I have often lauded the important book by Martin Mosebach The Heresy of Formlessness.  I warmly recommend it.  US HERE – UK HERE  As a matter of fact, it was first on my suggestions for Lenten reading.  HERE

First Things has published a piece by Mosebach from last December 2016.  Let’s have a look with my now legendary emphases and comments:


The times in which a new form is born are extremely rare in the history of mankind. Great forms are characterized by their ability to outlive the age in which they emerge and to pursue their path through all history’s hiatuses and upheavals. The Greek column with its Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian capitals is such a form, as is the Greek tragedy with its invention of dialogue that still lives on in the silliest soap opera. The Greeks regarded tradition itself as a precious object; it was tradition that created legitimacy. Among the Greeks, tradition stood under collective protection. The violation of tradition was called tyrannis—tyranny is the act of violence that damages a traditional form that has been handed down.

One form that has effortlessly overleaped the constraints of the ages is the Holy Mass of the Roman Church, the parts of which grew organically over centuries and were finally united at the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century. It was then that the missal of the Roman pope, which since late antiquity had never succumbed to heretical attack, was prescribed for universal use by Catholic Christendom throughout the West. If one considers the course of human history, it is nothing short of remarkable that the Roman Rite has survived the most violent catastrophes unaltered.


Hereafter he gives a good summary of what happened to our liturgical worship after the Council and then what Pope Benedict tried to do, both before his election and after with Summorum Pontificum.

Then he really drills in.  The effect is electric.

Note how he talks about what I have hammered on for YEARS. The importance of LAY PEOPLE!


The great liturgical crisis following the Second Vatican Council, which was part of a larger crisis of faith and authority, put an end to the illusion that the laity need not be involved.

The now decades-old movement for the restoration of the Roman Rite has been to a considerable extent a lay movement. The position of priests who support the Roman Rite was and will be strengthened by Summorum Pontificum, and hopefully the cause of the Tridentine Mass will receive further support from the eagerly awaited reconciliation of the Society of St. Pius X with the Holy See. Yet this does not change the fact that it will be the laity who will be decisive in bringing about the success of efforts to reform the reform. The laity of today differs from the laity of forty years ago. They had precise knowledge of the Roman Rite and took its loss bitterly and contested it. The young people who are turning to the Roman Rite today often did not know it as children. They are not, as Pope Francis erroneously presumes, nostalgically longing for a lost time. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] On the contrary, they are experiencing the Roman Rite as something new. [Yes, this is a great irony, a great tragedy, and a great gift.  First, it is ironic that something so old, should be so new… even as Augustine describes the transcendental beauty of God.  It is sad that so many for so long have been cheated of a patrimony which could have formed and supported them.  It is such a gift to have the treasury they slammed in our faces opened again.  Not only, we get to have it back but without the sloppiness or the negligence it may have had in some places.  Its loss purified and strengthened it, in a sense. In the words of Joni Mitchell: “Don’t it always seem to go / That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone / They paved paradise / And put up a parking lot”.  Well, now we can recover the paradise.] It opens an entire world to them, the exploration of which promises to be inexhaustibly fascinating. It is true that those who discover the Roman Rite today and relish its formal exactness and rigorous orthodoxy are naturally an elite group, yet not in a social sense. [NOTA BENE] Theirs is a higher mystical receptivity and an aesthetic sensitivity to the difference between truth and falsehood. As Johan Huizinga, author of The Waning of the Middle Ages, [US HERE Kindle $1.20!  UK HERE] established nearly a century ago, there exists a close connection between orthodoxy and an appreciation of style.  [Ain’t it the truth!]

The vast majority of the faithful have in the meantime never known anything else but the revised Mass in its countless manifestations. They have lost any sense of the spiritual wealth of the Church and in many cases simply are not capable of following the old rite. [Their “receptivity” has been twisted.  In many of the various talks I give I talk about being “actively receptive”.  This is the key to participation.] They should not be criticized on account of this. The Tridentine Mass demands a lifetime of education,  [Okay… but so does the whole “Catholic Thing”.  As I convert I know how long it takes to get that Thing down into the marrow.  But that doesn’t mean that it cannot be undertaken swiftly and well.] and the post-conciliar age is characterized, among other things, by the widespread abandonment of religious instruction. The Catholic religion with its high number of believers has actually become the most unknown religion in the world, especially to its own adherents. [I often listen to or read what some Catholics say and wonder if they belong to the same Church or religion that I do.] While there are many Catholics who feel repelled and offended by the superficiality of the new rite as it is frequently celebrated today, by the odious music, the puritanical kitsch, the trivialization of dogma, and the profane character of new church buildings, the gap that has opened up in the forty years between the traditional rite and the new Mass is very deep, often unbridgeable. [Yes… it can be very hard.  Some are simply unwilling to walk the bridge.] The challenge becomes more difficult because one of the peculiarities of the old rite is that it makes itself accessible only slowly—unless the uninitiated newcomer to this ancient pattern of worship is a religious genius. [I think this over states the situation just a bit.] One has never “learned everything there is to learn” about the Roman Rite, because in its very origin and essence this enduring and truly extraordinary form is hermetic, presupposing arcane discipline and rigorous initiation.  [One who is not familiar with the traditional forms might get the impression from what Mosebach says that it is fruitless even to try.  I sharply disagree.  Mosebach gives a sober assessment.  Don’t let his sobriety and serious tone be taken for insuperable pessimism.]

If the Tridentine Mass is to prosper, the ground must be prepared for a new generation to receive such an initiation. [Amen.] Pope Benedict disappointed many advocates of the old liturgy because he did not do more for them. He refused the urgent requests to celebrate the Latin Mass at least once as pope, something he had occasionally done while a cardinal. But this refusal stems from the fact that he believed—no matter how welcome such a celebration would have been—that the reinstitution of the old rite, like all significant movements in the history of the Church, must come from below, not as a result of a papal decree from above. In the meantime, the post-conciliar work of destruction has wounded multitudes of the faithful. Unless a change of mind and a desire for a return to the sacred begin to sprout in countless individual hearts, administrative actions by Rome, however well-intentioned and sound, can affect little.  [Right.  And it could be that the only way this will come about is through greater “creative destruction” in the Church.  It could be that something like the debridement of a festering wound inflicted through confusion and infidelity will take place.  Then the wound will heal and life can go on and thrive again.]

Summorum Pontificum makes priests and the laity responsible for the Roman Rite’s future—if it means a lot to them. [As I have asked time and again… what are you willing to do?  If you want this you have to work and sacrifice!] It is up to them to celebrate it in as many places as possible, to win over for it as many people as possible, and to disseminate the arcane knowledge concerning its sacred mysteries. The odium of disobedience and defiance against the Holy See has been spared them by Pope Benedict’s promulgation, and they are making use of the right granted them by the Church’s highest legislator, but this right only has substance if it is claimed and used. The law is there. No Catholic can, as was possible not long ago, contend that fostering the Roman Rite runs counter to the will of the Church.  [This is what I and others are doing with the Tridentine Mass Society of the Diocese of Madison!  This is why we are having vestments made, why I am constantly after you for donations, why we are having Pontifical Masses, why are are ratcheting up our Sunday celebrations with more Solemn Masses when possible.  And we have big plans.  HELP]

Perhaps it is even good that, despite Summorum Pontificum, the Tridentine Mass is still not promoted by the great majority of bishops. If it is a true treasure without which the Church would not be itself, then it will not be won until it has been fought for. [OORAH!] Its loss was a spiritual catastrophe for the Church and had disastrous consequences far beyond the liturgy, and that loss can only be overcome by a widespread spiritual renewal. [One of my constant phrases is “We are our Rites!”… and … “Change how people pray and you change what they believe.”  The iconoclasts of the Consilium were drunk on the idea that they were not just changing rites, they were changing doctrine.  Bugnini’s secretary, later papal MC Piero Marini wrote in the smoking gun book A Challenging Reform: “They met in public to begin one of the greatest liturgical reforms in the history of the Western church.  Unlike the reform after Trent, it was all the greater because it also dealt with doctrine.”  (p. 46).] It is not necessarily a bad thing that members of the hierarchy, in open disobedience to Summorum Pontificum, continue to put obstacles in the way of champions of the Roman Rite. As we learn in the lives of the saints and the orders they founded, the established authorities typically persecute with extreme mistrust new movements and attempt to suppress them. [I learned recently that the Congregation for Religious may be about to give the FFI treatment to many more new foundations.] This is one of the constants of church history, and it characterizes every unusual spiritual effort, indeed, every true reform, [because it’s the Devil that is really driving it] for true reform consists of putting on the bridle, of returning to a stricter order. This is the trial by fire that all reformers worthy of their name had to endure. The Roman Rite will be won back in hundreds of small chapels, in improvised circumstances throughout the whole world, celebrated by young priests with congregations that have many small children, or it will not be won back at all.

Recapturing the fullness of the Church’s liturgy is now a matter for the young. Those who experienced the abolition and uncanonical proscription of the old rite in the late 1960s were formed by the liturgical praxis of the 1950s and the decades prior. It may sound surprising, but this praxis was not the best in many countries. The revolution that was to disfigure the Mass cast a long shadow ahead of itself. In many cases, the liturgical practice was such that people no longer believed in the mystagogical power of the rite. In many countries, the liturgical architecture of the rite was obscured or even dismantled. There were silent Masses during which a prayer leader incessantly recited prayers in the vernacular that were not always translations of the Latin prayers, and in a number of places Gregorian chant played a subordinate role. [NB] Those who are twenty or thirty today have no bad habits of these sorts. They can experience the rite in its new purity, free of the incrustations of the more recent past.  [This is a real gift.  Make use of it!  As I have written elsewhere, you have been given the beautiful new bicycle and patted on the head: now, take off the training wheels and RIDE THE DAMN BIKE!]

The great damage caused by the liturgical revolution after Vatican II consists above all in the way in which the Church lost the conviction with which all Catholics—illiterate goatherds, maids and laborers, Descartes and Pascal—naturally took part in the Church’s sacred worship. Up until then, the rite was among the riches of the poor, who, through it, entered into a world that was otherwise closed to them. They experienced in the old Mass the life to come as well as life in the present, an experience of which only artists and mystics are otherwise capable. [Once back in Italy, where I was handling the preparation of sacred music for the Mass in which Card. Ratzinger would take possession of his cardinatial see, a lib priest accused me of “elitism”, because “simple people” couldn’t understand the music.  That attitude fills me with rage at its condescension.  “So, beauty is only for the wealthy?”, I shot back at the truly elitist jerk. Then we had a fight, which I won.  The music for the Mass was glorious and the Cardinal was well pleased.] This loss of shared transcendence[YES!] available to the most humble cannot be repaired for generations, and this great loss is what makes the ill-considered reform of the Mass so reprehensible. It is a moral outrage that those who gutted the Roman Rite because of their presumption and delusion were permitted to rob a future generation of their full Catholic inheritance. [“AMEN!”] Yet it is now at least possible for individuals and for small groups to gradually win back a modicum of un-self-conscious familiarity with even the most arcane prayers of the Church. Today, children can grow into the rite and thus attain a new, more advanced level of spiritual participation.

The movement for the old rite, far from indicating aesthetic self-satisfaction, has, in truth, an apostolic character. [It truly is the cutting edge and most important tool of the New Evanglization.  Christ is the Perfect Communicator.  The most potent form of Social Communication which Holy Church has is SACRED LITURGICAL WORSHIP, in which Christ is the true Actor, the true Communicator communicating Himself in ever gesture and word and vestment and vessel, even brick of the church and carved pew and lovely bound book and stained-glass window.] It has been observed that the Roman Rite has an especially strong effect on converts, [Count me in.] indeed, that it has even brought about a considerable number of conversions. Its deep rootedness in history and its alignment with the end of the world create a sacred time antithetical to the present, a present that, with its acquisitive preoccupations, leaves many people unsatisfied. Above all, the old rite runs counter to the faith in progress that has long gone hand in hand with an economic mentality that is now curdling into anxiety regarding the future and even a certain pessimism. This contradiction with the spirit of our present age should not be lamented. It betokens, rather, a general awakening from a two-hundred-year-old delusion. Christians always knew that the world fell because of original sin and that, as far as the course of history is concerned, it offers no reason at all for optimism. The Catholic religion is, in the words of T. S. Eliot, a “philosophy of disillusionment” that does not suppress hope, but rather teaches us not to direct our hope toward something that the world cannot give. The liturgy of Rome and, naturally, Greek Orthodoxy’s Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom open a window that draws our gaze from time into eternity.

Reform is a return to form. The movement that seeks to restore the form of the Latin Rite is still an avant-garde, attracting young people who find modern society suffocating. But it can only be a truly Christian avant-garde if it does not forget those it leads into battle; it must not forget the multitude who will someday have to find their way back into the abundant richness of the Catholic religion, once the generations who, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, sought the salvation of the Church in its secularization have sunk into their graves.

I’ll tell you something.  That left me pretty revved up.

¡Hagan lío!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, Benedict XVI, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Si vis pacem para bellum!, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Some days when I may not feel that the bricks are being set fast enough or that it seems certain that the return to beauty will just fizzle out, I will read and reread this post.
    There is nothing more uplifting than reading a sober and level-headed response concerning All Things Liturgically Beautiful and why – than an excited and revved up Father Zed to get me in gear.
    As the Marines say, “Improvise, Adapt … OVERCOME! ”

  2. Jennifer P says:

    The liturgy of Rome and, naturally, Greek Orthodoxy’s Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom open a window that draws our gaze from time into eternity.

    Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholics in the United States are doing their best to close that liturgical door though which the faithful can gaze from time into eternity. In 2007 the Council of Hierarchs severely abbreviated the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom and prohibited the ordinary form. It came with ‘revised texts’ that are gender neutral. “Man’ and “mankind” are replaced with “us.” Christ no longer “loves mankind.” He loves “us.” A friend of mine describes the mandated music as “klunky” and “near unsingable.” Many people simply stopped attending. Complaints to the bishops were met either with silence or accusations of disobedience. Our pastor complained and was told that he was a traitor to the bishop.

    I have seen Roman Catholic Masses that were truly edifying. And I’ve seen some that were awful. I encourage my Latin brothers to keep fighting the good fight for beautiful worship.

  3. Kerry says:

    “…Roman Rite has an especially strong effect on converts, [Count me in.] ”
    Count me in too; “I am Spartacus!”

  4. lmgilbert says:

    One thing that makes the widespread return of the TLM almost inevitable is the thirst young people have for authenticity. I could think of a Carmelite convent, for example, that has made three foundations in the past ten years, and is already positioned to make a fourth- and what is the magic formula? The full habit, all the masses and all the offices in Latin, the ancient Carmelite liturgy when possible, the stricter constitutions, Carmelite life as lived by St. Theresa and companions. The thinking seems to be that if life as the Carmelites lived it for centuries made saints of so many of them, perhaps it will do so for me as well. In other words, this order did what the Council recommended in returning to the spirit of the founder. If the Franciscans, the Jesuits, the Dominicans, the Vincentians and etc did the same, they would be overwhelmed.

    The same goes for the secular priesthood, whose founder and exemplar was Jesus Christ. Where the Mass is again celebrated with cruciform reverence and decorum, the priesthood too will flourish, both in numbers and in quality. Perhaps we will see again the likes of St. John Vianney, of Padre Pio, of Charles Borromeo. But that is not all, among the things that are so old that they are new-or would be-is a prayerful, pentitential Catholic people. The rediscover of our own liturgical, devotional and ascetic patrimony could well bring that about. If the young are looking for authenticity, the Church’s attic is full of the authentic, the life-giving, of many things that are so old that they would would be new and infinitely exciting to those who did not realize that they had been robbed of their patrimony, or even that they had a patrimony.

  5. roma247 says:

    I also disagree that the traditional rite is tooooo haaaard to learn…we used the book Treasure and Tradition to familiarize ourselves with it, even our kids got a lot out of this book.

    It’s a great way to spread devotion to the TLM too…

  6. Christopher Meier says:

    I do better reading on dead tree as my sight deteriorates. But with the paperback selling at $190 and the e-book going for $10, think I’ll deal with the eye strain.

  7. Eoin Suibhne says:

    The movement for the old rite, far from indicating aesthetic self-satisfaction, has, in truth, an apostolic character. [It truly is the cutting edge and most important tool of the New Evangelization. Christ is the Perfect Communicator. The most potent form of Social Communication which Holy Church has is SACRED LITURGICAL WORSHIP, in which Christ is the true Actor, the true Communicator communicating Himself in every gesture and word and vestment and vessel, every brick of the church and carved pew and lovely bound book and stained-glass window.]

    This is so critical, and still so unknown among the great majority of our good-willed young people, including younger priests. They remain fixed on a shallow and trendy New Evangelization, using “hip,” worldly music and promoting banal, Evangelical-inspired “worship”, which do not work — and cannot work — because they are inherently insufficient means of communicating the SACRED nature of Whom we worship.

  8. un-ionized says:

    Christopher, It’s “treeware.”

  9. Frank H says:

    Fortunately I found a copy for $9 at Half Price Books!

  10. Emilio says:

    Nothing against those who prefer the Extraordinary Form exclusively. But where does what this work advocates for, leave those of us who are committed to a “reform of the reform” for the Novus Ordo? Summorum Pontificum restored the EF to its rightful place, but to coesxist with the OF, the form of the Mass experienced by the vast majority of Catholics worldwide on a regular basis, if not exclusively. Pope Benedict intended for BOTH forms to enrich each other with SP, not for the work of a reform of the reform to be abandoned only to work toward a return to the Tridentine Mass exclusively. Some of us have been in the trenches for decades (two for me), enduring ridicule and all forms of abuse, for advocating for Latin in the liturgy, ad orientem worship, kneeling for Communion, chant, etc. We now even endure derision from many traditionalists, who mock us as “neo-cons” and act as if we are worse than actual heretics. I regularly and happily attended an EF Mass in Northern Virginia, but it was exceptionally well-celebrated, in a kind of semi-dialogue Mass style, the faithful being allowed to chant the Pater Noster, and the readings NOT repeated again in English before the homily. But to even mention and prefer certain legitimate options, few as they are, for the EF is like a declaration of war to some traditionalists … when seeing more of these options could make the EF vastly more palatable to more Catholics than those mumbled low masses, or sung ones where people are hissed into silence for daring to chant along or even reply “et cum spiritu tuo.” In short, and forgive me if I am redundant, I’m not sure abandoning the “reform of the reform” challenge, and fully and exclusively returning to the Tridentine Mass for the entire Church (especially ones with imposed muzzling of the congregation and the mean hissing ladies) is what Pope Benedict had in mind at all with SP.

  11. Semper Gumby says:

    “…the rite was among the riches of the poor, who, through it, entered into a world that was otherwise closed to them. They experienced in the old Mass the life to come as well as life in the present, an experience of which only artists and mystics are otherwise capable. [Once back in Italy, where I was handling the preparation of sacred music for the Mass in which Card. Ratzinger would take possession of his cardinatial see, a lib priest accused me of “elitism”, because “simple people” couldn’t understand the music. That attitude fills me with rage at its condescension. “So, beauty is only for the wealthy?”, I shot back at the truly elitist jerk. Then we had a fight, which I won. The music for the Mass was glorious and the Cardinal was well pleased.]”

    That quote from Mosebach’s article and Fr. Z’s comment brings to mind something Christopher Dawson wrote in “Religion and the Rise of Western Culture”:

    “Ideology is the work of man, an instrument by which the conscious political will attempts to mould the social tradition to its purpose. But faith looks beyond the world of man and his works; it introduces man to a higher and more universal range of reality than the finite and temporal world to which the state and the economic order belong. And thereby it introduces into human life an element of spiritual freedom which may have a creative and transforming influence on man’s social culture and historical destiny as well as on his inner personal experience.”

    Tyrants of the Left recognize the TLM as a formidable obstacle to their utopian Marxist fantasies. Save the Liturgy, Save the World.

  12. There is nothing quite like appropriate Roman Rite worship to bring Joy into our lives. The usus antiquior is the only Latin Rite where we catch a glimpse of THE Kolouskagathous before communion. And, God love Martin Mosebach!

  13. JonPatrick says:

    I sympathize with what Emilio wrote above. I think we are all trying to get to the same place (reverent worship) and there are different paths to get there. It is unfortunate that some people take it upon themselves to enforce their view of what traditional Catholicism is, although one finds those attitudes as much in Ordinary Form Masses where a priest makes small attempts to make the Mass more reverent. In one parish I attend occasionally, a liberal priest retired to be replaced by a more orthodox one who replaced pottery vessels with gold ones and started singing parts of the Mass, which irritated at least one member of the congregation who complains about it every time she has the chance. At least she hasn’t hissed at me yet when I sing “and with your spirit”.

    I think reform of the reform was making some headway in the last pontificate but in the current environment it might actually be easier to start a new EF Mass than to try to reform the OF. Look at the way Cardinal Sarah was thrown under the bus for merely suggesting that priests return to Ad Orientem.

  14. Filipino Catholic says:

    I’ve often wondered about that rarity of rarities: a Novus Ordo Mass offered in sensu stricto, i.e. solely by the book(s), with as minimal deviation from the usus antiquior as possible. That surely is as reverent as the Extraordinary Form is, albeit perhaps a little leaner in the prayers and readings.

    Of course to get to that point we’d need (for the sung Propers that seem to have disappeared altogether) to bring forth widespread use of the 1974 Graduale Romanum, just to name one deficiency of the current N.O. as it is commonly offered.

  15. Imrahil says:

    That reminds me a bit of this:

    The Catholic faith used to be called the Old Religion; but at the present moment it has a recognized place among the New Religions. This has nothing to do with its truth or falsehood; but it
    is a fact that has a great deal to do with the understanding of the modern world. It would be very undesirable that modern men should accept Catholicism merely as a novelty; but it is a novelty. It does act upon its existing environment with the peculiar force and freshness of a novelty. Even those who denounce it generally denounce it as a novelty; as an innovation and not merely a
    survival. […] In places where tradition can do nothing for it, in places where all the tradition is against it, it is intruding on its own merits; not as a tradition but a truth. […] Catholicism indeed, […] is often spoken of as if it were actually one of the wild passions of youth. Optimistic aunts and uncles say that the youth will “get over it,” as if it were a childish love affair or that unfortunate business with the barmaid. Darker and sterner aunts and uncles, perhaps at a rather earlier period, used actually to talk about it as an indecent indulgence, as if its literature were literally a sort of pornography. Newman remarks quite naturally, as if there were nothing odd about it at the time, that an undergraduate found with an ascetic manual or a book of monastic meditations was under a sort of cloud or taint, as having been caught with “a bad book” in his possession. He had been wallowing in the sensual pleasure of Nones or inflaming his lusts by contemplating an incorrect number of candles. […]

    Chesterton, “The Catholic Church and Conversion”

  16. Imrahil says:

    More to the topic:

    Our reverent host is quite right to point out that Mr. Mosebach overstates the difficulty of the Old Roman Rite. On the contrary (and I may overstate myself of course), I would venture that if two conditions are met, the Old Rite is rather the easier one of the two. The first condition is that you should not be an analphabet; our ancestors delved into the rite even neither having books nor being able to read, but they were made of sterner stuff (in a sense*) than we are, and of our lot but few will endure not being able to follow at all. For us, if we happen to be analphabets, the easier way will be to learn the ABC first. – The second, and for most people in our world harder, condition is to overcome one’s prejudices.

    [*That is not a moral judgment. It’s a rather natural, at any rate regularly occurring, fact, not necessarily a failure, that Man tends to find tasks hard that aren’t strictly needed. How many people in the Middle Ages knew the entire Bible by heart! But that was before Gutenberg came and developed the printing press.]

    The reason for this is quite easy: whatever be said about participatio actuosa here and participatio activa there, the whole issue is, and is admittedly, about the more perfect form of attending Mass. One prejudice to overcome, and better to overcome immediately and now and at once, is that participation in Mass be worth nothing or even counterproductive, offending to God, etc. if it does not fulfill all the conditions of actuose participation, of active participation, and so on at once.

    So let the proficientes debate how to better attend at Mass, and the beginner of the old rite be at peace with the thing that through the ages was called “attending Mass”, and – we may say – for a reason.

    Should he stay there? Of course not. But if he is a Catholic, and if he, say, has a missal or one of these booklets they distribute, or even (in a hypothetical scenario where there was no prejudice on either his part, nor the rest of the Congregation, about using them even for such a purpose at the holy place) a smartphone, he can help himself if so enclined. And he will be inclined.

    (One not altogether unimportant thing – and one where I personally am no good example – would even be to slow him down a bit. He should “get Mass” first [as far as It can] before attempting to delve into the particular prayers and even rubrics.)

    That makes it “easy”; but why did I not only say “easy” but “easier”?

    Because, if (granted: a big if) these prejudice are overcome, the man may feel a need to learn a lot, but one thing he will certainly not feel and that is the need to, himself, “get the Mass done”. He may have, as a good Catholic, believed all the time that it takes only the priests for the Mass’s validity; but in the Old Rite, there comes up the specific feeling that the priest is there to make sure the Mass is prayed, and this is not his responsibility.

    On the other hand, that it’s easier does not mean that it focuses less on the general priesthood of all believers. With the Old Mass, you can have your cake and eat it too. With the Old Mass, he can be at peace just attentively sitting there, and naturally falling on his knees or getting up when the rest does; but he will also feel that what he does do to participate in, starting with attentively sitting there and by far not finishing with giving responses where appropriate, is a priestly thing to do, rather more so than in the New Mass, especially if the priest faces the people; and that it is this even for the layman in the last bench, who is going to have a smoke after the action is over, and not only for the chairwoman of the Wives’ and Mothers’ Society who is called up to read the First Reading or for the layman pastor-assistent who functions as master of ceremonies or for the embarrassed boy in his teens who must stand out publicly to read a General Intercession because he takes part in the Confirmation program.

    I did suppose as hypothesis that the prejudices have been overcome, though.

  17. mburn16 says:

    I, too, must sympathize with Emilio. The course that liturgical reform took after Vatican II has been shown to be a terrible error. Yet I must think that it would be similarly harmful if we were to simply throw up our hands and say “nope, this was a bad thing mabe by bad people, and we should just undo it and be done, because there wasn’t anything wrong in the first place”. Ultimately there were reasons that large numbers of the faithful wanted liturgical reform…its unlikely to be because most of the lost faith in, or reverence for, God.

    We need something more than “reform of the reform”, but not quite as far as a complete and unmodified return to 1962.

    …as for an insistence that revitalization of Catholic worship must be a bottom-up endeavor…there is such a severe limit on what the laity can actually enact that, no, I must disagree. I also think such thinking is a prime example of why the left is winning both politically and socially and religiously in the West: they are willing to bludgeon the opposition into submission, while the right prefers to persuade or convince. But you can’t persuade someone who wants to bludgeon you.

  18. Mrs. Bee says:

    I can see where reader Emilio is coming from. And yet… I am so lucky as to be in a parish with both a regular Sung TLM (plus a weekly Low Mass) and a “Reformed-of-the-Reformed” Novus Ordo. We had a succession of three pastors who slowly introduced elements of the reform (choir singing the Entrance Antiphon, incense, Roman Canon, Sanctus, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei in Latin, etc. We already had altar boys only) until the current one decided things were ready to have the NO celebrated ad Orientem well before Cardinal Sarah’s suggestion. In short, a beautiful and reverent Mass. Despite all this beauty and reverence, and the NO Mass being at a more convenient time, our family decided to regularly attend the Older Rite, after attending it by accident, so to speak, a few times. It wans’t really a decision: it was more as if we couldn’t help it, there was nothing else to do. There was a silly game played when I was a child: you challenged a friend to see who would come up with the biggest number imaginable; the friend would say something complicated, involving trillions if not more… and you calmly replied, “+ 1”. In a way, I feel that the TLM is the child saying +1: no matter the amount of beauty and reverence you can have in the NO Mass, the old one has more, or has some other desirable advantage (silence, for instance!)

    I know that Pope Benedict meant the two rites (can we finally say that, instead of simply calling them forms of the same rite?) to coexist – but he never said that the coexistence would go on forever, at least as far as I know. Despite his caricature, Benedict seems always to be for the gentler approach possible: expecting him to suddenly put the NO Mass out of business would be equating him with the liturgical revolutionaries of the ’60s-’70s… Summorum Pontificum simply recognizes that the NO Mass is here with us, and that right now it is the norm for the great majority of Catholics. Benedict was right in saying that the TLM needs enrichment, too: we need to update the calendar to celebrate recent saints, for instance. No one says that the liturgy never ever evolves.

    Taking the long view, my opinion is that the Novus Ordo will end up being seen as a blip in the history of the Church. Things lasting even 100 years, in terms of Church history, are almost like details. They can be awfully important to the people who happen to live through them, and they can have pretty awful consequences, this is beyond question. But I believe the NO will end up being a “parenthesis”, as our host likes to describe papacies. And I think the reason is that the NO Mass, while it is certainly valid and can be celebrated with reverence and beauty, is marred by a kind of liturgical and theological original sin. This Mass was put together with deceit and subterfuge, with contempt for Catholic Tradition and doctrine: it is the result of a raw exercise of power that has been defended for decades with even more deceit (like the idea that the Old Mass had been “abolished”, or that the new rite was exactly what the liturgical documents of Vatican II were talking about). I find it hard to believe that this edifice will stand for much longer, since the fruit of the whole project are before everyone’s eyes… As Mosebach says, and as our host says, it is up to us now.

  19. Mike says:

    Abridgements and abuses committed by Novus Ordo practitioners and the incharity of some of its extreme opponents and partisans are all distractions. The fact is that the Novus Ordo is an anthropocentric contrivance. That intrinsic defect, a formidable impediment to grace, cannot be mitigated while preserving the Novus Ordo.

    That said, the Novus Ordo cannot be banished effectively without tearing down the rest of the Modernist edifice. And as long as we allow our worship and devotion to be ruled by emotions rather than by the substantive truth of Redemption, Modernism will defiantly and damnably stand. Only in that realization can any effective reclamation of Tradition be founded.

  20. PTK_70 says:

    BLUF (bottom line up front): If traditionalists – or, more broadly, those with traditionalist sympathies – continue to employ terminology in a sloppy and thoughtless way, the “brick-by-brick” project will at best result in the multiplication and strengthening of traditionalist enclaves in the Church, NOT in the reform of the Latin Church as a whole.

    Words matter. Maybe I appreciate this more on account of my military career. So be it.

    Here’s what I claim to understand: there is no such thing as a “Latin Rite”, per se. There is a Latin Church within which are many Rites, eg, Roman, Ambrosian and Dominican, to name a few.

    Let us not speak of an “old rite” and a “new rite”, as if people could hear that you said the word “rite” with a little “r”. As the highest authority in the Church on planet Earth, Pope Benedict XVI taught that the Roman Rite is one. Glorious and fabulous and expansive as it may be, it remains one. We know from Summorum Pontificum that there are two forms to the one Roman Rite: the ordinary form and the extraordinary form. Oh, and there’s also an Anglican use which belongs to the Roman Rite, adding to the glory and honor of our already amazing Rite.

    Furthermore, there is not one kind of “Latin Mass,” nor can it be said there is one kind of “Traditional Latin Mass.” Attend Mass according to the Dominican Rite and be convinced of this.

    Please don’t say that it’s tooooo haaaaard to get the terminology straight. If you are really interested in helping to purify the entire Latin Church (which is clearly the intention/hope of our genial host), and not just building up your little traditionalist enclave wherever it may be, then may I suggest beginning with a thorough reading and rereading of Pope Benedict’s letter to bishops accompanying Summorum and then committing yourself to excruciatingly correct (to borrow a term from Miss Manners) communications.

  21. Mike says:

    We go to the TLM about twice a month. The difference with the NO parish we are registered in is astounding, and dismaying.

    After a 75 minute High Mass, I feel upon leaving like only speaking in a whisper, for I have by grace climbed the mountain of God, and spoke with Him as a friend, face-to-face, though He is on the “other” side of the sacramental veil. After a 56 minute NO, in our parish, the banality is a terrible after-taste, though the good Lord was there, offered, and received.

    Thank you, Pope Benedict for this gift, that I never knew till in middle age!

  22. Imrahil says:

    Dear PTK_70,

    maybe I might say with a particular sort of military experience sort of dying out in the world today whether for good or for ill, namely a couple of months of training and then off to civilian life, I might say that the military sort of “words matter” has its time and place, which is in the military.

    With one of its functions, humorously but seriously speaking, to provide enlisted men and ncos the opportunity to complain (internally) about their superior’s nitpicking, upwards, and to critizise them for inaccurateness, downwards. Hence, there is no such thing as an “Esmarch’s bandage”, the thing is called “Esmarch bandage” and there’s an end of it, because you don’t say “grave’s digger” either. (Actually the usual counterexamples are somewhat different ones, but they aren’t fitting to reproduce here.)

    Seriously, if it weren’t for all these meticulous directives concerning language usage, military service would be a lot less fun than it can be (among other things).

    That said, this has its time and place.

    In a world where we have to comply with the Pope’s orders but not (leastways where no concrete order to that effect is given) with the legislative-technical language he uses in his laws,

    we may well say that for us, “rite” means “the way liturgy is done”, and seeing that the Old Form of the Roman Rite is pretty much different from the New Form – not so much that either would no longer be a manner of Catholic worship, but rather certainly in the area of Roman-Ambrosian differences at the least – we may well, and justifiedly, speak of “rites”.

    (“Form of the Rite” was probably intended to mean 1. that each Latin priest can say it, not only those in Milan, only the Dominicans, and so forth, 2. that it is not a sui-iuris-Church in the Eastern sense.)

    I tend to agree w.r.t. “Latin Mass” and perhaps also “Traditional Latin Mass”, though oftentimes they are just colloquialisms standing for one specific thing. Speaking of colloquialism and the military, where I served it was more common to say “meadow chatter” than “field far-speaker without battery/central battery” (with the German bureaucratic tradition to say “far-speaker” instead of “telephone”), of “mickey-mouses” instead of ear defenders (makes sense because the normal ear defenders were something different), “Café Fourangle” instead of “detention”, or “the Jungle Book” instead of “Central Service Directive no. 3/11 Fighting Techniques of all Forces when at Land & Living in the Field”.

  23. Mariana2 says:

    Count me in among the affected converts.

    And among those who don’t think the EF Mass is all that difficult to “get”. I’ve only attended three, offered by a saintly FSSP priest who a few years ago came all the way from France, but who probably is non grata with our parish priest and hasn’t been seen since. Of course I lost my place in the Missal; I hadn’t realised the priest would speak so quietly, but those three Low Masses were heaven on earth!

    I’m very fortunate to live in a town with a Catholic parish, but I do feel cheated of what’s rightfu?ly mine, the sublime EF Mass!

  24. WVC says:

    Mr. Mosebach is right in calling for the continued promulgation of the Latin Mass, but the laity need to also think hard about investing in building up good, Catholic parishes. Any good strategy includes both a go out and advance part as well as a consolidate and hold the gains part. The ONLY way that the Extraordinary Form will really influence the Ordinary Form is for it to exist as a part of the parish’s life and not as “this random group of people who show up for the EF Mass on Sunday and then scatter to the four winds.”

    At my parish we have a very large number of folks who not only attend the EF Mass but are also registered at the parish. They attend the parish picnics and dinners (like the Lenten Soup supper every Friday). They give money to the parish projects. Their kids participate in activities like Jr. Legion of Mary or “St. Therese’s Little Flowers. They even attend daily Mass (which used to be all Ordinary Form). As a result, they are now an influential part of the community.

    What did this wind up doing? Thanks to a wonderful pastor who is also very concerned with restoring the traditions of the Church, the parish now has an Extraordinary Form daily Mass on Thursdays, an Extraordinary Form daily Mass on the first Friday evenings, a High Mass every Sunday, a High Mass every Feast Day, during Lent a Low Mass every Friday night (after Stations of the Cross and Benediction), and, potentially, another daily Low Mass on Mondays and/or Saturdays. Not only that, but we’ve seen the Novus Ordo grow MUCH more traditional. At the N.O. Mass there is no “passing of the Peace.” Also, Communion is received kneeling and the Mass is offered Ad Orientem. Several of the chants have returned to Latin (like the Kyrie and Agnus Dei). It’s been gradual, but the longed for rubbing off of the Latin Mass on the N.O. Mass has happened. And this is at both daily Mass AND the Sunday Masses. (although I agree with Mrs. Bee, the EF Mass is always +1)

    This was ONLY possible because the traditional minded Catholics invested in the parish. It gave them influence and the pastor support on these initiatives. Not everyone has bought in. There are some who resent the Latin Mass folks, but it’s hard for them to offer much opposition since we do so much for the parish (we even show up to do yard work on the annual clean up day). And there are still a number of gypsies amongst the EF crowd, but they are not the majority in our group. Some fear that if we get a new pastor who is not friendly to the Traditional Mass, all would be lost. My argument is that we have a much stronger position to fight from if we are invested in the parish, and it’s better to stand and fight than blow like tumbleweeds to wherever the Mass is being offered.

    Also, the advantages of parish life are not to be downplayed. Having had to deal with a medical crisis in my family over the last year, it was a great blessing to have prayers and support (including many folks bringing us home-cooked meals) from the parish (from friends who go to the EF Mass, the Ordinary Mass, and both). When one’s “community” all lives hours away from the church, it’s simply impossible for them to give one the same support, nor is it possible for one’s kids to form friendships as close when they only see each other once a week.

    Ultimately, we should do both. Spread the Latin Mass far and wide, but we must remember to also dig in and entrench our positions where possible. Not only will it benefit us and our cause in the long run, who, honestly, will have more influence over the local bishop? Folks who go hither and yon for the Latin Mass, sometimes even crossing Diocesan boundaries, or folks registered at a parish under the bishop’s care and to whom he receives money via weekly collections and annual appeals?

    Sometimes you have to sacrifice for what you want. We used to commute 3 hours every Sunday for Mass. When we made the decision to invest in the nearby parish (nearby = 45 minutes away) that was offering the Extraordinary Mass, we sold our house (at a loss) and moved to be within 5 minutes of the church. I’m not saying that’s an option for everyone, but I don’t think it should be ruled out. Sitting around and waiting for that perfect FSSP parish to open up next door . . . you might be in for a really long wait. And even then you might find it disappointing. Life is risks and perfection is not to be had this side of the grave. Or, as someone here might say, ¡Hagan lío!

  25. Gerhard says:

    Superb! And thanks for the emphases and comments.

  26. Reliquary says:

    WVC, what time slot does the Latin Mass have in your parish on Sunday?

  27. paulbailes says:

    Dear PTK_70

    Pope Benedict may have asserted that the Novus Ordo and the TLM were both forms of the same (Roman) rite, for whatever reason. But that does not make it true. The pope can’t make the sky green, as it were.

    I guess you can say that the pope makes the rules including the taxonomy of rites etc. But words also have objective meanings, and (as Sir Humphrey Appleby would put it), to claim that the NOM and TLM are two forms of the same rite is to lay upon the English language a semantic and epistemological burden that it is unable to bear.

    (It would be truly fascinating to learn if instead the Latin could admit some kind of interpretation that reconciled the NOM and TLM as a single rite, other than by papal fiat.)

  28. WVC says:

    Reliquary, it is at 12:45. Admittedly, not the best time. There are some who wish it was earlier, and the pastor has actually talked about moving us into the 8:30 time slot. Our attendance at 12:45 is neck and neck with the 8:30 crowd.

    Personally, while I was originally one of the gripers, as the years have gone by and my routine has settled, I actually enjoy the later day Mass. It gives us a nice, relaxed morning, which I don’t have at all the other 6 days of the week. It also is easier for the parents to socialize and kids to play on the playground or play football or sharks & minnows or what-have-you after Mass. Folks are in the habit of bringing some light snacks to gnosh on. None of that would happen if we had the 0830 – we would get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the CCD crowds.

    I can’t complain, though. We’ve had a sung Midnight Mass three years in a row now. And we get a High Mass for Holy Thursday, the traditional Good Friday service, and a glorious High Mass for Easter. No, definitely no complaints from me!

  29. Eoin Suibhne says:

    I read this on another blog ( about another topic, but thought it quite applicable here:

    The idea is that by making concessions (supposedly only concessions on outward, disciplinary, non-doctrinal matters) the Church can ‘gain a hearing’ with the world. The result has been, however, that there is nothing for the world to hear. Catholic schools, hospitals, and even liturgies have become next to useless as means of conveying anything about the truth of the Catholic religion, the Church’s insight into human nature, or the supernatural virtues which the Church makes possible, to non-Catholics, or even to Catholics, because they have deliberately made themselves worldly. ~ Joseph Shaw

  30. PTK_70 says:

    @paulbailes…..The first thing I’d like to say is: please define your terms. Please define for me what you mean by “Novus Ordo.” Please show me where the Church, or some designated authority therein, has defined what this is. Did Pope Benedict use this term? Not in Summorum anyway. Then please explain what you might mean by “TLM.” Sure, I know what it stands for, but come to my place and I will show you a very traditional-looking Mass in Latin, not celebrated according to the Roman Rite.

    As for the notion that one Rite cannot have two forms, do you really think someone as cerebral as Pope Benedict would not have done his homework before promulgating Summorum? The Byzantine Rite, in common use among various Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, has the Liturgy of St. Basil and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, two forms, as it were, of one and the same Rite. So there is absolutely historical precendence for one Rite having more than one form.

    I’ll conclude by saying: we’re all building brick-by-brick. Some of us are building more deeply entrenched, more heavily bunkered, enclaves. Others, like Emilio above, are doing something which in its own little way is working to purifying the Latin Church, writ large.

  31. Imrahil says:

    While I shall not deny that the idea with the liturgies of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom is interesting, still two points:

    1. They are rather similar, and what I am told amount most to “exchange the one sort of propria by other ones”, where those in St. Basil are longer.

    2. It is mostly fixed by the feast, Sunday or weekday when which form applies.

  32. Geoffrey says:

    I agree with Emilio 110%.

  33. PTK_70 says:

    @Imrahil….Not being an expert in these matters, I suppose there will be folks who think that Pope Benedict stretched the concept of “two forms, one Rite” a bit with Summorum. BUT who are you or I to pass judgment on the Supreme Pontiff in this regard? If this kind of thing doesn’t fall under his purview as Successor of Peter, then for crying out loud, what does?? He said it. I accept it. And now we move on. Or, more to the point, mutual enrichment warriors such as Emilio above, soldier on.

    Link to the letter to bishops, which accompanied Summorum Pontificum:

  34. rmichaelj says:

    For those who might get confused, the posts immediately below do not refer to treasure and tradition which go’s for about $23. And which I also highly recommend.

  35. rmichaelj says:

    Can only speak for the parish we attend- there are legitimate reasons for silence during the low mass. I agree that some traditionalists can come across as less than charitable in their “fraternal correction”. On the other hand knowing the reasons for the silence, and then pushing what you think is better on the rest of the attendees is pretty uncharitable (it only takes a few people voicing the responses out loud to take away the silence that most may prefer.

    Our pastor handles the situation adroitly by explaining the importance of silence, then also explaining that it is his job and not others to correct people who may not know better.

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