FEEDBACK: “I am 59 years old and like the current liturgy.”

There is a Latin phrase: repetita iuvant…. repeated things help… or… repetition of things helps you you to remember them.

In discussions about the older, traditional form of Mass or about the position of the altar in relation to the priest and congregation, repetita iuvant.  We mustn’t forget that some people are new to the discussions and don’t yet know the facts.  Also, liberals in particular conveniently forget facts.   So… we should repeat them.

From a reader:

I am 59 years old and like the current liturgy.  I was an alter boy and served with both old and new liturgies.  I prefer contemporary Mass music but am okay with chants and some of the 15th to 19th century music that is in our hymnal.  Some of each of these types of music is good quality and some is bad.
It is fine with me that some like the Mass from, I believe, 1570.  However, I do not think we all need to go back to that Mass.
Our church, built in 1889, is built on a corner, so it probably could have been built in a different alignment.  The people face south and the priest faces north.  I am sure that any true prayers of the congregation and the priest are heard just fine by God.

First, I note that this has more to do with what his preferences and likes are concerned than perhaps about what the Church’s liturgy requires.  It is perfectly okay to like some things more than others.  But out liturgical choices are not to be grounded solely in our likes, which are not only subjective, but shifting.   Thus, it is nice that he is "okay" with chants.  The Church says that Gregorian chant has pride of place. 

It is great that the writer "likes" the current liturgy.  His liking it, however, is not our standard of measure.  There are those who don’t like it, to one degree or another.

Also, "some like the Mass from, I believe, 1570".  If he knew that date, he probably knew a little more besides.  But let that pass.  The 1962 Missale Romanum is now in use, not the missal of 1570.


When the Holy Father first celebrated ad orientem in the Sistine Chapel, liberals rushed to point out that, gasp, he was not in fact facing geographical East!  Imagine!  They conveniently forget that while geographical eastward orientation was important to the ancients, when we speak of East now, we are speaking of an ideal whereby priest and people together are "oriented" in the same direction (geographical East ideally), toward the Lord who will return (from the East, as the ancients believed).  Liturgical "East" doesn’t have to be East on the compass, though that is great when it happens!

Finally, we know that God hears our prayers.  I wonder if we hear our prayers.   I suspect not, otherwise we would have pressed for a new translation a long time ago.  We hope to derive something more from Mass than the nebulous suspicion, or even confident assurance, that God heard our prayers.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. Oneros says:

    Seriously…are there any ardent apologists of the Novus Ordo who are under the age of 40???

  2. Fr. Z:”I wonder if we hear our prayers. I suspect not, otherwise we would have pressed for a new translation a long time ago. We hope to derive something more from Mass than the nebulous suspicion, or even confident assurance, that God heard our prayers.”
    Exactly. Bulls-eye.
    When offering the English translation of the OF, I am often embarrassed or annoyed by the inane rendering of the Latin, which I am also familiar with.
    “Lex orandi, lex credendi.”
    If the Word, given to us in the Sacred Liturgy, is not formative, deep and transcendent, we are indeed, talking to ourselves. What a horrible thought!

  3. lucy says:

    I am always searching for some good way to present a reason why I love the traditional form of the Mass. It’s so difficult to try to get a liberal to even entertain the idea of going to the EF. I find that with myself, it took a while to sink into my bones – I find that the best way to describe it. It it something so deep that one has to experience it for some months before really getting what it’s about. There is so much richness, it’s hard to describe to folks used to a more Protestant type of Mass. I am a convert and find that my own upbringing in both Weslyan Methodist and Grace United Church of Christ was more reverent than what I find in most Catholic churches today. I long for the reverence, the quiet, the time for spiritual renewal, and the uplifting of my mind to Christ. I don’t long for clapping, singing songs one would find on the radio, or shaking everyone’s hand at all helful in the spiritual realm, but welcome that outside after Mass.

  4. Flambeaux says:


    Yes, there are. I know several. Many of us were in school together. Some of them are priests. Many are laymen.

  5. In the Eastern Orthodox Churches and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, the parish church almost always faces east. Individual persons also face east when they say their morning and evening prayers at home.

    Just fyi.

  6. Kent says:

    Its the entertainment mentality again. We are entertained in front of our TV sets, our computers, just about everywhere we go. We expect to be entertained at Mass. Red flags should go up when the first thing you hear about Mass is “I liked …”. Music ministers are at fault here also; many of them have never learned to be anything other than a “musician” and the secular world’s defintion of musician differs from the churhes. As an aside, I see the phrase “pride of place” again in reference to Gregorian chant. Wouldn’t “principum locum” be more correctly translated as “first place”?

  7. Kimberly says:

    lucy: I second your thought. How beautiful.

  8. New Sister says:

    Father – I must admit – I go to the Latin Mass because “I like it” (or rather, because I *love* it). I am still learning my faith and had no idea after my first TLM that it was better for the Church — I knew only by instinct and “feeling”, with a new intensity, that I was utterly unworthy to approach our Eucharistic Lord and trembled as I did so. I’m glad to learn the Church’s liturgy requires it as you teach – but must say I did become a “TLMer” by personal preference first – Deo gratias! Therese

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    Kent: Wouldn’t “principum locum” be more correctly translated as “first place”?

    I’ve always assumed “pride of place” in the English translation of Sacrosanctum Concilium to be an ICEL-like ideological translation of the Latin, intended to change a requirement of Gregorian chant into a loop hole allowing its abandonment.

  10. Subvet says:

    With an adjustment of the age down to 57 this letter could have been written by myself. I find it laughable that the writer is automatically cast as “liberal” solely because of a word choice. But I guess when all else fails, personal attacks are acceptable. [I don’t think he was automatically cast as “liberal”. It is entirely possible that he is simply not very well versed in things.]

    The writer seems to be choosing his words carefully, trying not to step on any toes. The phrases, “I prefer…” and “It is fine with me…” may have been chosen for their mildness and nothing more.

    Since Rome recognizes both forms doesn’t it fall to all of the Faithful to accept that? Smugly spouting how “my worship service is better than your worship service” is idiotic and divisive. That applies to supporters of either form. [Unless yo can construct a good argument for why one is better than the other. That is possible. One could be better than the other.]

    I go to Mass to worship God not to be entertained OR feel smug in using a different language, I can more fully concentrate on that worship when speaking my own language. End of story there. The touchy-feely aspects are to be endured in the same fashion as the self-righteous attitudes of many who long for a past that exists only in their imagination. [Those are equivalents?]

  11. Mary Rose says:

    The touchy-feely aspects are to be endured in the same fashion as the self-righteous attitudes of many who long for a past that exists only in their imagination.

    With all due respect, Subvet, I am a 47 year old woman who, if longing for the past, would receive much of the same muddled milk that formed her weak spiritual formation during the 70’s. It is not that I “long for a past that exists only in my imagination,” but that I long for reverence and a focus on the mystery of our faith. Such longing does not seem to be encouraged by an insistence to focus on self, and a deviation from the rubrics.

    As far as the liturgy of the Novus Ordo, I have a wonderful parish in town that has a very reverent NO with an emphasis on reverence. There is music, the handshake of peace, and participation of the laity. However, the approach is one of integrity and humility. I have to note that Communion is received on the tongue, whether at the rail or at the rear of the church given after standing in line. (This church is typically packed on the weekends.)

    The “touchy-feely” parts of the liturgy are to me, a distraction. However, I wonder what “self-righteous” attitudes you are referencing? Are you speaking of these attitudes surfacing during the liturgy? If so, how can you tell? In our TLM, everyone is pretty much keeping to themselves. But within a NO, it’s easy to see when we hit a “touchy-feely” area. I’m not saying that everyone who loves the TLM cannot be frail and misdirected in expressing their devotion, but neither is it an act of charity to slap the “longing for the past” label on those who love the traditional Mass.

    In the end, I can’t help but point out that the traditions of the Church have lasted longer than 40 years. Is it not a fair assessment to look at what fruit has been borne during those 40 years? I heartily agree with Fr. Z. One could be better than the other.

  12. Maltese says:

    Fr. Z:

    “Finally, we know that God hears our prayers. I wonder if we hear our prayers. I suspect not, otherwise we would have pressed for a new translation a long time ago. We hope to derive something more from Mass than the nebulous suspicion, or even confident assurance, that God heard our prayers.”

    Indeed, the Mass is the *ultimate* prayer to Almighty God; the one time during the week when we give HIM reverence (and stop revering ourselves), even so, many treat the mass as yet another time to revere themselves and be “entertained.” This is exactly why–despite the modern incomprehension (or miscomprehension) of why a Traditional Mass is even necessary–I support it hilt-and-holt. Can’t we, for one hour (or two) look outwardly to God, and not inwardly to ourselves? I that so hard, for us feel-good moderns? Well, even if it is, suck it up, and give God His due. Mass is much more about giving Him honor, and less about us, and our entertainment.

  13. mvhcpa says:

    I think us folks who both “prefer” and see the merits of the EF should, before criticising the emailer or Subvet, remember how most of us describe the solemn high mass experience as “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.” when I first saw a high mass after attending several low masses (which I stll “prefer”) I said to my girlfriend-cum-bride “what a beautiful way to worship.” (The then future Mrs MVH agreed, but still likes the OF better.)

    Certainly, a lot of that beauty mentioned above is spiritual, but most of what is being experienced really is asthetic beauty. Of course, true aesthetic beauty is certainly a tool to bring one’s properly disposed heart to God, but beauty is still in the eye of the beholder.

    I’ll be roasted for this by a lot of y’all I’m sure, but I REALLY don’t like polyphony at Mass AT ALL. A song like “Rejoice and be Glad” (a setting of the Beatitudes to song) moves me spiritually–and in the right direction–more than a Latin “row row row your boat” which actually makes my head spin. (Of course, even I will admit that polyphony is more edifying and qualitatively better than the example hymn, and certainly fits the milleau of the EF in a way that the other never could.)

    In short, the EF is BETTER, but remember, we also like it better, too.

    Michael Val

  14. Mitchell NY says:

    “Fine with me if some like the Mass from 1570, I believe” seems like a backdoor wisecrack to me. In actuality probably hidden behind it, is the opinion that Mass from 1570 is not all that fine with him and he feels somewhat threatened. Or why the other malinformed fear of “I don’t think we ALL have to go back to that”. He doesn’t cite where he heard he had to, or why he even feels that way. Certainly not from Our Holy Father. Everyone is not being forced wholesale to return to the Tridentine Mass. Something sounds strange about the letter’s form and motivation. Usually you write letters when you are not so “fine” with something. I mean how many of us write letters to our banks to tell them we are “fine” with our lending/borrowing arrangements?

  15. A. J. D. S. says:

    Interestingly, labeling the Novus Ordo as the “current” liturgy is no longer as simple as it was in, say, 1970, or, if I may make a point, as it was before September 14, 2007.

    Good thoughts, Father, as always.

  16. Mitchell: Pretty much nobody refers to the Mass of 1570 unless they know a lot more than that. That is what leads me to think that this was not entirely an innocent expression of opinion.

  17. Subvet says:

    Fr. Z, you mention that it’s possible one form of the Mass may be superior to the other and arguments could be made to support that. All too true and no naysaying from me on that one. When the competent authorities (Rome) decide to make an official judgment I hope to be one of the first to comply.

    But until then the arguments made by those of us sitting in the pews should be presented with detachment from personal attacks, something that all too often happens when the supporters of one form meet their opposite numbers. An example of this would be first comment made to this post. “Snark” comes to mind for some reason when reading that particular entry.

    Feeling passionate about worshipping God is admirable but shouldn’t fuel unacceptable behavior. As I’ve mentioned, this applies to both sides. The Church faces enough attacks from without that we don’t need to be tearing ourselves apart.

  18. johapin says:

    Ironic use of the word “altEr boy”. Unintentional I’m sure, but ironic. Should be “altAr” boy. One describes something similar to what happened in the 1960s, and the other describes the place where the Holy Sacrifice takes place. Pick wisely! :o)

    verb –

    1) Change or cause to change in character or composition, typically in a comparatively small but significant way.
    2) to make structural changes.
    3) tailor to a better fit or to conform to fashion
    4) to castrate or spay

    noun –
    a table in a Christian church at which the bread and wine are consecrated in communion services.

  19. ipadre says:

    Good point Fr. Z! At the same time, I think we all grow, with God’s grace and in His time if we are open. When I entered the seminary, my hair was shoulder length and I played guitar a Mass along with the organist. I could not stand any traditional (sacred) music. That was where I was at the time. Through God’s grace, good education and openness to the Church and the Holy Spirit, I have come a long road. I’m probably almost the opposite of when I entered in 1983. I love Sacred Music and most contemporary music sounds like nails on a blackboard. Brick by brick! Through prayer, study and sound teaching, we can change and take many people along with us.

  20. Gail F says:

    The first thing I thought when I read the note was that some people are happy with a lot of things — and I mean that literally. Some people are content in most circumstances, while others are only comfortable when things are “just so.” Judging people’s response to the liturgy is difficult because people’s personalities are so different, just as their tastes are different.

    I know lots of people who like the Novus Ordo, BTW.

  21. Gail F says:

    Oops, hit “submit” too soon. I know lots of people who like the Novus Ordo, BTW, but I would have to talk to them in depth to find out WHY they liked it. The ones I know who are gung-ho and really know much about it are all older than 40, but then so am I.

  22. Ferde Rombola says:

    I second the motion, Mary Rose. Beautiful message.

    subvet, I agree. If the worship is devout and proper, there is no criticism. Unfortunately, the NO has opened the door to behavior which, in too many cases, approaches sacrilege, which is not possible in a Latin Mass. It is that which engenders the self-criticism you refer to.

  23. catholicmidwest says:


    The parish “musicians” I have heard are not musicians in any way, shape or form. They are amateurs who can’t get a captive audience by any other means. It’s disgusting. It’s like early season “American Idol” only it never ever seems to end.

    Microphones are symbolic in our culture because of the entertainment we are so used to. They make the musically unschooled act out and sound bad simultaneously and they should be removed. People need to be taught to sing in unison and listen to each other, harmonize. Large numbers of people can sound rather nice if they concentrate on singing well in unison, while listening to each other.

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    Fr Z,
    I think you’re right on the 1570 thing. Besides, this person seems to be “talking down” for some reason–persuasion perhaps?

  25. robtbrown says:


    You raise the question of the Church’s position on the 1970 and 1570 Missals, but you mischaracterize the 1970 Missal.

    The question of Latin liturgy is not merely one of preference of Latin vs the vernacular. There is no doubt that Latin liturgy is Catholic because it is catholic–the vernacular by definition does not transcend time and place.

    The second is the position of the celebrant, versus populum (facing the people) versus ad orientem (all facing in the same direction).

    When the Church speaks of two rites of equal dignity, that does not mean that one of them is necessarily said in the vernacular and/or versus populum. Although the 1970 Missal is commonly said in the vernacular versus populum, that does not circumscribe the Novus Ordo.

    Your remarks indicate that you would not “like” a Novus Ordo mass in Latin celebrated ad orientem, even if no smug people were present.

  26. Ceile De says:

    Talking of preferences, I hope this is not too off topic but I should be grateful for advice. We are very fortunate to have a weekly EF near us said by a priest from outside the parish. My wife and I attend that church (we are not members of the parish) solely in order to attend the EF and my wife is converting to Catholicism because the EF moves her so much. We had attended the OF before and, while we accept its validity, it did not move her to seek conversion the way the EF did. Here’s the issue – the priest who says the EF agreed to baptise my wife using the usus antiquior so long as the parish priest had no objection. Well, we asked the parish priest who made it clear he was not happy with the request. We do not want to cause problems for the priest who says the EF or for the parish priest who hosts him – we live in a diocese where the bishop has spoken in the most highly negative terms imaginable of the EF. But – my wife has been distraught since then – she said if she has to she will be baptised in the modern form but with the heaviest heart. I am genuinely concerned for her. The priest who says the OF says we should simply obey the parish priest. We should most sincerely be grateful for advice. This should be an occasion of joy – we certainly don’t want the priest to think this is one of the problems that comes with allowing the EF in his parish – but my wife has been despondent since wondering what is the right thing to do. Sadly, rather than make life difficult for anyone, she is considering delaying her baptism indefinitely.

  27. Ceile De says:

    PS sorry if this is the wrong place to post this but I didn’t know where else to turn to.

  28. johapin says:

    Ceile De,
    A very difficult position.
    My wife too converted (former Southern Baptist) several years ago because the EF moved her so much. She said that she learned more about the Fatih in one year of attending the EF, than all the years prior to that.

    At that time, we also attended Mass at a shared parish like the one you describe, but the parish priest had no objections with her receiving the sacraments in the
    Extraordinary Form.

    This is just a suggestion, but if you are not members of that parish, perhaps you can find out if the priest of the parish which you DO belong to would be open to allowing the visiting priest to baptize your wife in that parish?

  29. Ceile De says:

    That is an excellent idea – the priest who says the EF may not be aware that we actually live in another parish. Thank you.
    It really shouldn’t be so hard, should it?
    I really foresee my wife foregoing baptism rather than make a fuss to insist on “rights” or be pushed into a form that does not speak to her spiritually and end up heartbroken on such an important day.
    Is there really room for people like us in the Church?

  30. Mark Windsor says:

    I’ll invite the flamers by saying that I don’t really care for the Latin all that much. I studied Latin in high school and college, but the language has never been my friend. I don’t feel that I can pray in it because I don’t understand it well enough. My fault, perhaps, for not being a better student. I do try, on occasion, but the language defeats me every time. I’ve been to the EF several times, but can’t keep up.

    Needless to say, I go to a NO parish. But I don’t feel that the NO, as it is largely celebrated now, is equal or superior to the Latin Mass. In many cases, it’s just barely adequate.

    The language of liturgy needs to be higher than the language of business and everyday life. Privately I pray with “thee” and “thou”, rather than “you”, just because it helps to focus on the fact that I’m not talking to my boss or a coworker. (I was fussed at once by a priest for using “Protestant language” with the thee and thou, and that I should stick with the inclusive “Catholic” language. Now I’ll likely get fussed at for not using Tu.)

    I’ve been to some Novus Ordo Masses that would bring tears to the eyes of those that love the EF, and those tears would be for all the best reasons. But it’s only happened twice in ten years, and one of those priests was sent to an ecclesial gulag by a local bishop that’s now retired (he was sent to a small town with an ASA of about 50).

    As things stand today, the Novus Ordo MUST be informed and elevated by the EF. I’ve often come out of Mass wondering if it was a real worship event or not. The NO is insufficient as it is today. The Novus Ordo MUST become more than it is now – it must become a liturgy that raises us to our creator, rather than killing an hour before football starts.

    As to liturgical music, I’m happy to acknowledge the pride of place for chant. I listen to chant all the time. Though I can never really understand much of it, I love the beauty of it and the fact that it raises us to God rather than making us look at the musicians and acknowledge their talent. Dump the green Gather hymnals and bring on the Adoremus red, I say!

    I’d also prefer the priest to face liturgical east, or the Benedictine Arrangement. Either is fine with me. Anything that makes the Mass more reverent is a very good thing.

    English can be a language of grandeur and depth. The Mass in English can have grandeur and depth as well. The NO has fallen into the language of business, and in this the EF is superior and necessary. Words mean something. Gestures mean something. I have no beef with people that want to attend something in Latin. I would even do so every now and then if the commute were possible.

    Save the liturgy, save the Church. By extension: Save the liturgy in English, save the Church in America.

    And for the record, I’m far from a liberal.

  31. Henry Edwards says:

    Ceile De: Is there really room for people like us in the Church?

    Yes, right along with our Holy Father, who has made clear his desire that all the sacraments should be available in extraordinary form. Of course, there remain terrible practical problems like yours, so long as the terrible prejudices of a certain generation of priests remain. But I hope and pray that with polite and patient persistence yours can be worked out. An offhand thought: Perhaps someone who knows the canon law can tell whether baptism is “tied” to a particular parish.

  32. Ceile De says:

    I can’t see why you would be flamed! Your position is not so different from ours – I prefer the EF but have no reason to disagree with those who prefer a reverent OF (with which we have no quarrel). For the record, I am a liberal, who is increasingly wondering how liturgical “liberals” can be called such when they seek to dictate which form of the Roman rite others may attend!

  33. Ceile De says:

    Henry – thank you. One thing occurred to me: for all the times I wished that those at the opposite end of the liturgical end of the spectrum would leave for the Anglican Church or wherever, I now realise (with some belated humility) that there are many in the Church who wish that we would just leave for the FSPX. Of course, we won’t. I’m just so concerned for my wife – there seems no happy way out of this but perhaps the path was not meant to be easy.

  34. Henry Edwards says:

    Mark Windsor: And for the record, I’m far from a liberal.

    And I’m surely even further. But seems to me you got it right. And put it all put together just about as well as I’ve ever seen it here.

    My only proviso would be about praying in Latin. I’d guess is that a large majority of folks who attend EF Mass with full prayerful participation don’t understand all that much Latin. And with the wonderful English translations in their missals, don’t need to.

    I myself am personally fond of Latin, for instance, pray the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin, study the Latin propers of each Mass before going, etc. Even so, at EF Mass I pray almost exclusively in English. Indeed, when as a convert I was initially attracted to the Church precisely by its Latin liturgy, I knew not a word of Latin. But the Mass meant more to me than it might to the best Latin scholar, and my initial ignorance of its language was no barrier to either participation in or understanding of the Mass.

  35. Oneros says:

    Let’s remember that, in theory, vernacular translation does NOT necessarily have to equal the Novus Ordo.

    The language barrier is often the issue, not the Old Rite in its substance.

    I do know some young people who shy away from the EF because of the Latin…but only because of the Latin.

    Acting as if we must settle with “dressing up” the Novus Ordo just because we see benefits to vernacular liturgy…is defeatist.

    If they’d just approve a nice vernacular translation (ala the Anglican Missal) of the Old Rite…we’d see a HUGE explosion of attachment to the ancient form, especially by young people.

    However, radical traditionalists who dont want that…are one of the things holding such a possibility back. The Vatican still sees allowing the EF as merely a concession to the trad niche. And since, among many “hard core” trads, the idea of translating it is often distasteful (though I’ve seen more and more openness to the idea since Summorum Pontificum)…they won’t allow it yet.

    Because it is mainly NON-“trads” that such a move would win over. And the last thing the bishops seem to want…is letting the EF go mainstream like that. Keeping the EF behind its language barrier as the esoteric province of the trads…is just what those who investment in the Novus Ordo is more entrenched want.

    Make no mistake, the EF is still allowed only to appease those who are ALREADY interested in it. There is absolutely no contemplation by the Powers-That-Be of pre-emptively taking steps to make it more appealing to those who would only become interested ONCE such steps had been taken (such as offering it in the vernacular).

  36. catholicmidwest says:

    I believe solidly that the TLM was liberated, in part, to help break the lock that the current NO, and all its hangers-on and all its idiotic lore, had on the contemporary Catholic psyche when it comes to mass. IN about a year and a half, we’re going to get another translation of the NO mass and the current one will become illicit, defunct, superceded. And that’s coming at least 20 years too late, but better late than never.

  37. catholicmidwest says:

    And Oneros,

    The NO needs “dressing up.” In fact it needs to be renovated from the ground up, to get the unfortunate glosses of bad theology out of it, otherwise the Church risks trying to turn a pigs ear into a silk purse.

    I think that this is what a lot of the changes in the new translation are aimed at. When you hear it, note that many of the changes are minor, and although they may not seem consequential to modern uneducated minds, they do remedy theological errors of fundamental sorts.

  38. Oneros says:

    I think that’s naive. The new translation is, after all, still a new translation of the new Mass, not the old.

    The TLM has been allowed to meet demand. But (contrary to the wishful thinking of many in traditional-liturgy circles)…the Pope and most of the Curia and bishops…have no concept of changing the 1962 missal any time soon to increase demand among those who would only become interested once such changes had been made (the language barrier being the main one). They’ll allow the Old Rite for those who want it, to keep us happy, but there is no concept of promoting it to those who have no interest.

    The idea is still to please current “constituents” of the Old Rite, not to give it a wider appeal.

    Such a “parallel reform” is unthinkable to them, because they are still utterly committed to the current reform (ie, the Novus Ordo). Any further reforms must, in their mind, be reforms of that reform. There is no idea of going BACK to some previous starting-point and “trying again” with a different set of changes. If Coke had been this stubborn with New Coke just to save face…well, I guess there is a reason the Church isn’t for-profit.

    Even when you get the sense that the intended “final” form of the reformed liturgy that Benedict is working towards will look MORE like 1962 than it will like 1970…the hermeneutic of that crowd is still going to portray it simply an iteration of the Novus Ordo, not as an “alternate reform” of the Traditional liturgy. Even though the “distance” between the ’62 Missal and the final imagined end-point is less than between the ’70 and the final imagined end-point.

  39. catholicmidwest says:

    NO, believing that the ill-translated NO that we use now is the end-all and be-all of liturgy for all time is naive.

    The NO that we have now was given for a snapshot in time. That snapshot is over, good-riddance. And now we move on to something better.

    Trust me, as the mass develops over the next few years, starting with the new translation in 2011, it will start to resemble the 1962 version more and more than it does the 1970 version. The 1970 was an aberration for a strange time, and hiccup. It’s soon to be gone forever.

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    PS, Oneros,
    What you are saying implies that hermeneutic of rupture the pope always talks about. Repeat after me: There was no rupture. This is the same church we always had and it always will be the same church.

  41. Oneros says:

    The hermeneutic of continuity is a construct. There WAS a rupture. Not an ontological one, of course, but a historical one, though there was also continuity. As always some things change and some stay the same.

    The irony of the “hermeneutic of continuity” is that the very idea that we must promote such a hermeneutic to oppose that of rupture…proves that a major paradigm shift DID happen. Ie, the pervasiveness of a hermeneutic of rupture WAS, in itself, a mental rupture. If there hadn’t been a rupture in how people think and behave as Catholics…we wouldnt have to be promoting a “hermeneutic of continuity”. In some ways, “hermeneutic” is just a fancy word for SPIN.

    “it will start to resemble the 1962 version more and more than it does the 1970 version.”

    So then why not take 1962 as the starting point instead of the 1970. If the former has a “shorter distance” to travel?

    That seems like saving face is getting in the way of practical considerations.

    I imagine the analogy of altered piece of clothing. A woman has several copies of a dress she likes. She decides to get one of them altered. The alterations turn out terrible. She likes a few things, but all in all it’s clear that a major overhaul will be needed. The dress is too small, the seams are crooked at points, the dress is in many ways unrecognizable. She wants a much more moderate alteration. She wants it to resemble the original much more closely than it resembles its current altered form, but that’s going to require RE-ADDING fabric, removing seams, sewing certain cut parts back together, etc.

    To me…it makes little sense for the woman to try to salvage the altered dress when she has multiple copies of the original and could just “try again” on another copy of the original.

  42. MichaelJ says:


    Why do you suppose that “radical traditionalists” are so opposed to a vernacular translation of the Older form? Could it be, possibly, that the last translation, either through ignorance or malice, was objectively a disaster?

  43. Oneros says:

    Well, that’s certainly one factor, though trads KNOW that nice hieratic translations like the Anglican Missal (or their own hand-missals, even) exist and could be adopted wholesale.

    My point is that the Extraordinary Form is no longer (and never should have been) the province only of traditionalists (as much as I might identify as one myself).

    Deciding how to treat the Old Rite based on catering to the tastes or opinions of the “trad community”…is what leaves the Old Rite stuck in its esoteric ghetto, even now.

    Decisions on the Old Rite should no longer be made with “what trads want” in mind, but with a mind to maximizing its popularity among ALL good Catholics.

    The language barrier is still THE issue when it comes to the progress of the Old Rite. Though I’d like to think Catholics would be familiar enough to keep the Ordinary chants (ie, the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei, and Ita Missa Est) in Latin, as well as the Canon itself (which is silent in the Old Rite anyway)…a vernacular translation of the Old Rite ala the Anglican Missal, as well as making most of the now-silent Offertory and Communion prayers audible…would instantly solve 95% of church-going Catholics’ objections or hesitancy to embrace the Traditional Mass, beyond the “inertia” issue which would go away after a couple years once people got used to the old again.

    But the trads and the status-quo hierarchy are co-enablers on this issue.

    The hierarchy is still highly invested in the Novus Ordo, and for some reason (I suspect ecumenical motives) are determined that it remain the normally preferred Mass of Catholics, to the extent that “vernacular liturgy” and “Novus Ordo” are conflated, without mentioning the major changes in text and rubrical gestures that were “slipped in under the radar” when vernacular liturgy was introduced. Most Catholics are STILL under the impression that the only changes were the language and the direction the priest faced.

    Trads, in the mean time, provide a continued excuse for not allowing the the “Fourth Option” of a Vernacular Traditional Mass (the other three being Traditional Latin, Vernacular Novus Ordo, and Latin Novus Ordo), since many trads are vehemently against it and the greater allowance of the TLM is still largely portrayed as a concession to appease them.

    For most Catholics in the pews, it is entirely the language barrier. Show them a Latin Novus Ordo and they will be just as turned-off as by a TLM. On the other hand, have them compare the two translations side by side ala : and most will not have any particular preference for the Novus Ordo beyond perhaps its familiarity.

    For the laity, the issue is the language barrier. But, for whatever reason, many in the hierarchy are dead-set against the old TEXT, in whatever language. I remember a story that when Summorum Pontificum came out…all sorts of frightened bishops and liturgists suddenly started recommending the Latin Novus Ordo as a viable alternative. So it’s not all about the Latin for them. For some reason, they fear the older TEXT itself…

  44. Dr. Eric says:

    “Make no mistake, the EF is still allowed only to appease those who are ALREADY interested in it.”

    Not true. When Summorum Pontificum was promulgated I wasn’t the least bit interested in the EF. I had already went to a Low Mass offered by Msgr. Jerome here in So. IL, I wasn’t that impressed (it was a Low Mass.) SP was promulgated when I lived in Indy and was attending a Ruthenian Catholic Church and I was fine with switching Sui Juris Churches to eventually become ordained in the Byzantine Catholic Church of America (for those of you who don’t know that’s “Orthodox in Communion with Rome.”) So, once again, I didn’t see the big deal with the EF.

    When we moved back here to So. IL I had the fortune of attending Mass at St. Francis de Sales. I was enthralled! Later, my wife allowed me to drag our little family to the magnificent church ran by the Institute of Christ the King. My wife had no interest in “Latin Mass” either, but after the Mass she was hooked. So, God willing, we will start attending Mass at St. Francis this summer after we finish teaching Catechism at our local parish. We hope to attend every High Mass that they will have at the church.

  45. Oneros says:

    Dr. Eric,

    Your story doesnt prove anything about the motives of the hierarchy. The ICRSS ALWAYS used the Old Rite. That you happened to discover them some time AFTER SP was published…proves nothing about the motives behind SP.

    Neither do side-effects prove intention. That the greater availability of the Old Rite may turn some people into trads who werent before…still doesnt mean they are making any particular effort to cause that, or that this side-effect was their intent in making the old rite more available. Still less that they are willing to adapt the Old Mass to make it more appealing to the general population so that it may eventually replace the Novus Ordo. The Pope and his men have absolutely no concept of wanting that to happen in the Church. It was, after all, designated the extra-ordinary form, and that label reflects the place they imagine it having in the life of the Church.

    Even if a vernacular translation would bring hordes of Catholics not previously involved with traditionalism into the Old Rite, more than enough to make up for the loss of any disaffected trads, the hierarchy doesn’t care because (contrary to naive notions that Benedict wants to “gradually” encourage use of the Old Rite as mainstream)…in reality, to them the Traditional Liturgy is not a Good in itself to be promoted among Catholics generally, but simply a bone thrown to those who are already traditionalist, a bargaining chip to be used in reigning in a rowdy minority population.

  46. Oneros says:

    And to clarify: I’m saying these things as a traditionalist. I WISH the hierarchy was allowing the Old Rite more with the intent of spreading in the Church and gradually having it replace the Novus Ordo…but it is naive to think that is their motive in reality. They’ll allow it to appease those who want it…but don’t expect them to make ANY effort to get those who arent interested involved. The hierarchy is TOTALLY FINE with the idea of just letting them wallow in Novus Ordo banality, in fact they’d prefer it (that new people keep getting attracted to traditionalism…baffles and irritates them).

  47. Mitchell NY says:

    It is true that even questions about the older Liturgy irritate and baffles many Priests and higher ups..At 40 that has always been my experience. I too wish it were different. It boils down to a bigger picture than seems to indicate that they just do not want to listen to the opinions of many, many interested lay persons who think they can add something to the destruction of the Church since circa 1970. They want no part of the blame. None, and discussions about the older form seem to imply that to them. Not many are willing to dig beyond the surface of things. Simply because it hurts too much, not because so and so did not indeed happen.

  48. We need to separate the issues here.
    The Mass, no matter what the rite, is the “sacrifice of Calvary” made present upon the Altar by the ministration of a validly ordained priest.
    How this is signified is according to the rite or custom or tradition of the particular Church.
    The fact that the Extraordinary Form signifies the tradition in a way that the Ordinary Form does not; or that the Ordinary Form calls forth certain elements that the Extraordinary Form does not; does not, in fact, make them contrary.
    In time, if God wills, the “organic development” will take place.
    Abuses in both forms is to be rejected. Absolutely.
    But let’s get over this “either/or”…we live in a situation of tension.
    Let’s just adore, praise and thank the Lord no matter what form we worship in (hopefully, without abuses) and just grow in holiness.

  49. MichaelJ says:


    Please clarify your statement that “Decisions on the Old Rite should no longer be made with “what trads want” in mind, but with a mind to maximizing its popularity among ALL good Catholics.”

    This seems to be saying that changing the Mass in order to make it more “popular” is desirable. As you identify yourself as a traditional Catholic, I kind of doubt that this is what you meant, but I have to point out that this attitude is, in my opinion, the primary reason for the sorry state of the Liturgy today.

  50. catholicmidwest says:


    There was NOT a rupture in what the church is and what her mission is. There was a rupture among the people who didn’t take the time to understand that &/or people who did not want to understand that. This led to a popular rupture, but it was WRONG, WRONG< WRONG.

    We’re on our way back to where the church is and has always been. Some people aren’t coming along. Rather they’re going to stay on the false path that they set out for themselves. That’s their choice, but they’re going to get left.

  51. catholicmidwest says:

    Agree, Nazareth priest. What you say (12 Jan, 9:55PM) is a perfect example of the continuity that exists and always existed in the Church’s mission and presence. This is always what the church was *supposed* to be doing, even if at times, people misunderstood in the heat of the moment, and other people (people set on evil and mischief) took advantage.

  52. Fr. Z, if this is in the wrong spot, please move it to where it is appropriate.

    I’m 26 years old, a Seminarian, and a convert all rolled into one. I became Catholic 6 years ago and am currently in my second year of theological studies at Seminary. God willing, I will be ordained to the priesthood in 3.5 years (we have a year of internship at our seminary, so it takes a lot longer).

    Being in the seminary, one can imagine that liturgy is a hot topic among seminarians! It is not only one of the core focuses of our studies (for which I thank God), but the center of our life. Each day begins with morning prayer and Mass, we celebrate evening prayer together, and we multiple opportunities for Eucharistic adoration. I like to think that my seminary, thanks be to God, is liturgy oriented because it sees the liturgy as one of the central aspects of a priest’s life.

    When I entered the Church, I only had exposure to the Novus Ordo. Thankfully, the parish Church where I entered celebrated reverent liturgies (and the Pastor there is continuing to do some wonderful things re: liturgy every time I get back to town from seminary). I didn’t see a need for any other form of liturgy because I found a beautiful, prayerful, reverent liturgy already!

    It was not until the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City in 2008 that I finally had the opportunity to go to an EF Mass. It was beautiful, but I found it….stiff, robotic almost in its motions by those celebrating. I had the opportunity to be present at a couple more EF Masses this past summer at the Sacred Music Colloquium that was held in Chicago, but I again found I had the same response. It wasn’t a matter of beauty or reverence, but it was definitely…different for me.

    I do not think that the Church will, in the end, go back completely to the 1962 Missal. We’ve invested a lot in the Novus Ordo. But I still think there is work to be done. I think stuff like the Sanctus, Gloria, and so forth ought to be in Latin because of its expressiveness of the universality of the Church in her unity. I am not against having the Propers in English, so long as they are translated properly (what we pray comes out of what we believe! If it is worded improperly, that has an impact on our spiritual life!). I prefer Mass ad orientem and hope to see that again one day. I am preferable to the Benedictine Altar arrangement. I think Chant is the music of the Church and ought to be used for it has been the music of the Church since ancient days, though there is also a lot of beautiful, reverent chant that is never used (I think of Fr. Gouze’s music from the Community of Jerusalem in France, it is gorgeous. We sing it here at our seminary for big feasts and solemnities and it is a glorious experience).

    I am of the opinion that the way the Novus Ordo was implemented was hasty and not in accordance with the research of the great scholars of the 20th century who were responsible for the liturgical renewal. Because of my studies, I have been blessed with the opportunity to read people like Odo Casel, Louis Bouyer, Henri de Lubac (his impact on Ecclesiology and Eucharistic Theology is important for liturgy), Ratzinger, Balthasar, and so forth. Yet what I find in them I don’t find in the Mass. I think there is still a lot of work to do and I think that Sumorrum Pontificum is the Pope’s way of creating a liturgical dialogue to heal the rupture that was forced upon the Church as well as create that hermeneutic of continuity the Pope seems to love so much.

    In the end, my reason for having a preference for the Novus Ordo over the EF is that the Novus Ordo is the ordinariy form of the liturgy of the Church, it is what I am exposed to, and I have come to love it, but I know it still needs a lot of work. I find the EF still tends to ignore the aspects asked for by the liturgical scholars (such as life in the celebrants and ministers at the altar), but that may also be simply due to my limited experience. On a personal note, I have every intention of learning the EF if, God willing, I am ordained. I would even like to celebrate it once in a while, especially if there is a desire for it at my parish. I believe it is important to experience the EF as a priest to see where it is we have come from liturgically in order to guide us as to where we are to go liturgically. I have also heard from priests that they have a deeper sense of the priesthood once they celebrated the EF. I think this is important in reclaiming and discovering anew what it is to be a priest, something that is, unfortunately, still confused and battled about (trust me, I know, it is a constant bit of discussion at meals at the seminary!).

  53. Supertradmom says:

    When we manage to go to the only TLM in over a hundred mile radius, my son, who is in his twenties, is the only young man in that age group. There is one man who looks about 40. Everyone else is in their 50s and 60s, except for three families of very young children and their parents, who are in their late thirties.

    No one but my son is there in the 20s group, or no single young people in the 30s either. No teens at all, except one tweenie in one of the three families mentioned above.

  54. Supertradmom says:

    And to answer Oneros, look at the seminarians, who are still by far only learning the Novus Ordo and many who are anti-
    TLM, seeing it as divisive. From personal experience of three diocesan seminaries, this is true.

  55. Magpie says:

    It does seem to be an age thing. Those who are young, born after 1970, seem to me more open to the EF. They have no prejudices or other baggage. On the other hand, I know of ‘good’ Catholics who have expressed mocking scorn and contempt for the EF. Rather shocking that this should be so for this rich treasure of our Holy Church.

  56. Ed the Roman says:

    I am fifty-one, and remember the EF a little bit from the first go: Low Mass (mostly dialog, IIRC), as my father would have stuck needles in his eyes before he went to a High Mass.

    I like it, mostly. But at an indult Low Mass in 2004 almost nothing from either the celebrant or the servers was audible; hard to follow. I can follow a bilingual missal without difficulty, and my hearing is unusually good for a man my age, but there were almost no auditory cues after the homily, which was quite brief to accommodate reading the Epistle and Gospel in English after their being read in Latin. Most of the people made no responses that I heard.

    What I do prefer about the OF is the OT reading: it’s nice to hear the OT in church in more than certain graduals and quotes in other parts of the mass. I’d be OK with either the EF or the OF in Latin, especially I can sing the appropriate parts.

  57. Ed the Roman says:

    WRT the lack of support for the OF and the vernacular, I suggest that there may be some selection bias here. You probably retain a higher fraction of readers who like the EF and Latin: more of those who are attached to the OF and the vernacular stopped by but didn’t stay.

    And forgive me, Father, but you have a fair number of commenters here who will strike the average Catholic as weird. I like Latin, and I am in the very top left corner of the Mass/Confession table from CARA, and *I* think some of them are weird.

Comments are closed.