Monday, 30 September 2013

Monday, 30 September 2013

A Paradigm Shift In The Catholic Church

Something very big is happening in the Catholic Church, and it’s going on behind the scenes and underneath the radar. It’s happening in America, France, Britain, and in other places around the globe. This trend seems to be most evident in industrialised Western nations, but we can see traces of it starting to develop in the rest of the world as well. What we are witnessing is nothing less than a massive paradigm shift. Traditional liturgy is coming back, and the Traditional Latin Mass (Vetus Ordo or “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite”) is leading the way.

The United States of America, like France and Britain, is a microcosm of this worldwide trend. Everywhere we look in the Catholic Church today, the news coming out about the Vernacular Mass (Novus Ordo or “Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite”) is becoming downright depressing. Parish attendance is down. The number of people who believe what the Catholic Church teaches is at an all time low. Many Catholic laypeople (particularly politicians) are in open rebellion against Church teaching. The number of new priestly vocations remain at an all time low, and of those few young men who do want to be priests, fewer still want anything to do with the Vernacular Mass (Novus Ordo). Most of them openly prefer the Traditional Latin Mass (Vetus Ordo), and would prefer to celebrate mass that way. The trend holds true in religious orders as well. A few traditional orders are flourishing, while the greater number of modernised orders are fading away.

Let me tell you, this traditionalist trend isn’t going to stop. It’s only going to get bigger, and my generation is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m not telling you to go to a Traditional Latin Mass (Vetus Ordo) if you don’t want to.  No, what I’m telling you to do is get your priest to start celebrating the Regular Vernacular Mass (Novus Ordo) like a Traditional Latin Mass. Tell him to follow the rubrics of the Vetus Ordo as best as he can, and start using incense, bells and chant again. Tell him, to make the new mass look just as much like the old mass as possible, but keep it in our vernacular language. Ladies, start wearing veils to mass again. Gentlemen, dress up accordingly. If you do this, I have a prediction to make. Your parish will grow again. The percentage of young families will increase in the pews. Parish baptisms will increase, confirmations and first communions will increase. The number of Protestant converts to your parish will increase. (See why here and here.) Last but not least, the percentage of faithful Catholics in your parish will increase. How do I know this? I know this because it’s already happening in a handful of parishes across the nation. It can happen in your parish too.


Rant on the Mass

I’m jealous. I’ve always been jealous.

Ever since I was a kid I always thought it was super cool that all my Jewish friends got to learn Hebrew for their religion. 

I used to think to myself “I wish Christianity had a cool other language I could learn.”

Little did I know…

I remember when I was in CCD, a Priest was explaining to us why we use the bells at Mass during consecration. He was talking about how before (which sounded like it was ages ago) the Mass was in Latin and the impression that I got was that the Latin Mass was boring, people didn’t like it, and it was plain bad. So the bells were used to make people realize that the consecration was happening and the tradition stayed. 

What I don’t understand is why the people in the Church want to break the ties between the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form?

The Ordinary Form needs to be rooted in the Extraordinary Form. 

So why not incorporate Latin? Why not have Latin be part of the Catechesis for CCD, RCIA, and Catholic Schools? Why not have the Priest face ad orientem? Why not Chant the Mass? Why not Kneel before The God Almighty while receiving His Flesh? Why not use incense every Sunday?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is–Why not make the Mass what it’s suppose to be? The Church has never done away with anything mentioned above. We have replaced drawing people in with beauty to drawing people in with entertainment. Instead of having a congregation looking up towards Heaven in awe of its Majesty as it comes down to meet Earth, we have a congregation looking at each other asking themselves if they “feel” anything. 

Am I over generalizing? Maybe, but you won’t believe how many people I’ve talked to from my Catholic High School, who no longer go to Mass, or go sparingly, because they don’t “feel anything,” or see why it’s important. 

For the longest time I had no idea why Mass even existed. Even when I came to love the Eucharist, I didn’t understand why Mass was the way it was. “Oh Mass is just so Jesus becomes bread and we can eat Him.” I had no idea it was Christ being re-presented to the Father on the Cross. I had no idea the Priest was acting as Christ in the Sacrifice. I had no idea it was a Sacrifice to begin with. 

The Mass is suppose to be something mysterious, supernatural, and beautiful. If we include things that make us feel comfortable then it no longer becomes mysterious, supernatural, and beautiful. It just becomes casual. 

hiccstridessentials asked:

Hi father! Just wondering about your thoughts on the traditional latin mass. I attend one and I just wanted to see what your opinion is on it.


I love the traditional Latin Mass, also called the Tridentine Mass, the Mass of Pius V, and the Extraordinary Form Mass.

Besides the use of the ancient Latin, the EF Mass 1) utilizes numerous signs which point to the Mass being an act of sacrifice, 2) engages appropriate moments of silence, 3) offers prayers which emphasize God’s holiness, and 4) displays reverential gestures which show forth that humans are creatures, whose only salvation is in submitting to God’s grace and dominion.

However, I must immediately note that the rite of the Mass is an outward form, it is a structure or method of gathering and offering worship. It is a body, or an outer shell, which contains an inner soul. What truly gives soul to the traditional Latin Mass is the people and the priest who leads them in worship.

So, I disagree with people who refer to the Extraordinary Form as the “superior Mass” as if the externals, the signs, and the gestures alone will convey holiness and grace in the Church. My personal belief is that the EF Mass truly impacts, it inspires, it powerfully moves people, when you see flesh and blood people, real people of devout faith, standing there or kneeling, before their priest who is also reverent.

After all, it is just as easy to offer the EF Mass in a sloppy, routine, and aloof way so that it is all pretty ceremonial, with no sense of feeling, compassion, and mysticism. Or if Latin Mass people become mean, snarky, and back biting toward it each, the traditional Latin Mass can quickly lose its aura of being a profound spiritual experience.

What this means, in the end, is that those who are at the TLM must be intentional in their pursuit of liturgical piety. They must learn the parts of the Mass well. They must pray the Mass quietly, in union with their priest. They must strive to self-educate themselves in the doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic Faith. This is different than just showing up and being fascinated because the priest is rattling off the Latin. When people see an “intentional” Latin Mass congregation, they are deeply moved.

When they see the attentiveness, the prayerful quiet, the intense love for Jesus in the Eucharist, the people who are visitors, get the sense that this is something very sublime and beautiful. There are many people who attend only a few Latin Masses in a good congregation of faithful, and they make up their minds never to return to the modern, vernacular Mass.

It is very sad and upsetting to me, personally, that many priests, and bishops, still consider the EF Mass as a “step backwards” and have no desire to provide this ancient rite for the people. It is true, in my opinion, that many Catholics have no desire to go to the traditional Latin Mass. 

They like the Ordinary Form, or the modern Mass, almost always prayed in their language. Most Catholics, even conservatives, find the moments of silence in the TLM, and the priest doing all the prayers himself, to be hard to follow. Most Catholics also are attracted to how the modern Mass is more “entertaining” for them, while the old Mass in Latin is not entertaining at all, but focuses totally on giving adoration and glory to God.

Nonetheless, if priests and bishops would at least show more respect and encouragement to the EF Mass, I believe it would take hold more and would be a powerful fountain of grace and strength for beleaguered Catholics. Those are some of my thoughts. I pray that you grow not just to enjoy the gestures and externals of the ancient rite, but also educate yourself to enter into the liturgical piety and spirituality of the traditional Latin Mass. God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

Jesus can grant forgiveness and the power to forgive because he himself suffered the consequences of sin and dispelled them in the flame of his love. Forgiveness comes from the Cross; he transforms the world with the love that is offered. His heart opened on the Cross is the door through which the grace of forgiveness enters into the world. And this grace alone is able to transform the world and build peace.

–Pope Benedict XVI, Pentecost 2012 homily

Photo by Christopher M.: Fr. James Gordon praying the Holy Gospel at Mass.