Priest suspended, sent for psychological treatment for celebrating the Novus Ordo in Latin

Today I posted elsewhere something I wrote about before: Moral Injury.

I originally wrote about Moral Injury because I had also, previously, written about how bishops use “psychological evaluation” – the Psych Strike Gambit – against priests to remove them as annoyances and to intimidate others.

There seems to be a pattern.  A bishop calls in a priest about whom there has been some complaint: he seems aloof; he could have issues with women in ministry; he is trying to “turn the clock back”; he moved a chair in the sanctuary; etc.  The bishop says that he wants Father to go to a place like St. Luke’s in Maryland for evaluation.  The priest goes.  He is there for a week or so.  At the end of the stay, he is told that there doesn’t seem to be much wrong with him.  He goes home thinking that that is the end of it.

But wait.  There’s always more.

A while later the bishop calls the priest in and tells him that he received an evaluation letter saying that he has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, or some such.  He is told that if he doesn’t go, he will be suspended.  The priest obeys and goes.

Once the priest is there, all his means of communication are taken away and the drugs and therapies begin.  He gets some communication means back later.   He thinks he will be there for a couple months.  Then they hit him with it: “Oh no, you will be here for 6 months or more.”   By the time he leaves, he is different.

As an interesting note, I’ve been told by someone who endured this process that many if not most of the priests in treatment are conservative.  Curious, that.

My Augustinian training pushes me to imagine conversations between bishops gathered in their hotel rooms at a meeting of the USCCB.

Over the tinkle of ice in the glass, one says,

“Hey Bill!  You said you had one of those guys who wants to say the Latin Mass.   Well, over at Libville Fatty McButterpants took care of the whole problem by forcing one of them to go in for evaluation at St. Luke’s. I gave it a try too.”

“How did it go?”

“Well, the first evaluation letter seemed a little thin, if you get my drift.  But after a couple of calls I got one that made it possible for me to call the kid in and bring down the hammer.  He’s off for at least a half a year and the rest are scared ****less.”

“What does it cost?”

“Well, yah, it’s expensive.  Really expensive.  But it’s worth every penny to get rid of these guys. Hey, can I top you up?”

It’s an old technique, of course, one used by Communists.  Anyone who deviated from the Party line must be psychologically sick.  Dissent is a psychiatric problem.  If you don’t agree with, say, every title or jot of the spirit of Vatican II or Traditionis custodes you have a mental disorder.  Perhaps you have “sluggish schizophrenia” as the Soviets called it… maybe the symptoms aren’t showing themselves now… but one day they will.

“Father, you’ve been diagnosed as having a ‘borderline’ condition, stemming from your ‘anger issues’.”

Deviants from the Party line are in need of treatment.  Hence, they get to sojourn at the Church’s equivalent of Lubyanka.

Today I read at Catholic World Report that a priest in Costa Rica is getting the treatment.

Costa Rican priest suspended, sent for psychological treatment for celebrating Latin Novus Ordo

A Costa Rican priest says he has been suspended, removed from his parish, and sent to psychological treatment by his bishop who is angry with him for celebrating the reformed liturgy in Latin and ad orientem.

Fr. Sixto Eduardo Varela Santamaría, who until very recently was the Chancellor of the Diocese of Alajuela, had been celebrating the Mass since 2019 for a community of hundreds of faithful who are devoted to the Catholic Church’s traditional Roman rite, known popularly as the “Tridentine Mass.” The liturgies were celebrated at the parish of San Jose, of which he was a pastor, with the blessing of his bishop.

Fr. Varela and other members of the faithful say that the priest obeyed his bishop’s refusal to grant him permission to continue celebrating the pre-reform “Tridentine” mass, but exercised his right under canon law to celebrate the reformed or “Novus Ordo” mass in Latin, stoking the ire of his prelate and leading to his ouster.

The removal of Fr. Varela leaves hundreds of devotees of the traditional liturgy in Costa Rica without a pastor and without the traditional sacraments.

The country’s episcopal conference declared a total ban on the ancient liturgy last month in response to Pope Francis’ recent letter Traditiones custodes, which imposes restrictions on the traditional rites but does not require their prohibition. However, the bishops also prohibited any practices “proper” to the pre-1970 liturgy, which appears to include the use of Latin as well as the custom of the priest facing the altar with the people. The Church’s ancient repertoire of Gregorian Chant would also be swept away in such a prohibition.

In an audio recording sent to his former parishioners and obtained by Catholic World Report, Fr. Varela said he has been sent to live with his parents for a half-year “sabbatical”, and has been prohibited from celebrating the sacraments in public. He added that his bishop, Bartolomé Buigues, will also be sending him to a clinic in Mexico that gives “psychological” and “medical” care.

“I’ll be going to Mexico for three months to an institute that the bishop has designated so that they can accompany me spiritually, psychologically, and medically – at least that is what the page says of this institute, which is run by the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit,” said Fr. Varela.


There’s more to it, of course. For example, Fr. Varela has been admonished before…

In 2016, he made headlines in the secular media when he refused to allow a practicing homosexual to act as a godparent in a baptism, applying a rule that has existed in the Church for many centuries, which requires baptism sponsors to be a good example to their godchildren. Although he received no public punishment for his stand, he was condemned strongly by pro-LGBT parliamentarians, and seems to have received no public defense from he episcopal hierarchy.

However, in 2018, Fr. Varela was openly condemned by the bishops’ conference of Costa Rica when he accused the country’s president and other public officials of being “disguised atheists” following their support for the legalization of abortion and homosexual marriage. Despite the president’s anti-Christian stance on such issues, he and other government officials continued to attend the Mass in public and to be given Holy Communion.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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This entry was posted in Cancelled Priests, Cri de Coeur, Liberals, New catholic Red Guards, Pò sì jiù, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, Traditionis custodes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. supercooper says:

    I used to think the SSPX’ “state of emergency” argument for justifying their episcopal consecrations and their ministry was far fetched. I was wrong.

  2. Chrisc says:

    The marxists have conservatives in a pickle, just like in politics. Conservatives, because they care seriously about holiness and obedience and decency are easily kowed into doing the right thing. I don’t know what the prior admonitions of this priest were, and maybe it he should be obedient to accept this maltreatment. But I do know that the devil and his episcopal minions use this against well intentioned priests. I cannot give advice generally here, but it seems to me we have to wise up in our understanding of obedience to not mean some saccharine effeminizing but to mean something powerful because it is rooted in truth. As long as obedience is seen as weakness, which it has been since at least Hume and certainly by Nietzsche, then this will be used to beat people into a false submission. Don’t let them use conscientiousness against you.

  3. What could be worse than being ruled, both in Church and in State, by people who evidently don’t believe there is a hell, much less fear going there?

  4. Kate says:

    In the same breath in which our bishop made perfectly clear there would be no more TLM’s in this diocese, he also said that any priest can say the NO in any language, English, French, Chinese, Latin, the priest wishes, and the he could do nothing about it. Yeah, right. I’m just waiting for one brave priest to stand up and say a Latin NO Mass and see what happens.

  5. mo7 says:

    Bishops should be fatherly toward their priests. Their behavior is abusive in more than an ordinary way.

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  7. Dave P. says:

    I’m very sure Fr. Varela, in meeting with his bishop, brought along a copy of the current Missale Romanum in Latin, He may having shown His Excellency numerous churches around the world which celebrate Mass as he did (Brompton Oratory, St. Agnes in MN, St. John Cantius in Chicago). He likely cited the relevant Vatican II passages regarding the use of Latin and Gregorian Chant. Fr. Varela may have even unearthed a copy of Jubilate Deo, issued by Pope Paul VI. And to each and every one of these things, the bishop’s reply was almost certainly “No me importa!”.

  8. donato2 says:

    A few days ago the Superior General of the FSSP asked that a Novena be recited, beginning on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the intention of the Holy Father, the FSSP community and all those attached to the TLM. Today I learned that the heads of the institutes have been summoned to Rome.

    This is fast becoming very hard. It may get much worse too. I am fearful that a relatively young anti-TLM Italian will become the next Pope.

  9. Matthew78 says:

    Sadly this tactic is also used by conservative bishops as well, largely in response to the abuse scandal, to avoid litigation etc. Known examples: priest gets publicly drunk, ok must be an alcoholic, thrown in the asylum; priest slips up on one occasion in offense of chastity, calls a woman hottie in public, ok he must be a sexual deviant, thrown in the asylum. My point: let’s not be naive in thinking this is a predominantly liberal tactic. Both liberal and neocon bishops have developed their particular ignorance regarding basic human error and fail to see the big picture problems facing the Church, poor liturgy, betrayal of Tradition, poor catechesis, etc.

  10. Son of Saint Alphonsus says:

    Father Z, this is so on target. They tried to send me away because I was sexually assaulted by one of my confrères and went to the provincial. I was told it was my problem and accused of causing scandal. Nothing was done. The effect this all had on me was horrendous. I will never be okay. And I truly believe I will end up in Hell because of it. My soul is beyond injury. It’s in extremis and there is no unction to heal it. God help me and have mercy on me.

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  12. michele421 says:

    If the places where they send these disobedient priest are so bad then those must be a good deal worse than treatment centers for sexual abusers. From all accounts abusers spend a nice vacation then come back to abuse some more.

  13. michele421 says:

    On a different note, why do these priests make all the fuss? Can’t they just join the FSSP or the SSPX?

  14. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I wonder if Xavier Novell Gomà “spontaneously” – and ‘successfully’ – offering his resignation as Bishop of Solsona to the Pope after he had reportedly spent a “period of reflection, discernment, and prayer” regarding his future has similarities to this?

  15. Elizabeth D says:

    Son of Saint Alphonsus, your comment really gets my heart, I am so sorry for what happened to you. But how precious it is to be faithful in the darkness. I want to be in Communion with you in Christ. Choose to be in Communion. I condemn the note of despair. I have long prayed for priests and religious who have left their order or been laicized, for their Catholic fidelity in one of the most difficult circumstances. You are Christ’s not satan’s.

  16. iPadre says:

    So sad, saw so much of this during my seminary days. Good men were destroyed. They became whatever the formation directors wanted them to be/ become. So sick.

  17. L. says:

    If I recall correctly, these tactics were discussed in the book Goodbye, Good Men by Michael Rose. In my diocese, our perverted Bishop, now retired and whose bad acts were made very public, and his perverted Vicar General whose bad acts were not, disliked my Pastor. One of their tricks was to get my Pastor to go to a treatment center for a “rest” while acknowledging that he didn’t have a problem that needed treatment. My pastor refused to comply with these “friendly” suggestions, explaining to me that what this would do is put a black mark on his personnel file so that no other diocese and no religious order would take him if he tried to leave on his own terms.
    I neglected to mention that although his homilies against abortion and the like were part of the cause of the hostility of the Chancery for him, the bigger cause of conflict was, I think, that he didn’t like perverts, he knew they were perverts, and the perverts knew it.

  18. prayfatima says:

    Son of Saint Alphonsus, I am praying for you. You are God’s child and you are made for Heaven. Don’t believe anything else! God sees you and loves you. Your hardships, heartaches, sorrows and pain are like magnets to His heart. Talk to Him every day. This world can be so full of sorrow and pain but God is faithful, He hears you, and He will not leave you in this state forever. Pray also to St. Joseph to help you and to act in your life in a big way. Pray specifically for everything you need. You are made for Heaven! Elizabeth D is right, how beautiful it is to be faithful in the darkness. What a crown of glory that is! Stay close to God when you cannot see the reason or the way, when others would have given up the faith, when you don’t know anything anymore, just walk toward Him anyway. Keep walking, keep praying and keep trusting! God will heal you and bring you to a place of peace.

  19. TonyO says:

    I had assumed, when TC was issued, that Francis would be (more or less) at the mercy of the bishops in terms of how fully it is actually implemented around the world. That some bishops would go whole hog with it, but most would be pretty ho-hum about it because, after all, most bishops have been pretty ho-hum about nearly all new duties and mandates from Rome. From the 1970s forward, they have dragged their heels on nearly everything popes have demanded, haven’t they?

    But…what if Francis and the Vatican decides to be more, shall we say, DEFINITIVE about the matter? Talk about calling the heads of the Institutes to Rome is an ominous note to that. Even more, if Rome starts calling in bishops who make public any dismissive attitude toward implementing TC fully – maybe even taking dioceses away? If Francis were to do that, i.e. make it clear that “no, this time I actually mean it, heads will roll“, would there be any hold-out bishops who didn’t submit to the Francine line and push TC? Any? There might, possibly, be a handful who would get creative and make it LOOK, on paper, like they were implementing TC, while doing everything in their power to undermine any actually effective suppression. But probably no more than that handful. So, here’s my question: does a bishop have ANY real capacity to prevent a pope from removing him from office? What rights to bishops have if the Pope tries to dismiss him, and even more, what de facto power would a bishop have to resist such a “dismissal” so that he actually remained in place as the true ordinary of the diocese?

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  21. hank igitur says:

    a very extreme form of gaslighting

  22. ex seaxe says:

    The case of George Errington, Archbishop of Trebizond provides an example of a pope depriving a bishop, in this case of the Coadjutorship of Westminster. Errington did not believe Pope Pius IX had the power in canon law to dismiss him, but accepted that he had sworn an oath of obedience. Pio Nono also believed he did not have the legal power (this was before Pastor aeternus), describing his action as “A coup by God”.

  23. Catholic School Kid says:

    It’s the same with annulments.

    Your spouse commits adultery and wants out. Rather than telling a person they are committing mortal sin and to be forgiven there needs to be firm purpose of amendment they tell them to get an annulment. They say you have a personality disorder and didn’t really mean, “I do.”

    But miraculously the personality disorder you had that invalidated your first marriage goes away after a couple brief sessions with the local Catholic Therapist. New marriage valid, adultery never happened, just temporary fornication that is easily absolved. Because now your married!

    See how that works.

  24. Toan says:

    Son of Saint Alphonsus, you have my prayers. God is powerful enough to heal the worst of injuries. Give Him permission to heal you whenever it be His will to heal.

  25. RosaryRose says:

    I finished a novena to St Ann today to soften the hearts of the Guardians of Tradition. When I start another St Ann novena tomorrow, I will include specifically Fr. Santamaria, his Bishop, and anyone working with Father and his “treatment.”

    We were warned about these times. (Fatima, Good Success, Akita) Pray the rosary daily and do penance. Go to confession!

    Son of St Alphonsus, our pitiful human hearts break for you and we hardly know you. We are nothing compared to the depths of love of Mary and Her Son. Imagine how your Blessed Mother and Jesus must ache for you! The “Mary, Undoer of Knots” novena is very powerful. You are in my prayers.

    Actually all of Fr Z’s readers are in my prayers.

  26. hilltop says:

    I understand that when TRUTH is considered, one may lie to another who seeks the truth so as to use it for evil reasons.
    Is it analogously the case that when GOODNESS is considered, one may disobey a superior who demands obedience for evil reasons???

  27. ChesterFrank says:

    I recall an investigative news show, something like 20/20 or dateline (I can’t remember) , was doing a report on the military doing the same thing. If someone had a complaint, the complaint was defused by requiring a psychological evaluation. The report must have ruffled some feathers because it was pulled off the air in mid broadcast. Behavioral and Mental health are often used for nefarious reasons. If anyone views people of the medical field as moral or ethical they are a fool. No group is controlled by greed , ego, and corruption as much as “healthcare.”

  28. ChesterFrank says:

    I recall an investigative news show, something like 20/20 or dateline (I can’t remember) , was doing a report on the military doing the same thing. If someone had a complaint, the complaint was defused by requiring a psychological evaluation. The report must have ruffled some feathers because it was pulled off the air in mid broadcast. Behavioral and Mental health are often used for nefarious reasons. If anyone views people of the medical field as moral or ethical they are a fool. No group is controlled by greed , ego, and corruption as much as “healthcare.”

  29. Maureen M says:

    Son of Saint Alphonsus, My heart breaks for you. Please do not lose heart. The prayers of those suffering are most powerful. The devil wants you to give up because of this. The Church needs your prayers so desperately. I will pray for you. Christ has claimed you for his own!

  30. Andrew says:

    Estimates vary but there are approximately 7000 languages spoken in the world today. I assume that somewhere in the Vatican there is a list of languages approved for the celebration of the Roman rite. It is inconceivable that Latin would not be on that list, since Latin is the Church’s standard even for the Novus Ordo celebrated in English. It makes no sense to forbid Latin for Roman rite Catholics. And by the way, what if some Americans go to Mass celebrated in Spanish? Spanish is OK but Latin is not? Insanity.

  31. WKRP says:

    Son Of Saint Alphonsus. The three most serious sins are… Sins against the Holy Spirit, the sin of despair, and the sin of presumption. Sins against the Holy Spirit are for the most part unforgivable. The sin of despair e.g. my sin is so great even God can’t forgive me, really? The sin of presumption e.g. God loves me, He would never condemn me. This is true. God does love us and would never condemn us, but we must remember that God never condemns anyone; we condemn ourselves. Trust in God. He knows our hearts and minds. I will pray for you.

  32. TRW says:

    I have a sincere question that I’ve been wondering about. If the Novus Ordo Mass is celebrated ad orientum, in Latin, with incense, altar boys in proper vestments, Gregorian chant, no EMHC’s, etc., what (in the opinion of those who deem the TLM to be superior) would be the deficiencies that are inherent in the Novus Ordo? In other words, what are the structural differences that perhaps represent a different concept of what the Mass is. I am familiar with the historical origin of the Novus Ordo and Bugnini et al. What I’m wondering is, what is it about the Novus Ordo that some parties view as being inherently “inferior”? I have been attending my local TLM for a number of reasons: silence before and after Mass, altar boys in vestments, beautiful chant, incense, the seriousness and reverence with which the rite is performed, Communion on the tongue (albeit not currently ), no EMHC’s, solid no-nonsense homilies, and so on. Of course, the sheer number of options available for “freestyling” at a Novus Ordo Mass is a problem, IMHO, but I’m hoping that Father Z or Dr. Kwasniewski could weigh in and shed some light on this question.

  33. happyCatholic says:

    Son of St. Alphonsus,
    You will be in my prayers. What you describe is in my opinion one of the most egregious things that could happen to a person, for you have experienced not only violation at the deepest level but also betrayal by those who should have protected you. Injustice is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow.

    I don’t know how long ago what you described happened to you, but almost three years ago we discovered our happy- go -lucky youngest daughter was experiencing domestic abuse at a high level from the son -in -law we had welcomed as our own child. I felt and still do that my heart was ripped out, trampled, and torn into a million numb but bleeding pieces. It’s a frequent, frequent battle to keep the faith and trust.

    However, time is helping a little ( that’s why I asked how long it’s been). Perhaps time will help you, too. It will never erase what happened to you, just as I have to watch my daughter “work with” her abuser (and if you met him, you would not suspect “the dark side” — he presents himself well socially) for visitation, etc. of my young granddaughter per court order, and I know this “torture” will go on for years. But, at least — sometimes— I can breathe again for a few seconds.
    Still, I recognize my feelings in what you expressed, and I battle, too. Lots of Confessions ( to our holy pastor, which is itself a grace to have him) help. The comments of other people here that give a meaning to your suffering are a balm for me, too. I hope you have found them that, too.

    Nothing— no injustice (and the injustice is off-the-charts in your case) should cost you heaven. Keep battling and get up when you fall. Sheer tenacity may carry you when nothing else does. The fact that you posted here shows you are trying. Truly, truly, truly I feel for the injustices done to you and will pray for you. Please, Son of St. Alphonsus, pray for me and my daughter and granddaughter; their situation is perilous, too.

  34. TonyO says:

    I understand that when TRUTH is considered, one may lie to another who seeks the truth so as to use it for evil reasons.
    Is it analogously the case that when GOODNESS is considered, one may disobey a superior who demands obedience for evil reasons???


    As I understand it, it is not quite true that one may LIE to another who seeks the truth for evil reasons. The idea is a little more nuanced: one may – by artful obfuscation and ambiguity – seek to deceive one who is seeking to do evil and to whom you do not owe forthright fullness of truth. This “artful deceit” differs from lying, in this: nothing you say is FALSE. Instead, what you say is true but ambiguous and easily misleading.

    Example: Authorities sent 2 soldiers to capture St. Anthony of the Desert. They found him but did not recognize him to BE Anthony. They asked him if he knew where Anthony was, and he said “yes, he is very near you.” This was true – Anthony WAS very near them. It also obscured the truth and helped the men convince themselves of a false position, i.e. that Anthony was NOT this man in front of them.

    St. Peter in the Acts of the Apostles lays down the basic principle for disobeying superiors when they are in the wrong: “We must obey God rather than man.” When a superior’s order is contradictory to a higher law (either to natural moral law or divine law), then we are obliged to obey the higher law and “disobey” the superior. This is necessarily so because all lower authorities only have authority insofar as they RECEIVE it from higher authority.” It is impossible that higher authority would delegate to lower authority in such wise that the lower can overturn the higher. So, by being obedient to the higher authority, you obey all that is proper, the lower being void in that specific order.

    But this rule is limited only to those cases where the two are contradictory – where it is impossible to obey both. The other types of cases would be your superior gives an order that either (a) he has no actual authority to give, being outside of his jurisdiction; or (b) that is notionally within his jurisdiction, but the specific order fails to be true law because it fails to be either an ordinance of reason or fails to be intended for the common good; or (c) it is a true and valid law that your superior, in his judgment, thinks will further the common good, but you believe will harm the common good. In theory, you may disregard type (a) because they are not valid orders, and if you are certain an order falls in (b) you can disregard it as also not being true law; however, even if an apparent “law” or “order” fails to be binding, it may be necessary to obey it not because it is binding, but because failure to obey will have OTHER consequences that are even worse.

    But most of the time “bad” orders fall in category (c), and those are binding and we have to obey them. By being the person in authority, it is the superior’s judgment which prevails and is to be followed, not our own, in matters of a prudential discernment of the best way to advance the common good.

    You may want to read up on this – as applied to TC – at this site:

  35. John Malloy says:

    @TRW Look up “The Ottaviani Intervention” It was one of the most important critiques of the Novus Ordo Missae before it got translated into the vernacular.

  36. TRW says:

    @John Malloy, thanks for the suggestion. I do remember reading about “The Ottiviani Intervention ” a few years back when i was entering the Church. I will read up on it again. Maybe revisting that will shed more light now that I’m more familiar with the TLM (though I’m still a newbie). I’m also hoping to one day read the book by Mosebach on the reform of the liturgy, as that book has been mentioned many times on this blog.

  37. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    For what it is worth, while I have heard many fine sermons drawing together and thoughtfully illuminating the lessons of a given Sunday in the new Lectionary, in the course of very reverently celebrated sung Latin NO Masses, I have misgivings about the new Lectionary as less well related to the Propers of that Sunday than those of the TLM (though my ‘Lectionary studies’ are in their infancy).

  38. KateD says:

    Bishop: Yeah…we’re gonna need you to go to Saint Luke’s for an evaluation.

    Priest: Don’t think I will, Your Excellency.

    If they are recommending the psych evaluation, you are a marked man. Don’t. Just don’t. If they want to execute you, don’t give them the bullets. Obedience doesn’t extend to self immolation.

  39. KateD says:

    Oh!!!! I know…be pre-emptive. I’ve done that! It stumps them. Very successful tactic.

    Bishop: “Yeah…We’re gonna need you to go for to Saint Luke’s for a psych eval”
    Priest: “Oh, yeah. I just had one. Dr Phil says I’m good to go, Your Excellency”.

    It doesn’t have to be Dr. Phil but it needs to be someone with a substantial reputation and who is willing to put it on the line in support of his positive evaluation of your mental state.

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  41. Imrahil says:

    Dear TRW,

    that is an interesting question.

    Note beforehand that I mean “superior” and “inferior” strictly what their names imply; e. g. it is superior to have (say) cold potato salad for your one meal on Good Friday rather than grilled fish with pretzels, plus the potato salad, but the latter is quite legitimate and does not even go against the spirit of fasting (unless in abnormally large quantity).

    So, why is the TLM superior? Because, yes, it is.

    Your question was: If the Novus Ordo Mass is celebrated ad orientum, in Latin, with incense, altar boys in proper vestments, Gregorian chant, no EMHC’s, etc., what (in the opinion of those who deem the TLM to be superior) would be the deficiencies that are inherent in the Novus Ordo?

    Well, 1., the first word of that question is “if” (as Cinderella’s stepmother observed). That does not often happen; though I know two Churches where I live where it does.

    2. That goes deeper, though. The thing is that there is a reason we don’t associate the NO with Gregorian chant, in Latin and with fiddlebacks etc, and those Churches that do have that, like the ones I mentioned, are often perceived by outsiders as celebrating the Old Mass. The complicated reason, look and feel and something, is only hinted at, not proven by whatever the II Vatican Council wrote on paper and whatever Popes have legislated; it is what is meant by the word “rite”, and the Holy Father is right (whether or not he has a right to be right) about the Old Rite and New Rite being different rites. (That he draws the quite, literally, un-Catholic conclusion to try to suffocate one of them is another matter.) That Pope Benedict spoke of different “uses” of one rite, with the subtle difficulty that the “old use of the Roman Rite” is much, much, more like the old use of the Ambrosian Rite than the “new use of the Roman Rite”, was a, probably indeed prudent, juridical construction but no more than that. Do not misunderstand me: the New Rite is a Catholic rite; but so is the Byzantine one.

    And from that perspective, we can see the alternative you propose as something of a mixture of rites. Now mixture of rites is not necessarily bad (but that is a different discussion). It may, incidentally, also have been what the II Vatican Council and perhaps even Pope St. Paul VI wanted; but in history it did not happen.

    3. What actual deficiencies does the NO have? (Note that I distinguish that from mere “inferiorities”. An inferiority is just that it’s not so good it could be; a deficiency is something that is actually wrong.)

    Few; but not zero. I think the following are actual deficiencies of the NO:
    (i) The prayer for the Jews on Good Friday. The thing is that this is an orthodox prayer (“lead them to the end which Thy counsel wanteth for them” – unsaid conclusion which is Christ), but you have to make an effort, as it were, to read it as such; and it has been misunderstood by many. It is not consistent with the dignity of the liturgy to not say what you mean and that for reasons of secular politics.
    (ii) The date of the feast of Christ the King; to have the feast which was instituted to precisely proclaim that Christ is King in the here and now already on the Sunday commemorating, from time immemorial, the Last Judgment… while not even changing the theme… and then call that the feast of Christ the King… (and yes, the last Judgment is more important than our fight for the social and individual kingship, but the latter is also somewhat important)… urks.
    (iii) Some “omissions of Scripture”. By omission I do not mean that a verse is not there (there is more of that in the Old Rite, of course), but that it’s not where from a Catholic perspective you’d expect it to be. There is one occasion of that, I admit, even in the Old Rite: so often we get the Gospel of the Annunciation, but never, not even in the Rorate Mass where it would in my view fit, the devout faithful are made to endure hearing “After that, the angel left her.” Even that could be improved; but we have that more often and on more important matters in the New Rite: for instance, we do not hear 1 Cor 11,27, not only not for Corpus Christi (which would be defensible, though a change, on account of the festive mood) but not even on Holy Thursday. Also, on the weekdays in year II, among other things there is a course reading of 1 Kings. Fine, but then 1 Kings 18,40 is missing (between Wednesday and Thursday of Week 10). A course reading and then one verse deliberately left out! Yes, that’s the verse where Elijah slaughters the Baalian prophets. If the enemies of religion knew the lectionary (it’s a relief they don’t), they’d slaughter us – for our (as they’d perceive it) meager attempt to “gloss over” the “awkward parts” of our history.
    (iv) While the Latin is fine, in practice we have to deal with the translations, where the Word over the Chalice is regularly wrongly translated (with the arguable exception of French, and maybe post-ICEL now the English version).

    So, that’s the deficiencies. The NO does contain some (few).

    Of course, I was assuming here that the Prayer of the Faithful is well-done. The Prayer of the Faithful can be a good thing if is well done (apart from the fact that its placement between Gospel and Offertory does not fit in with the idea of the Mass being one whole thing with an “ascent” towards the Transsubstantiation summit, so dear to us TLM attenders; the logical place for that, in a TLM context, would be together with the Collect). I kind-of like writing those prayers, for NO Masses (which together with others I sometimes do). But it is clear that a Prayer of the Faithful which has no fixed form and can be written on the spot means it’s fair game to those who want to put in politicazation and, worse, for the wrong sort of politics; or undue focus and secular issues; or – and these tempt also the orthodox – overly banalization of complex issues, or (and that tempts me as well, though I think I got it in check) the urge to put in some little sermons of their own, or by somewhat thoughtlessly picking up patterns that happen to have come en vogue. An example for the latter: How often have I had to explain that “sending them people who help them bear their burden” might be a very fine way of God to at least partially alleviate said burden, but why not pray Him to take it away entirely?

    These are all not the real issue, though, but I’ll put that, probably briefer, in a separate commentary.

  42. WVC says:


    Your question is interesting. Others have offered reasonable answers, and, as you know, books have been written on the subject. I would add that, even in the most reverent of reverent N.O. Masses one would need to 1.) remove the absurd gland-handing known as “the passing of the peace” – something even Cardinal Ratzinger wrote about and 2.) return SILENCE to the Mass – the difference between the reverent silence during the Canon in the TLM and the constant talking out loud in even the most reverent of N.O. Masses is jarring to anyone with deep connections to the traditional liturgy.

    But your question presents a bigger problem. The fact that we’re viewing the holy liturgy as a Lego Set is the BIG PROBLEM. Comparing this to that and saying, why don’t we add this to our set or change the colors on this or upgrade this . . . .etc. this IS the problem. We think Liturgy is a machine, a tinker toy, a thing WE should have control over. The creation of and then implementation of the N.O. has done much to push this notion into the mainstream. But this is wrong and impossible. The Church is not and cannot be a Democracy – so why on earth do we think the liturgy should be customizable to fit our preferences?

    As you indicate, any attempt to “regulate” the N.O. as it exists is impossible because it has multiple choice built into its very fabric. How, in this disjointed age, are we going to get “everyone to agree” on what’s the “best and most reverent” way to offer the N.O.? It can’t be done. It’s an absolute impossibility. The arguments and disagreements will only create even MORE division and angst.

    Meanwhile, there exists a Rite of Mass that is thousands of years old that represents a standard of reverence that exists OUTSIDE our own time and preferences. THIS is one of the reasons the Latin Mass is so important right now.

    I think the best possible “solution” is to not allow ANY changes to the liturgies to be officially promulgated from the Vatican. The Traditional Liturgy should be allowed to flourish, and the flagrant abuses of the N.O. should be stopped (i.e. anyone not following the rubrics), but the so-called “Mutual Enrichment” (which really just means allowing the N.O. to recover the many pieces of the TLM that it jettisoned) should take place for the next several hundred years quietly, humbly, and organically. Maybe, in a few hundred years, we will have recovered enough understanding of the actual nature of liturgy to consider some kind of consolidation, but that’s just a maybe.

  43. Imrahil says:

    4. So, what actually makes the Old Rite superior? Not that it contains much less of the deficiencies I mentioned (they are few enough that you don’t get to feel them, beyond the occasional “ürcks”); but it generally feels, while the NO all in all is good, better. This is the actual question; so, why?

    i) The Offertory Prayers are better. In fact when I read them first, my thought was they were heretical (though I then probably didn’t know the word “heretical”). My second thought was that they can’t possibly be heretical, having been the prayer of the Church for so long, but if not should never have been changed: The Protestants might wish us to change our doctrine, but they’re not with our mereglossing over the parts they deny; quite rightly, in fact; and nor should we.

    ii) The Roman Canon is obviously better.

    iii) Yes, it’s a nice feature of the Roman Rite to be businesslike; but still, a prayer cut is a prayer not prayed, so why not leave the psalm Judica and the Last Gospel in. Plus, Judica brings the much-needed teaching that God’s judgment is a thing to be desired – the Jews thought so, but also the Christians only started forgetting it when the Reformation came. (There’s a reflection by C. S. Lewis on that; it really is interesting, but it does make me remark “but Mr Lewis, even today a traditional Catholic Mass begins with the words ‘Judge me, o God, and distinguish my case from that of the people who is not holy’.”)

    iv) It’s the Catholic habit to feast, and then, perhaps, sometimes also to fast. Now it may be worth-while to have a weekly Biblestudy day (as it were), with a Mass… but I prefer a Sunday. Yes, it’s quite interesting to read a Gospel from beginning to end; (it is!); but I prefer the Sundays as we inherited them. Also, while it did make sense to curb the number of feasts somewhat – for instance to have more votive Masses -, what the Catholics that actually appear at a weekday Mass actually want is to celebrate the feast of the saint. And including the First Reading. The Gospel-reading Sundays of the NO, with actually usually well-chosen Old Testament reading and Epistle to fit the Gospel, do have their own charm, I won’t deny it (though that of the traditional Sundays we inherited is yet greater); and the newly-made weekdays of Advent and Eastertide do so too; but the weekdays of Ordinary Time? Who’s interested in a course reading of 1 Kings for Mass that is every couple of days interrupted anyway, when you could have a feast or a votive Mass? If I want that, I do lectio divina, or yes maybe the Breviary.

    iv) The whole atmosphere of being in something not made up by a committee.

    And one other thing:

    5. There is, of course, still the additional charm of the trad community. Oh yes, some are nutters, but not more probably than anywhere else, and anyway: here is a place where the believing Catholic is not the lone fighter; where all those who have their Catholic faith and preference for a rite in common and live more or less in the same area, but nothing more, all come to the same parish or “parish”, and that more or less for believing Catholics only, but not with a specific sprituality (beyond that of the rite) or the claim of a special vocation surpassing the general Catholic vocation to everyday holiness. Here is just a parish for normal Catholics; but all of them really believe.

    This is an accidental charm which the trads would not have if everyone was trad; but it still is present.

  44. Imrahil says:

    “The Protestants might wish … but they’re not”: content is the word that went missing there.

  45. TRW says:

    Thanks to everyone for the feedback. Lots to consider. I did re-read Ottiviani’s ” Intervention “. Lots of information to contemplate there as well. I am convinced that just the sheer number of options available to the priest in the NO is a huge problem. Where is the unity of worship? The other reality is that the usual celebration of the N.O seems to have taken every single opportunity to make the mass about the people and not about glorifying God with the Holy Sacrifice. The self-referential nature of the N.O mass is maybe the part that is most obvious to me after having attended both. It ends up just reinforcing the secular mindset. One’s subjective experience becomes the point. People come to believe that their Sunday obligation is about THEM recieving the Eucharist, not offering worship. A lady who was one of the RCIA instructors at our parish was once discussing with our priest the possibility of being dispensed from her Sunday obligation( because she was doing the “breaking open the word” with the candidates/catechumens after the readings). She thought that perhaps the priest could give her Communion after Mass, as if her obligation were to consume the Eucharist rather than to assist at Mass.

  46. Son of Saint Alphonsus says:

    I am very grateful for all your prayers and supportive words. Know they are effective and helpful. I am praying for you.

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