Questions about Tridentine Mass

Let me first say that, while I have never been to one, I think the Tridentine mass is incredibly beautiful (I’ve watched a few online). But I have a few questions for those who support the Tridentine mass. I’ve read many articles from pro-tridentine Catholics. I read in a lot of places that the Tridentine mass is how God was “meant” to be worshipped. I get the feeling from a lot of traditionalists that this should be the only way mass is done.

Why is conducting the mass in Latin more holy or right than in home languages?

One article stated that main complaint against the Tridentine mass was that people couldn’t understand what was going on. It said that the person should attend several services and try to learn what’s going on. But why is that better than allowing people to understand the mass from the first time of attendance?

I had a crash course, so to speak, in the Tridentine Mass. It was the first one that I had attended, and I had to serve. It was a Requiem Mass for my father, and it was his dying wish. It took hours of practice and learning the parts and responses. Each move and position of the priest and the acolytes have meaning. The overwhelming sense of the sacred and the holiness of the One we were worshipping is something we should never have abandoned. But one thing did bother me; even for those very accustomed to that Mass, there was no active participation from the congregation. Now, because it was a Requiem Mass, it was a “Low Mass” and I’m told that a “High Mass” is quite different. In my “perfect” world the Novus Ordo Mass would be very much like the Tridentine Mass but retain the participation of the former.

Maybe we’ll begin to move in that direction in Advent '11.

Latin is the language of the Western Church. So don’t begin your inquiry with this question, because it begins from a false assumption. The first question should be, simply: why is the Mass done like it is, and what does each part mean? If you’re only going to learn about the Tridentine Mass from the context of difference and conflict you’ll never get around to learning what it means in and of itself. Once you’ve learned what it all means you can begin the process of comparing and contrasting.

So I have a question(well, two) for you, to get you started: Why is Latin the language of the Western Church? And why didn’t the Western Church move to the vernacular until very, very recently?

I’m not asking your to answer it here or anything, since it’s a complicated question. But think about it and study it. I started attending(and later serving) the Latin Mass after the Motu Proprio a few years ago, and just learning about it has led me in many fruitful and unexpected directions. If I had spent that time instead arguing about whether x is better than y I wouldn’t have obtained the many graces that I have.

Also, a bit of advice: don’t listen to either hard-line self-styled liberals or hard-line self-styled traditionalists. Neither of them represents the received tradition. Don’t even wade into those battles, and get out of them if you get pulled in.


This may be helpful:


I’ve heard it explained this way: The two forms of the mass are equal, but not the same (much like a marriage). The both are different, but one is never better than the other. Some people may celebrate one better than the other on a very regular basis, but intrinsically, both forms are equal.

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