The Right Stuff

Forget Simon & Garfunkel...

There are some interesting reflections on the stunningly beautiful Ars Orandi blog concerning the “reform of the reform”. In short, an outside blogger – fairly conservative liturgically, if very much V II – offered the suggestion a better Novus Ordo Mass is a very useful, possibly indispensable step towards the recovery of liturgical tradition, as the uneducated masses spoiled by the modern antics would not be able to properly “get” – and accept – the Traditional Mass without an intermediate and, so to speak, introductory step.

The blog author answered with the reflections that the “reform of the reform” has remained a limited phenomenon, proving itself unable to truly reform the liturgical life of the Church; that the parishes that have a conservative NO tend not to have a TLM; and that the slow but constant advance of the Traditionalist troops is fuelled by the latter, not the former.

As far as my anecdotal experience in concerned, I can only agree with the Ars Orandi blog: those who attend a reverent NO aren't, because of this, drawn to the Tridentine. Being educated to avoid the worst is not in itself an encouragement to yearn for the best.

I would make out of this a more general argument, as it was never my experience that encouraging people to do the wrong things properly will, ipso facto, motivate them to do the right things. Put in a slightly different way, a fan of Lady Gaga will not be introduced to Schubert by listening to Simon & Garfunkel. He or she will be introduced to Schubert by listening to… Schubert.

Consequently, I do not see any viable alternative in order to introduce the liturgically uneducated masses to the right stuff than introducing them to the right stuff. It might not be easy at the start, but this isn't bad at all, because it requires from the faithful that they make the choice to do things properly first. It is, in fact, a typical mistake of our times that everything should be made effortless or at least very easy. People must be told that there are choices to make. The idea that people need to be introduced by degree to everything because they are too lazy or too stupid to take responsibility for themselves is what gave us the horrible children's masses, and we have seen the results both on the children and on the understanding of liturgy.

People generally aren't stupid, and those who truly are can probably not be helped anyway, nor can idiocy be the inspiring liturgical criterion. The Faithful must be given the choice, and be plainly told the one is the Mass of the Sixty-Eighters and the other is the Mass of all generations before. Those who are able to think properly will be able to choose properly, and in time they will move other people to make the right choice; more and more so in fact, as the old Sixty-Eighters unavoidably start to fill the graves (or in their case, rather the urns).

Of course, ideally the Pope would announce a stepped but definitive return to the Traditional Mass and the abandonment of the Novus Ordo. God knows the present Pontiff is far from ideal – liturgically as well as in many other issues – so this is not going to happen either under Francis or – given the present Cardinals and those Pope Bergoglio will appoint – under his successor. Therefore, the best thing to do is to build on the limited strength that is there, insist on a vocal defence of Summorum Pontificum, and use the leverage we have to promote the best Mass we have.

The Traditional Latin Mass is the best. Jesus deserves the best. Let us not promote half ways as if they were an introduction to the best, I at least have lost hope things will work that way.

We don't need half ways. We need the right stuff.



Posted on April 25, 2013, in Catholicism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I don’t know if I could have transitioned straight from a very banal NO we assisted at, not knowing any better, directly to the TLM. We spent a year or two at an intermediate, very reverent NO. I think that helped me, at least, a great deal, in increasing my desire for the real thing.

    I think there is some merit in the transition argument. We were particularly well disposed to the TLM when we started assisting at it, and knew that was where we wanted to be. We briefly entertained the notion of going to both on alternate weeks, the TLM and the reverent NO, but that went out the window in no time as we recognized the near-infinite superiority of the ancient rite. But for many souls who aren’t so well disposed, who have really drunk the protestant ethos of the new Mass and no longer think like Catholics, I think a transition would be best. At many parishes today, should some slightly orthodox priest introduce some more traditional elements to the NO, he is invariably met with a withering hail of criticism from the protestant/new age influenced Catholics. I have seen this before.

    But as you and Mr. Werling note, a widespread movement to “traditionalize” the NO is unlikely to happen, and the Reform of the Reform did not get very far under the last pontiff before he disastrously abdicated. I think for practical reasons the best course is to continue to foster and grow the TLM organically from those souls who are open to it. I also think we must get away from a mentality that supports top-down impositions from the hierarchy regarding the Mass, either liberal or traditional. I think that very mentality, that a rite could be cooked up and inflicted on the people from the hierarchy, was the core of the entire problem. I am skeptical of any further impositions from above of any type.

    • Thanks Tantamergo, this certainly shows it can go the other way, too.

      I wouldn’t want people in flip-flops and chewing gum going to a TLM overnight and bringing there all the problem they create in the NO (the desecrating attitude, and “look at us, the community” spirit), but then again in my experience these people wouldn’t go to a TLM in the first place.

      Again, thanks for a very interesting perspective.


  2. I know of Roman Bi-Ritual Parishes. What do you think of them?

    • What’s a bi-ritual parish?

      Both TLM and NO? I actually do not know any church here in and around London (excluding the SSPX of course) who doesn’t do it.

      It’s fair to say where you have a TLM you’ll always have a reverent NO. But it’s still S&G against Schubert: no contest at all…


  3. I think what you might be looking for is the “Vatican Rag”:

  4. ordoromanusprimus

    I come from the point of view of a cradle Roman Rite Catholic who was exposed to the Byzantine rite and anglo-catholicism despite very little information about the Traditional pre-Vat II Mass. In the year 2000 at age 18, the information I had of the Vat II mass was either neutral, nothing or mildly critical. The main negative element I heard is that there was too much “dominus vobiscum” and not much music (IE. “low mass” mentality/empasis had perhaps prevailed in some relatives experience). Though I had never heard anything especially negative said about it, so I viewed it as essentially neutral, except for the fact that the “foreign dead” language of latin was seen as a barrier to some people.

    However I was blessed to have spanish relatives, and so I had attended plenty of spanish masses, I quickly realized latin was not THAT different from spanish.

    But what happened first is that without any knowledge of the older true latin mass I had first become exposed to the byzantine rite of the eastern catholic and eastern orthodox churches which I had attended in 2005 for the first time. At the both eastern catholic and eastern orthodox churches I found many people from the latin rite or anglicanism who also loved the latin mass.

    So, yes the byzantine rite, which was predominantly in english, though sometimes also arabic or greek (or equally in both languages!! having many parts repeated in both twice!)

    This proved to me that language was not TRULY an actual barrier.

    Post-enlightmenet, secularised, western european/colonialist industrialized society has become a bit lazy and undiscplined when it comes to promoting understanding of other languages it often also produces a “convenience” driven attidude which discourages learning new languages, unless of course that new language is economically profitatable (IE. Chinese or English languages).

    So, than I also experienced anglican-catholicism and western rite orthodox churches.

    All traditional liturgies are equal, regardless of language, if the language used is of a more unchanging character and has proper musical adaption of the indigenuous chant and older polyphony done.

    Through english language byzantine rite, I came to love latin language tridentine mass and english language tridentine mass as well (Western rite vicariate Antiochian and Russian Orthodox churches and to some extent the anglican use ordinariate roman catholic churches in USA and Canada.

    So yes, basic story is that the latin tridentine is the most realistic option for roman catholics. An english language tridentine is theoretically possible but as we can see Rome with its politics and modernist elements being dominant would view an english language traditional mass on large scale as a way of “destroying the spirit of vatican II”.

    I currently remain within a Russian orthodox (ROCOR) Western rite mission. This is the faith I adhere to, and was the only viable option I could come to conclude existed.

    However, God bless traditional roman catholics, you are the future of your Church and the brightest future partners in to provide non-heretical ecumenical solidarity on faith and morals with Eastern Orthodox (Catholic) Christians such as myself.

    I read your blog regularly and find it provides wisdom and truth every time so far.

    ad Multo annos! God grant you many years!
    Christus resurrexit ! Christus vincit, Christus imperat!

    Long live the Christ the King! ¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!

    • Many thanks for your kind words, ORP.

      It being your first post I let it pass even if it’s far too long.. 😉

      I am not an expert of orthodox churches. I did not get whether you are in union with the Church (I mean, whether the Church says you are; not whether they say they are) or not. I will assume you are a Russian Orthodox, that is, you belong to a Schismatic ecclesial community. If not, I hope you continue to frequent this blog, and come in time to the realisation that if Truth if one, then the Russian Orthodox can’t be right.

      It always needs time and some effort to abandon our accustomed way, or to admit we are doing something wrong. God knows it wasn’t easy for me, and I am now ashamed at the resistance I opposed to it in the past (I am, like millions of others, a previously lapsed Catholic).

      You have at your disposal the great resources of Conservative and Traditional Catholicism on the internet. This is a privilege I never had in my years of confusion. Make good use of it, and consider there is only one final destination for the journey: the Truth accepted whole.

      Thanks again, and enjoy the blog!


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