Old Mass/new Mass thoughts – part 8

Under another entry (“I am 59 years old and like the current liturgy.”) 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?


  • Do your best to leave aside bashing of either form.  Since both are legitimate forms of Holy Mass, let’s accept that for this exercise and move on.
  • State your age, and if you are a cradle Catholic, revert, or convert and whether or not liturgy had anything to do with your once leaving the practice of your faith, your return to the Church or conversion.
  • Try to be brief.  Stick to a couple hundred words if you can.  Do a little editing.  [Some have gotten a little enthusiastic in their word count!   o{]:¬)  ]

We need to be able to explain ourselves to others when we discuss these matters, and provide the whys and wherefores for our liturgical choices.

I also invite seasoned Catholics to do the same.

Let’s see some responses…. posted in the combox.


Allow me to add this somewhat related WDTPRS POLL:




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I am 41, a cradle Catholic who just returned to the Church after an absence of 21 years. I haven’t known anything other than the NO Mass and live at least an hour away from the nearest parish that offers the EF. I have never experienced any other Mass! I look forward to the new translations.

    The liturgy didn’t have anything to do with my lapse – that was my own doing though I feel poor faith formation did play a role. If I had the benefit of better catechesis as a young adult I might have not stopped going to Mass while in college. My instructor for the sacrament of Communion and Reconciliation was the last person to mention “purgatory”.

    I also had never heard of certain devotions such as First Fridays or Eucharistic Adoration. Of course that was the early 1980s. Not sure what kids are taught now.

    Differences I noticed when I returned to the church:

    1. Mostly I notice the music is lame to the point of distraction. The music director seems to avoid the traditional hymns in favor of  the hippie-like modern music. I’ve only heard the beautiful pipe organ once over these many months. I also don’t like that the choir is placed in the “crossing” area of the sanctuary on the “south transept”. I hope I said that correctly. I don’t know how common this is but I find it very distracting. Mass is not a concert.

    2. Speaking of distractions, the lack of reverent silence is another difference I’ve noticed. Parents don’t seem to teach their children how to behave in Mass. Some bring sippy cups and feed their toddlers Cheerios during Mass. The older kids often kick the back of the pew I’m sitting in and seem unable to just sit quietly. The priest at my “new” parish is very good and very dedicated but I do wish he would allow for more time for silence during Mass. He gives great homilies that are very thought provoking but frankly, I wish they were longer.

    3. Hand holding and gesturing. When did this happen? I’m charitable about holding hands because I don’t want to seem aloof. I find it very distracting because I’m thinking about holding someone’s hand instead of really praying The Lord’s Prayer. I’ve read the GIRM and realize it’s not obligatory but I also don’t want to offend.

     From what I’ve read of Liturgical abuses that occur I feel as though I’m in a good parish.  I can live with short homilies, noisy kids and lame music. I don’t have it so bad. Allowing myself to be distracted is my problem and I’m working on being better at ignoring people when needed.


  2. Response:

    I am 46 years old (as of yesterday), married 15 years, one daughter age 14. The Novus Ordo is the only Mass I have ever really known. My parents didn’t start taking me until I was 5 years old and by then the NO and the English Mass were well established. So for better or worse, that is THE Mass to me and I am attached to it in the same way older Catholics are attached to the EF.

    I’m also pretty flexible when it comes to music. I draw the line at some of the sappier St. Louis Jesuit songs and at questionable/heretical stuff like “Ashes” and “City of God,” but I actually like some of the songs that traditionalists complain about (e.g. “I Am the Bread of Life”) and yes, I like the Mass of Creation and Celtic Alleluia too. But I also like Gregorian chant and would like to see more of it as well.

    When it comes to church architecture, I’m much more traditional. The church I grew up in was an older, beautiful, Gothic-style church and I never did like the “church in the round” style buildings of the 60s and later. I especially hate “wreckovated” older churches that someone has tried to make look modern. I also never liked the idea of putting the tabernacle off to the side or in a separate chapel — I like to see it front and center because that is where Jesus belongs in our Church!

    For a time when I was a teenager I was involved in the charismatic renewal and attended many charismatic Masses. To me they were wonderful and full of joy, and the people who attended them tended to be some of the most orthodox Catholics I knew. They believed in being obedient to Mother Church and to the pope and they didn’t commit some of the grosser liturgical abuses often seen in liberal parishes. They really believed in sin, repentance, grace, and miracles (they didn’t try to explain everything away) plus they enjoyed being in the presence of Christ and they weren’t in a hurry to leave like most typical Sunday Mass-attendees! Many of them later became big boosters of things like Eucharistic adoration and the Divine Mercy devotion.

    I attended my first EF Mass in the mid-1990s when the bishop of the diocese I was living in at the time began permitting them. I found it very interesting and dignified, but honestly, it didn’t do much of anything for me spiritually. I couldn’t hear a word the priest was saying and felt pretty lost, even with a missal. I’ve been to several more since then, and I think it’s great that it is available as an option, but for me personally, I can take it or leave it. I would prefer attending an NO Mass done ad orientem and in Latin — because its structure and prayers would still be recognizable to me — than an EF Mass.

    If bringing back the traditional style of worship brings people back to orthodox faith and to the Church, I’m all for it. I think the Church should have preserved Latin as a liturgical language for the sake of universality and also just because knowing some Latin makes learning the other Romance languages like Spanish and French easier. However I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the NO Mass has no redeeming value. It has meant a lot to me.


  3. Response:

    I’m a 21-year-old female cradle Catholic and a junior at a public university. I was introduced to the older form of the Mass by some friends from college for the Feast of Corpus Christi 2008, and I have attended the EF about 20 times since then. More than anything, I think that an understanding of one form of the Mass has aided in my awareness of the other. I attended the new Mass exclusively for the first 19 years of my life, and my knowledge of what was going on in English helped me to follow along with the old Mass, even through the periods of silence and the unfamiliar Latin. (I have taken 6 years of Latin instruction, and Latin is one of my two majors. Since most of the instruction is in reading and writing, I can read the Latin in the Missal fairly well, but I am not used to listening to it.) I consider the Masses at the Oratory by my college to be a sort of bridge by which I was prepared to appreciate the EF. It was here that I was first exposed to an OF with all the “smells and bells:” incense, traditional hymns, servers with cassocks and surplices, etc. I came to love the majesty of the Liturgy through these Masses, and this love only increased when I began attending the EF. I was entranced by the reverence, beauty, and the overall transcendence of the EF, and my love for it has only grown as I’ve continued to attend. The EF most definitely affects my devotion to the Mass, no matter which form. I understand better that in each, Our Lord is truly present in the Eucharist, and for that reason, Masses of both forms must be celebrated and attended with reverence, attentiveness, and love. 

  4. Response:

    FYI, I’m 61 years old and a cradle Catholic.  I left the church in disgust in the late 60s, and yes, mostly it was because of the distasteful and ridiculous liturgies being foisted on us!  These supposedly “relevant” guitar masses, which frankly just kept getting worse and worse.  Anyway, after forty years in the desert which included some time as an Episcopalian (great music, execrable politics and morals) I returned to the Church, to a parish that has a large enough membership that there are several different styles of liturgy, including the one I attend, the Solemn High Mass, which is always done reverently, with beautiful and appropriate liturgical music, and often with snippets of Latin.  Occasionally I’ve had to attend another liturgy – I’m particularly put off by the “contemporary” late afternoon mass – and each time I do I realize what’s missing – the traditional respect for the sheer ancientness of the Church and our Faith.  I would love it if there were a TLM in our parish, but our pastor, wonderful as he is, is an old-school late-middle-aged hippie and getting a solemn high mass out of him is I think as far as it will go.  I’m very much looking forward to the new translations (which I’ve said under my breath for the last few years!).  And just as an aside, I continue to be appalled at the folk who raise their hands in the “orans” position during the Lord’s Prayer – I sometimes feel like shouting “Just Grow Up!”

    Anyway, consider me a complete fan of TLM – bring back the good stuff!


  5. Response:

    I’m a 48 year-old cradle Catholic who grew up in normal, not too loony NO parishes with uniformly useless CCD programs. We went to Mass every Sunday and most Holy Days, sat in the front pew and said grace before meals. There was a crucifix on the wall of my grandmother’s room (she lived with us), holy water on her nightstand and a picture of Jesus in the hallway. She prayed her rosary every afternoon, though the rest of the family never did. We had a strong attachment to our Catholicism, but it was more like a racial pride than a love and understanding of the Faith.

    With this deep formation, I bounced in and out of church through my twenties, got married outside the Church to a non-Catholic in my thirties, then returned to the Church as my forties approached, to another innocuous NO parish. I was a lector, an EMCH, an occasional usher, head of the outreach committee, a serial volunteer and I even distributed ashes one Ash Wednesday (!).

    Yet, when I sat in my pew each Sunday, a little voice in the back of my head kept saying, “run!”

    I had an old and dear friend who was a traditional Catholic, and we’d have long discussions about Catholicism, and he had all kinds of information, and I had, “well, God loves us, so I’m sure it will all turn out OK.” As a missionary act, his son asked me to be his Confirmation sponsor, and I accepted. The sacrament was performed in the old rite, as part of my first TLM since I was probably 4 years old.

    The Mass had a profound effect on my wife and I. All I could think was, “now THAT’S church!” My non-Catholic wife was actually weepy. I thought I’d alternate between the TLM parish 30 minutes away and my old parish two blocks away. After a couple of Masses at the TLM parish to acquaint myself a little better, I returned to my old parish, where people were chattering before, during and after Mass in the sanctuary. It never bothered me before, but I hadn’t experienced the reverence of the TLM parish, either.

    While I was standing in line for Communion, the woman behind me said to the woman next to her, “Don’t you just love the way the sun comes through the stained glass windows this time of day?” We were about to receive Our Lord Jesus Christ, body, soul and divinity, in the Eucharist, and they’re chatting about the windows. I haven’t been back.

    Since that time, about 3-4 years, I’ve learned more about my Catholic faith than I had in my lifetime in the NO, and I continue to learn. 

    I’ve been to Confession more in a month than I did in my last 25 years (at least) in the NO. Best of all, my wife, who considered herself an atheist when I met her, is in the process of converting.

    Now, as I pray my daily rosaries on my grandmother’s beads (RIP), I wonder how what she knew could’ve been lost in our household, in just one generation, and I thank the good Lord for my TLM parish, our holy priests and the resurgence of the TLM, and pray it may continue.


  6. Response:

     I am seventeen and have been a catholic all my life.  I am currently the MC at St. Agnes Cathedral in Springfield MO for the Extraordinary Form (EF). I have served in both the OF and the EF. It is a wonderful privalege in both but I would have to say that I prefer serving in the Extraordinary Form. Unfortunately many Ordinary Form (OF) parishes have put an extremely low standard on serving. It is no wonder that they struggle to keep servers when there really is no standard of reverence and there are few expectations. This doesn’t encourage order and therefore reverence seems to be the victim.

       I would have to say that I prefer the EF over the OF because it makes more sense to me especially as far as reverence and respect for the Eucharist is concerned. However, I do not like how some people who attend (or say) the  EF lose charity towards those who don’t. I especially do not like it when we are uncharitable towards our bishops. I prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass because it seems to lead me toward God better but I have to remember that if I lose charity, than not even the Extraordinary Form of the Mass will save me from hell. 


  7. Response:

    I’m 57 years old, cradle Catholic who left the Church shortly after Vat. II for reasons unrelated to any change in the liturgy. Since returning several years ago, I’ve attended the Ordinary Form of Mass. On one occasion I attended the Extraordinary Form. 

    I prefer the Ordinary Form because I don’t need a translation in hand to know what is being said. There’s always the memory of an article I read some years back concerning Chinese character tattoos. Seems that those ink blots can mean anything, even excerpts from a local menu. The customer is never any the wiser. Mouthing phrases in a language I have no real understanding of strikes me as something similar, Call it a quirk.

    So I prefer the prayers in the vernacular. Thats the only reason I go for the Ordinary Form.


  8. Response:

    I am 20 yrs old, a cradle Catholic, though not always by choice.  I was fond of my faith from early years, started to not care during high school, then quickly came back and became serious about being Catholic at the end of my senior year of high school.  I only ever knew the Ordinary Form of the Mass and the more, shall we say, “charismatic” side of Catholicism.  I am now about to graduate from a Catholic university, where I really grew in my faith and was exposed to the traditional side of Catholicism.  I must say that the change I see in myself – and that others have told me that they see – since learning about and growing to love the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, Gregorian chant, and the whole of the spirituality of the tradition of Church is incredible.  When at home and away from school, I travel 40 minutes both ways for the Latin Mass on Sundays.  When at school, I attend the Latin Mass almost exclusively, though during the week, it is sometimes necessary to go to Mass in the vernacular.

    My reasons for loving the “old” Mass are so numerous that writing a brief paragraph cannot do justice to the beauty, mystery, majesty, and love that is expressed in the tradition that the Church holds in her history.  Mass has become, in recent years, more of an activity that people do together to sing songs, praise God, and socialize.  Using English, using popular-sounding music, and having the priest versus populum are all conducive to – and in some cases demanding of – ordinary, everyday feelings and emotions.  It is not out of the ordinary.  It is not mysterious or beautiful.  In some cases, but certainly not all, there is nothing to demand attention to, reverence for, and worship of the Almighty God Who chooses to condescend to come to poor sinners.  The translations of the prayers of the Mass (and sometimes freestyle prayers…) are not true translations, and leave much to be desired.  All of this is solved with the Latin Mass.  Everything about it suggests beauty and wonder, penance and adoration, unworthiness yet trust.  The theological aspect of the Latin Mass is so much more perfect than the Novus Ordo Mass.  The prayers of the Mass are taken from the Bible, uplift the soul, and remain shrouded in the ineffable mystery that is the Godhead we come to worship.  The music is not here supplemental to, but necessary for, the Mass.  The “songs” are really the prayers of the Mass.  The congregation is not in attendance of a show or play or theatrical production.  They are silent, penitent, honestly joining their prayers with the priest, who is quite clearly in persona Christi.  I love the old Mass, have introduced others to it, and continue to argue in favor for it.  All that being said, I do attend the NO from time to time, and of course I recognize VII and the NO.  A properly-offered Novus Ordo Mass can, of course, be quite beautiful.  I do, however, strongly believe that the spirituality of the Latin Mass – and the accompanying prayers in the Breviary, etc. – are most conducive to correct theology, more perfect prayer, better spirituality in general, and, consequently, a more joyous and pius life.  What we are on the inside is reflected in our outward disposition and lifestyle.  Take this seriously; the end result is crucial.


  9. Response:

    I am twenty-two. Almost to the end of high school I was a “going through the motions” cradle Catholic.  At the very end of high school by the grace of God I started to be more serious about the Faith and went to a Catholic college, where I learned more every week. 

    In my sophomore year a friend invited me to come to the Tridentine Mass with her, found us a ride, and lent me a missal and chapel veil.  In terms of learning styles I am very oriented towards the written word, so I loved focusing mostly on the missal and glancing up to look at the priest.  I am a very good student of Latin, so my experience in that respect is different from most people’s–reading, I understand most, and hearing I understand as well if it is spoken clearly (not always the case). 

    I was also very emotionally affected by the choir–ours is not top-notch, but not bad and many sing along, so it is homey without making you feel you must sing.  The Asperges, Credo III, the Sanctus sank into my bones, and I loved smelling incense every week rather than on special occasions.  So it was initially an aesthetic experience: chant and polyphony, incense, flowers on the altar, gold, and brocade, as compared to the “polyester” monochromatism of the parishes I grew up in. My fellow Mass-goers also made a huge impression on me by the fact that every man wore a suit, and the women were also dressed modestly.  These people thought what they were doing was important.  A new sight at church to me. 

    I went to High Mass every Sunday with her after that and started going at home too, by myself–my parents and brother and sister have come a total of four times between them all. 

    Since then I have spent various amounts of time reading the polemics–some months, much too much time–and have also learned to appreciate Low Mass as well as High Mass.  Sometimes I attend the New Mass on weekdays but in the Holy Father’s phrase many parochial Masses, sadly, involve abuses that are “difficult to bear”. 

    In college I had the happiness of introducing in turn several of my friends to the Tridentine Mass.  There were others who said they wanted to go but never had the time–with a sad irony, I found that the participatory nature of the New Mass resulted for some of my friends in making musical commitments that meant they were never able to come to High Mass with me on Sunday.   I think others still did say they like the New Mass better, but I can’t recall any particular discussions.  (One of my friends once mentioned that receiving Holy Communion on the tongue made her nervous.)

    For me I learned a fair amount by observing two of my peers who had been raised in “Trad families”–when they put on their mantillas, how they dressed, the customs they referred to casually–and a lot more by reading on the Internet. A few people at my chapel have been very welcoming, but on the whole there wasn’t a large “look out for newcomers” aspect, which was a little hard. 

    As for “new Mass/old Mass without bashing of either form” I will summarize by saying that it pains me more to attend the New Mass in Latin, because then it is obvious what has been omitted and altered. I don’t “like” the New Mass qua new–though I must qua Mass–but I can deal better with it, strangely enough, in English because at least I’m used to it.  I do attend the New Mass on some weekdays, and I have on a very few rare Sundays and Holy Days, but never by preference–except for a local monastery, which is “never cringe-worthy,” to quote one of the monks describing why he joined.  


  10. Response:

    I am a 21 year old male, with a Bachelor of Music Studies and about to start a Masters of Teaching, engaged to be married in a couple of years, and a regular attendant of the EF at a chaplaincy in Lewisham, Sydney. I was a cradle catholic, raised by Christmas and Easter Mass-attending parents. During my teenage years I lapsed into myself, until I was introduced to a youth-group which reverted me back to Our Lord and have not missed a Sunday Mass since.

    Not long after, I partook in a theological debate with a Protestant friend of mine, and marveling at my own inability to explain what little I knew about the faith, I took to educating myself in what I missed out in my horrible school catechesis. It was also during this time that my grandfather gave me his old hand missal, thinking that it might fascinate me. From then, I grew to know and love the EF, even before I had attended one. I found the prayers, the format, everything about the EF beautiful and mysterious. I also found the EF’s consistent use of chant and polyphony delightfully tasteful and prayerfully uplifting, something which the OF is consistently lacking.

    Upon attending my first EF mass, I was astonished at its beauty, devotion and solemnity. It was more mind-blowing than I had ever thought. I have now gotten my fiance into it, and my grandmother often comes along. I have immersed myself into it as much as I can, having joined the schola and mixed choir.

    I acknowledge the fact that the OF is a valid mass, yet I always find something missing. I have found that after visiting many parishes and seeing how Mass is celebrated, there is this permeating thought that mass is just a get together, designed not to worship God, but to encourage fellowship. This is not only because of this permeating thought, but also  because it has been allowed by the nature of the rubrics of the OF and the translation currently in use. If, perhaps, the (hopefully) impending reform of the reform can tighten rubrics, along with a catechesis in the nature of the Mass as a SACRIFICE, not a trendy shindig, then perhaps mindsets can gradually be shifted. But untill that day comes, I will know that the safest place for me to be spiritually nourished is under the wing of the FSSP.


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