Latin Mass Or Novus Ordo?

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I think these two liturgies in Roman Catholicism have caused grave divisions in the Church. Rather than it simply becoming a preferable option for those who worship God in different ways, it’s become an “Us” (conservatives) Versus “Them” (Liberals) issue hasn’t it? In this post, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of attending one. No matter what Christian tradition you come from this will give you better insight to these masses. I will then conclude by offering a solution to the problem.

My own experience is that having attended both of these liturgical forms, neither rites are perfect in their existing format. If you’re tired of the banality of the Ordinary form then you’ll most likely have that one friend or loved one who recommends the High Latin Mass. However, the Latin mass has it’s own problems.

In the Ordinary Form, the priest faces the Public and speaks instead of chants. The Ordinary form lacks the discipline regarding liturgical music so going to one is a bit like attending your local music venue. Every Church has different music or none at all every week. Sometimes the music is choral and traditional while others have gospel choirs that sing Anglican hymns and sadly some secular pop music is perceived to be a hymn but is not (Leonard Cohens Hallelujah being a prime example).

Other churches will have one guy on an acoustic guitar accompanied by a lame backing track. It can almost feel as if you’re at some old folks home. All the grannies are tapping their feet to “How great thou art”. While this is taking place, the young lads are biting their fingernails waiting for adulthood to come so they can embrace atheism.

The priests at these Masses are hit and miss also. You never know if you’re going to get Fr. Trendy who wants to dance around the altar with his modern iPad, or that one priest who keeps a good decorum and simply suffers the music he’s hearing and looking forward to death to come and fetch him.

You have lay readers, Eucharistic ministers and altar girls. There is no Patin to protect the Eucharist from falling when you receive. In my opinion, lay readers and Eucharistic ministers is not an issue. The bad liturgical music, altar girls and the lack of protection for the Holy Eucharist is a major problem in this current form of the Mass.

Either way, the ordinary form has its good points and challenges. If done correctly all it needs is a bit of tweaking such as the priest facing Christ, use of a Patin to protect the Eucharist, a strict discipline of liturgical music that fits the scene of the church, and getting rid of the altar girls.

After reading such a brief overview one may be tempted to think the Latin Mass seems like a better option. While there are pros and cons to the Latin Mass there’s equally as many cons as pros.

The Latin Mass is sung in Latin, the priest faces the altar, there’s no Eucharistic ministers or readers, and there’s the protection of the Holy Eucharist. the priest who chooses this form of worship is generally more or less very Orthodox, but he can be extreme and rigid too so watch out for that one.

The silence at a Latin Mass can be relaxing to the point where you may even be tempted to nod off. Not being able to understand the language used means you’re more likely to lose concentration of worship and maintain focus on why you’re really there.

The Latin Mass tends to attract people with large families (nothing wrong with that) who hold extreme conservative political and patriotic views. There’s a tendency to mix that with their religious worship. One protestant man on Youtube noted that at the end of one Latin mass he’d attended they played a patriotic song.

This is the reason I walked away from Latin Mass being disgruntled with the ordinary form. The people in attendance of Latin Mass tend to have psychological and spiritual problems that are so deeply embedded that not even the worlds greatest spiritual master would be able to untangle such a mess.

They tend to follow websites that attack the Holy father. You’ll come across those who don’t watch TV in the home, refuse permission for their kids to play video games and have extreme theological views. They are Irelands answer to the Amish in a sense.

Some of them even talk about how great it would be to have an Island where only Latin Mass people live and develop an enclosed community. They’re very severe in their moral theological outlook too and suffer from the dreaded spirit of spiritual pride. Once you attract those types of rigid demons shaking them off can take a lifetime of prayer and even exorcisms. Often, such rigidity disguises a worldly spirit they’re struggling with. I won’t go into it here.

The chanting is nice, the Mass is nice but you can sort of see why they needed to update it to English. I think that the Ordinary form that involves the public to some degree is better if it had more discipline.

“If I were the Pope” have you ever heard that one? haha. Well, If I were the Pope I’d ban the Latin Mass for laity who are obviously using it as a political football. It’s created a division in the Church where you have people who think they’re real Catholics while those who attend the Ordinary form are lukewarm liberals.

I’d keep the Latin Mass only for monastics who celebrate it among themselves in their own community.

As for the Ordinary Form, I’d come down very hard on it. I would make sure that the Priest faces Jesus, that the liturgical music chosen suits the structure of the building. For example, a small oratory may make use of a guitar but not in a big cathedral where it will appear out of place. I would make sure that a patin is used at all times unless there is nobody present to use one.

I would punish Bishops and priests who don’t enforce the new norm with automatic ex-communication.

This kind of approach such as abolishing the Latin Mass for laity, alongside reforming the discipline of the Mass that Vatican II required of us from the beginning, would be a sound approach. The benefit would mean less division in the Church and both those who desire a more traditional approach and to maintain a modern Church will be appeased.

I can see that as the only solution not creating two “rites” that only separate and divide Catholics into not only two spiritual camps. Theological balance and liturgical discipline are very important in the life of the Church. This is why the Orthodox don’t tamper with their liturgies choosing instead to maintain a good discipline.

The Orthodox Church has the Love and the discipline whereas the Catholic Church has all the love, but it lacks both theological and liturgical discipline.

This is what makes the Orthodox Church appear a much better option than the Catholic Church. In the Orthodox Church, you get a very traditional ancient liturgy in English with the benefit of a modern laity that has not emerged from the cracks of spiritual immaturity and is rigid.

The stability found in their theological and liturgical practices can be attractive to those looking for respite from both forms found in the Catholic Church. Both these forms are crumbling like an ancient building left derelict and without a Shepherd to guide it.

The funny thing is that the solution is incredibly simple but they seem to lack the ability to implement these measures to ensure a healthy continuity. Here is hoping that one day the Catholic Church stops looking like the protestant one with Sacraments and returns to its Orthodox roots.

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