have as much difficulty in transitioning to the silence of an EF Mass. But, if your only experience of the OF is the way it seems to be celebrated in the typical suburban American parish then you will be used to the “chattiness” and the silence will be a major obstacle.

    God bless

  77. Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe says:

    Chris, you actually had a “point?” [Other than to strut like a rooster and crow [tone it down!] that women are better off without jobs and with their heads covered and in dresses (always at Mass?_ If so I missed it.]

    You are not better than me because you think women should have their heads covered. Sorry, buddy, or madam. If it floats your boat to do so, by all means do it if you’re a woman, but don’t expect me to.

    This attitude is *precisely* what can turn off people curious to try out the EF form. As it happens I experienced it as a young child, and had the Latin but “here dearie, you’re just a woman, you need to have your head subjected to some male now go over there and clack your rosary beads and why aren’t you pregnant” is not going to cut it.

    Were I brand new to the EF form of the Mass I’d have never come back after the first time. [I don’t think the tone of this is helpful at all.]

  78. Chris says:

    Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe: “Chris, you actually had a “point?” [Other than to strut like a rooster and crow that women are better off without jobs and with their heads covered and in dresses (always at Mass?_ If so I missed it.”


    I’m done responding before this becomes a Fr. Z. rabbit hole. [Too late. o{]>:¬( ]

  79. Thomas Herge says:

    When I attended the EF for the first time last year I had had many expectations (I had been studying it for my whole senior year of high school, so I mostly knew what was going on), but reality was something a little different. Now, since this was a Missa Cantata, I have trouble imagining how very little was audible (beside the silent prayers, which I love most of the time), unless it was the not uncommon case of some combination of bad acoustics and a weak sining voice–I don’t know how many times I have not been able to hear a single word from the Deacon and Subdeacon.

    However, I found that the first several times it is best to be without a missal at all. The jist of many of the prayers is familiar enough, and the missal can be a huge distraction. After a few months, I started with a missal, and I could keep track of where I was. I go on a few visual cues, but I can read my missal about the same speed the priest says Mass, and my nature is such that I understand better when I read than when I hear. And before I ramble too much…

  80. therese b says:

    I agree it getting hard to find a Daily Missal cheap on the net any more, and I also agree that the little booklets are not always too helpful.

    Here\’s a good site with the text, fairly simple explanations and the rubrics explained. I have had a little browse to check it is not SSPX or sedevacantist (one link from a post here a few days ago was to an article on a sedevacantist site – It is sometimes difficult to spot these – and I do not think these sites are helpful to young Catholics loyal to the Magisterium). I think this one is ok – unless anyone spots something I don\’t.


    Having sung regularly at NO Latin Masses, I was confused by the EF as a student 25 years ago, in just the same way. In those days there wasn\’t the internet to check up on stuff. I now read up on stuff as it occurs to me. e.g. I had forgotten about the crotulus (sp?) on Holy Thursday, and the open tabernacle at the start of Mass. I read about it on here and other websites. So even at the age of 48 I am learning about the richness of the EF and OF as they were originally intended to be understood and implemented.

    Go when you can, sit at the back and follow the others, read up on it, don’t sweat the clothes stuff.

    Would it seem weird if I said to try to find High Masses, and enjoy the music and spectacle?

  81. Ottaviani says:

    This attitude is precisely what can turn off people curious to try out the EF form. As it happens I experienced it as a young child, and had the Latin but “here dearie, you’re just a woman, you need to have your head subjected to some male now go over there and clack your rosary beads and why aren’t you pregnant” is not going to cut it.

    Nothing like a bit of a caricature there “Amazing” Jill?

    Child of the Novus Ordo – No one if forcing you to go to the old rite. It is good that you wish to find out more why this rite is being talked about more today. And it is probably normal that you find yourself rather bewildered at the experience. But as with anything, doing something once should not necessarily be the rule for what you may think always will be. Go to the older form of mass whenever you feel like it and take sometime to find out more about the history and development of the mass. Perhaps read some spiritual wirings on the liturgy like “The Incredible Catholic Mass” by Fr. Von Cochem or “The Liturgical Year” by Dom. Gueranger, which are based on the old rite and give you a sense of the spirituality of the traditional liturgy.

    Fr. Chad Ripperger FSSP once said that anyone who is curious about the traditional mass, should try and attend it exclusively for two months to try to get a feel for what it is about. And then try and go back to their usual mass and see which they prefer.

  82. MAJ Tony says:

    I’ve been attending EFMs at Holy Rosary in Indianapolis since the Summer of 2002, and it’s exceedingly difficult for me to attend an OF (except perhaps Msgr Schaedel’s, since he’s very traditional/orthodox in his OF). Spent three hours at the EF Easter Vigil, then felt like I was banging my head against a wall at my sister’s OF on Sun.

    But, I can understand the difficulty “Child of the NO” has experienced in her first EF. I, too, was lost in my first, and it, of course was a Missa Cantata, which is technically a Low Mass (no Deacon/Subdeacon). I’ve been to a few Dialog Masses during the week, and for me, it’s harder to get into, as it lacks the chant, and the effect that has on a person. I’ve been attending the EF and studying it both here and other places, both web and print.

    Sometimes, though, I feel like I’m at home, like I grew up in the EF, because my home parish, a small conservative German immigrant community (6 gens back) tended to keep traditions like the Latin Pange Lingua and Tantum Ergo or at least the English versions in the same chant form. I almost always served at the Triduum. My Dad was old enough that he learned to serve pre-65. In fact, he was in college before that missal came out. Needless to say, I was always curious, and occasionally uncovered an old missal here or there. Even when I was in college, and thought the Haugen et al was “uber-cool” I still longed for the traditional stuff during the Triduum.

    I’ve been going at this for 7 years and I’m still learning new things. Someone suggested turning the readings in the EF to the nave (versus populum). I would suggest that we need to understand what goes on there. This is an example of how I’m still learning. The Gospel is always chanted facing liturgical North. That indicates preaching the Gospel “to all nations.” In biblical times, “the nations” were considered to be in the north. That’s where the bulk of the people were to be evangelized. Hence the symbolism of facing North. We have microphones, so facing the people is a non-issue.

    Jill said Frankly, I don’t think men are more glorious than women and there for should have their heads uncovered while, women, worms that they are should be covered.

    Jill…that’s actually just the opposite of why women were historically expected to cover their heads. It is BECAUSE of a woman’s great (and admit it, DISTRACTING) beauty. Men are very visually stimulated, and statistically, women don’t tend to be. That’s why the cosmetic industry caters heavily to women. I don’t agree that it should be a requirement in 2009, but I understand the reason for it. In this day and age, I think it’s enough that people in general at least dress modestly, and in something better than jeans and a t-shirt. (Of course, Christians should always dress modestly.) It’s the Great Wedding Feast of Christ to his bride the Church, not a shin-dig. You know what happened to the liturgical fashion victims in the parable about the wedding. Besides, you would be doing the men in the Church a great and charitable service by not being a source of distraction. Any help in that area is always appreciated.

  83. Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe says:

    And Chris: It’s “cute” that the wife automaticlaly has to take the bus while hubby gets the car. Well, I guess it’s all about the guys being so superior. I hope she gets to take the car if she’s preggers.

    [Chris, your attitude is precisely why there are NO women who are hesitant to try out the EF Mass. It’s not the Mass that people are leary of — but some of the culture is dark ages.]

  84. Edward Martin says:

    I have attended TLM only a couple of times. (The TLM has been very sporadic in my home town, but will be weekly starting May!)Although I appreciated much of the Mass the first time, I did feel confused attempting to follow along in my little Latin-English guide. The point was made in the blog a while ago to just go to the Mass and not be so concerned about following along.

    The next time I attended the Mass I put the book down and just absorbed what was going on. It made a world of difference.

  85. Jason Keener says:

    Child of the Novus Ordo,

    Please hang in there, and give yourself at least several months to get into the rhythm of the Extraordinary Form. At first, I felt quite out of place at the Extraordinary Form, too. Now, I couldn’t imagine my Sunday mornings without the Traditional Latin Mass.

    Also, your roommate said that the Holy Spirit was working at Vatican II. That is true, but we also have to remember the Holy Spirit was working in the first 1962 years of the Church’s life, too. The Extraordinary Form used for centuries is also a perfectly valid and beautiful expression of our Catholic Faith. Vatican II did not come along and erase our previous understanding of the Liturgy.

    You also should tell your roommate that we should hold the Extraordinary Form in our highest esteem because so many of the Church’s saints have prayed with that Liturgy for so long. The Extraordinary Form is a proven saint-maker! :-) The Novus Ordo has only been around for 40 years.

    I’ll be praying for you.

  86. AJP says:

    All of the EF Masses in my area are quite far away, but my family is very fortunate
    to be within walking distance of a parish that does the OF reverently. We’re small
    so our resources as far as adding more Latin are limited, but we do the best with
    what we’ve got.

    A few years ago we paid an extended visit to (non-Catholic) relatives out of state. In their town
    was an EF indult Mass. We had never been to an EF before so were quite curious.
    I have to say the first time was not quite as inspiring as I thought it would be.
    It was very hard to follow what was going on – I had no idea that the pages upon
    pages of prayers leading up to consecration would be silent! Also I was bummed
    out by the priest’s homily which came across as very snarky and arrogant. This
    was just weeks after the Motu Proprio and he was exasperated with how the media
    was covering the story and the Mass. His frustration was understandable but he
    seemed to paint everyone who wasn’t a traditionalist with an unfair broad brush.

    However the next week I attended the EF again. I’m really glad that I did. Since
    I had been through it once before, I was much less lost with the missal and such.
    Also the same priest gave another homily which was just excellent. It seemed that
    the previous week may have just been a bad day for him – this time he came across
    as extremely charitable to non-trad Catholics and even towards Protestants while
    not getting wishy washy about the whole thing.

    If I were in a situation where no reverent OF was available I would definitely give
    the EF a serious try. I do believe that I would “get more out of it” (I hate that
    phrase) with repeated attendance. Everything takes getting used to.

    Nonetheless it needs to be noted just how off-putting certain behavior by *some*
    traditionalists can be to the rest of us, especially those of us who are new to
    the EF. Had our vacation been shorter and I hadn’t attended the 2nd EF, the first
    homily would have reinforced many negative stereotypes of trads. Also this tendency
    among *some* trads to raise cultural issues like wearing pants and working mothers
    to the level of doctrinal issues really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It actually
    reminds me of the leftist “Seamless Garment” which raises DNC policies to the level
    of doctrine. Either way it’s bad theology and I want no part of it.

    When I attended the EF where I did I didn’t get the impression that this mindset
    was prevalent in that parish, but had I, you can be sure that I would not have
    gone back. And I am hardly alone in this – this sort of “Catholic Amish” attitude
    keeps a lot more sympathetic folks away from traditionalism than you realize.

  87. R.V. Miole says:

    Fr. Z may be right about the “growing pains” aspect of the EF.

    I was pumped to go to my first EF, and it was everything I expected it to be and more. I wept my first time–beauty, mystery, and the sacred pervaded every ounce of my experience. Curiously, the next few times of attendance were completely barren of that initial spiritual “high”

    By providence, this experience coincided with my study of Carmelite spirituality especially, sanjuanist theology’s dark night of the soul. Could God have been weaning me of my spiritual “sweet tooth”?–Yes, He was…because He loved me and desired to purge me of the deforming experiences of irreverently-celebrated OF masses. Before, spiritual consolations were produced by the shallow titilation of Praise & Worship music. I now had to rely on faith–pure, naked, and mature faith.

  88. Joannes T says:

    Father wrote “The central characters involved, in their own subsequent books describing what they hoped to do, expose their motives, their goals and their methods.”

    Can someone direct me to those resources? I’d like to read up this.

  89. Girgadis says:

    The subject of off-putting behaviors on the part of traditionalists seems to come
    up a lot. I am reminded of a litany to humility that I try to pray often and the
    last interecession goes something like this: That others may be viewed as holier than
    I am, provided I am as holy as I should be, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it
    Perhaps I didn’t feel out of place at my first Mass in the EF because it was the
    first time this form was being offered at our parish since Vatican II and I wasn’t
    alone in being a first-timer. Still, I don’t attend Mass in any form to make an
    impression on anyone but the Lord. If I concern myself with what someone thinks
    of me because I don’t wear a mantilla or because I’m unfamiliar with what comes
    next, I’m stealing precious attention from Him for whom all of this is intended.

  90. Maynardus says:

    My own experience, and that of my (convert) wife, and those whom we’ve introduced to the T.L.M. track closely with much of what is posted here. We always give newbies the same bits of advice:

    – Reserve judgment until you’ve attended at least 5-6 T.L.M.s (seems to be the average after which people “get it”)
    – Start with Low Mass if possible – either way try to experience both types of Mass very soon.
    – Don’t be obsessed with trying to follow the Mass at first. Pray. Observe. Experience. Absorb.
    – Expect to be approached by the “mantilla mafia” and the “trouser patrol”. Thank them for their concerns and ask for their prayers! And please don’t judge all traddies (or the T.L.M.) by them! (incidentally in my experience these types tend to be women rather than men!)
    – Don’t try to define the T.L.M. in terms of the N.O., and remember that both are valid and approved forms of the Mass.

    As to those who’ve implied that Catholics who regularly attend the T.L.M. are more likely to observe certain of the Church’s teachings I can only note that my own experience – anecdotal but relatively extensive – would corroborate that. My wife has always said that her conversion was finally spurred by our regular attendance at the T.L.M., but not only by the Mass. Regular association with a group of Catholics who were obviously making efforts to follow the Church and live the Faith made a serious impression on her.

    Of course since most T.L.M.’ers are not attending their home parish (yet!) this is sort of a self-selecting sample, but I don’t think anyone is implying that it’s solely the T.L.M. itself that makes people “holier”…

  91. ALL: I am watching this spin out of control. Some people insist on picking fights in their comments. They create more heat than light.

    I will leave this open a while longer with this provision.

    If you have the suspicion that I am talking about your comments, it might be better not to post anything more along the rabbit-hole, gasoline throwing line you have been perusing … for I will not just delete your comment, I will lock you out.

    And if I have locked you out for some similar reason before, that will be it.

  92. dominic1962 says:

    I would also heartily recommend Fr. Ripperger’s advice-go to the TLM exclusively (well, at least for Sunday’s) for two months and then try to go back to your regular parish. Quite frankly, I was hooked after my first trip even though I didn’t really “get it” at the time. I got to know Fr. a bit when he was in Omaha-he’s a great guy as are all the FSSP priests I’ve met.

    A few points though,

    1. One thing folks will realize after they develop an “ear” for the Latin language is that what they at first thought was “rushed” is really not that fast at all. When assisting at Mass with priests who are supposedly “fast”-I think they are saying it at about the right pace in reality. After assisting at the TLM for awhile and now praying the 1962 Office, I find Latin read at a midwestern English pace to be almost unbearably trying.

    2. It really does help to come into the TLM doing a bit of homework as to how to compose yourself at Mass and the kind of gestures that are acceptable and being conversant in some of the controversies that often bring folks to the TLM. I did the same before I went to an Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy. Personally, I’ve always considered it rude (not saying anyone is doing that on these boards) to just waltz into somewhere completely ignorant and sticking out like a sore thumb tourist. I think it shows healthy respect for your host (be it an individual or parish) to try as much as you can to “fit in” and not be a distraction to the regulars as well as being engaged properly in what is expected of you. I even think it is appropriate to adopt Eastern gestures when visiting the Eastern Catholics.

    3. Going along with the above, I know the first time I went to the TLM I dressed like the folks who’d be there. While some folks might consider this “dress code” attitude snobbish, in reality, we should all be in suits and ties (men) and moddest dresses/dress clothes (women). If the priest (and seminarians) walk around in a cassock during the summer and then put on more stuff for Mass to boot, the laity can dress modestly and nicely.

    4. In reference to “changing” the TLM, I know this is more of a scholarly question but it was brought up earlier. Quite frankly, I see absolutely no reason why the TLM was replaced by the NO nor do I really see any reason to have “reformed” it at all from the pre-Bugnini days. Just my opinion, but the NO to me seems like an universally imposed later (i.e. more rationalist and pragmatic ala the mandates from the Synod of Pistoia) Neo-Gallican Rite that I would not miss were it abrogated some day.

    Doing the readings in the vernacular towards the people destroys all of the symbolism in how they are done (both in Low and High Masses) and makes it an almost entirely didactic moment, which it shouldn’t be. The traditional cycle of readings in the Roman Missal is among the oldest of “lectionaries” and should not be replaced by the innovative lectionary based on the idea of stuffing a greater quantity of readings into the same amount of time. Saying the Canon out loud for every Mass destroys the concept of revelation by veiling. We do not (and should not) have to see and hear everything. The priest is talking to God-not us-and it is important that God hears it-not us.

  93. Joe says:

    “In short, the reform the Council mandated is not the reform we got!”

    I am certain that that is news to Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, and each bishop today who upholds the Novus Ordo. The Novus Ordo is, of course, the Mass that Rome approved and has upheld for decades.

    The Mass, translations and everything from altar girls to EMs were approved by the Popes and upheld today by Pope Benedict XVI.

    “In short, the reform the Council mandated is not the reform we got!”

    I am certain that that is news to Popes Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, and each bishop today who adheres to the Novus Ordo. The Novus Ordo is, of course, the Mass that Rome approved and has upheld for decades.

    The Mass, translations and everything from altar girls to EMs were approved (in stages) by Popes Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II and upheld today by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Pope Paul VI promulgated the new Mass and declared that the new Mass conformed to Vatican II teachings. That teaching was upheld by Pope John Paul I, John Paul II, and, of course, Pope Benedict XVI and our bishops.

  94. Eric says:

    I think above all else, it’s important to realise that you don’t have to know exactly what is going on, what is being said, at every moment of the mass. The prayers arn’t intended for the people, but for God. The priest fulfills a unique office in the liturgy apart from that of the congregation, and the people can be assured that he is fulfilling it. Therefore, the mindset is to sit back, relax and pray. While some prayers are for everyone, and some responses are intended to be said by all, there is a pretty good argument that the canon SHOULD be secret and quiet. The total silence (if one ignores the odd baby or throat clearing) pierced by the sound of the communion bell is ultimately far more mysterious and thrilling than a constant narration of the mass’ progress… anyways, to be honest, it just doesn’t change all that much day to day anyways! It is important, of course, to know what is going on before hand, but once we do, that time of silence can be very beneficial for reflection and it allows us to make an interior preparation for communion. This is something I appreciate greatly in comparison to the OF, where I often find myself having taken communion in almost a robotic response to what is going on around me.

    That said, you can’t just jump into the EF and expect to love it. Most people here have already stated that it takes some getting used to. I was more prepared than many people, having watched videos and read much about the EF before I went, but I still found that it took 2 or 3 times to feel normal. My girlfriend, who is a convert to the faith, felt much more disoriented at her first OF mass than her EF one because the change in going to an OF was more significant for her coming from a sort of liberal methodist background. However, when she went to an EF mass she at least expected it to be weird, but after having gone a couple of times and seeing the intense devotion and prayerful atmosphere, it was ultimately what pushed her into deeper inquiry about the Catholic faith. Stick with the EF and chances are that you will probably prefer it in time.

    I will say finally that I think many EF communities might benefit from greater actual active participation but not in the ‘chatty’ way that the OF has. I have gone to an EF mass where everyone made a genuine effort to chant the credo and other parts of the ordinary together with the Choir and I found that to be incredibly fulfilling.

  95. John 6:54 says:

    I’m not sure how to do the quoting of previous comments unfortunately. As for “Hoisting on my own petard, perhaps”. I am neither injured nor trying to injure anyone, I am simply pointing out something I’ve noticed. Unfortunately the pridefulness, arrogance and elitism accusation probably applies to my own brother and I probably implied it across too broad a spectrum of TLMers. My apologies.

    As for Luke 18:9-14 “He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity–greedy, dishonest, adulterous–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    Is there something wrong with not wanting to be a Catholic Pharisee?

  96. Watch for the many, many visual indicators that occur in the sanctuary which show you what is happening is my advice, other than that it will jsut come with experience, dont give up on it, it takes a few times to get the hang of it in the beginning.

    And remember before Vatican II people were familiar with this Mass so they would not have had the initial difficulties you are experiencing, when talking about the past you have to be careful not to project onto it things from the present.

  97. MAJ Tony says:

    Joe: with respect to the approval of “altar girls” and EMs, approved does not equal preferred. They’re not supposed to be the norm. In fact, in the case of “altar girls” even if the local ordinary authorizes them, priests are not required to use them. Reference Canon 230, no. 2. http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdwcomm.htm

    EMs are not supposed to be used with the regularity that they are today in the US. Redemptionis sacramentum 88: Only when there is a necessity may extraordinary ministers assist the Priest celebrant in accordance with the norm of law. While it is certainly laudable that we receive under both species, one could question whether it is necessary on a daily or even weekly basis.

  98. Bill in Texas says:

    Child of the Novus Ordo —

    There are layers and layers and layers of meaning and symbolism in the EF, and it takes time to understand them. It isn’t totally about the Latin (although the language is important, also for many reasons). Literally every move the priest and the servers make has a meaning and a reason for “being there.” Why are there three steps up to the altar? Why does the priest always step off with his right foot when ascending the steps? Why, why, why — there is a reason for everything. For a while, watch and pray more than you read the side-by-side Latin and English in your missal(ette). Anything you don’t understand, make a mental note and then after Mass ask somebody “why does/did/do …” or look it up. The priest will help you if you ask in a way that lets him know you are sincere and trying to learn.

    I grew up with what we now call the EF (I am old — not ancient, but I was in college before the reforms), so much of this knowledge came with “mother’s milk” and from the priests and nuns who taught us then. Not to mention having taken four years of Latin in high school and another year in college. But there were also books that explained everything about the Mass. If you can find some of them, I think they will help you to have a much richer interior experience.

    Try not to worry about what other people think of you as you learn. A very wise person once said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly until you get the hang of it.” And the EF is very definitely worth the effort. And when/if people come at you critically because they think you did something “wrong,” especially if they are old fudds (I’d say “like me” but I do my best not to be critical of anyone), just tell them, “I wasn’t born into the Latin Mass, but I got here as fast as I could, and God hasn’t finished telling me all He’s going to tell me about it.”

    Be patient with yourself and with others as you learn. I believe the truth is that, as long as you have a right intention, behave in a modest, appropriate, and respectful fashion (what your mother taught you, not what some self-righteous person thinks is modest, respectful, and appropriate), and approach the Mass as the most important thing you are likely to do that day, you will be kneeling and standing right next to Jesus, where you can learn best, as well as before Him on the altar.

  99. MAJ Tony says:

    Child of the NO: My response to your roommate regarding her opposition to the EF would be that if it was valid in 1962, it’s just as valid in 2009. The EF was codified over 500 years ago, and served the Church with minor changes, gaining souls for Jesus over that period. How can anyone be **opposed** to sacred Tradition of their own faith? One of the reasons why I prefer EF to OF is that ALL of my known Catholic ancestors prayed it.

  100. Joe from Pittsburgh says:

    I first attended the Mass in Latin back in 1992 or so, at St. Mary of the Mills in Laurel, Maryland. Not knowing better, I thought it was the EF Mass. It wasn\’t – it was the OF celebrated in Latin. I went only once, as it was at 7AM.

    The first EF Mass I attended was at St. Mary\’s in Chinatown (DC) in 1999. I had no recollection of the TLM, as the OF was introduced when I was a child and the TLM was celebrated when I was an infant and a toddler. I had a difficult time keeping up and got lost several times.

    The website for the Pittsburgh Latin Mass Community (now offline) recommended going to a High Mass if you aren\’t familiar with the TLM.

    I go to the TLM on First Saturdays. I prefer the TLM. My wife does not and having a cry room at our NO parish sure helps with our 16 month old. I just can\’t hold him still for an entire Mass. He\’s 27 pounds and he squirms a lot. My limited knowledge of Spanish helps immensely with understanding the Latin – which, for some reason, I grasp much better than my wife does, who is a native Spanish speaker.

  101. Jason Keener says:

    Child of the Novus Ordo,

    I think you should begin to make peace with the elements of the Traditional Latin Mass that frustrate you.

    When you become frustrated that the Mass is in a language you do not easily understand, be thankful that the Extraordinary Form makes that special effort to worship God in a language that is not the everyday language of the street. God deserves our best, and it is fitting that we have a sacral language that is set aside for divine worship.

    When you become frustrated that you cannot hear everything the priest is saying, be thankful knowing that the priest is there speaking to God in a low voice on your behalf. The priest is not at Mass to talk to you. Join your heart and mind to the priest who has entered the Holy of Holies for you and the People of God.

    When you become frustrated with the silence of the Traditional Mass, thank God that you have the gift of silence so that you can listen to God speaking to your heart. Recall this story from the Book of Kings, “And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire, the Lord was in the still and gentle breeze.”

    The Traditional Latin Mass, like Catholic Christianity, is full of paradoxes. What at first seems contrary to your intuition turns out to be exactly what you need to draw you closer to the Lord through the Sacred Liturgy.

  102. john alben v. mislang says:

    i guess we both have the same experience the first time I attended the EF, I just can’t seem to find my way through the mass. my initial impression was that in this type of mass (EF), there are times when the priest and choir/ congregation would both “perform” certain parts, then there are parts where the priest and choir/ congregation would “do their own thing”. one old missal I read even suggested to pray our fathers and hail mary’s for certain parts of the mass (which is very unfortunate in my opinion – since the mass should be the highest form of prayer).

    i made use of all available resources (e.g. videos from the internet) to learn and get the feel of the EF. further, i read and re-read my missal to know the rubrics, of what the priest is doing. as you watch these videos, be sure that you have a missal with you for reference.

    In my opinion, Vatican II’s goal about the mass was to return the mass as it was during the early years of the church, this they did by consulting various early church sacramentaries, however, these early liturgies were lacking in some aspects, I think the tridentine rite (EF) is the culmination of the all these liturgies. The EF, I think is the fully developed liturgy of the catholic church, it is the solid food that st. paul speaks of, the OF on the other hand is the “milk” which is given to babies.

    If a catholic truly wishes to advance in the spiritual life, all types of worship will eventually lead to the EF.

  103. Roland de Chanson says:

    Re: the wearing of the mantilla.

    I told my wife that she should wear a veil when attending the EF liturgy. She adamantly refused. She is very vain and despite her years still attractive. I pointed out that the most beautiful women in the communion line wore veils (she knows I stray. Bah. Je suis français après tout.) She agreed but still refused to wear a veil.

    At my wits’ end, I resorted to the final protreptic. “If you will not wear the mantilla, I will!”

    Did that persuade her? Not on your life. She is a woman after all. She is, however, silent in church.

  104. Charlotte says:

    John 6:54,

    There is nothing wrong with shunning Catholic phariseeism. I shun it here quite often.

  105. Kat says:

    This is probably too far down for most to read, but anyway…
    Perhaps something that will come in, or back if it ever was “in” here in the U.S., is the E.F. Dialogue Mass. In the old missals, you will often find the directions saying “in a dialogue Mass…” The dialogue Mass is a step between a low Mass and a Missa Cantata. The congregation responds with the servers in the prayers at the foot of the altar, and responds/prays the Kyriale parts of the Mass with the priest (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo if said, Sanctus, Agnus Dei), along with giving ALL the responses along with the servers. Thus there is the active participation one is used to with the O.F.

    When I studied history in college,I focused a lot on Church history in whatever period I was studying. I found it interesting that many things that were implemented in Europe,for example, were not implemented here in the U.S. by our American bishops. Europeans on the list may be able to better tell me if that is true. I first experienced a dialogue Mass in France; but I have seen it implemented with school children, and I bet they learn how to follow and understand the E.F. through that participation.

    Perhaps if the dialogue Mass had been more in use pre-Vatican II, people would not have felt so “left out” of the liturgy. Pope St. Pius X greatly encouraged the faithful to be actively participating and singing, which is one of the reasons he stressed that the Kyriale should be in simple chant, instead of the polyphonic Masses at which the congregation often sat and attended more like a concert.

    I wonder if any of the E.F.’s celebrated could become dialogue Masses, to help the faithful follow it better.

  106. Mike Morrow says:

    The following suggestions are only my opinions.

    To gain any type of real appreciation and understanding of the EF liturgy, it is essential to have a modern edition of a 1962 hand missal. Don’t expect to gleen all you need from the common EF Mass booklets. The personal hand missal was every pre-Vatican II Catholic’s essential guide to the liturgy and calendar, the feasts, the proper of the saints, funeral Masses, Benedictions, etc. Back in “those days” my favorite was the St. Andrew’s Missal, but there were many others available. Today, there are very good *updated* 1962 hand missals available, with two of the best having been reviewed by Fr. Z:



    These run in the $50 to $60 range, are about 2000 pages in length, and will last a lifetime. By studying the contents of such missals outside of Mass, the EF liturgy will rapidly become clearer. Essential!!

    The other essential is the EWTN DVD of the September 14, 2007, Solemn High Mass conducted by the FSSP at the Hanceville, AL, O.L.A.M. Shrine. It is the *most* stunning Mass that I have ever seen, before or after Vatican II. The homily by Fr. Calvin Godwin is the most eloquent and clear discourse on the significance of the EF that has ever been made. Following this Mass with an appropriate missal can not help but familiarize one with the very best that the EF has to offer. (Granted, one may never actually attend a Solemn High Mass.)

    I don’t understand the basis for statements made in this dicussion that the EF “isn’t for everyone.” In fact, for well over 1000 years, that which is today called the EF *was* for everyone. Children only seven or eight often had very good understanding of the EF Mass process. Altar servers usually began their service around age eight, and parochial school students often provided the choir to sing Gregorian chant for particular services.

    I doubt there’s been any reduction in the intelligence of today’s OF/Novus Ordo Catholics that condemns them to suffer the OF in perpetuity, when only 45 years ago second and third grade students had scarce difficulty with the EF.

  107. JW says:

    I must admit that while I’m a sporadic EF attender, I liked it from the very first one I attended. I really really liked it. The only thing I sometimes dislike about the EFs I’ve been to is that the congregation rarely makes the basic responses or sings any of the ordinary. I don’t mean the responses to the prayers at the foot of the altar, but rather all the sung “et cum spiritu tuos” and “Amens.” I think it would be a simple step towards giving the congregation more exterior participation, but without the OF’s problem of trying to make the congregation constantly do something at all times. Perhaps I’m too well programmed after a life of attending the OF, but I always want to respond to things like the priest’s “Dominus vobiscum” as well as the dialogue before the sanctus.

  108. Alice says:

    It took a while for me to catch on, but now I prefer the EF. I find that my mind wonders less at the EF than at the rather noisy OF. When I was attending the EF, some of the ladies wore chapel veils and none of the regular ladies were “anti-pants”. Some women worked outside the home, others didn’t. Some families homeschooled, others publicschooled. I assume that no one used contraception, but I wouldn’t know since families came in all sizes, from only children to 8 or so. Oddly enough, I think that the first time I really understood the idea of a “Faith Community” was at this parish. Despite the negative stereotypes that Traditionalists sometimes get, I found that most of these people were very forgiving. I have heard that recently some people have gotten caught up in non-essentials (like pants, mantillas, and third party politics) and have left, either for conservative OF parishes or the SSPX, so I guess it couldn’t last forever.

  109. Tony from Oz says:

    Dominic1962: “In reference to “changing” the TLM, I know this is more of a scholarly question but it was brought up earlier. Quite frankly, I see absolutely no reason why the TLM was replaced by the NO nor do I really see any reason to have “reformed” it at all from the pre-Bugnini days. Just my opinion, but the NO to me seems like an universally imposed later (i.e. more rationalist and pragmatic ala the mandates from the Synod of Pistoia) Neo-Gallican Rite that I would not miss were it abrogated some day.

    Doing the readings in the vernacular towards the people destroys all of the symbolism in how they are done (both in Low and High Masses) and makes it an almost entirely didactic moment, which it shouldn’t be. The traditional cycle of readings in the Roman Missal is among the oldest of “lectionaries” and should not be replaced by the innovative lectionary based on the idea of stuffing a greater quantity of readings into the same amount of time. Saying the Canon out loud for every Mass destroys the concept of revelation by veiling. We do not (and should not) have to see and hear everything. The priest is talking to God-not us-and it is important that God hears it-not us.”

    Precisely – and very well said, too. Go you good thing!!! I would only add that the ‘three year lectionary’ which mismatches themes betwixt readings within Masses in many instances, in any case, also goes against the natural cycle of time, to wit, the twelve-month year and cycle of 4 seasons. Plus – if you want to read through the bible, don’t force-stuff the Mass, using it as a didactic exercise, but, rather, try Matins.

  110. Matt Q says:

    It’s understandable for one not familiar with the Tridentine Mass to be overwhelmed by it had one not been exposed to it before. It is, however, in this case it seems, a little more than just lack of exposure or familiarity. For this reader it comes across as all intellectual only. Preparation was great but it appears the reader was hoping it would immediately fill some kind void. Not likely. One gravitates to the Extraordinary Form because there is already an understanding and appreciation of its value ( historically–including typology, spiritually and Patrimonially ) as opposed to the Novus Ordo.

    This brings up a rather interesting point. Rather than just explain the lack of immediacy with the Tridentine Mass and the reader’s dislike, the reader began to tie the Mass into the Vatican II business and uses that to justify the changes to the Mass. This is ignorance, unfortunately, as he/she does not know the errors resulting from the FALSE interpretations of Vatican II and the great damage it has caused. Already this indicates cultural bias and lack of appreciation for the Liturgical patrimony of the Church found in the Tridentine Mass. IMO.

  111. dominic1962 says:

    Yes, as one who prays the 1962 Office (granted, I do cheat a bit by using an old Collegeville Divine Office as my Latin is not good enough to say Matins and effectively understand the Patristic readings) I think that the EF liturgy (Mass and Office) has plenty of Scripture in it. If we want more, there is always Bible reading. Doing some devotional Lectio would probably be more effective anyway.

    Besides, who beside the clergy and a few of the really devout (with a freer schedule) hear more than Sunday, Holy Day and a few daily readings anyway? From my own experience, I’ve integrated plenty of Scripture from the NO but it has been even more fruitful from the EF because it is more set. This is especially true with the Office. I’m begining to pick up the psalms better than with the NO Office. We would have been much better off maintaining the traditional readings as people had, through the years, integrated the reading themes (not to mention the introits or other propers) on the principle days. These days, referring to “Good Shepherd Sunday” or even “Laetare” and “Gaudete” Sunday have little meaning because the readings change in cycles and the introits are practically non-existent.

  112. isabella says:

    I’ve lost track of who is who, but:

    I hope the poster who couldn’t understand the EF liturgy sticks with it. When I finally got a chance to go, the sacred silence was beautiful, and I was able to follow along in a Missal from my Aunt. As somebody said earlier, I don’t need to actually hear every word the priest says because he is talking to God, not me. Nobody pawed me at the “sign of peace” and there were no lay people coming into the sanctuary just before the final blessing to give presentations on everything under the sun – usually bulletin type stuff. I found it easier to feel the presence of God. I love this Mass.

  113. teresa says:

    Child of the Novus Ordo:

    I think you can buy a Schott-Missal because the booklet you mentioned is not sufficient, and people used this kind of detailed Missal before 1962, and at that time, even a child of 10 could follow the mass easily.

    And as DM said: we should get used to the silence. Modern men are not used to silence anymore, silence is a kind of mystery. And you don’t have to read the prayers by the time of consecration because the priest does it for you. You can either read the prayers in the Missal, or follow the movements of the priest at the altar. The Schott-Missal describes the different phases in detail and in the red letter it tells you what kind of movement the priest does during each different phase, so you can follow the mass easily by looking at the priest, the bells give also signals to the laity.

    But I think, the silence in the TLM-Mass is a plus. One day, as I walked out of the Church, an elderly gentlemen said to me: “Our modern world is so full of noise so that you can’t concentrate yourself anymore, it is so wonderful in the TLM that we can experience the silence!”

  114. teresa says:

    sorry, it should be “church” instead.

    And Roland de Chason:

    if you do veil yourself one day, I will go and buy me a mantilla immediately! :D

  115. Fr. AJM says:

    We should keep in mind that liturgical reform goes all the way back to the first part of the 20th century. The goal was to enable the laity to understand that they too had a priestly function (by virtue of their complete initiation into the Church–baptism Confirmation and Holy Eucharist) during the Mass of joining with the priest in offering the sacrifice. The Orate Frates makes this clear, “Pray that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable…” The type of participation of the laity was one of praying other devotions disconnected from the Mass, zoning out, or simply watching without any silent or verbal responses. The active, verbal and singing participation that was encouraged way before Vatican II and continues to this day is not a bad or evil thing, it is not a corruption–we need to make sure that the EF form of the Mass is not a museum piece for those who long for the simpler days of the 1950’s. Even then, many felt the laity should take their rightful place in the Liturgy through silent and active (verbal and singing) participation, thus the dialogue Mass of 1958. We need to make this type of participation easier in the EF of today, not more difficult–let’s get with it.

  116. William says:

    All of these selfish comments being posted portend a bleak future for the Church. Please pray that the Holy Ghost performs a universal miracle to correct this situation.

  117. DM says:

    Is there something wrong with not wanting to be a Catholic Pharisee?

    Harping on the matter can easily become an occasion to embrace a sort of Catholic “Publicanism” whereby you say: God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are – intolerant, judgmental, prudish, or even as this Pharisee…

    It’s one of the peculiar vices of our age: self-righteousness without the inconvenience of righteousness.

  118. “I wonder if any of the E.F.’s celebrated could become dialogue Masses, to help the faithful follow it better.”

    The phenomenon of what’s known as a “dialogue Mass” was never limited to a Low Mass, nor was it completely kept out of the US, by the late 1950s. I know. I was there.

    It would have been common at a High Mass for people to respond to spoken words of the priest, whether to the “Orate fratres” or the “Ecce Agnus Dei.” These things were usually implemented (and this I only learned as an adult) at the local bishop’s discretion, at a time in our history when people did not relocate very much. And so while many parts of the Midwest might have become accustomed to this, parts of the Eastern seaboard would not. So the prospect of

    Responding to the “prayers at the foot of the altar,” on the other hand, except in the case of a full-fledged dialogue Mass, is another matter. Usually at a High Mass, there would be singing by the congregation or schola at this time. In addition, the “fore-Mass” was the private prayer of the priest and his ministers. Strictly speaking, this cannot be said of the other spoken response parts of the Mass.

    Moving from Ohio to DC, then experiencing the Old Mass in the city for the first time since back in the day, was a real eye-opener, not so much because of its difference from the reformed liturgy, as to the indignant behavior of those around me (most of whom were nary a twinkle in their mother’s eye in 1962), when I would respond at Mass as I had always remembered. That kept me away for a few years, except for occasions when I served. I would contend that norms for participation in the Mass should come from the Apostolic See, or in certain cases, the local bishop. This as opposed to the mob mentality within the pews, or the personal desires of the celebrating priest. Such was the case in the Vatican II document on the sacred liturgy, but it did not begin there.

    I am not without sympathy for the quiet serenity of a Low Mass, where only the server responds. (If it’s early enough in the morning, who’s really all that awake anyway?) But even though there were documents composed at the time to address these matters, I should think that additional clarification would be helpful.

  119. “Doing the readings in the vernacular towards the people destroys all of the symbolism in how they are done (both in Low and High Masses) and makes it an almost entirely didactic moment, which it shouldn’t be.”


  120. Having spent some time introducing newcomers to the TLM — with occasional success — let me second what Mike Morrow (28 April 2009 @ 10:04 pm) said:

    The other essential is the EWTN DVD of the September 14, 2007, Solemn High Mass conducted by the FSSP at the Hanceville, AL, O.L.A.M. Shrine. It is the most stunning Mass that I have ever seen, before or after Vatican II. The homily by Fr. Calvin Godwin is the most eloquent and clear discourse on the significance of the EF that has ever been made. Following this Mass with an appropriate missal can not help but familiarize one with the very best that the EF has to offer.

    Watching this Mass live on 9/14/2007 was one of the highpoints of my life, an event which for me brought 40 years of hopes and dreams to fruition.

    If you spend $25 to purchase the DVD, you can download for free at


    the 24-page missalette for this particular Mass, then — even without either of those 1962 missals, both of which I recommend and use weekly (one at low and one at high Mass) — watch and follow till it all comes together for you. This way you reach the level of familiarity that no telling how many Sunday Masses would yield. And what Mike says about Fr. Calvin Godwin’s sermon is (amazingly) no exaggeration. You can hear just the 20-minute audio at


    I’ve downloaded and listened to it at least a dozen times and — though a self-confessed wonk on this stuff — have gotten a new nuance or two every time.

  121. Maureen says:

    Re: lack of local understanding of what’s permissible

    I suspect that a relaxation of the rigidity of some in the “TLM community” is also one of the desired fruits of Summorum Pontificum. :) It’s natural enough that people who’ve had to fight and be stubborn for what they remembered might perhaps learn to fight and be stubborn all the time instead of just when needed. Also, the more everybody is exposed to the various traditions within tradition, you would expect each locality to become less anxious about minor permitted variations in practices.

    Also, the more people have some experience attending the EF, the more the rigid peer pressure will relax. I mean, it’s crazy that people would assume that once you start attending the EF, you will necessarily wear a Jackie K mantilla (not a hat, not a scarf, and in the marital status colors entirely created post-Vatican II), a skirt (in certain styles only!), a man with a thing for women in Jackie K mantillas (not a hat, not a scarf), become a stay at home mother, homeschool, and follow a list of local congregation-approved devotions, and wear the exact same non-denim jumper as all the other mothers, and have your kids go to the same three colleges….

    I mean, it’s incredibly silly to want or expect that. It’s not community; it’s a scavenger hunt of things to check off. I grant you that normal suburbia has its own check-off list, but Catholics aren’t supposed to fall for that kind of thing, much less recreate the tyranny of the age in some kind of blurry mirror image.

    But if you’re not feeling embattled, you’re less likely to create walls out of clothing and check-off lists. It’s a lot easier to follow God’s call for you, within your community but not copying every little thing everybody else is doing. There is such a thing as being challenged and encouraged by one’s neighbors and all their separate opinions, without having to feel that you must spiritually keep up with the Joneses.

    As for me, I love a High Mass or Missa Cantata, I’m okay with normal Mass, Byzantine and Maronite stuff is gorgeous if long, and going to an EF low Mass is like eating kale. (Spinach is too tasty to be a good metaphor, and liver’s too nasty.) But kale is part of a healthy diet, so every so often when choir’s not in session and I don’t have to cantor, I go across town to eat kale. Those who love kale every Sunday, I’m happy for them.

    We are part of a big Church, and the Bride has more than enough different beauties for everyone. Like the queen and the king’s daughter, she is “clothed around with varieties”.

  122. Roland de Chanson says:

    Teresa: if you do veil yourself one day, I will go and buy me a mantilla immediately! :D

    Then I hope you’ll do me the honor of accompanying me to an EF mass. We’ll cut quite a figure with both of us in mantillas. The gossip at the coffee hour will be worth it! :-)

  123. teresa says:

    Roland de Chanson:

    A great idea! It’s a good way to give God honor and entertaining people at the same time!

  124. Origen Adamantius says:

    “these early liturgies were lacking in some aspects, I think the tridentine rite (EF) is the culmination of the all these liturgies”

    Yes and no. There were many documents (patristic writings, liturgical texts) available to the the authors of the NO that were unavailable at the time of the reforms of Pius V.–and of course his missal has undergone several alterations over the centuries so it is not unchanging in and of itself.

    “Doing the readings in the vernacular …destroys all of the symbolism … and makes it an almost entirely didactic moment,”

    I fail to understand why hearing the word of God in an understandable way is problematic or destructive?

  125. MAJ Tony says:

    All EF Masses at Holy Rosary, Indianapolis, are dialogue. I’ve been places where that wasn’t so.

  126. dominic1962 says:

    David Alexander,

    I admit, after rereading my statement it is a bit unclear. However, when you ask “Why?” is it concerning the didacticism situation or the symbolism issue?

  127. dominic1962 says:


    I would be fine with reading the readings in the vernacular before the sermon as is done on Sundays in most traditional parishes. However, the vernacular should not completely replace the Latin, especially in a Solemn High or High Mass.

    This would be especially true if replacing the Latin with vernacular also means replacing the chant and position of the minister (the symbolism of reading to the liturgical north and south, transfering the missal and thus the covenant, etc.) with simply reading the readings from the pulpit/ambo ala the common experience of the NO.

    The symbolism and ritual are more important than hearing. It is too easy to zone out and hear but not really listen. Thus, having people speak at you in the vernacular is no solution to the issue. Really, folks should get a missal and use it both outside and inside Mass. There are thus many ways to approach the readings this way-private study/lectio, straight up translation, meditating on the chanted Latin reading either through the tone itself or both the tone and text once you pick up on Latin, etc. Just reading the readings in the vernacular seems to be just a lazy way to try to rectify the possible lack of understanding or “participation” in the Mass of the Catechumens/Liturgy of the Word.

  128. “Comment by dominic1962 — 29 April 2009 @ 11:14 am”

    Without taking away from the value of the Latin language in worship, I would ask what purpose the reading of the scriptures at Mass would serve, other than to teach? Is this not why the Council Fathers, and leaders of the liturgical movement leading up to the Council, would have conceded the use of the vernacular to the readings before virtually any other part of the Mass? It is common to all human civilizations, that an arcane language be used when addressing or worshipping a diety. This may be why, while Aramaic was the spoken language at the time and place of Christ, they still prayed in Hebrew. With the Mass, we are speaking to God. With the scriptures, is not God speaking to us?

    (I am speaking in the hypothetical here, and do not mean to endorse a violation of liturgical norms regarding the proclamation of the Scriptures at the Traditional Mass.)

  129. dominic1962 says:

    Even in the readings, we are offering worship first to God and secondly for our own edification. The sermon should be the way in which the people are edified. Certainly, God is speaking to us in the Scriptures but we don’t need to ditch the liturgical/ritual aspect of the readings in order for them to speak to us. Has he not and does he not still speak through the readings in the medium of the chant or the Latin? Like I said before, I would highly recommend a missal and its varied usage.

  130. Ohio Annie says:

    Maureen’s comment is a breath of fresh air. I haven’t been to a TLM and have decided not to mainly because of the Big Deal people here make about clothing and hair and stuff. And making it seem as if they wish to turn the clock back to a time that never really was.

    I couldn’t in good conscience be part of something that goes against my very self, such as a statement I read by one bishop that women have no business in higher education. Fortunately, he seems to have been ignored in that respect.

    Maybe as time goes on people will settle on what is really important about being Christian and Catholic but it is made clear here that some people don’t belong at the Mass of the Ages because we are simply too impure.

    I like reading Father Zuhlsdorf’s translations and things but the meanness of the comments makes me glad I am at a faithful, friendly parish with lots of different ages and colors and sizes and shapes of people, most of whom don’t care about my clothing or hair. And the ones who do are apparently polite enough to still smile and be nice.

  131. “Even in the readings, we are offering worship first to God and secondly for our own edification. The sermon should be the way in which the people are edified.”

    Why just the sermon? Where is your authority for that? Were the readings composed according to the priorities you have laid out? Is that why Paul corrected the Corinthians? Was their “edification” really secondary?

  132. “I haven’t been to a TLM and have decided not to mainly because of the Big Deal people here make about clothing and hair and stuff. And making it seem as if they wish to turn the clock back to a time that never really was.”

    Oh, it really was. I was there for that too. I still remember the first time — it must have been about 1968 — that I saw an usher escort a woman out of our parish church… for wearing a pantsuit.

    When my friend Sal goes to Mass, she does not normally wear a head-covering, and doesn’t think twice about wearing slacks. When she joins me to attend a Traditional Mass, I encourage her to wear a mantilla, or at least a hat, as well as a dress or skirt at or below the knee. This is not to be overbearing, as it’s really up to her, but so that she can feel more comfortable in that setting. That is one reason to dress a certain way in one setting and another way in others. It’s to feel at ease.

  133. Maureen,

    You say a bunch of good things @ 10:22 am. But I might comment that while that alleged TLM “rigidity” is ubiquitous on the web, I see little of it at the two EF Masses I attend weekly (Sunday high and weekday low).

    Perhaps this is because most of our local folks are young–median age perhaps low 30s, especially if you leave me and my wife out–and all that I know about also attend the OF regularly, many of them daily. Some women wear veils and some don’t; some wear slacks and some skirts (and some pretty short, though of course I don’t notice this). Some men dress informally, and some in coat and tie.

    Both Masses are dialogue in every possible way; I’ve heard newcomers mention it seems more participatory than the OF, possibly because in addition to the dialogue responses, most everyone joins the choir in singing the Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, etc.)! (The “ministerial” prayers at the foot of the altar ought to be between priest and server, but at our low Mass everyone says everything the altar boy says.) It’s probably an influence of the Novus Ordo that we sing (high) or say (low) the Pater Noster along with the celebrant — a practice that once was rare, but is now approved by Rome. At high Mass the readings are first in Latin at the altar, then repeated in English before the sermon; at weekday low Mass (without sermon) the readings are in English (only) at the altar, the only non-Latin words heard during the Mass.

    If any of this seems unusual for an EF community, well there goes that allegedly rigid uniformity. But one thing in common with TLM communities I’ve frequented all over for many years — a sense of community and friendliness that’s rare in the big mainline parishes I’ve attended over the years (as well as in most EF discussions on the web). It’s really hard after Mass to get away and go home.

  134. John 6:54 says:

    Interesting point DM. My point was not to make it okay to take the low road, but not to Lord over others because you believe yourself to be on the high road.

  135. wsxyz says:

    Annie, you actually never really know what you are going to find when you attend a regularly-scheduled Traditional Mass for the first time. I have read all the “horror stories” here and elsewhere too, but my parish (FSSP) isn’t like that at all.

    Yes, many women veil or wear hats, but a sizable minority do not, and no mantilla police chase them down. Some women wear slacks every Sunday instead of a dress or skirt, and they are not shown the door. We also have all ages and colors and sizes and shapes of people.

    But We don’t have anyone who talks in church. We don’t have anyone who exposes themselves immodestly. If you see someone in jeans and a windbreaker — it’s a visitor, any they are welcome. If they keep coming back they’ll start dressing better without anyone needing to tell them anything.

    I’d say, give the Traditional Mass a chance someday. If you are in or near the diocese of Youngstown, try Queen of Holy Rosary (FSSP). The pastor is a real good guy and as long as you aren’t wearing beach clothes I doubt you’ll have any trouble.

  136. Frank H. says:

    Ohio Annie, by any chance are you in the Columbus area? I have attended numerous TLMs at Holy Family, and have not encountered any of the hyper-critical attitudes that some discuss on this blog.

    We are blessed in that Holy Family offers the TLM five days a week most weeks, and sometimes more.

    I’d encourage you to give it a few tries, especially the Sunday 9 am Mass. Always beautiful and well attended.

  137. quiet beginning says:

    That was wonderful, Father Zuhlsdorf. You hit the nail right on the head: people are used to the festive, “summer camp” atmosphere of the conciliar mass, and they are understandibly disoriented by the solemn, intensely reverent aura of the Latin Mass. So they sometimes balk. Who could blame them? It usually doesn’t take long, though, for their spirituality to mature to the point where they “get it” and begin to reap the inestimable benefits of the Traditional Mass—assuming they persevere in attendance.

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