If you want to solve the man crisis in the Catholic Church, then it’s time to get serious about the Traditional Latin Mass.
No, the Novus Ordo won’t do. If you were born after Vatican II, it’s probably the version of Mass you’re most familiar with. I get it. It is a valid form of the Sacred Liturgy, I know, but it’s just not the same.
THE LATIN MASS VS. THE NOVUS ORDO
For starters, the Traditional Mass is in Latin. Yeah, that’s the “Captain Obvious” answer. But in my opinion, it’s one of the biggest reasons why most people don’t even try going to the Extraordinary form – it’s a serious intimidation factor. Get over it! The Latin won’t hurt you.
Parts will be tough to understand, sure, but Latin is the language of our Holy Mother Church, so give it a shot. Besides, if you have a half-decent grasp on what’s happening in the Novus Ordo, you’ll be able to follow the Traditional Liturgy more than you might think.
The priest won’t spend a lot of time facing you either, which is another huge difference. If you have trouble with this one, however, then the issue might have more to do with you (and probably your pride) than it does the priest not looking in your general direction.
Traditionally speaking, the Sacrifice of the Mass was always offered with the priest facing ad orientem (to the east) instead of versus populum (facing the people). That might seem totally foreign, but it actually makes a lot of sense. From the very earliest stages of how the Mass developed, the idea was to have the priest and the people facing the same direction. Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, explained it much better – and very simply – in a recent interview with the French Catholic magazine Famille Chretienne;
[A]s soon as we reach the moment when one addresses God – from the Offertory onwards – it is essential that the priest and faithful look together towards the east. This corresponds exactly to what the Council Fathers wanted.
Further to that, in 2000, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote a book called The Spirit of the Liturgy. In Chapter 3, he said:
Despite all the variations in practice that have taken place far into the second millennium, one thing has remained clear for the whole of Christendom: praying towards the East is a tradition that goes back to the beginning. Moreover, it is a fundamental expression of the Christian synthesis of cosmos and history, of being rooted in the once-for-all events of salvation history while going out to meet the Lord who is to come again.
It wasn’t until the midway point of the last century when priests started turning towards the people, reversing some 2,000 years of tradition.
When you go to the Latin Mass, you’ll also find communion rails, Gregorian chant, a final Gospel reading and most people – if not all – receiving the Holy Eucharist on the tongue. The list of differences is a lot longer, but I won’t dissect all of those points here. I want to focus on the bigger picture.
THE MASS IS HOLY
When you’re attending the Traditional Latin Mass, the one thing that should jump out at you is the reverence. Every action, every prayer, it’s all oriented towards the great Sacrifice on the altar. Sometimes, though, a lack of reverence comes from not having an informed understanding of what’s actually happening. That’s why you need to educate yourself and your loved ones.
When we go to Mass, we are truly present at Calvary. We are really there, in front of Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s the un-bloody re-presentation of the ultimate sacrifice – made by God’s only begotten Son – for you and for the world. So yeah, maybe you shouldn’t wear sneakers …
When the priest, acting in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), offers up the bread and wine, those gifts truly become the Holy Body, the Most Precious Blood and the true Divinity of our Saviour. Just that one sentence, that one thought alone, should be enough to convince you to kneel while you’re receiving the Eucharist.
That’s why it’s so important to be as respectful, as humble and as grateful as possible when we’re in the presence of such an incredible miracle. Unfortunately, that sense of awe and fear of the Lord is lacking these days, and you tend to see it more in the Novus Ordo.
When you go to Mass and everyone’s busy looking around, or playing with their phones, or dressed up like they’re going to “da club,” the sense of reverence for our Saviour in the Eucharist is easily lost. Basically, what I’m saying is, if you’re spending more time noticing the woman a few pews over, the one in the low-cut dress, then you’re in the wrong place.
SHOW SOME RESPECT
When we forget why we’re at Mass, and show little-to-no respect for Christ in the Eucharist, that lackadaisical attitude carries over into many other areas of our faith.
Maybe you’ve heard that old Latin phrase, “lex orandi lex credendi.” It roughly translates to, “the law of prayer is the law of belief,” or a better way of putting it is, “how you pray is how you believe.” What does that mean? If the Eucharist is an afterthought for you, then so is your relationship with God. If you’re rushing out of church after receiving the Holy Eucharist, then you don’t get it at all. You don’t get why the sacrament is so important. You don’t get the graces that come along with it. You also don’t get why you’re at Mass in the first place.
If that’s the attitude most Catholic men have these days, it’s no wonder we’re in a state of crisis. The world doesn’t have a nuclear problem, or a radical Islam problem, it has a Catholic problem. The problem is that Catholic men aren’t leading by example at Mass. They’re not showing the proper respect due to Christ, and they treat His church more like a chore than a gift – and that’s a big reason why we’re losing the faith en masse.
BE A MAN, BE TRADITIONAL!
Men, it’s our duty to pass along the knowledge of what happens at Mass in order to maintain the stability of the Church in our homes and in the rest of society. If we deepen our love for Christ, starting at Mass, it’ll change our entire lives around. From there, it’ll be a lot easier for us to start winning those spiritual battles against things like pride and pornography.
For almost 2,000 years, Catholics understood the Mass for what it is and held a deep, deep reverence for it. In general, that’s hard to find these days, even on a Sunday. While it might be more difficult to hunt down a parish that offers the Old Rite Mass, it’s certainly worth driving a little farther for it.
And don’t worry about not knowing Latin. There’s a good chance the priest will have a Missal for you to follow along with. You didn’t let a little fear and uncertainty stop you from getting your driver’s licence or talking to girls, did you? So what’s so scary about a liturgy in another language? At the very least, you can sit still, be quiet and take it all in.
The late Fr. Frederick William Faber, of the Brompton Oratory in the U.K., once said the Mass is the “most beautiful thing this side of Heaven.”
In 1604, Pope Clement VII said:
Since the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist by means of which Christ Our Lord has made us partakers of His sacred Body, and ordained to stay with us unto the consummation of the world, is the greatest of all the Sacraments, and it is accomplished in the Holy Mass and offered to God the Father for the sins of the people, it is highly fitting that we who are in one body which is the Church, and who share of the one Body of Christ, would use in this ineffable and awe- inspiring Sacrifice the same manner of celebration and the same ceremonial observance and rite.
The Mass these men are talking about is the one in the Extraordinary form. It’s a Mass that didn’t have priests facing the people, protestant hymns or even female altar servers. That’s right – there are no girl altar servers at the Traditional Mass. There aren’t female lectors either (or any lectors at all). In a very real sense, the Traditional Mass is, well, manly. This is a reflection of the masculine nature of the priesthood. It’s also a representation of the masculine qualities of Jesus Christ, who is married to our Holy Mother Church.
I’m not saying anyone will burn in hell just for going to a New Rite Mass. Face it – you’re lucky these days if you can find a parish where there isn’t too much clapping or too many guitars. If you can deepen your sense of reverence for Christ where you’re already going to church, then great! I just think you’ll have an easier time doing that in the Latin Mass.
The Old Rite Liturgy is the Mass that Saints and Martyrs died for. If it was good enough to build the foundations of the Church Christ established here on Earth, then maybe, just maybe, it’s worth more than a minute of your time.
The world has gone to pieces since the major changes to the Liturgy were introduced, so now let’s fix it. Let’s get traditional, gentlemen, and turn the tide back in the right direction.
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