“Steve, what do you think of the Latin Mass?”

by Steve Ray on September 29, 2020

My friend. Thanks for writing. Here is my simple and uncomplicated answer.

download (2)The Latin Mass is marvelous, a gift of God and the form of the Mass for over a thousand years, and one that Benedict XVI thankfully brought back into wide usage.

The whole Church should be grateful and make full use of this liturgical form. I prefer the ad orientem posture of the priest in the Latin Mass (facing east, as shown in the picture).

However, the Novus Ordo Mass is also beautiful and marvelous when celebrated correctly and reverently. They are both valid and beautiful gifts from God.

The Latin Mass was not the original Mass of the Church. Jesus celebrated the Eucharist in Aramaic/Hebrew. The early Church then developed the Mass using the universal Greek language. Later it was developed in the West using Latin. Latin does not make it the original Mass as some may think.

The problem arises when some people that love the Latin Mass go a bit too far. Some of these good-intentioned folks end up disparaging and rejecting the Novus Ordo. This is not all by any means. Most of those who love the Latin Mass have a perfectly clear understanding of the Mass in both forms. But some then go on to the extreme and reject Vatican II and even recent popes since Vatican II. These few also often judge other’s spirituality and orthodox Catholicism by whether they go or don’t go to the Latin Mass.

These are sometimes referred to as Rad Trads (not traditionalists, which I consider myself, but Radical Traditionalists) and you should avoid them at all cost. Those who follow this course cannot talk about anything else (like playing one key on a piano) and they have no joy.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Derek September 29, 2020 at 1:06 PM

The Rad Trads almost prevented me from converting. When I first started exploring Catholicism (coming from Protestantism) I was somewhat ignorant of the various Masses, I didn't know that there were Byzantine liturgies, Latin Mass, or that Novus Ordo was somewhat new. I encountered several Rad Trads on various forums, who basically tried to convince me that Novus Ordo was invalid, and then I even met some Sedevacantists. I was glad that I was able to read and research my way though things, and get to the other side (My wife and I were welcomed to the Church in July) but it was quite a confusing thing, and the division it causes…… I too think the Latin Mass is absolutely beautiful – but I prefer Novus Ordo. I think what gets lost is respecting each others right to enjoy either service. And you are bang on about joy – Most of the people I interacted with online were soo worried or upset about Novus Ordo that they missed the point of drawing people into the Church.

STEVE RAY HERE: Derek, Astute comments! Glad you worked your way through to the truth. Sad that the Rad Trads are being so divisive and angry. God bless you brother!

David Weymouth September 29, 2020 at 2:29 PM

Thank you Steve for your logical and beautiful response. May Our Lord continue to Bless you, Janet, and your whole family.

Brian Grisin September 29, 2020 at 3:26 PM

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the excellent reflection. My thoughts exactly on the Mass. I have attended both Masses and there is nothing like a beautifully celebrated Mas that follows the rubrics. I think people gravitate towards the Tridentine Latin Mass since there is a better chance it will follow the rubrics. I grew up at a parish that used the Novus Ordo but had a beautiful choir, incense, candles, proper vesting of priests and altar servers, etc. and just took it for granted that all Masses were celebrated that way. Unfortunately that is not the case arond the country, so I do appreciate when I have the chance to attend a well-presided Novus Ordo Mass.
God bless you on all of your work and ministry!
Brian Grisin

STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks Brian, glad you had a good experience growing up. I was raised Protestant but the parish that received me was alive and orthodox. I too never heard of the friction until in the church for awhile. God bless you and thanks for sharing.

Mike September 29, 2020 at 3:49 PM

It’s a “both/and” not an “either/or.” Tridentine Mass is going to be respectful, devout, and faithful, both on the part of the clergy and the people who choose to attend. Novus Ordo is usually so, but not always. There is a Benedictine Monastery near me where they use the Novus Ordo and it is the most reverent, beautiful Mass you can imagine.

STEVE RAY HERE: Mike, thanks for sharing. I agree completely. God bless!

Tom Govern September 29, 2020 at 4:13 PM

My first 15 years or so was attending the Latin Mass with English readings. I actually learned some Latin by following along in my St. Joseph Missal. A lot of good memories. The last Tridentine Mass I went to had the readings in Latin, I think it is better with the readings in English. One can actually understand the liturgy in Latin, done often enough, but not the readings.

STEVE RAY HERE: Tom, you make a very good point that I missed saying. I too like the English because that is my language. I understand it. I think the Church was wise to include the local language in the liturgy. Thanks for reminding us of that Tom.

Steve Ray September 29, 2020 at 4:42 PM

A friend allowed me to post her e-mail anonymously and I did since it seemed very wise.

“I just wanted to say a few words about your latest article on the Latin Mass. Andrew and I began assisting at the Latin Mass 2 years ago when our diocese became overrun by abuse (people walking away with the Eucharist in their hands, protestant pastors being invited to preach during homilies and the priest calling for women to be ordained). It was all so heartbreaking. However, at the Latin Mass parish, we’ve had the opportunity to grow in our faith as the priests often preach about things that truly matter – particularly the 4 last things.

I completely hear what you mean by many rad-trads having lost the joy of the faith. It does appear that many have thrown the baby out with the bathwater (sedevacantists come to mind in particular). Andrew and I try our best to be ‘glad-trads’ – glad that we belong to a tender Holy Mother Church with such beautiful traditions. While we see the problems with many of the Novus Ordo parishes, we’re trying to grow in humility knowing that sanctity is not limited to those who attend the Latin Mass alone. We will always remember the words you said in one interview – when we stand in front of Our Lord at our judgement, we want to stand with the confidence that we followed His Church.

And so, we recognise that the bathwater is very mucky, much like our sinful nature, but the baby in it, the Infant Jesus, who chose to live amongst our sinfulness, is our one and only focus. So while we try and drain the bathwater out (purge our sins) we must never lose sight of the Divine Child! “

Greg Miller September 29, 2020 at 7:56 PM

Hi Steve,

I think a question you should ponder is whether you think we would have as many problems as we do, had we just stuck with the Latin Mass after Vatican II.

May God bless you,

Greg

Dan September 29, 2020 at 11:23 PM

There IS genius in the Church, genius in Catholicism….. though we may not often see it. The Mass of Paul VI has a purpose. No where in Vat 2 was the EF Latin rite to be abolished…… but no way would the Church bring the light of Christ with the Latin Mass alone.
The genius in what I see, is allowing those who need the Novus Ordo as a starting point, that builds in the worship desire for an even deeper, reverent solemn faith Experienced in the Tridentine Mass. while some may not need that intermediate Ordo… Most do.
I know this to be true because that has been my journey.
All of a sudden it hits you. And it is deeply sobering.

laycistercians September 30, 2020 at 5:09 AM

Absolutely! As others have noted the liturgical language of the early popes was Greek not Latin. The very first Eucharists were in Aramaic, the common language for Jews in the time of Jesus.

Leonard T Alt September 30, 2020 at 1:37 PM

Thank you, Steve,
When I was a junior in high school, the Mass switched from Latin to English. It was supposed to be a big deal; however, for me I was following the Mass in English from the time I was a young child. The Bible readings were always in English and the rest of the Mass was in Latin, but right next to the Latin was the Mass in English and so I always followed the Mass in English even when it was in Latin.

Sasha Josip Tesija October 1, 2020 at 1:16 AM

i agree and like your article , my only comment would be: when do we see NO celebrated correctly , maybe 10% of time ,price too high paid, but whats done is done. How do we correct it only time will tell, but prayer and penance is a good start.

Confused October 1, 2020 at 2:41 PM

I was tired of the constant insertion of cloaked marxist ideas into the homilies at the Novus Ordo Masses I attended. I switched to a Latin Mass Parish, and was there for three years. However, I have Celiac Disease, and I discovered after a while that even the low gluten hosts were causing problems for me. The pastor at my Latin Mass parish advised me to just go without the Eucharist, since according to tradition. lay people are not permitted to touch a chalice. Go without not only at his parish, but at other NO parishes I might attend also. Needless to say, I was very disappointed.

I know that lot's of people say the Latin Mass is the answer, and at one time I would have probably agreed, but now I'm not so sure. For example in my work life, a co-worker might suggest a new initiative, and then that thing gets entrenched in our procedures, and then we HAVE to do it from that point forward. The Latin Mass sort of reminds me of that … like they kept picking up things and then they couldn't put them down. For example, when the servers lift the priests vestment at the Consecration. ..I understand that when vestments had actual jewels on them, they were heavy and the servers had to help them lift their arms. But, it's not that way anymore, and yet that gesture remains in the old Mass.

Sometimes I wonder if people really prefer that Latin Mass, or if they just prefer the feeling that they are doing something superior to what "other" Catholics do. I didn't find Latin Mass attendees or priest to be more humble or more generous, than other Catholics, although they were more politically conservative which was nice. But, if you're claiming that your getting more grace from the Mass, it seems like it should show up in your conduct. Judge a tree by its fruit, right?

STEVE RAY HERE: Meg, thanks for your comments and sharing on my blog. Your contribution to the discussion is appreciated. So sorry you have those issues and I hope they are resolved for you. God bless!

Janet M Prouty October 1, 2020 at 8:03 PM

What many of the young people and converts discovering the Latin Mass have forgotten is that the Paul VI new liturgy brought back was a reinvigorated Liturgy of the Word. The Latin Mass I grew up with had only two readings, one from the Epistles and one from the Gospels. So as you can see, ordinary Catholics never really heard any of the Hebrew Scriptures, except maybe a few psalms (Psalm 23). Also, we didn't have the 3 year cycle of Gospel readings — so many of the great teachings never were heard.. The whole result is that the ordinary Catholic was incredibly Biblically illiterate. And finally, the same sloppiness found in the NO today, was found in the Latin Masses before Vatican II– rushed Masses, prayers said quickly or left out, people coming just to check off the obligation. So now, those attending the Latin Mass are choosing to do so, and therefore are much more reverent than many of the NO attendeees.

STEVE RAY HERE: Janet, well said! Very good information and recollection and a great contribution to the discussion. Thanks!

Andrew October 2, 2020 at 1:00 AM

I appreciated this post, especially the second to last paragraph. I went to check out a new church this past winter, not knowing I was about to experience a Latin Mass for the first time. It was so foreign to me and confusing. So I came home and tried doing some research. Started watching some Youtube videos of the Latin Mass to try and learn what's going on. Unfortunately the comment section of every video I saw was dominated by anti-Novus Ordo people. Just ripping on us, and JPII, Benedict, Vatican II. It was a serious turn off. As some posts here have said, these folks seriously do think they are the holiest people on earth and it was very off-putting. Due to COVID I've been just sticking to my parish. The Latin mass was a unique experience, but it's not for me. I didn't feel I was worshipping the Lord or participating or doing anything other than watching people do their thing.

STEVE RAY HERE: Andrew, you are not alone in your description. There is a lot of anger and hostility that expresses itself by some, and I say some of those who are devoted to the Latin mass. I know so many good folks and wonderful masses as well. But I understand what you’re saying and I have experienced some of the same. Thanks for sharing.

RMW October 5, 2020 at 7:49 PM

Thanks, once again for such a clear article. I also really enjoyed the comment about murky water and remembering to see and save Baby Jesus.

My struggles w/ some Rad Trads I’ve encountered was the ‘extras’ they also carried out and into the world. Their ‘rules’ included how a woman MUST dress to be modest (skirts well below the knee). We witnessed the side eye to family’s with fewer than 3 children without any tenderness towards why that might be. Of course, modesty is vital but they seem to forget that openness to life comes in many sizes. In the end, my dh and I were scandalized by their judgements of others and their demands for ‘membership’.

aptak October 6, 2020 at 6:27 PM

I regularly attend both the Novus Ordo and the Latin Mass (Extraordinary Mass). Although I do think the Novus Ordo has the benefit of having more scripture available to be read at Mass (with 3 readings instead of two, and on a 3 year cycle), I often find the Novus Ordo prayers and liturgical practice to be woefully lacking. Sometimes when I attend the Extraordinary Mass several times in a row and return to my local Novus Ordo parish, I am startled with how the liturgy is carried out – from the poor music, ad libbing of prayers, the noise and commotion, lack of care by all, and generally poor homilies. If I had to choose between one or the other, I would choose the Latin Mass with no regrets. I just simply find it to be more edifying on a consistent basis. The Novus Ordo seems to be like a box of chocolates…

Melinda Shopa October 15, 2020 at 1:47 AM

Greetings and Peace of Christ to all. I think the big picture was missed and getting stuck on “people”
and our sinfulness replaced the more important issue of worship due to God and grace we/world receives from it. Simply, no contest the Latin Mass by its prayers alone is absolutely better than the NO. This has nothing to do w personal preferences but reality of what is being prayed. If you are blessed w the opportunity to either attend the Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo go to the Latin Mass. Get over our perty likes and dislikes and give God the worship due to Him and the flow of grace to ourselves and the world will be greater because what we are asking for is greater in the prayers itself. I challenge all of you to look at the Latin rite blesssing of Holy Water and Candles and compare to NO blessings and you will be shocked by the difference. This is just a simple example to express overall what I mean. Sorry I did not articulate my point well. IHM pray for us.

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