The “Old Mass” and the “Novus Ordo” Mass: Irreconcilable differences?

The relationship between the preconciliar and postconciliar forms of Mass has become like a problematic marriage needing long-suffering, patience, goodwill, and hatred of divorce.

(Image: Thoom/Shutterstock)

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Col. 3:21)

The relationship between the preconciliar and postconciliar forms of Mass has become like a problematic marriage needing long-suffering, patience, goodwill, and hatred of divorce. During his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI played the part of the kindly counselor interested in reconciling the two parties. In a disturbing contrast, Pope Francis appears as a partisan counselor, provoking a rupture in the relationship, although his stated goal is unity.

By revoking permission for widespread access to the Old Mass, Pope Francis has exacerbated the discord by effectively, if implicitly, accusing all traditional-minded Catholics of rejecting Vatican II and suggesting the two forms of the Mass have irreconcilable differences. (There are some traditional-minded Catholics who reject Vatican II, but their numbers are comparatively small.) Refusing to recognize the possibility of liturgical complementarity can only lead to bitterness, entrenched positions, and an ugly divorce.

Until the Second Vatican Council, the Mass gradually developed with organic changes that continued even after the reforms of the Council of Trent. The so-called “Tridentine Mass,” or, if one prefers, “the Old Mass,” was the Mass of countless saints. A careful reading of the documents of Vatican II does not reveal the intention to overhaul the Mass in radical ways. The Council Fathers wrote: “…there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (SC 23). Indeed, very few traditional Catholics would have objected to the interim Sacramentary of 1964 had it ended there.

Undoubtedly, the reform of the Mass under Pope Paul VI with Annibale Bugnini as the architect went far beyond the intentions of Vatican II. Even though then-Cardinal Ratzinger welcomed the revised forms, he lamented the “cookbook” mentality of many liturgical constructs. Poor translations from Latin added to the dismay. Yet, the structure of the Mass remains recognizable: The Penitential Rite, the Gloria, the Scripture readings, the Roman Canon, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Communion Rite. Nevertheless, several generations of Catholics were born into the so-called Novus Ordo Mass, and most Catholics know only the New Mass.

There are worthwhile liturgical debates that good liturgical marriage counselors could moderate. Did the liturgical reformers needlessly change the Offertory prayers? Does the multiplication of liturgical options encourage abusive liturgical practices? On the other hand, Cardinal Ratzinger points out how synagogue worship finds its fulfillment in the Liturgy of the Word of the Novus Ordo, while the sacrifice of the Temple finds fulfillment in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Novus Ordo – a liturgical expression of the Holy Sacrifice of the Divine Bridegroom – has strengths and flaws. But so does the preconciliar liturgy—as does every form of liturgical expression.

As an altar boy in the 60s, I remember a priest celebrating his early morning Sunday Tridentine Mass in twenty minutes! The Latin provided cover for innumerable omissions. Poor liturgical formation was prevalent and pointed to the need for some form of liturgical renewal. An usher, comically wagging his head in pain, told my dad he might leave the Church if the pastor continued to allow a particular woman to murder the Gregorian Chant at the high Mass on Sunday.

In the 1970s through the early 1990s, liberal contempt for priests reverently celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass was pervasive. Playing by the liturgical rules was a “formation issue” in the seminary. In the 1980s, Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee said that “rubricism” was among the most serious problems in the Church (sic!). I remember a transitional deacon instructing me to adjust the words of the readings of the Mass for so-called “inclusive language” purposes. I declined, and he sternly advised me to speak to my formation advisor about my rigidity. (Scratch a young punk liberal transitional deacon, and a tyrant bleeds.)

When traditional-minded seminarians (relatively few) were ordained in the 1980s and early 1990s, many older priests — and many of the laity — considered them “ultra-conservative.” They weren’t. They merely desired to celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass with reverence, using legitimate traditional options. Indeed, they were the first wave in the reform-of-the-reform, landing on the mainstream ecclesiastical Normandy beaches facing the withering, hostile fire of liberal Catholics.

Every inch of turf came at a price. A young assistant priest usually faced flamboyant cantors, folksy readers, and busybody feminist nuns hell-bent on running the liturgy. People got used to priests canonizing the deceased during funerals. The laity often angrily objected if a priest presumed to “pray for the repose of the soul” of grandma. The struggle continues today, although the divide between traditional and “progressive” Novus Ordo parishes is much more pronounced than between traditional Novus Ordo and Extraordinary Form parishes.

As a newly ordained priest, I advised my first pastor that he had nothing to worry about because I intended to celebrate Mass according to existing liturgical legislation. In other words, he had good reason to worry! I added that my only liturgical agenda item was promoting an accurate translation of the Mass. I never imagined that within a few years, a politically-correct translation committee (ICEL) would provoke me (with several other priests) to launch “CREDO: A Society of Priests Dedicated to the Accurate Translation of the Liturgy”. The tumultuous “translation wars” came to a happy conclusion in 2011 when the Vatican approved a mostly accurate translation of the Roman Missal.

By 1995, Adoremus spun off from CREDO with Helen Hull Hitchcock, Father Joseph Fessio, and myself as co-founders. Our purpose was to promote authentic liturgical reform following the thought of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. By the mid-1990s, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter was flourishing, celebrating the Old Mass (so-called Tridentine Mass, later labeled the Extraordinary Form, [EF]) under the provisions of Pope John Paul’s apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei. Our attitude toward the Old Mass was friendly, although we thought there was a need for reform similar to the 1964 Sacramentary (why not allow the readings in the vernacular?). We also recognized how the Novus Ordo needed the example of reverence that the Old Mass provided.

But we focused most of our energies on promoting an accurate translation of the Novus Ordo Mass and reverent liturgical practices. We fine-tuned our goals to include traditional liturgical options in the Novus Ordo even when Pope John Paul II approved female altar servers. It worked. When we celebrated post-Vatican II Novus Ordo Masses offered by the book, many old-time Catholics delighted in the “pre-Vatican II” flavor! The General Instruction anticipated this possibility by expressing this hope: “The two Roman Missals, although four centuries have intervened, embrace one and the same tradition” (GIRM 6).

We never objected to the celebration of the Old Mass or were displeased when it gained traction in many parishes. As a pastor, I introduced the Old Mass in my parish when I had a competent priest for the job. Properly trained priests were hard to find. Thankfully, times were beginning to change.

Liturgical legislation never mandated that the priests celebrate Mass versus populum (“facing the people”). Nor did the legislation require the removal of Communion rails or the horrible destruction of traditional church architecture. Pope Benedict XVI permitted the widespread celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, even suggesting that the Church never suppressed the Old Mass. The priests with whom I associate often celebrate both forms of the Mass. We may favor one over the other, but we don’t hold either of the expressions of the Holy Sacrifice in contempt. Both forms have produced and nourished many holy children. A reverent celebration of the Mass begets a reverent laity.

Alas, many young traditional-minded priests today – happily the product of the orthodox pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI – have little or no appreciation for the liturgical battles in defense of the Novus Ordo that paved the way for the reintroduction of Extraordinary Form. While the celebration of the Old Mass provided a haven from crazy and intolerable liturgical abuses in the Novus Ordo, attempts to restore reverence to the celebration of the Ordinary Form also helped to inculcate a spirit of liturgical sanity and acceptance of the Old Mass within parishes. In metropolitan areas, it is common to see a healthy and respectful migration in attendance between the two Forms celebrated with reverence. The all-too-casual dismissal of “Novus Ordo Catholics” reveals a denial of those sacrifices and fuels the unfortunate depiction that all traditional Catholics deny the authority of Vatican II.

The Novus Ordo is a kind of spouse to the Tridentine Mass. Maybe the marriage was ill-advised because the Novus Ordo was too immature, and the Tridentine Mass set in its ways. Pope Benedict XVI wisely hoped to heal the tensions by promoting a “hermeneutic of continuity” in our worship. Despite the deficiencies, the marriage is historical and valid. The suppression of one form or the other disrupts legitimate religious sensibilities, undermines the faith of many, and tears apart parishes and even families. (I recently argued that Vatican officials should apologize for their cruel and unusual punishment of faithful Catholics devoted to the Latin Mass of the Extraordinary Form.)

Great harm will come to the Church if there is a divorce, and her children will suffer irreparable wounds. Do not defend the Old Mass by hating the Novus Ordo. Let’s keep the Old Mass alive in our hearts – and in our churches where we can — hoping for a better day when God sends a benign and wise counselor to help heal the tragic conflict for the good of the Church.

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About Father Jerry J. Pokorsky 33 Articles
Father Jerry J. Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington. He is pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish in Great Falls, Virginia.. He holds a Master of Divinity degree as well as a master’s degree in moral theology.


  1. I appreciate Fr. Pokorsky’s initiatives in truly highlighting the fullness and genuine meaning and celebration of the Vatican II Mass. I object to and say that he is theologically (ecclesiologically, that is) wrong in placing the Tridentine Mass on liturgical-theological equivalence with the Vatican II Mass. Promoting their marriage and avoid a divorce is analogically correct. The two cannot exist together. That is why Pope Benedict’s invention in Summorum Pontificum by granting easy access to the Old Mass and introducing the concept of two forms of the Roman Rite Mass was outrightly wrong and heavily and necessarily forced upon a mistake that called for Pope Francis’ correction by rescinding the ready access to the Tridentine Mass in Traditionis Custodes. The bottom line reason for this matter which unfortunately Fr. Pokorsky and most of those who engage in this ongoing discourse mostly do not see is the age old theological principle expressed in the adage, “lex credendi, lex orandi,” the law of belief is the law of worship. With the Second Vatican Council, the reforms (not rapture, and containing both continuity and innovation) it mandated is also expressed in the liturgy it desired to be so reformed. A deep reading of the young Joseph Ratzinger’s writings on this matter during the Council sessions clearly show this need of reform of the Tridentine Mass. The most important element in the reform of belief flowing from Vatican II is the development of ecclesiology or the maturity of the understanding of the Church as indeed the People of God, meaning that it is whole community of the baptized. This is in contrast to the pre-Vatican II ecclesiology which was more of a hierarchology which takes the Church to mean more as consisting only of the clergy and the hierarchy. Liturgically, this is clearly reflected in the understanding and manner of celebrating the Mass. The Tridentine Mass was understood to be solely the priest’s action. Those who lived in the period can recall the various novenas and devotions the people prayed as the priest was offering Mass in the language they did not understand. With the ecclesiology of the People of God, this is also mirrored in the theology and action of the Vatican II Mass understood as the action of the offering of sacrifice of praise not only of the priest but of the whole gathered community. Here we can hear Sacrosanctum Concilium’s mandate for full, active, and conscious participation of all the faithful offering the Mass. Here the council endorsed celebrating the Mass in the vernacular languages the people understand. If the people understand Latin then they are to celebrate it in Latin, that is why the order of the Vatican II Mass can also be done in Latin, which is the original language upon which all translations of liturgical texts worldwide into various languages are based on. With Traditionis Custodes, Pope Francis wanted to jolt the ideology-driven advocates of the Tridentine Mass who mostly have rejected Vatican II and have misled many spiritual-motivated lovers of the Old Mass to follow in their resistance to and rejection of Vatican II. Note the difference between most advocates and lovers of the Old Mass. As he often teaches and preaches, the Pope declared that Vatican II is irreversible and that it is the belief, life and norm of the Church as it moves forward in its pilgrimage at this point in history. This papal move entails divorce not marriage of the Tridentine Mass and the Vatican II Mass. In the history and theology of the Church there is no room for two forms of the Mass as they come with differing theologies, ecclesiologies, and laws of belief. Pope Francis has signaled here that marriage counseling towards saving the marriage of the pre-Vatican II Mass and the Vatican II Mass is out of consideration. In continuity with has always been the Church’s understanding and practice, there can only be one law of belief and one law of worship, firmly affirming and aligning once again correctly “lex credendi,lex orandi.”

    • Deacon Dom’s comment: “In the history and theology of the Church there is no room for two forms of the Mass as they come with differing theologies, ecclesiologies, and laws of belief.”

      I simply don’t see how this statement can be reconciled with the presence of the Eastern Catholic Churches– fully in communion with the Roman Catholic Church– and their clearly different forms of the Divine Liturgy. Clearly, at the least, a more nuanced statement is required.

      • Please don’t confuse the Rite with the form. We’re talking here about the Roman Rite. Those are other Rites you’re talking about, and yes they’re in union with Rome. In each of these Rites there is only one form of order of the Mass – that is, until Pope Benedict XVI invented the abnormality of a notion of two forms of the Roman Rite and of which Pope Francis has fortunately corrected.

        • I’d attribute the distinction, Dom, to the fact that Paul VI “invented” a completely new rite and force-fed an entirely new Missal on the Church, for which there is absolutely no authority whatsoever in Sacrosanctum Consilium, VII’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. As a certain Father Josef Ratzinger noted in 1976, the new Missal of Paul VI had abruptly discarded the gradual and continual process of slow evolution that had always characterized the Roman liturgy and created and entirely new book created out of whole cloth, in contrast with the moderate, minor changes specified by VII. Not only that, the new missal included an across-the-board prohibition of everything that had preceded it, something previously never done. Contrary to your claim, it was Benedict XVI who sought to correct the error of Paul VI, who had simply abandoned the Council’s prescriptions altogether. Pope Francis apparently wants to insulate Paul VI’s policies from that justifiable correction.

          • “For which there is absolutely no authority whatsoever “.

            The underlying theme of your post is councilarism. This theology was condemned by vatican I. The pope, the vicar of Christ is the supreme pontiff (dogma) and his judgements om matters of discipline are of highest authority. I suggest you read session iv of vatican 1 . Chapter 3. #8, #9

        • The confusion is your, not Mr. Sauci’s. It is historical fact that there were many “forms” of the Roman Rite, both before and after the Council of Trent, that were specifically authorized and sanctioned by the Holy See: Ambrosian, Carmelite, Carthusian, Dominican, Lyons, Sarum, and Mozarabic among others.

          • To say nothing of the scores of local uses of the Roman Rite that emerged in the Middle Ages, to name but a handful: Paris, Cologne, Sarum, York, Hereford, Nidaros, Uppsala, Durahm, Metz, Esztergom, and (yes) Lyon. Lyon still remains in use, in fact!

            Even within the Roman Rite world, the idea that such uniformity is necessary is impossible to reconcile with the history of the Latin Church.

        • You’re perhaps not aware, Dom, that most of the Eastern rites utilize both the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom most of the time and the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great on certain feasts. Two different forms of the Divine Liturgy, within one Rite.

          You also seem unaware that Vatican II nowhere called for a wholesale reworking of the Mass of the Latin Rite. If you find it impossible that the Novus Ordo and the traditional Latin Mass cannot co-exist, perhaps it is because you find the TLM a painful and continuous reminder that the NO’s creation was not requested by Vatican II, and in fact by all appearances is in direct contradiction to the liturgical reforms requested in Sacrosanctum Concilium?

          • Except that the respective Divine Liturgies of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom are virtually identical. This is a defective comparison in the current discussion of the 1962 and 1970 Roman Mass forms. The Byzantine Liturgy’s external rites ARE identical. The texts that differ between the fairly long Basil (used during Sundays of Lent and a few other prescribed days) and the somewhat shorter Chrysostom concern almost entirely the priestly prayers–which, in most traditions, are said silently by the priest. In other words–for the sake of illustration–it would be as if one went to the 1962 Mass, but the priest substituted Eucharistic Prayer III for the Roman Canon. All the “external” portions would remain the same.

          • It really does not matter that the ordinary form, called nous ordo was not intended by the council. For it to matter, popes would be beholden to councils. That is called councilarism and is condemned in vatican I. Paul vi had every right and authority as vicar of Christ and supreme pontiff (dogma session 4 chapter 3, #8,9 vatican council 1) to do what he did and impose it on the whole church.. Of course those who went beyond what he ordered had no authority to do so but that is another matter.

    • How ironic then, Dom that, despite all of the VII rhetoric about the People of God, the whole community, etc.,etc., that the liturgical reform was an exercise in supreme, top-down clericalism, imposed without the slightest consultation by clerical command. You may also recall that there was considerable resistance to the reform in many quarters, but to absolutely no avail, and this in the so-called Age of the Laity. A supreme exercise, I’d say, in Orwellian irony. Don’t you think, if that were actually the case, those who preferred the older rite should have been allowed to do so? In any case, even if most of them were not fluent in Latin, don’t you think it’s possible that the older rite communicated powerfully with them? These questions were never even considered, much less asked, and the laity were never consulted. Instead, it was simply obey, Obey, OBEY. I have a very hard time seeing all of this as commensurate with the rather shallow and trite rhetoric about the People of God, don’t you?

      • Re: ” don’t you think it’s possible that the older rite communicated powerfully with them?” I can only answer for myself but yes it did. The NO seems sterile in comparison. My kids, born 1953 though 1964 have missed what “this” was. Not saying it was the Latin but so much was taken away, e.g., the music, the communion rail that I don’t see had to be changed. Yes, it is good people, who can’t read can follow the Mass in their own language. Surprised how many Catholics thought the priest was turning his back on them when he was actually following tradition of facing the East, the rising son, the light. The awe is gone.

        • Thanks, Moira. As I’ve often noted here and elsewhere, one need not play an instrument or even be ale to read music at all in order to appreciate Bach. It’s the beauty that, once again, COMMUNICATES.

          • On the other hand, Mr. Ricketts, my dear late husband (died of COVID in 2020 before the vaccines–he was only 62) was brilliant (B.S. summa cum laude with double major in Computer Science and Math and minor in Linguistics, and earned a Master’s in his 40s) absolutely hated Bach and closed his office door when I practiced it (I’m a skilled pianist/elementary oranist) or played CDS of it. He found it frantic and manic. He actually disliked a lot of “classical/baroque/impressionistic” music, and preferred Christian music by artists like Keith Green, Rich Mullins, and the great Larry Norman (all R.I.P.).

            Also, to everyone on this forum–although I am not on par with my late husband’s intellect, I’m still an intelligent woman (B.S. cum laude, worked in a microbiology lab until I retired a year ago). Both of us attended a “Latin Mass” that was performed (at least that’s how we interpreted it) at a friend’s wedding in the early 1980s. As Evangelical Protestants, we came away from that Mass convinced that Catholics were idolaters worshipping a woman. It did NOT seem “reverent” to us, but rather, it was all theatrics. In the early 2000s, my husband became interested in the “ecumenical” Rosary, which utilized the Lord’s Prayer and other Protestant prayers. Eventually he started studying the Catholic Rosary and the theology behind it–and loved it. This led to interest in the Catholic Church, an interest that was helped by some abuses that were occurring in many Protestant churches including ours. We went to a Mass at the nearest Catholic Church–and had NO CLUE what was going on–and it was a Mass in the Ordinary Form in the vernacular. So we made an appointment with the priest, who kindly explained all of the Mass (he spent 2 hours with us–precious time for him and for us!). We studied for 2 years (the parish had an apologetics class led by a former Baptist pastor), and we converted in 2004. (Our older daughter converted a few years later, and our younger daughter and her husband are in RCIA and will enter the Church this Easter, God willing.)

            I can say with assurance that we probably would NEVER have converted if the Mass had been in a foreign language, although I do believe that God performs miracles.

            The OF Mass has, IMO, helped many Protestants to open their minds to the Catholic Church, and I pray that it will stay with us. There were plenty of apostates from the Catholic Church before Vatican II, and plenty of sinners, including clerics and religious, who were in the Latin Mass parishes before Vat. II.

            I have no objection to the availability of two forms of the Latin Rite and I hope we continue to have both forms available. Many Protestant churches still do a “traditional” service and a “contemporary” service, and this seems to work well, although Protestantism in the U.S. seems to be turning to “Praise and Worship” services that include both traditional and contemporary elements (e.g., the Lord’s Prayer is still prayed in even the most modern churches, but the organs (pipe and electric) are pretty much gone or well-hidden behind the drum set).

    • Deacon Dom, Have you regularly attended the TLM for at least a month or two? Your viewpoints seem to lack a personal encounter with the Vetus Ordo. Your claim that the old Mass has a completely different theology and ecclesiology is very telling. Are you saying the likes of Thomas Aquinas, Gemma Galgani, PiusX, and Padre Pio worshiped in a different church than ours? What you are saying is that the Novus Ordo church is a different church! That is not ground I would want to tread, ground that leads one to the sinkhole of denial of the immutability of the church. May God richly bless your fourth!

      • We’re talking here of the liturgical theology upon which these Masses are grounded. The differences are just like that of the contrast between night and day. The ecclesiology especially between that of the People of God and of the Hierarchy only is reflective in the way the Masses are differently ordered and ritualized. One is offered and “celebrated” by the whole gathered community who “participates” with the priest acting as “presider.” The older one is offered by the priest only who is called the “celebrant,” while the people are to “hear” the Mass even as they at the same time do their private novenas and devotions. It’s in theological differences like this that we all need to be aware of beyond the comparisons many make based on solemnity, beauty, grandeur and glory.

        • I remember that very well, Deacon Dom. People were praying Novenas and rosaries while the priest was doing his thing at the altar. That practice ceased – to a large extent – when the vernacular was introduced. I truly appreciated the change.
          Thank you also for your very interesting post at the top.

          • The difference now, Mal, is that a huge number of them no longer attend Mass at all. I can’t see where that’s an improvement.

          • I remember seeing absolutely none of this, and I attended Mass daily in those days as a boy in elementary and high school. And it certainly does not happen today where the traditional Latin Masses I have attended are overwhelmingly composed of young men and women with their children, all born long after Vatican II.

          • The priest was doing “his thing?” Well finally we know of your honest disdain for Catholicism after all. Suddenly it all makes sense.

          • Paul, Too “attended” thousands of masses in those days. Novenas were said occasionally and not in every church, but individuals praying the rosary was quite regular.
            Edward, I said “thing” because he said the mass in a voice that was barely audible and in a language that most then did not understand, especially in non-European countries. So, they said their own prayers.

        • So, applying your stated understanding of “liturgical theology” the liturgy of the Catholic Church for 1,970 years was “night” while “day” dawned for it only in the last 50 years. How utterly absurd.

          • The Tridentine Mass – its liturgical theology, its ritual order and form – is only around 500 years old. The Mass is indeed over 2,000 years old and it has evolved in its understanding, ritual order and form, and languages in various points in history. Most surely this will continue into the future as long as the Church follows as the Holy Spirit blows where he wills. The Church through its regional and ecumenical councils, the changing pastoral contexts and challenges it faced through the centuries considerably developed the memorial sacrifice of Jesus Christ into what it is now in the Vatican II Mass. If you have the time, energy and resources, I invite you to read these two basic books: “From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist,” by Edward Foley; and “The Pope, The Council, and the Mass: Answers to Questions the Traditionalists Have Asked,” by James Likoudis.

          • Trying to explain to someone that did not attend/grow up in the “old” Mass is difficult. A priest at a Catholic Church said it was stupidstitious. He said the Mass after Vatican II was closer to what the early church practiced. I wanted to say but didn’t was, Yes, as people practice things, they usually get better. His tone of voice was nasty.

        • You are displaying contempt for all the millions of people over the centuries who, unable to read, participated quite well in the Mass by hearing it celebrated; including so many, many saints.

          Your notion of “participation” is pitiably limited.

          • The fault is not on the people. It’s on the theology, the ecclesiology, the liturgical theology, or the law of belief, articulated by the teaching office of the Church.

          • There was no fault. Try reading, for example, The Stripping of the Altars by Eamon Duffy. For a deacon, you sound an awful lot like one of the Protestant “reformers.”

        • No Dom, any valid Mass is offered only by Jesus Christ to the Father, through the ministry of a validly ordained priest. We have completely lost this in the average Catholic Parish. We assist In offering our sacrifices at the foot of the altar as is symbolized by the water droplet added to the wine at the offertory. You are correct in admitting that the modern parish has a new ecclesiological paradigm and it is Not Catholic.

          • “The fault is not on the people. It’s on the theology, the ecclesiology, the liturgical theology, or the law of belief, articulated by the teaching office of the Church.”

            He clearly believes the Church was apostate for 2000 years until freelance butchered liturgies invented Christianity for the first time in the silly seventies.

        • In the early 50s I attended Catholic grade school and the good nuns, in their very straightforward and foursquare way, told us that we were not supposed to “sit there like lumps” at Mass. They admonished us that one did not simply attend Mass but that it was required that we “participate” at Mass or “assist” at Mass. Consequently this is not a new idea or notion that arose from the Second Vatican Council. Pius X, whose pontificate spanned the years from 1903 to 1914 (long before the Council) clearly expressed this notion:
          “If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard you must follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens on the Altar. Further, you must pray with the Priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ….” ” You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens on the Altar. When acting in this way you have prayed Holy Mass. Don’t pray at Holy Mass, but Pray the Holy Mass.” Of course, we accomplished this by use of a Missal containing side by side Latin and English translations. These Missals had been in use long before my own childhood. Now, it is true that some people prayed the rosary or other prayers during the Mass as some people today play with their cell phones. But the mind of the church, for as long as I can remember, and well before the Council, was that the laity actively participate at Mass. And so, the ideal of the laity’s active involvement in the prayer of Holy Mass is nothing new. Call him the celebrant or call him the president of the assembly or the presider, whatever you wish, but the essential role of the priest in the liturgy is the same today as it was before the publication of the Novus Ordo. The priest plays a unique role in the Eucharistic celebration. For only he can confect the sacrament. And he can even do this today, as before, alone at a private Mass. It is the singular power conferred by the the sacrament of holy orders. The consecration of the bread and wine and their transformation into the body and blood of Christ was and is and will always be the central and most important part of Holy Mass. And so, I do not see this dissonance between the lex orandi and lex credendi before and after the Council. We believe today as we believed then. The form of prayer may be different but the fundamental objectives are absolutely the same. And those objectives can be achieved by use of either the Extraordinary or the Ordinary Form of Mass. Anything that seeks to interpose a dichotomy between the two is unnecessarily divisive and harmful to the unity of the People of God.

        • The term I have heard used more often to describe the role of the congregation in the Old Mass is “to assist at Mass.” That implies participation.

        • I think it might be interesting, even instructive, to look at how popular works of devotion were encouraging people to pray before Vatican 2. I have an edition of ‘The Garden of the Soul’ that was published in the UK in 1939. The ‘Devotions for Mass’ are in large print, unlike the rest of the book, so they seem to have been designed for use in church. The first among prayers for the beginning of Mass has these opening words:

          ‘Receive, O Holy Trinity, One God, the Holy Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which I, Thy unworthy servant, desire now to offer unto Thy divine Majesty by the hands of this Thy minister …’

          The partnership of priest and people in the Sacrifice is explicit. Of course, not everyone would have been following prayers such as this. But I would like to object gently to any assumption that many people didn’t have a clue what was going on at the altar.

    • We read: “As he often teaches and preaches, the Pope declared that Vatican II is irreversible and that it is the belief, life and norm of the Church as it moves forward in its pilgrimage at this point in history. This papal move entails divorce not marriage of the Tridentine Mass and the Vatican II Mass.”

      And, yet, Sacrosanctum Concilium was not about divorce, nor more broadly was the Council in anchoring aggiornamento with ressourcement, nor is the Church now to be dismantled from a “hierarchical communion” (Lumen Gentium) into a false dichotomy centered on 1962-65.

      The whole thing has been bungled and even sabotaged, like much else. It makes one wonder anew about our moving “forward”(?) in our “pilgrimage at this point in history,” and the difference, yes (?), between real pilgrimage and ideological historicism (“time is greater than space!”).

      I write as one who attends and values the Novus Ordo, but with no confusion about the categorical significance of sacramental ordination—that is, the distinct role of the priest (alter Christus) as actually still doing something “differing in kind as well as degree” from the role of the laity (Lumen Gentium). Yes, the universal call to holiness, but…

      Are we actually supposed to suck up to the amputated “hermeneutics of discontinuity” (versus discontinuity still within continuity), and irreversible divorce versus harmony? Play it again, Sam.

      • The classification plainly made by Pope Benedict XVI about how to interpret Vatican II and live it, clearly distinguished the two hermeneutics of “discontinuity and rupture” and of “reform.” See his 2005 Christmas Address to the Roman Curia. The Pope then elaborated that “reform” which is what Vatican II is all about and how it should be correctly interpreted and received contains both elements of “continuity and discontinuity.” The divorce and marriage metaphors is Fr. Pokorsky’s musings in this article. The theology behind “lex credendi, lex orandi” precludes the co-existence of the Tridentine Mass and the Vatican II Mass. Divorce, not marriage, is rightly called for.

        • In my comment I already use the phrase “discontinuity within continuity.” Benedict refers, likewise, to continuity and discontinuity “at different levels.” The fanciful interpretation that, by this wording, he endorses rupture and divorce as “the very nature of true reform” is not indicated or persuasive, at all.

          “It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance…It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels [!] that the very nature of true reform consists.”

    • I have lived with views such as yours. With Pope Francis smashing the Usus Antiquior, I now see that we have in the Church two different religions. One is the Church of 2000 years, and the other is a new Church. Two different forms of the Lex Orandi. There cannot exist two different religions founded By Christ. Theologically this is impossible. The Church needs to examine this strange situation finally.

    • “The most important element in the reform of belief flowing from Vatican II is the development of ecclesiology or the maturity of the understanding of the Church as indeed the People of God, meaning that it is whole community of the baptized.”

      If this new ecclesiology was so urgently and clearly defined at the Council, why does Sacrosanctum Concilium make no reference to it, let alone require it as a principle to inform the liturgical reform it prescribed?

      In all seriousness: The expression “People of God” does not appear even once, in any variation, in SC. If the Council Fathers really believed that they were promulgating such a critical advance in Church doctrine, one would think they would have felt a great urgency to require the Church’s prayer to reflect it.

      • What Sacrosanctum Concilium teaches is essentially interfacing what Lumen Gentium teaches especially at the juncture where liturgy and ecclesiology concur. That is why it is said that liturgy is applied ecclesiology. You have to read these two constitutions wholly, not isolated lines or paragraphs, to fully understand how they are interconnected and how to be received and applied.

        • But Lumen Gentium was promulgated only a full year AFTER Sacrosanctum Concilium – and after a much more vexed conciliar debate. In November 1963 it was not at all clear yet just what the final contours of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church would look like.

          If the Council Fathers had it in their minds to undertake a major doctrinal development on the Church’s ecclesiology, and make this so central to the conciliar reform project, why rush out the liturgical reform prescriptions before you’ve even hashed that out?

    • You repeat the Eighth Commandment trashing claim of Pope Francis that those who venerate God in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass are “ideologically driven.” This is shameless nonsense. Nonetheless, can you help me out and inform me of where I can take a course in the ideology of clownspeak or where I can obtain bubble making machines or, at the very least, where can I obtain earplugs to save what’s left of my hearing from the rock and roll music at Novus Ordo Masses so I can “fully participate?”

      • Please read again the distinction I made clearly between “advocates” and “lovers” of the Old Mass, the pertinent sentences reposted here: “With Traditionis Custodes, Pope Francis wanted to jolt the ideology-driven advocates of the Tridentine Mass who mostly have rejected Vatican II and have misled many spiritual-motivated lovers of the Old Mass to follow in their resistance to and rejection of Vatican II. Note the difference between most advocates and lovers of the Old Mass.”

        • I read it fine the first time. You and Francis trash the Eighth Commandment to characterize an attitude that doesn’t exist.

  2. Third sentence should be: “Promoting their marriage and avoid a divorce is analogically incorrect or even out of order.”

  3. Fr. Pokorsky is a wonderful priest who I happen to know first hand from his time at St. Michael’s. Not surprisingly, this is a thoughtful and dispassionate plea for a reasonable approach to the two rites. The Novus Ordo is not going away but, as Fr. Pokorsky points out, it can benefit from exposure to the solemnity of the Latin Mass (not to mention cleaning up a number of liturgical abuses which seem to plagued it in certain dioceses). Unfortunately, I suspect the Vatican’s suppression of the Extraordinary Form will have the unintended effect of “hardening the resistance” and driving a deeper wedge into an already pretty divided laity rather than the “marriage” Fr. Pokorsky envisions.

  4. blah blah blah.

    The new Mass is valid but most definitely inferior. It is like praise music in evangelical circles. The more the hierarchy defends it, the more obvious the situation is. And the odd thing is Vatican II nowhere endorses the new rite. But watch the Church cling to the Norvus Ordo with all its might, just because.

    Really, our pope sounds like Joe Biden with a mitre.

    • The new Mass is inferior?
      Is that so? Is that many of us who were brought up during the Latin days welcomed this new , very meaningful Mass that is rich in scripture and prayers – prayers that the worshippers join in. Our Pope sounds more like the Apostles of our Lord’s time. He wants us to live a Christ-like life in the Church building (in which we spend a little time) and outside where we are meant to love all brothers and sisters – as He loved us. This is far bigger stuff than Biden and Trump.

  5. The Pharisees loved their old ways. They lived by the Law and gladly participated in their rich rituals. Life was good. Then Jesus came along with his emphasis on love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness. These, they were told, were the truly important things that mattered. However, the Pharisees and the priests and others preferred their old comfortable and satisfying ways.
    Unfortunately, they refused to see how their ways satisfied themselves but did not necessarily satisfy God. They had long forgotten the religion that was taught to them by God in the Garden of Eden. That was a simple but tough religion: love God and love his creation, to look after it. They were prepared to pray, sing psalms, fast and pay tithes, but to reach out to sinners, prostitutes, lepers, eunuchs and other lost souls – in other words, to intimately identify with them, our brothers and sisters – was taking it too far. There was a rupture. The ones who did not go along with the revival desired by Jesus, did all they could to gag him, revile him, and eventually to kill him. What they did not know was that they could not kill him. He, and his message, was all about Life.
    This is similar to the situation today.

    • What ridiculous reasoning do you employ now to interpret a Pope who frequently ridicules the Deposit of Faith as “sterile and a museum piece,” a faith that includes all the demands of sacrifice and compassion implicit in the MORAL LAW, which obviously includes the MORAL IMPERATIVES, THE MORAL LAWS of the Beatitudes and the Corporal Works of Mercy, as inventing anything revolutionary never thought of before?

    • You state, ”
      Unfortunately, they refused to see how their ways satisfied themselves but did not necessarily satisfy God.” So you are saying that the old mass did not satisfy God? You don’t know that.

  6. Thank you, Father, for a well-balanced and reasoned reflection of the current liturgical battle in the Church.

    I grew up with the Tridentine Mass but nothing is more beautiful than the Novus Ordo prayed reverently as I have seen done with priest and people facing in the same direction offering the Sacrifice on the altar of and by the Son IN UNISON TO THE FATHER. When this is done and where the Canon is beautifully intoned by the priest, especially the words of consecration, the prayer is transcendent. Juxtapose this against: clown Masses; happy-clappy idiots; breaks in the Canon for for all sorts of odd commentary; holding hands at the Our Father or using the “orans” posture; balloon Masses; homilies given by laity; priests not wearing chauables; Father “celebrant” acting as entertainer/comedian; a box of cookies on the altar during consecration so that after Communion the kiddies who haven’t yet had 1st Communion won’t feel left out; meaningless banners constructed by “nuns out of uniform”; loud, noisy banter both before and after Mass that interferes with personal preparation and prayer; tabernacles hidden from view as if we were ashamed of the Blessed Sacrament or doubtful about the Real Presence; forcible Communion in the hand (with the concomitant problem of people “pocketing” the Blessed Sacrament); and a small army of needless so-called “Echaristic Ministers” because of a real problem of everyone receiving Communion but virtually no one going to Confession (what I’d call the “Nancy Pelosi Phenomenon”).

    Most of you here know what I’m talking about because you’ve experienced it firsthand. It not the NO or EF that’s the issue. Rather, it’s the highjacking of worship due God that is the problem that the Pontiff Francis most egregiously misses but who, because he misdiagnoses the problem, has created more unnecessary division in the Church. But, Christ will not be divided.

  7. As I’ve often noted here at CWR and elsewhere, I’m unable to distinguish between the vehement, bitter hostility one encounters from many clergy toward the EF and the celebration of the NO in Latin with chant, polyphony, etc. Just try asking for the latter in many dioceses and see what sort of response you get. And it’s not only to the use of Latin: I’ve repeatedly encountered similar obstructionism when I request that the Roman Canon and the Confiteor be recited in English – repeat, that’s IN ENGLISH. Absolutely NOT. It’s “too pre-VII,” you see, an attitude that long pre-dates the present pontificate. Of course, as Father Pokorsky notes, it’s possible for lapses or abuses to occur in either rite, but the advantage of the EF is that they were much less obvious to the congregation, much more restrained by the rubrics. In the NO, they are often calculated and flaunted with pride. Small wonder that so many who still attend Mass regularly no longer believe in the Real Presence.

  8. Thank you, Father, for a very fine article! This is an excerpt from a recent letter to a worthy Jesuit in England whom I have known since the mid-1970s: “I was supposed to be co-teaching a class on the Latin of the Old Mass at ______ Cathedral, but for the time being it is on hold after Traditionis Custodes. At least I haven’t heard from Fr. ___, the new young priest who normally is extrovertedly up-and-doing about everything, and was keen for this to happen. He’s gone quiet about it. Our most heavily attended Masses are still the Traditional Latin Mass, two on Sunday. So far nothing has been cancelled, thank God. I attend both the TLM and the NO but much prefer the Old Mass. Pace the Pope, it doesn’t stimulate feelings in me so much as it stimulates thought, a LOT more thought, with focus and concentration restored. I wonder sometimes if its fanatical opponents in the aging clergy have had much of an exposure to musical phrasing. Fr. Tyrrell used to say the Novus Ordo for our prayer group in the most beautifully phrased way, didn’t he? He was supremely careful with the words of the liturgy as though Someone beside ourselves might be watching and listening.”

    • Thomas M Murphy: lest you fall into the trap of the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness, the thinking that your specific experience is the whole of reality, be it known that the Old Mass is celebrated in only 1,700 out of the 225,000 parishes worldwide. In the U.S., the Tridentine Mass is celebrated in only 700 out of the 18,000 parishes.

      • Dear Aldrin,

        So what? What point are you trying to make? Use clear and unambiguous terms, frame propositions that are true, and make arguments that follow logically from their premises. You have some work to do.

  9. A point for serious thought is that all the rabid and more moderate purveyors [a matter of opinion] of radical change at, and post Council including bête noire Hannibal the liturgical cannibal Bugnini were born and raised with the traditional Latin Mass. Their avalanche inundating all doctrine wasn’t a form of spiritual spontaneous combustion.
    “Great harm will come to the Church if there is a divorce, and her children will suffer irreparable wounds” (Fr Pokorsky in true prophetic form). Although the damaging response is hatred. I returned to the faith at the time when everything that I relearned to love as beautiful and spiritual was being deliberately jettisoned like jetsam and later when the ship became wreckage like flotsam. Survival was holding on to what remained, the Novus Ordo. What I learned to love was simply the essence of the Mass, the consecration of the Eucharist and the real presence. I agree with Pokorsky’s assessment. Happily Benedict XVI finally revised the Ordo and it became most welcome.
    Inexorable is an unkind word if it connotes division and strife. Traditionalists must jettison their hatred because it damages them spiritually as well as damaging the entire Church. Get over believing that acceptance is acquiescence to a despotic Francis and Council evildoers. It’s humble acquiescence to Christ. Benedict had it supremely correct when he supported practice of the former traditional Mass, and the wonderful, intelligent, unifying counsel to incorporate in the new what is of great value in the former.
    The logic is that a desired complete return to the original Latin liturgy is predictably not going to change the rapidly down spiraling practice of the faith and perversity. It’s simply returning to what existed at the time of the avalanche. Humility, obedience, and a steeled faith in Christ will enable us to restore the Mystical Body’s spiritual and aesthetic beauty.

    • Father Morello’s comment: “A point for serious thought is that all the rabid and more moderate purveyors [a matter of opinion] of radical change at, and post Council including bête noire Hannibal the liturgical cannibal Bugnini were born and raised with the traditional Latin Mass. Their avalanche inundating all doctrine wasn’t a form of spiritual spontaneous combustion.”

      I’ve been saying for years that this is the $64,000 question that the liturgical traditionalists either refuse to answer or are simply unable to answer. If the Traditional Latin Mass is all that they claim it to be, and the solution to our problems is simply to return to it without any changes at all, how did we get to where we are today? It isn’t as if space aliens suddenly imposed the Novus Ordo on us; it was the product of people formed in the Church of the 1940’s and 1950’s– particularly by the Traditional Latin Mass. That Church clearly and wholly was unprepared for the modernist onslaught of the 1960’s and beyond. Something was missing, and when Satan started his diabolical attacks, few in the Church had the spiritual tools to resist. What we had was a facade of piety that quickly crumbled. While I have been attending the TLM regularly as it is more reliably reverent, I’m not convinced that it is the best overall approach– and priests such as Father Pokorsky tend to get attacked by both the Hatfields and the McCoys when they try to chart the traditionally Catholic “both/and” approach.

      • The modernist philosophy appeared and became a movement in the early 1900s. It was around and growing during the 1950s and 1960s. The mandated oath against it was rescinded in 1967 by Paul VI. So the TLM had little to nothing to do with modernism except that its rubrics did not allow the priest and people freedom to do whatever their ‘spirit’ suggested.

        TLM worship is directed to and for God. Only from God does man receive grace.
        Reflection upon His attributes during TLM are appropriately reverential and solemn, transcendentally full of beauty and solemn prayer. Some of His perfections which the TLM aims to imitate are order, peace, unity, holiness, omniscience, omnipotence, perfection, silence, awe, etc. The NO focuses on man, man who seems to believe in a post rational post modern empirical age that he knows how to worship God better than the millions of Catholics and saints who, for centuries, worshiped by the “Mass of the Ages” with its organic growth over time. If the NO man believes that he knows best, I wish him glory and good luck on Judgment Day. Perhaps the NO man recognizes a facade of piety when he sees one. He ought to stay at home if that is as much as his God means.

        Let it never be said that TLM attendees begrudge the NO attendees. But it has never been a 2-way street. Pace Francis.

      • Andrew, I don’t see how it follows that, simply because Bugnini, etc. were “born and raised” in the TLM, it would follow that they would not have been influenced by Modernism which, as Jacques Maritain and others observed long ago was a rather surreptitious movement in various schools of theology and operated usually below the radar screen. The papers and treatises of Teilherd de Chardin, he complained in his 1966 book “The Peasant of the Garonne,” circulated anonymously in seminaries, notwithstanding the objections of the Church’s highest doctrinal authorities. Pope St. Pius X noted this long before VII in his 1907 encyclicals condemning the trend, obviously not successfully, as Pius XII also attempted to do in 1950 with his strong condemnation of modern philosophies. It’s not surprising that clerics who had imbibed these modernist ideas would be intensely hostile to the traditional liturgy, since it stood as the chief barrier to the radical reforms they envisioned or the things they sought to discard. The main thing to bear in mind is that all of this was confined to seminaries and theology departments, wholly unobserved by the laity and unnoticed by many bishops. VII, whatever its stated intentions, gave the modernists the opportunity to meet, compare notes and coalesce in a way that nothing else could have, especially since Paul VI was often quite sympathetic to their general outlook.

        • Thank you Meiron and Mr. Ricketts. I am a convert drifting more and more to a Rad Trad in part because one hundred percent of the arguments I have heard against them are strawman arguments. Even Andrew above claims the main issue for the Trads is the Mass. It is not. It is modernism, and modernism is even older than a century before VII. It dates back to the Garden of Eden. You shall be as Gods means Satan claimed we can create our own truth. The simplest way to understand modernism is that it is predicated on the atheistic notion that truth is always in flux, that there are no permanent immutable truths, which is why it is the synthesis of all heresies. Many who think they believe in God are willing to make a deal with the devil and compromise their epistemology with little self-awareness that this is what they are doing. They believe theology can adapt to mutable truth, which is why process theology became popular in the silly seventies.
          No Trad has made the argument that restoring the TLM would make everything fine in the Church again, and saying that they are is an easy way of not listening to what they are saying. The TLM helps to remind us that worshiping God instead of ourselves also reminds us of the immutable truth that we are not in any way the source of truth. All truth, not some, not a lot, not most, all truth is a reflection of the mind of God. We don’t create any of it. I figured this out when I was an atheistic physicist many years ago. Then I ceased being an atheist.

  10. One remedy for the distortions of the novus ordo is that it be sung in its entirety. This seems to have been the view of the fathers of the council: The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, paragraph 113 provides “Liturgical worship is given a more noble form when the divine offices are celebrated solemnly in song, with the assistance of sacred ministers and the active participation of the people.” For the fathers of the council, this cold have only meant the Solemn High Mass. The tradition was that practicaly everything that was to be said aloud was sung. Sacred ministers were deacon and subdeacon of the Solemn High Mass. Melodies for the singing of all the parts of the Mass are provided by books: those published by Solesmes for the Latin, and the current Roman Missal for the English. The sacredness and beauty of the iturgy is immeasurably enhanced when this is done well.

    • Good idea, if – as I note in another comment in this thread – you can find a parish or priest who is receptive to the idea. In my experience, the clerical hostility I’ve encountered to both this sort of celebration of the OF or using the EF are quite on par.

    • Unless there’s a parish with a decent music budget and talented, well educated musicians, spare me the Novus Ordo with music. Prayer at least can be possible in silence.
      The music I hear every week at a perfectly valid and blessedly faithful Novus Ordo is a great cross. My wise musical father-in-law used to tell me (repeatedly) that “one cannot legislate musicality.” People who have not heard and cannot produce acceptable, even simple church music are simply not able to improve the music in a parish, no matter their salary. Of course, I know that everyone is truly holier than I am and means well. God help us.

  11. “Irreconcilable differences?”

    Some of us – and I am one of them – simply prefer the Latin Mass, and just a few of the reasons – the music, the reverence that it inspires, and in my case the fact that to go to the nearest Latin Mass here in Maine (Lewiston) I have to get up at 5 in the morning, drive 55 miles each way, thereby earning a self-inflicted pat on the back, and then when I get there I enter a lovely Basilica which silences me, and the others who enter there.

    Another reason – I sit up front at my regular Novus Ordo Church in Augusta and it is ALWAYS noisy there prior to the weekend Mass. In contrast – when I go to the Latin Mass it is ALWAYS quiet prior to the Mass – That to me is a HUGE difference, and I am not alone in that opinion.

    Fr. Morello – your statement 7/4/22 @7:14 a.m. that “Traditionalists must jettison their hatred because it damages them spiritually as well as damaging the entire Church.” “Hatred”? – the use of such a word is entirely inaccurate and unnecessary. We who prefer the TLM don’t hate the Novus Ordo, we just prefer the TLM and see no reason why the Pope is trying to suppress it, one could even say that he is trying to abolish it.

    The simple truth is that the two can co-exist, and I for one freely concede to you any ‘glad tambourines’ you may find.

    • You have an obvious love for the liturgy, Terence. To go to all trouble to attend a Latin Mass, shows great devotion and faith.

    • If you claim not to hate as if a man of integrity your insult about tambourines says otherwise. There are many who loath the Novus Ordo. I always preferred Gregorian Chant and have offered the Mass with solemnity.

      • “If you claim not to hate as if a man of integrity your insult about tambourines says otherwise.” 1) Grammatically it makes no sense, and 2) The remark about tambourines was made in jest – no insult intended.

        “There are many who loath the Novus Ordo” – I am not one of them, I simply much prefer the Latin Mass, as I made quite clear.

        I too love Gregorian Chant, and I’m sure that you offer the Mass with solemnity.

        BTW – Are you by chance related to a Dan Morello who went to Notre Dame from 1961-1965?

  12. “The Novus Ordo is a kind of spouse to the Tridentine Mass. Maybe the marriage was ill-advised because the Novus Ordo was too immature, and the Tridentine Mass set in its ways.” ???

    Novus Ordo, concocted by Annibale Bugnini with the collaboration of Protestant ‘periti’, sealed the liquidation of continuity to the RC lex orandi. People abandoned the RCC by droves. Those more knowledgeable sought continuity in Orthodoxy. Vast sectors of the less knowledgeable simply dropped out, or became fodder for Protestant sects, mainly Anglican/Episcopal and Methodist. In Latin America, the radical reform of liturgy undermined the sense of loyalty to a traditional faith hard to sense in the new Mass. Prod Evangelism soon began to profit. Since Novus Ordo, Evangelicals and Mormonism have markedly increased their number in Mexico -whose chief executive, Andrés Manuel López-Obrador, happens to be a ‘born again’ Protestant Evangelical- also in Central America, and South America. It is hard to say that El Salvador is still Catholic, likewise, Brazil, where Evangelicals have become a significant power in the nation’s politics. In brief, Vatican II, and the liturgical reform that flowed from it did not secure the historical loyalty of millions in the vast continent of America, including also the U.S. Even less, has Vatican II and Novus Ordo assured the growth of vocations to the Catholic priesthood and to the religious orders for women. There is, however, a significant rise in unabashed ‘Catholic atheists’, in all the once-upon-a-time Catholic nations on both sides of the Atlantic, also in the U.S.

    • Right. An article on a website that was created for the specific purpose of defending Francis. How typical, sad to say. You’re getting really predictable.

    • In the backing-and-forthing of allegations and defenses, your link leads to another link, where Bugnini-defender Murr is quoted about Bugnini:

      “There are differing ways to look at this question. Some people have proposed a quick and simple solution: Bugnini’s membership in Freemasonry means we should hit the reset button on everything that happened from the publication of Sacrosanctum Concilium to the present. True, as a Freemason, Bugnini would be persona non grata to many people, dare I say a reprobate and a prime candidate to be excommunicado, and there is reason to question his authority. The problem here is that Paul VI lent his authority to the changes—a fact that Bugnini was rather keen to emphasize in his book The Reform of the Liturgy (1948-1975). Thus, papal authority is bound up with this question and we have to be mindful of that.”
      The debate turns on what is meant that “Paul VI lent his authority to the changes.”
      I distinctly recall, from the time, Paul VI’s “endorsement” that the ambiguous wording of the Mass remained valid IF interpreted in the traditional sense. Damage control; hardly an endorsement. The art of deception lies in ambiguity, not in flat-out lies. On the other hand, it was also reported that when Bugnini was alerted to the misinterpretations, he said “Oh, I never thought of it that way.” Was Bugnini not a Freemason, but only a useful idiot?

      One thing remains certain, that the clown masses and much else of the 1970s and beyond were not authorized by the Council. None of the experimental, secularizing, and rupturing shenanigans were given, or even sought, the approvals required under Sacrosanctum Concilium . Maybe it’s less about Bugnini alone than it is about incompetent management, like so much else then and now… Except for periti Schillebeeckx who, still during the Council, proudly revealed in a published article (about which, Pope Paul VI wept) that the game plan, as members of the later implementation committees after close of the Council, was to exploit the ambiguities planted in the Documents of Vatican II (See Rev. Ralph Wiltgen, “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber”).

      • The claim made by some that Archbishop Bugnini was a Freemason had no basis in fact.
        There was a plan to make Bugnini look evil or foolish and we know who the mischief makers were/are.

        • Your link goes to great lengths to demonstrate that the Novus Ordo is “valid.” An uncontested issue. The polarized juxtaposition of Bugnini vs Lefebvre adds no clarification. As for conflating liturgical disagreements with a “rebellion against Vatican II”, a straw man?

          FIRST, here’s the piece I referenced from Rev. Ralph Wiltgen, who during the Council ran a daily news service in six different languages and which went out to subscribers in 108 countries:

          “Then one of the extreme liberals made the mistake of referring, in writing, to some of these ambiguous passages [in Lumen Gentium], and indicating how they would be interpreted after the Council. This paper fell into the hands of the aforesaid group of cardinals and superiors general [“thirty-five cardinals and the superiors general of five very large religious orders”], whose representative took it to the Pope. Pope Paul, realizing finally that he had been deceived, broke down and wept. What was the remedy? Since the text of the schema did not positively make any false assertion, but merely used ambiguous terms, the ambiguity [about the “hierarchical communion”] could be clarified by joining to the text a carefully phrased explanation. This was the origin of the Preliminary Explanatory Note appended to the schema” (The Rhine Flows into the Tiber, 1967, p. 232).

          Now, after sixty years and being held in check by John Paul II and Benedict, we find the German “synodal way” (etc.) exploiting the original ambiguity by rejecting a motion to at least structure its consultative synodality in two levels. Instead, a mixed block-party model openly attacking the very nature of the sacramental Church and settled moral doctrine.

          SECOND, as for Bugnini, Wiltgen reports that he had become the Secretary of the liturgical commission of forty-two members from twenty-six countries. Wiltgen goes on:

          “The most surprising name of all on this commission was that of Archbishop Felici, who had so thoroughly blue-penciled the Motu proprio and caused such commotion among the bishops and such embarrassment for the Holy Father [still Pope John]. What had he done to merit a seat on this commission? He was a canon lawyer, but not a liturgist. The appointment had been promoted by Father Bugnini, who felt that the Archbishop deserved to be rewarded for what he had done in behalf of the schema in its early stages, when eighty-year-old Gaetano Cardinal Cicognani, older brother of the Secretary of State and President of the Liturgical Preparatory Commission, had hesitated in giving the necessary approval. Strong conservative elements in the Sacred Congregation of Rites were urging him to withhold his signature. [….Felici was having difficulty securing Cicognini’s necessary signature, but finally….] Later a peritus of the Liturgical Preparatory Commission stated that the old Cardinal was almost in tears as he waved the document in the air and said, ‘They [Bugnini and Felici, etc.] want me to sign this, but I don’t know if I want to.’ Then he laid the document on his desk, picked up a pen, and signed it. Four days later he died” (pp. 140-41).

          MAL, this reader is genuinely interested in what your sources might have to say, not narrowly about Bugnini and Lefebvre, but also about the others in the kitchen such as Felici, and Cicognani, the fatally-stressed President of the Liturgical Preparatory Commission.

    • Mal, I suggest that you consult The Memoirs of Louis Bouyer, a priest who worked closely with Msgr. Bugnini on the consilium created by Paul VI for implementing the VII liturgical reform. On p. 219 he describes Bignini as “a mealy-mouthed scoundrel….. a man as bereft of culture as he was of basic honesty.” Fr. Bouyer doesn’t strike me as a “hater of VII” or one of “the usual crowd” to which you refer. And he was certainly in a better position than most of us to form this opinion of Bugnini, wouldn’t you say?

  13. I tell this tale when the need arises, and I think it has now.

    One Sunday in April of 2015 I arose early to go to the Latin Mass in Lewiston, a 55 mile drive. I got there really early as is my wont and went into the Basilica, a lovely building built more than 100 years ago by the Franco-Americans who had emigrated there at that time – The Stations of the Cross are in French.

    The doors were open and the Church was almost dark as I entered and took a seat. The silence and the quasi-darkness – the only light was at the Altar – were very comforting to me as I took a seat halfway down the aisle.

    After a few moments I noticed that there was music being played – the organist had gotten there early (it was about 7 a.m.) and was practicing. To this day I tell myself that he (or she) thought God was the only one listening, and to this day I get a bit teary when I tell this tale.

    We’ll get through this.

  14. A third way? A middle way? Yes, there is. I am a member of an Ordinariate community. The Ordinariate Form of the Mass, Divine Worship, is beautiful. We are blessed to have loads of Latin, English hymns drawn from the venerable Anglican tradition, an elevated form of the English language, ad orientem worship, solid preaching firmly anchored in Holy Scripture, etc., etc. More than one notable voice has stated that Divine Worship is the Mass envisioned by the Council.

    Just sayin’.

  15. From what I can gather the Freemason problem was Cardinal Baggio where Titular Archbishop Bugnini was used as a distraction. If true then the constant referring back to Bugnini is meant to perpetuate the diversion and Baggio keeps escaping due exposure.

    At the top Deacon Dom claims that the two Masses can not exist together. That has no foundation and it has no realism. More importantly, on the theme of diversion, abuses of the New Form are rampant and how you could be declaring “desired with desire” yet letting them persist, approaches to a scandal.

    • This supports what I am saying. Please bear in mind that there is a passage of time since the 1960’s that still would have to be accounted for, many things may not have followed straight-line in their development coming down the years since.

      Not down-playing the Freemason thing: negative influence, itself destructive, can come in from any person or set of individuals in combination. While we can make some allowances within a measure of tolerance for persons and for our ignorance of who-is-who, there is a duty to attend to the objective characteristics of disorders and abuses in the liturgical practice. Those who wish to stand in the way of the correction of errors there in the liturgical practice, ON THIS COUNT ALONE, bear no merit whatsoever and HAVE NO STANDING.

  16. As someone from the Arlington Diocese, I am embarrassed to have this man as a priest in my diocese. His deranged conspiracies about Bugnini and the Council are straight out of a propaganda film made by SSPX sympathizers.

    Pope Francis didn’t exacerbate anything. Trads were always this toxic.

    • Father Pokorsky is anything but deranged, and certainly is not a sympathizer of SSPX. He, like all of our Arlington priests, is a holy and good man, loved by our Bishop. On Holy Thursday, following the Chrism Mass, Bishop Burbidge said to me, “I am the most blessed Bishop. I have the best priests.” And he is including Father Pokorsky in that comment.

  17. When I was still on Facebook I saw this traditionalist picture of an altar surrounded by people, some vested, but their heads were beast and monster-like creatures, and beneath the depiction I read: this is the NO! Then I read about Abp Lefebvre who said that the NO was sheer poison and from the devil; and this sentiment is very much alive in the present traditionalist movement, condemning to heel the NO and everything church after Pope Pius X, Vat II, and all the holy popes of the last 80 years. It was and it is hatred and condemnation of the church and lies and errors about themselves wanting to be the only holy remnants. They gained a lot of new people because of lies and falsified information. Another thing I have to say that the Church in the US has allowed too many radical unnecessary changes. In Europe they kept the old hymns even back to the 6th century, the organs, the daily saints and martyrs and celebrate classical Latin masses on feast days. What is paramount and of significant importance that we do not blame each other, and recognize that every single holy sacrifice of the catholic mass is Christ being celebrated, worshipped and made present, our eternal sacrifice who feeds us with His divine Self, and no matter what music or beauty is displayed in a cathedral or in a hut in poverty stricken country sides. it shall be to worship, adore, offer sacrifice and our hearts to the Savior-God in thanksgiving. Bergoglio’s intentions and actions are often opposite to the Truth of Christ. We shall overcome! We shall overcome by love and prayer, and by Christ who wounds and binds, creates and recreates, and who promised that He will sustain His Chruch through all ages to the last hour.

      • Thank you, Glenn; beautiful website. I understand that most of traditionalists want to bring out all the beauty of our faith and especially worship. I grew up in catholic/Marian Bavaria. There are so many different rites in the Catholic Church, so let it be enriching. Anything that elevates the hearts of men towards Christ our Lord and God. However, I love the Novus Ordo. THE NO IS THE TRUE ENACTMENT, MEMORADUM AND TESTAMENT TO THE LAST SUPPER, THE ENSTALLMENT OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND ANOINTMENT OF THE PRIESTHOOD IN CHRIST. When I see the Priest/in persona Christi and all the people of God, the disciple of the Lord, like Christ and His apostles celebrating and actively participating together, praying, praising, blessing, anticipating the supernatural and miraculous presence of the Eternal Sacrifice, to be nourished by the divine substance of our Lord and God Himself, then everything else is secondary. He calls us to intimacy and unity. God bless!

  18. According to Fr. Louis Bouyer, the renowned convert and 20th century theologian and church historian, in his Memoirs (p. 219), he and Dom Bernard Botte were asked by Pope Paul VI to work on Msgr. Bugnini’s liturgy committee (called Consilium), and Bouyer writes that Bugnini soon revealed himself as “a mealy-mouthed scoundrel…a msn ss bereft if culture as he was of basic honesty.” Bouyer recounts numerous cases of Bugnini’s deceitfulness, and the “Under different conditions [a “number of genuine scholars” and judicious pastors”] might have accomplished excellent work….” [T]here was no hope of producing anything of greater value…what with this claim of recasting from top to bottom, and in a few months, an entire liturgy it had tsken twenty centuries to develop.”

    The project was done under “deplorable conditions in which this hasty reform was expedited…and the Eucharistic Prayer (i.e. No. 2 championed by Bugnini) was cobbled together (at the last minute at a cafe table in the Trastavere neighborhood)…. The committee was packed with “indiscriminately archeologizing fanatics who wwnted to banish the Sanctus and intercessions in the Eucharistic prayer…” and “others who couldn’t have cared less about…Apostolic Tradition and wanted a slapdash Mass….” (p. 221).

    That’s a firsthand account from one of the most reknowned Resourcement theologians of the 20th century.


    • Even renowned theologians can have personal opinions that merely reflect their own tastes, preferences and expectations. I believe, however, that the Holy Spirit was not caught napping. He steered the committee along the right path.

      • Mmmm. So, then, you think the Holy Spirit was caught napping for all those centuries before the Novus Ordo, then.

      • Mal, this is hardly “personal opinion.” It is, rather, the first-hand observations of a fellow priest who worked with Bugnini on a daily basis for several years. Your response here aptly illustrates the old adage that there are none so blind as those who do not wish to see.

      • Mal:

        His is not merely a personal opinion, but an explicit public indictment of the deceitful behavior and ignorance of Msgr. Bugnini, which undermines your presumption favoring Msgr. Bugnini, which you make without recourse to any evidence, but instead rests upon what appears to be your own opinion, which in absence of any countervailing evidence, may indicate nothing more than your own prejudices.

        But not intending to be dismissive, perhaps you have countervailing evidence that you might bring to bear to rebut the evidence of Fr. Bouyer?

      • “Steered?” The Holy Spirit steered (!) the committee?

        And on this very point the Church has taught, instead and for so long, that the Holy Spirit only and respectfully “indwells” the Church. The indwelling Spirit guides, does not steer–otherwise what room is there left for human free will (also a doctrinal matter!) to either follow, or not?

        Yes, the Holy Spirit is never absent from us in the Church, but we can be absent from Him. Steering the Church smacks of a fatalistic and even Islamic orientation—but instead of a turban a smiley-button.

        On this question of the divine will AND human free will, it is we (not God) who should not be caught napping. Yes, God does draw good out of evil, but this is quite different than steering. And, it’s been a long wait.

  19. I highly recommend Trojan Horse in the City of God: The Catholic Crisis Explained by Dietrich von Hildebrand. It is a very easy read that explains the crisis of the Church after the Council and the fallacies of progressive Catholicism.

  20. I propose a test – Pick the more appropriate Catholic prayer, and explain why it is more appropriate:

    A – “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the Divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

    B – “O God, Who in creating man did so wonderfully exalt his nature, and yet more wonderfully did establish it anew: by the mystery of the mingling of this water and wine, grant us to partake of the Divinity of Him Who has consented to share in our humanity, Jesus Christ, Your Son, and Our Lord….”

  21. Thank you for pointing out that in large part Masses in the current Catholic Church are banal, irreverent and lame.

    • However, form my experience, they are reverent, and makes Jesus come alive in our midst. I think it is our attitude that also matters.

  22. From 1959-1963, I was a Protestant student in an all-boys, Catholic HS. We were told, quite clearly, that the Mass was “it”, and the teaching that accompanied it was final.
    In the aftermath of Vatican II, the new Mass was implemented in all Latin rite parishes, superseding the the old. This was the new thing to be believed , and often, the theology was absorbed at least as much by implication as by teaching. I had become a Catholic, and, over the years, cognitive dissonance ensued. Where was the continuity with the past? It was difficult to find. A question: when the next phase occurs, and there is yet another liturgy we are supposed to embrace emerges, replacing the NO, another understanding is put before the faithful, and this will, more than likely, occur. What we are to believe? Will it all be imposed from above, with specious, facile, sometimes uninintelligible and shallow pronouncements accompanying what may be a further Protestant “Lord’ Table” occupying center stage, distancing us yet further from the continuity with past generations of Catholics, which is so badly needed? Cognitive dissonance continues, for many of us.

  23. While I can understand concern about enforcing distance and disdain rather than unification, especially in a modern era where Catholicism needs more than anything to understand what and where it seeks to go towards God for the future, But, Father Pokorsky, you compared the first traditionalist priests to Allied soldiers on Normandy beach–which would then mean that the liberal Catholics of the 1970s that you make their enemies are…the Nazi soldiers. Setting aside the obvious question of “How liberal was the average Catholic politically in the 1970s, really?”, I don’t think it’s rhetorically sound to argue that Pope Francis is fomenting disunity while calling for peace whilst you write about intrafaith troubles with complete sincerity as portraying one side as seeking the genocide of countless oppressed minorities.

    Additionally, Father, you then immediately follow this comparison of liberal laity to Nazis with descriptions of “flamboyant cantors, folksy readers, and busybody feminist nuns hell-bent on running the liturgy.” I mean no disrespect and I dearly hope I am wrong, but is it unreasonable to take this portion of your op-ed as needlessly insensitive to women, gay men, and whatever “folksy” means to you? The apparent disdain and disgust cannot be argued to not exist, so what is the purpose for its inclusion? Is your aim to promote and seek unity within our church if your article appears to be calling for the shaming and judgement of what by all accounts are dedicated members of the Catholic faith if they are eager to sing, to speak the word of God, and to dedicate their lives to the Church?

    I hope that you, and the moderators that read this, understand that while this is me challenging you, Father, and those who would agree with your sentiments, I don’t do so out of contrarianism or lack of good faith debate, if you’ll excuse the pun. But I could not help but feel as though I noticed deep hypocrisy within this segment of your article, and in the year of 2022, the priest which is so eager to be so cruel to the flamboyant and the feminist is quite easily defined as why the Catholic church is declining in its members, its influence, and frankly speaking, its apparent capacity to understand the Word of God as that of love, compassion, acceptance, and inclusion.

  24. Mr. John,
    Father isn’t comparing progressive Catholics to Nazis. He’s attempting to describe the hostility orthodox priests (and lay people) faced during the recent past .
    Those of us who lived through the 1970s and 80s have seen everything Father described here and worse. Folksy is a charitable description for some lay readers. It can become a personal performmance art. Liturgical abuses could fill volumes. And choirs can be pretty hostile if suggestions are made to change out shlocky hymnals.
    The Catholic Church is losing members in the same way other denominations are but demographically speaking Traditional Catholics and conservative Catholics are increasing. Just observe who is getting married and having large families these days. It’s not the progressive element. Keeping our children Catholic though requires more than the Latin Mass . It requires community. And that and fellowship are something Catholics need to focus on providing.

  25. English:

    The bland, complacent acceptance of the Novus Ordo Missae as the “spouse” of the Traditional Catholic Mass does not seem to fit the facts. The traditional offertory prayer is gone, so that the Mass is no longer the remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus (a lamb, as was offered by Abel), offered to the Father, but the offering of bread and wine (the fruits of the earth, the offering made by Cain) to the “God of all creation”–who is not God the creator.

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