During Advent, I noted that my family would no longer be abiding to modern-day Catholicism. Perhaps better dubbed, New Order Catholicism. Popping up on my social media feed, more often than not, is a universal cry for sanctity to be restored in the Church, still bleeding from the wounds she suffered from last year’s scandals. We, the laity, have been urged to fast and pray for the future of the Church, and for many, this looks like a return to our roots, the holy traditions of the Catholic Church. Yet, those who choose this are given a side-eye (or rolled eyes) and called “traddies” or “rad-trads” in an attempt to sneer the very faith we all supposedly profess on Sundays.
A few nights ago, it really hit me—I am not a “traditional Catholic”. I am simply Catholic, following (imperfectly, of course) the doctrine the Church has held for hundreds of years. What led to this change of heart? Realizing the Mass I attended for most of my life was not the Mass the saints adore and likely not even the Mass our grandparent’s grew up in. Realizing I had no idea what an Ember Day was, or what Canon Law said about fasting, and abstinence. Realizing that NO ONE RECEIVED COMMUNION IN THEIR HANDS UNTIL ABOUT 50 YEARS AGO. Realizing that I had been accidentally mislead by my loved ones because they, too, had been poorly shepherded. So I said, no more, quickly followed by, my children deserve better.
After I got over my initial rage at being fed a pathetic and watered-down version of our beautiful faith, I got to work reading and researching all I could get my hands on, from the topics of sacred music to the Eucharist to ad orientem versus ad populum. Now let me be very clear, I have done my research (reading Vatican II, Vatican I, Canon Law, etc) and the great thing is you, my dear reader, have access to all of these documents too. This piece is not to throw page numbers at you because you can look them up just as easily as I. What I want to draw attention to is the beauty, truth, and holiness that lies in the tradition of the Catholic Church, specifically, the Latin Mass.
Many people love to argue against the Latin Mass by saying that both Masses are valid in the eyes of Rome. That is certainly true, but why drive a beater when you can drive a BMW? Both Masses take you where you want to go (the Eucharist) but that does not make them equally beautiful. God doesn’t need a fancy Mass to be holy or good and God doesn’t even need us to be holy or good, but like a loving Father, he desires our will, the best we have to give. This should be reflected in the sanctuary, our dress, and our behavior—not because God needs this from us, but because we love Him enough to give Him our all.
Keeping the fast of the Ember Days (not required or even really talked about in America) this past December really changed things for my family. It connected us in our small sufferings for a greater good, forced us to be intentional about our days, and reminded us to be forever-learners of a faith we still know relatively little about. American culture is all about instant gratification (physical, emotional, and even spiritual), living in the moment (YOLO) and profitability. Being Catholic is none of those things. People mistake Latin Mass parishioners for simply protesting the New Order Mass but they could not be more wrong. Families like mine desire to be counter-cultural because being Catholic is counter cultural (and that’s okay!). The stark difference between a Latin and New Order Mass is actually a little bit frightening but I will touch on those in my next post.
Most of the liturgical abuses we see on Sunday’s are actually against Vatican II documents, meaning that sadly, it is the clergy who are not correctly abiding by the New Order Mass doctrine. Some of my friends feel strongly enough to go to their parish priest and try to correct these abuses— to them I tip my hat because someone needs to be the voice against the “geriatric hippies”. But for us, we believe that to become like the saints we so admire, let us worship like them; let us celebrate receiving the best gift of all in the Church’s native tongue, like generations before us did for hundreds of years.