Why The Latin Mass?

Over at Get Religion, new contributer Mark Stricherz asks a great question – Why do some Catholics think it’s vital to restore the Tridentine Mass? It’s a great post, and makes some salient points.

It’s tempting to view the revival of the Latin Mass in terms of the culture wars, as Mr. Dagostino does. Maybe, but the reporters failed to make their case. For one thing, other than Mr. Strada’s quote, all the people linking the two are professors. For another thing, it’s not as if the Pope banned the vernacular service and replaced it with the Tridentine. The Pope acted in the spirit of pluralism, allowing individual priests to celebrate the Mass.

A more revealing question by my lights is this one: Why do those seek to revive the Latin Mass consider it such a vital cause? Shouldn’t these people worry more about the fact that few Catholics today are going to confession?

The comments are enlightening, too (which is rare enough for blogs).

I could not add to what Stricherz and the comments have said there, because my own point of view echos many of the sentiments. I understand (and feel, myself) the desire to see a return to the Tridentine Mass (which is really a different thing from the modern Mass, the Novus Ordo, even when the modern mass is done in Latin). I can’t shake the feeling, when I see parishioners raise their hands, that it feels “Evangelical”. I understand the horizonal connections the Novus Ordo deliberately offers. It seems “Protestant” to my sensibilities. To my eyes, the Priest, when facing the congregation, is now situated differently from the rest of us, not the same as we were told he would be. And nobody likes the music.

But at the same time, I would not have a fraction of the understanding I now have, either of scriptures, or of the celebration itself and it’s meaning if I had not experienced the Novus Ordo for these past decades. When I once submitted to an “interpretive dance” done during Mass, the excesses gave me a reason to stop coming regularly to Church. When I came back, Novus Ordo became a reason to stay and pay attention.

If I could, yes, I would combine the educational, communitarian aspects of the modern rite with the transendental – even mystical – experience of my youth in the immigrant Church in which I was raised. That’s probably not possible.

But permission to attend the Latinized modern rite or the Tridentine Mass on occasion seems to be an appropriate response to my wishes.

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