Old Mass/new Mass thoughts – part 4

Under another entry there has been some consideration of the age of Catholics who prefer the newer form of the Roman Rite, the Novus Ordo. 

Some suggest that people of a certain age may be more interested in the Novus Ordo, while younger people are more open also to the older form of Mass, the TLM.

So, would some of you younger folks take some time to write your thoughts about the new Mass/old Mass question?

I also invite seasoned Catholics to do the same.

Let’s see some responses.

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  1. Response:

    Our family started attending the traditional form of the Mass off and on about 5 years ago.  My husband is a cradle Catholic, age 47, and I am a convert from Protestantism, age 45.  Our children are now 12, 10, 8, 6, and 4.  We started attending because of a wonderful priest, who is no longer here.  At first we attended once a month and then twice a month and then soon our children insisted on not going back to the OF.  We were blessed to then have the FSSP begin to come and say our Mass twice a month, along with a couple wonderful diocesan priests.  Once Fr. Berg, the Superior General, came to visit our parish and spoke to us as a group, my husband was on fire.  We’ve never looked back.  We are all now enrolled in the practice of the scapular.  We attend First Fridays.  We keep adding more and more to our spiritual life.  

    The prayers of the older form overwhelmed me at first with their incredible beauty.  I couldn’t believe that they were actually tossed aside in favor of what we have now in the OF.  I wondered why they didn’t just change the prayers of the EF to English?

    We decided to homeschool our children six years ago to make sure they learned their faith, and I believe that because they are getting a solid Catholic education, they recognized the Protestant feel of many of our Masses locally.  This led us more toward the EF.  We tend to be more spiritually minded now.  We try to live our faith daily, every moment if possible.  We fail all the time, but we work at it.  Our focus is on getting each other and our children to heaven.  I believe that we wouldn’t have come so far in so short a time without the EF.  Every time I am blessed to attend a Solemn High Mass, my eyes tear up at the beauty of so many altar boys doing their best to be extremely reverent, and of course, the overall beauty and the richness of the older form is truly awe-inspiring.


  2. Response:

    I am a 21 year old cradle Catholic.? I grew up with the Novus Ordo and I still sing and assist for it every Sunday. However, as a singer and musician, I have always enjoyed listening to sacred polyphony but did not know anything about the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. My friend introduced me to the old mass a couple of years ago and I automatically fell in love with it especially with the music. I love the old mass because of the music but most importantly because of the reverence, the silence, and the ineffable beauty. The first time I assisted in the EF, I was confused. It was very different from what I was used to. However, with much researching and youtube videos, I started understanding it better. The EF forced me to focus on what was happening on the altar because it was very detailed – the postures, the gestures, the chanting, etc. It challenged me to not only learn more about the Extraordinary Form but also to study more about the teachings and history of the Catholic Church in a deeper sense.

  3. Response:

    I am 56, a convert from Lutheranism, formerly a Benedictine monk, now a diocesan priest. I celebrate only the OF, because that is what I am capable of. I would like to say I do my best to celebrate the Mass reverently, to convey a sense of the awe and mystery of God. I hope people can realize that priests are out there trying to do that, who are not in a position to make the wholesale changes that they may personally like to see.

  4. Response:

     I am 42 and was raised Catholic.  I have always been attached to the liturgy and the proper celebration of it.  I watched the NO degrade day-by-day, month-by-month, and year-by-year.  As a twenty-something, my wife and I searched for a parish with an acceptable Mass but found none.  We had to compromise as no parish celebrated the NO with proper rubrics or reverence.  

    St. Louis, MO is a great place to live because the LM has been readily available for many years.  Once the TLM moved from St. Agatha to St. Francis de Sales, I began to attend there.  It didn’t hurt that de Sales is my childhood church either.  St. Francis de Sales is a church assigned to the Institute of Christ the King, and needless to say, the liturgy there is nothing less than awe inspiring.  Later, Archbishop Burke, founded an Oratory for LM adherents in west St. Louis County named the Oratory of Sts. Gregory and Augustine.   My family and I are now parishioners there.  I have attended several NO Masses at the local Opus Dei chapel and they show that the NO Mass can be celebrated properly and with reverence.  We prefer the LM to the NO.  

  5. Response:

    I am 40 years old, a cradle Catholic who in a sense is a revert. Liturgy and my faith for several years before I was married and had children were not of importance to me. Now my Catholic Faith is everything to me. The Mass is, as I understand it, is the highest form of worship for a Catholic. This I truly believe. I don’t believe the liturgy had anything to do with my return to the Church. I believe when I returned wholeheartedly to the Church I came to recognize the importance of the Mass and its meaning. I grew up in the NO Mass but have been to the TLM a handful of times in last several months. I love the TLM and would go more if it was closer go where I live. I drive about 30 minutes to go to the TLM. The TLM is not offered at my home parish. Because all I knew before the TLM was offered, I didn’t recognize as easily as I do now how at times that the NO Mass can be done very irreverently. And that is why I love the TLM, it is always reverent and always leaves me with a great feeling and sense of reverence and awe. It is truly beautiful. That is not always the case with the NO Mass. The NO Mass can be done reverently, too, though, but these times are not always very consistent. As a result, I see these effects on fellow Catholics. A religion teacher at the Catholic school in my area said, “I won’t get to heaven because I go to Mass.” Sadly, there are many others who share this sentiment due to a weak catechises (sp?)and lukewarmedness (is that a word?) of their faith. I want to attend a liturgy that can and consistently gives praise and glory to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One that always strengthens the Body of Christ.

  6. Response:

    In response to your entry concerning Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite: I am 18 years old and am a cradle Catholic. I am currently a double major in Philosophy and Theology at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA and I am discerning a vocation to the priesthood/religious life to the monastery here.

    I attend the Novus Ordo daily. I find that the theological content of the propers is very lacking, I hope that will be fixed with the new translation. I would prefer the Novus Ordo to be celebrated ad orientem or at least with the “Benedictine” Altar arrangement. I would like to see the use of more Gregorian chant along with more Latin in the Novus Ordo. I also attend and either serve or play the organ for the Traditional Mass about once a month (I have served and played for both forms.) I think that the Extraordinary Form does a much better job cultivating the idea of mystery and sacrifice. I particularly think silence during the canon provides a better concept of this. I would like to see an option for the readings to be done in the vernacular in the Traditional Mass at their proper time (as opposed to them being read in Latin, then before the homily being read in the vernacular.) Also, I think that there should be more dialog between the priest and congregation in the Traditional Mass, instead of just the priest and servers.

    I feel that both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite have their strengths and weaknesses and I love them both, but if I had to choose which one I would personally prefer, it would be the Extraordinary Form.

    As a final note, with the exception of the previous sentence, I am not just giving my personal tastes about the new and old Masses, but suggestions about both forms of the Mass that I think would be helpful for the universal Church.


  7. Response:

    I am 29 and a “cradle Catholic.”  I disliked liturgical innovation from an early age (my mother said I was snobby) and was drawn to sacred choral music when I received a cd of Palestrina motets as a birthday gift in early high school.  I didn’t understand why whenever I asked about singing this music in our parish choir, I was always told it was too old or difficult.  When I was in college I became enamoured with Latin.  When in law school I sang in a schola that specialized in Palestrina-esque motets.  I attended a NO in Latin whenever  I got the chance (this was before the MP).  I am going to my first EF in January.  The beauty of the language and the music, especially its “otherness” from the rest of my daily life, drew me deeper into the mystery of the church.  Without that anchor, I’m not sure I’d be Catholic today.

    What made the difference to me was having clergy who thoughtfully explained what we were saying/doing and why we were saying/doing it.  The backlash I have experienced amongst older Catholics who fear going “backwards” is almost completely based on fear that everything will change over night and misunderstanding as to why some practices really are better than others.  When the pastor of the parish I am a member of now began re-introducing Latin into the Mass (starting with the Verbum Domine/Deo Gratias responses) he made sure to explain in several forums what we were doing and why.  People’s resistance melted.  The same with the singing of the Santus/Agnus Dei in Latin chant.  While there were a few holdouts who were/are still bitter about God-knows-what, I can count them on one hand.  The rest of the parish is happily responding, including the very eager children.


  8. Response:

    I’m a soon to be 24 year old cradle Catholic who has always had a fairly strong interest in the Faith, if more rooted in the intellectual side than perhaps the practical and devotional (something that I am currently working on fixing). I grew up with the Novus Ordo, and especially the youth Masses, though I changed radically on my opinion of the youth oriented Masses about the time I entered college.

    Personally, I prefer the older Mass, although I prefer the Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy above it, but I have no problem with a decently done Novus Ordo, and well done ones are extremely beautiful. 

    It is my belief that if we reclaim the three sacred and catechetical aspects that have been, for the most part, waylaid the past few decades, namely sacred language (which the ICEL is fixing), sacred architecture, and sacred music (which also teaches; it crazes me that we never sing “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” as the communion hymn), then we will have a much more devout and vibrant Catholic community.


  9. Response:

    I am a 35 year old convert from evangelical christianity.  I am married to a 36 year old convert from atheism.  We have five children.  The elder three attend parochial school. 

    The reason for my conversion was authority.  On a whim, I decided to read all the New Testament letters straight through.  The concept of authority was so strong it could not be ignored.  Christ set up a Church, the head was Peter.  He promised it would never end.  Thus, it must be the Church headed by the Bishop of Rome.  To not attach myself to her and submit myself to her teaching authority would be to not follow Christ.  (oversimplified for space, but that’s basically it.)

    My wife came over later.  We both went through the RCIA and were baptized at the Vigil five and four years ago respectively.

    I don’t mind the NO as long as it is reverent and respectful.  I have attended Pentecostal services in my youth (my grandparents were members) and was a Baptist.  I can sing and clap with the best of them.  BUT these groups don’t have JESUS ON THE ALTER!!  Shouldn’t some reverence be shown to our Lord?  That’s my belief.  Also, I feel that many evangelicals never move beyond the “emotion” aspect of the relationship with Christ.  The Mass moves deeper and closer to him into an area that is beyond surface emotion and expression.  For me it’s the difference between milk and bread.  Milk will sustain you as a child, but when you move into adulthood, you must transition to bread for true nourishment.

    The EF is beautiful.  But, I have found it is not as “family friendly” as the NO.  People don’t seem to be as tolerant of little ones at the EF Mass I have attended.  So as a father of  7 year, 5 year, 4 year, 2 year and 5 month old children, the NO is where we are at for now.  Plus our Pastor is awesome.  He does his best to fight the choir director and keep the Mass reverent.  As my children get a little older, I would like to make sure that they are comfortable in both the NO and the EF.

  10. Response:

    I am “seasoned” (somehow I have this image of showing up in one of your cooking posts), 46 years old, and a convert–I entered the Church from Protestantism in 1980, when I was 16 years old.

    I can’t explain, other than through the direct intercession of Our Blessed Mother, how or why I was led to the Catholic Church via the TLM.  There were only two Catholic families in my hometown, and the mother of my school friend was (even when I started asking questions in 1977 or so) up to date on the Ottiavani intervention and the whole liturgical debate.  I entered the Church with the SSPX in St Marys, KS, eight years prior to the excommunications, and for two years drove 4 hours to Sunday Mass in the community room of a mall.

    When I went off to college it became logistically impossible to travel to a TLM, so became integrated into the NO parish there.  After the SSPX excommunications, it seemed as though the TLM was no longer a viable option (even though I found it much more clear in its expression of Catholic truth), so I tried to resign myself to God’s will and serve in military chapels and parishes to the best of my ability.

    In 1996, I went back the first time to the TLM to the Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Cardinal Stickler (RIP) at St Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC.  It was coming home, it was clear, it was reverent, it was beautiful, it was heavenly, it brings tears to my eyes recalling the experience.  Since then, I have been given the undeserved grace of being able to fairly regularly attend the TLM, and my sons and I have started to serve at a parish ten minutes from my house.  Deo Gratias!

    I’ve thought for a while now that it is the reverence, the beauty, and the ars celebrendi of the TLM that gets you interested, and it is the text of the prayers that keeps you.  How much clearer can Catholic teaching on the Holy Mass be than the TLM Offertory? “Accept, O Holy father, Almighty and Eternal God, this spotless host, which I, Your unworthy servant, offer to You, my living and true God, to atone for my numberless sins, offences, and negligences; on behalf of all here present and likewise for all faithful Christians living and dead, that it may profit me and them as a means of salvation to life everlasting. Amen.”

    I often serve at a Low Mass on Friday evenings. After a week of work, cares, children’s appointments, and constant reminders about my own poor example as a husband and father, I cannot begin to tell you how many spiritual consolations and graces Our Blessed Lord has given to me just in the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar:  Spera in Deo, quóniam adhuc confitébor illi: salutáre vultus mei, et Deus meus!


  11. Response:

    I am 44 years old, baptized as a baby but not raised in the faith. Started to revert around age 20, formally reverted at age 25.

    I would say that liturgy played some role in my reversion. At the beginning of my reversion I was not even specifically Christian but had come to know and believe in God. I then proceeded to investigate various sects and denominations, including Mormonism, but also occasionally attended Mass. I knew that my attraction to the Catholic Church was partly due to my family background, so I didn’t want to just assume that it was the true Church without giving the others some openminded consideration.

    When I attended Mass I loved the ritual: The prescribed responses in unison, the gestures, the occasional incense, candles, etc. This was the Novus Ordo, but fortunately for me it was done fairly well, as I recall. Or maybe it just seemed very formal and dignified to me at that stage in my development, when contrasted with the much more informal style of Protestant and Mormon services.

    At the time of my formal reversion (having been instructed in the faith and received First Communion and Confirmation), liturgy was not a big issue in my mind. My first memory of beginning to care about liturgical forms and styles is of Holy Thursday services one year. I had grown to love Holy Thursday because all the traditional Holy Thursday rituals seemed so very timeless and *traditional*: It was the one day of the year where it seemed there was always incense and chant (the Pange Lingua), and for those reasons I found myself looking forward to it.

    However one year, instead of singing Pange Lingua during the Eucharistic procession they sang “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom …”, over and over, ad nauseum. I was extremely disappointed. Then, instead of the usual beautiful manner of exposing the Blessed Sacrament: in a monstrance on a covered table surrounded by flowers, they had it in a glass bowl with a lid, sitting on top of a feaux bronze cylinder, inside of which was a light bulb which shined up through the top of the cylinder, illuminating the glass bowl-o’-hosts. This cylinder was set in the middle of a circle of chairs, so that we all sat around looking at each other, rather than all kneeling in the same direction facing the exposed Host.

    After it was over, my son, who was then 7 years old, made this heartbreaking comment to me in the car: “I felt like it was just bread and we were all just pretending”. This, I felt, was what happened when people made up their own liturgies and liturgical styles: It feels like we’re kids putting on a show, because the made-up rituals don’t have the weight and depth of the centuries-old, time-tested ones. And as a result my son was experiencing doubts at the cynical old age of 7. (He is now 16 and has overcome them, praise God!)

    This was the first time I can remember being mad about the liturgy, or rather the abuse thereof, and felt that I and my children had been robbed of our heritage by people who wanted to make the liturgy more “relevant” to modern people.

    Cutting it short, from then on I gradually started forming a definite preference for more traditional liturgical forms, although at that time I had so little exposure to them that I could not have told you what they were. I had only a vague notion that the TLM had once existed, and once I was clear on what it was, I had the impression that it was outlawed and that only schismatic and semi-heretical sects still used it. Suffice it to say that I gradually made my way towards it, and finally just a couple years ago found one that is within fairly reasonable driving distance and at a reasonable time (every Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 25 miles each way).

    The first time I attended a TLM I was not overwhelmed with the awe and beauty of it. The choir was not particularly good and I was lost most of the time. But I felt drawn back to it nevertheless, if only because it lacked the silliness of most Novus Ordos. But after about a month I was in love, to the point of tears in the eyes. Now when I am forced to attend an NO mass, it’s almost always a non-stop teeth-gritting experience for me. My wife and kids initially had no particular interest in the TLM but went along for my sake. But now they too express a strong and definite preference for it.


  12. Response:

    My wife and I are both fairly recent converts to the Church from Protestantism; I am 26, she is 23. My confirmation was June 2008, my wife’s was August 2009, and we were married September 2009. (So we’re still fairly new to all this…!)

    We don’t get to go to an EF Mass that often, because provision is not particularly good in our diocese and we don’t have a car. But whenever we can go, we do–there is a sacred character to the celebration of the EF that is just not present in almost all OF Masses that I have been to. However, the more EF Masses I attend, the more I become convinced that reform of the Mass was needed. I continue to do my own personal research and study on this matter, and increasingly I can see how the current (2002) Missale Romanum corresponds with the reforms the Council Fathers intended–e.g. there is a “noble simplicity” to the current missal when it eliminates the double Confiteor at the start of Mass, and with the trimming of many of the prayers that occur before the Canon. Reform, though, is not revolution, and it seems to me, with the benefit of hindsight, that many people went stir-fry crazy after Vatican II, going with the “spirit” of the Council while completely ignoring the Council texts.

    All we want is an OF Mass celebrated in complete conformity with Vatican II: with truly sacred music, with the ordinary of the Mass in Latin, with a Catholic sense of mystery and sacredness, with a proper understanding of what participatio actuosa really means, etc. Didn’t our Holy Father say in his letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum that the two forms of the Latin Rite can be mutually enriching? That is what this married couple in England wish to see–a mutual enrichment of the two forms, not a fight or conflict between them!

    So, our preference is for the OF, but it is for a celebration of the OF that does not really exist yet in this country. (Fingers crossed the new translation will help!) We hope to dedicate ourselves over the next few decades to helping make our Holy Father’s vision of a truly sacred OF Mass a reality.


  13. Response:

    I am a 40 years old female cradle (formerly “cafeteria”) Catholic.  Liturgy had little to do with my embrace of orthodoxy in my late twenties and early thirties but I learned to appreciate and understand the importance of liturgy once I accepted the teaching authority of the Church..

    I like my more-traditional-than-typical OF parish but if I could not find a reasonably well celebrated NO mass I would probably assist at the EF.  I like the EF but I’m not drawn to it as some people are.  Two primary reasons: First, the attitude of some local EF supporters that the OF is inferior. Secondly, the local EF mass is not celebrated in its entirety according to the 1962 missal. One thing that bothers me in the old (solemn high) mass is when the choir is singing/chanting one thing while the priest is doing something else.  I find it distracting because I want to follow both and I am unable to do so.

    Ideally I’d like to see many changes to the OF that would bring it much closer to the EF.


  14. Response:

    I am 66 yrs old, the father of two practicing, fervent Catholics, one a lawyer, the other Carmelite nun. They are 32 and 30 yrs old.  When they were 12 and 10, we read the Cure of Ars by Trochu in our evenings together.  I’ll never forget the evening when we were reading about St. John Vianney’s care of the liturgy, the elaborate processions through Ars and so forth.  My son burst out with, “Boy, we don’t have much!” 

    I suppose I’ve attended ten EF Masses in the past fifteen years.  My general impression is that they are celebrated in a VERY wooden manner, both as to gesture and pronunciation of the Latin.  They take a LOT longer than they used to.  That said, I do think they convey the interior meaning of the Mass much better, are more conducive to prayer and to repentance. 

    However, there is one aspect of them that I absolutely loathe, and that is the little kisses that are given to the hand of the priest by the servers.  To me they are an unfortunate liturgical reminder of the recent scandal.  Moreover, for as many Masses in the EF that I attended as a boy, I have no recollection of this gesture.  My guess is that they were dropped here in the States as being servile and un-American.

    We raised the children in a NO parish with its share of liturgical weirdness.  However, the kids turned out very well, which for me is ALL THAT MATTERS.  And that happened because of our family evenings together reading lives of the saints, prayer etc.  In other words, while “Save the Liturgy Save the World” makes a certain amount of sense, for me, “Save the Catholic Family, Save the World” makes more.


  15. Response:

    I am 26 and a cradle Catholic.  I have a strong preference for the EF, but I would also appreciate a well-done OF Mass (if I could find one.)

    I grew up in a large suburban parish with a liturgical style that was about as mainstream as you can get.  Until I went to college, that was all I knew.  My interest in the Church’s liturgical tradition began when I was taking organ lessons in college.  Studying the music of the French organ school (Couperin, de Grigny, etc.) made me curious about what the Mass had been like at that time and how this music fit into it, since it doesn’t make much sense in the context of the Novus Ordo.  I began studying the older Mass mainly to understand its musical structure.  Thanks to online resources like the CMAA and NLM, I was able to learn how to read and sing Gregorian chant.

    While studying the music of the Mass, I gradually came to learn about the Mass itself, its rituals, theology, and spirituality, and by 2006, when speculation began spreading online about a “universal indult,” I had become fairly knowledgeable about the old Mass.  I attended it for the first time on June 24, 2007 at St. Joseph in Toledo, Ohio, and I immediately knew that this is the Mass I want to attend.  The liturgy was carried out with more care and reverence than I had ever seen before, and the congregational singing of the Ordinary was better than at most OF Masses.  I was particularly struck by the depth and doctrinal content of the prayers, especially at the Offertory and the Canon.  The emphasis on sacrifice was simply mind-blowing.  I had previously thought of “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” as a quaint, pious term from ages past, but here I was actually seeing it!  Kneeling to receive Our Lord on the tongue felt so natural and right that I knew I would probably always feel uncomfortable standing for Communion in the OF.  Now, two and a half years later, it’s no exaggeration to say that the EF has completely changed my life, and I’m still struggling to wrap my mind around everything I’ve discovered.

    As for the matter of age differences and liturgical preferences, I can say that everyone of my own generation who I’ve talked to about the EF has had a positive impression of it, although most would only want to attend it occasionally, if at all.  The people I’ve spoken to from my parents’ generation, including my mom, seem generally willing to tolerate the presence of the EF, but have no desire to attend it themselves.  It seems to me that, regardless of age, Latin is the main obstacle for everyone, followed by the inability to hear everything the priest says.  I haven’t personally encountered any layperson who is bothered by the priest and congregation facing the same direction, although many priests are strongly opposed to it.


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