I recently listened to a podcast on New Order liturgical abuse by Dr. Taylor Marshall. You can listen too by clicking here (I promise you it is worth your 117 minutes). I cried while I listened because I realized that I was not nuts or weird or too-pious for being appalled at what the New Order Mass looks like in many areas—I was simply being Catholic. Dr. Marshall mentions that tradition is the democracy of the dead. We are taught from a young age to respect our elders, so living and worshiping in a traditional manner is respecting some pretty cool elders if you ask me—SS Ignatius, Augustine, Teresa of Avila, Therese, and Pio to name only a few. The Latin Mass gave these great saints the graces to become just that—great saints which is literally the only goal of the Christian life. If any one of them walked into the typical New Order Mass on Sunday would they feel at home? The answer is no and here is why:
- Ad orientem versus ad populum (the priest facing the altar versus the people)
The first time I was introduced to an extraordinary form Mass was on the Solemnity of Mary, 2016. Our priest, an Anglican convert was only “allowed” to celebrate the Mass that way on Friday’s and Holy Days, and in English. That Mass changed my life. There was so much I did not understand—which only left me craving more. I found that Masses said ad orientem (the priest faces the altar) was actually the way it was done, well, basically forever until the late 1960’s. It was a little confusing but the priest reminded us, even he is there for God, not for us. Ad orientem versus ad populum is still widely debated today. Why are so many people so against ad orientem Mass? I cannot think of any reason beyond a selfish “we can’t hear/ see the priest”. Another similar argument is that the Latin Mass is fast – paced and can be difficult to understand. Today, there are several handbooks for both adults and children that guide you through the Mass but it is up to each of us to educate ourselves if we wish to fully understand and partake in the Latin Mass. Research and preparation take time, I know because I’ve done it and it IS a learning curve. The question is, is God and Holy Mass worth your time and preparation?
2. Sacred Music (or lackthereof)
Surprisingly, most of the hymns sung in a New Order Mass are Protestant by nature. A fellow Secular Carmelite and music minister points this problem to churches sending their music teams to protestant music conferences. Why? To make Mass more appealing and fun. Music during Mass is supposed to enhance our reason for worship—Jesus present in the Eucharist. While this fact can surely elicit joy, it is also meant to be a solemn reminder of His sacrifice for us and perhaps elicit a filial fear of God. Most of us would agree that a full-on band (with tambourine!) singing “Go Make A Difference” or “Lead Me Lord” (with clapping!) do not embrace the beauty and intention of Mass. P.S: Our Saint friends do not know these songs
3. Female Altar Servers
I have always known that it was inherently wrong (and against Vatican II doctrine) for young girls to be altar servers. Neither myself nor my Catholic girl friends growing up were involved in that. When I was around 5 I really wanted to become a priest and I’m pretty sure I cried when my mom told me I wasn’t allowed…but thankfully she blessed me with the knowledge of what I COULD do as a Catholic woman, which is nothing to scoff at! Dr. Marshall talks about how altar serving is a sort of recruitment for boys to give them a taste of being up at the altar in hopes that a seed is planted for future priesthood. Why would you introduce a young girl to a vocation that she will never be able to fulfil? That’s just silly.
4. The Eucharist/ Eucharistic Minsters
The best is saved for last! Transubstantiation of the Eucharist is literally what makes us Catholic. This unites the many different forms of Masses said throughout the world today and yes, it is a wonderful, beautiful, and holy thing! So why do most receive Jesus the same way they’d eat Cheetos? Do we really believe that we are receiving the body of Jesus Christ? I know I didn’t and I am sick when I am reminded how foolishly I received Him in the past—so unworthily. For Jesus, my Lord, Savior, King, Father, Friend, and Beloved Spouse—I will humble myself and receive on my knees, knowing by His name alone I am saved from the fires of Hell. Teresa of Avila writes in Way of Perfection, if we truly grasped Who we are praying to, we would never worry about time spent in mental prayer and it would (and should) change the way we say every prayer. Interestingly enough, Vatican II notes that receiving on the knees and on the tongue is the best and preferred way of receiving Communion, yet I was only taught to receive in my hands showing just how far New Order parishes are straying from doctrine.
While we remember Who we receive in the Eucharist, we would be wise to ask why un-ordained men (and women) are allowed to distribute the Body and Blood of Christ on a weekly basis? A Priest has been ordained under Holy Orders to act in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) so it makes perfect sense for him to distribute the Body of Christ. Yet the random laity touching your Eucharist are not…You know what they’re called, right? Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers. Which should be men in EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES (also in Vatican II). Is Sunday Mass really an unusual circumstance? Are we really that concerned with sticking to the 60-minute timeline that Communion (the most important part of Mass) must be rushed through?
There is no denying that while equally valid, the reverence to Jesus Christ in the Latin Mass is unparalleled. While Liam and I have the ability to block out some of the unsavory abuses present in the New Order Mass, our young children do not. Children learn what they see on a repeated basis both at home and at Church. Honestly, my boys are better at Latin Mass because they do not see other children with tablets or food, or cell phones. There is also no denying that Latin Mass requires more of us—more time, more kneeling, more dress clothes, more research, perhaps. But what is easy and convenient is never valuable so I will gladly pass over fast food to prepare myself to feast.