The Holy Spirit and the Novus Ordo?


I have recently come to believe that the Tridentine Mass is a superior expression of the liturgy as compared to the Novus Ordo. I do not deny the validity of the New Mass or the authority of Vatican II, but I don’t feel the New Missal was the work of the Holy Spirit–only that the Holy Spirit protected the New Mass from being invalid. I love how the New Mass is celebrated on EWTN and wish it were that way everywhere, but I still feel that the prayers are vastly inferior to the words of the the Tridentine Mass. Is the way I feel okay in the eyes of the Church? My heart’s desire is to always remain faithful to the Bride of Christ so I need to know if these thoughts I’m having are sinful.

P.S. I can understand the desire of some to have the Mass in the vernacular with more participation. So after Vatican II, why did’nt they just provide for the 1962 Mass to be said in the vernacular with the responses said by the congregation instead of the altar boy? Wouldn’t this have been a more organic change?

Thanks for any help you can provide.


Dear Bosco,

I dont’ doubt that you like the style of the Tridentine Mass and prefer it to that of the Novus Ordo. There is no sin in such preference. But to say therefore, that the Council was only protected from error by the Holy Spirit is considerably off the mark.

Certainly, there are parts of the Tridentine Mass I rather liked that are missing in the Novus Ordo. I particularly liked what we called the “Last Gospel,” the Prologue to the Gospel of St. John that was read at the end of Mass. But I would not say that therefore the Novus Ordo is not the work of the Holy Spirit. If the Novus Ordo is the work of all the Catholic bishops of the world, gathered in Council with the successor of St. Peter and Vicar of Christ on earth, then it IS the work of the Holy Spirit! If the Holy Spirit is lacking in any of this, then such lack is in my ability to fully appreciate the situation.

As for having the laity in 1962 answer in place of the altar boy, we did have this in a number of places. It was called the “Dialogue Mass” and was a part of what was then known as “the Liturgical Movement”. But I can tell you that at the time, I would not have preferred a “Dialogue Mass” to a Mass that I could understand in my own language.

I grew up with the Tridentine Mass and chanted the Divine Office in Latin all through my formation as a Dominican Friar. When I became master of novices in 1992, I reinstituted classes in Gregorian Chant which we hadn’t had in thirty years! But I can tell you that while I have a renewed appreciation of our Latin heritage and welcome more use of Latin in the liturgy, I am still grateful that the liturgy is in the vernacular. Would that we had a greater appreciation of silence and reverence and the ability to go inside!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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