Eight Reasons We’re Going to the Traditional Latin Mass

We’ve been attending the Traditional Latin Mass regularly over the past two months, and it’s raised some eyebrows among our friends. In this post I’ll explain why we made this decision.


The Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) or Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, based on the 1962 Missal, is the “Old Mass” that the Church used for centuries and centuries. (It is also sometimes called, somewhat inaccurately, the Tridentine Mass because of the Council of Trent in the mid-1500s, but its origins are much more ancient, and it has been modified in certain ways since then in any case.)

cathed1In the fifteen years since becoming Catholic from atheism and Protestantism, I’ve almost exclusively gone to the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo) of the Mass, which is the normal English Mass that most Catholics in the U.S. attend.

Prior to the most recent few months, in the preceding ten years I had only gone to the TLM a few times. I found it inaccessible and hard to follow, even using the blue booklet with Latin and English on facing pages.

But several factors led me to want to take my family to the TLM. Here are eight of them.

#1: Tradition

The TLM is the traditional liturgy of the Church in the Latin Rite.

This liturgy has ancient roots and is substantially similar to the Mass that the vast majority of the saints in the West experienced. Its language is Latin, the traditional language of the Church in the West.

For most other institutions, a bare appeal to tradition alone is not enough to retain a practice, but in the Catholic Church, Tradition is of divine origin and cannot be ignored or brushed aside as antiquated or outdated.

#2: It’s Approved

The TLM was never abolished, in spite of the fact that it became quite hard to find after the Second Vatican Council.

Not only was it never abolished, but in 2007 Pope Benedict issued a motu propio called Summorum Pontificum that greatly expanded its ability to be celebrated by priests in the Latin Rite.

The Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite Mass are, therefore, both completely valid, saith the Church. For a good book that discusses the TLM and the current state of the Church today, check out Peter Kwasniewski’s Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis.

#3: Beauty, Transcendence, Reverence

The TLM is beautiful; it points clearly to the transcendence of God; and is celebrated reverently.

latmassAt many parishes, the Mass is something of a busy affair. There’s lots of bustle, chatter, and little silence. At almost every moment of many Ordinary Form Masses, there is sound: priest speaking or praying, congregation responding/speaking, choir singing, or musicians playing music to fill in the gaps. This isn’t the case everywhere but is fairly common from my experience at many different parishes.

The TLM, on the other hand, provides ample space for silence. The priest prays inaudibly while the congregation is kneeling, for instance. This silence fosters reverent worship and prayer.

I love the priests at parishes that we’ve been members of over the years, but, as an example, one of them would walk up the aisle at the start of Mass high-fiving the children. My kids loved it, but it didn’t cultivate a reverent tone for the liturgy. My son even tried high-fiving him during communion one time (he was still a few years away from his first communion).

At many parishes, including ones with good priests and lots of faithful Catholics, it is not uncommon to hear multiple outbursts of applause and clapping during the Mass.

I’ve heard applause for catechists, or new extraordinary ministers of holy communion, or a married couple on their anniversary, or the Boy Scouts, or the students going off the college, for the priest, for the lectors…you get the idea.

Now, most of these things are laudable, and I understand why the congregation and priests want to publicly recognize them, but having clapping during the Mass for them is distracting and makes the liturgy feel more like a civic event than a holy sacrifice. And every time I hear it, Pope Benedict’s words are called to my mind:

Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.

Is it the goal of our parish priests to be doing “religious entertainment”? Of course not. And none of the parish priests I know and respect think this way. They believe in the sacredness of the Mass and its central importance to our Faith.

Nonetheless, though turning the Mass into religious entertainment is not their intent, it perhaps can be the effect of such frequent clapping.

#4: Male Altar Servers

At the TLM all the altar servers are male.

My young son sees many of his friends–boys a few years older than he generally–up by the altar and wants to emulate them. They are kneeling reverently and assisting in small ways at Mass.

roseFamMale-only altar servers is traditional in the Church and also in stark contrast to the gender-nullifying ideas of the spirit of the age. Male-only altar servers give boys a special group they can belong to and provide fertile ground for discerning a vocation to the priesthood, a calling that only males can receive in the Catholic Church.

I’ve seen parishes where almost all the altar servers were female. Combine this with the majority of extraordinary ministers of holy communion being female, and boys can feel that serving at the altar and being involved in the Mass is a feminine thing, rather than a masculine one.

I want to point out here that, at one parish we go to the Ordinary Form Mass at, almost all the altar servers are male. Knowing many of the families who have their children doing altar serving there, I can say that these families, even without going to the TLM, see the sound reasoning for only have their sons as altar servers. So this is a positive sign of renewal happening in the Ordinary Form Masses.

Another argument for male-only altar servers is that, because it is traditional, it appeals to other traditional Christians, namely Eastern Orthodox. I have corresponded many times over the years with an Eastern Orthodox apologist, and frequently during our dialogues he has brought up female altar servers as being a hindrance to him ever becoming Catholic.

For me, that is not a deal-breaking reason to remain outside of full communion with the Catholic Church, but for him it is a big deal. The TLM is a refuge and example for such people, showing them that the Catholic Church has not abandoned her liturgical tradition.

#5: People Dress Appropriately

This is a small but important factor. On any given Sunday at most parishes, how appropriately people dress is a crap-shoot.

During summer here in Texas, it is not unusual to see people wearing shorts, tank tops, and flip flops. Women wear clothes appropriate for laying out at the beach but not for holy Mass. Our regular parish has pew inserts that clearly spell out what is appropriate dress for Mass, but these are often ignored.

And even in the other seasons, people generally don’t dress up too much for Mass. If a man is wearing jeans and a polo shirt, he’s above average.

For whatever reason, at the TLM people dress much more appropriately. Men usually wear button up shirts and khakis or slacks. Some wear jackets or sport coats. Women wear more appropriate attire, covering up more of their body.

We show reverence to God in how we dress, and respect for our fellow man. So how we dress is not just an irrelevant accident that doesn’t matter.

#6: Our Children See That This Is Different

This reason is the most important to me: our children see that something special and different is happening at the Traditional Latin Mass.

fss1They intuitively pick up on the distinctive qualities of the TLM and act accordingly: they’re more reverent and silent.

This isn’t just another performance or musical concert. It’s much greater. It points to God. We are in His presence. And they are aware that something important and awe-inspiring is happening.

I have seen so many of my friends’ children leave the Catholic Faith in their teens or in college. Somehow, the seed that was planted, even among families who went to daily Mass, was snatched up by the evil one.

Our modern society is incredibly alluring: gadgets, games, sexual pleasure without consequences, luxury, money, and worldly success. I want to provide a bulwark against those powerful allures, and the TLM is a key part of that.

If “Church” is no different from–or worse a boring imitation of–the world outside, our children will continue to fall away. We have to effectively present to them the Gospel and the mysteries of our Catholic Faith. We have to present to them the truth of the Good Shepherd in ways they can grasp as they grow up, to provide a fertile soil for the seeds God has planted to take root. A reverent and traditional liturgy is central to that.

#7: Hearing Sacred Music

Music in the Mass should be sacred music.

The Church has long-affirmed this and the Second Vatican Council reaffirmed it in unequivocal language. Now, in the past fifty years that guidance has not been widely put into practice, a perplexing fact that has only dubious justifications.

The TLM has sacred music. Most of the Ordinary Form Masses I’ve been to over the years have not had sacred music. In fact, many of the songs have been campy, doctrinally incorrect folk tunes of one kind or another.

Yet, these unfortunate songs are deeply entrenched with the musical directors and leaders at countless parishes. I’ve seen “Anthem” sung regularly at several parishes:

We are called, we are chosen.
We are Christ for one another.
We are promise to tomorrow,
while we are for him today.
We are sign, we are wonder,
we are sower, we are seed.
We are harvest, we are hunger.
We are question, we are creed.

No doubt in the 1970s this song was cutting edge. But the only “question” about it is its questionableness for being sung in the liturgy. It should not be. Yet it is still, with few signs of its popularity abating.

A professor and good friend of mine explained sacred music this way:

There is a difference between sacred music, religious music, and secular music. If we should strive for excellence in art in general, then we should do so even more in the case of religious art, the purpose of which is to lift up our hearts and minds to contemplate the divine truths about God and the honor and praise due to Him.

Sacred music enters most intimately into sacred liturgy, and so it must be suited for lifting up the minds of the faithful to God, not distracting them or entertaining them. Sacred music is to be the very servant of sacred liturgy. The purpose of the liturgy is the worship of the infinite and unchanging God, who made heaven and earth. And God should be worshiped in a way that is fitting to His transcendence and dignity. That’s why pop music is not fitting for Church, even if it ‘reaches’ the youth, as found at various Protestant mega-churches.

Two good resources for how music should be done in the liturgy are MusicaSacra.com and ChantCafe.com.

#8: Community

I long regarded Catholics who went to the TLM as aloof and somewhat snobbish. They seemed to regard the TLM as “the only right way” and had disdain for the Ordinary Form and Catholics who attended it.

fss2This bias was strengthened on the occasion of receiving a disapproving glare from a man at a daily TLM I was attending with my two very young children. He turned full around and made a face at me, in spite of the fact that I had already retreated with my boisterous children beyond the glass-paneled doors into the narthex, where they were being quiet. I could tell that my children’s small noises had polluted his pure experience of the Latin Mass

Fast forward four years to a few months ago, when we started going to the TLM on Sundays to see if it would be endurable for our family. The atmosphere felt a bit stuffy at first, probably because of our own fears of being judged, but we persevered to give it a fair chance.

After a few weeks, we learned that after every Mass many families would go to the bishop’s hall and have light snacks and coffee together. We began going to that and meeting the families. Soon we had made new friends and to our surprise discovered that they were from a variety of backgrounds. Some had started going to the TLM only recently, or went when they could, or had happened upon the TLM at some point and thought it very attractive.

In short, they were normal families and not the stereotype I had for “rad traddies” (more on that moniker in the conclusion at the end of this post). And they were an active and close knit group, in part because of their love of the TLM and traditional practices of Catholicism.

While we have many good friends at our regular parish, most of the time after Mass we all just go home. Perhaps once a week there’s a play date with the moms, and once a month I may see one of the husbands whom I’m friends with, but that’s about it. The sense of a close community of faith is more dispersed.

Suspicious of Traddies

“Traddies” and “rad[ical] traddies” are two nicknames given for Catholics who go to the TLM. But they are also used for Catholics who are members of the SSPX. And they are used for people who have broken in schism from the Catholic Church. These are three distinct groups of people that cannot be spoken of as a single entity.

The ambiguity of these nicknames renders them unhelpful, yet many Catholics lump all these groups together under the “trad” banner and paint them all with the same broad brush.

I understand why this is the case. I just received an email from a man who unsubscribed from my email list with the following reason:

Pro Vatican 2 site. I stick with purely Traditional sites. Such as novusordowatch, tradcatknight.blogspot.com tradition in action, tradito, daily catholic etc. My apologies god bless in your mission.

For this man, either you are a “Vatican 2 Catholic” or you are a “Traditional” Catholic. This is the hermeneutic of rupture, and a false dichotomy. The Second Vatican Council can be defended from a traditional Catholic standpoint, which I did here.

cath1Many Catholics read statements like the one this man wrote to me and their suspicion of “rad traddies” is affirmed. But his beliefs and mine are quite different, in spite of the fact that, quite possibly, both he and I go to the TLM.

I take my family to the TLM, not in spite of the Church, but because we believe it is taking us deeper into the heart of the Church.

Traditional Catholicism is nothing to be suspicious of. A very broad spectrum exists here, and most of the TLMers I have met are simply faithful Catholics who have discovered and prize the buried gem that is the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass.

The New-Old Evangelization

Yes! It is possible to take part in the New Evangelization by means of the Old Mass. In fact, it may just be the best way to be a new evangelist.

In the Traditional Latin Mass, we come to know Christ more deeply and intimately. God gave us the Mass for just this purpose, to worship Him in spirit and truth. Thus, there is no opposition between the New Evangelization and the TLM. Rather, they go hand-in-hand.

Personally, I hope to see 1) an increase of reverence and renewal of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, 2) an expansion of the Mass of the Anglican Ordinariate, and 3) an increase in the number of parishes offering the Traditional Latin Mass.

All three would help people encounter Christ and His Church and grow in holiness, consequently drawing more people to the Catholic Church.

For all these reasons, my family and I are going to the Traditional Latin Mass. But while we do so, we continue to respect our regular parish, its priests, and all our Catholic friends, no matter which Mass they go to. The Church has made multiple Forms available, and you can be a faithful Catholic by going to any of them.

28 thoughts on “Eight Reasons We’re Going to the Traditional Latin Mass”

  1. All excellent reasons.

    The Latin Mass isn’t celebrated where I live. A priest came up and celebrated one about a year ago, but it must have had fairly low attendance as that hasn’t occurred again. I wonder what percentages of Parishes have the Latin Mass?

    If it were offered here, I’d attend it occasionally, I’m quite sure. I probably wouldn’t attend it every Sunday, but I’d at least like to see one celebrated.

  2. Our parish has the TLM every Sunday. I have been a few times, but have been put off by not understanding it, not knowing when to stand, sit, kneel, and not knowing whether or when to respond. If you could offer some resources to help, I might go more often.

    1. Lynn, I sympathize with your confusion. I’m still figuring it out, but I would recommend what I did: read any guide that they have for it (the Cathedral we go to has this one by Foley (scroll to the bottom of his page): http://michaelpfoley.info/books.html). And also ask someone for help or guidance.

      After going for a few months we started to get the feel for it.

    2. Also, some advice to you when you go to the TLM is to not worry so much about “doing” the whole time. Take a few weeks to just sit in the pew, unite your heart to the Holy Sacrifice, and experience how it unfolds. Be present, don’t just spend the whole time trying to do what you are “supposed” to do. It’s different than the Ordinary Form where we are expected to do this, say that, and sing absolutely every single hymn including the Communion hymn. In the TLM you can simply “be” in spiritual union with God until you become comfortable with the responses and when to sit/stand/kneel.

      1. I agree! I really loved saying the responses when I went to the Ordinary Form during the early part of my conversion process. We soon ended up at a TLM parish and I kind of wondered why the priest instructing me didn’t spend more time telling all about the mass and how to understand it, follow along in the missal, etc. I experienced some frustration until I relaxed, took on a more prayerful attitude, and took the advice above. After more than 3 years of attending, I still have so much to learn about the TLM mass. The most important thing is that I allow it to draw me to Jesus, not that I say & do the right thing at the right time.

  3. In defense of extra liturgical announcements or recognitions, they do happen after the liturgy of the Eucharist and before dismissal, so it is a bit of a stretch to quote our beloved pope BXVI on applause at Mass, for he was referring to applause for the homily or for the music.

    My experience with the Tridentine Mass was not so fulfilling though. From listening to butchered Latin to scant participation by the faithful, even in the few parts reserved to them, including glaze-eyed teenagers in mantillas, I found it less than reverent. Surely, some were quite reverent, knew the responses well and prayerfully participated in the Mass. But isn’t this the same at traditional parishes where only the Novus Ordo Mass is offered?

    I think that there is a bias among the crowd attending the typical Vetus Ordo Mass: they go out of their way to attend the few and far between such Masses. Mass is important to them. However, they consider what they find a new normal to fit in, ignoring that there is still room for improvement.

    Having said this, I commend you and Kate for taking this step.

    Pax Christi

  4. Devin,

    Excellent article. I love your perspective and the view you give on the Catholic church. These are excellent points for all Christians to ponder on when considering their worship of the Savior.

    Thank you.

  5. My family and I converted from Lutheranism back in March. Although I have not attended a Latin Mass myself, I completely get its appeal, and if people want to go out of their way to attend one then I have no opinion about that one way or the other. However I would also emphasize that for some, the choice of what sort of Mass to attend has other variables in it, and the cost-benefit analysis plays itself out differently.

    For us, we have a really great parish 5 minutes from our house, that has Catholics who live in our neighborhood, go to school with our kids, and live and work in our community. I will admit that I’m more of a traditionalist guy (hence the draw to the Church) and our Mass uses contemporary musical settings (“Anthem” is a regular for us, sadly) and it’s not always quiet or reverent. But I wouldn’t ditch our parish for the nearest Latin Mass parish, which is 25 minutes away in the city, because it would mean giving up on the community we have in the parish. So it comes down for us to a choice between liturgy and community; given the choice between a liturgy that’s just OK and a community that’s strong and supportive, and a liturgy that is awesome but in a community in which I have no connection, I think the former wins out. I can always sneak out during the week and go to a more traditional Mass — and I often do this — but there’s no substitute for the community.

    The point of all this is, I have no issue with those who prefer a more traditional liturgy (I think I’m one of you) but there is often a kind of moral superiority shown by traditional types who look down on less traditional forms, and I don’t think that called for, or that simple of a judgment call.

    Thanks again for the post.

  6. beware of the idolatry of “reverence”

    Then it happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

    As you are a father, i have a hard time understanding your respect fot the angry old man. “I could tell that my children’s small noises had polluted his pure experience of the Latin Mass”? Are you kidding? Doesn’t seem like something Jesus would do.

    Seems to me this is nothing but a stodgy platonism. Maybe your pendulum needs to swing for a time back towards a hyper-strict formalism because of the over-casualness of our culture, but what you describe is not some sort of stable ideal. Its the universal tendency towards phariseeism. Some people may need something like it for a time, but if pursued too long you’ll turn out as an old man scowling at children.

  7. I think some historical context might be in order. The thing to remember when reading the following quote is that Mass was still being celebrated in Latin for most of Tolkien’s life. This suggests that the solemnity that you (rightly) enjoy in the Latin Mass has nothing to do with it being the Latin Mass and everything to do with the attitude of reverence that most contemporary Latin Mass celebrants and attendees bring to the celebration.

    “Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children – from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn – open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand – after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.”
    –The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter to his son.

    You’ll also want to revisit the following:
    #1 – You are conflating Sacred Tradition and mere tradition. While the Mass itself is central to Sacred Tradition, the celebration of the Mass in Latin is not part of Sacred Tradition. Language is a matter a mere tradition and convenience.

    #2 – This isn’t a reason to go to the Latin Mass. It is merely a reason why one shouldn’t not go.

    #3 – Again, this has nothing to do with the language in which the Mass is celebrated. It has everything to do with the sagacity of the celebrant and cantor and the attitude of the congregation.

    #5 – God doesn’t care how I dress, so as long as how I dress is within the bounds of modesty, why do you? More to the point, granted my attire is not immodest, why should I care what you think about it? Also, how is it the flip-flops are less appropriate than loafers or Oxfords? After all, Jesus himself wore sandals, and Moses was instructed to go barefoot on the mountain. Apart from insisting that people dress modestly, the obsession with attire that I see in some “conservative” Catholics (among whom I, as a faithful son of the Church and father of a home schooling family with four kids, count myself) appears to be pharisaical.

    #6 – It’s too bad that your children need to see Mass in a language that they do not understand to understand that fact that the Mass is something set apart. In contrast, I teach my kids to recognize Jesus in the Eucharist and interiorly, for this, not the use of a dead language, is what sets apart the Mass.

    #8 – I see no lack of community at Novo Ordo masses. In fact, it would be nice if they would tone back the community focus and return the Mass to its proper Christiocentric ethos.

    Here’s where we agree:

    #3 – Silence and reverence. Yes. Please!!! Apart from the fact that our pastors do not instruct the congregation on the value of silence and the inappropriateness of laymen holding hands and using the orans, there is no reason why we cannot enjoy this in Masses celebrated in the vernacular.

    #4 – Alter severs should not be co-ed. Instead, I would divide them into all boy and all girl teams. I know that you are advocating for the use of only boys, but as women were the only ones to minister to the Lord in his earthly life, and apart from John were the only ones present at the high alter of His ultimate sacrifice, I can see no reason to prevent them from continuing to serving Him at the alter. What I’ve noticed is that all girl and all boy teams each–at their best–bring something different and equally beautiful to the celebration. Where the all-boys’ teams bring focus and intensity, the all-girls’ teams bring a beautiful quietness and gentleness.

    #5 – It’s a scandal the people dress immodestly and become a distraction to others, especially to men in the congregation.

    #7 – If I were the Pope, I would abolish the use of all of the plodding, 2/4 time, 19th Century Protestant hymns and “contemporary” 20th century hymns. They are truly horrible and offensive. “America the Beautiful” would also have to go.

    1. Hear, hear.

      We humans have the capacity to mess up absolutely anything, and do. For instance, “dressing nicely” quickly turns to vanity. Covering one’s head out of reverence (which the Code of Canon Law no longer requires, as the 1983 replaced the 1917 code, look it up if you don’t believe me) quickly turns ridiculous and becomes a distraction when a woman forgets her mantilla and pins a Kleenex to her hair. All the reverence in the world at Mass goes out the window when the congregants go to the hall and trash talk the attendees at the regular Mass.
      We’re people. We’ll make a mess wherever we are, whatever we’re doing. So let’s never think, this side of Heaven, “Aha! We’ve found it!” Be merciful and let people surprise you with their goodness rather than being exacting and then offended when people are people. I say this to myself as much as anyone. It’s hard. But that’s learning to love, right? i hope people cut me some slack on bad days, so i gotta do the same.

      So, go to TLM for its beauty, not for how the people behave, and I’ll go to regular Mass for its beauty, not for how people behave. Jesus is present in the Eucharist at both, so the rest is a matter of taste, really.

    2. Leonard, thanks for your response.

      the celebration of the Mass in Latin is not part of Sacred Tradition. Language is a matter a mere tradition and convenience.

      I may have overstepped here. But your statement understeps. Latin is the official language of the Church. It is not due to mere convenience nor is it a tradition that can be dismissed.

      Latin was used as the language by which Christianity spread in its first centuries. It exerted a unifying force for Catholicism in the world. Countless writings of the Fathers, encyclicals, theological treatises, and canons of Councils are in Latin.

      Regarding #2, that it is approved, many people over the past decades have been under the misconception that it is not approved. And understandably so, since after the Second Vatican Council many bishops did not condone its public use.

      Regarding #3 (beauty, transcendence, reverence): A reverently celebrated Ordinary Form Mass, with sacred music, would go a long way to improving things, but I think the TLM lends itself to these qualities more readily for various reasons.

      Regarding dress, you wrote God doesn’t care how I dress, so as long as how I dress is within the bounds of modesty, why do you?

      Ah, but this actually begs the question, because your statement hinges on who defines “bounds of modesty”. The young woman I saw not too long ago wearing a revealing, skin tight, extremely short, spandex-type outfit no doubt thought her attire was appropriate for Mass.

      If you were to have a public meeting with the Pope at an official function, would you show up in flip-flops, a t-shirt, and shorts (all within the bounds of modesty, for some definition)? I doubt you would.

      I’ve been a casual dresser for most of my life. I’ve rankled at anyone telling me to dress more formally. My two roommates, both Catholic, were sharply dressed guys. I wore T-shirts with holes in them until they became threadbare. Instead of “wasting” money on fancy clothes, I argued, I was generous with donating money to the poor. “God doesn’t care what I wear,” I no doubt said at some point.

      But I’ve had a change in the past seven years or so. How we dress indicates how we respect other people and places we are at. At one place I worked, we had to dress up to a much greater degree than anywhere else I had worked, because we worked with clients at other companies and how we dressed showed them our level of professionalism and respect toward them.

      It’s too bad that your children need to see Mass in a language that they do not understand to understand that fact that the Mass is something set apart. In contrast, I teach my kids to recognize Jesus in the Eucharist and interiorly, for this, not the use of a dead language, is what sets apart the Mass.

      Of course, I have taught and teach my children to recognize Jesus in the Eucharist and interiorly as well. So you are presenting a false dichotomy here: either a “dead” language like Latin OR teaching children about Jesus’ real presence.

      Even a clown Mass can have a valid Eucharist, yet you likely wouldn’t take your child to one, because the reality of Christ becoming present is obscured by a lack of reverence, theatrics, and so on. An Ordinary Form Mass is not a clown Mass, but the material point is that visible elements of how the Mass is celebrated can hinder or help a child to perceive the supernatural reality occurring.

      #8 – I see no lack of community at Novo Ordo masses. In fact, it would be nice if they would tone back the community focus and return the Mass to its proper Christiocentric ethos.

      There’s community and then there’s community. I agree with what you say here, and have found that the Latin Masses I’ve gone to demonstrate that Christocentricity much more consistently than do the Ordinary Form ones, in part due to the “community” focus (during the Mass) of the celebration.

      Community is something I am looking for outside of the celebration of the Mass itself. Our parish has countless groups and apostolates–probably more than does any parish in the diocese–and in some of these groups, communities of various kinds and qualities form. But at the TLM the community that has sprung up is bound by a deep appreciation for the Mass itself and traditional expressions of our Catholic Faith. So the community is a stronger one than what we have experienced at our regular parish.

      That said, we are close friends with many at our parish, and that has not changed in any way since going to the TLM. In fact, it is somewhat telling that there is no difference at all in our friendships with these friends, even though we are not now normally attending the same Mass as them. Because as I mentioned, after Mass we all just go to our respective homes.

      Protestants get this to a degree we don’t: after their services they usually have Sunday School, life groups, cell groups, or even praise and worship time, or discipleship time. They recognize the need to build community in close proximity to the service itself.

      Regarding the things we agree with, Leonard, amen. Though what for you are things that are important, others would find legalistic and pharasaical.

      We agree that silence and reverence should be cultivated and that the priests should give direction on this, yet it doesn’t happen too often. Same with holding hands during the Our Father and the orans posture–most Catholics simply don’t know that these aren’t called for–but priests don’t correct them.

      And we agree that many of these Protestant and contemporary songs need to go. They shouldn’t be sung, yet those are the songs sung the majority of the time.

      God bless!

  8. Devin,
    Excellent article stating our thoughts and feelings on discovering the TLM after we moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho three months ago!
    We also are still struggling with understanding the what, why, & when (but not the Who!) of the Latin Mass!
    Yes, the “old” Mass is a truly a buried gem– worth the effort!
    Please share more on this topic!

  9. It’s very sad that traditional minded people often feel like they have no option other than the Traditional Latin Mass becuase of the way many priests act while celebrating the Novus Ordo . 

    The NO in Latin,  prayed the way it is at our parish, St. Margaret Mary in Oakland CA,  is superior to the TLM, and the average NO, because it is accessible and encourages participation where the TLM doesn’t, yet it fulfills all the points about the TLM vs. the NO in this post. 

    The issue is not the Mass, but the typical celebrant. Priests of the TLM would never think of acting that way. Too bad they don’t celebrate the NO (more often and with the same reverence.)

  10. So much of this resonates for my family. We started attending a diocesan TLM 10 years ago and found such peace…quiet prayerfulness and less distractions. My 3 sons and husband all serve at the altar and I photograph the Latin Mass to share it’s beauty. The Mass of Ages, of the Saints has deepened our faith and I thank you for writing this.

  11. I intend to avoid going to Latin mass. My concern is that if I went I would fall in love with it and start looking down on the Novus Ordo mass.

    After the chaos of Evangelicalism, I love the uniformity of Catholicism.

    The Novus Ordo is very Catholic in the way it declares “We are the people of God, this is what we do on Sundays.” There is a beautiful sense of discipline to this.

    The idea of an alternative mass is inherently un-Catholic.

    Your concerns about modesty in worship are valuable, but I resent being told how to dress in mass.

    We all have the duties and obligations to perform that the Church lays upon us. Why bind us also with the heavy burden of dressing according to some conceived notion of what is more reverant?

    I work hard and have to try and look professional during my working week, why can I not dress comfortably and relaxed at mass?

    I don’t usually wear shorts to mass, but I don’t see any problem wearing my flip flops. I doubt anybody is looking at what shoes I’m wearing.

    1. Historically, the idea of mass throughout the world is in the minority. Before the Council of Trent, each religious order (e.g., Benedictine, Dominican, Carmelite, etc rites), each region (e.g., Mozarabic, Gallican, Ambrosian, etc rites), had its own liturgy. And these examples are all in the West, not to mention the East, even just half way Italy from Rome in Milan.

  12. It looks like the Vatican has just changed the rubrics for the Mass of the Anglican Ordinariate to make it more modern like the Novus Ordo.


    “On the First Sunday of Advent, the Eucharistic texts in The Book of Divine Worship [the first ritual book used by the Ordinariates] will be repressed, and at that time, all of our loose-leaf binders that have served as the altar missal will be repressed. In the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, every public Mass celebrated in our communities will be offered from the newly published missal.”

  13. This list is exactly why we go the the Melkite Cathedral Cathedral as often as possible (plus my wife is a Greek Catholic) so it is the closest Byzantine ritual church.

  14. Great article Devin! My family and I feel very identified with your impeccable reasons for attending the Traditional Latin Mass. We made the switch from the novus ordo about a year ago and haven’t looked back. Our experience our previous parishes was very hit or miss, depending on the priest and whether he wanted to celebrate the Mass reverently. With the Traditional Latin Mass we don’t have that problem. Every single Mass is celebrated with tremendous reverence and my family’s spiritual life has greatly benefited from this.

  15. Thinking about this more, some things occur to me:

    1) if a devout fellow such as yourself, with kids i presume are reasonably well behaved, had a hard time breaking into the TLM, getting maddogged at Mass by a “reverent” old man, how impossible would it have been for my friend who recently came into the Church, bringing her two little boys who aren’t used to it? She was one of those (gasp!) non-Catholics who enrolled her kids in our parish school because she thought it looked like a good school. She and i became friends and i sort of translated for her, tried to help her feel comfortable and show her how hospitable the Church is to people. When she takes her kids to Mass, she doesn’t get maddogged by old people, she gets encouraging smiles and the help of Children’s Liturgy and Mass in a language her kids can at least understand. They wouldn’t stand a chance at TLM, according to this article.

    2) do homeless teenagers wander into your TLM and feel welcome? At our parish, they do. They see the dads with tattoos who bring their kids to Mass even when their wives don’t go. They see the guy with the huuuge mass of dredlocks, the teen girl with the purple mohawk. Also there are guys in suits and women dressed in sort of business casual attire. They see the young black guy with big diamond studs who is an extraordinary minister. Some of them have been taken out for breakfast by our priest, who lets us applaud after Baptisms and at other appropriate times but is also very very reverent at the right times. I’m sure that the sense of transcendence at TLM could touch them, but it sounds like there’s a degree of human stodginess they’d have to wade through to find it.

    3) what happens when everyone who takes their faith seriously, behaves at Mass, and knows and adheres to Church teaching goes to TLM as a refuge? No such people are at the regular Mass anymore. This makes me think that maybe it shouldn’t be an option to attend only TLM, but that it should be offered only once or twice a month or something. We need you at our regular Masses, helping welcome newbies to the faith, smiling at parents who’ve just had a conversion and are trying to get their kids to go to Mass, participating in our catechism programs, volunteering in our ministries, showing our priest, who is facing us, that some of us are paying attention, are reverent. We stay at our messy, beautiful parish and are the ones who suddenly drop, “we use NFP” in casual conversation (oh yes i do say that) and find that the person we’re talking with WANTS to learn about it but didn’t know where to look! My Presbyterian friends, whose church split again recently, said to us that they like how in our Church there isn’t that sense of, “well we’ll just do our own thing then”, but everyone stays together, whatever tensions there are.

    Maybe you can balance finding refuge at TLM some Sundays with being a light to others at regular Mass the other Sundays? And wouldn’t it be cool if sporadically we had TLM at our parishes, to expose people who might never try it?

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