Old Mass/new Mass thoughts – part 2

A few days ago I posted a Request from Fr. Z for old Mass/new Mass thoughts, especially in view of your age.  I suggested that you e-mail me instead of just posting in the combox.  Wow, was that a mistake.   I have been inundated.

Here are more responses.

I’ll just post them with very little commentary.

Let’s set a few parameters.

  • 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.

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.

Rather than make this a project for the combox, I suggest you send them to me by e-mail.  I will post them as I can. 

If you send an e-mail with your thoughts on this, put "Old Mass/New Mass" in the subject line.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I’m a 46-year-old cradle Catholic.  Since the Novus Ordo mass was instituted just about the time my mother started taking me to mass, my only experience with the TLM is going about a dozen times as an adult. Unlike some modern Catholics, I like the use of Latin in mass and I understand the logic behind ad orientem worship.  However, the fact that the priest whispers much of the TLM hinders, in my opinion, full participation by the faithful.  I try to follow along in the missal, but I have no ability to pace my reading of the missal to match either the priest or my fellow worshipers.  And, although I don’t doubt the sincerity of those who attend the TLM, I must point out that I have seen many people at such masses praying the Rosary during mass and clearly making no attempt to participate mentally.
    I have never been to a Novus Ordo mass in Latin using ad orientem worship, but I would like to one day.  That may be the best of both worlds

  2. Response:

    As a convert of less than two years I find discussions about NO and TLM fascinating.  Coming from United Methodist and big-box Evangelical experiences, the NO is more liturgy than I’d ever seen in my life.  When I was converting, people would say, “Ah, you must like all the ritual….”  That would be my cue to laugh hysterically and respond that learning the various rites and prayers was the hard part.  Believing in the one, true, Catholic and apostolic church was the easy part.
    Needless to say, I would very much like to attend a TLM mass.  Best put that on my list of New Year’s resolutions!

  3. Response:

    I’m a cradle Catholic, 42 years old, and attend the local FSSP parish.  Since the new mass started when I was a child, I don’t remember the old mass (but now I know it!)  The novus ordo back then had a lot of latin in it, even at the same time it had guitars.  Over the decades since, very slowly, one abuse after another crept in, until one day I thought “What happened to the mass?” These abuses were generally about the priest changing certain words, apparantly to make it more interesting, or to give it a personal flavor.  Then there were distractions like hand holding and clapping (during the Gloria!)  Since attending the old mass, I see little room for abuses, since changing words would go largely unnoticed.  And therefore it’s not Fr. This’ or Fr. That’s mass, it’s just the mass.  And since the congregation actively participates by their postures, no other kinds of abuses are likely. We all know when to stand, sit, kneel, so it’s not likely that anyone will stand after communion, or try to hold hands while the priest recites the Our Father.   No matter what parish I go to for the old mass, I know what I am going to witness.  There is no room for distraction by the expression of personalities, be it from the priest or the faithful in the pews.  I’ll let someone else write about the music.


  4. Response:

    Raised Catholic and now 78 years old, I never really left the Church; but for many years felt dispossessed, unable to fully accept the NO. Only occasionally I forced myself to attend. Seven years ago I found St. Stephen’s in Sacramento, over an hour from my new home in Grass Valley, CA. I cried tears of joy at the first Mass I attended and am truly home. Many seniors are parishioners; but it is a vibrant parish, filled to overflowing with young people and large families, with new babies constantly making themselves heard. Where else would you find 70+ altar servers, Rosa Mystica Society, young men’s Pipe and Drum Corps, 20+ choristers ages 8-14? The parish is alive with youth. Sadly, I find more people my age firmly entrenched in the NO, who stress the “community” feel and look blank when you talk about the “Sacrifice” of the Mass. They totally reject the EF, as do their older priests. Younger priests I’ve met seem open to it. [Interesting…. this shows something of the generational divide.]

  5. Response:

    I am 30. Convert into the Catholic Church at age 19. Raised without any liturgy, and I found I desired the tangible worship of God.  Came to the Old Mass at 27 and instantly fell in love.  For what it is worth, my Protestant family is more upset about my embracing of the Old Mass than they were about my conversion into the Catholic Faith in the first place. My small children and all my nieces and nephews strongly prefer the Old Mass.

  6. Response:

    I’m a 39 year old revert.  I went to Catholic grade school and high school but lost my way in college.  I went through some personal problems about 17 years ago.  A friend had mentioned that she went to Mass on campus, I decided to go and then made an appointment with the priest.  It seemed to help with my pain so I kept going to Sunday Mass.  The liturgy was not the reason for my leaving nor for my returning, but I do believe it helped with my staying.  The campus ministers had another Sunday Mass at a neighboring university which was called “solemn”.  I decided to check it out.  It was acutally in a gothic stone university chapel (not Catholic) with “bells & smells” and Greogrian chant commons.  I fell in love and haven’t left since.  Since finishing school, I’ve moved away, and I would love to find a similar Mass near me.  I do like the EF, but my first love is the OF, in English, with incense, Gregorian chant, celebrated ad orientem, and preferably in a gothic stone church with servers in cassock and surplice who WANT to be there. 

  7. Responses:

    I am a cradle Catholic, 43 years old.  I grew up during the liturgical “silly season” of the Novus Ordo.  While Masses in our parish were not “over the top,” what they did with contemporary music (the Dameans, the St. Louis Jesuits, et. al) wasn’t as bad as it could have been as we did hear an occasional piece in Gregorian chant and a fair amount of traditional hymnody.  My appreciation for the “old Mass” came from reading my grandparents’ old Missals and looking at the pictures provided.  The first “old Mass” I ever attended was in 1986 under the first indult.  I have attended a number of “old Masses” since then (from Low to Solemn High) and have always enjoyed the experience, especially when the music is well done and the parts of the Mass are in Gregorian Chant. As for which Mass I prefer, I suppose, if I had to make a choice, I would prefer the Novus Ordo ad orientem in Latin (with the readings and Prayers of the Faithful in the vernacular) over Mass in the Extraordinary Form, probably because it is the form I am more familiar with.   

  8. Responses:

    I’m 35, and a comparatively recent revert (3 years or so) after, oh, 20+ years of agnostic apostacy. Liturgy had almost nothing to do with my leaving the Church, or reverting to it later, at least not directly. It’s certainly possible that the lack of a sense of mystery in the Ordinary Form helped me drift away, but a number of factors, including the death of my father when I was 13, were probably a good deal more important at the time. I’m definitely reluctant to call it even an important factor. That said, I do feel access to the Extraordinary Form has deepened my faith, and given me an encounter with Mystery that was lacking from some of the Ordinary Form Masses I’ve attended. Sadly, I can’t go very often now, as the only EF Mass near me is at 5:30pm, which is right when my children (both under 2) need to eat dinner. I’m not complaining, though, given what others have to go through. As I think I have mentioned before, my wife, who is not Catholic, finds the EF to be “less cheesy” (her words) than the Ordinary Form, [Interesting.] though I have found both to be celebrated with reverence here.

  9. Response:

    19 years old, revert to the Catholic Faith. I used to be cradle Catholic. Church on Sunday and Holy Days. Then nothing. Came back in high school after a conversion experience. I started getting into the Charismatic Movement, and all the Lifeteen stuff. I soon found myself very emotionally drained and not happy at all. Most of it came when one day I just thought drums and electric guitars should not be at mass. I started liking all that stuff less. I was not into the Old Rite let. Soon, I started learning more and more about the history and beauty of the Latin Mass. As a big fan of history its great to be able to see something from the 12th centure and earlier come alive right before my eyes. The Liturgy has now become a big part of my life. I serve the New and Old Rites and love the Mass very much. I would say I prefer the older rite. The prayers are beautiful and its a more prayerful time for me.

  10. Response:

    I am a 27-year-old cradle Catholic, although I did not become serious about my faith until I was in college.  I grew up with the Novus Ordo and was only vaguely aware that another form of Mass existed.  I first discovered the Latin Mass (Novus Ordo) at St. Agnes Parish in St. Paul, MN when I was 22.  I was in awe of the beauty of the liturgy and became more curious about the older form of Mass.  Just this year, my wife and I returned to St. Agnes, which now offers the Extraordinary Form on alternating Sundays.  The first time I attended an EF Mass, I was blown away.  While the NO has good qualities, the EF Mass is much more reverent and fits together like a unified whole.  Every part of the Mass, from beginning to end, appears designed to give glory to God and to give those in attendance a glimpse of the eternal.  I strongly believe that wider availability of the EF Mass, accompanied by effective catechesis, would fan the flames of faith throughout the Church today. 

  11. Response:

    Two weeks ago, I spearheaded a petition drive in my parish (St. Joseph, Salem, OR) to re-institute the TLM after 40 years. This was at the request of my pastor, who fully intends to reinstitute it, probably after Easter, but who wanted a petition to be circulated to give him an indication of parishioner support (and, in my view, probably to cover his a** in case he receives any grief from our notoriously anti-TLM chancery…).   We have a large parish, with 10 Masses on the weekends attended by probably 2-3,000 people. We also have fairly regular Latin Novus Ordo Masses. And I was delighted with the results of the petition. I made a brief announcement at each Mass, and then stood at a small table near one of the exits (there are at least 4 exits from the church, so I couldn’t cover even a majority of departing parishioners). I easily collected nearly 400 signatures in support of bringing back the TLM. My petition also included a box to write in “age,” so I was able to identify which categories were must supportive.  The majority of signers (about 60%) were younger folk–age 40 and below–and therefore had little or no “nostalgia for the good old days of Latin Masses.” Many, indeed, were quite young–teens or people in their twenties.  The next largest group were the elderly, age 70 and above. [Interesting.] The comments I heard from them indicated that most were motivated by nostalgia and their previous positive experiences with the TLM in their younger days.  The only hostile comments or rude glares that I encountered were among the baby boomers, in their 50s and 60s. Indeed, one such person even defaced one of the petition sheets. [!] Very few of those in this age category signed the petition.

    A couple of interesting facts:

    The highest percentage of signers, oddly enough, came from those attending our 8:30 a.m. “folk mass” (featuring the “choir” of strumming guitars and shaking tambourines). Father and I discussed this strange result and concluded that that Mass is probably attended by two groups of people: Hard-core folkies, who are not likely to support the TLM; and those who, for scheduling or logistics reasons, attend that Mass because it’s the only one they can attend, and who for 20 years have been offering up their suffering to God and praying for a change. (Unfortunately, that’s not the Mass that’s likely to be replaced by the TLM in our parish…).

    The lowest percentage was among those attending our two Spanish Masses. We thought it would be higher, since our local Mexican community is largely quite orthodox, and in my announcement I noted that the TLM is the exact same Mass as Bl. Miguel Pro and the Cristeros fought and died for in the early 1900s (there is a great devotion here to the Cristeros). Nevertheless, hardly any of the Hispanic parishioners signed. We concluded that it may be because a large percentage of the Mexicans here are illegal (a known fact), or know those who are, and are therefore unwilling to sign their names to public petitions.

    For the record, I am 49 years old, and a convert from 10 years ago. I hope you found this interesting. [I did indeed.]


  12. Response:

    I am a 34 years old cradle Catholic who left for a while to join a Protestant/Evangelical sect, then returned to the Church maybe 3-4 years ago. I attend mass in the EF in London every Sunday morning, attracted by the reverence and strictness in regards the rubrics. At times with the newer form of the mass in the UK I find it quite hit and miss- some masses I go to are quite beautiful, whereas others I can sit and feel a little frustrated at the priest seemingly changing things around. I don’t get that with mass in the EF- I know what is about to happen, and am comforted that the priest doesn’t chop and change things as he sees fit. I will say though that I recently spent 2 years in South Korea, where the NO mass is celebrated with great reverence, almost on a par with what I experience in the EF mass in London. So perhaps the ‘hit-and-miss’ experience is more confined to the liberal West than other parts of the world. I found the EF mass more difficult to understand than the English mass at first, but with effort it got easier. The same was true in Korea- at first it was difficult, but in the end the language barrier was no bar to being spiritually enriched at every mass, or being able to actively participate. I only wish more of my family and friends would show an enthusiasm for the Latin Mass!

  13. Response:

    I’m a 43 year old cradle Catholic. I grew up in a “conservative” Novus Ordo style parish on the Montana prairie. I had a very strong longing for traditional liturgical forms and continuity. It wasn’t until the Holy Father put it into words “the hermeneutic of continuity” that I was able to say, Yes! that’s it!  Our little parish church had been completely stripped by an iconoclastic previous pastor. It had once been quite beautiful. Luxemburg Families had brought the altar with them from Iowa. Unfortunately, it went to the dump. Some families managed to save a few pieces and some never entered foot in the Church again. Anyway, I attribute two pivotal experiences to finding my way to my patrimony as a Catholic: Beuron Abbey in Germany (my introduction to a Gregorian chant Mass) and St Agnes in Minnesota (where I found an authentic Catholic liturgy). If I had the grace to attend and belong to a parish such as St Agnes again I would gladly assist at such a novus ordo. Until such time, I assist almost exclusively at the traditional rite.

  14. Response:

    I’m 24 years old, brought up Catholic but my formation and experience of the faith was very shallow. That said, there was certainly a cognitive dissonance between my experience of mass and what I had been taught about it. Therefore, even before I had really begun to experience my faith as something lived and deeply felt, I started longing for something more beautiful than what I was used to.

    At first I thought something roughly resembling an traditional Anglican service must be the answer. When I heard of the Latin mass, I accepted the prejudices that it needed reform and things like the priest ‘turning his back to the people’ seemed wrong. Nevertheless, I was curious… around the time of SP, I was starting to rediscover my faith and from what I had been reading, it seemed that the E.F. offered much of what I had always found missing. When I moved to a different place, and had the opportunity to attend the E.F. on a regular basis, I immediately became convinced of its spiritual depth. I also had the opportunity to attend several ‘reform of the reform’ O.F. masses, and while I was impressed, it could not match the E.F. Much of what I found so rewarding in the E.F. such as the penitential rite, was deleted or modified in some undesirable way. The E.F. seems to flow so that there is a tangible buildup towards the climax of the Eucharist. The O.F., to my mind, is overly simplified, almost hurried at some points, and there is not enough time for silent reflection.

    The E.F. has aided in my own spiritual development. My perception of the role of the priest totally changed and for the first time in my life I began to seriously consider a vocation. [Interesting.] While I ultimately decided against this, I have a great deal of appreciation for the Gregorian rite and its power to engage people on a deep and profound level. Even seemingly unimportant changes to the aesthetics of liturgy do affect our perception of what is going on. Of course the O.F. is valid in every respect, but I don’t think it has the same power to inspire worship. It is my opinion that both forms of liturgy could benefit from mutual enrichment (I welcome the option in the E.F. to sing the readings in the vernacular, for example) but the O.F. has a much longer way to go.


  15. Response:

    I am 24 years old, and have been Catholic all my life. I reverted back to the Church in 2004. I was raised at the typical Novus Ordo Parish.
    I’ve always been an introvert and was never a big fan of some of the things that went on at the parish. I found out about the EF in 2007 after Summorum Pontificum. Since my reversion back to the Church, I was curious to learn about the Latin Mass I heard so many things against it I wanted to check it out for myself. The first time I went to Mass I was quite lost,..The second a little less lost, and the Third time I really got it. The EF has mystery and transcendence which are much harder to find in the OF Mass. I love the silence which suits me as in introverted person. I’m a huge fan of the reform of the reform which I hope to see elements of the EF reach their way into the OF.

  16. I will post more of your interesting responses later.

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