In the beginning of my Latin Mass experience I would attend the Extraordinary form, as well as the Ordinary form of the Mass, or Novus Ordo, with my family, alternating between the two liturgies. As I grew favorably closer to the Latin Mass, I found my liturgical “palate” began to change, noticing the vast difference how the two liturgies are celebrated.
“Catholic liturgy is no ordinary gathering…God, not man, is at the centre of Catholic liturgy” –Robert Cardinal Sarah
The robust appearances at the Latin Mass such as chant, ad orientem posture, spoken Latin, and Communion on the tongue are vacant at a typical Novus Ordo Mass. A growing number of Catholics are hungry for rich Liturgy rather than something that is mundane. Liturgy that will fill the soul is a Liturgy worth attending.
“Man should tremble, the world should quake, all Heaven should be deeply moved when the Son of God appears on the altar in the hands of the priest.” –St. Francis of Assisi
When one attends Mass, that person should have high expectations in liturgical structure. The Extraordinary form is delivered in such a way that’s beautifully reverent, a Liturgy worthy of God. The priest faces ad orientem, the music is beautiful chant, young men serve the priest as altar boys, the Eucharist is presented reverently. The secular motif that can be found at a Novus Ordo Mass (e.g. praise and worship-style music) is completely absent from the Latin Mass. And there’s no room whatsoever for a priest to interject his personality into the Liturgy–to change what is perfect, respectful, and pleasing to God.
“The liturgy is inherently linked to beauty…The liturgy is a radiant expression of the paschal mystery…Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation.” –Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis no. 35
Pope Francis referred to the Traditional Latin Mass as rigid, asking why are so many young people attracted to the Extraordinary form? The Holy Father is correct. The Latin Mass is rigid. Rigidity is beautiful, and [young] people are attracted to beauty.
Which begs the question, wouldn’t a person rather attend a fun, entertaining, and light-hearted Mass?
People who want to grow in their faith do not want to be entertained at Mass, but to be caught up in the Liturgy and their lives transformed. Mass is not a stage for entertainment. It is an opportunity to encounter God in the flesh, in the Eucharist. A chance to worship Him honorably and reverently.
There is beauty in rigidity. Rigid is good when it comes to Liturgy. The Latin Mass is structured in a way that leaves no room for personal changes or ad lib.
“How happy is that guardian angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass!” –St. John Vianney
The Latin Mass is for people of all ages that are hungry for a Liturgy that duly offers the best to God. While the Novus Ordo Mass could be “reformed” to make it more reverent by adding components such as sacred music and ad orientem, a priest could possibly incur his personal taste into the Liturgy. A perfect Liturgy cannot be altered. The Extraordinary form of the Mass preserves the structure intended to offer the most holy Eucharistic sacrifice to God.
I reached the crossroads in my own spirituality. Perhaps you have too. The beauty of the Latin Mass is not only nostalgic, “it is the Mass of the Church of all times, and therefore cannot be overthrown and has equal dignity,” says Cardinal Raymond Burke.
The best decision I’ve made since becoming Catholic is to embrace Traditional Catholicism to the best of my ability. That’s what I’ve done. Does it make it wrong to attend a reverent Novus Ordo Mass? In my opinion no…although I do prefer the Latin Mass. Why? Because when I attend a Latin Mass I embrace true Catholicism with all its splendor. When you reach the point in your spiritual life that you want the most out of Mass, the next logical leap is the Traditional Latin Mass. Becoming more of a Traditional Catholic has been a second conversion for me. In the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46) That is what the Traditional Latin Mass has to offer. It magnifies your soul and your spirit will rejoice in Jesus Christ.
“One merits more by devoutly assisting at a Holy Mass than by distributing all of his goods to the poor and traveling all over the world on pilgrimage.” –St. Bernard
by John Connor