You Prefer the TLM / EF Mass? Great! Or, Ordinary Form (like me)? Great!

You Prefer the TLM / EF Mass? Great! Or, Ordinary Form (like me)? Great! August 14, 2015


Pontifical Mass, from a Missal of the Fifteenth Century. [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

Don’t look down on the one who prefers one way, or the one who prefers the other Mass. The Church sanctions both (Pope Benedict XVI: Summorum Pontificum – 2007). Isn’t freedom of worship wonderful?

Veils are beautiful. Someone wants to wear one? Great! If not (like my wife and daughter), great! Don’t look down on the one who does, or the one who doesn’t. The Church permits both. Isn’t true toleration (not mere fashionable lip service) wonderful?

You receive Holy Communion on the tongue, kneeling (as I do?). Great! You receive it standing, in the hand? Great! The latter was the consensus practice in most of the early Church for some six centuries (as I have researched).

Etc., etc.

I’m sort of in-between, as my (quite unique) parish offers Latin Mass in a very traditional way in all respects; yet it is Novus Ordo / ordinary form.  But that’s beside my present point, which is about accepting the Mind of the Church: expressed through Pope Benedict and ceasing to play the “superiority game.” What I’ve consistently said when these sorts of “us vs. them” issues come up, is that reverence and piety ultimately derive from God’s grace and each person’s heart and soul, per the Sermon on the Mount.

There are plenty of people who look down on the “other” Mass, from both directions. I’ve seen it countless times. We ought to condemn all prejud
ices of this sort. The Church allows and sanctions both, so we can worship as we please. If someone prefers one over the other, then they go there, and vice versa. What good is accomplished by a sustained discussion of “your dad [er Mass] is uglier than mine!”? That establishes an unhelpful “either/or” outlook, whereas Catholicism is usually “both/and” in approach.

I myself have argued that it’s quite possible to contend that one seems to foster more reverence in particular places and times (I’ve argued this way about kneeling for communion, but at the same time deny that standing is intrinsically less reverent).

But I don’t analyze or assert alleged inherent or intrinsic qualities, as these folks are now, who are starting to say that the reform of the reform has failed. I think that is an alarming development that will bode ill for the future, because it’ll cause division.

What happens if we figure out (however it is done) that one form of the Latin Rite Mass is “objectively superior” to the other? People still have the right to worship as they please. Why must we determine that, as opposed to each person deciding for themselves which Mass to attend?

The only tangible difference would be to ban one form, or to reverse the ordinary / extraordinary classification. The latter idea is interesting, but at this point, it doesn’t seem possible, given the relative numbers of preference.

“Traditionalists” habitually talk about the superiority of the TLM / EF, but us regular old “Catholics” (i.e., non-trads) do not usually think in those terms, and we think this sort of reasoning fosters division in fact or potentially. Why? Well, because in human nature, if it is established that x is better than y, then those who like x are usually gonna tend to look down on the y-advocates as inferior or kind of dumb, because they don’t get what is so “apparent” or “clear” to the x-proponent. And the y-proponent will then tend to regard the x-proponent as spiritually prideful or condescending. I’ve seen lots of this in fact, from both directions.

Pope Benedict has already wisely given us (eight years ago now) the solution to these games and cliques and unCatholic “either/or” mentalities, if only we will heed his sage advice. This is why we have popes, and the loving guidance of Holy Mother Church. They shepherd us. I like to say: “live and let live, and worship and let worship.” Or there is the old Sly and the Family Stone song (now I reveal that I am a Baby Boomer): “Different strokes for different folks . . . ” (Everyday People).

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