Today beginning at 12:30 pm here in Washington at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a Solemn High Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form will be celebrated in the Great Upper Church. For those unfamiliar with all the Church jargon of the previous sentence let me decode. The “extraordinary Form” of the Mass is the form of the Mass as it was celebrated prior to 1965 when Liturgical changes brought about the Mass as we have it today. Prior to these changes the Mass was celebrated exclusively in Latin with only the homily (and sometimes the readings) in English or whatever the local language was. The celebrant also faced in the same direction as the people which some have wrongfully described as the priest “having his back to the people.” To say this is a “Solemn High” Mass means that all the ceremonial options are observed. There is incense, extra candle bearers, and many of the prayers and readings of the liturgy are sung. The celebrant is also assisted by a deacon and subdeacon. To say this is a pontifical Mass means that it will be celebrated by a bishop and will include two extra deacons and an assisting priest. Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa is today’s celebrant.
For those who are unfamiliar or unappreciative with the splendor of the Latin Liturgy in this form soem questions often arise.
1. Why pray in Latin or any language unfamiliar to the language of the people who attend?
Simply put, praying in Latin is to pray in what has been a sacred language for the Church. It is a common feature of cultures down through human history that they often prayed in a language other than the language of the home and streets. To pray liturgically is to enter heaven, a world apart from the every day world. To use another and more ancient language is a common way many cultures have underscored this.
At the time of Jesus, the synagogue services and the Temple liturgy used ancient Hebrew. Jesus and his contemporaries did not speak Hebrew at home or in the streets any longer. They spoke Aramaic. But when they prayed they instinctively used the ancient prayers which were Hebrew.
In the early Church it appears that the earliest years saw the use of the Greek language for the Liturgy. It seems to have been used even though many people spoke Latin throughout the empire. But many did not think Latin was suited for the Liturgy which required a more elevated language than what most people spoke. By the 5th Century however Latin came to be introduced in the Western Empire as it became an older and more venerable language to them. Eventually Latin wholly replaced Greek in the liturgy of the Church in the Western empire (except a few remnants such as the Kyrie). It remained the language of worship until about 1965 when the local languages were allowed. However, it was not the intent of the Church that Latin should wholly disappear as it has largely done. Latin remains for the Church the official language of her worship.
So, why pray in Latin? Why not? It is for us a sacred language of worship and there is an instinct in human culture that liturgy is world apart where we enter heaven. It is not wrong to pray in the local language but, truth be told, it is not the usual practice in human history.
2. Why does the celebrant face away, or “have his back to us?”
It is really a wrongful description to say the celebrant has his back to us. What is really happening is that the celebrant and the people are all facing the same direction. They are looking toward God. On the center of every older altar was a crucifix. The priest faced it to say Mass and all the people faced it with him. He and they are turned toward the Lord.
In the ancient Church, they not only faced the cross, they also faced to the east to pray. An ancient text called the Didiscalia written about 250 AD says, Now, you ought to face to east to pray for, as you know, scripture has it, Give praise to God who ascends above the highest heavens to the east . In later centuries it was not always possible to orient the Church so that everyone could face east. But the Crucifix above the altar represented the east and the Lord. Hence everyone faced the Lord to pray.
The idea of facing each other to pray is wholly modern and was never known in the Church prior to 1965. Hence the answer is that the celebrant is facing the Lord to pray and so are we.
3. Why is so much of the Mass whispered quietly?
Not everything is whispered but the much of the Eucharistic prayer is. Historically the whispered Eucharistic prayer (or Canon) developed in monastic settings where it was not uncommon for more than one liturgy to be celebrated at the same time at various side altars. In those days priests did not concelebrate masses as they do frequently today. Each priest had to celebrate his own mass. In monasteries where numerous priest might be in residence, numerous liturgies might be celebrated at similar times. In order not to interrupt each other, the priests conducted these liturgies with a server quietly. This practice continued into modern times.
Over time this monastic silence came to be regarded as a sacred silence. The whispering of the prayers was considered a sign of the sacredness of the words which “should not” be loudly proclaimed. (There are other more complicated theological trends that swept the liturgy too complicated to go into here that also influenced the move to a more silent liturgy) At any rate, the practice of a sacred silence came to be the norm eventually even in parish churches. Hence the hushed tones were not an attempt to ignore the faithful who attended or make their participation difficult but it was associated with a holy silence. People knelt, praying as the priest prayed on their behalf.
In the past century as literacy increased among the lay faithful it became more common to provide them with books that contained the texts of the liturgy and those who could read were encouraged to follow along closely. Through the 1940s and 50s these books (called “missals”) became quite common among the laity. By the 1950s there were also some experiments with allowing the priest to have a microphone or to raise the level of his voice so the faithful could follow more easily. These “dialogue Masses” were more popular in some place than others. Sacred silence was still valued by many and adjusting to a different experience was not always embraced with the same fervor, it varied from place to place.
Today, with the return in some places to the celebration of the Old Latin Mass (called officially the “Extraordinary Form”) this sacred silence is once again in evidence. For those who are not used to it, it seems puzzling. But hopefully some of this history helps us understand it. Once again we are faced with the dilemma of how loudly the priest should pray the Canon (Eucharistic Prayer) at such Masses. There are different opinions but a fairly wide consensus that the prayer should be generally said in a very subdued voice.
167 Replies to “Why Celebrate Mass in Latin?”
I enjoyed the video very much, looking forward to the Mass from the Cathedral Saturday.
I hope more and more churches will have a Latin Mass at least occasionally.
It is part of my past and I missed it all those years. We have an FSSP here, but it’s a 20 mile drive and I can’t go often. I’m most thankful to be able to watch EWTN at least part of the Mass is in Latin quite often.
Pope Benedict is doing the right thing in allowing the Latin Mass back.
Yes, I just got back from a long day at the basilica. The Mass was wonderful
Therefore, the Gift of the Holy Spirit to the Fathers of the Vatican Council II regarding use of the vernacular so that all His sheep can hear and understand words which convey meaning and teaching are for naught.
Yes, I understand the tragedy of liturgical irreverence and license, but that could and should have been expected when the episcopate did not inspect and correct over these 45 years.
Finally, the tragedy, as I see it, is to hear catholics declare they finally feel they have been to Mass(Tridentine).
P.Ganci: Find a place in your heart for us. Perhaps too there is some middle ground between your bi-polar scenario. That Latin is good and has a place in the Church does not have to mean as you put it that the Words of the Fathers of VCII “were for naught.” Maybe there is wisdom and room for both?
By the way, 98% of the masses I celebrate are in English.
A friend of mine who had not been to mass in a long time came with me to a Latin Mass. His response was one of awe and joy. He said that after growing up a Catholic all his life (we are in our mid 20’s) he finnaly experiecne something that helped him actually feel connected to his catholic heritage and his faith. What does that mean? Well, often one’s reasoning for loving the latin mass is something similar to this, “it is so beautiful,” “I feel connected to the history of the church,” or I’ve even heard “I dont know what it is, but somthing is just drawing me to it, I finally feel like i’ve found my home.” One could look at these as simple feelings of nostalgia or having an aesthetic experience, but they should not be simply discounted as such. Beauty is supremely important when it comes to the mass. God is good and the creator of beauty, Something that brings to us such an imensly strong presence of Him should reflect and hold this beauty. And as far as the nostalgia; How wonderful is it to participate in the same mass as all the saints of the past centuries? If God is a Transcendent God (One Who is timeless and speaks to all ages and generations as an unchanging God) How beautiful and fitting that the Mass we celebrate would reflect that by being recognizable to a man who proceeded even the protestant revolution and a man who is modern a the mass of the ages, the Catholic Mas. That is why Catholics declare that they finally feel as they have been to Mass when they participate in the Mass of Trent, which has its roots in St. Gregory the Great and even farther back to the Apostles and Christ Himself.
The Bible tells us not to babble when we pray (Mt 6:7). When I pray in English, I know the meaning of what I am saying to God. When I hear Latin I haven’t the foggiest idea of what is being said. How can I being talking (praying) with God, if I don’t know what I am saying to him. Those who want to pray in Latin do so either because they understand the language, or because the sounds of Latin are entertaining. How many in the congregation know Latin, and how many want Latin because the sounds are entertaining?
Your remarks are somewhat rude. To pray in Latin is not to babble. People follow the Latin in their books with an English transalation. Neither is it merely “entertaining” as you declare.
Msgr. Pope is spot on. No one is babbling or speaking words they know not when assisting at the “Latin Mass” (whether Ordinary or Extraordinary form). One merely needs to be literate to follow along in English in his missal and pray the mass with the priest. And actually, over time one comes to pick up some of the common prayers said in latin (such as the Pater, Gloria, Credo, Agnus Dei etc) and understand their meaning in latin. For example, I pray most of the mass in my missal in English but I will say the credo in latin. I have found that the need to follow and pray via the missal encourages a more active participation because it almost takes a little more “work” than rote recitation of responses.
Msgr- thank you for a great blog post, for saying the mass at st. marys (I’m a Georgetown undergrad but I attend there) and for helping to make today’s mass at the basilica sublime and reverent and amazing.
I would like to add that; to pray in Latin (a dead language) is to pray with the whole church. Our Church is not just an English speaking church, nor is it Spanish, Italian, Chinese, French or any other particular. We are Catholic, we are the Universal, encompassing all of humanity in our fold. Why not pray in a way that alienates no one and includes everyone? If we had more Masses in Latin, we could eliminate the need to have English mass at 8 and then spanish mass at 930. Instead, we can all come together for mass as the mystical body of Christ, regardless of nationality.
A love for Latin is not an “entertainment” value. Nothing of the Holy Sacrifice is for our entertainment, (something that may be lost on one who is used to rock bands playing modern music at Mass or a stand up comedian preaching from the pulpit.) We must always remember that the mass is first and foremost the re-presentation of that most Holy Sacrifice in which Our Lord offered Himself for the sins of humanity. What greater mystery is there for us to contemplate than God becomming incarnate only to die for man at the hands of man? With such a mystery at hand does it not help us to contemplate and consider this mystery when we have the ample silence to meditate; and when there is audible speaking it is done so in what St. Jerome reffered to as the “language of the angels?”
Yes, following the Mass in Latin requires more effort. It’s definitely not for the lazy, for those who prefer to “worship” the same way they watch TV, i.e., sit passively and have it all pumped into your head. If you are serious about true worship, get a missal and begin following the prayers. Learn the priest’s gestures and where and how he moves. The missal will indicate when he is uttering what prayer. Before long, you will find yourself actively praying the Mass as never before. This is the kind of true participation in the Mass that we are called to, far more potent than droning the responses of the ordinary form of the Mass.
“It is a common feature of cultures down through human history that they often prayed in a language other than the language of the home and streets. … It is not wrong to pray in the local language but, truth be told, it is not the usual practice in human history.”
This overstates matters considerably. There are well-known instances of ritual in a sacred language not understood by average person, but you would be hard pressed to prove that the use of the vernacular “is not the usual practice in human history”. Furthermore, those instances of the use of a sacred language will typically turn out to be cases where the language was originally understood by all but later became the preserve of a priestly caste, and it is worth asking whether this should be considered a healthy development or rather the degeneration of that religion.
Please delete the first reply. It is just the beginning of the longer reply, and was submitted accidentally.
OK Archangel but even in your reply you note the usual trend toward sacral language, though you ascribe negative causes for it. I wonder too if you do not also overstate. I will admit that my short article may not have time to assess all the anthropological roots and causes. this is a blog not a scholarly journal. There may be some truth in your notion of a “priestly caste” though I think you simplify matters as well. Perhaps we can both agree that there are many factors, some good, some not so good for the tendency of sacral langauge to develop.
Nicely summarized explanations!
Of course, the hushed tones of the priest praying the Canon are even better appreciated when the choir is doing its “bit”, as I’m sure they will be doing at the Shrine during the Solemn Mass today.
Yes, the choirs were great!
Not exactly Latin but it ought to be!
The idea of facing each other to pray is wholly modern and was never known in the Church prior to 1965.
But is that really an accurate description of what we typically do now? To be sure, no doubt there are some who view it that way, but is that they way it is intended to be?
Isn’t it properly viewed as “the celebrant and the people are all facing the same direction”? That is, they are not facing each other, rather they are all facing the altar, albeit from opposite sides? The altar where the Son rises regardless of geography? The altar of sacrifice as being at the center of worship, rather than separate and apart from us?
And does not this orientation, the celebrant on one side, the people on the other, each facing the altar, does this not help emphasize the priest as being an alter Christus, who acts in persona Christi, as opposed to being one of and representative of the people, as in the days of Judaic worship?
This is not to be a critique of ad orientem, but merely to suggest that there is value in the other orientation as well.
Fair enough. Though I think historically the explanation that you give was not what the Liturgist of the 1960s had in mind. It was celarly in their mind that Mass was now to be said “facing the people.” Pope Benedict has stated soemthing not entirely dis-similar to what you are saying though he states that a cross should be on an altar that faces toward the people to make it clear that we are all facing the the Lord, priest and people. Hence I am not sure it the altar that we are facing per se (unless the altar is seen as a symbol of Christ).
I guess my point is, if it were the altar per se that we are facing then why does Benedict counsel a cross be upon it.
In acting as In person Christi or the Alter Christus, the priest is acting as the “head” of the mystical body. When Christ offered Himself for our sins, He was both Priest and Victim. He was offering Himself to the Father so that humanity could repay the infinite debt of our sins. So it would only make sense that the “head” of the body was facing with the body. We our all offering a sacrifice to God. The priest, offering the Sacrifice of Christ and we place ourselves on the Altar with the host and offer our sacrifice to the Father.
It should also be noted that the Altar was always connected with the tabernacle so there was never a question of the people and the priest faceing eachother and yet facing the Altar at the same time. To face the Alar both would face together as one, Ad Orientum.
There is an old saying; “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi” (the law of prayer is the law of Belief) our anceint and true faith has been handed down through litterally millenia of Tradition, every movement, every word of the Mass has a profound meaning and is not there by merely accident. The orientation of the priest and people facing God as one is a corporal manifestation of our theology. To do otherwise can confuse the faith and without proper education when one prays with the priest facing the people we run the danger of (as Pope Benedict says,) “Turning the worship in on ourselves.”
I hope you will excuse what may be ignorant comments and questions.
I always need to lean on a translation for almost everything beyond the Ordinary, but my impression is that a lot of (linguistic and spiritual) richness in the interrelations between the various Propers (and, in the Extraordinary Form, the Lessons as well) gets lost, without the Latin.
You write, “The idea of facing each other to pray is wholly modern and was never known in the Church prior to 1965.” In the (adaptive) translation from almost exactly 73 years ago (the Feast of St. Mark, 1937) of Pius Parsch’s “Messerklärung” (1934) with which I am familiar, use is made of J. Kramp’s descriptions based on Ordo Romanus I. In his description of the Offertory at Masses in Rome in the seventh and eighth centuries, he writes that the Pope stood behind the ‘altar-table’ facing the singers and the people, and as the Offertory ended, the Bishops present gathered round the Pope. But the Subdeacons positioned themselves so that the could look the Pope in the face and answer him. He then prayed the Secret, ending with the loudly sung, “in saecula saeculorum” to which the Subdeacons answered “Amen”.
If it is now certainly known that this was not the case, when and how was this discovered?
Yes, I think the Pius Parsch theory base has laregly been set aside by modern scholars based on futher study and disocveies about the ancient Church. The situation in St. Peter’s Basilica is a unique one and I have heard many theories about what was done or not done in that Basilica. It’s apse did nto face East due to topography. Hence the Pope out of reverence for the Eastward requirement of prayer stood on the back of the altar to face east. This technically put him facing the people in the nave but there were special reasons for it. There are some theories (of which I am mildly dubious) which state that the people faced East along with him so that for those in the nave the altar was behind them or at an oblique angle. I have my doubts about this but there is some evidence of something like this being done. Any way there are many books on this matter out there that tackle this. I am just drawing a blank on most of them. However, Cardinal Ratzingers “Feast of Faith” covers the topic quite well.
Belated thanks for your informative note and reference!
Monsignor, this is one of your finest…. thank you!
Thanks though perhaps you can see not all agree 😮
This post is a worthwhile attempt to explain the pre-Vatican II mass to those unfamiliar with that musty old ritual, but it is not entirely accurate.
1. “It is a common feature of cultures down through human history that they often prayed in a language other than the language of the home and streets. … It is not wrong to pray in the local language but, truth be told, it is not the usual practice in human history.”
This overstates matters considerably. There are well-known instances of ritual in a sacred language not understood by average person, but one would be hard pressed to prove that the use of the vernacular “is not the usual practice in human history”. Furthermore, those instances of the use of a sacred language will typically turn out to be cases where the language was originally understood by all but later became the preserve of a priestly caste, and it is worth asking whether this should be considered a healthy development or rather the degeneration of that religion.
2. “At the time of Jesus, the synagogue services and the Temple liturgy used ancient Hebrew. Jesus and his contemporaries did not speak Hebrew at home or in the streets any longer. They spoke Aramaic. But when they prayed they instinctively used the ancient prayers which were Hebrew.”
Among the Jews of the Diaspora who lived outside of Palestine, synagogue services were in the vernacular, and that usualy meant Greek. That’s why we have the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint. At Jerusalem in Jesus’ time, there were synagogues for the local Jews and separate synagogues for Diaspora Jews: the former used Aramaic and/or Hebrew, and the latter Greek. In other words, the language of worship was usually the language the people understood.
3.”In the early Church it appears that the earliest years saw the use of the Greek language for the Liturgy. It seems to have been used even though many people spoke Latin throughout the empire. But many did not think Latin was suited for the Liturgy which required a more elevated language than what most people spoke. By the 5th Century however Latin came to be introduced in the Western Empire as it became an older and more venerable language to them.”
In the eastern half of the Roman Empire, the language of communication was Greek, and so in many places the liturgy was in the “common” language, namely Greek. St. Paul wrote in Greek to the Thessalonians and Corinthians (and all the others), not because it was a “more elevated” language, but because it was the language everyone knew. But where Greek was not widely understood, the liturgical language became that of the people: Coptic in Egypt, Syriac in Syria, and so on.
We do know that at Rome the liturgical language was Greek until the 3rd or 4th century. Why this was so is less clear. It may be because the New Testament was in Greek and so they thought the liturgy should be in the same language as the Bible. Or on the other hand, it may simply be because Rome was a melting-pot of people and the language most of them were likely to understand was Greek. But by the 4th century, at Rome they were worshipping in Latin, and it was not because Latin was now “a more venerable language” but because it was everyone’s language.
4. “In the ancient Church, they … faced to the east to pray. An ancient text called the Didiscalia written about 250 AD says ‘Now, you ought to face to east to pray’… The idea of facing each other to pray is wholly modern and was never known in the Church prior to 1965.”
In the first 3 centuries, Christianity was an illegal religion and people met in houses for liturgical celebrations. We know very little about in the inner disposition of these meeting places. The quoted text (which dates from that time) does not tell us if the whole liturgy was celebrated facing east or if this was the practice anywhere else than the corner of the Empire where the text was written (namely Syria).
Once Christianity became a legal religion (after 300), great churches were built, and we know that in those churches the altar was placed between the clergy and the laity: the bishop and his priests sat at one end of the building while the assembly stood facing the clergy with the altar between them. It is possible that at some point in the liturgy everyone turned to face east, but it is far from established that this happened always and everywhere, given the great liturgical diversity that existed throught the Christian world. But what is clearly known is that the altar stood between the clergy and the assembly, and that this disposition persisted for many centuries. It is only in the Middle Ages that the altar was placed against the wall and that the celebrant moved to the same side of the altar as the congregation.
5. “In those days priests did not concelebrate masses as they do frequently today. Each priest had to celebrate his own mass. In monasteries where numerous priest might be in residence, numerous liturgies might be celebrated at similar times. In order not to interrupt each other, the priests conducted these liturgies with a server quietly. This practice continued into modern times.”
The quoted passage above describes the practice in the Middle Ages, not the early Church. Originally, a church had only one altar around which all Christians gathered for one Eucharist every Sunday (with all clergy concelebrating). There was one altar because it represented Christ, and there was one Eucharistic celebration because the Eucharistic was the sacrament of unity. All of this was forgotten in the Middle Ages. A new theology of the Eucharist developed and every priest had to celebrate his own mass. So concelebration disappeared. Where there were many priests, churches had multiple altars at which priests “said” mass silently without a congregation. Practices that to the early Christians would have appeared so bizarre as to be unthinkable — multiple altars, multiple Eucharists at the same time, silent Eucharists without an assembly — became thinkable. The question mentioned in relation to sacred languages has to be asked again: healthy development or degeneration?
In brief, the history of the [Western] liturgy can be divided into three periods: (1) the early Church, (2) the Middle Ages and Tridentine period, and (3) since Vatican II. The current liturgical practices so decried by traditionalists — the single altar placed between the celebrant and the congregation, the use of the vernacular, the communal and dialogal nature of liturgy with different roles assigned to the various “actors” (presider, reader, choir, congregation), communion received in the hand and standing — are all practices of the first period which, after persisting for many centuries, disappeared in the course of the second period. It is the glory of the third period to have reinstated the practices of the early Church, the age of the Church Fathers and the great Councils. It is debatable whether there is any virtue in clinging to the practices of the second period, such as the mass which forms the object of the present post.
Some good additions, particularly about concelebration. As for some of your other points they are also theories and involve specualtion. As such these are valuable additions to the discussion since there are some murkey things in liturgical history as you point out. I said elsewhere that this is a blog not a full length socholoarly journal article as such I presented viewpoints that exist. Your addition of other viewpoints and facts that expand the discussion are helpful.
I am new to this site.
I admire all the input and the different points of view.
As a lay person, in the USA, I do not feel Latin in its entirety of the Mass would be valuable, as we would not know what was being said.
I do wish Latin had (I am a convert) had been taught in schools I was in related to medicine, literature, and the Church. I was HIGH Church Espiscolpalian, and Catholic in nature in my heart. Then, instead of endless sentences about Caeser and his troops, we would have had a language we could not only use but retlate to.
However, this was not the case. And, I feel if we fully revert, it would be a mistake. As one man noted: the Early Church in many places, the local language was spoken. I miss though some of the hymns we sang in high school in Choir that were in all languages, including Latin. Beautiful and messmerizing!
Another IMPORTANT POINT: was it not Jesus Himself, who preached FACING THE CROWDS?
Something to think upon. . .
Certainly preaching should be done facing the people. At the end of his Sermons St. Augustine often said “conversi ad Dominum” (Turn to the Lord) as if to indicate that now our attentions was all directed to the Lord as he turned to the altar and began the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Also I would not argue for an exclusive return to the Latin Mass.
Thanks for commenting
1. Concelebration of the early church is not as easily explained as you state it to be.
“Originally, a church had only one altar around which all Christians gathered for one Eucharist every Sunday (with all clergy concelebrating).”
During the years of pursecution of the early Church, Priests were not required to say a Mass every day. But when they did gather together, with a congregation, they did say Mass as one, but there is a BIG difference between Concelebration and a Single Celebrant surrounded by brethren. The High Pontifical Mass had at least 20-30 priests in the Sanctuary, yet it only had ONE celebrant. Concelebration was only heard of after Vatican II. To prove that Concelebration happened, as you defend it did, you would not only have to prove that multiple priests were at one celebration, but that they all celebrated. Basically you would have to find a citation that shows the word “Concelebrate”. I’ve never seen it. Then when the Persecution of the Early Church stoped and priests and churches came more in number…the Western Church requested of it’s priests that they dutifully celebrate the Mass daily (Roman Rite only.) This would explain why multiple Altars started to appear in Churches, not that they suddenly forgot about concelebrations?!?!?
2. As for Traditionalist:
“The current liturgical practices so decried by traditionalists — the single altar placed between the celebrant and the congregation, the use of the vernacular, the communal and dialogal nature of liturgy with different roles assigned to the various “actors” (presider, reader, choir, congregation), communion received in the hand and standing — are all practices of the first period which, after persisting for many centuries, disappeared in the course of the second period. It is the glory of the third period to have reinstated the practices of the early Church, the age of the Church Fathers and the great Councils.”
Traditionalist don’t have a problem with standing for communion…the eastern rites all stand for communion, but it is ROMAN to kneel. As for receiving by the hand, no where is it ever documented before Vatican II that this was a practice of the Church. You like to compare the Church now with the Church during it’s time or Persecution (calling that the Early Church) For as soon as the persecutions stoped and Churches were being built (early 300’s); the Church started DOING things HER way: the first churches built had Iconostasis in them. This is a WALL of icons that SEPERATED the Sanctuary/Clergy from the Nave/Congregation. This not only lead to most of the Liturgy being in reverent SILENCE of VOCALS but also for SIGHT! There was a Clear distinction between the Sacred and the Profane and a holy awe and reverence was emphasised by this WALL for the Sanctuary. Only later in the ROMAN rite was the Iconostasis lowered to become the Altar Rail. The different positions of Servers in the Sactuary arose as the Liturgies grew from thier Pruned states when they were oppressed by persecutions. You could now have Thurifurs, Crucifurs, Acolytes, prominent Deacons and Subdeacons. You could have a Procession in the public streets! We should exemplify the Church during it’s time of freedom, when it was free to blossom fruitfully from the period of pruning it was subjected to during the proseccution period. You compared the Church of today (Novus Ordo) with the Early Christian Church, during it’s time of persecution. I would rather exhibit the GLORY of the CHURCH. We are a free people, our Church in this Land is Free….we should therefore put forth the best, why should we harken back to the mornful period of the Churches persecution???? Is it not more fitting to go forth with the Church Triumphant with the rich history, theology, and philosophy She Inspired during the age of Christendom, during the age of the Tridentine Mass?
I always find it troubling when people praise the Holy Ghost for “finally lifting the veil in front of the Church’s eyes with Vatican II and the Novus Ordo.” Are you not also then implying that the Holy Ghost was asleep for over 1000 years, letting the Church go “rampant” as it “decended” into the Tridentine Mass, the “Mass for all times”, the “Mass of the Saints”, the Mass that came from the council of Trent and has been praised by so many Popes?!?!?!?!?!?
Lastly, Latin is the official language of the Church and always will be, all official church documents are written in Latin. What harm can it do for priests to be able to read latin and for the congregation to be familiar with Latin? It would give them a greater grasp on the early church fathers and writters that are so important. If anything it enriches and empowers us to be more involved in our FAITH, which when we boil everything down, is probably just about the most important thing. To be in touch with UNAM SANCTAM CATHOLICAM ET APOSTOLICAM ECCLESSIAM in a universal timeless sense!
It’s encouraging in these trying times to see the liberality of the Catholic Church in the United States in allowing its most universal, cosmopolitan form of worship to take place at the high altar of the highest church in the most diverse country in the world!
Vivat Sancta Ecclesia et Dei populus!
Thank you, Msgr Pope.
I will pass this on to friends and relatives.
You are most welcome
It is my opinion that the Mass should be normally said in the local language. Just as the First and Second Testaments are translated into the language of the reader so that the the Scripture can be understood, so should the Mass be said so the worshiper understands the Liturgy. We should participate in the Mass as worshipers, rather than sit and enjoy the beauty of the language during the Mass. Unless the person understands Latin, the Liturgy becomes something to be watched rather than to be a part of in worship.
I believe Hawaiian is a much more beautiful language than Latin,and a Mass said in Hawaiian would be beautiful to hear, but the Mass said in Hawaiian to people who have no understanding of Hawaiian loses the point of participating in the Mass.
Just because ” it is not the usual practice in human history ” does not give justification for doing anything. Tradition is only valuable to those that value the tradition.
Well I was with you up to the last point. I understand your preference for the vernacular. I would not say that tradition is valuable on to those who value it. It has instrisic value and helps determine what is normative.
James, would not having a missal as Father points out, which has the translation of the Latin usually on the right hand side while the Latin is on the left, give understanding to the Latin. When I saw the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” the language spoken was Mandarin Chinese while English subtitles were shown. I can recall no one complaining the there was no understanding to the movie.
It could be that many Catholics are out of the habit of using a missal. I have three, however they were given to me by friends in the FSSP. I will concede that new ones are expensive, around $75. Most Masses in the EF have booklets that the people can use for the same purpose, however. I would submit that understanding is available, one just has to work a little harder to find it.
BTW, there are a few online resources to learn Latin, just saying.
I’m going to remember that “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” comparison – it speaks to two of my great loves: Catholicism and Kung Fu!
Although I definitely prefer to have Mass in English (although I was at the Shrine today), I first saw the beauty of Mass in Latin when I travelled abroad as a teen. After Mass in Spanish (of which I understood little) I remember my Mum telling me that when she was my age and travelled abroad she could go to a Latin Mass and follow along as normal, regardless of the country. I remember being struck by what a wonderful thing it would be to go *anywhere in the world* and be able to follow exactly the same liturgy and language – universal indeed!
I grew up in the 50’s 60’s when the extraordinary was the ordinary! Perhaps another word could be chosen, afterall, how long as the Mass been in English…and how long has it been, to use your words, extraordinary?
Pope Benedict coined the term in 2007
I remember the Latin Mass very well, I grew up with it. I was able to follow along with My Daily Missal but many in the congregation didn’t seem to bother. They prayed the rosary or their private novenas or silently to themselves. It certainly did not seem that they were a part of the liturgy. Parish novenas and Benediction saw much more participation than the Mass. To me, Vatican II, was a blessing. The mass said in a language I could understand, a language I could hear, with the priest facing me. It was marvelous and still is. I teach in a Catholic High School populated by 2600 teen agers. Sadly few of them go to Mass on Sundays and many only if their parents force them. I can imagine what their reaction would be to a service they couldn’t even understand. These young adults are the future of the Church. We must have a liturgy that they understand and can participate in.
Interesting that you should mention St. Paul. He celebrated the liturgy in Greek because it was the language used by the people at the time – the vernacular. It’s a shame we got away from that.
I taught in a Catholic high school too. They don’t understand the Mass as it is. And it’s not because of what the Mass is, but because of what they are. First of all, it’s ultimately not up to someone else for the worshipper to understand the object of his worship. If the worshipper does not attempt to commune with his God, no amount of another person making his God easer to understand will make the worshipper understand him. That is not to say that help does not help. But it is disordered to treat it as primary to understanding. Secondly, “we” must not have any kind of liturgy. If “we” want to posit “musts” for the liturgy, then “we” should pledge our lives to that service, take vows of celibacy, and be concerned not with the things of this world, how we can please our wives, but rather with the things of heaven, how we can please God.
It’s also fallacious to suppose that a language other than Latin makes the Mass accessible to more people. No other language in the history of Catholic Christianity has been more accessible. If a parish does not have a universal language, it must have a split community, as we have in America with the Spanish part of the congregation segregated from the Anglophone part. Not having a language everyone can understand is divisive—you’re certainly right about that. But I think you’re wrong to say that the universal language is whatever yours happens to be.
p.s. The “future of the Church” is the wave of young people enthusiastically attending Latin Masses and wearing cassocks and habits. I see it in the seminarians I teach, in my college classmates, a dozen of whom became monks, and my youngest layman colleagues who make sacrifices so that they can attend these Masses which are generally restricted in this country.
As a seminarian, I wish to echo J’s remarks. Many of us value and love BOTH forms of the Mass, many are eager to learn both forms of the Mass to learn Latin. My experience has been more and more people want more tradition, reverence in the Mass. The EF will help us as we approach ordination to celebrate the Mass with the reverence and dignity it deserves. I am not calling for a return to the old days nor the do I think it was perfect but each thing has its value and benefit and are not opposed to each other. If we are taught what is being done and why it is being done then it is easier to accept. We must also remember that things happen the liturgy is never perfected but changes and grows the Mass of the Middle Ages isn’t less of a Mass then the Mass of the first century. Many of these changes where not just practical responses to situations but a deeping theology and understanding of what is taking place during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Well Said AE – not either/or but both/and
“Sadly few of them go to Mass on Sundays and many only if their parents force them. I can imagine what their reaction would be to a service they couldn’t even understand. These young adults are the future of the Church. We must have a liturgy that they understand and can participate in.”
As one of the young adults that is the “future of the church” (I am 19) I would take any day a reverent and beautiful mystical and transcendent experience of the Divine in a Mass that is said in latin (EF or OF) than any vernacular “accessible” watered down banal liturgy.
2 generations have largely been fed garbage for worship. Look where it has gotten us. We need both ordinary and extraordinary form masses that lift the heart and mind and soul to God in prayer and that emphasize the sacrificial nature of the Mass.
Yes, there is more to Mass than English. It is really amazing how many Young Adults and even teens really like the Old Mass. Thanks for your testimony.
What a difference of opinion. I converted to the Catholic church in 1955. Anne experienced the old Mass with others who did not follow along with the Missal, instead praying the rosary or other private devotions. One thing that overwhelmed me always at every Mass was the ever present reverential gestures, postures and attention of the Catholic parishioners. My experience was that many had their missals in hand referring to them often, but almost every parishioner (and in those days they were so many as to require several masses in every parish, even then hardly able to accommodate them all) seemed rapt in a proper worship of God carefully following the motions and words of their spiritual leader, the priest. Many had memorized the prayers so didn’t need to follow along with the missal. Some were content to bask in the reverent atmosphere of adoration of Jesus’ bloodless sacrifice of the Mass. And far MANY more attended masses regularly.
It is no surprise to me that today’s Catholic worship, which seems to be patterned after a Protestant type of religious gathering in a meeting hall has sadly driven away many Catholics who knew not how to respond to their sense of betrayal by the post Vatican II Bishops and Priests. Sadly, because of many of the radical changes in the Mass (as well as growing pagan influences all about me in our culture) I stopped going to confessions and attending Mass for many years. Since I returned to a state of grace quite a number of years ago, I have never been able to recapture that sense of true worship I once felt in all Catholic Churches …. holding hands, turning about shaking hands with all around me which breaks up the focus of the worship, applauding at certain mentions of note; staring at the Priest sitting silently after the service before the final blessing. looking at uniformed choir members who tune their instruments just ;before the beginning of Mass detracting from those trying to pray silently to the Lord in the tabernacle … some tabernacles removed from the center of the altar, etc.
I’m almost in a state of euphoria at the thought of once again being able to worship the traditional Mass of the saints. I’ve prayed for that for years.
Thanks for the testimony,. It is good to have options!
By the way another thing that amazed me about today’s Mass was that 4000 people sat in the basilica awaiting Mass and there was total silence. Remarkable
Why celebrate Mass in Latin? A good question which I am afraid Msgr Charles Pope does not appear to be able to answer satisfactorily. Let us look at his three main reasons for Mass in Latin
1) Why pray in Latin or any language unfamiliar to the language of the people who attend? It is a sacred language is Pope’s answer. However, it is worth pointing out that when Jesus said the first Mass, the Last Supper, He did so using the local dialect. He did not use either Latin or Greek which would have been internationally recognised; He used the vernacular. Why should Mass, in todays church, not be said in the vernacular wherever it is being said? I believe that for the majority of people the language used in Mass does matter. To participate fully in the service people need to know what is happening and the use of the vernacular is a great aid. I think that the use of the vernacular together with the priest facing the congregation helps to bring out the “communion” aspect of Holy Communion; we are in communion together with Christ; we are one body. Jesus wanted his message understood by everyone listening, not just the elite, hence the use of the local vernacular then and, logically, now. When the New Testament was being written it was sensible to use Latin and Greek the two most widespread spoken languages in the Roman Empire at that time, I believe. That is no longer the case. In the present day English or Spanish would make more sense for spreading the Good News than Latin or Greek, however, the local vernacular is still the best way to reach most people with the Good News.
2) Why does the celebrant face away, or “have his back to us?” Pope’s main reason for this appears to be tradition: “The idea of facing each other to pray is wholly modern and was never known in the Church prior to 1965.” The logical thing to do is what Jesus did; what could be more traditional than Jesus? Why not do what Jesus did at the Last Supper? When are Lord held the first Mass (the Last Supper) there is no indication in the Gospels or Paul’s letters that he turned his back on the disciples and this is the real tradition of the Church. In the New Testament turning your back to the congregation was never suggested or done. As the priest is representing Christ why should the priest turn his back on the congregation?
3) Why is so much of the Mass whispered quietly? Here it appears that monastic practice was adopted and basically “sacred silence” was mistakenly introduced into the Mass. Again this was not even entertained in the New Testament and “sacred silence” was for praying alone: “But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.” (Mt 6:6-7) Here Jesus was not even asking for silence.
The Consecration and communion are the most important parts of the Mass, which reinforces the point that people should understand what is happening and feel that they are part of it, part of the communion of the People of God. I have no objection to people using the Latin rite if it brings them closer to God, but It will always be for a select few.
As to 1: If the Passover Meal was traditional there was probably a lot of Hebrew in it.
As to 2: Your reamarks indicate that you seem unfamiliar with the layout of a passover meal. I blogged on that here: http://blog.adw.org/2010/01/the-seating-plan-at-the-last-supper/
As to 3: I do not disagree. I think the Canon etc should be audible.
The characterization of ad orientem as somehow snubbing the congregation by “having his back to the people” really irks me. There are a number of reasons why this sentiment is wrong, but let me just focus on some very subtle influences it causes in MY disposition when attending mass.
When attending the tridentine mass I find myself almost always looking at the crucifix and Christ and actually praying the mass. This is because that is where the priest is looking and praying. I feel as though I am helping him. He is leading me and everyone else in prayer. He has an orientation, a goal that we all share. This is also a constant reminder for me that we are here to worship and adore Christ without distraction. Whereas with versus populum used in the mass I attended growing up, I almost always found myself looking at the priest. He actually becomes the focus, for some odd reason. As if he is some sort of Jimmy Swaggert, I am waiting to see what he will say or do because he is looking at us. Maybe there is some psychology behind this, but I know many others who feel the same way. Christ becomes a secondary thought for me in the novus ordo. In many cases this is because the enclosed circle becomes a distraction to all.
Facing the altar, and strict rubrics actually protects the faith by limiting the affects of those celebrants who think they are mega-church charismatic tele-evangelists who treat the mass as a form of entertainment. Its no secret that the protestant analogs for those communities come and go because they live and die by the charism of a single person. I dont want to be entertained. I dont want to dance during the mass. I dont want sway to and fro to the beats of undignified music.
I want what the saints were priviliged to have. A solemn, dignified mass with periods of prayful silence and sacred chants. A mass where egos and politically correct speech is checked at the door. A mass where most of the people dress as if they are going to a wedding. A mass where most people are still in the pews until the last piece of the schola is sung. A mass where the celebrants are more likely to talk about sin, hell, and what is really at stake as you live your life.
I will be forever grateful to the Holy Father for Summorum Pontificum. He gave me something at the age of 34 I was yearning for my whole life.
The local vernacular is simply not the best way to “reach people.” There is no better way to provide a unified worship experience than the use of a universal language. As soon as you allow the parochially-minded decision to select a local language, you set up a partition between your Christian community and other Christian communities. Moreover, in this country, you even set up a partition within the parish itself (because at least two languages, English and Spanish, are substantially represented). So you inhibit the organic formation of Christian community by making it more difficult for the two language groups in a parish to attend Mass together, and you inhibit the organic formation of a universal (that’s “catholic”) Church because you make it more difficult for other, “foreign” Churches to have anything in common.
The Mass is supposed to unify Christians universally, catholically, all over the world. If we all have our own version of it then how is this possible?
And as for the selection of a particular language, you may not like Latin for whatever reason, but so what? Why would English be any better? Because you happen already to speak it? That’s kind of selfish, first of all, but more importantly it doesn’t matter if anyone speaks Latin. If you attend Mass with any regularity you will learn the Latin of the Mass in a few months (at most).
Msgr. Pope, thank you for this article and video. I am a new Catholic (received and confirmed this Easter) and am glad to learn all I can! I’d love to be able to attend Mass in Latin, at least on an occasional basis; it seems to me that it ought not to be a case of “either/or” but of “both/and,” at least at the present time. Your celebration as seen on the video clip seems beautifully done, and must I think contribute greatly to the congregation’s sense of reverence.
Coming from the Episcopal Church, I have had some experience of a once beautiful liturgical tradition that has been largely set aside, though a complete change of language was not involved. It seems to me that the Tridentine Mass has a much brighter future, fortunately.
I have been enjoying your blog for some time now; thank you for some very helpful articles!
God bless you. I am glad the articles are of help. Thank you also for your testimony as a recently new member of the Catholic Church.
I think those that are posting negative comments are misinformed. The Mass is in Latin. Period. What some people attend is a translation of the Mass. The official Mass is promulgated in Latin. As is Canon Law, all papal documents with canonical force, etc.
So, for those of you that say that Latin is babbling or that people should be able to understand I have two questions. Then why is it the official language of Holy Mother Church? And why not learn Latin.
On a better note, the Mass was amazing. Kudos to you Monsignor, along with all the other ministers and servers that did such a wonderful job. To do all of that with only one real practice session is quite amazing.
Now, if we could only get Archbishop Wuerl to celebrate a Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
Thanks John. Though I want to be careful to say that the Mass in the vernacular is not just a “translation of the Mass” as if to say it wasn’t Mass. I don’t think you meant to imply that but I just want to clarify it.
You are right, basic Liturgical Latin isn’t that hard. The changing (proper) prayers can be tough but the unchanging (ordinary) prayers such as the Gloria, Santus etc are not hard to learn quickly.
Those of us born and reared in the US are rather spoiled when it comes to language. Knowing a language other than English is a “nice to have” rather than a “must have.” When we travel outside the US we make little if any attempt to learn the language used at our destination, presuming that the locals will speak English. We’ve pretty much deep-sixed the maxim “when in Rome…” expecting the world to conform to us. We’re rather self-centered, if you want to know the truth.
Certainly it should not be expected that everyone become an expert in Latin but I’d like to see more of the language used in the liturgy. Not because Latin is holier than the veracular, but because it reinforces the connection among Catholics across the globe…and across generations. It is awesome to speak text written centuries ago. It is awesome to sing music written by those who long since have returned to dust. Latin may be a “dead” language but its use is a testament to the living Church, who has survived and who will survive all attempts to snuff it out.
Very well said. Thank you.
When I was a child – Latin (and in my case Italian) were the two languages heard at our parish church.
I could not wait to read – so I could find a prayer book that would provide the translation of the entire mass.
Fortunately our devoted father taught all 5 of his children to read and understand his native Italian language – so from an early age – I realized the Mass was an important part of our week – requiring us to read and to listen carefully so we got the message – over and over again – the mass has always remained an important part of my life. Many parents today do not realize what a gift they pass on to their children when they teach them to pray – and that the mass is so important – important enough to seek ways to understand each and every word.
Yes, teaching a Child another language is a preciosu gift. Little children learn languages so easily.
In about 1954, Life Magazine did a story (complete with black & white photos) on the Mass – the article was written by a secular syndicated columnist who described it as an interesting piece of living art, not changed in the last four centuries, and now not understood by most of the people in attendance.
That is not what it is supposed to be. Surely that article must have rankled some of the bishops in the US at the time.
When in grade school in the 1940s, in both May and October, the sisters in charge (when we got to school by 8:10 a.m., in time for the 8:15 daily mass) would start a rosary at the end of the prayers at foot of the altar, and cease after the Sanctus, resuming the rosary after Communion. Yes, we had either Fr. Stedman’s Sunday Missal or, in some cases, the St Joseph Daily Missal available; And those who were altarboys memorized certain Latin responses: “Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam” and “Qui fecit Caelum et terram”, for example.
Currently our presider sometimes uses the Kyrie Eleison instead of “Lord Have Mercy”, and finishes off the “Lamb of God” with “Miserere Nobis.” Some of us oldsters can still repeat all the words of the Gloria, in Latin (which, btw, has THREE separate prayers to Jesus embedded instead of the TWO prayers that made it into the post-1965 Mass.)
IMO the Greeting of Peace belongs somewhere much earlier in the Mass (“if you take a gift to the altar, and recall that your brother has something against you, leave your gift and go be reconciled with your brother, then return and offer your gift!”), rather than being a distraction between the Consecration and Communion.
And on Sundays, some of us would appreciate a moment of silence after the “Domine, Non Sum Dignus…” before the songleader and musicians start singing.
Thanks for the article.
You are welcome. You are affirming what I said earlier that the basic Latin of the Mass is not hard. Reptition is the Mother of studies.
As for praying the rosary during the Mass, by the 1950s that was discouraged in favor of trying to follow in the Missal. I think today most follow in the Missal. But some do pray the rosary.
Thanks Msgr, I enjoyed your informative article on The Seating Arrangement at the Last Supper and the comments thereon.
There are anumber of interesting points that arise which make it seem unlikely that Jesus had his back to everyone:
1) The second picture in your article clearly shows that nobody sat/reclined with his back to the others. The same could be said of the Ravenna picture if they moved about or lay on their stomachs as the article and comments suggest. This also makes sense if they are talking to each other and if Jesus is to pass bread and wine to the others; it is unlikely that he would pass it behind his back.
2) John leans back on Jesus’s chest and this would not have been possible if Jesus had his back to John. The comment of Criscelyn Navarro was particularly interesting here as it explains that John would be on the right side of Jesus: “I participated in a Jewish Passover Meal somewhere in the hometown of John the Baptist. A Messianic Jewish woman who served as our lecturer explained that John was on the right side of Jesus as they reclined on the table because traditionally the youngest must be on the right side of the head or the teacher to ensure the passing on of valuable teachings… while Judas was on the left side of the Lord — a privilege position of trust as Judas had to watch the Lord’s back.”
Once again, thank you for a very interesting article.
The point I was trying to make in referenceing the article is not that Jesus had his back to anyone but that it wasn’t exactly “mass facing the people” as we have it today either. Especially with Jesus at the head of the corner of the table and not as DaVinci et al. portray it with him sitting at table like we do.
A + ( Move to the head of the class! )
As a young person in the Church, I can say that I love the Tridentine Mass!
I will still attend the Novus Ordo, but the reverence, silence, austerity, precision, and devotion in the Tridentine Mass is astounding, and really inspires me in my Faith. I wish all Novus Ordo Masses were celebrated with this informed Liturgical awareness!
As for those who would fight for the ‘versus populum’ stance of the Celebrant during Mass, it feels like the focus is more on the Celebrant, not Christ. We turn towards the Lord, because it’s the right thing to do!
I echo the claims of seminarians and young men and women who have posted here concerning their love for the Extraordinary Form, because of all of the reasons given (which I will not redundantly state here).
As Iraeneus states:
“I want what the saints were priviliged to have. A solemn, dignified Mass with periods of prayful silence and sacred chants. A Mass where egos and politically correct speech is checked at the door. A Mass where most of the people dress as if they are going to a wedding. A Mass where most people are still in the pews until the last piece of the schola is sung. A Mass where the celebrants are more likely to talk about sin, hell, and what is really at stake as you live your life.”
This is what the young people long for, and this is happening more and more because of Priests are being informed by the Tridentine Mass how the Novus Ordo is to be celebrated.
Thank you Monsignor,
Ad multos annos!
And as for the silence before Mass, Wow. If only we could center ourselves like that whenever in the presence of the Lord in His Church, celebrating for any Mass. If I remember correctly, in the Sacristy at St. Peter’s Basilica, it still has a large sign which says “Silencio,” so the Celebrant is able to prepare Himself fully to enter into the Holy of Holies.
Domus Dei Domus Ecclesiae.
Growing up, I endured the same things as many others, including the guitar folk Masses. When I moved to D.C., I went to a few Latin Masses at the National Shrine and at St. Matthew’s and liked it very much. I had not been to one of what was then called the Traditional Latin Mass, but I was very interested in going.
As time passed, I still had not been to a TLM (very few places where it was then available), but I noted with interest the comments of those who were advocates of the TLM. And it was because of them, many of whose views are repeated here, that I lost all interest in attending a TLM. To be sure, not all of the comments were from those who have been called “rad trads,” but even those of the moderate persuasion were off-putting.
Invariably, in giving praise for the TLM, now the Extraordinary Form, those advocates would imply, if not state explicitly, that the Ordinary Form was basically a lousy piece of junk, or that it was even an invalid Mass, whereas the EF was a “real” Mass. When they did say something nice about the OF, it was damning faint praise, i.e., “the Novus Ordo could be good, but the TLM is superior.” (And some would even, with a wink and a nod, resort to calling it the NO Mass as an epithet.)
Sadly, there is much of that same tone in too many of the comments here. Too many, in their zeal for the EF, are denigrating the Holy Mass in the Ordinary Form, which is, of course, the One Mass. There is only ONE Mass, not two, even if celebrated in different forms or different rites. And at the OF, which so many find so unsatisfactory, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is made present. And yet, they find so little to love and cherish about it. Indeed, some even go so far as to blame others, or the OF per se, as causing them to fall away from the Church, when it was actually entirely by their own free choice of the will that they left.
I once was quite curious about the TLM / EF, and was very favorably disposed toward it. Then I began to encounter its advocates.
I’m sorry Monsignor, you are a good man and a good priest. I do not include you in these comments. Nor do I include Pope Benedict who has said many excellent things about the Mass in all its forms and rites. I do, however, include too many of our brothers and sisters in Christ who should know better and who should learn to love the Holy Mass, which includes the Ordinary Form as approved by His Holiness Pope Paul VI and successor popes and the bishops, as guided by the Holy Spirit. The TLM was not paradise, and it could be celebrated just as poorly as the worst abuses in the OF. There were problems, as recognized by those such as even Pope Pius X, especially with respect to the laity’s participation or lack thereof. The Church, in her inspired wisdom, determined that there was a need — not a mere desire — but a need for reform. If not in love of the Holy Mass, then at least in love for those who Christ and the Holy Spirit have chosen to be our shepherds on earth — stop denigrating the Ordinary Form, stop giving the back of your hand to the Mass, stop giving, at best, faint praise. Love the Church, love the Mass, fully and sincerely!
I remember some years ago, probably about 1982 witnessing my first solemn High Mass and angrily asking an older priest why anything so beautiful had been cast aside. He said, “We never celebrated it the way you saw. We mumbled our Latin hurredly and half genuflected. High Mass was rare, Solemn High was extremely rare.” I think you are right Bender, we have to be careful. The TLM in all its glory is beautiful but it is not for everyone nor was it always celebrated as well as it was these days. 98 % of my masses are Ordinary Form and I both like and appreciate its qualities too. In my own parish we have a vibrant and expressive liturgy in the ordinary form. It works and I like it.
Preferences are fine but it is a big Church. Beyond the varieties of the Roman Rite there are the many other Rites. I have familiarity with the Geez and Maronite, and I LOVE the Liturgy of the St John Chrysostom in the Greek, Russian, (Ukranian) Churches,
Perhaps too it well to remember that TLM Catholics have often been badly treated in the years prior to 2007 and especially prior to 1984. It may help explain the tone you are hearing. When you’ve been “children of another marriage” for so long you tend to get fiesty. Today’s liturgy at the Shrine was fought for many years and it shouldn’t have been a fight. Some one on the basilica staff was quoted some years ago as saying that it would be over their dead body that a Solemn Latin Mass would ever be celebrated on the High Altar of the Great Upper Church. It is that attitude that has bred a firey attitude among TLMs. It was for them today a victory for what should be routine, what should be an accepted part of Church Life. It shouldn;t be necessary to step over a dead body or battle every step of the way to have a valid form of the Liturgy celebrated in a national Church. I do not write this to excuse bad attitude but perhaps to provide explanation. In the end, the OF of the should not be trashed by any one since it enjoys the favor of law and is the most common form of Mass in the World. You are right.
LOL at “enduring guitar folk Masses.”
many of these so-called Catholics…well I would question their legitimacy … do they accept Vatican II? If they don’t, they’re schismatic.
” And at the OF, which so many find so unsatisfactory, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is made present. And yet, they find so little to love and cherish about it.”
If some of the priests who celebrated the Extraordinary Form of the Mass celebrated like some of the priests who celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass, well people would be less interested too. I will not, and cannot, deny the validity of a proper Ordinary Form of the Mass, but once a priest starts making the Mass ‘his own,’ out of pride, as I once heard a priest say, the ego gets in the way. and the EGO Edges God Out, out of a prideful disobedience to what Holy Mother Church has taught; this is why, to me at least, I feel saddened, and sometimes disenchanted with- not the Novus Ordo Mass- but how it is sometimes celebrated.
I see much safety in the Extraordinary Form; maybe because of the Celebrants who really really know their stuff, or maybe because the Extraordinary Form safeguards this EGO because of Latin and set rubrics.
Either way, I am prefer, I want, I desire a Holy Mass, where I can truly offer myself up to God the Father through the Celebrant;
I have been to Novus Ordo Masses where this is wholly possible, and I love this. If only all were able to celebrate the Mass with such vigor, devotion, sincerity, and piety, stemming from our Sacred Tradition, following a continuous line of unbroken Succession of Prayer from the Apostles.
Dear Msgr. Pope,
So it was you whom I spotted on Bishop Slattery’s side. I wasn’t 100 percent sure, but reading the blogs, it was confirmed.
Thank you so much for this beautiful Mass. May we see more.
Yes it was I.
The comments above seemed to be historically right but many Catholics will surely be surprised and will not understand the changes. If these changes were the usual practices of the church before Vatican 2, does than mean that Vatican 2 was a mistake?
I won’t be surprised that these changes will result to decline in the interest of attending the Mass or going to church.
Just for the record I am not defining the Changes as a mistake. As with most things in life there are benefits from a course of action and less desireable effects. It is impossible to know what life would have been like in the Church had there been no reform or changes in the Mass. It is quite demonstrable that reform was necessary to some extent in the 1960s. Masses were often mumbled latin, rushed hurried affairs. The laity needed to be further engaged and so forth. The way Latin Masses are celebrated today is with careful attention to detail, the Latin is pronouced carefully and there is no big rush to finish in 20 minutes. At any rate we have today a “big Church” with lots of options and I only want to address here the fact that it is a blessing to have the Older form of the Mass as an option and to explain some of the questions that sometimes merge in reguard to it.
Thanks for the wonderful post. And thanks for the great job as Deacon at the Chair (if thats the right terminology). I think you failed to remove your biretta only once at the mention of the Holy Name.
I hope this mass will generate more interest in the Traditional Latin Mass in this diocese. Are there any young priests in the diocese learning the older form?
To those commenters talking about latin and Vatican II: The council called for retaining the latin language in the mass, it only said that some prayers and the readings could be in latin.
Thanks, I was 1st Assistant Deacon. I will say that I think we are blessed with a number of younger clergy who have trained for the Latin Mass. There are over a dozen here in DC. As for an increased number of requests for the Older Form, I have already received a request here in my Parish. We have had the Solemn High Mass here before but there are some who’d like to see it again and/or Missa Cantata or low mass
I came into the Church in 1980, but I did attend a mass entirely in Latin once. I have watched and assisted in the mass on television through EWTN, which had many responses in Latin. I wish it could be universal again! I love the way Latin rumbles like thunder! It is very evocative of the sacred. I would love to learn the entire mass in Latin one day. I am all for it! I am going to memorize the Apostle’s Creed in Latin, so I can say the rosary entirely in Latin. I think everyone in the Church should know the words and understand them!
Great. Missa in Latina non mortua est!
Dear Msgr. Pope,
Thank you very much for this posting, and for your support for the Traditional Mass. I was blessed many times to attend your monthly 5:00 p.m. High Mass at St. Mary, Mother of God parish.
I think the comments to your post, here as in other discussions on the Old Mass, bring out many points, but two particularly stand out:
1. The first is the apparent widespread ignorance among many laity, perhaps through a mere lack of instruction, of the great Catholic practice of mental prayer. Some have rather insultingly inferred that past generations of Catholics “weren’t participating” in the Sacred Liturgy. But, as so many saints would tell us, true participation in the Mass is interior. Saint Padre Pio, who certainly knew as much about reverently hearing Mass as anyone, apparently discouraged laity from using Missals at all, and advised them instead to unite themselves interiorly with the Most Blessed Virgin and Saint John at the foot of the Cross, since, when anyone attends Mass, they are quite literally present at the very same Sacrifice as took place on Calvary. Centuries of illiterate peasants, who knew nothing of Latin, were sanctified by the Tridentine Mass. Because they had the Faith, they needed no education to know how to kneel reverently before the Lord and meditate upon the tremendous mystery taking place before their eyes. Perhaps many of the constantly repeated complaints directed against the Old Mass—“I can’t understand Latin, I can’t see the priest, I can’t hear what he is saying,” etc.—would be silenced if people were again taught how to practice mental prayer as St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Teresa of Avila taught it.
2. Certain comparisons of the Old and New Mass seem to hold that, if only the New Mass was offered without liturgical abuse, all problems would vanish, and a peaceful co-existence would ensue. But when Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci wrote to Paul VI in 1969 to request that the Holy Father not introduce the Novus Ordo (and the orthodoxy and faithfulness of these two particular cardinals is certainly irreproachable), their criticisms of the New Rite stemmed, not from abuses, but from the texts themselves. Even if the New Mass is offered with the greatest possible solemnity, in Latin, ad orientem, with chant and incense…even then, there exist many highly significant changes from the Old Mass. Many prayers which explicitly express the fact that the Mass is a propitiatory Sacrifice have been suppressed in the New Mass (e.g. the Placeat Tibi, the Suscipe Sancta Trinitas, and the Veni Sanctificator), gestures of reverence for Our Lord’s Real Presence, such as a number of genuflections and the phrase Mysterium Fidei in the formula of Consecration (which, as St. Thomas Aquinas states, comes to us from the Apostles themselves), have been suppressed, prayers recited preceding and following Holy Communion have been excised, and, very noticeably, the magnificent traditional Offertory prayers have been dramatically altered. Of course I do not mean to slight any priest who offers the New Mass, since there are many good and holy priests who do so. But I think that a proper discussion must take into account that many traditionalists are not merely seeking refuge from liturgical abuse, but that even in a perfectly licit offering of the New Mass, according to all the rubrics, there are still substantial (negative) changes which have been made. And so while many will disagree, I join many others in hoping one day to see the entire restoration of the Old Mass, since the Old Mass, as Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci put it, and as many others since then have argued at length, is a more precise expression of the Catholic theology of the Mass as a propitiatory Sacrifice for sin (http://www.latin-mass-society.org/study.htm).
Your remarks are well said. I surely agree that interior and mental prayer can be reinforced in the the older form of the Mass.
As for the theological distinctions between old and new, It is clear that there are many. I personally want to be careful here and not be dismissive of the new form of the Mass which has been promulgated by the Church herself. While it may be true that there are blessing and advantages to the older form, it does not follow that the newer form is utterly devoid. For example, the Athanasian Creed (Quicumque…) is a far richer and better setting forth of the faith than the Nicene Creed. It is longer, elaborates many things that the nicene does not and so forth. It is more preceise in many of its formulations. It also goes on for quite a bit longer etc. Now that does not negate the value of the Nicene creed nor argue that we should wholly set it aside. It seems the two Creeds can exist side by side and have their proper use and place. The longer and more precise Athanasian my be better in some ways but there may be pastoral reasons to use a shorter more concise Nicene as well.
Finally there have been some aspects of the newer liturgy that have been wrong and are now being addressed. For example the poor translation is being replaced this year. Rubrics are being tightened up etc. There are other external matters such as the manner of receiveing communion that are under study. Hence, the New Mass is not without its problems, but brick by brick we are seeing many things addressed.
There may be advantages to seeing a more widespread use of the Older Form but I do not think we will see it completely replace the old. I think the Pope’s wish is that the two forms can help each other. The old can resotre greater reverence to the new. But the new has also had the effect of drawing people back to the old with a greater understanding that they should carefully attend to the details of the Mass and follow it in their missals. Prior to 1965 it was very hard to get people to carefully follow the Mass and use their missals. Or so I am told.
If I may, Monsignor,
Holy Mother Church had wonderful intentions, especially in laxing some of the rubrics, because She believed that Her priests would know how to handle this and do the right thing. However, we see that many priests took this as perjorative to make the Mass their own… which Holy Mother Church has nonetheless wept over.
What His Holiness Benedict XVI has hoped to do by freeing up the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, is to again inform Celebrants of what and how to celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass: a hermeneutic of continuity. This is the beginning of the Reforms which Holy Mother Church strongly desires.
It is really strange that “progressive” Catholics get all disturbed about a little Latin here or a Santus bell there…
No one is trying to take the New (vernacular) Mass away from you. It’s all about having the freedom for the “old” Mass and the people who want it! As far as mud slinging goes – that’s a two way street I have received some very rude looks and mocking jokes when kneeling for Communion and other “traditional” practices from the vangaurd of the New Mass. There is vitriol in both camps. If one wants to truely begin to understand the “Traditionalist” view I suggest reading Michael Davies three volume set – Cranmers Godly Order, Pope John’s Council, and Pope Paul’s New Mass. Thank you Msgr. Pope for your apologia of Latin and the EF. I was at the Basilica yesterday and it was magnificent.
Thanks. I too hope that greater understanding of the Old helped along by events such as yesterday’s Mass with some 4000 in attendance. There is plenty good room in the Church for all authorized matters.
I entered the Catholic Church in 1996 after having grown up a high-church Anglican. I’ve often found myself wishing for more Latin in not only the Mass but all the liturgies of the Church. The comments above concerning the centrality of Latin in the history of the Church are well made and worthy of serious consideration. I also am intrigued, though not entirely convinced, by Michael’s observations on the more substantive theological differences between the “traditional” and “new” liturgies; he is correct in calling for a “proper discussion.” Furthermore, I was pleased when the Holy Father further liberalized the use of the Latin Mass; we are the stronger for having diversity in worship just as we are the stronger for having diversity in the faithful. That said, I am equally comfortable with the “new mass,” and not just because of my Anglican roots. Within the limits of church orthodoxy, we should be united by the inward and spiritual grace of the sacrament of the mass more than by outward and visible sign.
My concern, in reading and listening to the debates over the celebration of the Mass is that it is too often polarizing. When we stop to consider that the form by which we celebrate this sacrament–sacrament–is divisive, we must consider whether or not we are serving God through his Church or simply our human vanity.
This cannot nor should not become an “either-or” issue. I can think of no substitute for the sacred space created by a solemn high mass in Latin. Moreover, Latin grounds us in our history, and I always feel a closer connection with Catholics past and present when hearing the Tridentine Liturgy. There is clearly a place for the it in the Church, as well as, perhaps, other “traditional” liturgies–the Eastern Rite, for example. On the other hand, the Mass as most Catholics have experienced it since the 1960s is not only in the vernacular–which brings the liturgy more fully into daily life–but is also more participatory (one of the intentions of Vatican II, as I recall). We no longer exclusively “hear” Mass, we are part of Mass. We may lament the opportunity for silent prayer found in the “traditional” form, but can we honestly say that this will meet the needs of most Catholics on a weekly basis? The fact that the Catholic Church continues to grow (15% in the US between 1997 and 2007: http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=23906) suggests that having Mass said in the vernacular is not harming the Church since part of our calling is to bring people closer to God through His Church.
We are still the largest Christian church in the world, somewhere around 1.12 billion, I believe. This is a very large house, and we must minister to our brothers and sisters in all our diversity, which includes the form in which we participate in the sacraments. Orthodoxy isn’t synonymous with rigidity. As Catholics, we are called to love one-another as Christ loved us; I can’t imagine that He judges us by which liturgy we embrace.
Well said. I also agree that learning a little Latin is a real door opener to liturgy, literature, theology and so forth.
As for our growth, I am happy to note it but one of the alarming trends that is not reversing is that fewer and fewer are attending Mass weekly. That number is down from about 80% in the 1950s to about 30% now. There is more at work here than the liturgy per se. But we have a lot of rebuilding to do in the active Catholic Department and the study of and appreciation of matters liturgical is surely helpful in this regard.
One notable thing from yesterday’s beautiful traditional Latin Solemn High Pontifical Mass is that just about every saint, if he were to have walked in the shrine’s doors, would have been completely at home with that Mass. The same cannot be said with the post-Vatican II liturgy, even when it does not feature cowbells and clowns.
That alone should give us pause.
Just about every saint?
Every Western saint who lived at a time when Latin when understood by all (and every Eastern saint) would have said: I’ve never seen a liturgy celebrated in a language that the assembled people of God didn’t understand?
Every Western saint who lived before some point or other — it varied from place to place — between the 7th and 10th centuries (and every Eastern saint) would have said:
– I’ve never seen a liturgy where the assembly did not receive communion from the cup.
– I’ve never seen a liturgy with this funny looking wafer instead of real loaves of bread.
– I’ve never seen people receive communion on their knees.
– I’ve never seen a liturgy where all the priests present did not concelebrate instead of some of them play-acting at being deacons and subdeacons.
– I’ve never seen a liturgy where the presider said all the prayers and texts that should have been said or sung by other people (readers, choir, congregation).
– I’ve never seen a liturgy where the presider did not speak throughout in a voice that could be heard by all.
– I’ve never seen a liturgy with all of those prayers during the offertory, some of which use language (such as “the cup of salvation”) that suggest the bread and wine have already been consecrated.
– I’ve never seen a liturgy without general intercessions.
Every Western saint before the 11th century (and every Eastern saint) would have said: I’ve never seen a crucifix on the altar.
Every Western saint before the 13th century (and every Eastern saint) would have said: I’ve never seen the presider raise the sacred species over his head.
And many of them would have said a number of other things because before the Council of Trent, there was considerable liturgical diversity even in the Western Church.
That a lot of saints. It includes all the martyrs of the early centuries and all the Fathers of the Church, and many others.
And all of them would have shouted: What in God’s name have they done to the liturgy?
Most of you assertions are way off.
1. the reason for not receiving Communion from a cup was partially due to combating a heresy in the West, where it was thought to truly receive Christ one must consume both species.
2. unleaven bread was part of the paschal meal, not sure where you’re pulling this from.
3. Just because something changes (the liturgy is suppose to be ORGANIC) doesn’t mean that saints would cry out in agony over a change, rather they might see it (and argueably did see it) as being pius and adopt the practice themselves. Kneeling is a Roman thing to do, started with Emperor Constantine and remain with the roman rite.
4. Before Vatican II there was never any concelebrating, as I explained before. A gathering of Priests at a Mass is not necessarily a concelebration. There were over 20 Priests at the Pontifical Mass, only one celebrant. Not having concelebrations however would explain why priest could fulfill other roles at a Mass.
5. What??? the priest saying all the prayers himself, maybe because he was saying mass and there were no chiors, congregation, etc. Remember with a growing number of priests during this time, and with all priests being asked to say mass daily, they could have private masses. or did you want them to go grab someone and tell them, “hey, you sit and listen to my mass. please?”
6.Priest not speaking entire mass so all can hear, that’s a speculation on your part. nothing more than speculation. My explanation of an Iconostasis explains “silent” parts of the Mass.
7. The next two were reginal differences, you can’t say you didn’t see, or did see, depends on where you were and when.
8. So putting a crucifix on the altar as a point of focus is a bad thing?!?!?!? once again organic growth of the liturgy. Seems like (arguably is) a pius thing, why not?
9. Same as above, seems that raising the host to be the visual focus during consecration….pius organic growth in liturgy.
(Traditionalists, Msgr. Pope, Theologians, Philosophers, Historians, The Popes of the Past and Present, and THE CHURCH were never against organic growth of the liturgy. I don’t see why a simple pius change is your argueing point?)
You assume that a pius change is something that Saint’s would cry out against.
St. Luis the xvi was the SAINT that started the TRADITION of KNEELING at the words
et incarnátus est de Spíritu Sancto ex María Vírgine et homo factus est;
during the Credo….his court followed his example and thus a new Pius tradition was brought into the Organic developement of the Church’s Liturgy.
So your assertion that saints would do otherwise is way off mark.
Your overall point that the Liturgy has experienced change and organic development is correct. I do quibble with some of the details but for brevity let me just stipulate a general acceptance of the development of the Liturgy in term of some of the details, even large appendages such as the prayers at the foot of the altar. However, as Dhanagom points out, there is a difference between organic development and revolutionary change. The Changes which emerged after the Council were truly sweeping and shocked the system. This has led to an experience of discontinuity with the past. A saint from a certain period might puzzle over a detail or two of the 1962 Mass as you have pointed out but they surely would have recognized the basic bones of what they knew. I have significant doubt that walking into a 21st Century suburban setting would be recognizeable to most of them. That said I do not deny that there are good qualities and necessary reforms embodied in the new. There is even the restoration of some things more ancient that had fallen away.
I think what the Pope has tried to do is to restore some bridges to the past that were burned in the heady days of the 1960s and 70s. There is need to reconnect the modern expereince of liturgy with the past. The Pope is going about this carefully not wishing to shock the system a second time but it seems clear that he is trying to reconnect what many expereinced as severed.
Correction, it was St. King Luis IX not the xvi as I had written.
And thank you Msgr. for further explaining some of the points I was making, and for putting things so diplomatically. It is always a pleasure to read your blogs.
Excellent post – I wish I had seen it earlier, but will link to it now. Among others, I have the full text of that most beatuiful and moving sermon by Bp Slattery.
I would like to make a point about the posture of the priest, or his orientation during ad orientem/versus orientem Masses.
When I first discovered Assumption Grotto in Detroit, where Masses are celebrated at the old high altar, ad orientem, I found myself shifting in my pew as if to seek the face of the priest. Suddenly, I realized, we ought not be seeking the face of the priest in the Mass, but the face of Almighty God.
In the EF Masses, which I assist at regularly, I find the serious focus, conducive to entering the more contemplative dimension of worship. I can do this in very reserved OF Masses, but in those commonly found where there are lots of “things” going on, I find that I am pulled out of that mode. A simple example is where the priest looks. I prefer the lack of eye contact and acknowledgment in EF Masses that is common in many OF Masses. I also prefer the lack of interaction between the people during the EF Masses over that which is in most OF Masses (the sign of peace between the people is optional and the priests in some parishes in my area have opted to not longer invite that in their OF Masses – they go right into the Angus Dei).
My main objection to the change from Latin to English isn’t so much about understanding what is being prayed, but rather the changes and omissions that were made. For instance, the Gospel of John after Communion and the St. Michael prayer being omitted.
What the result of this is that usually most of the congregation leaves before the Holy Eucharist is fully dissolved and they begin to chat in that part of the Church where Jesus is always present in the Tabernacle.
St. Stephen of Perm who evangelized in Russia believed that every people should worship God in their own language. He translated it into the Zyriane language. I doubt if he made drastic changes in the format.
The idea of facing each other to pray is wholly modern and was never known in the Church prior to 1965.
That is a common misperception. While this tended to be the practice prior to 1962, nothing mandated it and the priest was free to say Mass how he wished. Most churches had been built with altars against the apse of the church. Starting after WWI, some newly built churches were constructed with free-standing altars. In those churches, the celebrant might face the apse or face the altar opposite the congregaion.
Father Pius Parsch, one of the great leaders of the liturgical movement in the pre-war years, often said Mass at free-standing altars, facing altar and people.
There is something about the Latin Mass (and the “normal” Mass with the Agnus Dei and Sanctus sung in Latin) that is very moving. When I sing the Agnus Dei, I don’t translate the words in my head but the emotions that well up are of overwhelming gratitude and tears flow. I don’t understand Latin but Latin understands me.
how can we encourage our parish priests to celebrate this sacred form of the mass?
By offering to do the work to get it off the ground.
Selling it to parish council
Obtaining the missals (Is the Tridentine Mass included in “regular” missals?)
Learning the text and music of the liturgy and helping parishioners to become familiar with it
Arranging for accompanists, cantors, ushers, et al
Archangle, the Novus Ordo Mass, though valid. is more Protestant Deformation in Scripture, structure and theology than Catholic.
Perhaps I missed it, with so many replys, but one point in discussing the two forms of Mass, is not just the “Latin” versus the vernacular. Take both missals and compare the prayers. The word “sacrifice” is hard to find in the Ordinary form. There are 4 or 5 Eucharistic prayers and if it’s in a language you don’t speak, how do you know what is being said, not to mention priests who ad lib? I accidently attended a Spanish Mass recently which was half over. I couldn’t follow it, had no idea what part was being said, except for the “Sign of Peace” when bedlam broke out with loud, very loud trumpets blasting and a lot of drums. This seemed to be the highlight of the “celebration”, and was all about the people greeting and hugging each other. Going up to Communion wasn’t much better with little reverence. I am blessed with a Parish which is totally the Extraordinary form, where silence is maintained in the Church because we believe we are in the Real Presence, where most follow the Mass in their Missals and remain after Mass, even a long “High Mass”, to say prayers of thanksgiving. It is not all about “Me” or “we”, but praying to God at the “re-presentation of the Sacrifice on Calvary”, not enjoying a Community Meal. We do that, after Mass, in the Church hall. After Vatican ll, much of the Mass was converted to something pleasing to Protestants, not because of anything you will find in Vatican ll documents, but thanks to Protestant “observers” who admitted that was their purpose in making the changes. Attendence down to 25% on Sundays speaks volumes for what has happened!.
Archangel ‘s point #4 above is a pet peeve of mine that I can’t let pass. I’m no expert in the History of Christianity but having taught Architecture history at the college level, let me say that Domus Ecclesia does NOT refer to people holding services in peoples private houses!!! Quote from Encyclopedia Brittanica: “Little is known about Christian places of worship before 313. By bringing together the relevant texts and the results of excavations, one can, however, succeed in forming an idea of them. These domus ecclesiae (“meeting houses” [ecclesia, “assembly, meeting”]) were private homes placed at the disposal of communities by well-to-do members. A spacious room, already existing or fitted out for the occasion, served as chamber of worship, while other rooms were allotted for various activities of the community: charity work, study, funeral services, and living quarters for the clergy.”
Domus Ecclesiae were dedicated church buildings made from what HAD BEEN private houses, then remodeled to suit their new function.
Thanks for this addition tot he dicussion. I too share your concern that the so called “house chuches” were not just a mass around the dining room table. These liturgies were quiet formal and carefully celebrated. I blogged on this not long ago here: http://blog.adw.org/2010/01/the-didiscalia-a-sometimes-humorous-look-at-the-liturgy-of-the-early-church/
When a photographer focuses his camera, he does not see anything at the point when he has the image razor sharp, which was not there when the image was blurred; he merely sees it more clearly.
This is an excellent analogy of the way in which the Church develops Sacred Tradition, i.e. the deposit of faith or revelation; truths pass from being implicitly believed to being explicitly stated, the truth is brought into sharp focus, but nothing is ever taught that was not always there.
The Mass codified by Pope St Pius V in the 1570 bull Quo Primum was the summit of centuries of liturgical development; it was the point at which the Church brought into sharp focus what she had always implicitly believed about the nature of the Mass and the sacred priesthood.
In contrast, the Novus Ordo is a step backwards, and thus it is hard for traditionalist to consider it a valid development; since the truth is less clearly manifested, the Real Presence is less clearly affirmed, the propitiatory sacrifice is sidelined and the sacrificial nature of the priesthood is given less weight.
It is as if a photographer, having moved an image into sharp focus, deliberately moved it out of focus again so that it would be less displeasing to one of his subjects. And this is indeed similar to what actually did happen: the committee in charge of fabricating a new rite appears to have deliberately moved the Mass out of focus to make it less displeasing to heretics!
Dear Msgr. Pope,
Thank you for your blog, and thank you for being a priest of the Traditional Latin Mass.
For years, I felt I was celebrating a “half worship” when attending Mass (Novos Ordo). My soul was unsatisfied and wanted to enter into a more mature form of worhip. I knew that Novos Ordo Mass could be better, if only It was celebrated as intended to. Unfortunately people get creative with the liturgy and even profane the Eucharist. Many lay people wrongfully think of themselves as ministers (as though they had been ordained) because they play a role in the Novos Ordo. Some even go to the point of acting out priestly function, this is especially true of the so called “communion services,” which are not permitted by Rome. What the Magisterium does allow is called “Sunday celebration in absence of a priest” [if no other Masses are celebrated10 miles around], and during which no lay person is allowed to say any words of the Ordo of Mass. I kept on wanting to enter the Kingdom and I felt that in most cases, the pastors and “liturgy committees” would not let us enter. They wanted to make God, on of the guys rather than help us elevate above the mediocre values of this world. They wanted us to socialize rather than contemplate and adore. My husband and I constantly prayed for better liturgy, and one day the Extraordinary form of the Mass was made available to us. Thank you God, finally, my soul is satisfied with this more mature form of worship, thank you Pope Benedict. The Catholic tradition is so rich, and the Latin Mass gives us access to many of these treasures that can’t be found in modern liturgy.
To all who think it is only “Trads” who are bitter and grumpy – check out this reflection on the Pontifical Mass:
This was written by a priest in “good standing” with the Church…
I’d like to clarify something, when I say “many lay people wrongfully think of themselves as ministers (as though they had been ordained) because they play a role in the Novos Ordo;” I am talking especially about extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion who were led to beleive they are “Eucharistic ministers” (another made up title), and the musician and cantor that have been placed in front of the nave or worst in the sanctuary, as though they are an essential part of the Mass and the faithful are assisting to a performance. Among the worst liberty taken is the custom of consecrating the Blood of Christ in a decanter, and then having a lay minister pour the Blood of Christ in glass cup (as for a secular feast), and of course, no one purifies the decanter after communion… and the list goes on. The thing is, with the Latin Mass, I don’t have to worry about how the Eucharist is being consecrated and handle, I know the priest will do it right, and the lay people who are involve in serving Mass are clearly there to serve and inspire to reverence, so does the schola singing the responses and beautiful sacred hymns from the back of the Church.
Thank you, Msgr. Pope, for this information and subsequent patient and kind answers. I wish I had seen it before the Mass was said. One of the posters suggests few people used missals before Vatican II. That was not the case. I recall almost all the adults in our small and relatively poor Central Valley mission parish who stood tall above me having had missals in their hands and also some of us children. I was blessed with a French grandmother who gave me a French missal so the Mass for me was loving and prayerful as well as educational. It is true that Mass in the 1950s was often hurried. I rediscovered the Latin Mass at Mission San Juan Bautista nearly a year ago and was so moved by its beauty and the obvious piety of the congregants and wisdom of the celebrant that I then sought out Latin Masses in the North Bay where I live. There are several, including Mass offered in a chapel in at least one of our wineries. I have found that the homilies at Latin Mass have been–without exception–much better prepared, thoughtful, and helpful than I heard in many San Francisco and other Bay Area churches during the 10 years I attended Novus Ordo masses. Not long ago I heard, on one of our secular talk radio shows, a lapsed Catholic who said, nevertheless, that he “loves the Church.” He sounded young enough to have only known Novus Ordo and I am very happy for him if that is the case. That is, that although lapsed at least he “loves” the Church. But were I to meet him and talk, I would tell him that his love would come alive, and fervently, were he to attend and pray a Latin Mass.
During my 20’s, I worked as an air stewardess, and I travelled the globe. When Holy Mass was celebrated in Latin, I could understand everything, except for the Gospel, which was in the local language (my mother tongue is English).
I have attended Holy Mass in India, Japan, Sri Lanka Indonesia…..and having grown up with the Latin, and having had my missal with Latin/English side by side, there was no problem for me, and thousands like me.
Now, however, when I travel, I cannot understand anything at all. Of course, accordiing to the pace of the Mass and the gestures, I have a fair idea of what part of the Mass has been reached.
The Novus Ordo has succeeded in emptying the churches, has resulted in irreverence, an almost total lack of belief in the real presence, and as a result of all that, the sacrament of confession/reconciliation has been almost totally abandonned……thus sacrileges abound.
I rejoice that we may now be able to attend Holy Mass in Latin, more easily than in the past!
I for one would leave the Catholic church if it reverted back to Latin. I must be able to understand what is being said and sung in order to be one with the presiding priest and liturgical laity. Now if the church would revert to Hebrew or Aramaic language that would be a different story. Our faith is rooted in the Hebrew Jewish faith. We are disciples of the Hebrew Jesus, not a Roman.
Although I was born in 1968, I was fortunate enough to have parents raise me in New Orleans where Latin Mass was still being celebrated. I attended the Latin Rite until I was 11 and then, after moving to Baton Rouge, was introduced to the vernacular. Being “humans of habit” – this was a lot for me at the time to get used to… but I acclimated. However, I had strong longings (feelings) for the Latin mass. In my late twenties I found a church in Baton Rouge that celebrated the Latin mass and began going once or twice a month. It was beautiful for me to be able to celebrate the mass in such a devout way. It affected me so much that I began bringing my students to the Latin mass during Lent. (I teach art history at a Catholic High School). I was able to profoundly connect the history of our church, our architecture, our art, and our spirituality to what happens during the Latin mass. It seemed to click for my students. To this day, some students will go to that mass – they can’t explain it, but they say they “feel” something during that mass (even though they cannot understand everything that is spoken). Thank you for the article – I sincerely hope that more Latin will be infused into our English masses.
To people who think Latin is “babble,” I would like to opine that true babble in the English liturgy is found in the multicultural Masses in which 2 or 3 different languages, and sometimes 4 or 5, are used at one Mass. Bizarre. Latin unites every nation and every culture. Time was, when one could attend a Mass in any country and know he or she was “at home.” I am told that the Latin Mass had abuses when the priest would rush through the Mass. But I have never seen or experienced anything like the the abuses that take place in the Novus Ordo, particularly in the music chosen. Most of it seems trite if not downright unsuitable, i.e., folk music, bouncy tunes, Reggae, Latin beat, etc. etc. NONE of this belongs in the sacred liturgy. I’ve walked in early to a weekend Mass, and nearly turned around, thinking I was in a piano bar. Pianos do not belong in the liturgy either-they are percussion instruments and forbidden by Rome. But I understand at this point the American bishops have the final authority on what can be used. Choirs used to be heard and not seen unless one turned around and looked in the choir loft. Today most musicians seem to be performers, and have a prominent place up front, where only the priest(s) and servers should be seen and heard. I cannot wait until we get a bishop who will allow us to have a parish dedicated to the Extraordinary Form 7 days a week. And to those who say that before Vatican II no one knew what was going on in the sanctuary. Rubbish-another fib repeated by those who detest the Latin. We all had Latin/English missals, not throw-away liturgy aids, and knew what was being chanted or prayed by the priest. Every gesture, bow, genuflection, has a special meaning related to the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Everyone knelt for Communion at a Communion Rail. We have lost so much since Vatican II. There are priests who celebrate the Novus Ordo in a most dignified and sacred manner. May their number increase. Lastly, .those who attend the Extraordinary Form dress properly; you won’t see people in jeans and T-shirts, short skirts, shorts, low-cut blouses, and worse. Nearly every woman wears a skirt and top, or a dress, and often a hat or a veil. The men are mostly in suits, or at least a dress shirt and tie and dress pants. We are scandalized at the casual dress of Extraordinary Ministers of Communion. Why are they even needed? If the priest takes a long time, all the better to have time to do a proper Thanksgiving after receiving the body and blood of Christ?
I am praying for the day when the Latin Traditional Mass will be celebrated more readily here where I live. Seems to me there are too many Catholics with funny ideas about this most reverent form of worship.
I am old enough (63) to have attended and very much appreciated the Latin Tridentine Mass throughout my childhood and teenage years here in the State of Louisiana. And since then, I have also attended the Novus Ordo Mass in both English and Latin. I must say that my preference is for the Novus Ordo in Latin for the following reasons: (1) it preserves the ancient and beautiful Latin in the liturgy. (2) It is, I think, what the bishops of Vatican II actually intended rather than all the different vernacular Masses without a trace of Latin. (3) Very importantly, the Latin spoken by the priest in the Latin Novus Ordo is much more AUDIBLE than that of the Tridentine Mass, and this allows for much greater and easier interior and exterior PARTICIPATION by Catholics in the pew. Concerning the latter reason, many traditional Catholics have forgotten how many Catholics with ordinary education used to just sit in their pews during the Tridentine Mass saying their Rosaries because they simply could not hear and follow what the priest was quietly doing. (4) Lastly, let us never forget that Jesus Christ is just as gloriously present during the Latin Novus Ordo Mass as He is during the Tridentine Mass.
The discussion always seems to present a choice only between the Tridentine Mass and the Novus Ordo in the vernacular. Let’s have more Catholics request the Novus Ordo in Latin. I think that is the direction the Holy Spirit may desire us to go.
Greg, I understand what you are saying, but the reality is, that the Latin Novus Ordo does not get enough acceptance nowadays. People either want the progressive Mass or they want the Tridentine, not a go between. In the old days, people were not properly educated in the Mass so they did not put forth the effort to follow the Mass in the missal. Today, people who attend by choice the Tridentine usage, really put forth the effort to follow the Mass and the priest can say things in a more audible way if he wishes. Also, the people can learn to sing the Kyriale along with the choir if they get training. Just as the Jews have Hebrew classes, Catholics could learn Latin in special classes so they could follow the Mass. Latin does give unity to the church and sameness no matter where one travels. The Novus Ordo in Latin would be better accepted by conservatives if the priest would face the tabernacle instead of the people and if he would not have eucharistic lay ministers and women up at the altar serving. It is these protestant practices that put people off more than just using english, etc. I go to the tridentine Mass to avoid things that turn me off like altar girls and lay communion ministers, etc. I am a bit uneasy when I attend a Novus Ordo but much more comfortable when I attend the old rite because I know that there won’t be anything liberal there. As for babble, has anyone ever attended a charismatic praise Mass? There you really have babble that no one understands and even though someone claims to be an interpreter, how do we know he really does it correctly? No, I would rather stick to what I have always loved–the rite I converted under in 1963.
I have been attending the TLM exclusively for over 3 years now, before that regularly for 2-3 years. It does not take any special knowledge to follow what the priest does during the Mass. They make these nice little red books with Latin on the left and English on the right, it even includes pictures and explanations for what is going on at all times. We now have Missals which are very similar but include all the propers.
It is very disingenuous to say that Catholics with an “ordinary education” would not be able to follow the Mass because of the Latin! I have a feeling that you are manufacturing memories to fill in the blanks of that which you do not really remember. I have an “ordinary” education and have no problem following every detail of the Mass, it’s these very details that have deepened my participation during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in which I prayerfully participate in. It’s the very aspect of participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that is completely lost in the Novus Ordo, and I don’t think saying the current Novus Ordo in Latin would change that.
My 10 year old daughter and I attended a Novus Ordo just a few weeks back out of necessity. You know what she said? She said, “I prefer the Latin Mass because there was no time to pray”. NO TIME TO PRAY! From the mouths of babes..
I don’t know if you live near Chicago, but we are so blessed to have St John Cantius Parish. The Novus Ordo is offered each Sunday but so is a High Mass in Latin…with the most beautiful sacred music I’ve ever heard. They offer classes in Latin and Biblical Greek. This was my first Holy Season there. I just don’t have the words to describe how not only moving but life changing it was to experience the Stations of the Cross in Latin, the Tenebrae Service, etc. all culminating in the most magnificent and sacred celebration of Easter. I suppose some of this was the way it recalls beautiful childhood memories. But it’s far more than that. I have found a new peace and joy in my life that is extraordinary. I think perhaps it’s because the focus of the Latin Mass is so completely on Jesus, the atmosphere is so sacred, that I also am better able to experience His presence in new and sacred ways. I’m so grateful that after many years of prayer God led me there and wish everyone could have a Church like this. We come from over one hundred miles in every direction…it’s so worth it. You can see and hear some of the beautiful Masses on their website. I know a lot of priests because of the work I do. It’s so sad how many are embarrassed by the sacred rituals of the Church. I once asked one I work with to bless a medal I purchased for my nephew. He looked at me like I was crazy…laughed and told me to bless it myself. I could tell sad stories like this all day…I just pray that these priests will finally recognize the sacred mystery they are called to represent is God Himself…not themselves and not the latest politically correct (political cowardice) trend. God bless!
Annie, may I thank you and echo all you have said. Having been brought up Catholic, and serving as an Altar Boy in the 1940’s and 1950’s, I guess it would be unfair for me to criticize the lack of understanding by the majority of today’s
Catholics who are unable to understand the Traditional Liturgy.
Concerning the Latin, may I add that during my military assignments around the world in the 1960’s, it was so
comforting to assist at any Mass in any country with my St. Joseph’s Latin/English Missal. Except for the
sermon, we were all “on the same page”, throughout the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Perhaps it would also be fair to mention that in addition to my Altar Boy (Acolyte) training and experience at
the feet of our Religious Sisters and Priests, our Catholic High Schools back then gave us two years of Latin,
so that was another unfair advantage. However, I shudder to think my next move could take me away from the Daily Latin Mass I am privileged to have available here in Tucson.
The English Reformationists who denied the power of the Pope, hated Latin. As St Margaret Clitherow was being squashed to death for her Catholicism, the Protestants tormented her as she prayed in Latin. She replied, “God understands Latin perfectly well”.
We forget that the Mass is first and foremost the prayer between the priest [acting as Christ] and God the Father. Therefore the sacred language with which to address God is Latin. The Sacrifice is offered on our behalf, not for our entertainment and understanding, but as addressing God the Father for our salvation. This is the reason the priest faces the Tabernacle, because he is addressing God.
For almost two thousand years, Catholics have familiarized themselves with Latin to follow and unite their prayers with those of the priest.
Today’s post-Vatican II environment might give the impression that the laity owns the Mass and that we should have unrestricted access to everything, as if there is no associated Mystery. This is new. The Jewish high-priest would make the offering to God at the altar behind the curtain, while the congregation prayed with this sacred event too holy to be witnessed. Some Eastern rite Masses occur today behind the closed doors of the Sanctuary. Before Communion rails were illicitly ripped out [there is no official mandate to remove altar rails], the Sanctuary was visibly set apart as a sacred area for the clergy.
For a Mass to be worthy, the laity doesn’t have to understand everything, because this highest form of prayer is really addressed to God, in the language of His Church. The laity’s role is to unite themselves with the prayers of the priest and pray too, that the Sacrifice be acceptable.
Isn’t it great we have both ways to celebrate the Mass? That way, everyone can go to whichever they prefer. Amen!
Msgr. Pope, Thank you for this very informative post. All I have ever known is the Novus Ordo. I was baptized Catholic but left the faith when I was 18 and returned in my late 30’s. I am grateful to be back in the grace of God and continue to play “catch up” in learning my faith. I am frustrated by the many liturgical abuses that go on in many of the parishes here, but there are also some of the parishes where the priests celebrate the NO in a very reverant manner and I am able to fully imerse myself in the mass without distraction. We do have a parish locally that celebrates the mass in the Extraordinary Form and I have attended a couple of times although I have no understanding of Latin and felt lost. This article is very helpful in helping me have a better understanding and am wondering if there is a “Latin Mass For Dummies” book 🙂 that might help me further? The other problem that I am struggling with is the attitude of most, not all, that attend the EF form here of a superiority over those that attend the NO. I know that you have no control over peoples attitudes but I guess what I am asking is how to deal with this. I have friends that attend the EF and it is like they are constantly trying to “convert” me, like I am not Catholic. There is a feeling of division. Does that make sense? It is not just me. There are several of us that have experienced this and it has made it difficult to try to make the transition to attending the EF because we still like to attend the Ordinary Form. The Ordinary Form is looked down upon by the people, not the priest, like it is a lesser mass. A new Traditional Rite parish is being built 5 minutes from my house as opposed to having to drive 30 or more minutes to attend a NO mass. I am excited that Christ will be so close but need help in understanding the differences and how to deal with this “attitude” problem. I have four children who I am also having to educate as well. I am hoping you can help. Thank you for your Yes to God and the Priesthood, you are in my prayers.
I understand how you feel about people with “attitudes.” This type of attitude appears to be more prevalent in sspx parishes than in fssp parishes or other parishes that are in the mainline church. Some of these “superior” acting people may be transplants from the sspx and they have to get used to being in the mainline church. I would ignore these attitudes and possibly not emphasize the fact that you attend the NO sometimes. It is no one’s business how you run your life or where you attend church at other times. I don’t tell people all the facts in my life, either. You can go where you want to go and it is none of their business. I also do not argue with people. I just enjoy coffee and pastries, act friendly and just enjoy them as brothers and sisters in Christ. I stay off of sensitive topics and I get along just fine. You are indeed blessed to live near a parish with the older usage. Don’t let silly people come between you and your happiness. Follow your heart and enjoy the old rite.
As one who has been devout Catholic for ninety years, Let me say that I much prefer the Vatican 2 Mass in English. I studied Latin for four years, but still don’t know the meaning of the words in the Latin hymns. I need to understand what I am saying and hearing. Mass is terribly important to me. I am brought to tears almost always during the Consecration. And above all, I am very grateful that I may now receive the blood of Christ. Since the Lord made us each unique, we have different opinions about the outward forms, but I hope we are all united iln the great love of our Savior, Jesus Christ
The Latin Mass is far more friendly to a mixed language congregation than the English Mass. When I have had to go to a Mass other than English in the new rite, I’ve been lost. The Latin Mass almost requires that one follow its rich prayers with a missal. Anyone of any tongue can follow the Mass with the a missal and take clues from the familiar Latin phrases to keep in step. The few common phrases one ought to know are easily learned. Here Latin is a common language that joins people together. Frankly, I find the simplified, unpoetic language of the English Mass rather insipid and boring. It does not use the richness of language that is needed to obtain a glimpse of the divine in the Holy Sacrifice.
Thank you Msgr.Pope, I am not a learned person, it took me three years to completely understand the Latin Mass, I do not know much about theology or other important thing in the church law or docterine of the church,
I stumble on to the Latin Mass one early morning searching for a earlier Mass because we want to travel out of town, we have been laps for many year and just return to church, through out our life we only attend regular Mass and did not think much about anything, but that Sunday morning at the Latin Mass changes everthing, for the very first time I and my wife felt that we have truly received the Real Present of Christ Body, it is because for the very first time a priest have caught our attention how he treat the Holy Eucharist and how everyone kneel in revelence and we are able to see a real different in the regular Mass, we are still learned, but one thing for sure that we knew are the sermon and the line of many going to confession at the Latin Mass, we have grown much much more since that faithful morning, we still attend the regular Mass on weekday, but now we look at the crucifix instead of the celebrant priest, week did not go back to the regular Mass on Sunday now, because we find it hard to received a good sermon and find it hard to knee down with so many people standing infront of us, I like to knee in the present of The Present of Jesus. I know that is bring the growth into my life, it brought me my love for Jesus and Mary, I did not know why this could not be universal in all the church, yes it took me three years learn just to follow the Latin Mass and yes it took me three years to learned how to give glory and honour and full Adoration to Jesus, my Latin please told me, do not worry much about knowing all in Latin, assist by your present here is what Jesus want of you, the server and me will do your praying of the Holy Mass on your behalf, praise be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
It seems to me that there are 13 “RITES” in our wonderful universal church and ALL are valid. It really saddens me when people are more concerned about the procedure than the substance. It gives them an excuse to not look fully at Jesus and to justify to themselves as to why they are not following the command Christ gave us (love one another, take care of one another). A thought, go back and educate themselves as to when the Roman Rite came into being and ask themselfs if the the liturgys prior to the Roman Rite where valid and proper? Just a thought.
The Peace of Jesus be on You!
It had nothing to do with the rites, I had attend the Benzatine rite Mass too, it have everything to do with: what each and everyperson wholly, one who felt the true present of Christ and how to give God His Glories and His honour and Adore Him with the up Most Holiness, if you goes out to buy a car, let say a Honda, you for one would expect a Honda to be a Honda and not a Hundai, same goes for myself, if I goes to a Holy Mass I expect myself to confess my sins and to give God all His Glory and Honour, I expect to knee and bow and beat my chest and be repentant for my sins and I asked to received Christ and show Him how much I treasure Him, if only I can do the same everyway than it is turly good, but many time I could not do that on a regular Mass, I find this confusing and distracting, and at time I could not relate to the sermon, which is suppose to be Christ teaching through the priest, but I heard something else that are totally diferent that Christ teaching, I for one think all this have to do with the school they learn their education, if you go to business school, you off cause talk and walk like a businessman, if you goes to a medical school, you would talk and walk like a doctor, one cannot go to a medical and walk and talk like an electrician or neither an electrician can talk and walk like a doctor, to sum it all up, I think it had everything to do with the seminary college the priest went and receive their study, You may find it hard to believe, the truth is most of the Priest of FSSP sermon always talk about how to be holy, Sainthood, sin, devil, hell, divine mercy, salvation, last judgement, Virgin Mary, Saints and Christ’s virtues and inline with the Holy Scripturies, but the priest for the regular Mass would not talk about these important topic, but would talk about other non related topic that did not benefit my soul, as I am a sinner sick onto sin, I need a doctor to cure my sickness of sin, and not a accountant or a saleman or an electrician, I need some one to tell me what I shall not do and show me how and why I should not do thing that would cost me to fell, I do not need a friend that tell me is OK, everything is just fine! what I need is of Christ to tell me that I need to do the right thing and learn the truth before I die and how to pray well and try and live a holy life. I have lot of friend to give me advice, but I need only one priest that truly represent Christ, let us be like Christ.
I love the Latin mass. In the NO, the priest does nothing but the consecration in some churches. And I still believe NOBODY should touch the host but the priest.
And no matter where you where, you had the missal with Latin and English so you could understand what is going on. I can still recite most of the Latin prayers and I love the Confetior.
People are more respectful in the traditional church. It is quiet.
And I would like to know how much money is wasted on the mass books now that are only good for a few months, then they throw them out and buy new ones. I like my own missal with all my own Holy Cards I’ve collected,………the old music that takes you back to your childhood, I could go on and on. The NO makes me want to cry.
I agree the latin Mass swwmed much holier than todayscramble. It was more spiritual and we seemed to recieve more graces from the Mass.. I believe this is because the latin Mass is spiritual.
Msgr. Pope, may God’s Love and Peace be with you and your Diocese. I enjoyed watching your most enlightening and simple explanation of the Tridentine Mass and why we should pray in Latin. I thank God for faithful Shepherds of the flock like you who is not afraid to speak up and propagate the truth about the Sacred Rites of our Holy, Catholic and Apostolic True Church. As I was educated in a Catholic school and university prior to even Pre-Vatican II, Tridentine Mass was the kind of Holy and Reverential Mass that I was exposed to. With the advent of Vatican II and the horrendous changes it created, not only to our Holy Mother Church’s Sacred Altars and Liturgical Rites, but also to not only its Shepherds but also to its Flocks who got lost and wandered away from the Truth of our faith. So it goes to say, ‘ you can judge the labor by it’s fruits ‘”! I thank God Almighty for you, a faithful Shepherd, and rest of the few like you, who has remained faithful and adherent to the Sacred Rites of the One True Church established by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself in the year 33 AD.
The daily Mass that I attend at St. Louise de Marillac Church in Covina is not a Latin Mass but the New Mass. However, it,s a Mass very different from the other parishes around it. The entire congregation kneels for the Communion Rite, we’re allowed to kneel for communion on the tongue without being refused communion or be reprimanded by the Priest to ‘stand up’ otherwise will not be given communion. And everyone remains KNEELING when back to their pew to give reverence and be ‘IN COMMUNION’ with our Lord who is with us that very HEAVENLY MOMENT of having Him within us through that little tiny ‘CONSECRATED HOST’ that contains HIS BODY, BLOOD, SOUL and DIVINITY! This is what makes us unique and unequal from other religion. I tell people that’s how we experience Heaven temporarily here on earth. I wish and pray that the young ones and old new ones( new admits) be taught about how to Reverentially receive Holy Communion as I was taught by Sisters
(I accidentally hit the submit section and did not get to finish my last statement)
The religious Sisters (pre-Vatican) taught us NOT to CHEW the Sacred Host because If we do, definitely a piece or minute particle of this Host will be left in our mouth or imbedded in between the teeth and we happen to spit minutes or hours after Communion then we’ve spit out Lord and be trampled upon on the ground (desecrated!) We were strictly taught that we we have to let it ‘melt’ or get it soft inside our mouth and swallow as a whole piece. It just breaks my heart to see how children and grown ups receive IRREVERENTLY the Host on their DIRTY hands, as if just receiving a little wafer or rationed food and slap inside their mouth and tiny tiny particles of this Sacred Host falling on the floor and left in their hand to be further desecrated. I know no word of what we say will change the irreverent attitudes of these people but only through our unceasing prayers, reparations and mortifications, invoking the HOLY SPIRIT to enlighten those who are lost and deceived by the adversary regarding our HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC CHURCH.
More power and blessings to you, Msgr. Pope
Rosario, I am with you on this, yet we have to remember St. Paul letter, Our Lord will not be harm, it will be who ever treat Our Divine Lord indifferently, without respect and at the end of our earthly some of us will received more and other less, it is very important we do not fall into the judgement part, yes it hurt us to see the unholy ways of today and we only bear this as Christ Himself bears, His poverty, born in a stable and end up on the Cross nake, it is grace that He gives us to unite in His sorrowful Passion with our poor heart seeing Our Lord Sacred Host been ill treat, it is the teaching of Hans Kung in pre-Vatican, as adoptation to demolish the bastion of our Church, a trial by God to see, who believe in His Real Present, as for those who believe, those would receive, as one would knee in His Present and as one would received Him with the umost revelent it is because one had truly received His Grace to be holy. may we be like Christ.
WE have been so de-sensitized to any reverance in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass….that eveyone thinks You have to put on a side show and play the latest tackest music alot of non-catholic hymns.
The way the N.O. was brought about was totally wrong, The latin was to be preserved when singing the Gloria, Credo,etc.
But we know that all went away in 1969. Thank God For Pope Benedict! May God Grant him MANY MANY MORE YEARS!
I think you are right that the the changes in the Liturgy were poorly implemented. I also don’t care for some of the music in the Church today but would avoid using words like tackey. I think there is some music of questionable taste out there but an Latin proverb advises de gustibus non disputandem (in matters of tast let there be no disputes). True enough we were supposed to presevere and use more of our Latin heritage we need to work more on that to be sure.
One must never canonize a language as “sacred.” All languages are in fact sacred and one must not to be idolized over all others. This would offend God. The most ancient form of the Mass, therefore the “traditional” Mass cannot be the Tridentine Mass. To say so is to deny the ancient history of the Church and to violate the authenticity of sacred history. Pontifical Mases, while impressive, are rather boring extensions of the true liturgy which has to be a very simple form that the early Church used. Gregorian chant is no better than any other plain chant…it is a matter of opinion….we do not celebrate Jesus in the past but the Jesus who is present in our times, yesterday, today, AND tomorrow. We need a constant re-evaluation of liturgy and not a wish that going back to the 16th century Mass will somehow bring dignity into the liturgy. Those who say that the newer Mass has ruined the church simply do not know what they are talking about…in fact, the Catholic population has grown exponentially. Let us never worship in an idolatrous way, but let us worship as Jesus would have preferred….with true and gentle dignity and with grace…in whatever language is available.
The word sacred means “set apart” Hence to call Latin a sacred language means that it is set apart by the Church for special use in the Liturgy. It does have a unique place and remains the official language or her worship. That it is a “dead language” and hence the possession of no one country means that the Church shows not favoritsm. Also it is not as susceptable to trendy expressions and changing meanings. Sorry that you find the use of the term offensive but the fact remains that some things in life are special and uniquly set apart. Saying that this offends God is to claim for yourself some sort of direct pipeline to the almighty that it seems unlikely you have. Later you claim to know what Jesus would prefer. Again, your direct line to Jesus in this seems a fanciful and prideful claim.
Calling the pontifical Mass boring and and extension of true liturgy is mere opinion and mildly offensive. The liturgies of the early Church were not likely as simple as you think. If you read the didiscalia and other early documents they were a bit more formal and meticulous than you say. I admot that were not likely as elaborate as the pontifical mass of last Saturday but the Church does grow and develop from early times.
Gregorian Chant is said by official documents from the Council and more recently to have “pride of place.” Hence you dismissing of it as no better than anything else would need some distinctions.
That we need constant re-evaluation of the Liturgy is true enough and it is surely happening in our times in terms of the ordinary form.
I would avoid using terminology of your opponet as “simply not knowing waht they are talking about” since it is unkind and ad hominem. It is true that Catholic Numbers have increased. But it is also true that weekly Mass attendance has fallen from 80% in 1955 to 27% last year. Hence, the number of practicing Catholics has plummeted. There are many reasons for this but it is not wrong to ask if liturgy is one of them.
Finally your use of the word “idolatrous” is an egregious violation of Charity. You ought to retract and apologize for having said such a thing to fellow Catholics who are worshipping God, not an idol and who are doing so in a manner approved by the Church.
While one may “prefer” one language over another in regard to the Mass, even a dead and therefore “non-offensive” or politically correct one and then claim “this is how it has to be forever” is in fact idolatry. I believe that what we now call form 2 of the Mass goes back to the 5th century–it is a rather simple yet highly dignified way to celebrate — that is what I mean by ancient liturgy. Church architecture betrays where the church is (form and function) spiritually. Originally the Mass was celebrate around a simple table, with a simple liturgy, and one also had the idea of the closeness of God. As history moved more to the roman era and way of doing things, churches eventually evolved architecturally to what we call Gothic. The table was removed from the people and only the priests etc. could function around it –altar rails were installed to keep “lesser” faithful out of the sanctuary (and also animals) The high arches of the great cathedrals seem to point to God “up there” away from us, and while the liturgy grew elaborate, people were bored and bells had to tell them that the consecration was taking place and to behave themselves. The baroque era sought to rectify some of this but it too failed. Modern architecture in churches has also tried to bring back the ancient “form” (gathered around the table as Jesus did with his disciples) and it is criticized as too “informal.” While I hear people say that the celebration of the Mass today is not dignified, I defy those saying that to prove it…yes, there have been abuses, but I have attended many masses that are truly dignified and reverent.
Thank you. A true Christian cannot a blindly religious person. This notion that all things old and original are superior to the present can indeed be a form of idolatry. Christ looks at our hearts, not our clothes, our words, our customs — our heart. And He died to set us free from the bondage of sin. For eternity. It is wonderful to hear the Word of God in your native language where you can understand the meaning. Christ did not speak in a language his listeners could not understand! How bizarre! I grew up hearing Latin and it was a ritual — when the church changed to English I could worship with my words, my mind, and my spirit. I don’t like this regression to “the old way” — it feels wrong and idolatrous. Remember the Pharisees … Be humble. Love everyone and make the gospel accessible to everyone. God Bless.
For many – more than forty years the SSPX has been reviled – castigated – shunned – excommunicated – schismatic et al by many in the Catholic Church – who have not cracked a bookon what actually happened after Vatican II let alone study and learn – to be schismatic means to set up a parallel Church to that which is already inbeing. – Right – ?
THe SSPX DID NOT set up a new Church as this would mean a new Liturgy – Priesthood – Canon law – Catechism – new Saints etc……
So who did set up a new church with all those changes ? – Oh Dear – that was Pope Paul VI and JOhn Paul II
ably assited by people such as Hans Kung – Rahner – Schillebeekxz – Suenens – Frings – Koenig – Congar – Chenu and a chap called Courtenay -Murray – and the well known Fr Joseph Ratzinger……
who now that he isPope — has wandered downhis Road to Damascus and is beginning to see the damage all his friend caused in the 70;s and is now trying to rectify that …..all we can do is to pray that he succeeds- soon before this Apostasy which JP II finally admitted spreads throughout the whole world
The truth shall always prevail, today they want us to be less holy as so we could not procliam there is no salvation out side the Catholic Church, if you are to be holy, you are called inbalance, rebellious, disobedience to the Pope, holier than thou, insane, overboard, unchristian and even call a protestant, what? protestant because I become more Catholic? so to be more Catholic such as asking the NO why the Mother of God is outside of the Church is less Catholic, right? to be more Catholic like asking the NO why is the Tarbenacle not in the middle of the santuery make me become less Catholic, I thought praying the rosary is a Catholic virtues, now I am called to be silent while praying the rosary before and after NO Mass but talking, hugging and hand shacking is OK. Now the theology is such, I see if it make sense!! to become more Catholic made be become less and to become holy made me become a protestant, Can any one please explain? so today the Catholic church should become less Sacred as so we can be even out with our separated christian brother, I was told to be holy so as I can become Saint, that how I was taught, we are more that a mere follower of Christ, we are called to become His Saint, right, right? no not now from VEC II onward you have been demoted to just Christian and give or take in another 10 year you will become universally, because your brother moslem and hindu and hairishna are coming on board, as for now let us get your priest a wife, he is kind of lonely, yes that what’s happening as we speak in Vatican today, Our very own Cardinal Bertone would like to have a option for marry priest or priest to be marry, uhhh!!! again the game of mass confusion is spining, to become unholy instead made us more holy, to be less or not holy make us better Catholic, no wonder as I was correcting a heretic in Church because she believe we are wire in by the Holy Spirit to have physic power, I go uhhh!!! are you one serious Catholic?, so now she can go on and procliam her holiness, she did not go too far with me and whala!!! I got a new name Mr. INBALANCE.
I understand your anger at how some traditional Catholic have been treated, SSPX among them. But I cannot affrim that the Pope, of all people, set up a new Church. THere have surely been schismatics in the past 40 years but you are wrong to number the Popes among them. Are you a sedevacantist?
I myself want to hear the words in English, but there definitely needs to be more reverence in saying the mass. We all need to pray for Pope Benedict for guidance in the right decisions to be made in the mass. I wonder what Jesus prefers…….Latin or native language?
WARNING to myself !!!
IF I am either anti-N.O. or anti-L.M., THEN I am, in fact, “anti-mass.” IF I am “anti-mass,” against a Church approved form of mass, THEN I am also anti-Church to some degree or another.
The Mass brings me to Jesus and Jesus in me (if I am in a state of grace). Only the Church has authority, from the office of Peter by order of Christ, to change the forms of Holy Mass as it sees fit. I trust Jesus. So it follows, I trust His Church to do His will with the Mass. I love to be at Holy Mass in any of it’s many approved forms when it is said in great reverence by a holy priest with correct intentions.
Et Cum Spiritu Tuo
Dear People of God-
Try viewing the Daily Mass at 8 am live on EWTN — The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is said with reverence, the music is beautiful, and if you turn on the closed caption bar, you can try to learn the Latin parts of the Mass!
I also must add that you will more than likely get a good sermon, too!
Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, there are no on-line Missals available to read by using the side-by-side Latin and English, but many of these Missals have beautiful prayers in them, too.
The Latin Mass at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was beautiful and long overdue. Praise God!
My God, my God I love you in the Blessed Sacrament of Altar! What great joy to once again see you loved, adored and glorified in the Latin Tridentine Mass. I pray this is the beginning to the end of the liturgical abuses, secular humanism, heretical moderism and general confusion infecting our Churches today.
Thrice Holy is the Lord our God. May we all exercise the patience, reverence and sacrifice necessary to come to understand and love this form of the Mass, which for centuries, was never an ‘Extraordinary Form’ but our common form of worship.
Msgr. Charles Pope, I’m humbled by your patient witness and defense of truth.
I too love the traditional Latin Mass from before the council but,when oh when will the Pope himself
celebrate this beautiful rite of Mass himself and in PUBLIC to “encourager les autres” so to speak.
This,as far as I know,has not yet happened. I know that the Holy Father sympathies are with
TRADITION so when is he going to do this? It would help the cause of tradition a great deal if he
were to do this.
To Annie @ 1:
“..you won’t see people in jeans and T-shirts, short skirts, shorts, low-cut blouses, and worse. Nearly every woman wears a skirt and top, or a dress, and often a hat or a veil. ”
I can agree on the teenage girls that were tight jeans and tank tops but would you say this to someone who might not be able to afford such? Or perhaps in another country that wears different things?
Will, are you serious? Tight jeans ain’t cheap, many times. What are you smokin’? Other countries know about modesty, dressing for the occasion, even when not regularly observed. Dear Lord, travel a bit. When people don’t have nice houses, cars, trips, one thing they do have, a few nice things to wear. Almost universally.
Joseph, you did not commented well by asking what are you smokin? this is a religion topic please be polite, I am those that grow up in those other countries, as a matter of fact the poor that walked to Church, yes my poor auntie who have to travel three hours on Sunday, would come to Church with her Sunday best, not great outfit, but her outfit tell you that she is poor but well cover, I came over here in the Americas and today in the N.O. esp in summer, well, guess for yourselve,some comes with a tank top and a shorts and sandal to Holy Mass!!!! please take time and reflect upon this, it this Sunday best?, I think Will is not by any means trying to offend anyone and I think Will heart is in the right place.
I have a simple question for you to answer, Joseph, if you go to a wedding dinner and this is the wedding of Bill Gates’ son, what would you wear? again say your are broken and have only four different outfit, would you take your best and wear to that dinner? or would you put on your t-shit, short and sandal, bravo!!! to you if you put on you t-shit, short and sandal, or by change would you do put on your best outfit, and this just means that you have respect for Mr. Gates because he invite you, right, oh yes, so that means there is one more option to this question, if you put on t-shit, short and sandal, you are sending Mr. Gates a message, you are someone that I do not real care much about yourselve and about others including Mr. gates that happen to invite you, right oh yes, just like those that wear tight jean and t-shirt, they send a message to Jesus and say I do not think you really that important and not worth much to me and I do not think you are God!!!! oh yes, who ever go to the House of the Lord and dress with out fit that less than dinner party ready is infact sending God a message, I do not care much for your banquet celebration!!!!!
Dear People of God —
Here in America, we catholics are quite charitable, and that includes giving clothing (from our surplus) to St. Vincent DePaul so that they can GIVE it to those who need it. If you see someone at church who is in need, for God’s sake help them!!!! I did it discreetly and the lady was happy. Let me remind you all that true charity begins when we give something new to someone — look at when the US Marines collect Toys for Tots.
For the most part, there is no excuse for pleading ignorant in America — most people have tv and access to a computer (they can go to a public library). They can window-shop, or look through fashion magazines. I can tell you that Grace Kelly did not get married in a strapless wedding gown — look at pictures of her wearing pretty clothes that COVERED her body. Most houses of high fashion design beautiful clothing that is NOT revealing.
If you can sew, you can make something very nice to wear to church.
Also, the parents need to hear it from the altar to come to Mass looking decent, not as if they were going to the beach.
So, sweetheart, think about it and pray on it.
When you spoke about facing east, it brought back to mind that maybe even animals do this. Every morning our golden retriever would sit in our back yard facing the sun and be still for awhile. Maybe he just liked the warm sun but I like to think he was praising God, too:):)
Dear People of God —
May I impose on all of you who attend the Latin Mass to offer up each time you attend and worthily receive Holy Communion for our beloved United States? Would you? I beg of you! We have been and continue to go through much turmoil especially here in the South. Yes, we do suffer the consequences of the sin that runs rampant and the good people suffer! But God is merciful to those who ask, seek and knock!
There is power in The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and all of the Angels and Saints rejoice when Mass is said with reverence and you all offer yourselves up to God!!!
I knew a good Benedictine priest who told us that his poor mother would light a piece of palm (from Palm Sunday), blow it out, and they would all say the Pater Noster together in times of danger and storms. That is faith in action, my friends.
If you would be so kind, in some way/ shape/ or form, pass this along to those who attend the Latin Mass.
Also, try doing a little penance — like fasting or abstaining — and ask the Poor Souls in Purgatory for help. We are in a battle for souls. God Bless all of you always and in all ways!
You can count on me!
This is exciting. I just learned of the Missa Cantata High Mass offered in the extraordinary form for Our Lady, Mediatrix of all Graces this Saturday 5/8 at 8:00 AM ET on ETWN. Three big ‘Ave Marias’ for the Eternal Word Television Network. I’ll be be sure to be participating from home!!!!
You can count on me….
Dear People of God —
There has been a lot of church closings lately and this is not good for helping to maintain and spread the faith.
Remember that when the lights go out, darkness prevails and oh how dark it can be! We are salt, light and leaven….
If anyone knows of a prayer to keep churches open and it also includes support for those suffering because their church is being or has been closed, please post it or provide a link. We know God does not want this.
Maybe Msgr. Pope has something to offer us.
Also, please continue to offer your Masses and communions for America. Since yesterday, much has happened with these mystery bombings and the oil spill.
Maybe the Good Lord is trying to tell us something. I think so. Recall the ad that said, “When EF Hutton talks, everybody listens?” It should be “When God talks, everybody listens!”
Say a Hail Mary if you get to read this today — and every day through the month of May.
ah yes Mother Angelica, it is tragic each time a parish closes. Once these parishes were filled with the faithful back in the day when 80% went to Mass each Sunday. Now only 27% faithfull attend each Sunday.
It’s an insult to an Italian opera to have it translated to a different, more local language. And the fact is that opera lovers can learn to understand the opera as it is, without knowing Italian. For the same reason, if not more of a reason, it would be an insult to the Latin Mass to have it vernacularized, or vulgarized, into a local tongue. For centuries, people understood the Mass perfectly, even when most of it was silently said. No reason at all to have it translated; it certainly won’t improve its poetic beauty. The Novus Ordo can stay but it will never be long-standing art.
Can you understand Latin/ Italian? I will say this, I still enjoy Handel’s Messiah…
And how did the altar boys assist at mass (and still do)? They have a lot to learn in order to assist at the Latin Mass. Who teaches them all they need to know? The priest. If they have good parents, they work with the kids, too. Many parishes that have the Latin mass have good altar boys helping out — I believe in giving credit where credit is due.
Learning Latin also helps children with their vocabulary.
What do you think about the Douay- Reims Bible?
EWTN follows the guidelines and does the parts in Latin and tries to have the Latin Mass on a regular basis. Try watching this Saturday.
I agree – Latin is preferable to me also, though the first translations into English were actually quite poetic and beautiful. Then more changes, and “He took into His goodly hands a most excellent chalice” became, “He took the cup”. The Mass is Sacred Liturgy. It is DRAMA. It is a moment OUT of time, though definitely grounded in the here and now. In the blonk of an eye, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, and priest and people are one with Christ on the cross and with all Christians who have celebrated the Eucharist for centuries. The Mass – when one thinks about it – is a COSMIC experience. Writer Annie Dillard once attended a Catholic “folk” Mass. She could not understand why the service was casual, with people going to communion with their hands in their pockets, chatting. “If they really believed that God was present on the altar,” she said, “they’d fall to their knees!”
The Missa Cantata High Mass – RESPLENDENT. May EWTN, through the grace and mercy of God, continue to ever increasingly magnify his Glory. Amen.
Chers Amis américains,
Merci de montrer l’exemple à suivre, aux évêques et aux catholiques du monde entier !
Oui la messe en latin est une merveille, et il est juste qu’elle puisse être offerte à Dieu par tout ceux qui le souhaitent.
J’espère qu’en France nos évêques vont suivre votre exemple, et la volonté de notre Saint Père, avec courage. Priez pour nous !
God bless you,
It does my heart well to hear this wonderful news. I was reared a Roman Catholic in Hollywood California, I was taught the Latin High Mass, went to school at Immaculate Heart of Mary .. but sadly left the church at the onset of the “new mass” it grieved me so. Following my heart I became an Episcopal Priest as the Church was much more accepting of all. The Mass was in Anglican High Church and the Sacraments are the same. I am now retired and am smiling as I read this wonderful news that the Original Latin is returning – finally! I look forward to the day when it is more widly used and accepted as the ONLY Mass. Then perhaps one day I may return to Holy Mother Church. PAX+
DEO GRATIAS ! Thanks be to God !
As a priest now I can celebrate in Ordinary form of Local Language and in the Rite of Vatican 2,
but I can celebrate in LATIN, Tridentine Rite, ALSO. It is wonderful for me !
If there is a group asking Tridentine Mass, I am so happy to celebrate with them! I can celebrate also alone !!
I enjoy so much to have a great SENSE of MISTERY, in the sacred Latin language familiar to many,many Saints. It so wonderful to look many times to the Crucifix during the Mass, and touch HIM still on the cross, alive in the Sacred Host, in my hands….
It makes me alive in faith and love to recite in normal voice, in low voice, in silence, in singing… in keeling, in making signs of the cross, in turning to the people, in worship with me. My soul and body partecipate in so many ways, alone and the people.. who keep silence, kneel, pray and sing…without disturbing me, because my eyes are on the altar and crucifix…
And I feel connected to the Church of 2000 years…. ant to the whole Catholic Church and all Christians.
Alleluia ! Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo !! I shall sing the mercies of the Lord ! Amen !.
What I am not getting is this:
Q: “Why is Latin used for Mass?”
A: “Because it is a sacred language”
Yes, Latin is clearly a language apart from the vernaculars of modern Catholics. Yes, I can understand the sociological function it serves in uniting the disparate peoples of the Catholic World. What I don’t understand is how one could compare for example Hebrew or Syriac in the Hebrew and Syriac churches to that of Latin. Yes these are also sacred languages that were used apart from vernacular but there is a clear difference. From the Israelite perspective Hebrew was the actual language god spoke when making his covenant, and was the original language of the holy text of Israelites. The Syriac rite is considered by its adherents to be a language closely related to that which Jeshua himself spoke, and again there are holy texts in which the original (emphasis) was in Syriac. Nothing about Latin as a “sacred language” makes sense to me in this regard, it was never the original language of the bible (Greek) it was certainly not the original language of Jesus (Aramaic, possibly some Greek), and God never, ever spoke a single word in Latin. What about this language is sacred, aside from its original definition of “set apart?” Every word of Latin in the bible was translated from Greek, the Gospels were written in Greek, every word that Jesus spoke was in Greek, and we know for example that in the Latin versions of the bible things were altered to fit Nicean theology, for example there were phrases inserted into the Latin versions that are never found in Greek manuscripts until after Latin was standardized (once again, no disrespect. Bullinger’s Companion Bible (footnotes) on [1John 5:7]
“The text reads “the Spirit, and the water”, and c., omitting all the words from “in heaven’ to “in earth” inclusive. The words are not found in any Gr. MS before the sixteenth century. They were first seen in the margin of some Latin copies. Thence they have crept into the text.” ).
I am in no way trying to denigrate Catholics or the Roman Catholic rite, I am simply trying to understand how it is Latin can be regarded as holy, rather than simply a useful language for consistency across time and space.
Ours is a mystery religion, and the old Latin Mass is the supreme expression of this fact. Understanding is good, but it is not necessary when receiving Christ in the Eucharist, for the Real Presence transcends all understanding. For centuries, kings and paupers, intellectuals and fools, attended the same Mass and received the same benefits. I do not suggest that Latin Mass Catholics need not study or comprehend, but stress that Intellect takes us only so far. St. Anselm had as his motto, “Credo ut intelligium: I believe in ORDER to understand”. The Latin Mass is a vehicle which takes us to a “destination” when we give ourselves up to its gentle demands and submit to tradition. Even the word “religion” touches on this. The Latin word “religio” (hard “g”) is where the word religion comes from. It means to “rebind”, to “reconnect”: to God, to our ancestors in faith, to each other in the here and now, and to those who are with God in heaven. We do this via tradition, and sacred tradition has always been one of the three legs that the Church, for centuries, has stood on.
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