Sunday, March 16, 2014

Why I Will Not Attend A Traditional Latin Mass

My journey from casual interest to uncompromising devotion of the Traditional Latin Mass did not occur overnight.  You could even say that it was a reluctant and intimidating journey.  Still I cannot hide my affection for that which I was missing my whole life.  My prayer is that all will experience the deepening of faith through the intimacy of the Latin Mass.  I have tried to explain this deep commitment of love and faith to those whom I feel are willing to listen.  Unfortunately I find myself battling the same fears and misconceptions again and again.

I don't know Latin. 

I don't know Latin either!  I have this book called a Missal that contains Latin on the left page and English on the right.  I have yet to meet a member of our parish who knows Latin either.  I can say that after years of praying the Latin Mass I am very familiar with the prayers and responses in Latin.  If I forget my Missal I still grab the red Latin/English booklets provided at the back of church, I still prefer a guide.

I don't know what to do!

Now you know how Protestants feel!  Just kidding, kind of.  For being basically the same Mass it's a remarkably different experience.  A Catholic who has faithfully attended Mass for the past 20 years might still struggle during Latin Mass, with the priest facing the altar and the long periods of silent prayer.  When do you sit/stand/kneel/respond?  Hint:  It's all in the Missal.  Don't worry, nobody is critiquing your reaction time, the focus remains on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  It's always great to see new faces, why wouldn't it be?

Everyone else looks like they've been going for a long time.

You got that right!  People who participate in the Latin Mass are likely to be regulars, committed to their Catholic faith.  Most women will be wearing modest dresses and a noticeable number will be covering their heads with some form of veil.  Men will be wearing dress pants and shirts.  In the summer most will still be wearing pants.  Do some wear more casual clothing?  Yep.  Does anyone really care?  Nope, as long as it's modest.  Believe it or not, but the regulars don't notice you unless you sit in the front 2 rows because your likely taking up preferred spots! ;)

I don't feel welcome.

A complaint I hear often from people who have never actually attended a Latin Mass.  Usually they heard a story from someone else online or they have had indirect contact with a family that they know attends the Latin Mass yet feel that family was not friendly enough.  I try to be friendly and smile, but I'm there for an intimate hour with God almighty and He is the focus.  Just keeping track of my kids takes my full attention.  I find the silence and reverence very welcoming, I'm able to focus on prayer with God, which is why I'm there.  Eventually you will find time for socializing and forming friendships, it's just going to be outside of Mass.

Everyone is "stuck up" w/ "holier than thou" attitudes. 

I don't really understand this thinking but I hear it the most.  I think it has to do w/ wearing nice clothes?  I dress nicely for Mass because I am before God and He deserves the outward respect that I would give any high priority event in the world.  I presume the "holier than thou" reference has to do w/ the commitment to Catholic doctrine.  I think the reason I hear this complaint the most has a lot to do w/ individuals fear of facing reality - the truth of their spiritual situation.  To see others at least outwardly living the faith should be moral support, something to be admired!  Instead piety is scorned and the people presumed rigid and judgmental.  Just because someone appears to be glaring at you or giving you a dirty look, doesn't mean they are assuming the worst - it might be your own insecurities.  Even my wife has thought this about people at our parish, where I perceived nothing.  Even if it were true, it's no different than anywhere else in life so get over it.

It takes so long. Boring!

Does it?  Yes Latin Mass tends to take 1.5 hours rather than the 1 hour maximum of most Novus Ordo Masses.  This is one argument that I don't understand because I never felt this way.  Time flies when your having fun!  I think time would pass slower if I wasn't assisting with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by following the prayers diligently in the 1962 Missal.  To offer one's self w/ Christ up on the altar requires a lot of focus.  Besides, what else is Sunday for?  But that's for another post.

The Latin Mass is for foreigners & old women.

Where do these assumptions come from?  Brief observation from years ago most likely.  I know this was the propaganda line presented to me, this was the lens that I viewed the TLM through.  Sure there are foreigners who attend the Latin Mass - go anywhere in the world and you can step into a Latin Mass and know you will recognize this Mass.  Are there old hat ladies in the front row?  I'm sure, but I looked around today and most were younger than me (34).  Small children and babies were everywhere.  Remarkably quiet in the church all things considered.

My children would never sit through it quietly.

Yes this was a big hurdle for my kids, though they never sat through the Novus Ordo quietly.  One fear was just how quiet the sanctuary gets during the TLM, and how noisy my kids get.  Many Sundays were nonstop battles to keep the little ones contained and quiet.  Somehow we still left each Sunday looking forward to the next.  Kids need to learn to behave in church and the earlier the better from my experience.  My 4 year old and 5 year old give me the most trouble during Mass each week, but that's normal for their age.  If they act up too much a trip to the back is made for some stern words and a time out.  It's not as bad as it seems, I never notice other kids misbehaving but I hear about it from other parents.  It's a tunnel vision thing I think.

They don't accept Vatican II - Basically SSPX - Novus Ordo viewed as invalid. 

Having grown up in the Vatican II era, never knowing anything other than the "New Mass", I was thoroughly propagandized into believing that V2 came about because of the problems with the "Old Mass", that if not for the changes 50 years ago the Church would be even worse off than it is today.  You might even call it the establishment response it's repeated so often.  I would say almost all accept V2 as valid - but erroneously implemented and corrupted by modernism.  I share these beliefs.  SSPX?  Well I definitely see them in a different light, especially after getting to know a few personally.  They are good Catholics in communion with the Catholic Church.  But that's a different topic.  Is the Novus Ordo invalid?  Nobody thinks that. It's a myth, never met anyone who admits it at least.  I will attend a Novus Ordo when I must, but I prefer the TLM whenever possible.  I feel the liturgy is more Christ-centered and the risk of exposing my children to scandal is far less. Sorry if sharing that with you ruffles your feathers.

I sincerely hope this helps dispel some of the misconceptions regarding the Traditional Latin Mass.  My love for the Latin Mass developed over time and against all odds.  If you find yourself reading this post and doubting my words, just remember I was you.  I am probably viewed as the most arrogant, most rigid, most judgmental Latin Masser in the pew!!  It's just not the case I promise.  I struggle as all people do to be more Christ-like.  You probably are a better Christian than me.

I had originally included a line in this post suggesting that the TLM was not kindergarten.  I removed this portion as it was easily misinterpreted as labeling those who do not attend the TLM as somehow spiritually immature.  I did not intend this so it was removed.


Anonymous said...

Well said. We are not there for the entertainment, though we do enjoy the chant, organ music, reverence, the vestments. The best is the focus towards God. This evening, a solemn High Mass for St. Patrick's Day and a marvelous sermon without reading a note, on St. Patrick, and given by our precious Malaysian FSSP priest. Buoicas le Dia.

Dolorosa said...

Thank you for sharing. Catholics need to see the big picture in that it's not just the mass but the faith as well. I grew up with the Latin Mass. It was taken away from me and replaced by the Novus Ordo, New Mass. Why? Catholics need to understand why this happened and why for many many years we were made to think we couldn't go to a Latin mass. Now there are two forms of Mass? Why?
A good book to start with can be read online here:

Another Epigone said...

So... I love the TLM. But... just compare these two quotes. It might help some people to think about them.

Quote #1:
"Everyone is "stuck up" w/ "holier than thou" attitudes.

I don't really understand this thinking..."

Quote #2:

"'s time to graduate from kindergarten and start higher education"

What better illustration could there be of that annoying "holier-than-thou" attitude?

Cam Wollner said...

I understand the comments more than I used to. As I've moved with my husband all around the country we've attended masses everywhere. Two years ago I would have avoided an Novus Ordo mass at all costs. I'd only been to lovely TLM parishes at that point and I totally didn't get why other people had a sort of "bad taste in their mouth" about the TLM.

After spending a little over half a year at a new parish after our latest move I began to understand. There are priests that rant about the NO and make fun of NO goers in every. single. homily. It was stressful and wrong (and not really something I wanted my children exposed to week after week) and when our newest baby came down with an allergy to incense I was kind of relieved to have to start attending a OF Mass closer to our home (with a very orthodox priest).

I guess what I've learned is that having a good experience at one parish (and believe me, I prefer the TLM) doesn't mean that it isn't very, very different elsewhere.

Mrs. Amen said...

I just attended a TLM this past saturday for the very first time. I loved it. I jad been 2anting to go for about a year or so (I am a convert, 2 years this Easter). I finally decided to go this paast weekend. I knew that skirt were more common for women along with a veil, so I wore a skirt and veiled with a shawl I had (ripped off by my kids repeatedly until I gave up). As I was with my 5yo, 19 month old, and 5 week old, without my husband (out of town), we sat in the cry room, and I couldn't follow along as well as I would have liked using the red book, I still enjoyed the reverence of the Mass. I will be back!

Anonymous said...

Forgot another one.
Quote three
"I still think it falls short of the TLM on it's best day..."
How does the Novis Ordo Mass fall short? please explain.

Michael said...

The Council of Trent, 1500's, set the standard for the traditional mass to the current day(I guess at that time it wasn't so traditional). Anything other than this form was considered anathema. In a sense then, you could consider Vatican II as anathema.

Anonymous said...

I love the Latin Mass. But, wow, the writer of this article is very arrogant. Pride goeth before the fall......

Anonymous said...

Sspx is not in communion with the church

William Mahrt said...

"Is the Novus Ordo invalid? Nobody thinks that. It's a myth, never met anyone who admits it at least."

I was at a church of the Pius X Society, and there was a notice in the vestibule to the effect that if you go to communion at a novus ordo Mass, you may not receive here. Is this not virtual excommunication?

Anonymous said...

It looks like you attend Sacred Heart. I am interested to know if you have been to St. Isidore's yet. I believe they have the TLM on a weekday and being from out of town, I haven't been able to check it out yet.

Anonymous said...

Yes, The SSPX IS In Communion With The Church.I Used To Think The Same, Not True.

Anonymous said...

Seems so many are caught up with either speaking in Latin or the venacular. I was raised in the Latin for and then in our venacular. I understand both and sing both. For a person to attend a Mass that they do not understand would only seem necessary to meet one's attendance obligation; yet to attend without understandingb seems to be somewhat worthless. Yet I can recall many people attending Latin Mass and praying the Rosary and private devotions until the Sanctus Bells rang - then they prepared for Holy Communion. - When we changed to the venacular it took some time to get people to listen and respond and place their Rosary away so pray before or after the Mass. - What a mess it was. Now we have Latin Masses driving people away saying, " If I cannot sing along (choirs trying to do performances) and do not understand what is said with having to sit and translate every Mass. I am out of here." So now we see Mass in the venacular, Latin and Spanish. Looks like we will be separating ourselves even more. Even the Polka Mass is now drawing people from our other Parishes. - More disharmony than ever.

Anonymous said...

NO SSPX is not in communion with the church. I know many members including family members and they do not believe that anyone but themselves and their bishops are truly catholic. They will not receive communion at a Novus Ordo. How can they be catholic if they believe most of the church to be in error. The canon lawyer in our diocese said it was not okay to receive communion at SSPX.

Read what Pope Benedict has to say at Fr. Z's blog

Just because you used to think the same and now have decided that it is not true doesn't make it true.

Nate C said...

In response to, "How does the Novus Ordo fall short?"

This is my opinion, but when I compare these two prayers one falls short of the other, you may come to a different conclusion.

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.

Receive, O Holy Father, almighty and eternal God, this spotless host, which I, Thine unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for my countless sins, trespasses, and omissions; likewise for all here present, and for all faithful Christians, whether living or dead, that it may avail both me and them to salvation, unto life everlasting. Amen.

Nate C said...

Yes I have been to St. Isidore's Latin Mass on Monday mornings, it's a beautiful church.

Tony Dixon said...

Thank you Nate for everything you have written in post and comments.Don't be disturbed by the deliberate distortions of some comments. I am 73 yrs old and living in Sydney Australia .I was of curse familiar with and loved the Latin Mass from my childhood until my early twenties. I regularly attendi the NO Mass , but at different times over the years I have had the opportunity to attend and even serve the Vetus Ordo, and I still welcome any chance I get to do so again- not so easy where I now live.God Bless you for your honesty ,integrity and sense of humour- all much appreciated.

Nate C said...

I did amend my post to remove the part about kindergarten as it was easy to misinterpret what I really meant.

Marcus Guevara said...

I have a deep love and appreciation for the Traditional Latin Mass. However, I've never had much of an appreciation for those who promote the TLM as better, more correct, or more reverent than the Novus Ordo. This article, while good at some points has a tone that almost borders that of a schismatic. The discussion should never be "which one is better" or "which one is truer" because they both are the fullness of Truth. They both contain 100% truth by virtue of the Eucharist and the fact that they are both the product of valid Catholic councils. The author of this article attempts to prove the authenticity or beauty of the Latin Mass by putting down the Novus Ordo. He calls the Mass that we celebrate each Sunday "man-centered" liturgy as opposed to the TLM which he deems as "Christ-centered". He goes so far as to state that the SSPX, a schismatic group, are "good Catholics in Communion with the Catholic Church". That's not true at all. In fact, their status as being excommunicated from the Church was recently reiterated by Cardinal Ludwig Müller. This is dangerous language and, in fact, at odds with the very Church he claims to be following each Sunday when he goes to Mass and receives the Eucharist. When we receive the Eucharist we are claiming to accept everything the Catholic Church teaches. I don't believe the Church teaches that the Novus Ordo is "man-centered" liturgy.

I am a fan of both liturgies. I am a Catholic and I really wish this wasn't even a debate. There are many other attacks from outside the Church that we should be spending our time fighting... together.

Nate C said...

Marcus, if you choose to read this article assuming the worst about everything I wrote, I can see how you would to such erroneous conclusions. When I say the Novus Ordo liturgy is man-centered it doesn't mean I reject anything the Catholic Church teaches. I don't want to argue about the sspx but you are 100% wrong to calling Catholics who attend sspx chapels excommunicated. Who are you to judge?

We are talking about eternal salvation here. If I believe the the TLM to be more efficacious in protecting and deepening my spiritual life should I pretend otherwise? I never said one was "truer", I think that is your looking for the worst possible meaning again.

Just because both Masses are true and valid does not make them equal, just look at the last 50 years and you will be hard pressed to ignore the mass apostasy from the faith.

I wish we didn't have to argue about this either, but if both Masses were the same there would be but one form of Mass. Please do not try to paint me as a borderline schismatic I assure you I am not.

Nate C said...

Anonymous said...

NO SSPX is not in communion with the church. I know many members including family members and they do not believe that anyone but themselves and their bishops are truly catholic. They will not receive communion at a Novus Ordo. How can they be catholic if they believe most of the church to be in error. The canon lawyer in our diocese said it was not okay to receive communion at SSPX.

You might find this an interesting read that doesn't paint such a black and white picture.

Anonymous said...

I love and prefer the Tridentine rite to the new one, appreciate older forms of devotion in general, and would happily affiliate myself with a Latin Mass parish, but for one thing: it doesn't end there. "Old Mass" devotees are also (in my experience at least) still in the past mentally. Jews are "Christ killers". Non-Catholics won't be saved. Every "old" way of thinking that you can imagine is touted as "tradition" too, right up there with the old Mass. Would that it was different.

Nate C said...

Your comments advance false stereotypes of fellow Catholics my anonymous commenter. I would concede to your reference to personal experience but I know better, I have met far too many traditionalist Catholics (SSPX included) who in no way fit your caricature.

I take particular exception to your accusation that traditional Catholics believe all non-Catholics will not be saved. Nobody can judge the soul but God almighty, and if anything traditional Catholics know this teaching better than most.

I will remind you that God does not change, and therefore "old thinking" and new thinking should not differ much in regards to a Catholic understanding of the world. Would it not be better to err on the side of caution and approach non-Catholics as separate from Christ's body? Would not the risk of eternal damnation be too great?

Imagine yourself for a moment on a large cruise ship set sail across a vast ocean. Now imagine smaller boats with no means of crossing on their own except for ropes each boat captain tied to the back of the cruise ship. Would it be wrong to assume that most if not all of them were risking their lives in those boats? Likewise, should not Catholics who are blessed with the fullness of the Faith approach non-Catholics with the same attitude? This is not an old way of thinking, this is common sense.

You are so right when you say things don't stop with just praying the TLM, because how you pray reveals what you believe, and this will be reflected in how you life. There is a popular Latin phrase about this you might recall..

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, what you say is true.

Nate C said...

Non-Catholics may not be saved, it is the truth, and those with eyes to see and ear to hear are lucky, blessed, graced, whatever... to realize this. Praying for the conversion of Jews to the One True Faith does not equate to "Christ Killers".. this is a straw man argument.