GUEST POST: 1st Traditional Latin Mass experience – “The highly pastoral nature of the Extraordinary Form.”

From a reader:

Over the past 10 years have assisted at a few dozen EF masses. I usually go alone and sometimes with my very Catholic friends, but this weekend I took a group of high school students and their parents. For all, this was their first EF experience.

Most were less than enthusiastic going into it (don’t understand the language, priest facing the “wrong way,”), but afterward they were excitedly making plans for the next time they could all get together and do this again.

I heard a lot of the expected reactions, e.g. more reverent, “holier”, more intimate. What struck me was the varied approaches each one took toward the Mass. Each of the parents and students were all over the map personality wise, spiritually, and intellectually, but they all intuitively found a place for themselves and participated enthusiastically. Some insisted on following the missal the entire time, while others (who came in a different car and I didn’t get the chance to give them any heads up as to what to expect) did not even pick up a missal. Some embraced the challenge of trying to understand this or that prayer or gesture, others didn’t. No one had trouble following along.

For me, the EF had always been an occasional refuge from our poorly organized and largely uninspiring weekly OF mass, and, if attending with my friends, it felt like the “big boy” mass; something for those with a good theological education and a good deal of enthusiasm for the Church in general. My experience today prompted me to reflect on the highly pastoral nature of the EF.

Throughout my theological training (graduate level) it was constantly impressed upon us that we should “meet people where they are,” and that we should be prudent about engaging people on the more difficult Church teachings. Today I was impressed by how the EF did these things, and did them so “effortlessly”. I and the rest of our pastoral team have frequently bent over backwards in an attempt to meet people where they’re at; with the EF, it happened, seemingly, without anyone even trying. The Church did it all for us.

I hope I get the chance to assist at many EF Masses in the future, but I will no longer look on it as the Mass for the advanced. There’s truly something for everyone there!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I was fortunate enough to take 7th and 8th graders to a Norbertine Abbey, where they experienced a number of different things, including (and in particular) participating in sext.
    As part of their religion program, I had trained them all in altar serving and some basic, Church Latin. Both classes enjoyed the experience (as did the parents who accompanied us), saying it was the best field trip they had ever experienced.
    The next year, with a new principal, the field trip was nixed. Latin was nixed. Altar server training was nixed. I asked the pastor of the parish if it would be all right to ask another priest to come in and say the Mass in Latin, since he was not interested. Nix.
    This is a major problem, having our history and our Faith extinguished little by little by small-minded people impacts future generations of Catholics. Narrow minds, such as these, closed the school – most families had gone looking for a real Catholic school and the diocese had not kept its bargain with the parents.

  2. Gratias says:

    We have 400 every-Sunday diocesan Latin masses in the USA. When the traditional omass was proscribed by Pope Paul VI only a mass in Ottawa remained. In 1976 “W. Robert Opelle of California assumed the leadership of Una Voce in this country. Mr. Opelle had worked with the late Fr. Harry Marchosky to win diocesan approval for the traditional Mass at Serra Chapel of the San Juan Capistrano Mission, one of the first Mass locations approved after promulgation of the 1984 indult, Quattuor Abhinc Annos. It is still being offered there today” (taken from Una Voce America webpage). We are privileged concerning Latin masses in the US. In Latin America and Asia the Latin Mass almost does not exist. Once you try the Mass of the Ages you are hooked in so there is no way back. It is well worth that hour driving or more that you might need, as in my case. All diocesan masses in the world are listed in the indispensable Wikimissa webpage. Check it out, there might be a mass of the ages near you. We need more faithful, for now we remain a tiny minority. But if you would like your Catholic Church to last another 2000 years join us for the good of your soul.

  3. Imrahil says:


    The Old Mass is not the more difficult Mass. It is, but for celebrants, altar boys, and those whosr expectations are still shaped by the New Mass, the easier Mass.

  4. Mike says:

    ” . . . the highly pastoral nature of the EF.” Yes! Could it be that what I see when I attend the Traditional Latin Mass expresses what was envisioned by the founders of the Liturgical Movement two centuries ago, and by St. Pius X in Tra le sollicitudini—in a way that is virtually antithetical to many current “celebrations” of the Novus Ordo?

  5. chantgirl says:

    As much as I love the EF, I would continue to go to the NO if I had no other options. However, for my husband, the EF has been a Godsend. He never enjoyed going to the NO because he felt that it was an estrogen-fest. He also had some stereotypes in his head about priests and their sexuality due to the feminization of the liturgy. To be fair, he had never seen NO’s done in a beautiful, reverent way. He was quickly impressed by the EF, and felt that he was free to worship as a man there. He also began to let go of some of the stereotypes about priests that he had formed. Now, when we are able to find a well-done NO, he appreciates it much more.

    I’m willing to bet there are a lot of young men out there like my husband, who may feel that Mass is for women and the elderly. I’m struck by the lack of young men at most NO’s, and the abundance of men at the EF. I think more men could be enticed back to Mass, but some of them will need some rehabilitation of attitudes and past experiences. The EF could open the door for more men to assist at the NO. Manly priests will also help. For the young, male demographic the EF might be particularly pastoral.

  6. Ceile De says:

    A young family we met through RCIA at a different parish have recently joined a parish where we regularly attend at Mass. We were delighted to see that, unlike at our former parish (we’re blessed that both parishes offer the EF), the young family now asttends the EF. When I asked the husband why they had switched to the EF, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear him say that the people were so much more open and welcoming to them as newcomers! Not a compliment EF goers often hear and something of which we need more!

  7. “Exsurge, Deus, judica causam tuam;
    memor esto improperiorum tuorum,
    eorum quæ ab insipiente sunt tota die.
    Ne obliviscaris voces inimicorum tuorum:
    superbia eorum qui te oderunt ascendit semper.”

    May the Lord aid us in swiftly spreading the Usus Antiquior so that once more proper and fitting Sacrifice may be offered to His Name everywhere and in all places.

  8. Per Signum Crucis says:

    “Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me!”

    Forgive me that opening line and also not linking but this post seems an appropriate one to mention that Fr.Z got a mention in yesterday’s “i”, the concise version of The Independent newspaper in the UK, in an article about the Francis effect and some of the issues that have arisen in his papacy so far including the EF.

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