Struggle with Mass

At the moment, I am stuck between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. For awhile I was heavily leaning Catholic, and then Orthodox, and now going back to Catholic. I am in RCIA and an Orthodox inquirers class, and I alternate Sundays between the two.

I struggle with Catholic Mass. There are no Tridentine Masses in my area. The Parish I attend is very large (and within walking distance, which is why I attend). The Catholic Parish I attend does not seem to take Mass as seriously as the Orthodox Church I attend. One Priest rushes through it (the other Priest is younger and seems more traditional).

WHY did the Vatican think it was a good idea to transfer from Tridentine to NO?

The Parish I attend seems a bit Protestant in how Mass is done.

I wish this weren’t one of my hang ups with Catholicism, but it is. As foolish as that may seem.


Are you sure that there is no celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite anywhere? No diocesan priest celebrates it? No FSSP nearby?

It is not foolish, quite the contrary. However, you are focusing way too much on the aesthetics and are not looking into other incredibly important issues here.

There is a very, very, veery large story behind the establishment of the Novus Ordo Missae, and trust me, at this stage you do not want to get into this, because you need a very solid faith to understand the changes. As Catholics, we are very obedient to the Church, and quite a few of our brothers whose faith was not strong enough have actually fallen into disobedience and even schism because of these issues.

Suffices to say that (a) there is only one Roman Rite, of which there are two wonderful and perfectly valid forms, the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form (or usus antiquor); (b) the Ordinary Form derives (no matter if there appear to be protestant elements) from the Extraordinary Form, thus by studying the elements in both you can see how they are related.

It is definitely not a good idea to compare the seriousness of the schismatic Eastern church to the Catholic Church or to prefer the former to the latter, based on how individual priests celebrate a novus ordo mass. Aesthetics is not a factor here. There are many other significant issues that lead the faithful towards the Catholic Church, and many reasons for which our brethren in the Easter “Orthodox” church, no matter how much we love them, are still part of a schismatic church.

Sure, the Orthodox Church has preserved the wonderful Byzantine Rite. However, so have many of the 25 Eastern Catholic sui iuris churches. Ex. nearby we have a Melkite Catholic Church that celebrates the Byzantine rite.

What you may want to do is learn more about the Catholic Church and, since you seem to appreciate the traditional aspects, learn why - even in our efforts towards ecumenism - we profess as infallible teaching that outside of the Church there is no salvation; learn what it means to not be in full communion with the Catholic Church, and what the Church Fathers and the Doctors of the Church had to say on this matter and on schismatic communities. Only then you will have sufficient understanding in order to be able to make a decision with full knowledge on whether or not you want to remain within the Catholic Church or separate yourself from it. Because as you inquire on whether you join the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church, you are not inquiring between two equal denominations…you are looking at one time into the Church, at another time into a community that separated from the Church. You may by the same criteria look into the Anglican or some other protestant denomination…the only difference would be how much farther away from full communion they are.

Remember that Christ is present in the Holy Eucharist ex opere operato, that is, no matter what else goes on around you, no matter who the priest is or what he does, as long as the prayers are followed properly, the Lord is there, and God suffices.

Impressive that you know so much about different Masses etc already Tridentine etc… being only an enquirer. Keep inquiring.
Where are you at in the RCIA process? If you’re in RCIA you should have already had Rite of Welcoming. Basically you would have been required to make a firm commitment to the Church in the last month some time.

I would suggest not lookiing for differences and divisions, but rather look for unity. Differences are easy to find.

The Mass is certainly important…but that’s not the most important issue at stake in deciding between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. The Novus Ordo Mass will be gone in 100 years at most, who knows what other trials and tribulations the Church will go through…isn’t your eternal soul worth more than some partial snapshot of one age of the Church? Or some issue with poorly done Masses in your area?

I’d broaden the horizons a bit.

To the bold, no firm commitment was required. The Sister teaching my class already knows I am taking a class at the Orthodox Church and says I will go where I feel God is leading.

And God will only lead to His church.

Several of the local parishes have RCIA year round, and so many inquirers are able to proceed and commit when they are ready to and so have not done a Rite of Welcoming at this point.

We also looked into the Orthodox Church before we began RCIA at our parish, and I can understand some of what you are feeling. It was beautiful, and the vespers were incredible. Ultimately we realized as previous people have said, it can not be a decision made by aesthetics or feelings alone. I believe God will lead you, and if it is to the Orthodox church, then perhaps it is just a stop you need to make before you come home to Rome. We all have our own journey.

We will be entering the church in January. My family will keep you and your journey in our prayers!

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