‘Traditionis’: a picture is worth a thousand words. Wherein Fr. Z is deeply moved.

This is one of the most beautiful expressions of “full, conscious and active” participation at Mass that I have ever seen.

It is another way, a silent but outward way, to express those amazing words:

“My Lord and my God.”

You may at some point have heard that the Traditional Latin Mass “reduces people to spectators”.  You may have heard the canard that you are not “active” participants unless you are doing something outwardly. If you aren’t singing everything or saying everything or looking at the priest looking at you, then you aren’t participating. Critics of the older form of Mass claim that the congregation is forced to be “passive”.

That’s simply false.

True active participation is active receptivity to what Christ, the true Actor during Mass, wants to give us through Holy Church’s liturgical worship. Our baptism makes us capable of participating at Mass and then we engage our will and minds to follow carefully the words and gestures of the sacred action. This culminates in the perfect form of active participation, which brings the outward and physical and the inward and spiritual together: the reception of Holy Communion in the state of grace.

And kissing the words on the page at the consecration.

You will respond, perhaps, that the Novus Ordo also has a consecration.

Yes, it does.

However, with the “Eucharistic Prayer” (so many available that the essence of ritual is compromised) being always aloud, one usually has little chance to reflect on what is happening at the consecration.  You are dragged along by the stream of words, amplified with mic and sound system, often with the priest trying to penetrate your brain with his meaningful spotlight gaze.  Invasive?  You are often beaten into interior passivity.

On the other hand, in the Traditional Form, at this time you have liturgical, ritual silence.  There won’t be grins or eye contact. There won’t be booming words.  There will be quiet.  Then there will be a bell.  Then there will be silence.  Then there will be a bell.  Then, silence or perhaps the continuation of a Gregorian or Polyphonic Benedictus.

Or….. the clash of piano and guitars as, again, you are invaded by your liturgical puppet masters who din you into singing a response… and which one will it be this time?

Kneeling in the silence.

Kissing the page in your well-worn missal at the consecration.

What’s more, handing on that hand missal, as a treasure, to the next generation.

Handing on THE MASS, a treasure, to the next generation.

THAT’s tradition, my friends.

The bishop in the tweet, recently called a tradionis custos, was fostered by his own custos traditionis, his mother.

Who kissed the words of consecration.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

Become a Custos Traditionis (HERE) and don’t forget the Novena to St. Ann (HERE).

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Save The Liturgy - Save The World, Traditionis custodes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. You Can Call Me Betty says:

    “one usually has little chance to reflect on what is happening at the consecration.” — or at any other time during the Mass.

    (I especially love, “let us recall to mind our sins” intoned with literally zero time to gather my thoughts before the next words are drowning them out. I honestly don’t know why the problem this creates isn’t obvious.)

    One of the “unintended consequences” that resulted from Covid was that the early opportunities to return to Mass were silent Masses, lest the singing kill us all. I actually loved those quiet Masses. It was disappointing the day they pulled the guitars & mics back out. So many times I want to take hold of an opportunity to unite my heart to to the experience of the Mass, and there goes the thrum-a-thrum-a-thrum to help me out. Sigh. If only the intro ever led to some actually *good* music. But it almost never does.

    I used to be an avid singer and active responder at Mass; that’s how I was raised. This experience has changed me. I don’t see “participation” in the same way anymore, and my old definition–the very one promoted expressly by Vatican II proponents!–seems so empty and shallow in comparison.

    And I have adjusted what I teach my children accordingly.

  2. oldrover says:

    That is beautiful.

  3. oldrover says:

    Referring to the OP.

  4. JustaSinner says:

    I don’t want to actively participate; my Priest is my interlocutor with God and HE is much better prepared than I.

    I don’t want to hold hands and sing the Are Father. I am in MY moment with Jesus and how dare YOU interrupt me! I promise not to interrupt YOUR moment with Him also.

    I don’t want to shake your hand and wish The Peace be With You…sounds like a crappy throw away line from Star Wars. Again, I desire, I crave, I ADORE MY MOMENT WITH JESUS IN HIS HOUSE.

    Holy Father, may the Holy Ghost move you to see this simple view.

    [After all your years of reading here… remember… being actively, interiorly RECEPTIVE to what God is offering IS being ACTIVE!]

  5. eymard says:

    Thank you, Father, for this insightful glimpse into holy tradition.

    We brought Father Stravinskas out here to our parish Fullness of the Faith Conference many years ago. In speaking of the way participatio actuoso was implemented by the pushers of Vatican II spirits, Father said it would be like jumping onto the stage during an opera to sing the arias.

  6. Kathleen10 says:

    Oh that is so beautiful! How dear, how sweet! How much she loves Jesus. No wonder her son is a priest.
    We attend the TLM and have for seven years. We follow everything that is going on at the altar, from the time the procession to the altar begins. We have Missals, and are blessed to have a pastor who each week gives us a lovely Missal with the day’s readings. A TLM must be experienced, it is really hard to describe why it is so very different from the Novus Ordo. Maybe suffice to say on earth we can only get so close to Christ, but at the consecration and elevation during the TLM, it’s just otherworldly. The sacrifice is happening right in front of your eyes, really and truly. Babies cry during the Mass and so on, but it doesn’t matter, the atmosphere is focused on the priest representing that sacrifice, and you are amazed to be present and part of it. You are part of it just as much as anybody who has ever been present during the Holy Mass. He sees you and you see Him.

  7. Legisperitus says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Father. An example like this from the mother of a bishop says more than an infinite number of dissertations.

  8. prayfatima says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It is this love that people need during mass, that is active participation, and it unfolds naturally and uniquely for each person because God loves us individually. This sweetness comes easily when we are given silence at the most important parts of the Mass. The mind needs space to wander and wonder. What are we doing here? Who is this God we come here for? The creator of Heaven and Earth, the same God who has numbered all the hairs on my head. God, help us to know you more!

  9. Discipula says:

    This, and the other pictures the bishop posted in that Twitter feed, is the reason why missals should be beautiful works of art that can last years and years. Not cheap things designed to be recycled (or thrown away) at the end of this particular part of the season. Growing up my mother’s missal was an ugly thing with very few boring or down right ugly pictures. It never occurred to me anyone would want to kiss such a thing, or even value it.

    Just looking at the artwork the bishop shared from his mother’s missal, it’s clear there was not only a different attitude towards the Mass (and “active participation”) there was also a different mindset towards missals. Could it be the things we use to follow the Mass can help shape our attitudes towards and opinion of that Mass? That if they are beautiful, they help us to see the beauty of the Mass, but if they are ugly – not so much.

    @You Can Call Me Betty
    Silence is truly golden. During the covid nonsense, the pastor of one parish we attended cut every moment of silence out of the NO Mass – to make it shorter. It was so short that even with travel time across town we were home within the hour. I grew to hate those weekends we’d have to go there because it seemed so indecently hasty.

  10. Cameron466 says:

    Having experienced both Masses somewhat regularly (we go to NO for our daily mass but the school I teach at has FSSP chaplains), I can sum up the difference this way:

    At the TLM, because participation is easier to avoid, it is also easier to do.

    At the NO, because participation is harder to avoid, it is also harder to do.

    If you really want to, you can easily ignore everything that happens at a TLM and just think about TV the whole time. But then you will be absolutely clear on what you’re doing. You won’t think of yourself as participating, or even as being entertained. You will be unquestionably sitting there and doing nothing.

    Whereas if you are actually trying to participate, you will pretty easily notice when you’ve stopped doing it. Your mind may wander, but the lack of external stimulation makes it unlikely that more than a few minutes will pass before you notice it, even if you are especially prone to distraction.

    Now, at the NO, it is to some degree impossible to just ignore everything even if you really want to. Even a anti-Catholic attending Christmas mass with his family “to keep the peace” will be unable to avoid hearing everything and perhaps (to his chagrin) mouthing a few responses. The anti-Catholic would probably not say that the experience consisted of just “sitting there,” despite that being what he would have preferred.

    Now, if you’re actively trying to participate, it’s quite easy to fool yourself. You can very easily not participate interiorly at all, and indeed NOT EVEN REALIZE you lack interior participation, while still standing and kneeling and saying everything. I have to “check myself” a bit more at NO masses for this reason.

  11. The Cobbler says:

    The Mass is the nuptial union of Christ and His Church. The Missal here is quite appropriate.

    As to participation, I’ve always been struck by how Alice von Hildebrand said (somewhere along the line in addressing feminism) that the complement of active is not passive but rather receptive.

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  13. Fr. Reader says:

    The world is very strange place.
    Suddenly, out of the blue, in the remote small Asian country in which I live, the diocese is promoting a course of “Ecclesiastical Latin.”

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