The Vetus Ordo shall not go away and for good reasons. VIDEO. Wherein Fr. Z rants about the Vetus and the Novus.

The Vetus Ordo is not going away.  No matter how much pressure and repression, no matter how much persecution of priests and marginalization of lay people certain “shepherds” apply, it will remain and grow stronger in ways they fear more than anything but bankruptcy.   And I am not talking about their squandered moral capital.

Mind you, what you will see in this video, can be applied, and ought to be applied, to the Novus Ordo and the churches where it is celebrated.

You will see beautiful vestments and their restoration.  Check.  The installation of important sacramental architectural elements.  Check.   Eucharistic processions.  Check.  First Communion.  Check.   Incense swathed sacral glimpses.  Check.  Candles and lace and flowers and bells and chapel veils and choral music … and … and.  Check.

Right away people will ask, “If that can all be done with the Novus Ordo, then why not just have the Novus Ordo?”

Right away we respond, “If the Novus Ordo is better the more it is enriched by what the Vetus Ordo can give it, then why not just have the Traditional Latin Mass?”

The longer response is deeper and has to do with a perceived– by some – theology, especially claims made about the theology of the Church, ecclesiology, of Vatican II.  The longer response entails getting into the “Paschal Mystery” (Passion and Death and Resurrection and Ascension) and the “People of God”.

Suffice to say that, by a shorter answer, the Vetus Ordo already has both of those things and, I think, in a way more complete than the perceived ecclesiology of Vatican II.

For example, in the matter of the Paschal Mystery, in the prayers of the Novus Ordo those things having to do with the Passion and Death of the Lord (propitiation, guilt, sin, sacrifice) were systematically excised so as to emphasize the Resurrection and joy of Heaven to come.    The problem is, you can’t have Resurrection without the Passion and Death.  To get to Heaven we have to deal with propitiation, guilt, sin, and sacrifice in a serious way.  The Vetus Ordo handles this with a healthy and commonsense emphasis, which sounds today to some people as heavy handed but only because they’re ecclesiology, picked up from the way they have been worshipping for decades, is heavily sprinkled with daisies and kitties and affirmation without judgmentalism by friendly “Just call me ‘Bob'” presiders.

Oh, yes… the shifted content of the Novus Ordo orations, too.  Are the Novus Ordo prayers bad.  No.  They, cumulatively, just give you part of what you need.  We should have all of it.  IT… the Catholic Thing… the complete Paschal Mystery… the whole megillah.

We are our rites.  The way we pray has a reciprocal relationship with what we believe.  Change the one, and the other will inevitably change.

So, by all means, everything in the video ought be applied to the Novus Ordo also.  

That doesn’t mean everything has to look the same everywhere.

What it means is giving our churches and our liturgical worship the very best that we can humanly imagine and making sacrifices so that it will be so. Across cultures and economic divides… the best we can do.

Is the Novus Ordo, ultimately, the best we can do?  I am not sure that the commonly cited stats hold up when we consider that.

Hence, maybe we need the Vetus Ordo to get back our bearings, back to our roots, … to get It back, that Catholic Thing.

The video has a in medias res feeling and, by the end, we are left with a deep desire to have seen the part that preceded and what followed, … at least from the beginning of the Lauridsen, O Magnum Mysterium.  Are there motets more beautiful that that?   Convince me.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Save The Liturgy - Save The World, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Greg Hlatky says:

    Here’s one as beautiful. Os justi, by Anton Bruckner.

  2. tradcath1953 says:

    I think a friend of mine in a social network I belong to summed up the difference between the New mass and the Latin mass in one sentence. She said we have gone from a sacrifice to dinner with Jesus.

  3. Zach says:

    O Magnum Mysterium shows that tradition is not rejection or all things modern but the preservation of the past combined with an embrace of what it’s good of the present. Though it seems timeless, it was written less than 30 years ago and recorded by a choir officially for the first time in 2002. I recall singing it in 1998 on the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral and in Magdalen College, Oxford on our British Tour. One of the highlights, if not the highlight, of my choral career. It was new and fresh but also timeless and ancient. It proves that post-Vatican II music can be exquisitely beautiful.

  4. Pingback: THVRSDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  5. summorumpontificum777 says:

    “The Holy Father wills this.” That’s the party line on the abolition of the TLM. It’s heart-breaking that the Roman Pontiff wishes to destroy something that hundreds of thousands of faithful Catholics love. It’s also mind-boggling that the powers that be in Rome apparently believe that there’s a decent chance that the papal will can triumph on this issue. The great irony of the situation is that the group of old men and very old men at the Vatican who accuse TLMers of wanting to “restore the past” are themselves the ones who appear to living in the past. One can only shake one’s head at the utter absurdity of thinking that the TLM can be abolished in an era of YouTube and similar websites… as well as the hilariously asinine scheme of banning the mention of TLMs in parish bulletins (as if anyone under 70 is relying on parish bulletins for information in 2022). And yet this quixotic war on the TLM, though doomed to certain failure, is already causing real pain to real people, depriving some faithful Catholics of the Mass they love, punishing faithful priests and destroying parishes. We’ll win, but there will be many casualties on our side. We must pray not only for victory but also that the war on us ends sooner rather than later.

  6. anthtan says:

    Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus.
    Pretty standard, but it’s gotta be up there.

  7. Legisperitus says:

    The Vetus Ordo will endure until the last bishop who sought to destroy it finally receives his exequial High Mass. The generation that wants to bury it will be buried by it.

  8. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    “they had not grasped the lesson of the loaves, so dulled were their hearts.”

    It seems that by “return to the early Church” the conciliar enthusiasts meant to return to the mental state and outlook of the Apostles prior to the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord.

  9. joshbraid says:

    Jean Mouton, Nescians Mater, The Monteverdi Choir/Gardiner
    This is much slower and more delicate than other performances. The motet itself is about Mary nursing Jesus. This interpretation has the quiet peacefulness of a mother nursing her child. Exquisite.

  10. Cornelius says:

    In presenting only half of Catholic theology, the NO presents a DIFFERENT theology, a different faith.

    I’m convinced that the decades of use of the NO is to blame for so much theological confusion amongst Catholics generally, e.g., LGTB+ acceptance (on their terms), divorce/remarriage, and now trans craziness. These movements have infected Catholics because the theology of the Novus Ordo (i.e., “I’m fine just the way I am”) prepared them and groomed them for it.

  11. Ave Maria says:

    That little clip gave me “Godbumps”! I want to be a part of that now and always.

  12. Gaetano says:

    The frustrating thing about modem compositions like O Magnum Mysterium is that it demonstrates that we are still capable of making beautiful music, but refuse to.

  13. iamlucky13 says:

    “For example, in the matter of the Paschal Mystery, in the prayers of the Novus Ordo those things having to do with the Passion and Death of the Lord (propitiation, guilt, sin, sacrifice) were systematically excised so as to emphasize the Resurrection and joy of Heaven to come. The problem is, you can’t have Resurrection without the Passion and Death. To get to Heaven we have to deal with propitiation, guilt, sin, and sacrifice in a serious way. The Vetus Ordo handles this with a healthy and commonsense emphasis”

    This is some very useful input for me. I grew up with the Novus Ordo, and after experiencing it in a wide range of traditional and progressive variations, and also having limited experience with the Venus Ordo, I find myself most drawn to the newer form, celebrated in a traditional manner. The intentions of John XXIII and Paul VI, and what I read in Sacrosanctum Concilium leave me favoring some level of change, in a way Pope Benedict summed up well for me in his comments about continuity.

    But I have long recognized that my preference for the novus ordo is open to familiarity bias and is not fully informed. I know the similarities between the Vetus Ordo and traditionally celebrating the Novus Ordo better than I do the differences, and the above quote highlights a difference that is more theologically meaningful than the more obvious differences like the options to use the vernacular or to face versus populem.

    These are things I hope to gradually learn more about, and hopefully help teach others about so that ultimately the whole Church might be able to eventually reach the ideal of mutual enrichment that fulfills the reason the council was called in the first place, without depriving the liturgy of these important theological elements.

    This specific example also brings to my mind thoughts about why concepts like sin, guilt, and propitiation are troublesome. It often is easy to settle for simple answers like, “because bad people want to be comfortable with bad things.” This is not really wrong, but it can be pastorally counterproductive to approach this way.

    As I try to understand the many divisions in the Church, I’ve started to consider it less through a lens of whether people are good or bad (acknowledging we are all created for good, and all do bad), and more about what will help them to become better (including my own need to be a better person). As I’ve done this, I’ve noticed parallels in Catholic theology and human psychology. This makes sense, as it was God who decided how our brains should work, who knows how our wills are subverted by sin, and who decided how He will save us.

    Admitting to sin, our guilt in it, and our need for redemption is difficult. Sin harms our dignity and our inability to redeem ourselves offends our pride (particularly the inordinate form of pride). Speaking personally, confronting the reality of our sins can even be traumatic to some degree.

    A significant element of psychological counseling, whether it is addressing trauma, or grief, or self-esteem, etc. deals with overcoming that instinct to deny and hide from the problem, and learning to acknowledge it, accept that it affects us in difficult ways, and seek the help needed to move past it. Likewise with our sins, we have to acknowledge them, accept that they are difficult to overcome because we desire them even when we know we shouldn’t, and seek the redemption Christ offers. If we can’t do that, then we are left with either hiding in our sin and seeing ourselves as bad as a result, or denying that what we do is sinful so we can see ourselves as good.

    Psychologists have their own methods for counseling people to help them with their families, jobs, or personal shortcomings, while in the Church, part of how we can handle it is liturgically highlighting the progression through sin and guilt to propitiation, reflecting the reality of how the sacraments accomplish this progression spiritually. But it remains difficult for us to do, so we often struggle against it, just like every single time I go to confession, I have to fight the instinct to hide with my sins instead of acknowledging them before God.

    Father’s comment helped highlight that in a way I hadn’t really thought through before.

  14. Baritone says:

    I prefer the Victoria to the Lauridsen, however throwing this out as an example of very recently composed polyphony:

  15. TonyO says:

    It occurs to me that one real test of substantial rightness of the Novus Ordo mass, or ANY mass really, is not whether it can be said / sung well and beautifully. No, the real test of its mettle is whether it inspires a beauty proper to it, and particularly, beautiful music. Imagine, for a moment, a future in 500 years where the Novus Ordo has been the sole mass for 99.9% of Latin Rite Catholics. Is there ANY plausible reason to project that the NO mass will have pro-generated a stream of music that is (a) specific and distinctive to the NO, and (2) that is beautiful.

    And the clear answer is: No, there is no plausible basis for projecting that result. None. All we have, right now, is that the NO mass CAN be beautiful, at least in a partial way, by borrowing off the inspired works pro-generated with the TLM and their direct descendents. All of that which is best about specific beautiful instances of excellent NO masses is the beauty lent to them by carrying over the forms and modes of beauty first produced for the TLM. They have not generated their own modes of beauty that arise out of what is distinctive in the NO. In fact, it is virtually the exact opposite: everything that attends the NO mass that is distinctive to the NO itself (rather than borrowed from the TLM) is what makes it ugly, dull, insipid, flat, and forgettable. Like with the modernist examples of “art” in the modern museum, the pile of laundry “artfully” arranged, the mangled glass, metal, and plastic thing that looms dangerously, TIME will not be kind to the music generated so far out of the NO as its inspiration. Time will dismiss it to the dustbin, better left covered in refuse than pulled out once more.

    But that is a judgment on the NO itself. There is a reason that Sacrosanctum Concilium said that the reforms should be drawn organically, rather than mass-produced in an industrial sweat-shop. At some point in the next generation or two, when we have gotten past prelates who were whelped on the “spirit of VII”, and the only prelates who are left are ones who can access VII only by reading the documents, they will all agree that THEY WERE GYPPED by the NO, that the NO as produced had almost nothing to do with Sacrosanctum Concilium. The likelihood that those prelates will leave the NO alone as a beloved and pristine good in its own right is effectively nil. They WILL make changes. And whatever else they do, those changes will refute the current crop of naysayers who insist that “the NO is the mass of VII”.

  16. Pingback: Eucharistic Miracles, Response to an Ex-Catholic/Now Baptist, and More Great Links! - JP2 Catholic Radio

Comments are closed.