OF vs EF: Fr. Longenecker and Peter Kwasienski


Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote a blog article entitled “Twelve Things I Like about the Novus Ordo Mass.” listing some of the benefits of the Ordinary Form. In response, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski wrote an article titled “Twelve Reasons not to prefer the Novus Ordo: A reply to Fr. Longenecker.

I don’t really get much involved in OF vs EF discussions, and I usually enjoy reading Fr. Longenecker’s articles. But I found the reasons given in Peter Kwasienski’s response pretty interesting. Here it is:


Interesting in that it detracts from the OF instead of building up the EF


I think that’s because in the original article, Fr. Longenecker explicitly says that he has never met a “traditionalist” who can tell him what is so wrong with the OF to a satisfactory extent, so I presume Kwasniewski was trying to satisfy this.


That could very well be true. Something about the tone and words did not seem like it to me, but just an opinion.


This is interesting.

I do agree with his last point. Most contemporary Parishes have made the Holy Mass SOOO simple that in many churches Mass is just plain. Nothing solemn about it except for Easter and Christmas… depending on where you go sometimes Christmas and Easter resemble just an average Sunday Mass.

I find Solemnities very perplexing because mass on Solemnities are very simple.


And I think most traditionalists who view the OF with contempt simply haven’t seen it well-done - an English OF with the Roman Canon, smells, bells, and good polyphony is beautiful, but very seldom done…


It’s true that many traditionalists have not seen a well-done OF, but among those who have quite a few still do not prefer it for the reasons listed in Dr. Kwasniewski’s article. I do think that if OF Masses like you describe, perhaps with some Latin sprinkled in, were the norm, then there would be quite a bit less grumbling, but the desire for the EF would remain. I personally prefer the EF, however if my diocese ever resurrects the Latin OF with chant that used to be offered weekly I would happily attend.


I don’t understand why Fr. Longenecker continues to discuss this sort of thing. Isn’t it essentially baiting traditionalists?


I agree with this. I have seen both and will always prefer the EF. I’m lucky I live in a parish where if I wanted to, I would never have to attend an OF mass again. I have the option of weekday Latin masses and Sunday Missa Cantata. God bless St. Philip Neri’s Oratory! Soon when another of the brothers is ordained deacon we will be able to have high mass every sunday. I must admit I feel extremely spoiled, most places in the UK could only dream of having this option.

Personally I still attend the OF as I think the oratory does it as nicely as you could want, and simplicity for me is not what’s so bad but the language and prayer content that has been lost is very sad to me. I actually prefer the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham masses - they’re pretty much a Latin mass in English, though the priest says all his prayers outloud (ad orientem of course) and they have their own prayers added. The style of English is also older, not modern at all. I find this to be the only English mass I don’t have any problem with. For those unaware, the Ordinariate in the UK is a pretty small but growing group of Anglicans/Church of England converts to Roman Catholicism who wish to preserve their own missal. Since the British/Anglican Church never experienced Vatican II, they never had the concept of an “OF” mass, though some parishes bizzarely choose to use the Roman Missal and will celebrate both OF and EF in accordance with the Catholic Church’s rubrics.


I do not like those who preach division and the supposed superiority of one form over the other. They strike me as elitist, stuck on externals and seem to have lost their focus on offering themselves completely to God in either form.


Pope John XXIII, canonized Saint in 2014 and who opened Second Vatican Council, in Veterum Sapientia , states “For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time … of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular .”


Good grief. What possessed you to start a thread with such an antagonistic title?


I wouldn’t say it is division that is preached, but the desire for unity in the Latin Church liturgically. You’re just throwing out insults towards a group of people with an opinion you don’t like, without justifying why that opinion is wrong. Just calling names like elitist and accusing someone of not offering themselves to God (which you can’t possibly know) isn’t exactly creating unity is it?


Can it really be illicit either, since it is approved by canon law surely? We can’t claim things are illicit based on whether we think it is in accordance with what we personally believe reconciles scripture and tradition with liturgy. The Church declares what is licit. A man who celebrates mass and is ordained a priest celebrates a valid mass. But if he has been forbidden to do so by the Church, then the mass is illicit, though valid sacramentally. The Church decision is important for licitness.


I was born in 1946 and was an altar boy in the 1950’s into the early 1960’s The parish I was in had 5 Masses on Sunday, one of which was a sung Mass (and no incense); the other 4 were what we called Low Masses; said a bit slower than the weekday Low Masses.

There seems to be an impression that the EF was the “smells and bells and chant” Mass. Not so, and having attended a multitude of EF Sunday Low Masses, they were not all that different from the current OF with the exceptions (as requested in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of some things added over time, to be removed, and some things lost over time, to be added back in), the orientation of the priest, and Latin/vernacular.

I have my doubts that anyone has done a thorough survey of how many parishes have one Sunday Mass where there is a choir of significance. The comment that polyphony is lacking does not reflect that smaller parishes “back then” didn’t have it either, and some that had it slaughtered it.

Long story shortened: we had a parish in Portland which had the OF, in Latin, with a stellar choir singing polyphonic Mass music and I would take the newly joined Catholics from our RCIA class to that Saturday night Mass. I would then go to Mass on Sunday, because my personal opinion was that the music was of performance quality, and I found it very distracting (which is purely a personal opinion). And interestingly, there were always mixed comments after the Mass; some liked it, and some didn’t.

In my own personal opinion, after almost 73 years, I find the situation currently (and I am not addressing the 1970’s or the1980’s, or even some of the 1990’s) to be about the same now as it was then. Some priests seem(ed) more reverent, some simply (went/go) through the rubrics. It may be that some now do not have the choir sung Mass in the OF now; some didn’t have it back then.

I strongly support those who wish to have the EF available, but most commentary over one versus the other gets down to opinion. Opinions are fine; but we need to allow others to have a different one than we have.


I re-read po18guy’s comment; I don’t find him doing anything except noting his impression (right or wrong). He clearly used the word “seem”, so “accuse”? I don’t think so.

As far as unity, there is a difference between unity (which the Church has, amid a plurality of rites), and uniformity. The two are clearly not the same.


Certainly Low Masses didn’t have that, but let’s keep in mind that the EF is intended to be the High Mass… a Low Mass is not the default, but rather the default with portions removed.


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