The Rise of the New Catholic Traditionalists

Synopsis (tl;dr): A growing trend is happening wherein ordinary Catholics are embracing the traditional liturgy and other older practices of the Faith.

It’s been popping up all over, most recently with my editor at Catholic Answers penning a blog post suggesting that we “Give East a Chance”, meaning that priests should heed Cardinal Sarah’s call for celebrating Mass ad orientem.

I’m less interested in the debate over ad orientem, or any particular aspect of traditionalism, and more in the movement of people who are beginning to embrace such practices, none of whom self-identify as traditionalists.

Catholic Answers has taken flak in the past few years for being opponents of Catholic traditionalism. So it is telling when such a blog post makes it onto their site. The truth is that many at Catholic Answers go to the Traditional Latin Mass! And several of Catholic Answers’ authors–including yours truly–also attend the TLM, in spite of not considering ourselves traditionalists.

The New Catholic Traditionalists

But it is not just stalwarts like Catholic Answers. I was surprised recently when Matt Fradd and Sam Guzman (of Catholic Gentleman) posted a video where they both spoke about how they go to the Traditional Latin Mass.

trad1
Photo credit: Joseph Shaw, Mass in the Oxford Oratory http://www.lmschairman.org/

And now Cardinal Sarah dropped a bombshell encouraging priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem, citing the many reasons for doing so that traditionalists have been pointing out for the past 60 years. Even Pope Francis celebrated Mass ad orientem earlier this year.

Whether you agree or disagree with this direction, the fact that it is happening is remarkable.

Isn’t It Still Jesus in the Mass Either Way?

I converted to Catholicism from atheism and very low-church Protestantism. Liturgy never meant a hill of beans to me. Smell and bells, incense and processing, vestments and solemnity held zero importance to me.

trad2
Photo credit: Joseph Shaw, Lady Chapel of St James’ Spanish Place. The celebrant is Fr Michael Mary F.SS.R and the server is a member of his community, Br Dominic

So as a single man, and into my marriage before children, I was unbothered by non-sacred, generally bland music during Mass, lack of reverence, odd or heretical homilies, and the other common afflictions at many Masses in the Ordinary Form. Shrug, it’s still Jesus, I said to myself.

That changed when my children began to grow older. I watched them at Mass–and yes we sat near the front!–and while I could see the truth of divine majesty behind the lackluster celebration, they could not. They saw and heard and experienced the banality, the exact opposite of what I wanted for them and knew they needed if they were to retain the Faith in a hostile culture.

Even at the good parish we went to, with a music director who had a Ph.D., we regularly endured the raft of heretical or banal “hymns” like Anthem and its ilk. These were songs I had sung for years before having children, but now I was focusing on the words and the music and growing increasingly uneasy with how bad they were.

I learned later that these songs do not even qualify as sacred music, and the Church specifies that only sacred music should be used in the Mass.

How we worship really does matter. There is truth to the slogan “save the liturgy, save the world,” which I didn’t pick up on until recently.

Pope Benedict, while still Cardinal Ratzinger, said:

“I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is, to a large extent, due to the disintegration of the liturgy.”

I was beginning to think so too. And the movement we are seeing shows that I am not the only one.

Rediscover Tradition

What are the options? Either go to the Traditional Latin Mass or change the Ordinary Form to be celebrated more reverently.

My influence with even my local parish priest in terms of liturgical celebration approaches zero, so advocating for a more reverent liturgy was not going to go anywhere. Instead, we started going to the Traditional Latin Mass, in spite of it being a long drive, in a difficult part of the city, at an awful time of day.

Cardinal Sarah
Cardinal Sarah

For a non-traditionalist like me, going to the TLM was an odd experience. I didn’t know what was happening, could barely follow along in the blue booklet: in short, it felt a lot like the first time I went to Mass while still a Protestant!

But what I did notice was reverence: sacred music, periods of silence, no ad-libbing, no innovations, no glaring omissions, no outbursts of applause.

And my children noticed it too.

In my happiness at this discovery, I wrote a blog post about why we had started going to the Traditional Latin Mass.

This post resulted in several rage-unsubscribes from my blog and emails, as well as angry comments from strangers accusing me of traditionalist phariseeism and the like. Of course, most of those readers knew very little about me and were completely off the mark, but it goes to show what a sensitive subject this is, and how on guard most Catholics are against traditionalists.

The New Traditionalist Next Door

We’re seeing a new period in the Church regarding traditionalism. It is going mainstream.

Even Jen Fulwiler is veiling!
Even Jen Fulwiler is veiling!

So, for instance, we have the somewhat perplexing rise of mainstream, orthodox Catholics respectfully criticizing statements made by Pope Francis. This didn’t happen with John Paul II and Pope Benedict. But it has with Pope Francis, and in my opinion justifiably so on many occasions.

I’ve seen pieces critical of Pope Francis’s statements in the National Catholic Register, Catholic World Report, on the blogs of canon lawyers, and other sites and publications that otherwise whole-heartedly support the pope.

I have held back in criticism, in part because I don’t know if my voice is needed there, nor if it is appropriate for me to criticize things he has said. But I, too, have scratched my head trying to figure out if he really meant what he said about large families, marriages and cohabitation, neo-Pelagian traditionalists, sacraments for divorced and remarried, and on and on.

Pope Francis is inadvertently doing much to increase this move of ordinary Catholics towards traditionalism.

Pushback and Challenges

But there’s another group of ordinary Catholics who are critical of those who are critical of the pope. And critical of anything associated with traditionalism, including ad orientem, in spite of its bona fides.

I’m friends with many of these people: they are generally orthodox Catholics who are on guard against traditionalists, who do not want to cede even one inch to them, afraid they will take a yard.

These Catholics were pushing back on Cardinal Sarah, opining that Sarah was only opining, resisting any movement toward this traditional practice.

Less applause, more reverence
Less applause, more reverence

The same has happened in many places with the Latin Mass. Pope Benedict in 2007 sent out the motu propio Summorum Pontificum to give priests the right to celebrate the Latin Mass for a group of the faithful in their area, even without the bishop’s approval.

This option has not been exercised by very many priests, and those Catholics suspicious of all things traditional have pointed that fact out as evidence that traditionalists are a tiny, disaffected minority who should be swept under the rug.

But the reality is somewhat different: many priests, even if they wanted to, would not go against their bishop. And many bishops are suspicious of traditionalists and do not want to see the TLM spread. It remains ghettoized in many dioceses, by design and not by demand.

Most priests don’t know the the TLM, didn’t grow up with it, and would not heed Summorum Pontificum even if a stable group of traditionalists requested it.

Increase Reverence of the Ordinary Form?

Other Catholics suggest to forget about the TLM and instead focus on reforming the Ordinary Form. Make it more reverent, they say. Get sacred music in there. Throw in some ad orientem. That sort of thing.

I’m sympathetic to this suggestion, and I know of a group of people quietly working behind the scenes to accomplish this noble goal. (Interestingly, they are also new traditionalists, not Catholics who self-identify as traditionalists). I think it should be attempted, but also I know how deeply rooted many non-reverent practices are, so much so that they have attained quasi-traditional status. It will take a long time.

The Way Forward

I recall getting burned by traditionalists not too long after becoming Catholic. They came out against me on my youtube channel, and to me here was a strange animal that I had never encountered before.

I soon grew acquainted with them and the copy-pasting of accusations against John Paul II, Vatican II, heretical Catholics like myself, etc. I now understand that this is the extreme end of the traditional spectrum, the sedevacantists, and it hardly represents the majority, which spans from them to SSPX members, to FSSP supporters, to people like me who just want my children to have a reverent Mass.

Say what you want about traditionalists, but one thing they did do was hold the line on traditional practices and reverent liturgy. While many made mistakes, got into bunker mentality, and came across as insanely harsh, the fact is that now Catholics like me are rediscovering these aspects of traditional worship in part because of them. The liturgical abuses that have happened in the Church over the past sixty years mitigates their culpability to various degrees.

There’s a new face of Catholic traditionalism, and it looks little like the image that it once had. It’s young, charitable, respectful of the Pope and obedient to the Church. It’s ordinary Catholic moms and dads drawn to the sacred. It’s coming to a parish near you, eventually.

46 thoughts on “The Rise of the New Catholic Traditionalists”

    1. Thanks Devin for your thoughts on this matter.
      I really miss the good old days;
      when we have altar railings;
      And we kneel before the presence of the LORD
      when we meet the LORD in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

      How I wish I am back in those good old days.
      When being Traditional is the norm.
      Now I am so embarrassed whenever I kneel when I receive the LORD in the Sacrament of the Eucharist while people around look at me as if I came from another planet.
      I am so embarrassed by the fact that I am the only one kneeling.
      Still, I feel I have to do this in spite of all the embarrassment.
      It’s just a small matter; compared to what our LORD did to save my soul.

  1. One can only hope. My wife and I are going to look at moving a couple hours east, if not moving all the way across the country, just to be near an FSSP parish that will faithfully preserve the Mass in all its reverence.

  2. Oh, so now you are enlightened and know everything and because you have kids you’re wiser than those of us who don’t? I find it odd and frustrating that many converts who are active on social media have this notion that they know what the Catholic Church was like before Vatican II and was obviously perfect, despite the fact that they have no history in it and would be wise focus on private devotion and being Catholic for, I dunno, a decade before lecturing others on how to be Catholic. I don’t care if you go to the TLM. I do care if you blanket criticize the Masses that the rest of us (unenlightened heathens according to you people) attend, Masses which are sanctioned by the Catholic Church for longer than you’ve been Catholic. I’d love to see more sacred silence in Mass (meaning your children need to be silent, enough excusing behavior), priests truly speaking up on what the church teaches and enforcing rules, reverence, good music (don’t be pompous). This can all be done in the ordinary Mass, which most of us attend. You must be an amazing person to take do much time to drive the TLM in a bad area. I hope you get a medal for your efforts, since that’s what you seem to want. This is a lot of “virtue signalling.” Try focusing more on personal devotions and loving your neighbor and less on the religious spirit.

    For the record, veiling is about vanity and trends, not something historical. I don’t care what Jen fulwiler does. I prefer to look at role models who don’t spend all their time jetting around, listening to themselves talk, and neglecting their families.

    1. Hmmm.

      Focus on private devotion for 10 years as a Catholic?

      Done. I’ve been Catholic over 15 years. The fact that you didn’t know that indicates to me you have little to no idea who I am. And so your criticisms are off the mark, something I mentioned happened in the previous post I wrote on this subject.

      Pre-Vatican II was perfect?

      I never said that, nor do I think it. So this is another criticism that misses completely and indicates more about your own stereotypes rather than anything about me.

      In any case, I have “history in it” in that I have read books and articles on the history of the Church, from her founding to today. You don’t know what I have history in and don’t have history in.

      I go to the Ordinary Form Mass often. I’ve been going for 15 years as a Catholic. I said nothing about people who go being “unenlightened”, as that would mean I am unenlightened. I do make legitimate criticisms of the lack of reverence at many Masses. You make no counter-argument, only set up a strawman for something I never said.

      “meaning your children need to be silent”.

      They are silent, ma’am. You are criticizing another parent here, not I.

      “This can all be done in the ordinary Mass.”

      It can be, which I point out in the post (did you read the whole thing before commenting?). But it is not done. However, some are working toward that end, and I point that out in my post and applaud them, and support them. Another criticism that is off the mark.

      “good music (don’t be pompous)”.

      It is not pompous to say, as I did, that the Church calls for sacred music, and that that means something specific, and means that many songs we do sing are not sacred, not fit for Mass. This is the Church saying it, post-Vatican II, not I. Are you listening to the Church?

      If it is virtue signalling to want my children to believe in God and His Church through reverent liturgy, then guilty as charged. That is the main thrust of this post.

      Veiling is not historical? It was in the Bible. Not sure how more historical you can get.

      The Jen Fulwiler thing was a jest. We go to Mass at the same (Ordinary Form!) parish. Sometimes I am sure she wears a veil. Last time we saw her she was not wearing one. You disagree with her being a Catholic radio personality and flying to speak at places? Noted. Who knows though, perhaps her family needs the money to make ends meet? Perhaps she supports an extended family and many others? Would you know if she did? Likely not, given your wildly offbase accusations against me.

      You exemplify the knee-jerk reactions against “traditionalism” that this posts points out is problematic. There is a *new* traditionalism that looks different from the stereotypes in your mind.

      All that said, your response is not surprising. I will expect more of it, and I forgive you for your erroneous accusations against me. While those were wrong, other worse ones could be said against me.

      God bless,
      Devin

      1. Yes, as a convert, you still need some time living out the Faith and forming your world view through it. However, unlike most cradle Catholics, you bring an ardent love and zeal for the Truth found in the Catholic Church. After all, as it often happens, becoming a Catholic comes at a great personal price, but worth every penny for such a Great Pearl.

      2. India’s response to you was uncharitable. To me, you sound like someone on a journey, one which is deepening. Every conversion is a love story and the seed is in you to grow in holiness and seek what draws you and your family toward that goal. You won’t go wrong with the TLM.

      3. Well said Devin, in this reply. And obviously she either did NOT read the entire article, or has no memory of what you actually said. We do need to head toward more reverent Mass. We Need God in our Country and in our hearts!
        BTW, I am a cradle Catholic and I miss the beautiful Masses of my childhood.

    2. “This can all be done in the ordinary Mass.”

      It can. But it very rarely is, alas.

      Some of us who ended up at TLM’s did so because we gave up trying to find one of those rare places. Gave up trying to plead and cajole and nudge the pastor and lay ministers into even small concessions on these things, or obtaining them, saw them cast aside as soon as a new pastor arrived, or heat came down from the chancery once an aggrieved parish progressive complained.

      None of this is a judgment on those who haven’t made that journey. And I feel confident that Devin did not mean it as a such a judgment. I think his story was meant mostly as autobiography, not a broadside.

    3. So, India, for how long did you attend the Latin Mass before the post Vatican II changes?

      And how do you know what is in the hearts of those who continue to veil (or wear other head coverings)?

      I’m asking in all charity, just so you don’t misunderstand the tone of my response.

      1. I believe that India hinted at there having nothing magical about the Tridentine Mass. After all, those who concocted the New Mass had been to nothing but to the Tridentine Mass for all their lives. Likewise those who rabidly treated the New Mass as their new plaything.

        The glorious achievement of the availability of the Tridentine Mass in our days is to show the faithful that the Mass is primarily theocentric and utterly apophatic. I doubt that children would be able to pick these very important aspects of our worship in the New Mass, as Devin put it.

  3. As one who was raised in a home where my Mom was an excommunicated Catholic, I was taken to Mass by my Mother’s Father and Mother. That was over half a century ago. I was exposed to the traditions and the Latin Mass as it was celebrated then. As a teen I was active as a sometimes Luthern, or Methodist. Confused as to what I should be is not part of this exposee. I was a child of Christ and seeking the path that He had for me. After marriage to a Catholic lady, who did not suffer excommunication, I was exposed to the NEW CATHOLIC church or Vatican II. Not ready to commit fully I completed RCIA and attended weekly Mass with my wife. As children arrived I dutifully took them to be educated in the Catholic Faith and left the home expeience training to my wife. But, one Easter Sunday, my now God Father asked me to join him as a full member the parish he belonged and to buy a home in that parish. After several weeks my wife and I agreeded and bought that home and I dusted off the RCIA training materials and met with the parish priest. Father John and I spend several months together studing and testing our knowledge of Catholism all the while I was becoming more aware of my desire to follow CHRISTS PATH was becoming much clearer. So on a Sunday nearly a year later I was confirmed and recieved the BODY and BLOOD of Jesus Christ for the first time. To say this was life changing is an understatement. I became a child of GOD and knew immediately that I had been and always would be a part of the BODY OF CHRIST. I find the argument for or against the methods of honoring our beliefs largely selfserving. I am an old man now and as a child was exposed to a mass that I never understood because the Latin used was inentelligable to me. As an adult paticiapant in the mass I am in awe of total mystical process that occurs… and I am humbled to know that JESUS CHRIST was willing to die for all of us to found the HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH. Surely you and I must understand that when we critic another human we are unjustly putting our finger in the eye of JESUS. Please use your time treasure and talents to alert your neighbor that OUR HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH wants them to have the gift of JESUS too. GOD BLESS

  4. What are the options? More than just the Vetus Ordo or reforming the Novus Ordo liturgies, but the sublime reverence and mysticism of the Eastern liturgies of the Catholic Church! Come, let’s face East from the East!

  5. It just depresses me that we are so divided. Where I am from, it is not like that. Mass is beautiful. We have five Catholic churches here in Bryan-College Station, and everyone is just Catholic. Maybe this is a special place. What you talk about here makes it sound like there are practically different sects. 🙁 At my parish a lot of the young women veil. (I am not all that young, but I do too.) The music is usually praise and worship with some Taize or plain chant or traditional Catholic hymns now and then. I am not aware of any cliques exactly, or that anyone particularly listens to one pope more than another. It’s awesome. It’s universal. It’s Catholic. 🙂 OK, I’m happy again.

    1. Shawn, I became Protestant then Catholic at Bryan College Station, and I agree it is a special place.

      But even the veiling you see is an example of what I wrote about. There are people who see veils as a misguided throwback to musty, oppressive times. It’s not that, but some feel it is.

      God bless,
      Devin

  6. Would you kindly acknowledge use of my photograph? Asking permission might have been nice too. It is the second one. It was taken in the Lady Chapel of St James’ Spanish Place. The celebrant is Fr Michael Mary F.SS.R and the server is a member of his community, Br Dominic.

  7. Dear Devin,

    This is an excellent article, thank you.

    I am delighted you found space for one of my photos, but they are marked ‘attribution non commercial’ so I’d appreciate at least an acknowledgement.

    It is the second one. It shows Fr Michael Mary F.SS.R celebrating a Low Mass in the Lady Chapel of St James’ Spanish Place in London; the server is a religious of his community, Br Dominic. I was the only member of the public person present; it was a private Mass before a conference at which Fr Michael was speaking.

    Your first photograph I’m not so sure of, it may possibly be mine as well. It shows Mass in the Oxford Oratory. But I assume you know where it comes from. Why not give credit where it is due?

    Best wishes,

    Joseph

    1. Joseph,

      I apologize for using the photos without giving you credit; I did not know where they came from, so it was an error of haste rather than malice.

      I’ve added credit for both photos to you with your caption. Thanks for commenting and your kind words!

      Devin

  8. Devin,

    It is so wonderful to read this! I think you wrote this with a lot of love for the faith and the mass, which shines through your writing. You can expect a lot criticism for your stance (mostly through ignorance) but i think it is so important to show how sacred and beautiful the TLM is. Although it is also important to indeed not become like the ‘bunker-mentality’ people but to show that the TLM is a treasure of the faith for everyone.

    I am a convert as well (from islam to protestantism to catholicism) and your book ‘the Protestant’s dilemma’ was the first book that made me look into Catholicism. I have been going to the TLM from the beginning and i could not imagine a life without the mass!

  9. Could you say a bit more briefly about the qualifications of “sacred music,” perhaps direct to a document or two that defines what “sacred music” is, what is required in the Mass, why certain songs sometimes used don’t fit, etc. Thanks!

  10. I thought this article was very good and very well put. I am unable to attend the TLM. I am praying that a TLM comes our way soon. I want the same as you, a reverent Mass for my family. I am sooooo tired of the same songs sung every Sunday. I would love to hear some sacred music and hear and see quiet reverence and respect for where we are when at Mass. I would love to see a return of respect for the sacred.

    Also, I am a Catholic revert. I knew nothing about Catholicism when I returned 9 years ago, after having been protestant for 12 years and many years before that of nothing, even though I was raised Catholic. I have friends and family who never left the Catholic church but do not understand or know or care to know Church teaching. Some have been Catholic for 50 years or more. They look at me like I am speaking Greek to them sometimes when I mention something the Church teaches. The length of time being Catholic has nothing to do with how much one knows. It is what you do with that time. I am not saying I know everything because I certainly do not, I am still learning and have a lot to learn. There are many who can talk way over my head. I am just saying this because of the comments above that insinuate that you have not been Catholic long enough.

    Again, I really liked your article. It truly hit home for me..

    1. As a covert who has continued to read, study and absorb our faith for the last ten years I too am astonished by the blasé attitude and lack of interest in plumbing the depths of Catholicism. It’s as if a wrapped package from Tiffany’s were handed to them and the response is well that bow looks hard to open so I won’t bother.

  11. I think the increase in Traditionalism (and I do think its increasing) comes due to several factors.

    For one thing, I think younger people in general are more appreciative of tradition than the Boomers. It’s a lost story in the news, but as Gen X, the Gap Generation and Millennials finally manage to shove Boomers out of the way (and they’re not going easily, look at this election, Boomer central) one of the things they are doing is rejecting the Boomer rejection of tradition. I think Boomers are baffled by that, but those who follow in their wake have born the burnt of tradition of all types having been discounted.

    Additionally, quite a few serious Catholics (and again particularly younger ones) are reacting to the decline in real observance of Christianity in the culture at large by becoming really, really, Catholic. So for them the changes in the Mass that followed the new native language Ordinary Form (and in some case the changes went too far as individual Priests and Diocese went beyond what they were supposed to) are not as attractive as the Extraordinary Form. In other words, tradition, whether in the Extraordinary Form or in its reincorporation in the Ordinary Form (which we saw our last Priest do here) is our way of saying that we are not just another group of Sunday church goers. We are Catholic and we mean it. So take that, secular culture.

    And on that, I think a lot of younger Catholics are not too impressed with the Catholic on Sunday attitude that too many Catholics came to take after the early 1960s. So we’re identifying with the Faith heavily and intending to show that. I know that some opposed to the reincorporation of these things have a “oh no, are you’ll go back to the Catholic Ghetto” view, but I don’t think we’re worried. We’re getting shoved back to the Catholic Ghetto anyhow, so we might go with flags flying.

    1. I’m a Boomer who rejects the non traditional, the lack of standards and the attempts to make worship entertainment. I’m also a covert so I have seen the “punch in punch out” approach to Mass particularly among Cradle Catholics. They don’t know what they are missing

  12. Great article.
    I was a hardcore trad, got punished mercilessly for it in seminary, left the church for ten years due to the merciless treatment I received, and just recently returned.
    I attend the TLM daily, but I cannot say that I am a “trad” in the sense that I used to be. The chip got knocked off my shoulder pretty hard. Now I just attend the TLM as a matter of course, not as a statement.
    It’s good to see ordinary Catholics attend the extraordinary form. You do so with fresh eyes and open hearts; without the disastrous baggage of many old school trads. I once had the baggage.

    It is my firm hope that even if priests cannot say the TLM, the influence that tradition asserts in the liturgy will make the new mass more reverent. This is, in fact, what has happened with my former classmates who were ordained. They are “traditionalizing” their masses and lives, to great benefit to their parishes. The only people who don’t like the solemnity are the aging radicals and dissenters. I guess we know the correct course of action, then.
    God bless you.

  13. Great that the TLM is coming back! I’m glad that we are going back to this. At the same time though i’m worried about what I see in the comments about people implying that most Ordinary Form Masses are invalid. While I myself hate the fact that we have silly masses and things like that, at the end of the day most parishes that celebrate the ordinary form do offer a valid mass. No need to be smug about it. My hope personally is that we introduce some of the cooler traditions back into the ordinary form. Ad Orientem would be a nice touch and i’m not as big on communion in the hand so that could be something to get rid of. But there’s no need to attack a perfect valid mass on either side. Also is it that hard to follow the GIRM if you are an ordinary form attendee? I mean my diocese is pretty darn strict about it and we have very wonderful OF masses (granted its the Lincoln Diocese so take that with a grain of salt. We know we’re awesome and are blessed!)

  14. Loved this and found myself nodding about how our children see Mass. A good priest at a talk I attended said that vocations are being lost to our children seeing error, that we should sacrifice to take them to reverent Masses. And I too am glad that there were groups who kept traditional Catholicism alive, the Mass of the Saints, the way Catholicism looked…and looked different than protestantism…before the last 60 years.
    Also, I photograph the Latin Mass and you have my permission to share any of my photos as I take them AMDG.

  15. I reverted to Catholicism after 20 years of Evangelical Protestantism. I am weary of the entertainment atmosphere at Mass, banal hymns,cantors who think they’re at the Met, singing so loud I have to put earplugs in my ears. I will keep comments on the homilies private. I’ve been listening to TLM priests’ sermons online for couple years. I kept looking in my area for the TLM; a couple were in dicey far-away areas which my husband wouldn’t let me drive to alone (he isn’t a believer, but that’s another story). I was even considering going to an SSPX chapel just to see what it was like. All I want is reverence for the Eucharist, sacred hymns and silence before/after Mass. Luckily, I just discovered last week the TLM, a 75 mi RT from my house, but I’m sure will be well worth the drive. It has a permanent home, with an FSSP priest traveling from his home parish on Sunday for Confessions, Mass, and the people pray the rosary just before Mass. I don’t have a problem with veiling and bought one–it came yesterday, just in time for the TLM tomorrow. Our bishop invited the FSSP into the diocese. Praise God! I am giddy with joy in anticipation, and I will be attending as often as I can.

    Thank you for this article. It says everything I have been thinking for a very long time.

  16. My husband and I are both converts and when we started going to the parish near our home it was a great parish with Franciscans. They were always reverent even though it was a more contemporary feeling celebration of the Mass. A few years ago, the Franciscans had to turn the parish back to the diocese and it was a big change. The priests we got were more traditional and it was awesome! As I said before the Franciscans were awesome but we have seen a deepening of our faith with our priests now. We can now attend the TLM every Wednesday evening and this week at the Wednesday afternoon Mass the priest celebrated it ad orientem. I know we are blessed because we visited a parish in another diocese and the people didn’t kneel for the concecration and the EM went up to the altar and grabbed a handful of hosts when he ran out.

    I guess all that was basically to say I can totally agree with what you said in your post. Thanks so much for this!

  17. Devin! Great article! I’m guessing the attitude from “India” probably resembles the discontent voiced by their parents when the mass was changed 50 years ago. I’m a revert. There was no TLM authorized when I was a little boy. I went to school at a fairly Orthodox parish until 5th grade with nuns in modern veils and business attire. When I got to fourth grade I had the privilege of serving Mass. The last mass I served at that parish was in Latin. The Latin mass was early in the morning and I was able to talk my parents into dropping me off so I could serve. This would have been 76 so it would have had to have been Novus Ordo in Latin but it made an indelible mark on me. The bells, the incense the chant! It was otherworldly. When we got to our new neighborhood I signed up to serve Mass and no disrespect but the ordinary form to me was just that, ordinary. We had bells but no incense & no Latin. It seemed an awful lot like going to the Protestant services you see in the movies sometimes. I was fortunate to be allowed to continue serving til I was in high school but truth be told it felt more like a chore in the new parish then the wonderful privilege it was at the Latin mass. I left the Church after high school like so many people my age did but was called back a couple of years ago. I forego the parish down the street for an hour and a half bus ride to the parish that offers the TLM. Admittedly because of being a transit rider more often than not I miss the TLM which is at 8 AM but this parish offers a very reverent NO with bells, incense, celebrated Ad Orientam with kneelers so we can pay more fitting homage to the LORD when He allows us to approach as He presents us with His sacred body & precious blood.

  18. Wonderful article, Devin! I do consider myself a “new Traditionalist” as I have been veiling for Mass for 2 years now (my custom is to veil whenever I’m in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament). I WANT to embrace TLM; my parish even offers a TLM on Sunday afternoons. However, my main contention is with the liturgical calendars and how they differ between Novus Ordo and TLM. I prefer the three-year liturgical cycle of the N.O., so I’m one of the people who would like to see increased reverence at N.O. masses -OR- if we could just get one liturgical calendar for both rites but obviously that’s difficult since TLM is on a one-year cycle and has 1 reading + Gospel whereas NO has 2 readings + Gospel. *sigh*

  19. Devin, thank you for the wonderful article. I started attending a Mass with no singing on Sundays because I just did not like any of the music that is/was sung. I always thought back to the hymns I sang as a child (still post Vatican II) but are never sung in my parish anymore. I don’t understand why my parish (and I am told throughout my diocese) no longer rings bells at any Masses. What better time to call attention to what is happening on the alter than at the consecration??? I am not aware of any TLM Masses in my area but I will definitely search for one.

  20. First time on your blog via Haley Stewart’s Carrots for Michaelmas.

    I entered the Church in ’08 but I’ve been thinking about when I “became Catholic”. Sure there was the intellectual conversion prior to entering RCIA, but it was really only a four or five years ago that I really had a conversation of heart, assented to all the Church taught, and really tried to live a holy life. Maybe this disqualifies me from having any opinion.

    I think one of the things that disappointed me as I began attending Mass before RCIA is that my only impressions of the Mass and Catholicism were from the media, think Godfather, I Confess, etc. With that, I was intellectually formed by Fisheaters.com in their section for Protestants and then learned about “being Catholic” from their being Catholic section. I still almost exclusively attend the OF Rite (EF very rarely, Slavic Byzantine more regularly as I live near a monastery) but the world I want to immerse myself in is a world where being Catholic is different than anything else. The rhythms of the Church should be the rhythms of our lives. We can keep time by feats and fasts, etc.

    What I think (in my worthless opinion) it is for a lot of (not just millennials) but a lot of newer converts is that we are converted by history and tradition, rather than in spite of it. There is a great short meditation on an episode of the podcast 3 Dogs North about how we become ossified at the point of our conversions. For the Boomers it was the rejection of the past and the Age of Aquarius, for some like Merton it was the pre-reformed form, for us newer ones it may be neither in particular but the “liturgical wars” are far removed from us so we are generally hostile to neither and open to the good from both.

  21. Mt 23:5

    The ordinary form requires investment in music & preaching. Spend more on liturgy & less on real estate.

    This fear of the ordinary form being exhibited by so-called tadititionalists is a regression into superstitious mysticism & idolatry. Let me push God away from me, put in some more mumbo-jumbo, special smells, more ornate vestiture and we approach the magical, the superstitious.

    The effrontery against V2 fathers & the Holy Spirit is exasperating.

    1. Mr McCormick, by implication, the Church for over 1500 years then, that produced and edified countless saints, that converted the world, now-because of zeitgeist- is hypocritical and superstitious?

      Was it superstitious for St Thimas Aquinas to stop writing because of his mystical experience saying Mass? Was it superstitious for those at Fatima to kneel in awe before the Dancing of the Sun? Is it superstitious to believe in the veracity of the stigmatics from St Francis through St Pio? Is it superstitious and magical to want to offer our very best for the Lord?

      On the contrary when Judas reprimands the use of the nard to anoint Jesus (which cost an unseemly amount of money) Christ rebukes him. If you were to have an audience with a high king, would you go dressed in your grubbies or would you dress your best highlighting the importance and significance of the occasion? What does it say about one’s heart that they only want to just cross the lowest bar?

      Lack of reverence towards our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is a scandal to those outside the Church.

      Also, I do have to ask you directly if you think the average OF Rite Mass is what the Council called for? Is there a great use and understanding of Latin by the faithful? Does Gregorian Chant hold a place of pride in the Mass?

      I used the second person in that but these were mainly rhetorical questions Mr McCormick. I am not saying this is what is in your heart of hearts but I had to ask myself the same questions a number of years ago.

        1. It’s the Catholic Church. Point?

          Our Holy Father actually asked us to return to the practice of public popular religion and piety: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/the-theology-of-the-people-according-to-pope-francis-83384/

          Or is it 2016 and we are better than Rosaries and worshiping our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Sure things like smells and bells aren’t technically necessary but they do help form and reconstruct an identity lost on the last century.

          Cultural reconstructions, as a topic, is a particular interest of mine (whether done well or poorly).

    2. I’m sorry. My post was not entirely charitable. I do agree that a “preference” for the EF Rites can become a totem or “virtue signalling” as another commenter phrased it, but I think it can be equally as true for the OF Rites as well. If the EF is totemic and signals superstition and idolatry (a pretty severe claim) than maybe for some the OF signals a rebellious spirit (ie rebellious against something bad, not the Church) or that we are hip and with it.

      As stated before I attend OF Mass almost exclusively for my own reasons but I do think some of the reforms of the Lectionary, the Liturgy of the Hours (two whole Psalms are missing and others have been edited down in the 4 week cycle), the varying translations used in a single language (I.e. Not all English countries use a single English for the readings at Mass) hopefully will be addressed in the near future (on the Church’s timescale).

      I apologize if I was harsh. I should have replied after prayer and more thought.

  22. Good article. I’m a 34-year-old convert, having been an agnostic for years and then a half-hearted Anglican for a bit, and I’m married to a cradle Catholic.

    As a potential convert, I was much struck by how great the contrast was between my mental image of Catholicism (Benedictine monks, Latin, Gregorian chant, beautiful churches) and the present reality of it in the typical parish. Many people who consider becoming Catholic in adulthood will, like me, be drawn to the Church precisely because it is the church of tradition as opposed to all the modern Protestant groups, so it seems madly self-defeating for the Church not to play to its strengths and put its traditions front and center.

    My wife grew up going to the Novus Ordo, not liking the modern hymns but feeling at home with the general experience and feeling a vague suspicion towards “traditionalists”. She came along with me to the TLM a few times and came to prefer it (she especially likes the music, and the fact that the Blessed Sacrament is treated with such reverence), but she still enjoys going to the Novus Ordo sometimes.

    The only helpful thing I can say is that for some of us, the sense of mystery and sacredness and ancientness that the TLM possesses is exactly what we were looking for when we first began to think that going to church might be worth doing. It really embodies what public worship should be about. For some other people, all that stuff is a barrier between them and Christ, an irrelevance, and it puts them off. I find that hard to imagine myself, but my wife is a bit that way and I’m sure she’s far holier than I am.

    I think the Church badly needs to makes its traditional liturgy more widely available or people like me will just get disheartened and give up, or perhaps become Orthodox so as to get a meaty slice of tradition each week. But it would be absurd to deny that lots of people positively like the Novus Ordo experience and some of them even like guitars and songs like “Anthem” in church, and the Catholic Church needs to serve them as well. It’s the universal church, and it does take all sorts to make a world.

  23. I enjoyed the article. I’m of a similar background to yours, Devin; I converted from atheism to evangelical Christianity in high school, and then entered the Catholic Church ten years ago.

    My parish pastor celebrates the OF liturgy in a respectful and reverent manner and evidently sets the tone for the other priests. The music is okay; there seems to be an attempt to balance hymns with depth along with more popular (and often shallower) songs that parishioners want. We have two kinds of services, one that uses the hymnal and organ, and another that uses more contemporary songs, piano and sometimes other instruments, with words projected on a screen. Although I see some value in the greater engagement of the youth from contemporary Christian music, I don’t know if it’s the best thing for the Mass.

    However, my wife and I prefer to go to Mass at the Our Lady of Dallas Cistercian Abbey for several reasons, so we end up splitting about half and half between our parish and the Abbey. Reasons for going to the Abbey include:
    – Although it is OF, the liturgy is very reverent and includes Latin Gregorian chant.
    – The congregation is more reverent. People sit in silence before and after mass, and it is rare to see t-shirts or shorts worn, even though many in the congregation are students from the Cistercian Prep School and the University of Dallas.
    – The homilies tend to be deeper and more challenging than a typical parish homily.
    – I work at the Cistercian Prep School, so I am friends with most of the monks.

    I have tried attending an EF mass twice, not long after Summorum Pontificum came out. The first time was at the Austin Cathedral. I know some Latin, so I was looking forward to being able to follow along in the missal, but I was disappointed when the priest raced through the liturgy in rather mumbling manner. The second time was a First Friday Mass celebrated by the local FSSP community before they had their own building and would celebrate Mass at a Carmelite monastery. Again, I was surprised at how fast the priest said the prayers. This time the priest was younger and his diction was very good, so I found his speed to be impressive but not terribly reverent. Is it typical for priests to speed through the prayers in an EF Mass? I know the EF liturgy is longer than the OF, but I thus expect the Mass to take more time rather than to be faster. I plan to one day try a Sunday high Mass at the FSSP community now that they have their own building. I hear good things about it from people I respect.

    So, I think that the OF Mass can be reverent, and the EF does not guarantee reverence. I appreciate the medieval elements that have been preserved in the EF, but I also like the Patristic elements that were brought back in the OF. I think Pope Benedict was very wise in the way he set up Summorum Pontificum, showing the value of having both forms. Devin, I’m glad you have been able to find a Mass that is good for your children. I am also glad to see more people becoming interested in good liturgy and tradition.

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