TLM vs NOM: some thoughts

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:

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[size=3]But what is implied in this word “attendance?” Those who hear Mass not only perform the office of attendants, but likewise of offerers, having themselves a right to the title of priests. (emphasis mine) Fecisti nos Deo nostro regnum et sacerdotes (Apoc v. 10). The celebrating priest is, as it were, the public minister of the Church in general; he is the intermediary between all the faithful, particularly those who assist at Mass, and the invisible priest, Who is Christ; and, together with Christ, he offers to the Eternal Father, both in behalf of all the rest and himself, the great price of human redemption. But he is not alone in this so holy a function, since all those who assist at Mass concur with him in offering the sacrifice; and therefore the priest turns around to the people and says, Orate fraters ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat-“Pray, O my brethren, that mine and your sacrifice may be acceptable to God;” in order that the faithful may understand that, while he indeed acts the part of principle minister, all those who are present make the great offering together with him. So that when you assist at holy Mass, you perform, after a certain manner, the office of priest. What say you, then? Will you ever dare, from this time forward, to be at Mass sitting, prating, looking here and there, perhaps even sleeping, or content yourselves with reciting some vocal prayers, without at all taking to heart the tremendous office of priest which you are exercising? [/size]

While this in no way does away with the ordained priesthood, we do perform a certain priestly function. Indeed, the Novus Ordo Mass was designed to give parishioners a greater opportunity to participate in the Mass. But why, then, has Mass attendance plummeted in the last 30 or so years?..:hmmm:

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This brings me to my next subject. Critics of the NOM claim that not only has Mass attendance dropped, but those who do go don’t show much respect, i.e. chatting during the service, wearing cutoff shorts and other improper clothes etc. However, the last part of the quote from St Leonard’s book shows that lack of proper respect for the Mass isn’t confined to the Novus Ordo. Here are two other quotes from the same book in that vein:

[size=3]It requires great patience to endure the language of careless livers, breathing atheism itself, and ruinous to devotion; as for instance, “A Mass more or less counts for little.” “It is no small thing to hear Mass on festivals.” “The Mass of this or that priest is for length like one in Holy Week; when he appears at the altar, I generally get out of church forthwith.” He who talks in that way lets it be perceived that he has little or no esteem for the thrice-holy sacrifice of the Mass. [/size]

and

[size=3]Now, tell me whether, when you enter church to hear Mass, you thoroughly well consider that you are going up as it were to Calvary, to be present at the death of the Redeemer. If so, would you go with behavior so unsubdued, with dress so flaunting? If the Magdalene had gone to Calvary, to the foot of the cross, all dressed out, perfumed, and adorned, as when she associated with her lovers, what would have been said of her? What, then, shall be said of you who go to Holy Mass as if you were going to a ball? But what shall be said if you profane those functions of most dread sanctity with nods and becks, with the petty attentions of courtship, or with graver sacrileges of word and deed? Wickedness is hideous at any time, but sins committed during the time of Mass and before the altar, draw down on them the curse of God. :tsktsk: [/size]

So, it seems to me that many Catholics throughout the ages have shown disrespect for the Mass regardless of whether it was the TLM or today’s NOM. I have read many posts on this forum that claim that TLM attendees have more reverence than NOM attendees. Could it be that those who take the trouble to find and attend a Latin Mass have more a more reverent attitude to the Mass to begin with?

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Latin versus vernacular: I have several thoughts pro and con for either side. For one thing, when Latin was instituted for use in the Mass it was the vernacular at the time (The Latin Bible translated by St Jerome was known as the Vulgate, because it was in the ‘common’ language of the time). Besides, I think, if you really wanted to be a ‘traditionalist’ you should insist on the Mass being said in Aramaic, as that was the language Jesus spoke at the last supper. However, I can see some advantages to having the Mass said in a ‘dead’ language like Latin (or Greek, or Slavonic like the Eastern Rite churches use). Since it isn’t a ‘living’ language, the meanings of the words won’t change over time (look at English spoken by Shakespeare as compared to today’s English). Using the vernacular, I am afraid that the words of the Mass may be changed over time to make it more ‘trendy’. Another advantage to using a dead language is that you can go to a Mass anywhere in the world, and know what is being said (using a missal if need be). The same cannot be said for vernacular.

Mass as Sacrifice vs. Mass as Meal: I understand that when Jesus instituted the Last Supper, it was both a sacrifice and meal, and the NOM was an attempt to emphasize the meal aspect of the Mass. However, has it done so at the expense of the sacrifice aspect, as some NOM critics contend? I have a book published in 1974, The Catholic Church through the Ages by Martin P. Harney, S.J. Here is a quote from the chapter entitled “England becomes Protestant”:

[size=3]Altars were destroyed as “useless” and were replaced by “decent tables” set in the midst of the congregation. Such actions were to emphasize that the service of the “Lord’s Supper” was not a sacrifice but merely a commemorative act. [/size]

I look at pictures of TLM altars, then to the table used in my church (and other churches), and wonder if the Catholic Church has become too Protestant, as traditionalists claim. Of course it could be argued that when Jesus instituted the Mass, he used a table. My favorite Eucharistic Prayer in the NOM is Eucharistic Prayer I, because it clearly shows the Mass as sacrifice (by asking the angels to take the host to Heaven to sanctify it). However, I hardly ever hear it used, possibly because it is the longest one (and perhaps because it asks us to be saved from final damnation, which is a topic you hardly ever hear from the pulpit these days). However, I like how my parish priest, after the ‘Lamb of God’ is recited, holds up the host and emphatically says “This is the Lamb of God, this IS Jesus, our savior.”

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Conclusion…

Well, I have rambled on long enough. I’d like to hear input from other forum members, their insight, and if they have wrestled with the same topics I have. I have just a final couple comments. My spiritual journey in the Catholic faith has been helped immensely by writings of ‘Novus Ordo’ Catholics like Scott Hahn and Karl Keating. I believe these men to be honest, orthodox Catholics who truly love the Lord and His Church, and if the Novus Ordo were as defective as the traditionalists say it is, they would not put up with it for one minute. About a year ago, I was talking with a non-Catholic about the Church, and she said I’d probably want to go back to the Latin Mass. The TLM isn’t celebrated in my town, but after thinking about it, I probably would if they did. About a month ago I was reading a post on this forum about the TLM vs NOM that said that if the NOM was scrapped, it would be hard on all the EMHCs, lectors and so forth. As I said at the beginning of this thread I am a lector, and I enjoy proclaiming Holy Scripture to my fellow Catholics. However, if going back to the Latin Mass is truly what is needed to restore the Church, I wouldn’t hesitate to give it up. I became Catholic to follow Christ, not to stroke my ego.

C:Documents and SettingsOwnerMy DocumentsMy Picturesfulton sheen 1

P.S. here is a copy of the picture

RNRobert,

Just a couple of thoughts in response to your musings.

First, the Mass is the “work of the people” (that’s what Liturgy means in the Greek) – we gather as an assembly to offer ourselves along with Jesus and to be nourished by His Body and Blood. The “theme”, if you will, of every Mass is the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are, in the Mass, mystically present at the foot of the cross where Jesus is dying, but we are there in the context of His resurrection.

At the Council of Trent there was an overemphasis on the sacrificial nature of the Mass in response to the Protestant claim that it was not a scrifice at all. This is both normal and expected. However, this was done at the cost of the “Mass as meal.” Although there were still expressions of the “Paschal Banquet” this was understated to such a degree that people forgot about the meal entirely. And, yes, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme where people tend to forget about the sacrifice. But time will correct this as the pendulum will spend most of its time in between these two extremes.

If you look at the holy table (altar) in an Eastern Church it is very plain. This was, in fact, derived from the altar in the Jewish temple. This was the basic shape and form of all altars in the early Church. It wasn’t until the rococo period that more ornate altars were manufactured. So, in effect, the Protestants copied the early Church by having a plain table. We have simply returned to our roots in this area.

And one final comment regarding the holiness of the Mass. I am a cradle Catholic who grew up with the Mass of Pius V (Tridentine Mass, Traditional Latin Mass). When it was normative there were abuses that ran rampant (which is why there were so many cries for reform beginning in the 19th century). Today when you attend a Latin Mass it is generally with a congregation that a) wants to be there and, b) actively prays the Mass. This was not the norm when the Tridentine Mass was normative. The same types of abuses exist today in the Mass of Paul VI simply because it is the norm. We also have to consider cultural changes which affect how we approach and celebrate the Mass.

Deacon Ed

[quote=Deacon Ed]RNRobert,

Just a couple of thoughts in response to your musings.

First, the Mass is the “work of the people” (that’s what Liturgy means in the Greek) – we gather as an assembly to offer ourselves along with Jesus and to be nourished by His Body and Blood. The “theme”, if you will, of every Mass is the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are, in the Mass, mystically present at the foot of the cross where Jesus is dying, but we are there in the context of His resurrection.

At the Council of Trent there was an overemphasis on the sacrificial nature of the Mass in response to the Protestant claim that it was not a scrifice at all. This is both normal and expected. However, this was done at the cost of the “Mass as meal.” Although there were still expressions of the “Paschal Banquet” this was understated to such a degree that people forgot about the meal entirely. And, yes, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme where people tend to forget about the sacrifice. But time will correct this as the pendulum will spend most of its time in between these two extremes.

If you look at the holy table (altar) in an Eastern Church it is very plain. This was, in fact, derived from the altar in the Jewish temple. This was the basic shape and form of all altars in the early Church. It wasn’t until the rococo period that more ornate altars were manufactured. So, in effect, the Protestants copied the early Church by having a plain table. We have simply returned to our roots in this area.

And one final comment regarding the holiness of the Mass. I am a cradle Catholic who grew up with the Mass of Pius V (Tridentine Mass, Traditional Latin Mass). When it was normative there were abuses that ran rampant (which is why there were so many cries for reform beginning in the 19th century). Today when you attend a Latin Mass it is generally with a congregation that a) wants to be there and, b) actively prays the Mass. This was not the norm when the Tridentine Mass was normative. The same types of abuses exist today in the Mass of Paul VI simply because it is the norm. We also have to consider cultural changes which affect how we approach and celebrate the Mass.

Deacon Ed
[/quote]

Trent did nothing wrong in its codifying of the Mass. The Mass is pre-eminantly the Sacrifice on the Cross. The Priest (by nature of his Holy Orders) as in persona christi - as ANOTHER CHRIST. Who offers His (christ’s) sacrifice by His Hands.

Do we offer ourselves with The Holy Sacrifice offered by the priest?.of course. As Trent reiterated in the Missal of Pius V.

The Sacrifice is Offered on the Altar (don’t ever say holy table…that’s just ridiculous). The East have a square altar with the tabernacle on it (does yours) with Candals on it (does yours) and insences the altar at each Divine Liturgy. (is that done where your at). Also the East only uses Altar Boys (females are not permited inthe presbyterium as is Holy Tradition) they also have an iconostasis (kind of like altar rails) which separate the laity from the priest (as is ancient tradition)

The People are to mystically represent the cherubim in heaven that are worshipping Christ as is written in revelations. This is forgotten too often.

[quote=Agamemnon]The Sacrifice is Offered on the Altar (don’t ever say holy table…that’s just ridiculous). The East have a square altar with the tabernacle on it (does yours) with Candals on it (does yours) and insences the altar at each Divine Liturgy. (is that done where your at). Also the East only uses Altar Boys (females are not permited inthe presbyterium as is Holy Tradition) they also have an iconostasis (kind of like altar rails) which separate the laity from the priest (as is ancient tradition)
[/quote]

I love it when people come and try to teach – and clearly don’t know what they are talking about. The term “Holy Table” is the Eastern term for the altar. We do not call it an altar. Also, the space in which the Holy Table resides is the “Holy Place” – the “presbyterium” refers to the altar of prothesis where the gifts of bread and wine are prepared by the priest (assisted by the deacon) before the liturgy. And, yes, on the Holy Table there is a seven-branch candlestick and the artophorion (we don’t use the term “tabernacle”). In some churches the artophorion takes the shape of a dove and is suspended above the Holy Table.

Correctly the East only permits ordained men into the Holy Place, but a concession has been made to allow young boys to serve as altar servers. In many parishes, however, this is older men who have been blessed by the bishop for that service.

Not all Eastern churches have an iconostasis – that is normally found in Byzantine churches, but the Maronites and the Chaldeans do not have them. And the purpose is not to separate the laity from the priest, but rather heaven from earth. The Holy Place is in heaven according to Eastern theology and the people are on earth. The Liturgy is the time and place where heaven and earth touch.

Yes, we use a lot of incense in my parish. Here’s a picture of the iconostasis and the holy doors:
http://www.holycrossmelkite.org/images/Altchrch.jpg

If you want to see other pictures of my parish you can go to holycrossmelkite.org and follow the link to the pictorial.

Fr. Deacon Ed

You Church is beautiful. I’m not familiar with Eastern terms especially how they are used today. What I know I’ve gotten from the Early Church Fathers and old liturgical documents from the Roman Catholic Church.

Perhaps you don’t understand what chaos the latin rite has been going through. I don’t think the Mass in the Latin Rite (the NO) is going to last much longer. The abuses have never stopped and only gotten worse.

Some parishes are so bad I won’t even attempt to go. I find it more harmful spiritually to go. This is not a good state for the Latin Church to be in.

Your church is lovely - I really like the Icons. I have been to the Ukranian Rite Mass a few times here celebrated by Miles Jesu priests.

(Incidentally the men and women and children all sat together - or should I say stood LOL)

Didn’t you tell us you were a deacon in both rites or was that someone else?

[quote=Agomemnon]You Church is beautiful. I’m not familiar with Eastern terms especially how they are used today. What I know I’ve gotten from the Early Church Fathers and old liturgical documents from the Roman Catholic Church.
[/quote]

Thank you for your appreciation of my parish. I also thank you for your admission that you do not know the Eastern terms. Perhaps, then, it might have been better if you had asked about terms like “Holy Table” instead of telling me never to use such a term or that the term is “ridiculous”.

Perhaps you don’t understand what chaos the latin rite has been going through. I don’t think the Mass in the Latin Rite (the NO) is going to last much longer. The abuses have never stopped and only gotten worse.

Some parishes are so bad I won’t even attempt to go. I find it more harmful spiritually to go. This is not a good state for the Latin Church to be in.

I’m a bi-ritual deacon serving both a Latin parish and my Melkite parish. I disagree that the Latin Rite is in “chaos” or that the abuses are getting worse. Everything I see as I travel tells me that the Church is working to correct the abuses, and that the Mass is being celebrated more and more reverently.

Deacon Ed

[quote=Agomemnon]I don’t think the Mass in the Latin Rite (the NO) is going to last much longer.

Some parishes are so bad I won’t even attempt to go. I find it more harmful spiritually to go. This is not a good state for the Latin Church to be in.
[/quote]

We need a little historical perspective. The Latin Rite Mass was around before we were born and will be around when we are dust. Have a little faith in the church.

If you are attending Mass somewhere on Sunday, then I hope you have a parish to your liking. If not, I encourage you to go, whether you like the Mass or not. You said yourself that, “The Mass is pre-eminantly the Sacrifice on the Cross. The Priest (by nature of his Holy Orders) as in persona christi - as ANOTHER CHRIST. Who offers His (christ’s) sacrifice by His Hands.”

It is still Jesus present there for us.

[quote=deogratias]Your church is lovely - I really like the Icons. I have been to the Ukranian Rite Mass a few times here celebrated by Miles Jesu priests.

(Incidentally the men and women and children all sat together - or should I say stood LOL)

Didn’t you tell us you were a deacon in both rites or was that someone else?
[/quote]

Yes, I’m a bi-ritual deacon serving both a Latin parish (stjosephplacentia.org) and a Melkite parish.

Deacon Ed

Do you ever get confused?

[quote=deogratias]Do you ever get confused?
[/quote]

Only when I have parishioners from one parish visiting the other. Then it can be a little difficult. Normally, however, the vestments tell me where I am. With the Divine Liturgy I’m much busier with far more to do, and that helps keep the perspective correct for me.

Deacon Ed

[quote=Deacon Ed]Yes, I’m a bi-ritual deacon serving both a Latin parish (stjosephplacentia.org) and a Melkite parish.

Deacon Ed
[/quote]

Father Deacon Ed,
Which were you ordained in? That is are you a bi-ritual Melkite or a bi-ritual Latin?

[quote=ByzCath]Father Deacon Ed,
Which were you ordained in? That is are you a bi-ritual Melkite or a bi-ritual Latin?
[/quote]

I am a Latin Catholic by birth and was ordained in the Latin Church. I serve the Melkite Church at the request of my Melkite pastor and the grace of Bishop Tod David Brown (my Latin Bishop) and Bishop JOHN (Elya) and now Archbishop CYRIL (Bustros) my Melkite bishop.

Deacon Ed

[quote=Deacon Ed]I am a Latin Catholic by birth and was ordained in the Latin Church. I serve the Melkite Church at the request of my Melkite pastor and the grace of Bishop Tod David Brown (my Latin Bishop) and Bishop JOHN (Elya) and now Archbishop CYRIL (Bustros) my Melkite bishop.

Deacon Ed
[/quote]

Father Deacon,
Thanks for the reply.

The reason I asked this is I was wondering what functions a bi-ritual Byzantine deacon could do in the Latin Church.

As I am sure you are aware, a deacon in our tradition can not baptize nor preside at marriages. I was wondering if a bi-ritual Byzantine deacon would be able to do those in the Latin Church.

[quote=Deacon Ed]Thank you for your appreciation of my parish. I also thank you for your admission that you do not know the Eastern terms. Perhaps, then, it might have been better if you had asked about terms like “Holy Table” instead of telling me never to use such a term or that the term is “ridiculous”.

I’m a bi-ritual deacon serving both a Latin parish and my Melkite parish. I disagree that the Latin Rite is in “chaos” or that the abuses are getting worse. Everything I see as I travel tells me that the Church is working to correct the abuses, and that the Mass is being celebrated more and more reverently.

Deacon Ed
[/quote]

Like I said. The Roman Catholic Church in America is in chaos. I’ve had people call the Atlar a ‘table’ and that ‘since Vatican 2 its not proper to call it an alter’. These same people seem to drop any mention of sacred or holy. My use of presbyterium is not a soley Eastern Term as its used unterchangeably with the west. I use this term since the term ‘sanctuary’ means nothing to them.

Maybe the mass is being said more reverently where you go. Its a little bit better by some here. But the root cause remains. If the Roman Catholics want to fix things than do the following and we’ll talk:
(1) put the tabernacle back in the sanctuary
(2) priest should be oriented with the people and leading them in prayer.
(3) altar rails put back!
(4) no lay distributors of communion
(5) communion on the tongue [which is the universal norm of the Church]
(7) men and boys only serving the altar
(8) Some Latin and Gregorian Chant as Vatican II called for.

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