This is not a critique of either the Traditional Latin Mass or of the Novus Ordo Mass, but just expressing some thoughts that have been kicking around inside my head for several years. For the record, I have been a member of St Patrick’s in Gainesville, Florida, since converting to Catholicism in 1996, where I serve as lector. It is a Novus Ordo parish, and while it might not be perfect, I have not seen some of the abuses that have been described by other members of this forum.
Anyhow, when I became Catholic, I knew that the Mass had been said in Latin once upon a time (indeed, someone gave me a delightful old book published in 1958 entitled This is the Mass by Fulton Sheen and Henri-Daniel-Rops, with pics by Yousuf Karsh; with words and photos (all B&W except for one color one of Sheen elevating the host in front of the altar) showing how the Latin Mass is performed), but I didn’t think twice about having the Mass said in vernacular. However, after being Catholic for a year or so I had come across some books (published by TAN) that stated there were a number of problems with the NOM and advocated a return to the Latin Mass. What follows is some of the pros and cons of the argument that I have been wrestling with.
One of the arguments made by NOM critics is that it emphasizes the priesthood of the believer, a Protestant doctrine. However, while Protestants may have overemphasized this when they scrapped the priesthood, it is a Biblical, and even Catholic, concept. In the Old Testament, the Jews were to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6 RSV-CE). Similarly the New Testament tells us “like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5, RSV-CE). I have a book (also published by TAN) entitled Hidden Treasure: Holy Mass, by St Leonard of Port Maurice, which was written in the 18th century during the heyday of the Tridentine Mass:
Continued next post…