Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Is the Traditional Latin Mass Right for All Parishes?

We all too often hear the argument that the Novus Ordo Mass is needed in our world to make the Mass accessible to the common man.  The Novus Ordo is seen as a bridge by some in the Traditional Community.  Their argument is namely that a person should experience the Novus Ordo in totality before ever experiencing the Traditional Mass.

Have you heard of these arguments? Have you believed them?  Do you still believe them?

I say that the Traditional Latin Mass is needed everywhere - in all parishes at all times. 

That's bold.  That implies that the Novus Ordo isn't needed as a bridge and that a Jew or Muslim or pagan could outright convert to the Catholic Faith by means of a Mass said in an unfamiliar language with "strange" rituals and ancient practices.  How can this be?  The liberals gasp.

We first need to consider the effect of the Vatican II changes on the Liturgy and on the life of the Church.  When we live in the midst of a problem, the problem does not usually seems as horrid as it is for someone who considers it over a larger content.  By this same principle, it is said that a frog will immediately jump out of a pot that is boiling.  But if you put the frog into a pot of cold water and slowly increase the temperature to boiling then the frog will allow itself to boil alive.  In much the same way, those of us born into the disorder of the past 50 years can no longer understand the full and egregious impact of many of the changes.

 The First Mass said in the New World (St. Augustine, FL)

In the Winter 2011 edition of The Latin Mass Magazine, Mr. Nicholas Postage in "A Moribund Mass and the Catholic Counterculture" does a excellent job of illustrating the problems inherent in the main stream Church - errors that directly affect the assertion that the Novus Ordo is needed as a bridge.

I quote from Mr. Postgate:
The place: your typical American parish, not yet blessed by the application of Summorum Pontificum. The time: Any Sunday of the year (chances are it’s a “Sunday of Ordinary Time,” which befits a form of liturgy so ordinary. The music: smiling ditties of indescribable triteness. The congregation consists of children who have not been catechized, are bored to death, and would rather be texting or playing video games; young adults who are fornicating or masturbating in their spare time, as this is the gospel they receive in their schools, and no one even thinks of impeding their vices or correcting their errors; married couples who, with a few happy exceptions, contracept their marital vocation out of existence; older folks who, under the lifelong influence of the capitalist secularism that animates contemporary America, attend church because it’s a good habit, like brushing one’s teeth or wearing clean clothes. Hardly anyone is morally prepared for prayer, and hardly anyone actually prays. The sign of this is, of course, the unstoppable chitchat that pervades the church before the “gathering hymn” fills the electrified air and resumes right after the “scattering hymn” is over and the altar girls are on their way out. In between was the obligatory reception of a wafer in the hands, for some strange reason that no one can quite explain, except that it’s got something to do with belonging.

The Priest who heads, or shall we say, presides over the congregation is not better than his flock; in fact, he is worse. He does no mental prayer or lection divina; perhaps he does not pray or study in any serious way at all—which is obvious from the shallow and vaguely relevant homilies he gives. His life is busy but superficial. He runs a strong risk of being immoral in some egregious manner, whether through rampant gossip, entertainment-saturated indolence, self-indulgence at the table, or worse forms of intemperance. In short, the people are lost, confused, surrendered to the all-pervasive secularism, and so is their Priest, except that he can hide it better. Nay, he has often gone one step further: invoking Vatican II, he magically makes lack of faith, lack of doctrine, lack of morals sound like a pious accommodation to the contemporary world.
Does this sound like your parish?  Perhaps it does in some respects and it is for that reason that you feel the Traditional Mass might be too "much" for your fellow parishners.  Let's continue reading from Mr. Postgate's article:
The Novus Ordo liturgy is practically empty of spiritual content. No wonder the Church has not been able to stand against the onslaught of a militantly secularist anti-culture. Her highest and most precious resource in the spiritual combat was stripped away. The shift from the Missal of 1962 to the Missal of 1970 was like going from a cannon to a butter knife, from marching trumpets to party favors.   

Bringing the liturgy closer in its externals to modern life meant bringing it closer to the meaninglessness and profanity of modern life. Thinking they were doing people a favor, the woolly shepherds of the Church ironically gave her sheep and goats an excuse to give up going to Mass altogether, because the new Mass, having become an echo of the vulgar world, was truly no longer relevant: it could offer nothing, give nothing to us that we did not already have to satiety. The only thing that can possibly be relevant is that which is totally and intrinsically irrelevant to the grinding routine of modern life. The old liturgy carried on in baffling and mysterious isolation, as though it did not pay attention at all to the world’s going to hell in a customized handbasket. And this was wise, profoundly wise. Many Catholics of the last forty years who stopped attending Mass, or never started going in the first place, would have attended the old liturgy, if only because it breathes a spirit of peace and timelessness so utterly and refreshingly contrary to the spirit of modernity.

That is the sort of thing that attracted many Catholic converts, for instance, Thomas Merton, when you look at their conversion stories. To abandon this “irrelevance” was, in fact, to make the Mass finally truly irrelevant, in the sense that it no longer answered a deep, wordless need to meet the divine, the sacred, the presence of God’s kingdom in mystery. The reformed liturgy in sterilized English with third-rate folk music managed to announce, in spite of itself, that the Catholic Church has nothing to offer that cannot very easily be found elsewhere, in more potent form.

Interested in the latest popular music? Look elsewhere. Interested in feeling the feeling of togetherness? Look elsewhere. This kind of self-indulgent collectivism flourishes more outside church doors than within them—which would make the official clerical attempt to imitate it laughable, if it were not sacrilegious.
Catholic identity is still dying.  We are not proud of our heritage.  Do we forget that it was the Latin Mass that converted millions of the pagans of Germany in the time of St. Boniface or the pagans of North America in the 1500s?  It was the Latin Mass with all of its ritual, beauty, and mystery that spread the reign of Christ and won untold numbers of converts and saints.  It was that Mass that we need - a Rite of Mass capable of saving our modern world from its abass of moral decay.  It is the Traditional Mass that is the antidote to the problem! 

As Mr. Postgate concludes:
Some “conservative” Bishops might think that, confronted with such a dire situation, the last thing they should care about is restoring sacred music, chant, Latin, and such things to the Church’s worship. “Don’t we have more important, more urgent things to worry about?” they mutter with a worried frown. But this is to miss the whole point. The main reason Catholic identity is now so weak is that, forty years ago, we began experimenting and tinkering with God’s sacred mysteries, and now nothing seems holy, nothing permanent, nothing worth reverencing, nothing worth genuflecting before. If each and every local church does not make the solemn, sacred, self-effacing worship of God its absolute pastoral priority, one by one they will go extinct, drowning in an ocean of mediocrity, relativism, irrelevance—in a word, a total lack of Catholic identity, which comes to us from above, through the Sacred Liturgy. The Church will survive and thrive only where her Shepherds have the wisdom to seek first the Kingdom of God, letting all other things be given afterwards.

As well put by Mr. Mark Riddle in his just published article Does the Latin Mass 'Work' Everywhere?:
What does that tell us, then, about the argument for using an inculturated new liturgy to achieve the conversion of modern men who are not in any meaningful way part of the classical Western tradition?

Ultimately, it tells us that the argument is false. But beyond that, it tells us that if we truly wish to convert the world (and we do), and to truly civilize and Christianize modern pagans (whether those who have never received the Gospel or those who comprise a post-Christian pagan West) there is only one solution: to do the same things as were done by our forefathers when they set out to convert the world. A liturgy which is conformed to man, which seeks to adapt itself to the spirit of the age, will simply not work.

To answer my acquaintance, novelty will never convert the world. Only when men once again are presented with the integrity of the Catholic Faith, expressed fully in the Church’s immemorial liturgy, will we be able to civilize modern paganism. Only when modern man once again says, Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meum, will we be on the road to restoring all things in Christ. There simply is no other way.


3 comment(s):

del_button August 20, 2013 at 3:00 PM
Anonymous said...

Before Vatican II with the Tridentine Mass the Church had so many conversions that the priests could not keep up with the demand. But after Vatican II, with the new Mass, people left the Church in droves and the Church lost its former credibility. The new Mass of Vatican II is heretical and invalid. The Tridentine Mass is the only true and Catholic Mass, if it is offered by priests and bishops ordained and consecrated by the valid pre-Vatican II rites.

del_button August 20, 2013 at 7:12 PM
Anonymous said...

Matthew, is it considered a unacceptable comment to insult the Catholic Church as the previous commenter has done?

del_button December 28, 2013 at 12:43 AM
Chris said...

The tridentine mass in languages other than latin is also a legitimate desire, however, not to say it is not needed is quite true, but it is a legitimate holy desire. Genuine inculturation throughout the world suggests that latin not retain a monopoly everywhere, as the byzantine and eastern churches prove. The Personal Ordinariates of the Anglican use Liturgy in communion with Rome surely points in that direction, even as it unfortunately continues to retain the made up 3 year lectionary, it's mass ordinary is reflective of the tridentine almost exclusively since December of 2013. The 1965 mass also posed something similar to it. Had nothing gone further than the 1965 Missal, all in the Church would be well.

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