I Said I Liked the Novus Ordo. Mayhem Ensued.

Last week over on Facebook, I happened to mention that I had attended a Tridentine Mass, and that I left with a renewed appreciation for the Novus Ordo.

From every corner, from every persuasion, Catholic friends spoke up in raging defense of one form of liturgy or another.

  • Those who regularly attend Tridentine Mass rose up, rosary beads clicking and mantillas still draped over their hair, to insist that the Novus Ordo, the Mass of the Roman Rite which was promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 after the close of Vatican II, was the source of great discord and irreverence and all manner of dissent.
  • Those who attended—and actually preferred—Mass in the vernacular (the common language) insisted that finally (FINALLY!) they were drawn into the liturgy in a way that had been impossible under the usus antiquior.

To which I say:  It’s all good.

Visiting in the Virgin Islands in the late ‘90s, my husband and I were amazed by the devotion of the people—as evidenced by their voices raised in robust praise.  Coming from the United States, as we were, we were all too accustomed to liturgies at which people mumbled their responses or lip-synched the hymns.  It was refreshing and rejuvenating to join our voices with hundreds of others who were joyful, exuberant worshippers.

Years later, we traveled through Europe—attending Mass in the native Italian or German.  Oh, how we longed for a familiar Latin phrase so that we, with all the peoples throughout the world, could join our voices and recite the Pater Noster in unison.

In the movie For Greater Glory, Father Reyes Vega celebrated Mass for the Cristeros atop a mountain, in the open air.  That’s what happens in many parts of the world still today:  in African villages, on tiny islands, at Wyoming Catholic College, even—stop and think!—at papal liturgies like the recent papal mass in Beirut.

There is not just one way to pray.  But to emphasize that point, take a trip down liturgical memory lane to that 1966 meme, the Folk Mass, where Ray Repp sings and strums “Sons of God.”

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  • YDA

    I am a Traditional Catholic. I attend the Ordinary Form (which I like as a term better than Novus Ordo) every week. Mantilla over hair. Rosary beads in my pocket. And I prefer it to the Extraordinary Form.

    Let the beatings begin. :) I can take it.

  • Peterk

    such a nice snarky comment “rosary beads clicking and mantillas still draped over their hair, ” the sad part is that the EF was thrown out willy nilly by many bishops and those who preferred that Mass were forced attend the Novus Ordo Mass now known as the OF since Vatican II we’ve seen all sorts of Masses with clowns, puppets, dancers you name it. but to get a Tridentine Mass said was like pulling eye teeth. never did understand why there was such a visceral opposition to it by those who prefer the Novus Ordo version. even after B16s motu proprio was issued various bishops put roadblocks in the way that discouraged the saying of that Mass. some even saying that since there is a parish that is currently using it there was no need for other parishes to say that Mass.

    “In the movie For Greater Glory, Father Reyes Vega celebrated Mass for the Cristeros atop a mountain, in the open air. ” but he said in Latin following what was the norm. during World War II priests said the Mass using the hoods of jeeps

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Sorry, Peter– Not trying to be snarky!

      I think it’s not so much “opposition” to the Tridentine Rite, as there is lack of interest. There are a few parishes in our archdiocese where one can attend a Tridentine Mass, but even they are not filled. Hundreds of other churches would offer it, I think, if the people wanted it.

    • Kevin

      I don’t think that’s snarky, honestly. The point of Kathy Schiffer’s piece is to point out the ways in which we are polarized in our liturgical sensibilities. I’ve been at too many liturgies where mantillas and conspicuous rosary beads are like gang signs — identity markers in a culture war self-consciously waged. It’s not always the case, to be sure… and the other side has it’s signs to flash, too — standing through the eucharistic prayer in solidarity with the risen Christ, etc….It seems to me like it only seems snarky if someone’s already “picked a side.”

      • LJK

        I love the Holy Mass, both forms. Where we live and where we go within a day’s travel, the Ordinary Form is mostly celebrated with the focus on the congregation. And though the priest that celebrates the EF is not my favorite (he is the polar opposite of Bing Crosby!), I never leave a Mass he has celebrated with the idea that it was about me; I pray the EF much better because it’s focus is not turned to us. I don’t believe the N.O. priests are malicious, but mal-formed. When the priest can leave Christ Himself – CHRIST HIMSELF – up on the altar to come down and shake everyone’s hand at the sign of peace, he is giving us a catechesis in what is important, and it’s our feelings. And I do know what the commentor meant by ‘gang signs’, but it cuts both ways. But in my limited experience, it is only the sensibilities of the those who exclusively attend the O.F. that matter. It would seem that as a nation, and probably at the level of the larger Church, we have lost a bit of our Catholic identity when we feel that mantillas and rosary bids are intimidating gang symbols! After a woman at my parish complained that people who knelt to receive the Blessed Sacrament thought that they were holier than everyone else (this was before the USCCB got the recognitio from Rome that standing would be the norm) , the priest agreed with her, telling me my desire to reverence my Lord was wrong because we would not honor our president (Clinton at the time) by kneeling! So I do believe that we are polarized, but I also found the original comment snarky.

    • Jennifer

      My husband and I converted from “convinced” protestantism to Catholicism a few years ago. We’ve never assisted at a Tridentine mass, only the Novus Ordo, so we’re not as well-versed in the stereotypes… BUT my first thought when I read the blurb about rosary beads and mantillas was, “snarky” and it was certainly demeaning.

  • Bill M.

    I was in first grade in 1966, and let me tell you, all of us kids were crazy about “Sons of God”. But time and maturity have bracing effects, and if I never hear a folk Mass again I’ll be happy.

  • Stu

    Yes, it was a snarky comment.

    As to there being interest in the Old Mass. Give it time. It’s actually catching on quite a bit, growing quite a bit since the Pope reminded the Bishops that it hadn’t been abrogated and that every priest had a right to pray it. And most of the interest comes from the young. EF parishes also have lots of big families with lots of children. Something I just haven’t seen in Novus Ordo parishes over my 20 year military career and over 13 different parishes. Seminarians too are pushing to learn the old Mass. At my EF parish (FSSP), we have five young men answering the call for a vocation in a large diocese that only has about twenty seminarians in total.

    And the women in my parish do, for the most part, wear mantillas. And I admire them for it. It’s quite a counter-cultural devotion to the Lord.

  • Stu

    As to Mass outdoors, it can be very beautiful especially when ALL are focuses on Christ in the Eucharist.


  • Craig

    We should not judge the feelings of anyone, at any Mass, but look at the results: the majority-by word and deed and general knowledge of the Mass (since we cannot read hearts)-of Traditional Mass congregants simply have a better understanding of the greatest prayer-the Mass. The Traditional Mass simply contains a sacrificial being-not that the “Sacrifice” does not occur in either form, but the inherent false forms of “active participation” such as lectors and bringing up the gifts, do not bring you a true understanding of the Sacrifice. The Traditional Mass’ prayers are sacrificial from the beginning to the end, and are more humbling (eg, the Lavabo vs the current hand washing prayer). This Mass and its prayers are the continuation of the Old Testament sacrifices. You see and hear (and read) it in this Mass.
    Yes, the 50′s on we saw people not participating actively, eg, knowing the prayers, but do not forget that Mass has been celebrated since the beginning of the Church, with certain changes, but the sacrificial aspects never left until the new Mass (except the Sacrifice itself).
    Fortunately, more and more people are seeing the novelties of the 60′s and on (“participation”; the community is more important than Church teachings; loss of the Sacraments and beliefs in the True Presence, marriage, etc.). Tradition will continue and cut away the Evil from the Church and convert Her people.

    In Christ and Mary.

  • jose

    The point in mass is not to be entertained, you are suppose to be at the foot of the cross on calvary thats why the mass is called a “sacrafice” not a service. the traditional mass is quiet and solemn so people can MEDITATE on the sacrafice of jesus or souls in purgatory (close ones) etc. And im sorry but the new mass distracts you from that becuase its constantly inturrupting you with the responses back and forth. come into the traditional mass with that mindset and trust me youll see a difference in your prayer and meditation in mass.