In your judgment, is the EF superior to the OF even if the OF is celebrated as perfectly as possible? Why?

Hey everyone,

I’ve been reading about the liturgical positions of ‘traditional Catholics’ for some time now. On certain issues (Communion in the hand, altar girls) I remain pretty unconvinced. On others, especially musical issues discussed in places like chant cafe, I find the arguments very persuasive.

One issue on which I feel relatively undereducated, however, is the topic of why some traditionalists think the EF is the better form of the Mass.* Specifically, it seems to me that most of the arguments for why the EF is superior are not actually essential differences between the two forms, but rather, only indicate why the EF is superior to the OF as the OF is generally celebrated. Gregorian chant, for example, is not an advantage of the EF over the OF, because it is the normative music of both forms. Communion via altar rails is not an advantage of the EF over the OF, because they can be used in the OF as well. Ad orientem is not an advantage of the EF over the OF, because it is the standard orientation in the OF as well, and so forth.

Now, I realize the argument often goes like this: “Sure, those things can be included in the OF, but they almost never are. The EF, on the other hand, requires them. So the EF is the better form because it requires the best liturgical practices (and so, always gets them), while the OF permits inferior practices (and so, almost never gets good ones).” Fair enough. But my question here is specifically, what if the OF were celebrated as perfectly as possible?

So imagine: an OF where full Gregorian propers are sung. The priest chants the entire Mass. Some parts of the Mass, perhaps the sung ordinaries, are in Latin (or the whole thing is in Latin, if you like). Full use is made of processions and incense and such (i.e., procession before the Gospel reading). Ad orientem is used. Communion rails are used. The Roman Canon is used.

Is the EF still better than such a Mass? Why? I am hoping to hear very specific reasons, not generalities. Stuff like “this particular prayer is eliminated from the OF; it’s good and should’ve been retained” or “this order of things works better aesthetically” or “it’s better that the priest say this prayer quietly rather than aloud for reasons a, b, and c.”

I know that one of the arguments for the EF often advanced is its antiquity. But honestly, historically, how different was it from the Mass as celebrated before it? Was the difference between a Mass 50 years before Trent and 50 years after Trent really much smaller than the difference between the EF and my ‘perfectly celebrated’ OF? How about the difference between the Tridentine Mass and the Mass as celebrated in, say, the 6th century: is that gap any smaller than the gap between the EF and a perfectly celebrated OF? Again, please be specific as possible. A general “Yes, the OF is the most massive change in the form of the Mass in the Church’s history!” is not terribly helpful. I’m hoping for something more like “This ancient historical writing indicates that these particular parts of the Mass in the first century in Rome were in the same order as the Tridentine Mass, while the order is different in the Missal of Paul VI. Ergo, the difference between the EF and OF on this issue is greater than the difference between the Tridentine Mass and a first century Roman Rite Mass.”

  • I realize this is a contentious topic. I do not at all mean to pit one form of the mass against the other. I think we can all agree that the Church leaves Catholics free to believe that one Missal or the other does more justice to the Mass, as long as no one questions either form’s validity and licitness. I truly believe that we can have a charitable discussion on this topic. No one here is saying that the EF or OF is bad. I am hoping for a thread with lots of specific discussion of particular issues using reason and avoiding personal attacks or questioning of others’ motives.

There is a forum rule against pitting one form of the Mass against another.

There is a forum rule against pitting one form of the Mass against another.

I did read the sticky on the subject before posting this thread. I don’t at all want to pit one form of the Mass against the other. I fully support Pope Benedict’s position in Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae that they are both good, can coexist, and can benefit one another. I hoped to make it clear that I intended no opposition with my little asterisked disclaimer at the bottom of my post.

The fact of the matter is, some traditional Catholics believe that the EF is a better form of the Mass, that it does more justice to it, than the OF does. They are not saying that the OF is bad, or even that it is less than great, simply that the EF is preferable for some reason. I have never fully grasped why they say this because, as I said, many of their arguments seem to me not to apply to an OF Mass celebrated perfectly. I am interested in learning some of the specifics of the preference for the EF Mass over the OF Mass even when celebrated as well as possible, that’s all.

So what do you call asking if one form is more superior to the other?

If you do, then you don’t need to ask this question. Summorum Pontificum already stated that the OF and EF are two expressions of THE SAME ROMAN RITE. If it is the same Roman Rite, how can one be superior to the other?

Number one - We should not “Judge” one mass vis-a-vis another…Neither mass, as designed is “Superior” to the other. PERIOD.

Now - That said…
One may have an opinion as to which mass is more efficacious to spiritual growth, but that is something for them personally…an opinion and a personal decision based on one’s own spiritual journey.

Peace
James

So what do you call asking if one form is more superior to the other?

I suppose I’m thinking in terms of relative ranking of goods. If I said “I think Palestrina is even better suited to the Mass than Viennese Classical masses are,” I don’t think I would be pitting the two against one another, just making a judgment about which is even more suitable than the other. Likewise, if I said “I think the ordering of the lessons, the gradual, and the alleluia in the EF is better than the ordering in the OF,” I don’t think I’m making them opponents of one another; with are good, but perhaps one in my judgment is better.

Anyway, I would like to add (and you could see from my post history) that I don’t think the Missal of John XXIII is better than the Missal of Paul VI. I am asking because I really do not know what particular things about the EF some traditional Catholics would say make it a bit more suitable to the holy sacrifice of the Mass than the OF. I am genuinely interested in learning.

People in this forum talk about, and will continue to talk about (unless it is outright banned) why they think certain things about the EF are somewhat more suitable or more sacred than their equivalents in the OF. I am genuinely interested in learning about the specifics of that judgment because, as I’ve said a few times now, I often hear arguments that I don’t think apply to the OF if it is celebrated perfectly, only as it is often celebrated.

I was hoping (am still hoping) for a thread free from personal attacks in which specific things about the EF and OF are discussed, i.e., particular parts, prayers, orderings and the like.

The bottom line is, I do not know why some people prefer the EF to the OF (as opposed to why they prefer the EF to the OF as usually celebrated). I want to know why.

If you do, then you don’t need to ask this question. Summorum Pontificum already stated that the OF and EF are two expressions of THE SAME ROMAN RITE. If it is the same Roman Rite, how can one be superior to the other?

Number one - We should not “Judge” one mass vis-a-vis another…Neither mass, as designed is “Superior” to the other. PERIOD.

Now - That said…
One may have an opinion as to which mass is more efficacious to spiritual growth, but that is something for them personally…an opinion and a personal decision based on one’s own spiritual journey.

Definitely, I know of many people who prefer the EF on personal spiritual grounds and make no claim that it is, in any objective sense, better. More power to them; I think that is a very reasonable position to take.

But the fact of the matter is, some traditional Catholics do in fact think that the Missal of John XXIII is somewhat better than the Missal of Paul VI, that it is a bit more suitable, a bit more sacred, that it does justice to the Mass a bit better.

How can they take that position, when we all agree that the OF and EF are both good expressions of the same Roman Rite? Well, the same way one can say that any two things about the way Mass is celebrated are not equally desirable. Maybe I think chant hymns are a bit more suitable to the liturgy than metered hymns. Maybe I think the one particular setting of the Gloria is better than another. Both are good, but one does a slightly better job (aesthetically or liturgically) with the liturgical action. Indeed, the very fact that rubrics change and Rome tried to improve stuff suggests that certain options can potentially be better than others.

So I think Catholics are, in fact, free to hold that the Missal of John XXIII is a better expression of the Mass than the Missal of Paul VI. I stress again that I am not one of those people. I am just interested in hearing the specifics of their position, straight from their mouths, in a thread dedicated to a reasonable and charitable discussion of the topic rather than in little sound bytes in other threads.

You probably should have just asked that in the OP then, and not about superiority since we aren’t allowed to claim one is superior to the other. That question is just bait for a ban hammer.

Agreed, this thread is in jepoardy.

My answer is: Read the texts of the prayers that were eliminated from the EF, especially the offertory prayers and the prayers of the priest before and after communion. That, IMHO, is a huge difference between the two.

You probably should have just asked that in the OP then, and not about superiority since we aren’t allowed to claim one is superior to the other. That question is just bait for a ban hammer.

I actually do not mean my question to be one of personal preference. I know that some faithful traditional Catholics hold that the EF is a bit more sacred, does justice to the Mass a bit better, than the OF, even apart from personal preference. I am wondering after the reasons for that judgment.

If discussion of why some Catholics think one form is, in fact, objectively preferable to the other is itself banned, then I apologize, and I am sure my thread will be locked soon. I did not think such discussion was banned, only that it must be kept charitable and under control.

The mods can do whatever they want, of course, and if they think they need to ban all discussion of “why some Catholics think the EF is preferable to the OF even apart from personal preference”, more power to them; they would know better than I. But given that some Catholics do, in fact, think that, I would rather we discussed the matter openly.

My answer is: Read the texts of the prayers that were eliminated from the EF, especially the offertory prayers and the prayers of the priest before and after communion. That, IMHO, is a huge difference between the two.

Excellent! This is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping people could inform me about.

Closed pending review by moderator Thomas Casey

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