Novus Ordo Missae - Good for the Church?


Simple question/poll…

Has the Novus Ordo been good for the Church as a whole, over the past 36 years?



To quote Cardinal Ratzinger:

While the Missal of Paul VI “brought with it some authentic improvements and a real enrichment,” the banning of the old Mass caused some “extremely serious damages for us,” he wrote in La Mia Vita, released in mid-April in its Italian translation.

“I was dismayed by the banning of the old Missal,” he wrote, "seeing that a similar thing had never happened in the entire history of the liturgy…

"The promulgation of the banning of the Missal that had been developed in the course of centuries. starting from the time of the sacramentaries of the ancient Church, has brought with it a break in the history of the liturgy whose consequences could be tragic… The old structure was broken to pieces and another was constructed admittedly with material of which the old structure had been made and using also the preceding models…

"But the fact that [the liturgy] was presented as a new structure, set up against what had been formed in the course of history and was now prohibited, and that the liturgy was made to appear in some ways no longer as a living process but as a product of specialized knowledge and juridical competence, has brought with it some extremely serious damages for us.

"In this way, in fact, the impression has arisen that the liturgy is ‘made,’ that it is not something that exists before us, something ‘given,’ but that it depends on our decisions. It follows as a consequence that this decision-making capacity is not recognized only in specialists or in a central authority, but that, in the final analysis, each ‘community’ wants to give itself its own liturgy. But when the liturgy is something each one makes by himself, then it no longer gives us what is its true quality: encounter with the mystery which is not our product but our origin and the wellspring of our life…

"I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part upon the collapse of the liturgy, which at times is actually being conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: as though in the liturgy it did not matter any more whether God exists and whether He speaks to us and listens to us.

“But if in the liturgy the communion of faith no longer appears, nor the universal unity of the Church and of her history, nor the mystery of the living Christ, where is it that the Church still appears in her spiritual substance?,” he asked.

Cardinal Ratzinger
Novus Ordo Record


I don’t know. There was a massive sea change in HMC in the mid-60s - not just in the Mass, brought about by V II. I went through the change as a teenager and on face value, I was not happy with it. I would have liked to have been older before it changed. Maybe, I would have seen things differently as an adult. And then again, maybe not.

I don’t think it is a question of the rite itself - NO or TLM. What has happened is that in these 40 years (I’m counting the years of transition to the NO) is that, as a corporate body, HMC has lost an astonishing amount of reverence. One did not gab with one’s neighbors before Mass or after Mass. One kept silence in the temple of the Lord. One could pray quietly before and after Mass without the cacophany which is the norm for so many parishes. Fellowship is all well and good, but keep it for coffee and donuts in the parish hall.

In another sense, worship went from being God centered to community centered. Is this a fault of the rite or is this a matter of the shifting sands of post - V II theology?

Mine is a cathedral parish with a very orthodox NO. People are generally very quiet both before and after Mass (although not as quiet as pre-V II standards). There is no “introduce yourself to your neighbors” baloney and certainly no hand holding during the Our Father. And absolutely no electric guitars, drums, praise band, etc. Organ and choir only.

I don’t think it is the rite in and of itself. I think it is the mind-set of the parish and we are right back to the central issue of is the parish worship God centered or community centered.


all of my family who remember the tridentine mass wish they didn’t change the mass. they all miss the latin, especially the altar rail and overall greater sense of the sacred.

my marriage was celebrated ad orientem, in latin with all gregorian chant and using the altar rail. so it was very close to the tridentine mass. again, my family said it was the really great and that this is how it should be–as it was.

some people who don’t like the tridentine mass were not brought up in it. but from my experience, those lay people who remember it don’t understand why they changed.


I voted yes- not because I think the Novus Ordo is better in any way, but because it shook things up and made people stand their ground- those who stood firm had their faith tested- and strengthened.


“By their fruits you shall know them.” From the point of view of its fruits, the NO Mass is not a rite conducive to the flourishing of the Church’s mission, when you look at the decrease in vocations, mass attendance, belief in the Real Presence ect.

Although the NO Missae itself does not promulgate the liturgical abuses or innovations that have emerged (communion in the hand, altar girls, dancing matrons, rock bands, standing during the consecration) it does provide greater opportunity and leeway for these actions to take place. There are some fundamental flaws in the new Mass that are present regardless of how reverent it is celebrated.

The New Liturgy stripped the Offertory prayers of a sacrificial, propitiatory emphasis. In its place is the Presentation of the Gifts borrowed word-for-word from the Jewish grace-before-meals cited by the Talmud. “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.”

This suppresses mention of the Sacrificial character of the Mass and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as Victim to be offered to the Father in propitiation for our sins. The emphasis is on a memorial meal and on thanksgiving. The term “It will become for us the bread of life.” is deliberately ambiguous. “Bread of life” can mean anything–as can the subsequent phrase regarding the wine: “it will become for us our spiritual drink”. This can mean anything. Not a whisper about Christ’s sacrifice or our redemption from sin by means of his sacrifice.

Throughout the new Mass a parallel is set up between the “Liturgy of the Word” and the “Eucharistic Liturgy” both of which are on the “table of the Lord” where Christ gives Himself as spiritual food. In fact the liturgical text deliberately blurs the distinction between Christ’s Presence on the altar and in the Word of Scripture and in the congregation itself–all of which is distinctly Protestant. The Novus Ordo, moreover, destroyed the ancient three-part sacrificial liturgical structure of oblation (Offertory), immolation (Consecration) and consumption (Communion) and substituted a memorial meal instead. It did so while deliberately eliminating emphasis on the truths of the Catholic Faith regarding sin, the need for redemption, and the propitiatory nature of Christ’s sacrifice.

It’s true others completed by other means what Paul VI began. But there can be no doubt the intention was to emulate Luther’s Lord’s Supper liturgy. The present Mass in fact in virtually indistinguishable from a Lutheran or Methodist service.


I would say that the NO has been good for the Church just by virtue of the fact that it is a Mass, and any Mass is a benefit to the Church, no matter how filled with abuses.

On the other hand, if you mean the introduction of the NO as the standard liturgy of the Church replacing the traditional Missal, I would say that it was by no means good for the Church.




Some people complain that there is less reverence in the current rite of the mass.

I don’t believe that is true, for a second. The lack of reverence is just a symptom of the age we are in, it is coincidental that the novus ordo came down at the same time.

Look at the general disrespect in our society as a whole, and it would be tough to think that if the n.o. wasn’t promulgated, there wouldn’t be the same problems in the Latin mass. The current day Latin mass isn’t typical as those who attend are a self-selected group that is really concerned with reverence. They aren’t really typical of rank-and-filer Catholics.


Go to an indult mass some time and tell me there is a lack of reverence.


I don’t know,

I am not too good at predicting alternate realities, as the NO might be good as we can see what happens when abuse is encouraged. This has illustrated the result and that might have been necessary. I am sure the dissenters could do evil with the Latin Mass, it would probably be more difficult but don’t underestimate the ingenuity of evil.

Now it would be idiotic to think that people losing their belief in the real presence is good, and this has widely happened after the implementation of the NO. This is directly as a result of the method of implementation, I have no idea if it is because of the NO or not but the implementation of it has certainly resulted in a widespread destruction of people’s faith.

God can bring good out of anything and I grew up on the NO, so I watched as slowly my Church evolved from a parish that put the Eucharist at center to where it is today. I remember ladies wearing veils in Church and the tabernacle having it’s own veil.

Now I see the Eucharist set aside, people not genuflecting and women\men wearing not their Sunday best to Church. Not only that I have seen hundreds leave my parish as it modernized to try and look like a Protestant church.

We cannot compete with pleasure as the Catholic Church should be centered on Jesus not on community feeling. We cannot compete against Protestant churches on community as that is what they excel at.
Catholics excel at being Christ centered and that is what the Church should reflect always above community, yet we have compromised the faith through the implementation of the NO.

I haven’t seen the NO done reverently since I was a child and once at the National Catholic Family Conference with Father Fessio as the priest.
So I don’t pine for some nostalgic ideal but to a liturgy that is centered on Jesus and not on an inappropriate elevation of community above Jesus.

In Christ


Then how do you explain the reverence shown in an Eastern Catholic or an Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy? Most of these groups are not self-selecting (more likely ethnic than a community of choice).


I’ve heard this charge and haven’t seen one iota of proof that this is so. Please provide a link to the Talmud or some Jewish text that verifies this statement.

It’s true others completed by other means what Paul VI began. But there can be no doubt the intention was to emulate Luther’s Lord’s Supper liturgy. The present Mass in fact in virtually indistinguishable from a Lutheran or Methodist service.

As a former Missouri Synod Lutheran, I would heartily disagree. A quick perusal of any of the Lutheran liturgies currently in use will show that this statement is patently false.


Do you believe Traditionalists and the Traditional movement pine for a nostalgic ideal?

We strive for exactly the same thing as you, a return to truly Christ centered Liturgy. :slight_smile:


No I do not think that they do pine for a nostalgic ideal.

This is a frequent accusation that people use to dismiss Traditionalists, and as a person who attends the NO I wanted to answer that objection proactively.

Someday I will attend a Latin Mass if they allow it in my area, I just crave a Christ centered liturgy like you, and in the meantime just pray and close my eyes so I wont get sickened at the abuses happening at the altar in my parish.

In Christ


All berakhot use the phrase “Barukh atah Ha-shem, Elokaynu, melekh ha-olam,” Which translates: Blessed art thou Lord, our God, King of the Universe.

The berakhah for bread praises G-d as the one “who brings forth bread from the earth.”

You can’t say “word for word” but it is really close.


I think the Novus Ordo did show one fatal flaw about some of us traditionalists. While I believe the Novus Ordo, in many places, has been taken to the liberal extreme, Tridentine Mass people do the same - but in the other direction.

Like when some people throw up a hissy fit when the candles are not lit in the proper order, or some of the altar boys are wearing round neck surplices while some are wearing square necks.

“Wait - did the priest’s fingers slip apart a bit? I think I saw them move! I better go talk with him after Mass!”

“How DARE that random person chew the Sacred Host!”

I am all for following the rubrics and rules to the letter, but I never expect perfection.

My point is this - the Tridentine Mass, when done with charity (as it was not always done in days past. My mom still has nightmares about going to hell if the Host touched her teeth.) The Novus Ordo injected something that was often forgot at the time - we are all human. (Now, I was not alive, but both my parents, while fond of the TLM, had a rough run with the nuns and people like I described) Every TLM parish still has these types of people. It is almost silly what some of these people come up with to complain about.

My point to all that - we need to work on fixing the people AND the liturgy. We needed, and still do need reform. And I don’t think the Novus Ordo is to blame for everything. But I don’t think it furthered our cause either.

With all that said, I would take some strict whiney people over a Barney blessing any day of the week. At least they keep us on our toes.


Agreed, I think the Second Vatican Council was addressing this issue when they promulgated Sacrosanctum Concilium. The issue wasn’t the form of mass but they way in which it was celebrated.

The liturgy contains the keys that help unlock the mysteries of salvation. People sometimes can worship the keys rather than use them for their intended purpose. Just because some do not use the keys properly doesn’t mean we should just toss them or cut new ones.


Especially in an age with almost universal literacy and public education, where people have the potential to understand liturgy in ways people in the past never could.


Fast Ed,

I agee with you. Over the years I’ve been to both Luthern and Methodist services and the Luthern, in particlular, is a ringer for the NO. It was spooky.

You are right when you say the NO is basically flawed.

I could see it last night at Mass and it was done reverently. The choir was great but the liturgy was “weak”

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