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Is liturgical historicism insurmountable?

If the traditional practices of the Roman Rite are going to be removed, and these very practices, at the same time, are meant to be a pillar for liturgical praxis, then we are caught in an endless loop.

Priest celebrating the traditional Latin Mass at the church of St Pancratius, Rome / Thoom/Shutterstock

In recent years, I have found myself increasingly exhausted by discussions surrounding the current state of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This sense of exhaustion has been significantly relieved by the fact that my family and I have become members of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Perhaps what has been most striking in becoming a parishioner at an Ordinariate parish is that the parishioners and the priests almost never talk about liturgy. Such a statement may sound strange. It might even be unsettling to hear. Hopefully in what follows, we may come to see why this is a tremendous relief.

The notion of “liturgy wars” has its most proximate origins in the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. In one respect, reading Sacrosanctum Concilium (the Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) is quite illuminating. At the same time, one cannot read the document in isolation. The document must be read alongside the promulgated 1969 Missal Romanum of Pope Paul VI, as well as the various post-conciliar liturgical documents issued out of Rome. Observing what the Council calls for, and the reforms implemented in the name of the Council, it is striking how often they tend to refute each other.

The tension of this reality suggests rather strongly that the language and actuality of “liturgical reform” has not merely run its course. Rather, it is self-defeating. A helpful way to further illustrate this claim is to compare and contrast two different “expressions” of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The first is from St. Sabina Catholic Community, and the second is from St. John Cantius, which is run by the Canon Regulars of St. John Cantius. Anyone watching these could come away with a plethora of commentary. While there is certainly a heterodox aura to the liturgical expression at St. Sabina’s parish, it would be misleading to see doctrinal heterodoxy as the principle cause. Similar types of liturgical expressions in doctrinally orthodox parishes are easily found and readily available

Being attentive to the Mass offered at St. John Cantius, a salient feature of the common liturgical expression of the Ordinary Form becomes manifest. This feature was recently articulated succinctly by Fr. Leon F. Strieder, a seminary professor of liturgy and sacraments. Attempting to offer a complete account for why Catholics would seek a more ancient or traditional liturgy, Fr. Streider, in a 2021 essay titled “Poor Historical Methodology in Traditionalist Liturgical Studies” (Worship 95), makes the following judgment:

As we look ahead, we can only hope that these desires to revive and promote uses from the past will be seen for what they are, assertions based upon poor theology, even poorer history, and most sadly, fear of what the future may hold. (Emphasis added)

There are many challenges in the Church today, and it would be fallacious to reduce the varied causes of disintegration down to one. There is, nevertheless, a systemic and over-arching principle whose black smoke has fumigated the modus vivendi of the church. For lack of a better term, we can call this black smoke liturgical historicism.

There are two aspects of liturgical historicism. The first would argue that what is true and good liturgically could not have been possible in past ages. In the second way, the liturgical historicist would say that “what was true in the past liturgically is now not so for us.”

When we consider the moral and philosophical historicism that pervades the present culture, we can see that its analog resides in the church. The fact that many Catholics have been formed by a liturgy that is roughly 60 years old gives us a glimpse into this fact. Our liturgical practices have become so far removed from the past that it is difficult to see why someone might be drawn to a liturgy older than the Ordinary Form. Historicism, be it philosophical or liturgical, is not understood or lived as a development; it ushers in an all together new paradigm. A paradigm shift is, by definition, a break, the passing away of one world and the coming-to-be of another.

In his November 30, 1969, address prior to the promulgation of the new Missale Romanum, Pope Paul VI readily admits that historicism has shaped the conciliar liturgical reform:

We may notice that pious persons will be the ones most disturbed [by the changes], because, having their respectable way of listening to Mass, they will feel distracted from their customary thoughts and forced to follow those of others. Not Latin, but the spoken [vernacular] language, will be the main language of the Mass. To those who know the beauty, the power, the expressive sacrality of Latin, its replacement by the vulgar language is a great sacrifice: we lose the discourse of the Christian centuries, we become almost intruders and desecrators in the literary space of sacred expression, and we will thus lose a great portion of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual fact that is the Gregorian Chant. We will thus have, indeed, reason for being sad, and almost for feeling lost: with what will we replace this angelic language? It is a sacrifice of inestimable price.

This is a stunning admittance. Out of “pastoral need,” a new liturgy was inaugurated for a new type of creature, namely, modern man.

And yet, due to this supposed pastoral need, we should rightly wonder whether matters are as dire as I seem to be arguing. One would be remiss to negate the abundant fruits of a parish such as St. John Cantius, or others like it. Offering both forms of the Roman Rite is certainly something that could bring about much good for the common diocesan parish.

Additionally, we would be negligent if we did not laud the noble efforts of those wanting to return to the liturgical documents that layout the theoretical principles and practical applications of the 20th-century liturgical reform movement. Good fruit has certainly come from such efforts and should be encouraged to continue.

And while we should see the good of these endeavors, the shadow of liturgical historicism still looms rather large, almost insurmountable. Interestingly enough, the challenge is posed quite well by the General Instruction to the Roman Missal, wherein the proper sources for how Mass is to be offered are drawn out:

The gestures and posture of the priest, the deacon, and the ministers, as well as those of the people, ought to contribute to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, so that the true and full meaning of the different parts of the celebration is evident and that the participation of all is fostered. Therefore, attention should be paid to what is determined by this General Instruction and the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice. (#42; Emphasis added)

If the traditional practices of the Roman Rite are going to be removed (as we saw above with Pope Paul VI’s judgment), and these very practices, at the same time, are meant to be a pillar for liturgical praxis, then we are caught in an endless loop. It is this such circularity, I believe, that leaves us wounded and exhausted as liturgical historicists.

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About Brian Jones 34 Articles
Brian Jones is a Ph.D Candidate in Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. His works have appeared in The Public Discourse, Strong Towns, and The American Conservative.


  1. Have had the horrendous experience of Mass with Fr. Leon Strieder. It was like a bad opera. If there was an emphasis on sacrifice, it was the laity who suffered. It is impossible to describe the amount of focus Fr. Strieder put on the presider.

    As we look ahead, we can only hope that these desires to promote the presider will be seen for what they are, assertions based upon poor theology, even poorer history, and most sadly, fear of what the future may hold: Sacred Tradition.

    • It is my contention and something that informs my presence assisting at the altar that ministers of the Sacred Liturgy ought to make themselves as invisible as possible so that the sacrificial action of Christ might come through in this rite of remembrance. Anything that calls attention to the celebrant and his individual persona ought to be avoided. I apply this same standard to lectors and especially those who think that the Scriptures can be enhanced by dramatic readings.

  2. My late husband and I converted to Catholicism from Evangelical Protestantism in 2004. If it had not been for the “New Mass,” as you and others disparagingly label it, we would never, ever have converted. For us and many others, Latin has no beauty or charm or religious significance. It’s a dead language. Our own heart language, whatever that is, speaks to us. Latin does not. I accept that others of a more intellectual bent are edified by the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Please come to grips with and accept without eye rolling that many of us who are striving to be faithful Christians true to the teachings of Holy Mother Church are edified by the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Stop trying to make us appear ignorant, shallow, worldly, and/or rebellious. Please stop undermining the great work of Vatican II. Consider the number of Evangelical Protestants who have converted, many because they were able to understand the Mass when they attended. I say it again–I and my late husband would NEVER have converted if the Latin Mass was our only option. We attended a TLM once and came away convinced that the Catholics were idol worshippers. Most of the world’s people are not “classical scholars.” Those of you who are–that’s great, and we need you as we also need to remember our human and our Church history. But Holy Mother Church has, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, allowed us to hear Mass in our own beautiful languages. Praise God for that!

    • Never again will I attend a Novus Ordo, but I don’t fault people who love it. The Powers That Be should simply allow priests/laity to make the decision on which Rite to use and stop the Liturgical Wars.

    • I am no aficionado of the Latin Mass even though that was the form of worship that initiated me into the Catholic faith for the first 15 years of my life.

      What I’d be interested in knowing is how would you deal with worship in the Ordinary Form if you traveled to Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Holland, France, etc etc. Unless you had a missal with you, you’d be lost for an hour or more. You wouldn’t understand any of the readings, the words of the Canon and the homily as well. Would you skip Mass for that Sunday? My point is that while Mass in the vernacular makes sense, there is a mystery about the Mass that transcends language.

    • Hi Sharon,

      Thanks for your reply and I am grateful for your critical comments on the piece. Let me say just a few things.

      First, one of the challenges with referencing one’s own experience as the central reason for doing, or avoiding, an action is that it can be easily cancelled out by the opposite experience of someone else. For example, you wrote that the new Mass is what helped your conversion from Evangelical Protestantism. Someone else can just as easily say that the Byzantine or Syro-Malabar liturgy is what helped their conversion from Protestantism. It is not to say that our experiences do not count for something. Rather, it is simply to acknowledge that people have a plethora of experiences.

      Second, you wrote that I should stop trying to “undermine the great work of Vatican II.” I am curious as to why you did not advise me to stop undermining the great work of the Council of Trent, Chalcedon, or Constantinople II? What is it in Vatican II that I am supposedly rejecting, and what is about Vatican II that you are defending?

      When people say things referencing Vatican II, more often than not it tends towards the type of historicism I am criticizing. Since it is the most proximate historical council, this is completely understandable. However, over time, it tends to morph into “Vatican II is the church.” And there becomes this uncomfortable tension where we have to ask whether the success or failure of a Council is equivalent to the success or failure of the church. This is just to simply posit that moderation with respect to Councils is a good thing.

      Finally, it does seem like you are drawing too close of a connection between the Protestant notion of worship and the common expression of the New Mass. You seem to be implying (particular your use of terms like “heart language”) that the New Mass acted as a kind of smooth bridge for your conversion. I do not doubt the authenticity of this at all, nor those experiences of many others that share in this same journey.

      However, you wrote that “I and my late husband would NEVER have converted if the Latin Mass was our only option.” This is a curious admission. What would you have done then if you believed that what the Catholic church teaches is true, but the New Mass was not in existence? Most certainly you would not have become Eastern rite Catholics, for this would too closely resemble the TLM (apart from those Eastern liturgical rites that are in English). And in your admission you once again are revealing the very thing that I am highlighting in the piece. The New Mass tends to create a worldview or perspective that cuts its participants off from what came before it. Notice that you did not say, “if the TLM was the liturgy, it would have taken me a long time to get used to that lived expression of the liturgy, because I came from a Protestant ethos that had no real experience of liturgy.” Instead, you affirmed that you would not be Catholic if the TLM was the Church’s liturgy.

      And so once again, I think your comments have been insightful for helping to see what the real inner struggle is. The struggle is not, “New Mass bad, old Mass good.” Rather, the struggle is to see any liturgical tradition or rite other than the New Mass as something not worth choosing. And not only this, but if these more ancient liturgical traditions and rites had an increased presence in the church, then these would be the precise reason for not becoming Catholic. I would call such a condition “liturgical historicism.”

      • Thank you for the awesome example of prudential charity. Disparagement of those who prefer one form over the other exemplifies a horrid lack of charity. Often it is expressed against persons preferring TLM, and one must dig deep to offer apology for the IDEAS and MEANING the EF expresses to those to whom much has been given. Thanks again. Blessings to you and upon your work.

    • The Latin is not why I attend the TLM, and it isn’t why the majority of people there go either. We definitely have folks on the slower side of the intelligence curve, and plenty of quite intelligent people who simply aren’t interested in being bookworms. Many use missals, with translation to get around the problem altogether. Others don’t try to understand the words; they’ve read them before, they know the Mass, and they prefer to follow along in other ways: smells, bells, gestures, movements. Precious few understand spoken Latin. I certainly don’t. It took at least a month for me to get halfway decent at catching up to where the priest was in the missal.

      I did an informal poll of a group of TLM folks about what they liked about the Mass. Perhaps 1 or 2 mentioned Latin. For most, it was things like the beauty of the Propers and how keen they are at asking for help with everything from sinful inclinations to drinking water, or the long, gentle penitential rite, or the poetic, triple Kyrie, or the silence at the consecration, or the easy availability of Confession. It isn’t academic, it’s for the whole person, senses and heart and all. We can’t fit the Old Mass in our heads, and don’t want to.

      I wouldn’t call you “ignorant, shallow, worldly, and/or rebellious”, and I’m pretty sure no one in this article or comment section has. Perhaps a bit closed off to what is hard to understand, perhaps a tendency to assume ill will when someone talks about a subject you’re sensitive about… Or perhaps your comment gave impressions that aren’t generally true. It’s very hard (impossible?) to judge correctly from a single experience.

    • I was a small girl when the Latinb Mass was changed and I barely recall it. I would be interested to attend it once to better understand the changes which have been made. I would suggest that part of what made the old mass “Universal” was the very use of Latin. If you hear it over many years you do in fact come to understand what many of the words mean, regardless of whether or not you have taken a language class. That was true when we were taught Latin root words in my high school English class, information which I still retain. It is a problem having Mass in all the “beautiful languages” as you call them. Mass in Latin meant you could travel anywhere in the world and understand the Mass as completely as you did at home, as it was exactly the same.. With illegal immigration being what it is, I have had occasion to be traveling and walking into a Sunday Mass conducted entirely in Spanish. I grasped where we were in parts of the Mass but missed the meaning of most prayers entirely. That was NOT an edifying experience. If you believe that the Latin Mass would have prevented your conversion, your decision to convert at all seems a tad shallow.It is the expounded beliefs and the theology behind them which should drive a conversion. I cant begin to imagine what it was about TLM which made you conclude Catholics were “idol worshippers”?? Hopefully you converted because you learned that was not at all true. But I have had that accusation thrown at me by a close Protestant friend very recently. It is an old slander which sadly still makes the rounds in Protestant circles. Discouraging to say the least.

  3. The General Instruction was quoted as urging the Mass liturgy to foster “beauty and noble simplicity.” Focussing on these two words only confirms the writer’s claim that we are caught in a (hopeless?) bind, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what was once beautiful and nobly simple is long gone.

    • The thing of beauty will last if we actively work to stop its extinction. I am fortunate enough to belong to a parish run by the FSSP. We are fortunate to still exist and to participate in the Lord’s sacrament of sacrifice with bells, chant, incense, beauty, Latin, and good solid true preaching all added in for good measure. Of course we are detested for what we believe and whom we seek. So Blessed are we.

  4. Not if we rightfully return to the theologically correct Benedict XVI motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.
    Insofar as the ministers of the Holy Eucharist, priests, that they make themselves as invisible as possible is a good, particularly since many showboat, misconstruing the role of priest, and suffering us [especially laity] with their perceived talents as entertainers.
    However, a priest remains Alter Christus, and with that he’s called to represent the divine Master in His sacrificial offering, of himself, along with the Crucified. That requires deep faith and reverence in imitation of Christ, rather than self display. That faith and commitment to Christ is what’s lacking in either the entertainment variety of offering Mass, or the empty, faithless going through the motions to get the Mass over with. Reverence is not limited to the Traditional Mass.

    • I expect this is why Cardinal Sarah tried to put an emphasis on ad Orientem worship. It’s so much harder to be “invisible”, when looking at people, as faces draw the eye on a pretty basic level.

  5. “A new liturgy was inaugurated for a new type of creature namely, modern man.” False statements, lies, accusations, condemnations, slander, gross exaggerations, excessive over-statements; whether it is a priest or a parishioner or a parish, that showed neglect or no reverence of the holy celebration of the mass, traditionalists are into our face that we should all join the TLM movement. There are approx. 221,700 parishes worldwide. Dear TLM lovers why do you not just devoutly practice without endlessly abhorring the true Church of Christ, the Holy Spirit that carries us from age to age and time. You might be fighting against the Lord Jesus Christ Himself whose holy Bride you call not good enough to love and worship Him. Paul VI “pastoral needs” in the “beauty and holy simplicity” meant necessary for the greatest challenges of the last century: UNITY OF CHRISTIANS and EVANGELISATION, both successes for Holy Church: from 500,000 to 1.3 trillion members of the Mystical Body of Christ, under the great missionary work of Saint John Paul II the Great. The noble simplicity derived from the Last Supper and the beginning of the Church. TLM was never disallowed. Many converts finally converted to the Church and brought great fruit. It is not about Latin or vernacular it is about loving, believing and following Jesus Christ; not about chants, organs, classical music and golden altars (although beautiful in itself). SSPX and all the other rebellious disobedient factions ( about 40 against over 2000 bishops voted for the holy simplicity) are in schism, “the society has no canonical status in the Church…do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.” They need acceptance of the VatII and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes. We had great holy popes last century but they rejected them. “Everyone should be aware that formal Adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication.” (JPII) So if you are not inspired in your parish there is two options: choose another parish or BUILD UP YOUR PARISH AND BECOME A SAINT. You did manage to increase in numbers that does not mean yet good fruits. Arianism heresy infected the whole church for generations. Abp Lefebvre called the sacrifice of the new mass “sheer poison” and the Holy Pope JPII the “devil”. You keep inviting us to a Latin Church in disunity of the true Church in 2000 years tradition and it is the people that stay in the Church and offer up and contribute all they got because the Lord Jesus will call us the holy remnant and He will come and rescue His Church once again. May God love you all and pray for the Holy Spirit.

    • I wonder if you’d care to support any of your statements with some hard fact, reason, or evidence.

      Generally I am inspired to rebut or refute hyperbolic thoughtlessness but it seems the rhetoric above is a just a teeny tad too dense for my pea-size brain and heart to address.

      God bless.

    • If you are going to call the SSPX schismatics, you will find yourself going against the last three Popes, including Pope Francis who gave them faculties directly – something not possible for schismatics, who are not under his authority. You might want to be more careful about accusing large numbers of people of mortal sin.

      The SSPX does not reject the Popes, that’s the sedevacantists, who are relatively rare. Of course, very few people are really interested in learning all the differences between groups; it’s more useful for those trying to walk with them or accompany them, less for those who just want to quietly worship at their home parish, and also less for those who simply want to make “accusations, condemnations, slander, gross exaggerations…”

    • The fruit of the NO Church (if it ever had any at all) is monumentally withering. It’s a strange and hard-to-believe “blessing” of the “holy spirit” that ends with the destruction of worship; the diminishment of the faithful, the closing of churches, spiritual malaise, and let’s add to that list the adoration of the Pachamama, the ceremonial smudging of the Canadian Shaman, the embrace of Fr. James Martin and other such (clear my throat) so profoundly mysterious movements of “the spirit” we have a profoundly difficult time reconciling these things with the actual time-honored Truths and, even the most basic tenets of the Natural Law. No, dear Edith, the NO Church is broken. I suffered and cringed in the pews of my local “woodstock era” NO Church for 55 exhausting years (God credit me my patience); risking trampling on the holy and precious body of Our Lord every time I approached the Cramner Table. Toward the end, I recoiled at the thought of trampling with my filthy feet the precious body of Our Lord in the consecrated host. Only in a place of utter disregard can Our Lord be handed out like a carnival ride ticket by profane hands while the consecrated hands of the priest are idly standing by. You need perspective. You need to see that what you believe is real is merely the dancing of shadows on the wall of your comfortable NO cave. Come out of the beast and see it for what it is – a abominable tragedy and, like all tragedies, it too will have a tragic ending, which is fast approaching. Meanwhile, the SSPX is the 5th largest Order in the Holy Catholic Church and continues to grow in truly remarkable and miraculous ways – even in spite of the best efforts of the NO hierarchy to quell it. Edith, look at the fruit. Deo Gratias!

  6. Brian, what you have found refreshing and necessary is – in one word – INSULATION. You sought out and found insulation from the insanity in Rome. I, too, have found the same thing in the SSPX. I am happy that you have found a home with a “regularized status”. I represent, for some odd reason, a past mistake (somehow) that the Church would like to broom under the rug. The pest and nuisance I represent to the Church being SSPX will forever remain so long as we continue to offer to the Father the most holy sacrifice of the Son at the holy high altar. Ratzinger lamented post V2 that the Church, meaning thereby the NO Church, had the benefit of the exhilaration of momentum; while AB Lefebvre had, as he put it, the benefit of “the truth”. At some point, this current crisis will be resolved in favor of the whole-est and healthiest expression of the fullness of Catholic identity found in that which was never abandoned. As the NO churches empty, consolidate, disappear, our SSPX Chapels, priories and seminaries are chock full. God is simply showing where He is more respected, honored and loved, at a Mass where the priest doesn’t have his back to Him. Deo Gratias!

  7. Edith Wohldmann simply has the courage to tell it as it is. Most, not all, who are adamant that we return exclusively to the TLM and that we have Card Sarah as our pope seem to want a safe, staid, satisfying religious experience, regardless of a liturgy and world that are incommunicado.
    Card Sarah is a holy man, faithful to Christ. Card Sarah has not made a peep in protest to Francis I, unlike Card Gerhard Muller, Card Raymond Burke, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Card Eijk, who have made the case publicly and directly against the policies of this current pontificate. If those who want a staid ironclad insular Church free of error, but lacking in fire and Apostolic witness to the Church, then support Card Sarah.
    Some say the priest should disappear during the sacrifice of the Mass. Rather than realizing his call as Alter Christus identifying with the crucified Christ, they are determined to relegate us to robotic functionaries. The sacrifice of the Mass is not, should not be a military like display of lock step motion around the altar. The priest is called to exhort, to command when ‘rules’ are disregarded, to speak the unmitigated truth about the evils of abortion, its behavioral preface contraception, homosexuality, pornography on the internet and on cell phones, of a comfortable, non challenging Catholic Christianity that breeds boredom. We must return to the vivacity and courage of the Fathers, not necessarily the liturgy of Trent. To the primordial simplicity of the first Mass in the upper room. When Our Lord faced his Apostles eye to eye with emotive connectedness of the transmission of what we believe and are prepared to shed our blood for.

  8. Why is it that some in our faith choose to debate language over and over again as they pick and choose select statements to assist their flawed discussion on what language should be used in today’s liturgies. The truth is that there is no more sacrality in Latin than any other language and to use that as a debating position is a fallacy. As one who grew up with the Latin Mass, I can agree to its beauty but the same is true for today’s liturgy. I see this as a political debate by those who want to have the Latin Mass in the dioceses. Is it really worth all the hateful rhetoric over why Latin is preferred over English, French, Spanish and many other vernaculars? This inward debate among a small group of faithful is pushing many away from the Church when we should be out in the public bringing the Faithfull back to the Sacraments and stop the personal bickering of ones personal preferences.

    • Hi Denny,

      I am grateful for your comments. I think it is worth highlighting a few things.

      First, I want to draw attention to the conclusion of your first point: “As one who grew up with the Latin Mass, I can agree to its beauty but the same is true for today’s liturgy.” Your conclusion comes from your claim that there is no difference in sacrality of language, be it Latin, English, or any other. These two points are not as easily connected as you might think. The general point regarding the discussions and challenges of the Roman Rite liturgy since 1969 can be framed as a question: how similar are the TLM, Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and the New Mass of Paul VI? It is not merely reducible to a particular part, or set of parts, but a comprehensive whole that is made manifest as a liturgy. Bells, incense, chant, beautiful vestments, altar candles, sacred music…these are all wonderful and lovely, and it sounds like you might have this at your parish. That is lovely. But again, that is not the normative experience, nor is it the normative way in which the institutional church over the last 60 years has encouraged the liturgy to be celebrated. In fact, quite the opposite.

      Second, you wrote at the end: “This inward debate among a small group of faithful is pushing many away from the Church when we should be out in the public bringing the Faithfull back to the Sacraments and stop the personal bickering of ones personal preferences.”

      I am curious as to how the desire for a sacred and transformative liturgy is pushing people away from church. And those who tend to be desirous of a more ancient or traditional liturgy are claiming that the greatest harm done in the New Mass is that it tends towards a predominance of personal preferences. Read Cardinal Dolan’s most recent commentary on whether Sunday Masses are too long. Here is his list: obligatory pre-mass greeting, an extended introduction by the priest, repeated refrains of the Gloria, long refrains in the Psalms, long and non-substantive homilies, and an ever-present awareness that anything can be inserted into the liturgy at any time, for pastoral reasons. Thus, it can be difficult often times to see the contemporary expression of the liturgy as a kind of formlessness waiting to take the form of the various preferences of the clergy and laity.

      But you are right: the personal bickering of our personal preferences should come to an end, both in our discussions about liturgy, but more importantly, in the common and lived expression of the Roman Rite.

  9. Fr., respectfully, your comments are ill-conceived and fundamentally out-of-touch. In 55 years, I can count on 3 fingers the homilies I ever heard while attending the NO condemning homosexuality, abortion, transgenderism, illegal invasion at our Southern Border, the evils of supporting the democrat party, etc. (Yes, illegal invasion and if you doubt me I can refer you to the teachings of the USCCB on the matter. It just so happens they are the same bureaucrats now busily accruing a very comfortable living processing paperwork for the invaders that are dumping fentanyl and other illicit chemistry on our streets and stealing our children for use as sex slaves and organ donors.) Sadly, the 3 good Deacons that had the audacity to call sin sinful were summarily dismissed from their Diaconate and drummed out of the NO parishes I attended. One had the misfortune of calling out “gay marriage” as an abomination. He couldn’t be removed quickly enough. No, father. The NO Church is not full of fire – the LACK of fire is the problem.

    “Boredom”: Whenever I attended my NO parish, I saw parishioner after parishioner zone out, check out, get glassy eyed and nod off. It was the only place on the planet in my life where I found those that attended tell me that the “sacrifice of the mass” is the fact they had to get up early and endure the music (if you wish to call it that) and the homily of the priest.

    “Staid”: You characterize those that attend the Latin Mass as “staid”, in effect following those that have characterized us as “divisive” and “rigid”. I actually have to laugh at that misstep. I have never been more involved in the life of a parish than the one that I currently attend, nor have I ever seen so much involvement across so many that attend. Rather than the 2 or 3 NO families that seemed to do all the work, we have a wide array of volunteers step-up and lend a hand in any number of ways, music, teaching, grounds keeping, cooking, setting up livestreaming, etc., etc., etc. I attend an SSPX Chapel: paint me a heretic for attending a church with real fire where pew after pew is chock full of young families and where, when I approach to receive Our Lord I do so knowing full well that I will not be one who tramples on His precious body with my filthy feet, anent Our Lady of Lasalette.

    Military like formation: Father, one of the very first things you learned as a seminarian was undoubtedly that God is a God of ORDER. In fact, as St. Thomas Aquinas states: “peace is the tranquility of order.” I would also argue that ORDER is our gift BACK to God. Did He not encourage us with the gift of Peace?

    “Pope”: Father, as an SSPX attendee, I pray for pope Francis and the larger Church every day. He IS my pope and you or even he, himself, will never prove otherwise. The fact that he is his own sedavacantist is not helping the situation at all. How he manages to wear the white cassock but fails to sit on the Chair of Peter is mind-numbing. It’s almost as if he has an agenda quite in distinction of what he was assigned as Guardian of the Truths of the Faith. Not long ago, he was too busy advocating Covid shots than willing to welcome Cardinal Burke. Does nothing he do cause you alarm?

    “Edith Wohldmann”: Ms. Wohldmann, Father, doesn’t have the courage to attend a single TLM, let alone endure it for 55-years. I find her words lack courage, and are rather detestable. God bless you in your priesthood. I don’t know how any NO priest can have his back to God while addressing Him in prayer. The cognitive dissonance would be intolerable.

    • Mark, the debacle in faith and less than faithful homilies were already an issue prior to Vat II. Vat II simply excised the infection for the poison to release. That lacuna of faith and faithless sermons existed long before the change in language. My point is not to disparage the Latin Mass. Indeed I offer my private Masses in Latin.
      The issue is a damaging intransigence, for some, apparently yourself, to simply open your hearts to Christ’s grace and the unifying power of his love. There should be the option in every parish to offer the TLM, or the NO in the vernacular or transcribed in Latin. That ended with this pontificate. Our option before Christ Our Lord, to be in good conscience is to accept the NO as well as the TLM. Be careful Mark in drawing assumptions from what you don’t know. Have you read my comments on this site? If you have, you wouldn’t have questioned my disagreement with this pontificate.
      Return to the true practice of the faith retained in the Eternal Word, the Deposit of Faith, and Apostolic Tradition. We may well be headed toward that prophetic moment of truth for us all. Return to what Christ assured would not change, and remains the only pathway to salvation. Open your heart to charity and love of your brother, rather than SSPX disdain for the true Church.

      • Father, I am following, as you say the true faith – “retained in the Eternal Word, the Deposit of Faith, and Apostolic Tradition”. I attended the NO mass for for too long a time to know that it parted with what you characterize as the practice of the true faith. Did you not know that those who attend the TLM hold much faster to the truths of the faith? 98% of those that attend the TLM believe in the real presence (as opposed to 20% of those that attend the NO). 98% of those that attend the TLM hold fast to the teaching of Humane Vitae. At best, only 10% of those that attend the NO do. I find this last statistic rather enlightening since the same pope that foisted the protestant mass on his faithful at V2, Pope Paul 6th, also authored HV. Given that those who attend his mass are most likely to ignore his teaching, it seems rather obvious that the TLM opens the faithful to an appreciation OF the church’s teachings. No, Father. My role is not to seek anything out now. I found the verdant pastures after having wandered the desert for 55 full and painful years. I’ll never return to a NO church where I run the risk of trampling Our Lords precious body underfoot and end up contributing to sorrow and tears of Our Lady of LaSalette. Let us see what will remain of the church post synod. As you know, Cardinal McElroy seemed to say the quiet part out loud a few months ago when he stated that “the synod will allow us progressives in the church the opportunity to complete the revolution we began with V2” (gulp). I am what I consider a Covid Convert to the Catholic Church. I have already warned my SSPX priests (there are 7 in our Priory) to be on the watch for many a disgruntled and disillusioned NO Catholic seeking the faith. They understand the situation completely. Unlike the cowards who preached confidence in Christ, then shuttered the churches by edict from Godless secular tyrants who masqueraded as our elected officials, the SSPX Chapels remained open. In fact, they took 15 parishioners at a time and each priest offered Mass in as “accommodating” a manner as possible. Who had the faith when it mattered most? Like Fr. Ratzinger said long ago, who had the truth when it mattered most. I find it a reflection of Divine retribution that the same gaggle of NO Bishops who were eager to shutter their churches for fear of a virus are now faced with the not-so-small task of “reviving” the Eucharist. SMH. I can’t imagine what they’ll have to revive once the damage of the synod has been fully realized. Father, the TLM is not the past of the Church, it’s its only way into the future. Deo gratias!

        • Mark, you’ve found a place of refuge from the tumultuous religious time we’re in. Remember when you demean the priest ‘turning his back on Christ’, that NO participants sully the Body of Christ with their shoes [a reference you make to those who actually make presumed count of the specks of Eucharist that fall to the floor] – that the Church of martyrs in Nigeria and elsewhere in the midst of Islam were raised on the Novus Ordo and worship Christ with their lives. Few in this world can match them in that witness. I strongly urge you to be aware of that calumny as it lashes at these holy martyrs, and of Stateside priests who offer their lives for the laity – not all are bored heretics. These are some of the hateful notions that some of the SSPX people foment, of what you repeated here. Stay clear of that and you should be fine. You’ll be in my prayers.

          • Dear Father, the Catholic Church has been suffering martyrdom from without for centuries, even to the Jews (its trunk), the Romans its neighbors) and the Moors of old. If you ever wondered why the Spaniards of the 15th century had the best irons for their blades; it was out of necessity as they were the outermost fortification against the onslaught of the Turkish Terror. You mistake fraternal correction and self-defense for calumny, anent the berating given in the comments of Edith Wouldmann, whom you lauded as one “saying it as it is”. I don’t peruse any site expecting an altercation, even if it is meant to be one engaged in for the highest causes and based upon the most sound reasons; however, if I am put back on my heels by the attacks of others, I would expect that those on the offensive would not be surprised by a reasonable defense. Again, the SSPX is not rife with vitriol against the modern church. It is on the look out for the abuses of “modernism”, the synthesis of all heresies. With regard to the Post Conciliar Church – one to whom we both pledge allegiance: at root is a mistaken hubris of the highest order which suggests that man is somehow a wholly different creature simply because he is “modern”. I’d like to know how modernists will endure a timeless eternity. Will that entail a serious sense of personal identity crisis? Will it mean a lack of ability or capacity to appreciate the timeless? These are no small matters when so much of what characterizes the identity of the modern church is indexed by time. It’s not so much that I loathe what has become the NO Church as much as I have fallen in love with the deeper realities as evinced by the ancient form of our Faith. I see interesting phenomena as the light bounces off the thinnest surfaces of the water of a lake, but it is the bedrock underneath that I find more profound, more enduring, more foundational. Please don’t pray for me – pray rather that God gets His way with me. I am NOTHING. He is everything. Deo Gratias!

  10. The original author failed to note what Pope Paul VI also said about the Mass in the vernacular: “As We said on another occasion, we shall do well to take into account the motives for this grave change. The first is obedience to the Council. That obedience now implies obedience to the Bishops, who interpret the Council’s prescription and put them into practice… The other reason for the reform is this renewal of prayer. It is aimed at associating the assembly of the faithful more closely and more effectively with the official rite, that of the Word and that of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, that constitutes the Mass. For the faithful are also invested with the “royal priesthood”; that is, they are qualified to have supernatural conversation with God… Understanding of prayer is worth more than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed… What did St. Paul have to say about that? Read chapter 14 of the first letter to the Corinthians: “In Church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (I Corinthians 14:19).”

    I do heartily agree with these two reasons.

    • J.R., you do understand that Hebrew, at the time of Christ and certainly at the time of St. Paul was as defunct a secular language as Latin is now – Hebrew was the sacral language and respected as such. Let us also remind ourselves that Hebrew is still the sacral language of the Jews some 5,000 years now and Greek, Aramaic, and Latin are still sacral languages for many Catholics world-wide. Finally, due to the dramatic intervention of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, those present communicated in a common tongue – even in spite of their distinct languages, in effect, undoing the discord wrought of the pride of men with the construction of the Tower of Babel. Finally, it is not that Latin is the reason why I attend the “Latin Mass”. It is the edification of the entire experience and principally because of the supplex and the moment where, once consecrated, at the elevation we beg God to accept the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. Bolstering this moment, the Confiteor lays all present at the feet of The Father in honorable and reverent humility. The TLM is a relationship with the Divine, a proper ordering of the Holy from the profane, a complete surrender to God’s mercy in light of His Justice. Every time I attend the TLM, it grace me with perspective. It could be in “Pig Latin” as far as I am concerned and it would make no difference to me; what is DONE and HOW convey message enough of what is taking place. Deo Gratias!

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