Fr. Hunwicke asks a hard question. Fr. Z thinks he deserves an answer.

I’ve had conversations that go along sort of like this:

“The Novus Ordo can be reverent!”, many will claim, “You just have to celebrated it as traditionally as you can!”

“You mean, by sticking to the Roman style, adapting elements of the traditional Mass, gestures, and so forth?”, you respond.

“Right! Make the Novus Ordo like the Traditional Latin Mass and it’s pretty good, all in all!”

“If that is what it takes,” you muse aloud, “if the more the Novus Ordo is like the traditional Mass the more reverent is seems, then why not just use the Traditional Mass?”

“Well… you see… it’s like… ummmm… you, know, Scripture and… things….”

That serves merely as an intro.

Our friend Fr. Hunwicke has a provocative post at his ever-engaging blog.

He touches on a neuralgic point which I occasionally poke at here.

Fr. Hunwicke raises a question: Does anyone really want or like the Novus Ordo?  Really?

He is, of course, being a little pugilistic.  He uses the example of an absurd and sacrilegious LGTB rite perpetrated in England, with options.  The perpetrators just made stuff up, did things that don’t have any options in the Novus Ordo.  Clearly they don’t want the Novus Ordo or they would have stuck to the book.

However, in the Novus Ordo there are so many options that make the rite so fluid, you have to wonder sometimes just what the Novus Ordo is.   Hence, it can be bent and shaped and molded and modified into forms that barely resemble one another.  Is that really a rite?


There are indeed some churches where these condemnations of the Novus Ordo would be unfair; but they are largely churches where the clergy would prefer to be saying the Old Mass but for ‘pastoral’ reasons are unable to do so; they therefore say the new rite with greater or lesser amounts of the spirit and spirituality of the old.

If you are in the Diocese of Black Duck and attend the Novus Ordo at Mournful Mother Weeping or you are in the Diocese of Libville and attend the Novus Ordo at Sing A New Faith Community Into Being Faith Community, you are going to get versions of the Novus Ordo so different that you will barely recognize them in their details and will be amazed at the choice of options that break into the overall structure of the Mass.  On the other hand, if you are back in Black Duck and you stop in at the Sacred Heart Loaded Down With Opprobrium chapel of the SSPX and St. Joseph Terror of Demons, the local territorial parish which has the TLM, you will be entirely comfortable at either place and have no surprises other than the choice of donuts afterward (actually, Mrs. Nguyen brings spectacular Vietnamese eggrolls to St. Joseph’s).   Msgr. Zuhlsdorf has suggested to the bishop that, ad experimentum, the SSPX chapel and the territorial parish be merged into a cluster along with St. Philip Neri Oratory of Mary Cause of Our Joy where Fr. WoJo (short for Fr. Włotrzewiszczykowycki-Brzęczyszczykiewic has been for a few years). The new cluster could be called, “Through My Fault My Fault My Most Grievous Fault”.

There is one incontrovertible FACT about our Catholic identity and our rites.

We are our rites.

Change the way we pray and, over time, our beliefs will change, along with our conversatio.

If you can go from parish to parish and find Masses profoundly different though they claim to use the same book… maybe there is something wrong. A negative side effect is that the community gets more and more fragmented as specialty Masses spring up and some churches become Sunday destination parishes.

If only there were a language and a rite that could bring us together.

Fr. Hunwicke (before his transition into talking about Francis) concludes…

Any re-appraisal of the liturgical situation in the Latin Church should begin with an honest acceptance that nobody … almost absolutely nobody … whether Traddy or Trendy … actually wants the Novus Ordo … either its Order or its Calendar..

On both sides, it is disliked, or regarded as of little relevance, and, very widely, largely set aside.

Right? Wrong?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    It’s actually an easy question. To answer.

  2. Thomas S says:

    Right. I think that’s spot on. I think the one stumbling block for the “conservative Catholic” is the Latin. They may crave more Latin, but would balk at all Latin.

    I think you could reintroduce the prayers at the foot of the altar, restore the offertory prayers, reinstitute all the rubrics, turn the altar back around, install altar rails and most of the rank and file would be either jubilant or indifferent. In other words, I think the TLM, with greater allowance for the vernacular in the changing parts, would be easily accepted…

    …but the Latin would be a hard sell. It will be difficult putting that toothpaste back in the tube.

    Either way, we’re heading for the days of a remnant Church. And that Church will use the TLM and have to evangelize the world from scratch again. Clearly the Novus Ordo is evangelically impotent.

  3. Gaby Carmel says:

    Since 1989, I have worshipped at, in all, two Novus Ordo parishes, both of which were and are run by Benedictines. Therefore, the Sunday High Mass was always reverent, quite traditional; and sung Gregorian was/is used frequently for the unchanging bits, (Kyrie etc), as well as traditional hymns, rather than the guitar ditties often favoured at ‘family Masses’. There has never been a lack of reverence, but I’m sure that is Benedictine thing, this respect for the liturgy and for liturgical norms. I used to enjoy the novelty of seeing what the priest, facing the congregation, does at consecration… though in recent years, I wish the priest was praying ‘ad orientem’, since it is to God, and not the faithful, that the prayer is directed, and the priest is NOT an entertainer!

    If the TLM returned as a norm, what I would definitely miss is the Novus Ordo lectionary, with the 3-years Sunday readings and the 2-year weekday readings. And they would have to be read in the vernacular too. Furthermore, as I benefited from 6 hours of Latin a week during 5 years at secondary school, I know I can get immersed in Latin again, to follow the prayers intelligently, after perhaps a refresher course. But that is not the case for the general population. So Latin classes would have to be instituted everywhere, perhaps? A more practical idea might be to reinstate mandatory Latin for the clergy, teach all seminarians the TLM as part of their training, and ask them to celebrate in this rite at least once a month (or once a week).

    To aid all this return to Tradition, Missals should urgently be printed with Latin on one page and in the vernacular on the facing page, to allow the faithful to follow the whole Mass more easily and piously. Does anyone remember the lovely thick Missals their parents and grand[parents used? They were always leather-bound, frequently gold-edged, and full of prayer cards! They usually included a treasury of prayers to before and after Mass, or during Benediction or a holy Hour, etc. Equipped wit such Missals, the faithful would be enabled to follow the liturgy very closely, and linger longer in church to savour the sweetness of the Lord…

  4. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    Gaby Carmel is right about the Ordinary Form’s superior lectionary. [More doesn’t mean superior.] I find usually more reverence at the Extraordinary Form’s Masses.

  5. Kate M says:

    I recently went to a funeral at a Novus Ordo parish. Reverent N.O. liturgy, with Latin hymns, but the actual text of the Mass seemed beside the point. The real action was the sermon (praising the deceased, who was smiling down at us) and the eulogy after Mass (where mom was praised from youth to death, but not a single word was said about mom’s faith). Everything else seemed like the accompaniment to those highlights.
    I might have agreed with Sid on the lectionary or with Gaby Carmel and Thomas on the Latin, but I think reading Dr. Kwasniewski’s scholarship (and this blog) clears the mind of misunderstandings about the ends of the Mass and how to pray it.

  6. AA Cunningham says:

    Missals should urgently be printed with Latin on one page and in the vernacular on the facing page, … Gaby Carmel
    Those already exist and for those who do not possess a 1962 Missal, most parishes that regularly celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite make available the Latin-English Booklet Missal.

  7. mamajen says:

    To answer his question: Yes, I do like it. I grew up in a parish where the priest said the black and did the red, and I’m in one now (very reverent, ad orientem, Communion on tongue only). I can follow the mass, I can hear it, and I can keep focused. I did not have the TLM to compare it to, but as a child the NO Mass I attended, with a priest who took great care with his every movement, fascinated me to the point of frustration that I was not a boy and could not be an altar server or a priest! (No I am not and never have been an advocate for woman priests).

    On the whole, I can’t disagree with Fr. Hunwicke. He makes some good points about the variations and he’s right that much of it is perfectly permissible. Then there are some places where they just ignore rules altogether. Traveling and visiting different parishes can be a bit “luck of the draw” and quite painful. And with a severe priest shortage in my area, I know it’s only a matter of time before I am forced to put up with a less reverent Mass again. That’s not how it should be.

    I usually end up at a TLM for Holy Days, and I find it peaceful and refreshing in its own way. I’ve learned a lot here about what “participation” really means, so I try not to sweat it that I don’t understand most of the Latin and have difficulty following along. I’ve never had the benefit of attending a TLM with a choir or cantor, so it’s a lot of quiet. I think that’s one of my stumbling blocks. If it were my only choice, I’d probably get used to it. If it were a choice between a TLM with no chant and a NO parish with show tunes, altar girls, improv, irreverence, etc…well, it would be a no-brainer. I know it’s not about me in any case, but given the actual options available to me today, and where I’m at (probably with much work to do), I prefer the reverent NO. If the TLM were required for everyone tomorrow, I would adapt.

  8. L. says:

    I think the trendy Priests with bad formation and no Latin, who teach things inimical to the Faith, who change prayers at will, and who have to be the center of attention at Mass, LOVE the Novus Ordo. It serves their vanity and arrogance. My diocese is lousy with them.

    I’ve heard that the Bishop of a neighboring diocese is putting on some kind of program for our Priests and maybe he’ll correct them… nah, he’s so “pro rainbow” he gives Fr. James Martin, LGBTQSJ, a run for his money.

  9. JTH says:

    At my parish so few people have returned to the NO Mass from the Covid fiasco, but the Latin Mass has more than doubled in attendance.

  10. ewfielding says:

    The past year I have virtually “attended” at least a couple hundred TLM masses from various locations, though only a few in-person ones over the past few years. I normally attend NO masses, from 3-5 parishes (daily commuter parish, Sunday parish, one or two parishes with more convenient daily mass options when I am teleworking). As you say, there is a lot of variety in the NO both as part of the rite’s options and as priests and people over the years have decided to wing it, but thank God I rarely now encounter anything as flagrantly experimental and just plain horrifying as I did growing up in the late sixties to early seventies. I got really conservative through undergoing that, but Latin was almost unobtainable anywhere near where I was for decades, and I got used to belonging to parishes that were a mix of different people who, yes, drove me crazy with liturgical or theological errors but also sometimes drove home by their example areas where I am very deficient. For example, one of the talkiest and most horizontal parishes I ever belonged to was also filled with people who truly put me to shame in the area of works of mercy.
    This often annoying variety of people is nothing intrinsic to the NO as a rite, but in practice switching from NO to TLM today would make for a much more homogeneous congregation, which I always used to consider more of a Protestant thing—that we Catholics were the Church of sinners who were Catholic by putting up with all different levels of practice and conformity to the faith as well by belonging to all classes and nations. We would lose many or perhaps even most of these folks I think, and you might say “good riddance,” as I have often been tempted to over the years, but every silver lining has its cloud, and there is a way that the old pre-Vatican II Church was overall stronger and also less cranky for the presence of a broad spectrum of varieties of saints and sinners in that era.
    But if I am to focus only on the question of what if anything I would miss from the NO, I think hands down it would be the readings. I love the yearly cycles of readings in the NO, but particularly the daily Mass readings. I love working out the connections between the different readings (and three on Sunday!) and going through the Old Testament cycle year after year.
    On the other hand, I would love to have the NO’s more horizontal and personality-focused emphasis changed through ad orientem worship and other means. I would love another Bible translation to replace the really pedestrian and tone-dead NABRE. I’d be happy to can the handshake (a nice byproduct of covid—every cloud has its silver lining—was the elimination of that for the duration). Also lectors. I’d love to return to the old Confiteor and prayers at the foot of the altar.
    I am not sure what Fr. meant by the calendar—did he mean things like getting Septuagesima etc back and the old Holy Week things, or did he also mean the saints’ feast days? I do like all the new Saints days. (I know Fr. Z said that TLM masses can now as an option celebrate the brand new saints feasts of those canonized after 1962, but having the option is different from that being the feast of the day.) I would prefer not entirely giving up the NO congregation responses—I think I would prefer something closer to the pre-Vatican II dialogue TLM.

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    I basically heard no Latin until I was 50 or so. I am not a cradle Catholic although my family was Catholic. I am basically a child Baptist turned unchurched young person turned Catholic convert and newly baptized at 26. No one in my sphere attended the Latin Rite, but we had a chance to attend in my late 50’s and that was it. I don’t care if it’s Low Mass or High Mass or something in between. If history speaks to you or authenticity, I can’t see how the TLM would not appeal. It is obviously the most sacred act in the world we will ever see, Christ present on the altar through the hands of the priest and offered back to the Father on our behalf, to atone for our sins and so we can have eternal life. The ancient words, the chant, no Novus Ordo can compare to that. We would recognize that even when not understanding one word of Latin. Everybody there recognizes it. No one cares who does or doesn’t know the Latin. If you want to know what is being said, purchase a 1962 St. Joseph Missal with the Latin on one side and the English on the other side. [Not the only choice. For example HERE] Usually a translation is available, the red books or in paper form. Very soon you will get the flow of things. Follow along, or sit and take it all in. Novus Ordo is horizontal in nature, generally speaking. The TLM is vertical. You’ll know what I mean if you go.

  12. ex seaxe says:

    Wrong! No question, a multitude of pious and virtuous Catholics would be outraged by the imposition of the Traditional Latin Mass. A reversion to 1967, on the other hand, might hardly be noticed by most of the congregation in those places which adhere to the OF rubrics.

    [You are acting like a panicked extremist. The LEFT imposes in the way you are insinuating. Meanwhile, people like Ratzinger and my poor person have recommended patience with catechism. Next, I’d like to see this “multitude of pious and virtuous Catholics” who would NOT want the TLM. If people are being led in the wrong direction, it is not charity to continue to go in the same wrong direction. However, long it takes to turn the super-tanker Barque, the sooner the better.]

  13. RobinDeLage says:

    Many feel the Novus Ordo is superior in its increased use of scripture over an A, B, C cycle of readings. There is nothing wrong with getting more scripture in the ears of parishioners and a revised calendar for the Extra Ordinary form could provide such an accommodation. One thing that should be scrapped within the NO lectionary is the tendency to avoid the hard lessons of scripture so as not to offend the proud sinner.

    [More is not always better, especially when stretched out over a long time.]

  14. I will volunteer as someone who actually wants the liturgical reform that was robbed from us after Vatican II. I think the Novus Ordo calendar overall makes more sense than the older calendar, and while repetition has its value, there’s no need for that to come at the expense of leaving larger portions of the Bible unread at Mass at all, especially at Sunday Mass. While one can easily say, “Yes, but people should go home and read the rest of the Bible,” the reality is that for most people, that one hour on Sunday is the only chance we have to reach them. The reality is that if they don’t hear it at Sunday Mass, they probably won’t hear it at all.

    I also have no objection to readings in the vernacular; in fact, at most extraordinary form Masses that I have attended over the years, the priest presents the readings in the vernacular after they are read in Latin. Again, if the people don’t hear them in the vernacular at Mass, they aren’t likely to hear them anywhere else. If we simply made the “official” reading the vernacular reading and skipped the Latin, it wouldn’t be an outrage.

    My now-weekly presence at extraordinary form Masses is more of a concession to reality than an unequivocal endorsement of every last jot of the extraordinary form. The reality is that the traditionalists will win in the end and the Novus Ordo is half-dead, and I’d better get used to the idea. The shame is every time I was about to give up on the Novus Ordo altogether, I’d come across a reverently offered one that proved that it could be done– if people wanted to do it. The problem is that the excesses have given it such a bad name that one no longer can have an intelligent discussion about the points that reasonable people ought to be able to discuss and even disagree about.

    Traditionalists have an understandable aversion to any changes because of what has happened over the last 60 years, but I have to remind everyone that Jesus did not leave us a Missal. He left us a Church and He endowed that Church with His own divine authority– including the authority to regulate the liturgy, and make changes as necessary. Jesus did not leave us a weak Church bound to a detailed book He left behind, but a strong Church that He trusted to do the right thing. While the extraordinary form may be the most expedient short-term solution to many of the problems both liturgical and non-liturgical in the Church, I suspect that if we never get the liturgical reform we should have experienced after Vatican II, there will be long-term consequences that we could avoid by taking more appropriate action now– action that I have lost hope will ever happen, but would support wholeheartedly if anyone had the nerve to try. Of course, as I often say, the bishop who tries to walk into the middle of a Hatfield vs. McCoy feud would have to duck as he gets both Glory and Praise and Adoremus hymnals thrown at him, which is why few of today’s generally weak episcopate would have the stomach for such a lonely battle.

  15. mhazell says:

    Another excellent article from Fr Hunwicke. I fear that the answer to his question about the Ordinary Form is going to have to be more obviously reflected in Mass attendances before the Bishops realise things need rectifying. By which point it will mostly be too late for many people.

    Re. the lectionary of the Ordinary Form: I hope that Father Z will permit me a few short remarks, which hopefully will not derail the comments section too much!

    The 3-year Sunday cycle was put together at a point in time when there were serious concerns about the decline in biblical literacy. It was designed to ensure that the faithful heard more of the Bible, and would thus come to be more familiar with more of it. I think that, 50 years on, with biblical literacy and knowledge having fallen further, much further, to all-time lows seemingly even among the faithful, it has completely failed in this aim.

    Moreover, its multi-year cycles and quantity of scripture, far from being the solution optimistically envisaged by the Council Fathers, are part the problem. Three years is too long a span of time for such a cycle to fix itself in the minds of adults, let alone children; three readings, in two separate cycles for per annum Sundays (Gospel + linked OT reading, then NT Epistle on its own cycle) is too much text for the faithful to retain, or, for that matter, for Priests to preach on effectively. Fruitful teaching and preaching, especially in an age that knows nothing about Christianity, requires the sort of repetition that is just not possible in the OF lectionary!

    And all this is complete separate to the questions of what passages in the OF are no longer read at all or no longer read on Sundays when compared to the EF, what parts are omitted within pericopes (and why), what parts can be omitted at choice through the use of the short forms of various readings…!

    The more reading and research I do into the 20th century lectionary reforms, the more convinced I am that a return to the ancient lectionary is necessary – or, at the very least, we need a radical rethink and honest assessment of these reforms.

  16. Lurker 59 says:

    Let the Novus Ordo be considered in three parts: 1.) The Theory of it. 2.) The Structure of it. 3.) The Day to Day implementation of it.

    1. For sake of the argument, let us say that the Novus Ordo exists to provide a modular liturgy that can be conformed to the PRESENT conditions of the people in a diversity of places, cultures, and times. This seems to strike me as an acceptable theory only to those of a broad-church, political, eccumenical, and humanistic mindset.

    2. Though highly modular, do people and priests actually find the component parts of the Novus Ordo to be sufficient and acceptable, as they are, with no additions, subtractions, or modifications? This is hard to answer because there are holes/plasticity in the Novus Ordo that do allow for additions outside of strictly what is printed the rubrics. So there is room in the Novus Ordo to fix that which is perceived to be broken/missing. But this just points to the Novus Ordo not being a self-sufficient/contained rite, but something that, by design, is always open to modification and change (a state of permanent revolution perhaps?). If anything, the Novus Ordo can be said to lack stability in its constitutional makeup.

    3. This can be best seen if one switches a priest from a parish to a different parish (chosen at random) and the ensuing conniption that follows. It is very clear that the day to day operation of the rite has very little to do with the theory (1.) but everything to do with the personal tastes of the priest. So the day to day implementation is acceptable only at the local parish level (if that, and only then because that is what they do is what they accept) but not across the universal Church.

    Thus, it seems that the acceptability of the Novus Ordo, exactly as it is with no looking forward (or backwards or sideways) to something better to come, is rather truncated to those places that seek for broad appeal with a go along to get along kind of attitude.

  17. Not unrelated to Fr. Hunwicke’s question is this one: was there in fact a need for the Novus Ordo?

    Personally, I don’t see why there was a need for it. And, since every aspect of the Church’s life has declined since it was implemented, if there was in fact a need for the Novus Ordo, I don’t see how that need was fulfilled.

  18. Aliquis says:

    “[W]e may ask ourselves why, if the principal objective of the liturgical reform was to make the Holy Mass intelligible, it has failed in this task: for ignorance as to the nature of the Holy Mass is wide-spread, indeed almost universal. The answer must lie in the fact that the faithful understand the Mass as they experience it…: not as the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary, but as an anthropocentric, communitarian action….
    In regard to the intelligibility of the New Rite, language is no longer used for a sacred purpose, but for communication between man and man. Even the words of consecration, spoken aloud and subtly altered, become the medium of communication…: important in their reception and not in their utterance… – as though Fiat Lux had been said in order to be heard.” – Don Pietro Leone, The Destruction of the Roman Rite, pp. 41-42 (footnote omitted).

  19. TonyO says:

    To answer Fr. Hunwike’s question: I strongly suspect that there are indeed priests who would prefer the NO over the EF, even granting some tightening up of how the NO is said so it is more “rigid” (read: more sensible and more like the Latin rite). In my experience, there remains a modest but firm cadre of priests in the 50 to 75 year old range who mostly remember the NO and mostly don’t remember the old Latin mass very well, who firmly believe that there are many virtues in the NO that it would be a shame to lose. Some of these are dyed-in-the-wool liberals, naturally, but some (surprisingly) are rather more center-of-the-road or even a bit conservative. (They are rarely, (so far as I know) priests who have bothered to ACTUALLY LEARN the EF mass.)

    For myself, I am somewhere in the middle, and mostly endorse Andrew Saucci’s thought: can we not seek the reform actually CALLED FOR by the Council? I only have imperfect memories of the Latin mass back in the 60’s, and mostly learned “the mass” with the OF changes. As ritual went, it was pablum and drivel. As a young man I ran into NO masses said in Latin, reverently, and ad orientem, and for 4 years had excellent Latin NO masses with good-to-excellent Latin music. Then had to put up with hum-drum blah NO vernacular masses, next moved to the diocese of Arlington VA where the priests were conservative and, though the Mass was NO, it was said reverently and sometimes beautifully, for a couple of years went to the Trad mass in downtown DC, and then moved and back to vernacular NO well said but with great variation on music. So, I have been all over the map.

    From my perspective, the EF mass is clearly superior in many ways to the NO, but it did bear some need of reform, which is why the Council Fathers (all of whom were raised in the Mass of the Ages) said so. Perhaps the simplest is: when the priest is reading the epistle and the Gospel, he needs to simply read it in the vernacular, he does not need to read it first in Latin. These are intended to be God’s words speaking to us. He does not need to read them to God; God already knows them. Many of the Eastern rite churches have little worry about using the vernacular AT LEAST to that extent, if not considerably more. (Heck, Saints Cyril and Methodius translated the Greek Mass into slavonic for the Ruthenian Byzantine Church so the people could hear the Mass in the vernacular, so that goes back a very long time, i.e. not arising out of modernism etc.)

    The second is that where the ritual calls for the priest to speak and then be responded to, it seems (to me) that in the ORIGINAL rite (say, back in the 200’s and 300’s) the responses would have come from the people, not from a special cadre of acolytes. There is a clear place for acolytes giving the response when the mass is not in the vernacular, but originally the mass WAS in the vernacular. Later, in the many, many centuries when most people were illiterate, it may have been somewhat umplausible for the ordinary Italian, German, French, and Saxon or English serf / peasants to learn the Latin responses (though I wonder about that), but in the modern day almost everyone can read and a mass booklet with Latin on one side and vernacular on the other will enable EVERYONE to learn the Latin properly and with facility. It doesn’t take many months of exposure to learn the Latin and know what you are actually praying. And I have actually found it odd to the point of being a distraction (perhaps even offensive) that the priest must say for me the words of the centurion, “Lord, I am not worthy…”, which recitation I believe is not (or need not to be) a specifically sacerdotal role, (unlike the canon, of course).

    I feel that the calendar issue is a distraction. There is, arguably, good reason to have “more of the Bible” read to the congregation, but in reality, if a Catholic never reads the Bible between Sunday Masses, he is not going to understand the readings with sufficient clarity to survive the onslaught of modernism anyway. So don’t predicate how much is covered on “this one hour a week is all the exposure they are going to get”, it can’t bear that weight. And I have to say, the ACTUAL use of the expanded NO allowances of passages is rather odd, with the occasional repetition of a passage for weekday and then Sunday – that’s just a little odd and undermines the the claim we “need to read more of the Bible” at Mass. After (sort of) getting used to the EF annual cycle, I have often felt an experience of being kind of “lost in the weeds” as to where we are in the liturgical progression because of the multi-year cycles. A wheel of one annual cycle, with many fixed stopping points every year, is (in my experience) a more human approach. Kind of like the year itself.

    That said, there is no essential reason we can’t have a single annual calendar of Sundays, but allow for some slight expansion of what is read on a portion of those fixed Sundays. For example, on the Sunday that is “Good Shepherd” Sunday, there are at least 3 Gospel passages on shepherds that could be read that fit perfectly well for the concept, (though only John’s actually has Christ calling himself “the good shepherd”). Or, you could have most of the Sundays fixed, but have a modest number of the “ordinary time” Sundays rotate through a multi-year cycle. Nor would the (few) variations need to be limited to a 2 or 3 year cycle, because the experienced cyclical nature of the arrangement would be carried by the other Sundays of the year.

    And the “Last Gospel” part of the EF Mass (John’s prologue), which was very much a “late accretion,” was, perhaps a little over-enthusiastic in idea. Yes, it is an important part of the Gospels – it’s one of my favorite passages in the Bible. But, more important than the crucifixion? Why? And coming, as it does, after the final blessing and dismissal is a positively jarring note in terms of the dramatic evolution of the ritual. If it really needs to be part of EVERY Mass, doesn’t it belong somewhere else, – say, before the dismissal?

    But: can we please have just one canon? Ad orientem? And restore the offertory/Lavabo/preface to its EF glory? And the traditional music, so well balanced to the Mass. And…just do the reform that VII called for, already!!!!!

  20. Peter O says:

    I agree with Fr. Hunwicke that nobody really likes the NO. Some people may be satisfied with it, but I don’t see them writing books about how great it is, the way that such are written about the TLM.

    I definitely come down on the side of preferring the 1-year cycle of readings, and also I love how the priest reads the readings in Latin, not facing the people, in the TLM. The readings themselves are thus seen as part of the act of worship, not as some type of didactic moment focused on the congregation. There is also the important symbolism of the liturgical-northward-tilt of the gospel reading (towards the once pagans/barbarians of northern Europe).

  21. sibnao says:

    Sheesh, I think a lot of people want the NO. I come from a very conservative, devout family with a large extended family, all of whom are still practicing. Except for me and my husband and kids, who attend the TLM, they all attend the NO at parishes that are very reverent, with good music. The few conversations we’ve managed to have before tempers got too frayed indicated to me that they do want it. They love hearing the readings, singing all the responses, reciting the creed in English, the 3-year cycle, etc. None of them find anything wrong with communion on the hand. They trust the Church’s ruling on these issues. They are troubled when they see abuses or clear departures from the GIRM, but they see the solution as simply avoiding those places where that happens, and seeking out the good ones.

    In my mom’s case (the only person among us who remembers the Mass before 1969) she seems to prefer the NO because the preconciliar Mass of her childhood was not compelling. She seems to equate it with a lot of ignorance, hypocrisy and cultural Catholicism, empty piety and indifferentism. She loves what the NO does best: verbal engagement, no “needless repetitions” and “accretions,” worship in her own language, lots of Scripture. She doesn’t want to go back.

    And I think there are many, many good people like them.

  22. John21 says:

    Honest question. I’ve seen this myself in Southern California, a place of liturgical diversity. You can drive 30 minutes in any direction and hit a Novus Ordo entirely in Latin, a more mainstream NO, and an Anglican Ordinariate Mass. The preferences of the pastor will determine what the Mass looks like. That being said, I don’t know what I can say a “normal” NO looks like. The question I would want to ask is, how much “creative license” do we want to give individual parishes?

  23. sibnao says: In my mom’s case (the only person among us who remembers the Mass before 1969) she seems to prefer the NO because the preconciliar Mass of her childhood was not compelling. She seems to equate it with a lot of ignorance, hypocrisy and cultural Catholicism, empty piety and indifferentism. She loves what the NO does best: verbal engagement, no “needless repetitions” and “accretions,” worship in her own language, lots of Scripture. She doesn’t want to go back.

    I wonder if the ignorance, hypocrisy, cultural Catholicism (what’s wrong with cultural Catholicism?), empty piety and indifferentism (?) that some associate with the traditional Mass is the reality of the traditional Mass, or if that’s just what generations of tradition-phobic, liberal clerics have taught people to believe?

  24. mo7 says:

    My mom, 87, said when asked about the transition circa 1962 et seq.: ‘We just accepted it.’ She added, I like the English Mass.
    I think her generation had the benefit of a catholic culture and discipline. Now the only way to get that back for the subsequent generations who are without that foundation is to bring back that which unified and unifies us: traditional Mass.

  25. JabbaPapa says:

    The local Diocesan TLM is a bit too difficult for me to attend, it’s a bit hard for me to get back from at that late hour and from my disability ; otherwise, the other TLMs I’ve attended have been fairly low quality Low Mass.

    I far prefer a reverent and Latinate Novus Ordo Mass to a hastily given and functional TLM.

    All of the TLMs I’ve attended have suffered from poor attendance — indeed, at my first ever, I was the only member of the Congregation apart from the priest.

    The Novus Ordo Mass does benefit greatly from Gregorian Chant and reverent attitudes in the priest and others, inspired by but not directly copied from the TLM (as Pope Benedict once suggested). The weekly Masses given by our PP are even more Latinate than the Sunday and Feast Day ones.

    At least we’re finally getting the Third Edition of the Missal at the end of 2021, the French translation of which sticks closer to the Latin, mandates more Latin, and requires more reverent attitudes of the Celebrant. The French translation of the 2nd Edition isn’t that bad, but there are a few awkward wordings in it that are being corrected in the new one.

  26. Mariana2 says:

    Here (Scandinavia) it’s Novus Ordo only. We have Polish priests, and it is my belief they are so pious that they don’t even need the EF Mass. Everything is very reverently done, no silly stuff as described on this blog. Mostly all vernacular, occasionally with the Latin and Greek bits in those languages, all Latin once a month.

    But I don’t like it. All the standing up and sitting down, Father staring at me from across the altar (winking at my son, who when little was very unruly and rolled about on the floor), the Communion line shuffle – instead of being able to kneel at the altar, as I had done as a Lutheran.

    And I’ve found out on this blog that all the reverent Lutheran things I miss were in fact how things used to be done at Mass.

    The three EF Low Masses we had some years back were a revelation, and I am pining for them. I wish one of those traditional EF only orders would come and rescue us.

  27. JabbaPapa says:

    TonyO :

    For myself, I am somewhere in the middle, and mostly endorse Andrew Saucci’s thought: can we not seek the reform actually CALLED FOR by the Council?

    So, the 1965 Missal then, which was the one actually produced by the Council Fathers ?

  28. JonPatrick says:

    I also dislike the 3 year lectionary. It is frustrating that for example the miracle of the wedding at Cana only gets read once every 3 years. There is a rhythm to having the same readings on the same Sunday every year. Mass is not supposed to be a bible study, there are other ways to accomplish that. Often the readings are too short anyway to really get the context unless that is explained in the homily. Also I dislike the way the NO lectionary seems to avoid the “hard teachings” either totally or making them optional in brackets.

  29. catholictrad says:

    The 3-year cycle leaves out many of the “hard sayings” of Jesus that especially need pounding into our hearts and minds. These omissions allow for the major moral failings we see today.
    I strongly suggest reading Kwasniewski’s treatment of the subject here:

  30. JakeMC says:

    Several years ago, I was privileged to be able to attend the Church Music Association of America’s annual Colloquium – a week of total immersion in sacred music, both chant and polyphony. The first evening, after the welcome dinner, we attended Mass. It was a Novus Ordo. Now I have been fortunate that in my entire half-century of life at that point, I had never seen a NO that was anything less than reverent. But this NO exceeded anything I had ever seen before then. It was so beautiful, I was in tears…and three hundred musicians and choristers singing the closing hymn in SIX parts (there were TWO descants!) didn’t hurt! At breakfast the next morning, I was talking to one priest who was sitting at our table, and remarked that I’d had no idea a Novus Ordo could be so beautiful and reverent. His response was, “Wait til you hear it in Latin!” That very evening, the Novus Ordo was celebrated entirely in Latin, and it was even more beautiful. After that, for the rest of the week, every mass was a TLM. Given the aims of the Colloquium, they were all High Masses, so we could apply everything we’d learned each day, which was an additional treat for me, because, though I was 11 or 12 when the NO was foisted on us, I had never had the opportunity to attend a High Mass.
    So Father Hunwicke is actually right. There IS such a thing as a fully reverent NO. But the TLM, even the Low Mass, is still superior, IMO.
    Oh, and I love Father WoJo’s name! Being of Polish extraction, I could actually pronounce it, including the nasal “e” (the one with the little comma-like mark under it) though it’s been a good forty years since I’ve had any opportunity to speak Polish and have almost entirely forgotten the language! ;D

  31. moosix1974 says:

    Reading the comments, I can see the same old arguments I hear over and over again, even from some good and holy priests that I know. The problem is ignorance. It comes from lack of experience. Yes, I know many people “have been to the TLM and didn’t care for it.” How many times did they attend? Once? Twice? A dozen or so? What I have observed in my own personal experience and that of many others, is that to be able to really “get it,” you must really attend or celebrate the TLM for a good solid six months. Even better is if you attend or celebrate it exclusively. It takes a while for the habits of the NO to clear out of your system, before you truly begin to experience the TLM and start to really understand where the differences are. You just FEEL it. There does come a day, when attending the NO for the regular TLMer becomes spiritually painful. I didn’t understand that AT ALL when my TLM friend would tell me that. Now I do. There have been many other excellent points made here, so I will it at this, but I want to encourage all of those who are still attached to their reverent NO to attend the TLM exclusively for at least a few months. Get a missal and follow along. Ask someone at the TLM parish to help you use it. I assure you, they will be more than happy to. Try to attend some other Sacraments in the old rite, if possible. It’s a package deal. Look at the old calendar and see what got chopped off and what what taken from us. Then you will be able to “get it.”

  32. WVC says:

    Nostalgia is the attack I hear most against the Traditional Latin Mass. From bishops and others who frown upon it, they say “It’s just folks nostalgic for the way things were.” Having grown up in Novus Ordo Masses of varying reverence, including (shudder) LifeTeen Masses and (double shudder) various World Youth Days, but having attended TLM for 16 years now, I can say that I consistently see a majority of young people with young children at the TLM with only a handful of older folks. It’s hard to understand how we younger types can be nostalgic for a thing that didn’t exist in our childhood.

    Nostalgia is a powerful thing, though. For those who did grow up with guitars and “On Eagle’s Wings” as the constant background to their Faith, it is not surprising to see them fight for the thing for which they have warm feelings and which they associate as part and parcel of their beliefs. So, ironically, nostalgia, at this point, is really the last defense for the Novus Ordo. Boiled down to its essence, that’s what the “Pastoral Care” argument consists of – we must preserve the Novus Ordo not because of any superior quality it may have over the Traditional Latin Mass, but because so many folks are nostalgic for it and they would get upset if we changed things.

    For all the other arguments have already been made by well researched and very solid thinkers, from Michael Davies and Klaus Gamber to Prof Kwasniewski and Fr. Zuhlsdorf. Regarding the significance of its actions, the reverence of its prayers, the elegance of its simplicity and consistency, and the fruits it manifests wherever it is embraced, both in priests and laity, there is simply no rational comparison to be made between the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass. One the one hand is the consistent worship of the larger part of the Holy Catholic Church for over 1,500 years, a ritual that inspired the rich patrimony of all Western music, architecture, and art as well as thousands upon thousands of holy saints, and on the other hand is a cobbled together rite manufactured by a committee that has presided over the worst demographic collapse in Church history, the loss of even the most basic tenets of the Faith even by those who attend Mass regularly, and an explosion of banal, trite, or outright awful music, architecture, and painting. It is as if, at its best, the Novus Ordo is but the shadow in the cave, and as Catholics today seek more and more that which is the source of what good qualities they find in the Novus Ordo, they find themselves yearning for, embracing, and giving thanks for the Traditional Latin Mass.

    Many of the comments here have missed, entirely, one of the main points made by both Fr. Hunwicke and Fr. Z. Advocating or referencing in favor of THIS type of reverent Novus Ordo over THAT type of Novus Ordo does not solve the problem which is that the Novus Ordo varies, radically from region to region, city to city, diocese to diocese, parish to parish, and even priest to priest. Proposing one’s personal preference or experience on how the Novus Ordo can be more reverent does not solve or even address the question on how can a Rite be unified in its worship when it is so manifestly different in so many, many particular instances of that worship?

    For those who simply do not understand why folks prefer the Traditional Latin Mass, consider that, like the many great works of art it has inspired, the Traditional Liturgy can act as a mirror. When one approaches Dante, considered by all great minds as one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written, if one cannot comprehend its glory, the defect lies not in Dante but in the reader. If one finds one’s self steeped in nostalgia for the comfort of the Novus Ordo or prefers the banality of the “Glory and Praise” hymnal to the Traditional Latin Mass and Palestrina . . . consider that it reflects far more on one’s own character and faith than it does on the Traditional Latin Mass.

  33. tzabiega says:

    Well, I think Saint John Cantius in Chicago is a parish which every Sunday has a NO Mass in Latin, NO Mass in English, TLM Low Mass, and TLM High Mass. There are actually many people there who prefer the NO Mass there (always celebrated reverently ad orientem) instead of the TLM. The problem is, like stated in this post, too many options for the priest. The problem is that even the TLM will need some updating, because it cannot stick to the 1962 form and calendar forever (eventually some saints will have to be added to the liturgical calendar that have been canonized since then, like Saint Maximilian Kolbe, for example). TLM is at risk of becoming like the liturgy and theology of the Orthodox, stuck in time which can be almost as much of a problem as the dismantling of sound liturgy that occurred when the NO was first implemented.

  34. ChesterFrank says:

    I will agree with Thomas S (comment #2). That is a return to TLM except without all of the Latin and a easing up of some of the rigorous formality . I would also make allowances for some of the contemporary music. Some doesn’t mean all. For the lectionary? Return to the older lectionary and turn the Vatican 2 lectionary into a formal printed Lecto Divina as a private devotion.

  35. iamlucky13 says:

    To borrow from Chesterton, I would like to suggest, “The Novus Ordo has not that it has been tried and found wanting. It has been found not progressive enough and left untried.”

    Whatever else may be the case, we really could use a reform of the reform.

    I would say I do not have enough experience with the TLM to validly give an opinion whether I think the TLM, or a well-celebrated Novus Ordo is better. I grew up with the Novus Ordo, it is what is readily available to me, so it is what I am familiar with. Therefore, I am biased.

    I can say for certain I would like to see more more traditional elements and reverence in the Novus Ordo. When the liturgy is conducted deliberately, I find myself able to participate much more attentively than when the priest tries to be “engaging” in a casual manner. A couple Novus Ordo parishes in my area chant the ordinary in Latin during Lent, which I think really contributes a lot to the sense of Mass as a transcendent event, and there have times during the Eucharistic prayer, as I think about the words being said, where it has struck me as odd that the priest is facing us.

    Perhaps with more exposure to the TLM, I would find I would prefer it. So far, one of the main elements I need more time to try to understand and appreciate is the Eucharistic prayer being said quietly by the priest. I typically maintain attention by reading it from the missal as a way to follow along, but I worry about it becoming easier to get distracted as I get used that. My experience has been that hearing the prayers and participating in the responses has been helpful, but I’m not going to rule out learning to appreciate this aspect of the TLM.

    The suggestion that the 3 year cycle of readings is excessive does not resonate with me. I never had any trouble understanding the yearly cycle, and after I learned the general pattern of leaning on each of the synoptic Gospels, with plenty of John thrown in to emphasize important theological points, the longer cycle made sense, too.

  36. Brian64 says:

    I started attending a Latin Mass at age 52 (after being away for decades). Yes, I had some trouble following (not completely lost) for 3 weeks. I had no Latin in school. Missals provided by the parish have Latin on one page and English on the opposite. The Epistle and Gospel are usually read in English, but if not, are reread in English prior to the sermon.
    I also occasionally attend the Norvus Ordo at the local Norbertine Abbey. Using their own rite, it has a mix of English, Latin, and Gregorian chant. While it can be a lovely Mass, the Canon, in English and “performed” facing the congregation, I find far less reverential and captivating than the Latin Canon (no matter how many priests they throw up there for the N.O.). The Triduum there is beautiful. The Easter Vigil, starting outdoors with a fire and the lighting of the Paschal candle, is wonderful. However, in my opinion, it all suffers with that unorthodox Canon.
    During the Latin Mass, I sometimes follow the prayers diligently. Other times I watch intently the actions of the priest and the servers. At still other times I read the accompanying notes (in the margin of the 1962 Missal). From the first note on the Canon:
    “From all time, the Canon has been recited silently. The congregation present can contribute nothing to the sacrificial act itself; the people are present before a mystery which it is for the consecrated Priest alone to accomplish. The Priest has entered alone into the Holy of Holies to pray and offer sacrifice for the whole Church.”
    That says it all. Facing the people while using a microphone is the opposite of accomplishing said mystery alone. I agree with Father Z when he compares the Novus Ordo to pablum and the Latin Mass to steak. If you are feeling “left out” or cannot focus on the Mass if there is silence, look inward – you are missing more than some noise.

  37. TonyO says:

    sibnao says : In my mom’s case (the only person among us who remembers the Mass before 1969) she seems to prefer the NO because the preconciliar Mass of her childhood was not compelling. She seems to equate it with a lot of ignorance, hypocrisy and cultural Catholicism, empty piety and indifferentism. She loves what the NO does best: verbal engagement, no “needless repetitions” and “accretions,” worship in her own language, lots of Scripture. She doesn’t want to go back.

    I am puzzled about just what concatenation of conditions led to the ignorance, empty piety, and indifferentism, to the extent these were real and not just made-up assertions by the cultural marxists pushing for change. Let’s assume for the moment they were real and widespread, because I can recall (just barely) enough to think there might have been a fair amount of ignorance and empty piety in the people present at mass. But what was BEHIND that ignorance? Back in the 1920’s to 1950’s, in the US, most parishes repeatedly told parishioners that they were obliged to send their kids to the Catholic school. And one would have thought that the Catholic school would, as a MAJOR point of education, made sure the kids learned the mass. They would have taught it with some attention to detail to first and second graders (this is after Pius X) in preparation for their making their first Communion. Then (one would think) they would circle back and go into a great deal more depth in religion class in high school, so the teens would have time to really get a handle on what the mass is, what the priest is saying quietly, and what WE are supposed to be doing throughout. So, if all that did not happen, where lies the fault: with the Mass, or the schools?

    But it wasn’t until I started attending the EF somewhat regularly, as a young man, that I began to really “get” the fact that our role, as the lay faithful, at the core moment of the mass, is as passive but willing participants to the sacrifice unfolding: it is Christ himself who offers to the Father the one single salutary and meritorious sacrifice of all time, to which we adjoin our selves in humble affirmation: “what He said”. Not what WE say.

    Fast forward past 55 years of “the reform”. 99% of the lay faithful think that by the terms “active participation” at the Mass, VII meant “praying out loud and singing” in the appropriate place. Whereas the proper meaning of “active participation” of the lay faithful is that inward, interior voluntary choice to conform yourself to the action of the priest, of which an outwardly spoken word is only a SIGN, not the active participation itself. And a spoken word learned to be repeated by rote rarely constitutes any sort of strong push toward a firmly focused attention on the invisible reality that is occurring and requires internal asset. And since very nearly all the lay members of the congregation have failed to understand what active participation means, it is impossible that Novus Ordo corrected a core failure of the traditional Mass. To the extent that there WAS an EF failure in terms of empty piety during the middle of Mass, the EF form itself was not responsible for it, and the NO largely covers it up, rather than fixing it.

    Properly speaking, “indifferentism” as a distinct problem (not just a recycling of the ignorance and empty piety), is a specially western modern flaw, deriving from the liberal “Enlightenment” (properly, the Endarkenment), and having at its root a damaged and diminutive understanding of religion and true religious sacrifice. The forces of the Endarkenment push us toward a homogeneous leveling, flattening, toward the lowest common denominator. The antidote can hardly be found in still more more leveling and flattening that comprises the major ethos of the Novus Ordo mentality. If we want an antidote to indifferentism, we need something inspiring to aspire to, and the EF gives that far more than the OF does. Even when we fail to aspire sufficiently, the EF makes us more fully aware that we are setting our sights too low; the OF, not so much.

    I remember a moment in our family where one of our kids was in the parish program for preparing for Confirmation, where the program included a day-long “retreat” to a diocese-wide “event”. Never mind that using the term “retreat” was a complete misnomer, it was a day-long circus, featuring a large measure of participation in “Christian rock”. Because of our trying to raise our kids with the ancient chant and polyphany, we just knew that a forced “participation” in this drivel in church was going to be rough on our kid. But when we suggested to the parochial vicar that maybe, just possibly, this “retreat” was not best for everyone, and (in particular) the enforced submission to singing Christian rock was less than ideal, he nearly exploded, taking offense at the very IDEA that “singing for God” could be objectionable. He could not even begin to encompass the possibility of a “something higher”. This is the mentality that the OF had created in an otherwise very devout priest. He had been short-changed in even grasping what the Mass could be like.

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  39. samwise says:

    Mutual Enrichment

  40. michele421 says:

    I may be in the minority, but I love the OF. I realize that others find the silences and the language of the EF to be spirtual and reverential, but I just can’t see it. It’s true that OF Catholics are often indifferent about their faith, but it was that way before Vatican II as well. I do think that most people are poorly evangelized, but again, that was true before. For me, there is beauty and wonder in the simplicity of the OF, and in the active participation of the people.

    I think people get from the Mass what they bring to it. I believe that real prayer requires intention, and I simply don’t have that when I try to “pray along with the priest” in Latin. The struggle to keep up kills any sense of wonder or reverence for me. And at my age, and without any talent for learning language it would be very difficult for me to get to the point where I could follow the Mass even a little unaided.

    I realize that OF Catholics tend to be indifferent to the Faith, but I’m old enough to remember that it was the same before Vatican II. Catholics are poorly evangelized, but it has been like that for a long, long time. Sermons are bad, but priests have never been taught much about public speaking or evangelization. I believe that to a certain degree you get from the Mass what you put into it. TLM Catholics are large converts, reverent and in love with their new church, so that’s what they see in the Mass. If a person doesn’t care much about religion, and attends Mass out of habit or a sense of guilt, it won’t make much difference either way.

  41. Sportsfan says:

    Since mass is the worship of our Lord. Maybe we should contemplate what He would prefer.

  42. robtbrown says:

    Jabba Pappa,

    The Council Fathers produced no Missal. They produced a document (Sacrosanctum Concilium) that was supposed to guide the reform. The Missal was produced by the Consilium which was guided by the infamous A Bugnini. Paul VI promulgated it.

    I have always told people that my liturgical opinions are found in SC. I say that because there are texts in it that can be used to justify anyone’s liturgical opinions, from those of the SSPX to balloons on the altar and celebrants in clown suits.

    Even so, I don’t find any text in SC that mandates mass in the vernacular mass or versus celebration.

  43. sibnao says:

    TonyO said: “I am puzzled about just what concatenation of conditions led to the ignorance, empty piety, and indifferentism, to the extent these were real and not just made-up assertions by the cultural marxists pushing for change. Let’s assume for the moment they were real and widespread, because I can recall (just barely) enough to think there might have been a fair amount of ignorance and empty piety in the people present at mass. But what was BEHIND that ignorance?”

    I too am fascinated by this question, because the answer will have a bearing on how we, the recoverers of tradition, build good habits in ourselves and our children. To me part of the answer surely is that Western decadence you spoke of, in which the secular world infiltrated into the souls of most people who still practiced on a superficial level. In Jeremiah 20:7, he says, “Thou hast deceived me, O Lord, and I am deceived: thou hast been stronger than I, and thou hast prevailed.” Well, it seems like the Church in the US said that, except not to the Lord, but to the world. And now we are in the painful stage of realizing how seduced we have been, and trying to extricate ourselves and return to true worship and living faith in Jesus as the only savior.
    To this end, my sense is that we have only two action points right now: 1) a focus on personal faith and virtue (and overt formation in these for our kids); and 2) a conscious and profound cultivation of gratitude for the most reverent and traditional form of worship we are able to access. The whole business of the NO and the EF will get worked out, but not by us. The Church herself, through the successors of the apostles, will iron things out. We have to believe this, since we say in the Creed that we believe in the Church.

  44. Vincent says:

    Admittedly a single data point, but: in my diocese we lost one third of the faithful in between ad limina visits. In the meantime the only TLM in the diocese went from 10-20 to 50-70 attendees. Other Masses at the same church have dropped in numbers, even though the Mass is said reverently (and latterly ad orientem) across the board.

    Separately, many commenters point to bits of the Novus Ordo that they like etc – such as the new lectionary. The problem is that while the cycle of readings may offer new meat for the devout, they assume that one is interested enough to follow the arc of the readings and to understand why they are where they are. For the vast majority of us (undoubtedly less devout), it suits us to have the same readings cycling over and over until their difficult teachings are beaten into our dull and distracted little heads.

  45. Imrahil says:

    It is an interesting question: Does anyone like the Novus Ordo?

    Well… the most important thing for me to go to Novus Ordo Masses is what in priests would call be called pastoral reasons, only that I am not a pastor: It is the Mass where my Catholic friends go to (or at least some of them); it is often the Mass which is available, say within a city where I am or at a time that suits me or, in vacation, in a church which I had planned to visit anyway (you know, that nice mixture of tourism and pilgrimage, focus probably on the former but after all that’s no sin, so well known [I guess] among Catholics on vacation).

    Still, in a hypothetical scenario where the Church authority would, and could without anyone objecting, say that the Novus Ordo is abolished and the TLM is the rite of the Church (as they once did say that the TLM was abolished and the Novus Ordo is the rite of the Church)… what would I miss?

    1. It won’t quite win me a popularity contest, but: the sign of the peace, and right at the time where it is. It’s too late for forgiveness “on the way to the altar”, then, of course, so it’s not that, but after all the believers are on their way to Communion. We do need our Christian agape (I hesitate to say “charity” because that has so much aquired the sense of one of its actions, almsgiving) to “get physical”, if you pardon the expression. And after Church, it is devout to spend some time in prayer and then when you look up, all those who you would have liked to hug might already be gone… or else still praying two rosaries.

    2. The new lectionary is, all in all, a nice composition. I do not say it is superior. I actually think the old lectionary is superior, by far; but that is topic for a separate comment. Still, when the professors decided to (to express it brutally) rip the nonspecial Sundays from the year entirely and replace them by weakly Biblestudy days (in the sense of: ripped the works of art beautifully composed by the unnamed author called Tradition which are the Sunday propria from the missal), it must be admitted that they did get the result mostly right. Not as good as what was there before, mind you; but still, in itself mostly right.

    And “lets start in the beginning of a Gospel and see how that fits to the year’s cycle” is an interesting idea in itself, I do have to admit that. It’s one utterly incompatible with the Roman Rite as hitherto known,, and one inferior to the beautifully grown Sundays, mind you; but still, it is in itself an interesting idea. And the choice of Old Testament, New Testament (especially seeing that, I believe, the Epistle was chosen rather independently from the Gospel but still fits) and Psalm to a Gospel is, in itself, something they generally got right.

    There’s no need, of course, to have a Mass with that if you can also have an Old-Mass; but I might occasionally grab a NO lecture in spare time.

    Reading all Gospels on the weekdays, accompanied by the nice Bible stories which so fascinated us in our childhood*, is also an interesting idea in itself. It just totally clashes with the reality that we have saints’ feasts – even the NO cannot do with less than 116 feasts in the general calendar alone, from the rank of “compulsory memorial” upwards – noone however modern thinks about them as memorials-and-not-feasts. Plus, the folks that go to Church during the weak do something they don’t have to, so perhaps it should be something they want, such as celebrating even the ad libitum feasts, confusingly called optional memorials. The idea you hear in the back-of-the head of the reformers were all like “oh dear, but I don’t want to celebrate a feast right now! I want to get on with my Bible!” – something in the category of “things never said by weekday churchgoers”. (Even though they may think having a Votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament or the grace of a good death makes for the nice change every once in a while.)

    [* Though they left out the verse where Elias has the Baal priehsthood slaughtered – it is just “missed” between two days of 1 Kings. A good thing that the enemies of the Faith do not read the lectionary; they’d slaughter us, in argument I mean, for such a meagre cover-up.]

    (Perhaps to be continued.)

  46. Imrahil says:

    >>but after all the believers are on their way to Communion

    I intended to say: but after all the believers are already a community by Baptism even while still on their way to Communion.

  47. Imrahil says:

    3. In the Easter Vigil, 1962 mode, I would miss the lessons. I know, I know. I only get three plus one plus Gospel at my parish, so to have four plus one plus Gospel would be an improvement; but still, it’s good to have an appropriately lengthy liturgy of the word for that occasion at least on the books as an option, even if we can’t have it as the general way to go. Coincidentally, this was a partial reform-of-the-reform. The liturgy reformers actually thought that Pope Pius XII went too far with his reform, on this occasion.

    I would prefer the Easter Vigil in 1950 mode (and I even could attend it at my place, but then you always have to drive home for Easter…). (Night or morning? Undecided.) In that one, I would miss the renewal of Baptismal promises, though. Yes, an innovation. Never mind. I would on the whole gladly give it up, but I would miss it.

    4. I would miss the trad community. I do attend the TLM because I both prefer it and think it’s better (not because I can’t get reverent Novus-Ordo; I could get very reverent NO, and that’s also at the parish where the Old-Mass Church belongs to, and I sometimes go there); but still there’s no denying that being the happy-few does have its own appeal. With the additional benefit that the trad community is often “parish-like” in a manner you cannot get in big cities with multiple Catholic parishes and which – and that is the reason I include it here – you wouldn’t get if all had the old liturgy.

    As it is now, it has also the advantage over (say) charismatics, much as I like them, that the trads seem to have understood what the other “orthodox hold-outs” usually haven’t so much, namely that we don’t particularly need and crave additional “challenges”. We try to do our duty with the ones we can’t help to get, yes, but that is that. It is more relaxing to be a trad than to be a charismatic, at least if you can’t help but take serious what people say.

    5. A very minor point and I can’t even say I’d particularly miss them, but still: the long blessings of the NO are rather nice, and could not sensibly transported to the old Rite where they just don’t fit in.

    (Perhaps to be continued.)

  48. robtbrown says:


    It was mostly a swinging of the pendulum. The Counter Reformation Church had certain lacunae which caused the swing. Generally, it was grounded in a very negative anthropology. The movement away from it was exaggerated and produced the contrary extreme, an overly positive anthropology that smacks of Pelagianism. It might also be seen as a movement away from Conservative Protestantism to Liberal Protestantism.

    Intellectually, neo Scholasticism had been influenced by Rationalism: The intellect can make distinctions, but they don’t necessarily correspond with reality. It was just a matter of time before there was a reaction–it happened in the 20th century with

  49. robtbrown says:

    It happened in the 20th century with the influence of German Existentialism.

  50. Imrahil says:

    My point 6 deals with something that is actually quite TLM-compatible, and actually done in TLMs, but some would think it’s a no-go, so I’ll include it here.

    6. Much as I agree that Gregorian chant has the pride of place and that the Low Mass is a viable thing… I would – and that rather dearly – miss to have some other music at Mass. We can put that in three groups: (i) the classical (in the usual sense of the word) German folk-songs-for-Church; (ii) the classical (in the musical sense of the word) Masses composed by the composers and, often, orchestrated with big orchestras, violins, trumpets and all that – I include polyphony here, because I instinctively put it in the same category -; (iii) and, yes, modern music. If the violin is ritually pure, and if not at least it’s been treated that way for centuries, then I can’t in principle see why the guitar wouldn’t be.

    As for (iii) which might surprise some in a self-identifying trad which I am: I’m biased because I actually like modern music and because I actually do see that it can be artistic and not banal. I suppose, of course, among other sings that the musicians play it because they genuinely want to please God and themselves, in that order, with it. If they do it laughing in secret at the somewhat banal text (“but after all, I am a bit religious, ain’t I?, and I guess it has to be that way”) while they would rather play I can’t get no satisfaction or The Unforgiven (much as those, especially the latter, are beautiful and artistically interesting songs) because the pastoral assistant of the parish, 45 years old, who doesn’t like the music herself, thinks this is the thing to do to catch young people – then the experiment is almost bound to fail.

    (I really think, though, that even well-done this ought to be occasional thing and Gregorian chant, traditional German song – in Germany – and orchestrated Masses the usual things.)

    Only: we can have that (in practice, numbers [i] and [ii]) in a TLM. It may not be the one thing to have always, but yes, we can have that. What is more, much of the music we know for Mass actually presupposes the fact that there’s still a priest there to do the praying of the actual Mass formulary.
    We don’t in practice have [iii] in the TLM, but that is accidental: After all, we do have the German song Segne Du, Maria at the TLM which is sacropop if there ever was such a thing; it gets a pass because it’s from 1870.

  51. WVC says:

    @Imrahil – The “passing of the Peace”!?! I’m doing whatever the equivalent of biting my tongue is in a virtual forum. Biting my fingertips, perhaps?

    If there’s one thing that drives me crazy about attending any NO, regardless of how reverent it may be offered, it’s that moment when it transforms from a reverent liturgy offering the most holy of all sacrifices to God almighty to atone for our sins and draw down mercy upon us into a boy-howdy meet’n’greet. I’m all for fellowship, but that should be done OUTSIDE of the Holy Mass. If folks don’t stick around for the obligatory donut and cup of not-great-coffee, then the answer is to tell them to stick around, not introduce donut & coffee hour moments into the Mass.

    What I find at most of the TLMs I’ve attended is that, after Mass, rather than the noisy stampede of folks desperate to be the first out of the parking lot as at most of the NOs I’ve attended, the majority of folks remain in the pew saying their own prayers of gratitude, and then hang out talking in front of the Church for way too long until even the kids get tired of playing and try to drag the parents to the cars so they can go finally go home.

  52. Imrahil says:

    Dear WVC,

    yes, I know: People who do mind if the embolism is left out (there’s simply no good reason! but it’s done all the time, around here!) but who don’t mind the passing of the peace (if not continued while the Agnus Dei has begun, which preferably should begin after a rather brief time) are rather a minority. Let us leave it at that.

    The sticking-around is a nice thing, though. In my experience, however, there isn’t a NO-typical “rush to the parking lot” (though the “let’s all go to a restaurant together” mostly is specifically old-rite). There is (more or less) a rush to the Church door in either form of the rite.

  53. jflare29 says:

    Seems to me we’re asking the wrong question here.
    …Yet to digress slightly for a moment:
    sibnao, I fear you may find such appraisal rather subjective. My own niece, raised partly Catholic, has tended to attend a Protestant service (Baptist(?)) with her father when she’s home. …She finds the Novus Ordo…too needlessly repetitive.

    Oddly though, her experience might be quite instructive well understood. Remember, most bishops have, for most of 50 years, forbidden any of their diocesan priests from offering the traditional Mass. In consequence, most Catholics “know” about the traditional Mass only via their elders’ experiences. Folks like my father, a seminarian about the early 50s, will likely warn against the “bad old days”. Most Catholics then, have either never contemplated the matter at all, or have learned the usual diatribes against traditional norms. So, taking a poll of practicing Catholics will result with a statistically valid answer that we like the Novus Ordo.
    Others have discussed the various issues with language, missal, and other concerns; some I find valid, others not. As indicated though, I think we need a different question. Pretend for a moment that each bishop might designate one priest of each quarter of each city/town to offer Mass in the traditional form for the early Mass once each month. Each so-appointed priest would need to learn how to do this properly, of course. Let’s say each parish and diocese would advertise accordingly. Isn’t it possible that the average Catholic’s perceptions might be a bit different in five years?
    I don’t think we should change much of anything of the traditional Mass right now. Not beyond changing this or that day for a more recent saint anyway. We already saw these past 50 years how changes to Mass have been anything except organic. We don’t have enough “corporate memory” of traditional norms to expect to change much worthily right now.
    Before we worry about changing the rules, …we need a better collective recognition that we HAVE binding rules in the first place.

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