ASK FATHER: What are the best arguments they have in the favor of the novus ordo?

mass coram summo pontificeFrom a reader… and please note that when I get emails with strings of questions I usually delete them instantly.  Answering this is an exception to the rule, which I indicate clearly on the ASK FATHER form.  If ya’ll want me to read your email, do me the kindness of reading what I wrote.


We’ve heard plenty, and readers agree, about the superiority of the extraordinary form. We also agree that the novus ordo can be done well, but that it far too often isn’t. We also know, as all recent evidence proves, of the extraordinary form’s blessings.

[1] So why is the extraordinary form so disliked by some bishops and clergy?

[2] What are the best arguments they have in the favor of the novus ordo?

[3] What reasons do they use to cling to it, given its by now obvious flaws? Was there ever a clown or giant puppet mass before Vatican 2?

That reasons many priests give on keeping an obviously flawed mass can only be described as Jesuitical. But this is a mere layperson’s view.

What’s yours?


  1. Among the reasons why bishops and priests might hate the older form of the Roman Rite is because they fear it.  People tend to fear what they don’t know.  Many priests and bishops today are young enough not to have grown up with the Traditional Latin Mass.  Also, the TLM is in Latin.  They maybe ignorant of Latin, which means that they do not know the language of their Rite, their Church.  That means that they are self-conscious.  They don’t want to be revealed as being ignorant of Latin.  Another reason is that they perceive the use of the older Mass as being a repudiation of everything they were told about Vatican II, etc.  And if they are older – and this pertains to priests in these USA, at least – and they grew up in the halcyon days of protests and Vatican II, their own identity is fused with the mythic, iconic “spirit” of those times.  When they see something like a biretta or hear the suggest that Latin be used, or Gregorian chant, a switch flicks in their heads and they go into an anti-authority, anti-traditional mode.  Also, if they know something about the older form of Mass, they might realize that they can’t be the center of attention, as they can be in the Novus Ordo.  By now so many priests are conditioned to have to be the focus of attention, the driving energy of the “liturgy”, the main event, the ring master, the host of the party.  This may not even be conscious, at this point.  Lastly, the older form constantly reminds the priest that he is a redeemed sinner and that he, too, must be not just a priest, but a priest who is also victim.  More could be written.  This is sufficient.
  2. Christ shares His priesthood with us, lay and ordained.  He does this in qualitatively different ways for lay and ordained.  Nevertheless, all the baptized and baptized, ordained priests are able to offer sacrifice pleasing to God and to participate with actuosa participatio in the Church’s sacred liturgical worship.  Christ is the only High Priest: He speaks, sings, acts in each one of us according to who we are, lay or ordained.  St. Augustine, in explaining the difference “voices” in the psalms, says that ever word of the psalms is Christ speaking: Christ the Head, Christ the Body, Head and Body together – Christus totus.  We see this in sound Church architecture: there is a sanctuary for the Head, a nave for the Body and the mysterious place of joining which is the Communion rail.  During the Church’s various liturgical rites, sometimes the priest (Head) speaks or sings, sometimes the congregation (Body), sometimes both together (Christus Totus).  In some ways, the Novus Ordo reflects this three-fold dynamic more often than the older form, according to which there are fewer moments when the Body on its own speaks or sings, or when they do so at the same time as the priests.  They are there, but there are fewer.  Otherwise, another explanation is one which a lot of people really resent: in this day when so much of our catechesis has been non-existent, poor, or ridiculous, and so many people have little or no idea of the transcendent in worship, sound and traditional use of the Novus Ordo could help them to “grow up” liturgically.  Sometimes I – with a touch of whimsy to make the point drive home – will say that when humans are young, they need more or less shapeless goo to eat, stuff out of jars, because they can’t yet handle the steak and Cabernet.   Eventually they are given more complicated foods of different textures.  They need that kind of food in order to thrive!  However, once they grow up more, they need something else.  Grown ups, on the other hand, can continue to survive on the goo, but they won’t thrive on the goo.  So, now that we are in the state we are in, the Novus Ordo could be, when celebrated well and reverently and with a strong strain of Roman style and tradition – which is exactly what the Council Fathers wanted – a great propaeduetic for something richer and more nourishing, satisfying yet.  I could say more but that’s enough.
  3. Oh yes, there have been priests and bishops who were clowns since our Lord ascended.  That’s a constant.  And, in way, it can be comforting to recognize how fallible and feeble we can be.  This is Christ’s Church and His Church depends on Him, not on us.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Priests and Priesthood and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Boniface says:

    Dear writer of the questions to Fr

    I predominantly attend the EF. But “an obviously flawed mass”? Hey, now. The sacrifice occurs, and the Lord is made present, as in all of the many valid and licit forms of the Catholic liturgy celebrated from Lebanon to Milan and beyond. So let us be careful.

    Some time you should attend a Latin Novus Ordo in a beautiful 19th century church, ad orientam, Roman canon, communion at the rail, with chant, etc. There are a number of these, though small, around the country. I have attended some. In fact, when I went to my first one, at which time I was new to the EF as well, I got there very late, having driven a long way, and once there, wasn’t even sure which form it was!

    You might then perceive that the biggest liturgical problem today is largely about the aesthetics of worship. Mere aesthetics, I almost wrote – but in fact they are quite important. If in the Novus Ordo, as its own rubrics assume will be the priest’s position (!), ad orientam became the exclusive norm, it would work wonders in refocusing the mass on what really matters.

    Watch out for spiritual negativity, by the way! So often I’ve been guilty of it, and it is never life-producing. God bless you!

  2. Richard A says:

    1. Latin is hard to learn and hard to teach. [We cannot accept your premise, of course. Latin is not hard to learn – school children did it for centuries. They are still doing it now. Latin is not hard to teach, unless you a) don’t know Latin, and b) aren’t a good teacher. Latin, in the way Holy Church uses it in worship, is a sacred language. It is not, however, an impenetrable mystery. After all… as my old Latin teacher is wont to say, beggars and prostitutes spoke Latin in the streets. Granted, that was the sort of Latin that was truly vernacular, a word which refers to the lower sort of language spoken by household slaves rather than the elevated language of worship, literature, philosophy. Languages shape and form. Words have consequences.] Actually, that’s not an argument for the Novus Ordo, that’s an argument for the vernacular. I learned the altar boy trade in the heady days between the close of Vatican II and the introduction of the Novus Ordo in 1970, and Father had access to several good translations into English of the Mass prayers (that was before ICEL got a hold of them). But, of course, he mostly stuck to Latin. I suspect the emphasis on a lot of minutiae (the correct angle to hold the arms, the proper fingers to touch to the thumb) might have struck many as picayune. I think I thought that in the early seventies. Now I think it’s an instance of sweating the details, of taking every thought (or gesture) captive for Christ.
    Mostly, I think that repudiation of the Novus Ordo is a tacit admission that “we were wrong.” Always a tough pill to swallow.
    2. I like the wider access to Scripture in the Novus Ordo. And I think it can make Catholic worship more accessible to some kinds of evangelical Protestants. Although that may, again, be the vernacular more than the rite.
    3. How many innovators do you know who will admit that, after all, that was probably a bad idea? Ford did in 1958 with the Edsel, and Coca-Cola did in 1985.

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    In his post of 19 July, Fr. Hunwicke wrote, “My Byzantine friends will understand that I am nothing if not deeply respectful of their own beautiful and venerable rite in its own full integrity. I deplore the Byzantinisation of the Roman Rite not one ounce more than I would condemn the Latinisation of the Byzantine Rite.” This seems to imply that the N.O. represents a sort of longing (however conscious or unconscious) for, even rejoicing in, the Byzantine Rite. Could that be (at once) an argument “in the favor of the novus ordo” and – insofar as it partakes of an unsuccessful “Byzantinisation of the Roman Rite” – against it?

  4. cl00bie says:

    I believe there was a need for reform. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is communal prayer, but many were not participating. They were in their own little world, saying their own personal prayers until the bells got their attention to let them know something important was happening on the altar.

    I would have preferred if the changes to the Mass were more organic. The violent change contributed to my losing sight of my young faith, and drifting in the lukewarm waters of cultural Catholicism for about 30 years.

    Now I’m back with a lot more insight into what was lost, and what needs to be recaptured.

  5. Gil Garza says:

    More people are clueless about what happens during the vernacular Mass than when it wasn’t.

    How many times have we heard from Catholics who’ve left the Church and said that they weren’t being fed?

    The promise of engaged, active Catholics that the reformed vernacular liturgy would bring has produced a wasteland. It’s a failed experiment.

    As the Baby Boomers who’re so viscerally attached to their liturgy diminish so to will the vernacular Baby Boomer liturgy until it is a strange footnote in the history books.

  6. frahobbit says:

    Possibly some priests at first tried to defend the EF at the beginning, and received rebukes/ridicule etc. So now that the EF is generally allowed, it both proves they were right to defend it, but also can have a backlash as in: “humph! now we’re allowed; well I’ve suffered enough and am not going through that whole process of change again!”

  7. rgrutza says:

    I found this on “Loving the Novus Ordo.” Hang on to your lunch.

  8. Mario Bird says:

    Just answering #2:

    2. I take the Benedict XVI “thinking in terms of centuries” approach here. I think that the Novus Ordo was the realization of the leveling Protestant drive at work since 1517…or, possibly before then, what with the Hus-ites and nominalists (a “five hundred years’ war” makes for a more digestible concept). After reading the modern histories of the liturgical “reform” surrounding the Council – particularly with attention to Bugnini’s efforts, and the anecdotal evidence provided by guys like Bouyer who furiously scrabbled to “salvage” Eucharistic Prayer II – I think that the overriding Protestant hermeneutic in the Novus Ordo is undeniable.

    But, God willing, it will have a boomerang effect. That is, it will end up drawing many Protestants back in a way the EF cannot. The EF, for all its virtues (and they are probably infinite), is off-putting to someone raised in a Protestant milieu (and I include many American Catholics among these!). This is particularly so for those who are pastors or natural Christian leaders: intellectually gifted, genuinely striving for holiness, love Scripture, but have long-standing, unexamined prejudices against the vertical liturgy and ancient traditions of Catholic Church.

    You can this see in guys like Scott Hahn, who – as a Protestant – wandered into a novus ordo Mass in Milwaukee and was recognizing Scripture through the vernacular liturgy and saying “My Lord and My God” at the consecration and elevation. Could he have done that with an EF Mass? I doubt it.

    I very well could be wrong, and I am no militant partisan of the Novus Ordo per se (and certainly not its horizontal misinterpretations!). But I see the Novus Ordo’s chief virtue to be the Pauline milk (1 Cor 3:2) which Our Lord is offering through his Church to reclaim Protestantized Christians.

  9. Aquinas Gal says:

    The point that it’s very easy for the priest to make himself the center of attention in the Novus Ordo is so true. For me it’s one of the most annoying things about it.
    However the EF can also be celebrated badly, as when the priest hurried through it at ramming speed as if his main goal was to finish. Recently I saw a clip of a Mass like that, celebrated in the 60’s. The most important thing is the proper liturgical formation of priests, so that regardless of which form they use they will celebrate the Mass with devotion and reverence.

  10. un-ionized says:

    There will always be people for whom learning another language is difficult or impossible. It isn’t that they don’t want to, or that it isn’t their native language. It’s a matter of difference between people. I find I can “be fed” in any language because God speaks them all and I just let Him speak. I do wish I had more language facility though. It would help at work too.

  11. APX says:

    I often wonder if, over time, it could happen with the shortage of diocesan priest vocations in some places (ie: Canada) and the increase of priestly vocations amongst traditional societies such as the FSSP, and God willing, the SSPX become fully reconciled, that the EF Masses offered will one day outnumber the number of OF Masses.

  12. Geoffrey says:

    I once heard a priest paraphrase: “It’s not that the Mass of Paul VI has been tried and found wanting, but that it hasn’t been properly tried at all.” This is a great shame, and has been the mission of those who promote a “reform of the reform” (Benedict XVI, Cardinal Sarah, Fr. J. Fessio, etc.) to set things right.

    The Mass of Paul VI was always meant to have plenty of Latin, with most of the Liturgy of the Word being in the vernacular. Gregorian chant was to be given a “pride of place”, with the faithful knowing their parts of the Mass in Latin. The celebrant was meant to face the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Instituted lectors and acolytes, properly vested, were also meant to be the norm, rather than the foreign concept that it is in the average parish.

    Textual changes are certainly debatable, such as the editing of the Confiteor, the offertory rite, the prayer after the Lord’s Prayer, etc. I for one love the new lectionary, though I wish the Sunday after the Baptism of the Lord would always use the Cana reading to maintain the traditional “three” epiphanies, not to mention certain “harsh” verses being omitted (there is no excuse for that).

  13. Excellent questions and answers. I would add, first, that I think many priests are overwhelmed by the prospect of learning the Extraordinary Form. I must say, I found it harder to master than I expected, and I know a priest who made the attempt, and it just was very hard for him. I don’t know if he is yet offering it. Also, remember that many priests are very busy, so it’s easy to say, I’ll get to that someday.

    As far as arguments for the newer Mass, I would offer these: more Scripture readings (which can be both good and bad), the use of the vernacular does help many people to understand more of what is going on, and while I think there are too many options in the newer Mass, some options are helpful. It also seems to me that a more solemn celebration of the Mass is easier to attain in the new form than in the old; relatively few people, who have experienced the older form of the Mass, have experienced anything but a low Mass.

  14. gretta says:

    While there has clearly been many abuses of the Novus Ordo liturgy over the years, not all Novus Ordo liturgies can be reduced to clown or puppet masses. To imply that maligns the many hundreds of Catholic priests who read the black and do the red, and who have and who have had beautiful and prayerful NO liturgies for years.

    This sounds trite, but people are different. Some like classical music, some like jazz. Some like praying the rosary, others like silent contemplation and others like charismatic worship. People have different ways of learning, different ways of perceiving the world, and profoundly different personalities. Thus it is not surprising that people appreciate and gravitate to different Mass styles. One style does NOT fit all.

    Personally, what feeds me is a simple Novus Ordo liturgy, minimal music, no incense, simple tasteful vestments, with the priest facing the people. I want the priest to say the NO black and do the NO red – don’t get creative. I have studied liturgy, and I feel as strongly about wanting to attend a good Novus Ordo liturgy as most readers here about the EF. I really do not find the EF to be something that feeds my soul. It would be painful for me to have to attend it on a regular basis, and I would do my level best to avoid it if possible. And I would also avoid any church that worships ad orientum, because I find that equally painful to be a part of. I could get further into why I dislike the EF, but that seems like a rabbit-hole that doesn’t need opening and would take away from my bigger point.

    Now, that is not to say that I think everyone ought to be forced to attend the NO. In the same way that I have preferences for the way I pray that don’t work for everyone, I think people legitimately have liturgical styles that feed them better than others. This is also why people may find the Maronite, Melkite, Ukrainian, or even Ordinariate liturgies more to their spiritual taste, and they start worshiping in those communities. Diversity isn’t bad, AS LONG AS the liturgy is celebrated reverently and correctly. I don’t think that the NO is a “failed experiment” and I think that there are a lot of devout Catholics out there who think like I do. They love their Mass. They find it spiritually nourishing as is, and do not want it changed. And even when they know about and have attended an EF, they still love and prefer to attend the NO.

    FWIW, I think one of the best ways for those who love the EF to get folks like me to listen to them is to stop calling the liturgy that we love “infantile,” “flawed,” or “in need of fixing.” That just makes people angry and defensive when one takes the attitude of “how could you like such an inferior, pablum-like liturgy?” I think instead, taking the tack that the two liturgies can and should co-exist, that some intelligent people genuinely prefer the NO (and we aren’t cretins), and that we can respect those who want to worship differently from us would go a long way in healing the deep liturgical divide. There are intelligent, knowledgable, pious people who love the NO. There are intelligent, knowledgable, pious people who love the EF. We don’t have to shove everyone into the same liturgical box, and I think the sooner we stop trying, and the sooner we start respecting each other’s legitimate choices, the quicker our liturgical wars will die down.

  15. ncstevem says:

    I think the answers for questions (2) and (3) are:

    -Some clergy and laymen know the ill effects the new Mass has had on the Faith but they’re so emotionally tied to it they’d rather continue the full-steam ahead approach than admit to its deleterious effect on Catholics and change course to what works (to foster vocations, increase holiness, reverence towards God etc.)

    -Some are clueless to the above.

    -Some are evil and have lost the Faith and work to tear down the Faith of others.

    -And a large portion of Catholic males are what I refer to as Catholic girly men. I’m not necessarily referring to the homosexual element in the clergy but the Catholic clergy and laymen who think and act as 10 year girls when it comes to the celebration of the new Mass.

    These are the Catholic men who think it’s important for laymen to ‘participate’ in the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass without any understanding that uniting their prayers with the priest celebrant is all the participation that’s necessary. Catholic girly men are the ones who volunteer for all types of needless ministries (lectors, EMHCs, greeters, bearers of the gifts – ugh!) thinking they’re actually accomplishing something.

    It reminds me of when my brother and I were young boys and would hang out with our dad when he was wood working in his work shop. He’d give us some bent nails and wood scraps to ‘participate’ in his projects. Of course we never made anything useful in doing so. The same is true for Catholic laymen who ‘participate’ in the celebration of the Mass with their infantile ministries. They add nothing to the celebration of the Mass. On the contrary, their actions have a negative impact on the Faith.

    I think if these Catholics (clergy and laymen) began thinking and acting as men a lot of the nonsense of the last 50 years would fade.

  16. Though I am not ordained, I let the Homiletic Directory refer me to parts of the Catechism which can especially help elaborate – note the word – on a Sunday’s Readings. This Sunday in the NO, when the Readings speak of the transcendence of God, I am reminded of the Catechism by the start of Father’s answer to [1]. To wit:

    [The] truths that concern the relations between God and man wholly transcend the visible order of things, and, if they are translated into human action and influence it, they call for self-surrender and abnegation. The human mind, in its turn, is hampered in the attaining of such truths, not only by the impact of the senses and the imagination, but also by disordered appetites which are the consequences of original sin. So it happens that men in such matters easily persuade themselves that what they would not like to be true is false or at least doubtful.
    —Actually from Pope Pius XII in Humani generis, but cited in CCC 37.

  17. Gregg the Obscure says:

    A few little things (most of which are already permitted in most places) would improve the NO enormously:
    1. everyone must face the tabernacle (that being atop the high altar) during prayer – most particularly from the Offertory on through the Eucharistic Prayer;
    2. for all Sundays, Holy Days of Obligation and notable days (e.g. a parish’s patronal feast) the Roman Canon must be used, which is not to imply that there is any time where it should not be used;
    3. as much as possible of the ordinary of the Mass is to be in Latin;
    4. the full propers of the Mass are to be included, even (especially?) if that precludes the use of contemporary “gathering songs”;
    5. only men may serve at the altar;
    6. music leaders may be heard but not seen by the assembly;
    7. no applause may occur during the Mass or while people are still in the Church after Mass;
    8. other than the prescribed texts, silence is to be observed while people are in the Church before, during and after Mass;
    9. private confession behind a proper screen is to be available before and, where feasible, during Masses on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation;
    10. the organist is the only participant who may improvise.

  18. Sword40 says:

    I can respect most all of the comments posted here. I converted in February of 1970. It was a total different Mass than when I first started learning in December 1965. I have agonize through many changes since then. Right after 7/7/2007 we began pursuing the EF Mass. So now here we are in 2016 and we now have an FSSP parish with Masses 7 days a week and a second priest on his way in October. Having lived through this period of church history, I have come to the conclusion that I will never again attend an OF Mass, except to pray for the soul of an old friend at his/her funeral.
    I do not condemn people who like the OF or the other Rites/Uses of the church. It’s taken me these 46 years to slowly understand the basic philosophy of the EF. I have fallen in love with it.

  19. un-ionized says:

    Gretta, you express yourself well. I especially appreciate your last paragraph. I get tired of the condescension, that I am somehow ignorant or even stupid to attend a parish with the new Mass form. It is insulting when people say, well, now you can go back to your bongos. They really have no idea what my parish is like, never having been there.This is the biggest reason I am staying put for now. There has been a big blow up in my local TLM parish and with all the animosity it is no place for someone who needs healing. And that’s sad.

  20. PA mom says:

    2. Many of the prayers of the Mass, properly translated now, are really quite beautiful. When our priests, particularly our younger priests say, “this is my Body, ” quite honestly it moves me within my heart.

    Would it equally affect me in a foreign language? I am terrible at them and while I can learn very short repetitive things (Ave Maria), I would never become fluent enough to hear and make the connections to these changing prayers.

    The NO suffers from the disobedience to the actual words of the reform. It suffers from the turning of the priest through the Eucharistic prayers particularly. It suffers from the Me music. Our parish has taken most of that out (except for the children’s masses. WHYYY??? Must work on that soon.)

    I do deeply hope the reform of the reform keeps working its way in to my parish.

  21. benedetta says:

    I’m calling it on the argument that goes “before the novus ordo, no one knew anything that was happening/they were all bored out of their minds/certain people clacked rosaries/no one was paying any attention/everyone was in their own little worlds etc etc etc”. That has to be the worst argument ever. Based upon real footage of a Mass filmed in the 1960s, or Padre Pio…? We are all supposed to in unison infer that no one at all was praying? That, gasp, they all must have received less than worthily. Which is so dramatically different, than, now. Oh yes? Now, with the Novus Ordo, we have ushers, and, the priest can tell who is paying attention, in order to distribute demerits, so we can thus guarantee that all are, in concert, praying every word of the Mass, with rapt attention, fervently praying so as to be nearly levitating as the Reluctant Saint in that famous primitively black and white movie…?

  22. MotherTeresa says:

    I am not concerned with the reasons why negligent priests or laymen don’t like the Latin Mass. The more interesting question is, why do many good and sincere priests prefer the Novus Ordo. I believe that the honest answer to this is that most of their parishioners prefer the simpler, more accessible mass and the priests don’t want to rock the boat. Their “best” arguments are practical, rather than theoretical.
    So the real question to ask is, why do so many good, solid, weekly-mass attending Catholics prefer the Novus Ordo. Since, I was of that camp until a few years ago, I might be able to provide a few insights.
    1) Having a good holy priest is paramount, and to some extent obscures liturgical considerations. Any fervent Catholic who has access to solid, reverent priest is likely to be completely satisfied, and not look much farther. Any orthodox Catholic stuck in a parish with a dissenting priest is likely to have much more to complain about than the liturgy.
    2) For 20 years I thought the liturgy was inherently dull did not see it as the “main issue”. Now I love the TLM and I understand its importance but cannot adequately explain its value to my NO friends. Beautiful, awe-inspiring liturgies have to be experienced to be understood.
    3) As a parent of a large family I appreciated the shortness and convenience of the NO. I thought I preferred to get my mass obligation “over with” as quickly as possible.
    4) Until I joined it, I considered the TLM community a “cult”.

    I was wrong about all of these things, but I still considered myself a good, solid Catholic.
    I believe the lack of awareness of the value of a reverent liturgy is a bigger problems than arguments for or against NO. Many good Catholics are more than satisfied with a mediocre liturgy as long as it isn’t outrageously offensive.
    All that said, I would love for more dedicated Catholics, especially young ones to be exposed to, and fall in love with the TLM. The demographics and intensity are decidedly in our favor, over time, but it will take generations.

  23. Joe in Canada says:

    If “mere layperson” is supposed to indicate some ignorance, I suggest that he or she not use the word “Jesuitical” as an opprobrium.

  24. Charles E Flynn says:

    New! Improved!

  25. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Fr. Martin Fox writes, “It also seems to me that a more solemn celebration of the Mass is easier to attain in the new form than in the old; relatively few people, who have experienced the older form of the Mass, have experienced anything but a low Mass.”

    And gretta writes, “what feeds me is a simple Novus Ordo liturgy, minimal music, no incense, simple tasteful vestments, with the priest facing the people.”

    Thank you both! I was trying to think how to ask about such things – the forms in relation to solemn celebration and low Mass. I’ve happily experienced mostly solemn N.O. celebrations, and so was wondering about low N.O. Mass, which gretta effectively addresses. And I have read something recently – I thought by Fr. Hunwicke, but could not find it there again, if so – about the older form even after the reforms of St. Pius V being somewhat more apt for low Mass than solemn celebration – though obviously it must have been part of innumerable solemn celebrations over most of the past three-and-a-half to four centuries.

    In connection with this – though that may not necessarily be so – I wonder about ncstevem’s experiences of “lectors, EMHCs, greeters, bearers of the gifts” in comparison with the functioning of those in minor orders in the celebration of the older form in day gone by. How dissimilar are they in fact? Might contemporary problems in fact be problems of serving with (in)sufficient reverence (and of training to the end of reverent service)?

  26. Absit invidia says:

    Ecclesiastical Latin is easy to grasp – it should never be an excuse that Latin is “too hard.” The English translation is right there on the right side of the Latin.

    But moreover, active participating in the mass isn’t just following along like some kind of karaoke gig – it’s placing our lives on the altar with the bread and wine – our fears, anxieties, sufferings, sorrows, petitions, thanksgivings, reparations for sin, and our adoration to God that the priest offers to the Father. In a sense the mass is more of this action than anything else including the recitation of prayers. Since the language shouldn’t impede this offering of ourselves together with the bread and wine to the Father the use of Latin being foreign is more an excuse used by people from having to give ourselves entirely to God during the mass.

  27. PTK_70 says:

    @Mario Bird…..Your predisposition for the use of the term “Novus Ordo” excepting, I think you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    (If I were king for a day, I would outlaw the unpleasant term “Novus Ordo.” I would also educate all my Catholic subjects on the meaning of and distinctions between Church, Rite, form and use. If I were Catholic monarch for a day.)

    @anyone who will listen…..The decline (collapse?) of the institutional Church in the US Northeast and the Rust Belt is not – NOT! – to be blamed on the liturgical reform of 1970. What happened, I contend, is that Catholics embraced a materialist version of the “American Dream.” Bigger house, better job, more cars……more debt. The faith, the sacraments – God Himself – became secondary, then tertiary concerns. Now that one generation after another has been chasing this version of the American Dream, is it any wonder that the latest generation is abandoning the Church? The Church is simply irrelevant to them. (For a hard-hitting evangelical Protestant perspective on “taking back your faith from the American Dream,” see David Platt’s book Radical.)

    Happily, the Catholic Church is not in decline everywhere. Google “Catholic Church in the South OSV” to find a feature in Our Sunday Visitor from May of this year on the Church’s vibrancy across that region. From the article: “At the Easter Vigil this year, thousands of converts across the South entered the Catholic Church.” This windfall is not unrelated to the liturgical reform under Bl. Pope Paul VI. Picking up on Mario Bird’s point, the ordinary form of the ROMAN RITE has made the Catholic Church accessible to Protestants of earnest faith in a way she wasn’t before 1970.

    Painting with an admittedly broad brush, it seems to be all gloom and despair in the North, optimism, vibrancy and joy in the South. In the North, the remaining few are grasping at straws, hacking at scapegoats, hoping on a silver bullet. But God is dead in the minds of the people. Maybe the usus antiquitor will rouse them. In the South, the situation is altogether different. The Church finds herself witnessing to the ancient and true Faith in and amongst a people who acknowledge God, who believe He not only walked the earth but left them His written word. This is fertile ground and the reformed Roman liturgy should be seen as a gift of the Holy Spirit which has opened the way to a bountiful harvest.

  28. JonPatrick says:

    I agree with those who are offended when people put down the NO Mass since it is a valid Mass. I do not like it when groups say it is better to stay home and pray if you can’t find a TLM. Having said that, I do see the danger in thinking it terms of taste, which Mass we like better. For one thing, if it is just taste, then does that mean we take a poll and the taste of the majority is what rules? Or more likely is it the taste of the head of the Liturgy Committee? Perhaps instead of asking what is pleasing to me, we should be asking what is more pleasing to God? In doing so, we might look back on the last 2000 years and see how the Holy Spirit has moved the Church in organically evolving the form of the Mass. We then approach it with humility, accepting that pleasing God is the main objective.

  29. AnnTherese says:

    Well said, Gretta. Thank you for encouraging respect and understanding.

  30. pelerin says:

    Gretta’s comment that ‘One style does not fit all’ seems curious when one considers the centuries in which the Mass was always in ‘one style’ wherever you went in the world.

    Full churches often with three Priests to one church, full Convents and Seminaries once were the norm. I believe Mother Angelica once described the Novus Ordo as the ‘Electric Mass’ because you got a shock every time you attended!

    Yes I accept that the NO is a ‘real’ Mass but sadly since its inception with so many different styles the result has been a serious lack of vocations, closure of churches and shrinkage of congregations which does seem to point to the fact that the NO may be partly responsible.

  31. MattH says:

    RichardA argues that Latin is hard. Our gracious host disputes that in principle, but I think we do know that not as many people have familiarity with Latin anymore – you used to get exposed to it in high school, but now it is gone from college and even law school (and some have said, is insufficiently present even in seminaries). But, as the same person adds, “Actually, that’s not an argument for the Novus Ordo, that’s an argument for the vernacular.”

    Many of us have heard the stories of people who said something like “If they wanted to give us Mass in English, why not use what was already there in the opposite page of our Missals?” I’m not saying that’s what should have been done, but my point is, the issue of Latin and the issue of the structure of the Novus Ordo are two different things.
    – Current legislation allows those parts of the EF which are directed at the people (readings and homily) to be in the vernacular.
    – And while not as common as it could be, the OF is celebrated in Latin – I attended an OF Mass last Sunday where everything was a Latin except the readings and the homily.
    – When I try to invite people to come to the EF, I point out that besides the Latin, the big change they will notice are the beginning and ending – prayers at the foot of the altar and the Last Gospel. The structure is different because of both ends being truncated in the OF.

  32. Ann Malley says:


    “…well I’ve suffered enough and am not going through that whole process of change again!”

    That was also the attitude exhibited by my aged father who, when given a CD with the Latin Mass on it, would listen to it and weep piteously. And yet when offered the opportunity to attend the TLM again firmly said NO. Why? Well, because I’ve spent all that time learning the Novus Ordo and I’m not going to go through that.

    Made this Catholic very sad, I can tell you. For the turmoil of post VII tore my entire family apart. Much like the notion that being united to the mass somehow meant that one must be actively moving or talking or singing, etc. Instead of actively united in actual prayer. Quiet, contemplative, unitive prayer that has untold capacity to feed the soul instead of just the senses that crave that feeling of forever having to be engaged.

    “Be still and know that I am God,” is often the better portion for, like Martha, we busy ourselves about a lot of things that, in reality, aren’t that important.

  33. Athelstan says:


    I believe there was a need for reform. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is communal prayer, but many were not participating.

    There *was* a need for reform – but of the people, not the missal. In fact, even most of the reforms in the final 1955-1962 period of the old Roman Rite were ill-conceived, especially Holy Week.

    The most obvious problem of actual praxis of the old Rite was in the nature and quality of sacred music. This varied considerably from country to country, but in America, the chief problems were a default to Low Masses even on Sunday ( a legacy mostly of Irish piety and culture), and heavy resort to hymns over chanting of propers – and often mediocre hymns at that. The music problem was one that went back centuries, however, right back to the Reformation, and Popes struggled to improve it.

    It is also true that a sizable number of clergy in the West had lost confidence in their own liturgy (which included not only the Roman Rite, but related Latin Rites and uses), but that seems to have been of a piece with increasingly problematic priestly formation, and the larger loss of confidence in the Catholic faith itself stemming from the disaster of two world wars which wrecked most of the Church’s old heartlands, with the Church apparently impotent to stop it.

  34. Athelstan says:

    Fr. Z : “And if they are older – and this pertains to priests in these USA, at least – and they grew up in the halcyon days of protests and Vatican II, their own identity is fused with the mythic, iconic “spirit” of those times.”

    It’s become abundantly clear that this describes so many clerics of a certain generation or two – and not just in the U.S..

    They really are personally invested in it. Opting against it is (in their view, sometimes not even fully conscious) a repudiation of their life’s work.

  35. un-ionized says:

    mothertheresa, the two most important words in your entire post are: good, solid.

  36. cl00bie says:

    Benedetta, the experience of little old ladies fingering their rosaries is not an argument, it is a reality I lived through. It is also not an argument against the EF (which remained unchanged for 500 years while the world marched on). It is an argument for the requirement for organic reform which was outlined in Sacrosanctum concilium.

    I’m saying the NO as promulgated, was a hermeneutic of rupture rather than hermeneutic of continuity. It fostered an attitude of “anything goes”, and versus populum encouraged “Johnny Carson”-ing the Mass, looking for feedback and doing what was the most entertaining.

    I attended the EF with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate for first Fridays over the course of a year. During that time, their older priest got reassigned, and the new priest did not know how to properly celebrate the EF. So for about three months, we celebrated the NO in Latin.

    1. Chanted “gathering hymn”.
    2. Ad orientem.
    3. Dialog mass in Latin (we responded in Latin to the Latin prayers).
    4. Readings / Gospel in both Latin and Englisn.
    5. Homily in English.
    6. Offeratory hymn in Latin.
    7. Consecration in Latin
    8. Communion on our knees and on the tongue with “body of Christ” and “Amen”
    9. Recessional hymn chanted in Latin.

    This was a NO that I would be happy to attend every week. It followed the rubrics exactly. There were no questions about the accuracy of the translation because there was no translation.

  37. Sixupman says:

    The concern I have is that the NOM appears to be infinitely variable in Celebration. I even found the Tridentine Dialogue Mass, when introduced back then, disturbing because it interrupted my concentration upon prayer.

    One question: was the introduction of the vernacular NOM an early precursor, ground work, for the emergence of ‘National Churches’, such further underwritten by the plans of Franciscus to de-centralise Mother Church. Also note developments within the German Bishops’ Conference!

  38. James in Perth says:

    I primarily attend an Eastern rite parish now. But when I went to Mass with my mother recently, the priest, who was from Nigeria, said the ordinary prayers in Latin. I studied Latin for two years and understood the gist of the prayer if not the precise meaning. I thanked the priest afterwards for his service!

  39. pjsandstrom says:

    Anyone who likes/loves the EM/TLM should make the effort of finding and reading the short story by Alphonse Daudet: “Trois Messes Basses” ( or in English: “Three Low Masses”. ) It is a story of the Christmas Masses as said in the 19th century — and surprisingly gives some serious understanding and perception of liturgical ceremony at that time in France — and generally elsewhere in the Western Church — as observable from the pews by the ordinary folk (as well as by the clergy).

  40. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    A delightful suggestion! – I encountered it by good hap in English translation as audiobook at I see there are even two versions to try (I preferred Andy Minter but liked David Wales, too) – 19 minutes well-spent!

  41. Gerard Plourde says:

    I believe that the Mass of Bl. Pope Paul VI is a vital and necessary form of celebration of the Sacred Mysteries no less than the Mass of St. Pius V (as revised through the centuries, most recently by Ven. Pope Pius XII and St. John XXIII). Both Forms are equally valid, having been established by Christ’s Vicar on Earth, who by Our Lord’s own words is granted full authority to bind and loose in Heaven and on Earth.

    Because we humans are imperfect, both Forms reflect our inability to achieve perfection. First and foremost, both Forms are constrained by the fact that all communication of the Sacred Truths must be made using human language, and Latin, established language of the Church that it may be, is still subject to human misunderstanding, as the heresies of the the Reformation (including Jansenism) show. The Protestant leaders did not fall into heresy due to a lack of knowledge of Latin, but rather because they rejected the truths taught by the Catholic Church.

    If one can identify a an understandable human weakness present in the Mass of St. Pius V it would be in its lectionary. Because the Protestants put such emphasis in the Bible but assumed that anyone could easily discern its meaning just by reading it, the Church de-emphasized the Proclamation of the Word of God in the Mass of the Catechumens. A vital office of the ordained ministry (priestly and diaconal) is to instruct the faithful in living our our faith and to remind us of the unending constancy of the love God has shown toward us sinners from all eternity. The addition of the readings from the Old Testament (and the Acts of the Apostles during the Easter Season) fills this void. Further, the Celebrant (or the Deacon, if one is assisting) is required to give a homily (which was not initially required in the Mass of St. Pius V) that applies the Scripture readings (the First Reading and the Gospel Reading are selected to have a relationship, while the Second Reading reading is generally a sequential reading of an Epistle).

    Although this part of the Mass is termed differently in the two forms – (i.e. Mass of the Cathchumens in the Mass of St. Pius V and Litrugy of the Word in the Mass of Bl. Paul VI) it is clear from the respective names that its purpose in both forms is intended to be instructional. It should prepare our minds to be united to our hearts so that we may fully and faithfully attend to the Eternal Sacrifice which follows.

    Having heard the Word of God proclaimed in the Scriptures, we are called in both Forms to profess our faith.

    The Mass of the Faithful/Liturgy of the Eucharist calls the faithful in attendance to be actively united in the Sacrifice of Calvary in the Eucharistic Prayer (Canon) and to receive Our Lord – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity as made present through the action of the Priest by the power granted him by his Ordination by his Bishop in union with the Univresal Church.

    Finally, nourished by the Sacred Mystery enacted equally by both forms (either by actual or, for those unable to because of serious sin, by spiritual Communion), we are sent forth to do the work that God has intended for us, to spread His Dominion throughout the world, teaching all nations. This is not merely the work of the clergy or those in religious life. As St. James has admonished us, faith without works is dead.

  42. gretta says:


    “Gretta’s comment that ‘One style does not fit all’ seems curious when one considers the centuries in which the Mass was always in ‘one style’ wherever you went in the world.”

    Again, I want to avoid going down rabbit holes, but that statement is demonstrably not true – for most of history there was not “one style”. The Easterns all had different liturgies. The Maronites had theirs. Many religious orders like the Dominicans, Benedictines, and Carmelites had their own liturgies. There were rites like the Gallican, Sarum, Ambrosian rites that had their own distinct liturgies.

    I think that prior to the current age, people simply did not move around that much so they were not exposed to different styles. You grew up in your parish, you stayed in your parish, your family was Catholic, and you worshiped according to the way your priest had been taught in the region where you were. It is only since people and priests have become mobile that people have been able to take advantage of different liturgies.

    @JonPatrick – we expect our clergy to follow the rubrics because we think that the Church has discerned that the way we do liturgy is pleasing to God. At least we devoutly hope so. But I think attempting further discernment to determine what style is “what is most pleasing to God” is a dangerous tack to take. I don’t hope to know the mind of God on such matters, and think trying to rank the liturgies of the Catholic tradition in terms of what most pleases God is perilous territory, particularly if you are putting forward that YOUR particular form is most pleasing to Him. I think we can certainly judge on whether a Mass deviates from the rubrics, if it is invalid, illicit, blasphemous, or is just celebrated in a wantonly silly fashion. But I wouldn’t dare make an assertion that either the EF or the OF (or the Maronite, Melkite, Armenian, Ordinariate, etc.) is more pleasing to God than the rest.

  43. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Regarding Greta’s comments, while I agree with her fundamental premise (we should not belittle people for their preference for the EF or OF), I did find something about the post unsettling.

    It seems to lend itself to the “Massgoer as consumer” model, which has been so destructive to parish life in recent times, at least here in the States. She seems to use a lot of subjective judgments ( the Ad Orientem Mass is “painful”) without acknowledging why it is problematic on a deeper level than that she apparently doesn’t like it (i.e., no reference to the symbolism of that posture, the tradition, etc.)

    We have now developed a culture where people will not commit to parish involvement if they don’t like the personality of the priest, don’t like the music, don’t like the direction he is facing, if the other Massgoers look at them cross-eyed, etc. Or, if these change, they will move on to the next parish that meets their subjective “needs.”

    While I love both the EF and the OF (celebrated properly and reverently, in any language), I also recognize that it is the very variability of the celebration of the OF Mass which has contributed in great part to this destructive tendency to make going to Mass (and appreciating its beauty and power) contingent on one’s feelings about it, or preference for various options within it. In that sense, the EF, with its nearly invariant celebration, was and remains (objectively) superior to the OF.

    As a pastor, I can attest first hand to how highly destructive the “parish shopping” / options-shopping model has been to a parish advancing her mission of building the kingdom of God in one’s own territory.

    Pastors do in some sense feel trapped in not changing options that parishioners have become accustomed to, for fear they will bolt to the parish down the road, merely because they find the new option “painful” or not to their subjective liking any more.

    I believe that this is why many pastors do not celebrate Mass ad orientem, even though they would like to for reasons of tradition and proper symbolism of the true meaning of the Mass.

  44. Vincent says:

    I think the only point I would make is in answer to the idea that the OF is demonstrably flawed; my favourite prayer in the entire Mass:

    The Lavabo (EF):
    P: I will wash my hands among the innocent, and will compass Thine altar, O Lord. That I may hear the voice of praise, and tell of all Thy wondrous works. I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth. Take not away my soul, O God, with the wicked; nor my life with men of blood. In whose hands are iniquities: their right hand is filled with gifts. But as for me, I have walked in my innocence; redeem me, and have mercy on me. My foot hath stood in the right way; in the churches I will bless Thee, O Lord. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end. Amen.

    The Lavabo (OF):
    P: Lord, wash away my iniquity; cleanse me from my sin.

    With the greatest of respect to those who like the OF, there really is no comparison. After all, saying that it’s a matter of aesthetics would be enough (for me) on its own, but it really isn’t just aesthetics, it’s also the depth… That’s not to say there aren’t positive things about the OF, but the offertory is utterly… banal…

    [While the preparation rite is impoverished in the NO at the point of the washing of hands, I can’t say that any line from Ps 50/51 is “banal”, especially that line. And, to be clear, the EF offertory rite is amazing. The OF… not so amazing.]

  45. chantgirl says:

    I would be curious to see a poll on protestant converts to the Catholic faith, and their opinions about the Mass they encountered when they came into the Church. How many were converted because of the NO Mass and how many converted for other reasons and endured the Mass they found when they entered. I ask because I frequently encounter protestant converts at the EF Mass, in various places, who were excited to convert to Catholicism because of the Eucharist, and then were shocked to see how little reverence was shown the Eucharist in many NO Masses they experienced. Some had read about great saints like Teresa of Avila and could not recognize the Church described by the saints in the new Mass.

    In judging the NO Mass, we should be looking at its origins and looking at the motives of those who constructed it, as well as the reality of the state of most NO parishes. What was the intention behind this Mass, and did it accomplish what was hoped-for?

    Personally I have a bone to pick with those who constructed the NO, as it conveyed the truths of the faith so well to most of my family and friends that they left the Church, some going to protestant mega-churches where their sexual decisions would not be challenged, and some completely losing their faith in God. Their loss of faith cannot be totally blamed on the NO, as bad catechesis likely played a part along with free-will and the sexual revolution, but the Mass is a form of catechesis too. If small children go to Mass in most parishes today, do you think they will conclude that something of life-and-death importance happens there, and that the Eucharist is the summit of our faith? If they see people talk through Mass, wear their most casual clothes, hear no bells at the consecration, hear jokes during the homily, see no kneeling during the consecration, watch people make a run for the doors right after Communion, hear the same kind of music they hear on the radio (or in many cases much worse) do you think they will conclude that the Eucharist is important? Granted that these problems are not necessarily inherent to the NO, but it is the situation in the majority of NO parishes in the US. To avoid these problems, one must find an unusual priest and an unusual parish.

    I would argue that while the NO may appear to give more pride of place to scripture (and even this I am not convinced of- an EF with all of the propers probably contains more scripture than a NO with hymns instead of propers), the EF does a better job of highlighting the importance of the Eucharist.

    Finally, while the NO can be said reverently, in many places in the US we may have to wait for the baby boomer priests to die off before we will see that on a grand scale, and even then, a lot of what the younger priests will do will depend on their seminary formation. The priest is the biggest variable in whether or not Mass is reverent, and the EF constricts the priest in a much more stringent way, thus limiting the damage that a priest can do. I think that the strictures put on the priest in the EF are a better way of providing the faithful a reverent Mass, at least in any age with a largely troubled priesthood.

  46. un-ionized says:

    I doubt I would have converted in the old days. I know some who say the same and others who say it makes no difference.

  47. cl00bie says:

    @Cincinnati Priest

    I understand your concern about “parish shopping”. I do not attend Mass in my canonical geographical area, because the pastor there would lead me to sin. He hosts meetings of “Voice of the Faithful”, improvises during Mass, bows to the altar with his back to the tabernacle, and will not allow the Knights of Columbus to carry their ceremonial swords in his church because they are “weapons of war”.

  48. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I would be curious to see a poll on protestant converts to the Catholic faith, and their opinions about the Mass they encountered when they came into the Church. How many were converted because of the NO Mass and how many converted for other reasons and endured the Mass they found when they entered.”

    This is not a fair statistical question, because before Vatican II and ecumenism, Protestants and a Catholics were much more suspicious of each other.

    The Chicken

  49. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    In The Liturgy of the Mass (as scanned in the Internet Archive), Pius Parsch notes that the “washing of the hands” is “mentioned in the Apostolic Constitutions (fourth century)” and says “Gradually the psalm (25:6-12) was introduced to emphasize the symbolism”. Adrian Fortescue notes in his 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia “Lavabo” article, that “There is as yet no mention of any psalm or prayers said at the time” of Ordo VIII of St. Armand (from the sixth century). He further writes, Psalm 25 “is first mentioned by the medieval commentators (e.g. Durandus, loc. cit.). No doubt it was said from very early times as a private devotion obviously suitable for the occasion. We have noted that it accompanies the washing before the Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite. Benedict XIV notes that as late as his time (eighteenth century) ‘in some churches only some verses are said’ (loc. cit.) although the Missal requires that all (that is from v. 6 to the end) be recited.” Yet it does not seem one can conclude most Roman Masses of the first millennium or so and most other Rites are “demonstrably flawed” nor (I think) that even that being “not so amazing” has been a great problem for most of the Rites and Uses of the Church throughout so much its history, however “many beautiful thoughts are suggested” by the verses of Psalm 25 [Masoretic 26], in the word of Dr. Parsch.

  50. Bender says:

    Sorry I missed this yesterday. It is quite simple —
    (2) Because Mother Church approves of it.
    (3) Because our Lord Jesus Christ is present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. The only flaw in the Mass which Mother Church approves of and in which Christ is present and thus makes Holy is those people who persist in saying that the Mass is flawed.

  51. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    gretta writes, “I think that prior to the current age, people simply did not move around that much so they were not exposed to different styles.” This is probably true for the majority of people, yet pilgrimages have been a notable feature of the life of the Church from 313 on, and many of the clergy/hierarchy have, for one reason or another, travelled and served far and wide, often with effects on the liturgy. (For example, Pius Parch notes “the Agnus Dei was added by Pope Sergius I (d. 701)”, “a Syrian by birth”.) And, of course, many have travelled in the pursuit of trade, military service, or the practice of their craft, and so on.

    And, as she notes, “Many religious orders like the Dominicans, Benedictines, and Carmelites had their own liturgies” – and still do – and I suppose that many people in proximity to a monastery in one way or another down the ages (in cities, in working their lands, etc.) will have become acquainted with different Rites and Uses.

    That “for most of history there was not ‘one style'” and that many, many of the faithful have known that by personal experience seem something like ‘millennial constants’ – and ones which have from time to time produced problems analogous to ‘shopping’, too, though not, I think, insurmountably.

  52. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Is the interrelation of Propers and Lessons often problematical in the NO in ways it is not, in the EF?

  53. gretta says:

    @Cincinnati Priest, well, parish shopping goes any number of ways. Most people attending the EF mass are parish or liturgy shopping, since most EF masses are not said in their territorial parish (or sometimes even within their diocese). And while we may be lamenting the days when people were attached to their parish (mostly for life), as I’m sure you are aware the current reality is that people go where they want to go, and they go there because they want what is offered by that priest/mass/parish. Maybe it is a more reverent liturgy, maybe for the school, maybe because they have an allergy to their current pastor. Whatever the reason, they see very little reason to stay in a place where they do not like what they experience at Mass. And in this day and age, you can’t force them to stay. So while I understand the need to have territorial parishes for those folks who slip through the cracks and need to be assigned somewhere (I’m thinking of elderly people who have moved from their parish, or shut ins for example), I think we simply have to face the reality that territoriality lost its meaning as soon as people became more mobile and realized that they had options.

    Regarding myself, am I being subjective about my liturgical preferences – clearly yes. Do I have theological reasons to back up what my preferences are – yes, many of them. I would also say that I find the arguments usually put forward supporting returning to the EF unconvincing. But that isn’t what this post is about, and I specifically did not want to make this a tit-for-tat on why I don’t prefer/like/attend the EF. And…I would also posit that many people who attend the EF don’t necessarily have solid theological reasons for doing so, they do it because “it is beautiful” or “it is reverent” or “I feel at home there.” And while it is good to have good theology for your choice, I don’t think that feeling at home or being spiritually fed (or in the alternative, finding one’s local liturgy an occasion for sin) to be insufficient reasons for choosing to worship that way.

    Liturgical choice isn’t a bad thing. Bad liturgy is a bad thing, but having options to be able to choose among good liturgies is a good thing. Just like we accept that people pray differently (e.g., the rosary, the Jesus prayer, the liturgy of the hours, meditation, etc.) and we as a church accommodate and promote that, people worship differently as well, and this is also not a bad thing. Heck, we already recognize and facilitate liturgical diversity when we provide a parish with a said low mass at 7:30, the “family” mass at 9, and the high mass at 11:00. This isn’t fundamentally different.

    And as I said above, I think the quicker we 1) promote good, rubrically correct liturgies across the board, 2) we respect that others may find styles of worship that we personally do not find edifying to be spiritually satisfying, and 3) we stop disparaging others liturgical choices and try to shut them down, the less defensive people will be and the quicker we might all be able to worship in a way that feeds us. It doesn’t have to be one or the other – there is nothing wrong with both. And if both are vehicles that are going to get us to heaven, then let’s stop sniping at each other. We are a big Church, and *legitimate* diversity makes us stronger. *BTW – anything having to with clowns, puppets, U2charists, or liturgies that come in loose leaf binders rather than published missals or books do not count as legitimate. ;)

  54. Ben Kenobi says:

    “But, God willing, it will have a boomerang effect. That is, it will end up drawing many Protestants back in a way the EF cannot.”

    As a beneficiary of the NO, I feel I ought to be loyal to the NO. The easter vigils brought me in. That is why I prefer the NO, nothing more nor less. I can see the beauty of the EF, but to me you always have a special love for your first mass. You might as well ask the wealthy and famous man why his rather plain and quiet wife attracted him, and he would say, “I was not always thus”.

  55. benedetta says:

    The best arguments for the Novus Ordo, to my mind, are the many holy souls of our times, some already saints and blesseds, who received communion regularly in the Novus Ordo, reverently and worthily said, recognized the sacrament of confession as well, and believed fully in the Real Presence, with this belief and worship, prayer animating their actions, disciplines, works. One can think of endless names here, obviously St. John Paul II and Bl. Mother Teresa come to immediate mind. Yet there are a vast number of lesser knowns. I will add also that the areas of the West with vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life heavily rely on Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and the communities that are vibrant, joyful, and growing are also the ones whose community life centers on the Eucharist. The Novus Ordo predominates, yet, the Lord is still ever at work raising up saints in our midst, saints we desperately have need of.

  56. gretta says:

    @Vincent, you have made clear what I’m trying to say, and that is a perfect example.

    An analogy – when I go to an art museum, I love wandering the various galleries, but tend to stay in the galleries with the impressionists or art created prior to that time. There are usually galleries of modern art, and I hear people in them talking about the beauty of various pieces and canvases, and all I can think is, “I don’t doubt that they are sincere, I just don’t get it.” So I think I understand where you are coming from.

    However, in the example you gave, I PREFER THE MODERN VERSION. I like the simplicity. I find the EF version wordy and unnecessarily flowery. And what for you is depth is to me distraction. My gut reaction would be “get on with it!” To me there is nothing at all flawed about the modern version. I am not a cretin. I’m not ignorant (though you guys may think I’m invincibly ignorant) or liturgically uninformed. I truly prefer the OF version. [You might be mistaking older English translations of the EF which can be found in hand missals with the Latin. In truth, the Latin of the Novus Ordo, with its many newly composed and edited orations, is by far wordier than the orations of the EF. The Roman style is marked especially by concision. The traditional versions are generally terse. The Novus Ordo versions are generally wordy. Of course, I suspect that you never get to hear the Novus Ordo in Latin, and you have probably tried to follow the EF through the use of a hand missal, with a translation according to a style of English with which you are not accustomed. The ENGLISH of either form are translations. The true texts are Latin.]

    Liturgy is in some ways is a form of Holy Art. It is meant to inspire, to move, and to transport. And clearly people have very different and very strong opinions regarding what is beautiful, what is pleasing, and what is worthy. And I totally get that many of the folks who hang out at Fr. Z’s blog will be scratching their heads and saying, “I don’t get it” when I say that I like the noble simplicity of the OF. They don’t see it as noble, and see it as too simple. [Frankly, I don’t see the Novus Ordo as being simple. Sure, some prayers were impoverished. But for the most part the prayers were multiplied. Also, there are so many options and opportunities for the priest to interject comments, etc… talk about flowery and wordy.]

    But the reason why I feel that this is an important thread, and why I’m responding is that we have to resist the next comment that often follows from both sides of the liturgical divide: “She’s nuts” or “she’s ignorant” “she’s a cretin”, or from the OF side, “he’s a throwback” “he’s a troglodyte” or whatever other insults we hurl at each other. What happens if we stop insulting each other’s intelligence, and instead we start trying to support each other’s worship preferences? If each side stops threatening the other with liturgical extinction (no more “get rid of the EF”, or “it will all be fine once we all move back to the EF”) and we try to start seeing each other’s liturgical preference as being each individual’s sincere desire to worship the Lord in a way that has meaning to them?

    We aren’t armed camps. We are a very big Church that can easily handle diversity. But given the amount of anger and vitriol that is expended over this issue, I’m convinced that these liturgical wars are Satan’s minions trying to divide us and harden our hearts against each other. The more nastiness we direct towards our fellow Catholics over this, the less energy we have to fight the truly Evil One. Both liturgies are efficacious. Both lead us to heaven. Both transform our hearts and our lives. And we have agents of evil who want to shut us all down and they don’t care EF or OF. I know that these issues are very important and I’m not trying to downplay that. But…if these battles become occasions for sin where we feel the need to belittle and attack each other, then Satan wins.

    To conclude, I truly don’t get the appeal of the EF, and do not want to worship that way. But if it is what brings some of my Catholic brothers and sisters closer to God, feeds their souls, and helps them get to heaven, then by all means I support it. [Keep working with the EF. It may confound your expectations.]

  57. Gilbert Fritz says:

    About ranking liturgies as to the amount they please God:

    1. Breaking rubrics in any rite is always displeasing to God; God wants us to say the black, do the red. This is SIMPLY and ONLY because the church has said so, and God loves obedience, not necessarily because of the excellence of the rubrics themselves.
    2. The Sacrifice is always the same, unless the priest has done something really weird; and The Sacrifice is infinitely pleasing to Him.
    3. The prayers of an individual at any rite can be more or less fervent and devout, and thus more or less pleasing to Him.
    4. Some rites may be more conducive to fostering excellence in individual prayer.
    5. But (4) CAN vary by individual.
    6. Any other attempts to figure out the amount God is pleased by the EF vs OF seem like a bad idea; one could proceed to wonder which among the Eastern rites are most pleasing, which hymn God likes best, if a dialogue vs silent Mass pleases him more, etc. It will be found that God’s Pleasure really means My Taste.
    7. Finally, if a missing prayer is offensive to God, then the liturgy as said by some Saints in other eras where these particular prayers were not yet written would have had to be offensive to him.

    On a related note, one way to confuse protestants is to ask how Christians were saved before the Bible was written. Similarly, one would have to agree that Christians can be saved, and become great saints, without the Extraordinary form, since the Extraordinary form as it currently exists has not existed from the dawn of time, or even from the dawn of the Church.

    This all from one who attends the Extraordinary form almost exclusively and loves it dearly; as far as point 5 above, this individual has yet to find an OF which helps him to pray as much as the EF.

    If I have said anything heretical here, I would like to be corrected.

  58. Fiat Domine says:

    I just listened to a wonderful teaching by a Traditional Latin Mass Priest that addresses this subject in a way that everyone will appreciate. Here is the link:

    I hope that it is okay to offer a link dear Father Z – if not, i am sorry.

    Deo Gratias.

  59. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Gilbert Fritz,

    I concur completely with your well-reasoned comment. For me personally Point 5 has been answered by the OF. Perhaps our best response is to thank the Holy Spirit for giving the Church the wisdom to recognize individual needs and thus permit the Sacred Mysteries to be celebrated according to the various Rites and Forms she authorizes.

  60. Pingback: CATHOLIC MONDAY EDITION | Big Pulpit

Comments are closed.