QUAERITUR: How to explain devotion to TLM to people who don’t like it

From a reader:

Do you have any tips for charitably explaining one’s devotion to the
TLM with those members of the Church, who, having attended the TLM in
their youth, remember it as something dreadful or imposing?

I think this will depend on the person and the place.

Also, your devotion is to the Lord made present in the TLM, and the reverence in the manner of celebration, and the clarity of the texts and doctrine.

However, a general principle should be, at all times – and I cannot stress this enough – show your joy at being able to attend.

Most of the time, people who object to the older form of Mass do so from emotional rather than rational reasons.  Some nun was mean to them 50 years ago (probably because they were goofing off in class), and they associate that with “the church” or the old Mass.  You will have a hard time arguing them out of their stance.

You can cut through, however, will a genuine demonstration of joy that you are able to benefit from the older forms.

Too often traditionalists get defensive or offensive and then go all long-face.

Happiness, however, can be disarming and attractive.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    How do you show your joy with a spouse (a convert) who dreads it? Who sees it as almost non-Christian? With her non-liturgical background, I understand it is quite a step. I’m thankful for her conversion, but it pains me not to attend a weekly EF less than 30 minutes from our house – any mention causes one or both of us to be offended.

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Z: Too often traditionalists get defensive or offensive and then go all long-face.

    I see remarks like this more often than I see any actual trads who are like this.

    I recall thinking, at the luncheon following our TLM yesterday, that possibly there is a happier bunch of Catholics somewhere, but surely there’s not one where everyone acts and looks more joyous.

  3. Henry: Sure! I agree about the general cheerfulness of “trads” say, after Mass for coffee and doughnuts (or in NYC sometimes bagels). And this is my general experience everywhere I go, too.

    I should clarify that when there is a discussion with those who don’t cozen to the TLM, I have seen more long-face than joy.

  4. basilorat says:

    I’ve been at this sort of thing for a very, very long time. I’ve had this discussion as a religious, a seminarian, and as a professional layperson in bars, happy hours after work, shopping for clothes, you name it!


    It has NOTHING to do with the Old Mass.

    Start by telling them how much it has helped you and why you think it’s wonderful…

    Get them to talk about their experience, without correcting or interrupting. Get them to talk about the situation surrounding it, their childhood, their parish, their priests, their teachers or nuns, their friends and family.

    I can almost 99% promise you it’s something they subconsciously connected in their life or childhood to the Old Mass (or Mass and Catholicism in general). Once they realize it themselves, without you preaching to them, only asking them questions…the NEXT TIME (usually not right then and there), they will come back to you with a whole different attitude or wanting to talk or ask more questions about it.

    I promise it will work….100% promise.

  5. wchoag says:

    Do you have any tips for charitably explaining one’s devotion to the
    TLM with those members of the Church, who, having attended the TLM in
    their youth, remember it as something dreadful or imposing?

    I really don’t think one needs to charitably explain his devotion to the TLM to anyone. The usus antiquor is venerable antiquity and the liturgy for hosts of saints.

    I truly think that the inverse is the case–persons attached to the liturgy of Paul VI need to explain their devotion to that form since it is so very novel.

  6. Dr. Eric says:

    My first TLM was a Low Mass celebrated by Msgr. Jerome in Du Quoin, IL (Requiescat in pace) in 2001. He was the only one in the whole Belleville Diocese to have permission to say it since 1994. It did not appeal to me at all. It took seeing the Rorate Mass on EWTN and a general dismay for the state of the Novus Ordo before I thought I would give it another try. I went to another Low Mass at St. Francis de Sales in St. Louis after visiting my grandpa in the hospital (Requiescat in pace). Then I went to the Good Friday Liturgy there as well a few weeks later, I was hooked. There is nothing to compare to a Solemn High Mass, except for a properly celebrated Liturgy in another Rite. I’ve been to Ukrainian Liturgies, Ruthenian, Chaldean, and Maronite (daily and Sunday) each traditional Liturgy is beautiful.

    My advise is to talk about your positive experiences as Fr. Z wrote and to maybe ask the person to watch it with you on the TV or computer so s/he can ask questions eventually ask the person to go with you. My mom didn’t like it, that’s OK. She did get to go to St. Francis and she now knows why I do like the TLM. Perhaps that’s all you can do, let God do the rest.

  7. stpetric says:

    @Henry “I see remarks like this more often than I see any actual trads who are like this.”

    I wish my experiences were like yours. But I recently moved from one town where I was a moderately frequent visitor to an “extraordinary form” parish, to a town where the first EF parish I visited repelled me. The difference? Not so much the liturgy, obviously, although the first parish paid more attention to its music. It was more that the first felt more like an actual parish where the people knew and liked each other, and enjoyed seeing each other at coffee hour after Mass (most everyone stayed for it). The second, though, seemed a singularly joyless place; I don’t plan to return there any time soon.

  8. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    If I were in that position, I would take my loved one to a parish event after the Mass, such as a picnic or a pancake breakfast. That’s when people seem happiest. People can focus on each other (at the appropriate time, after Mass) and needn’t be solemn. Everyone around you is similarly minded regarding the liturgy, so there is little reason to talk about or complain about any other liturgy, and finally, you get to see how YOUNG most of the traditionalists are and see how many CHILDREN there are, which always makes people happy.

  9. danphunter1 says:

    My first TLM experience was the ordination, to the priesthood of my uncle , in 1983.
    I was a sophomore in high school at the time and do not remember much of my reaction to it other than complete, utter, silent, awe.
    My next experience was during college in 1989 in St Catherines Canada at a low Mass.
    at the time I was far from the faith and not a good person and do not remember a lot other than thinking “this is very beautiful”
    After this the next TLM would be “the point of no return”, so to speak.
    It was in 2005, and being older and hopefully in a state of grace, I was floored at the incredible peace and beauty of the Mass. No comparison to the decades of NO’s I had assisted at. I would become attached to the TLM after this.

    Well anyhow the advice I would give to someone that had a bad experience with the TLM, is:
    keep going to it.
    Force yourself to assist at the Mass for 4 or 5 times or more.
    Pray the Mass along with the priest from the handmissal or TLM missalette, and ask Almighty God to open your heart in charity to this absolutely beautiful and perfect Sacrifice.

  10. danphunter1 says:

    As a side note, I might tell someone who has an aversion to the TLM that it might be better for your health, than the NO.
    I say this partly in jest, but this event actually did happen once: Knowing the great peace and calm I almost always invariably experience at the TLM, I did an experiment.
    I took a blood pressure cuff with me to both a Novus Ordo Mass and a Traditional Latin Mass [on two seperate Sundays] and immediately after Mass, recorded my BP.
    After the NO my pressure was 128/78
    After the TLM it was noticably lower at 110/67
    This might have been the result of the Gregorian Chant though.

  11. becket1 says:

    No advice. I just learned to keep my “mouth shut”, and let them go about their “protestant” loving ways. [WOW. Out of line. o{]>:¬( ] There is no way whatsoever in my family that will convince them. They don’t even know what a Byzantine Catholic is. I just let them go and do their Novus Ordo thing an forget about it. I Just sit back and smirk, when I listen to them and there friends discuss all things Roman Catholic. They think they are so knowledgeable about Catholicism and that I don’t know what I am talking about, and just say “what you read that on the internet” in a cocky way, but they also think the Divine Liturgy is like the Divine Mercy prayer. Laughable isn’t it!. So I just keep my mouth shut!. [That might apply to keyboards, too. I know a lot of good people with their priests who are great, devout, reverent, Catholics and they don’t even attend TLMs.]

  12. Fr. Basil says:

    One of the reasons the Church is Catholic is that there are authorized rites for the Eucharistic Sacrifice–Ordinary Form, Extraordinary Form, Divine Liturgy, Qorbano, Baradak, et al–to answer to everyone’s spiritual and devotional needs preferences.

    I make no secret that I prefer the Byzantine Liturgies (including Byzantine St. James and St. Mark), but I have attended the EF and OF from time to time, and I hope to attend others as God gives me the opportunity.

    BTW–how many here don’t like the Ordinary Form because they have had bad experiences at it? It makes as much sense as saying that people don’t like the EF for the same reason.

    Let’s not fight over which Eucharistic Sacrifice is better, OK?

  13. digdigby says:

    “….to answer to everyone’s spiritual and devotional needs preferences.”


  14. asperges says:

    Unfortunately, unless they make a special effort, most Catholics in the UK will not come across the Old Rite, so they can continue in blissful ignorance of the great heritage we almost lost.

    The greatest hostility usually came from the clergy however, but I find this has largely disappeared now except amongst a hard-core late middle-aged contingent. The younger clergy are almost never unfavourable even if unfamiliar with the older rite.

    Happily on 8th December, in Leicester, there will be a Pontifical High Mass where many will witness the old rite for perhaps the first time. Such occasions as these are very important because they use the old rite without a lot of discussion or fuss. This is how the old rite should be: used occasionally (ideally always, but even I accept that won’t happen) alongside the newer. Then the Faithful see both. It shouldn’t be too difficult to see which is better.

  15. Patikins says:

    Amen, Fr. Basil. I’m sick and tired of the “us v. them” commenst I often see in the com boxes on this blog. [Perhaps you be a better moderator than I am on your blog. o{];¬) ]

  16. Teresa-1962 says:

    As St. Teresa of Avila said, “God save us from sour-faced saints.” My parish priest, who blessedly offers the EF every single Sunday, convinced me to try it a few times by his vivid descriptions of the beauty of it and by merely telling me that it was the same mass that so many of the saints I admired would have attended. When I’m alone in my pew or row, I just imagine it filled up with all the many saints named Teresa in Heaven and together we actively particpate in Mass by keeping company with Mary at the foot of the cross.

  17. Daniel Latinus says:

    I think there is a tendency for those who know and love the TLM to raise other people’s expectations, and those people are sorely disappointed when their experience of the TLM doesn’t rise to those expectations.

    I once counseled a fellow to try attending the TLM more than once, and to try the TLM in different venues. To some extent, the TLM can be an acquired taste.

    I also think a lot of traditional Catholics who take to the TLM don’t always understand the elements that drew them to it. And some of us, especially those who have not been in the more typical Catholic parishes and schools for some time, realize that a lot of things we take for granted are simply not at all present in modern Catholic culture.

  18. Tina in Ashburn says:

    If you have an irrational hatred for Catholicism or the Extraordinary Form, your beliefs about these things also will be irrational.

    basilorat is right on – the root cause of folks’ dislike has nothing to do with the Mass. Sort of along the lines of Sheen’s quote, “…people hate what they THINK is the Catholic Church…”. The opinions of the old Mass are typically emotional references and prejudices. Gentle, patient, and charitable discussions, along with prayer, has the best effects on hearts. Also, I firmly believe that the largest contributor to misunderstanding the OF Mass, is today’s barren ignorance of the Mass in general. Period.

    And Henry, visiting your parish was a very happy experience last year. You all ARE the nicest bunch of people! Its easy to be happy and goodhearted in return to your kind and joyous personality, Henry!

    Around here, the ‘Tridentiners” are kind and friendly, and keep their thoughts to themselves except in closest company. But, oh my, there are a few loud-mouthed opinionated ones around here that have given the old Mass a bad rap. Unfortunately, although very very small, this minority is the loudest and rudest. It is possible that the ‘you’re not Catholic enough’ attitude has turned away a priest or two in this Diocese from learning the old Mass. hoo-boy.

  19. Daniel Latinus says:

    Correction to my last post:

    …And some of us, especially those who have not been in the more typical Catholic parishes and schools for some time, DO NOT realize that a lot of things we take for granted are simply not at all present in modern Catholic culture.

  20. teomatteo says:

    “I completely understand your feelings about the Extraordinary Form or Latin Mass. It took me many weeks to become comfortable with things but i find it very spiritual and important for my journey. I know an old roommate from Dental school who told me at our 25yr. class reunion that he has discovered his jewish faith and he laughingly told me that he’s even taking classes in hebrew. We both laughed when i told him that i’ve ‘discovered’ latin and point out to my kids all the latin we use on a daily basis, etcetera…. But i think that a catholic can find more joy in the extraordinary form if they go more than once and do just a little bit of prep work before they go.
    Our church is old and its big… and latin mass is a small part of that oldness and bigness. “

  21. Jerry says:

    @wchoag – “I really don’t think one needs to charitably explain his devotion to the TLM to anyone. The usus antiquor is venerable antiquity and the liturgy for hosts of saints. I truly think that the inverse is the case–persons attached to the liturgy of Paul VI need to explain their devotion to that form since it is so very novel.”

    This is exactly the type of arrogance which will get you nowhere.

    The most important thing is not to put down, or be perceived as putting down, the OF. With most people, arguments about novel changes vs organic development, the antiquity of the EF, etc. are not going to fly at this point. Save them for later.

    Instead, explain what makes you want to keep coming back.

  22. Andrew says:

    Most frequent objection to the TLM is of the “I prefer to understand what is being said” line. And that’s a valid point. I find it curious and baffling that the vast majority of people who favor the TLM show not interest in the study of Latin. You would think that there might be a connection, but as it is Catholics of all stripes are happy to let the knowledge of the Church’s tongue recede into oblivion. Let some scholar surrounded by dusty old books explain it to us, we just like the sound of it as long as we’ve got our English on the other side of the page. I don’t get it!

  23. Henry Edwards says:

    And Henry, visiting your parish was a very happy experience last year. You all ARE the nicest bunch of people!

    Well, Tina, maybe the shared joy of our first meeting as a pair of longtime Zoulmates had a radiant effect on all present and made them seem an even happier bunch.

  24. Jerry says:

    @Fr.Z – “Also, your devotion is to the Lord made present in the TLM”

    Unfortunately, it is not at all uncommon to find “trads” discussing the TLM in a way that leaves the impression their devotion is indeed to the TLM itself. And people do sense, and reject, this, even if they can’t explain precisely what it is they find distasteful.

  25. Tina in Ashburn says:

    The EF groups do not have a lock on charity. The love of God and kindness is everywhere.

    I am very familiar with indignant individuals who believe that the folks with whom they are interacting reject Catholic beliefs – when actually it is the indignant, rude individual that is being rejected. Change your attitude to humility and kindness when ‘teaching’, drop the derision, and see hearts open up.

    Last year we traveled for 8 weeks across the US in our RV, visiting different parishes along the way, attending the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms.

    For instance, I found piety and devotion at a parish in Phoenix Arizona, a state that from most appearances has lost all touch with real Catholicism. The lead singer was a handsome young black man with dreadlocks along with the drum-set and guitars. UGH I thought. But wait, the family in the pew in front of me used the Magnificat missal. The words to the songs I’ve never heard were projected up on the walls of the gymnasium-type church. Appalling. But wait. I observed focus and prayer in the congregants around me. Huh? The Kyrie was Greek, the Angus Dei in Latin – set to contemporary but reverent melody. The homily was orthodox. hmmm. Communion-time was reverent. Hey! These people want to pray! They were doing their best in the wake of years of bad formation.

    My point is, don’t overlook true devotion, charity, and seeking God because of off-putting trappings and ignorance. The sincere heart longs for God. America has become mission country for the re-teaching and evangelization of the Faith. But as our early American martyrs knew, the only way is with charity and penance.

    [Henry, yes, the Z-effect is undeniable LOL]

  26. AJP says:

    I second Daniel’s comment about attending the EF more than once. I attended the EF for the first time a few years ago while visiting family in another state. The first Sunday, it took most of my energy and attention simply to follow along in the missal, so I wasn’t overwhelmed with awe or anything like that. The second Sunday, I was more familiar with the rhythm of the EF and my experience was more positive. The EF community had Mass in a very ugly modern church with *horrible* acoustics, so I still can’t say I was overwhelmed with awe or a sense of ineffable beauty.

    As for being positive and friendly, this is so important. I didn’t get a chance to interact with the EF folks during my vacation, and otherwise I attend the OF (there are no EF near where we live and our OF parish is very good). Pretty much all of my “interaction” with traditionalists has been online. I occasionally read the message boards at one of the largest online trad foums. I recognize that one’s real life persona and online persona can be quite different, but I can definitely see where the “sour faced trad” meme comes from. There are some very angry and unhappy people attached to the EF. There are also a number of people attached to the EF with very extreme views about politics, gender roles, Judaism, conspiracy theories, and culture in general. I’m not talking orthodox Catholicism (which seems extreme to most mainstream Americans) but folks like Bishop Williamson (e.g., ideas are not for women so women shouldn’t go to college, the Sound of Music is pornographic, the Jews and Masons are to blame for everything bad, etc) .

    I have no idea how many EF attendees subscribe to these extreme views or are very angry people. I hope it is a small minority that grabs the most attention, as small but noisy minorities tend to do. And quite honestly, given the utterly horrible treatment traditionalists have received from the institutional Church over the last 40 years, I understand why many of them are angry and bitter. It’s totally justified and I’m quite sympathetic to many of their complaints. Nonetheless, this sour-faced minority really makes me apprehensive about attending the EF in the future, if I had an opportunity to do so.

    One of the best and most promising part of Pope Benedict’s promotion of the EF is the mainstreaming of it. I think alot of the unpleasant attitudes found among traditionalists are due to a bunker mentality – often justified given how the Church has treated them. But as more and more Catholics are exposed to this treasure, the EF and traditionalism in general will hopefully lose these negative associations. And traditionalists who are happy, positive, and welcoming people are the best folks to accomplish this.

  27. One word: Catechesis.

    The majority of people that I know that see the TLM as dry and unfulfilling and have difficulty fathoming why others are devoted to it are those who are mired in, or at the very least infected with, the error of viewing Holy Mass largely as the Catholic version of any number of other Christian praise and worship services (an awareness of the unique presence of Christ in the Eucharist for many notwithstanding.)

    In other words, theirs is a largely community oriented view, where the “joy” of the Mass as they believe it is to be found is largely the product of the congregation’s (or an individual’s) efforts; be it through singing songs, or efforts to foster fellowship, or offering one’s own personal praise, etc., whereas the TLM devotee’s joy at Holy Mass comes from an awareness of Mass as an entering into the sacred mystery where Christ Himself is the primary Actor. The former’s joy is more overtly exterior, whereas the latter’s joy is largely an interior reality that is not easily explained to the former. This once again goes straight to the problem of how widely misunderstood is the phrase “fully conscious and active participation.” Generally speaking, the latter gets it, the former doesn’t, and good luck having a cogent conversation with that person (the former) until they also “get it.”

    That’s not to say that the average NO devotee is insincere and utterly self-focused, just that even in their devoutness and desire to offer Divine worship as best they can, their awareness of sacred mystery and the action of Christ at Holy Mass is so severely lacking that the language of the Mass as the TLM devotee is want to explain it is nearly foreign to them. Before they can communicate effectively they need to speak the same language, and that’s why catechesis is the first step.

    It may sound arrogant, but the majority of Catholics in my estimation just don’t know any better as liturgical instruction and catechesis has been sorely lacking over the last 40+ years, and the NO Mass as it is most often celebrated in my experience often has numerous “signs” that obscure the reality of scared mystery more so than point toward it. These are big hurdles to overcome.

    Until one has a sense for (and accepts!) the Mass for what it is as the Church understands it, explaining one’s devotion to the TLM to them is nearly impossible, IMO.

  28. Jerry says:


    Not everyone is adept at learning foreign languages or has the time to devote to it, especially when they are busy raising those large traditional Catholic families. While it’s not all that difficult to pick up some basic Latin vocabulary, learning the grammar well enough to be able to translate on sight (which is what you have to do to make use of the Latin in a liturgical situation) is far more difficult.

    Personally, I see no problem with relying on the English translation provided in a missal. What I don’t understand is why some perceive there to be an intrinsic benefit to saying personal prayers in Latin, even when one does not know what is being prayed.

  29. TJerome says:

    I also think that it is “fashionable” in some circles (particularly liberal ones) to show your disdain for the EF. Often times you’ll find that the person ranting the most has never experienced the EF, so that tells you a lot about that individual’s objectivity and sense of fairness.

    In terms of demeanor, I find most places where the EF is offered to be user friendly. I haven’t experienced the sour side, like some folks have reported.

  30. TJerome says:

    Jerry, I don’t know Italian but it hasn’t kept me from the Opera or appreciating its beauty. There’s always a libretto.

  31. asophist says:

    “Unfortunately, it is not at all uncommon to find “trads” discussing the TLM in a way that leaves the impression their devotion is indeed to the TLM itself. And people do sense, and reject, this, even if they can’t explain precisely what it is they find distasteful.”

    Having been born and raised in the days when the “EF” was all there was, having a devotion to the Mass was encouraged – and I had it. I see nothing wrong and everything right with such a devotion. Since “Mass” then, meant the TLM, what do you think somebody like me would think of the NO? – a weird abberation, at best, and repulsive. Sorry. It’s my history and I know I’m hardly alone in that. I am, though (and Deo gratias!), a joyous – not a sour – participant in the EF

  32. K_Suzanne says:


    “After the NO my pressure was 128/78
    After the TLM it was noticably lower at 110/67
    This might have been the result of the Gregorian Chant though.”

    As a music therapist, I appreciate it a LOT when people realize things like this. :D

  33. Glen M says:

    By their fruits you shall know them. Compare the numbers pre and post Novus Ordo (priests, attendees at Mass, seminarians, belief in Transubstantiation, participation in Sacrament of Confession).

  34. Jerry says:

    @asophist – “what do you think somebody like me would think of the NO? – a weird abberation, at best, and repulsive.”

    I think either you are not making a distinction between the Novus Ordo and specific instances of the Novus Ordo, which may well contain abuses that are not, in fact, part of the Novus Ordo or that you have fallen into the trap.

    The Novus Ordo is, despite whatever flaws it may have, first and foremost the Mass, the bloodless offering of Our Lord’s sacrifice to almighty God, and it deserves the respect associated with such. How can this be repulsive? The abuses may certainly be repulsive; the Mass is not.

  35. Henry Edwards says:

    APJ, I sometimes wonder whether the extreme and bitter views that are prominent at a few trad online forums aren’t mainly associated with groups and individuals not in full communion with the Church.

    I know the types of views and individuals you refer to, but I don’t find them overly present – and certainly not conspicuous – at the typical TLM celebrated in an ordinary parish setting, likely with an orthodox young diocesan priest who celebrates the OF and EF with similar care and reverence. And likely with most or many of the congregants being faithful Catholics who go both ways liturgically. These are getting to be common TLM situations post Summorum Pontificum, with many of their adherents not dating so far back into the bad old days.

  36. Re: the non-liturgical person in the family, you can always unleash Early Christian literature. :) You know, though, we really need a movie about Early Christians that shows a lot of liturgy stuff. :)

    I know Latin well enough to follow most of an EF (what I can hear, anyway). Doesn’t really help much, other than to encourage me to remember my old high school Latin class in prayer. :)

    A sung High Mass is much more lovable (to me) than a Low Mass. A lot of people who think they don’t like the EF just don’t like Low Mass, or don’t like what they remember of it. I realize that some people like Low Mass, just like some people like a silent OF; and I’m sure I’d be more into it if I’d grown up with it; but it’s misleading to say that the EF is all and only about silence and nothing at all visibly going on! :)

  37. a catechist says:

    Has anyone here read the pope’s latest Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini? I ask because in it he calls for a lot more knowledge of the Word–both Scripture and Apostolic Tradition–by Catholics, particularly study of Scripture. I’ve been reading the Old Testament a lot during the last couple of years, at the same time I’ve started to attend the EF. I find that a better knowledge of the Old Testament really increases my appreciation of the EF. It seems to me that a parish Scripture study/prayer group working on the Old Testament will be a great place to bring up the EF….

  38. brassplayer says:

    Jerry, I don’t know Italian but it hasn’t kept me from the Opera or appreciating its beauty. There’s always a libretto.

    Being able to understand the language is not a requirement in Opera. Opera singers are trained to produce the most beautiful sound possible, even at the expense of enunciation. If the audience really needs to know what’s going on, they’ll just look at the libretto.

  39. paulbailes says:

    Dear Fr Basil

    Re your “Let’s not fight over which Eucharistic Sacrifice is better, OK?” – perhaps if the NOM revolutionaries were not so keen on making things hard-to-impossible for those of us who just want to live and worship as Catholics, then perhaps we wouldn’t be fighting so much. Remember, they (NOM revolutionaries) started the trouble, especially by their attempts to suppress the TLM.

    But I wouldn’t want you to think I am one of the unhappy people to whom Fr Z refers. I just enjoy debating with people on WDTPRS (God bless Fr Z) – it helps “maintain the rage” as we say in Australia :-;

  40. Henry Edwards says:

    If the audience really needs to know what’s going on, they’ll just look at the libretto.

    Or a missal, or the ubiquitous red missalette with propers insert.

    However, I’m not sure you find out what’s “going on” at Mass by reading the words.

    It’s more important that a “traditional Latin Mass” traditional than that it’s Latin. Because the liturgical action is more important than the language.

    I suspect that many or most people who attend an EF Mass know what’s going on without understanding Latin. Whereas many or most people who attend an OF Mass don’t know what’s going on even though they understand its vernacular.

  41. BrRyan says:

    I think it’s worth adding the Holy Father’s words to this already much-commented post:

    “My main reason for making the previous [i.e. Extraordinary] form more available was to preserve the internal continuity of Church history. We cannot say: Before, everything was wrong, but now everything is right; for in a community in which prayer and the Eucharist are the most important things, what was earlier supremely sacred cannot be entirely wrong. The issue was internal reconciliation with our own past, the intrinsic continuity of faith and prayer in the Church.” Light of the World, p. 106

    Of course this is not an attempt to convince anyone to prefer the Extraordinary Form. But any faithful Catholic ought to be able to appreciate the point that we mustn’t think that everything was horribly wrong until 1970.

  42. paulbailes says:

    Dear Jerry

    The Novus Ordo is not “the Mass”. (Neither for that matter is the TLM.) Rather a rite (or celebration thereof) is a presentation of Christ’s sacrifice. It’s just that some presentations are not as edifying as others (perhaps. High TLM vs Low TLM), some so bad as to be avoided. Some of us have concluded that that NOM, however reverently celebrated, is always below the mark.

    God bless

  43. scargo says:

    It’s difficult to be joyful and charitable when electrified liturgies are all you get. The Lefebvrists of the left mentality of all of our clerics here is so ingrained with obstruction and disinformation that if you bring up just wanting to follow the popes initiative you get a deer in the head lite look. The only “good” catholics here are NO catholics and if you bring up SP or TLM you may as well be speaking Latin. We’ve been accused of schism because of our infrequent attendance at the local SSPX chapel. Where else can we go? we’re literally 5 hours from any approved TLM’s and other rites are even further. The only Anglicans around here are more protestant than our bishop who turns 75 in mid2012. We pray for them and the situation but needless to say the countdown has begone:)

  44. paulbailes says:

    “Lefebvrists of the left” – grr!! Remember – all Abp. Lefebvre set out to do was to maintain the pre-Vat.II status quo. Noone could be more “middle of the road” than he.


  45. dap says:

    To the original question about how to charitably explain one’s devotion:

    Please be kind, diplomatic and very charitable. Please be able to accept the fact that other faithful Catholics may have legitimate, rational reasons for preferring the Ordinary Form. Please do not ever refer to other believers as “heretics” or “modernists” or use the phrase “Novus Ordo” as a pejorative. Ultimately we may win many converts if we portray a positive image and if our behavior and manners reflect the Gospel values we profess.

  46. Fr. Basil says:

    \\“….to answer to everyone’s spiritual and devotional needs preferences.”


    Digdigby, what part of “Ordinary Form, Extraordinary Form, Divine Liturgy, Qorbano, Baradak, et al [meaning the other authorized rites for the Eucharistic Sacrifice]” did you not understand?

  47. Aaron B. says:

    In my experience and opinion, there are two main things that keep people from trying the TLM.

    They’re intimidated, because they think TLM-goers are “super-Catholics” who will laugh or glare at them for not knowing all the prayers by heart in Latin and when to do things. They’re afraid they’ll mess up and look stupid, in other words. If they’re under 40 years old, they’ve probably never received Communion on the tongue before, so they’re nervous about that. (Yes, I’ve heard people say they don’t want someone touching their tongue.) They’re afraid they’ll look like rubes on their first trip to the big city, gawking and stammering while everyone else goes through the motions like it’s old hat. Then after Mass, they’re afraid everyone will be discussing the Pope’s latest encyclical or something, and they’ll feel stupid again.

    Related to that is the other reason: it’s a commitment. (Not necessarily to try it once, but to give it a real chance with the possibility of becoming a regular.) As a practical matter, for almost everyone it means committing to fewer choices of Mass times, and usually a longer drive. But in a spiritual sense, I think they sense that if they start going to the TLM, they’ll have to take their faith more seriously. (That’s not to say people who attend the Novus Ordo don’t or can’t take their faith seriously. But if you’ve been taking it casually, it’s harder to keep that up when you start kneeling down for Communion.) Odds are that the person they know who’s trying to get them to attend has become more serious about his faith. Maybe he’s started going to daily Mass or wearing the scapular, and he professes his faith openly more often. They look at him and realize that following his example might mean more than Latin and incense every Sunday; it might lead them in a direction they’re not sure they’re ready for.

    So I think it’s important to be gentle in how you approach them. Be enthusiastic, but don’t go overboard. Don’t make them feel like there’s this big overwhelming package called “trad Catholicism” that they have to sign up for on day one. And don’t criticize the new rite, because that also makes them feel like they’re being pressured into choosing sides.

  48. TJerome says:

    brassplayer, and you also don’t know to know Latin to appreciate and participate in a Mass in the Latin language. You need a missal with a translation. Moreover, far, far more Catholics went to Sunday Mass when it was celebrated in Latin, approximately 80% in the United States in 1960 compared to the dreary 23% of American Catholics who attend Sunday Mass now, with the “new and improved, and intelligible” Mass.

  49. Daniel Latinus says:

    One thing I would like to see is more properly celebrated Low Masses, with the priest saying aloud the parts that should be said aloud, and in an undertone only the parts required to be said in an undertone.

    For people who are not familiar with the TLM, a Low Mass can be easier to follow, and can help the neophyte get a grasp of the rite. Once they are familiar with the basics of the TLM, then maybe they can appreciate the chant and ceremonial of Missa Cantata and even the Solemn Mass.

    The last time I tried to introduce absolute beginners to the TLM, I gave them photocopies of the day’s Mass from the Saint Joseph Continuous Sunday Missal. While this handmissal did not have Latin/English, it did have the complete Mass as a continuous text, with no page flipping. Of course, I also gave a few pre-Mass explanations to guide them.

    When I was introducing my kid sister to the TLM, I started her as I said above, and once she got her bearings, I gave her an old My Sunday Missal (Fr. Stedman). In that, the parts of the Mass are numbered to guide the reader to the day’s propers, and back to the Ordinary. After she used this missal for a while, she got a daily missal.

    I hope this advice is useful.

  50. albinus1 says:

    Most frequent objection to the TLM is of the “I prefer to understand what is being said” line.

    And yet, when I go to the NO, I see an awful lot of people who seem not to be paying attention. So, even if they can understand what is being said, some aren’t. (Of course, this sometimes applies to my students, too, and, to be more charitable, to all of us at various times.)

    I teach Latin, and I first became interested in Latin by looking through my parents’ old missals. I was also surprised that so many people who prefer the EF don’t seem to have any interest in learning Latin. I think that if manydevotees of the traditional Mass were given the choice between the Novus Order in Latin or the traditional Mass in the vernacular, they would unhesitatingly choose the latter. So, while the use of Latin is a significant part of the EF, for many adherents it isn’t the sine qua non. It’s a shame, of course, but if even some adherents of the EF aren’t interested in learning any Latin, I’m not sure what can be done. Maybe this is the opportunity to hold workshops periodically where everyone reads slowly through the texts of the Mass, through the psalms, etc. This might kindle the interest for studying further for those who have time and inclination.
    I’m struck by the comments about how people resistant to the EF should be encouraged to attend several times before they get a feel for it. You’re right, of course, but I think this brings up something about our culture: we have become resistant to anything that requires some effort. We have created a popular culture that makes instant accessibility a virtue, and we have less and less patience for something that requires some effort and patience. I think this is one reason why so many people seem to read less serious fiction than was once the case: it requires some concentration and effort and isn’t just instantly accessible. There was a time in this country when many ordinary people might take a chance on an opera, or a ballet, or plays, or classical music, or literary novels, or serious paintings, or other works of art that require some effort and patience and sophistication and repeated exposure to appreciate them. Now it seems that if something isn’t instantly accessible, people have no time or patience for it. I have seen this in students who refuse even to try to read or appreciate Shakespeare or other serious literature, because it requires some effort. The EF is like that. It has great riches, but it requires some patience and effort to appreciate them.

  51. albinus1 says:

    PS — sorry about the problem with the italics tags in my last message.

  52. scargo says:

    Remember – all Abp. Lefebvre set out to do was to maintain the pre-Vat.II status quo.
    Yes Paul, and his antitheses (the clergy here as in most places) have also set out to maintain the POST-Vat.II status quo in spite of papal initiatives.
    The Catholic response in most cases is inclusive-both/and. Being with the pope is very lonely, it must be very lonely for him too.

  53. danphunter1 says:

    What brand of Absinthe are drinking.
    I’ll buy a case for myself.

  54. Alice says:

    I don’t know that there is a “one size fits all” answer to this question. If the person is not someone close to you, it’s probably best to say something like “it helps me spiritually” and leave it. If it is someone close to you, listen closely and see if you can figure out where their hang up is. You may be surprised to discover that some of the very things that you find in the OF are things that they found in the TLM. Bad music, poorly trained altar servers, poor preaching, and irreverent priests were not dropped from the skies in 1970! My mother probably would have always associated the TLM with these things if she hadn’t started studying it (and in much more depth than her religion classes did) thanks to my convert father and some traditional friends.

  55. brassplayer says:


    brassplayer, and you also don’t know to know Latin to appreciate and participate in a Mass in the Latin language.

    I really wasn’t addressing that point. I was just commenting that the previous comparison of Opera in a foreign language, and the Latin Mass, is akin to comparing apples and oranges.

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