Why I Attend the Traditional Latin Mass

I was asked the other day for my reason(s) for attending the Tridentine liturgy instead of the Novus Ordo, so here is my reply, which I tried to keep short (but hopefully did not sacrifice clarity for the sake of brevity).

Basically, I started going to the TLM because I wanted to avoid liturgical abuses, and because the celebration of the Novus Ordo that I had experienced did not match up with my reading of the documents of the Second Vatican Council (especially Sacrosantum Concilium), and the documents regarding the liturgy that followed. I was frustrated by needless ad-libbing and what I would describe as a loss of the idea/sense of the sacred; my experience of the Novus Ordo seemed too casual and I could not connect such an experience with the Church’s bold teaching on the Eucharist. I was (and still am) a firm believer that the celebration of the liturgy affects the life of the Church… or as Fr. Z says, “Save the liturgy, save the world!” http://wdtprs.com/blog/2007/01/save-the-liturgy-save-the-world/

Upon first attending the Tridentine liturgy I was enchanted by the deep sense of mystery and awe. I (admittedly) was also completely lost, and gave up trying to follow along in the missal; but in doing so I realized a few things: while I think language is important (and Latin is more properly suited to the liturgy)… the prayers and the language of the Mass are less important than the action of the Mass (indeed, “liturgy” is defined as a “work”) and I think this emphasis on action is highlighted in the TLM. I had no idea what the priest was saying, but I knew what he was doing. There is a kind of continuity and universality present in the TLM that is much harder to find in the current celebration of the Novus Ordo (especially since Novus Ordo Masses, unfortunately, tend to vary from parish to parish and from priest to priest). Active participation has an entirely deeper meaning… I once probably would’ve suggested that active participation meant something like “being involved” in some vague sense: joining the dialogue, exercising some quasi-clerical role, etc. But I now see that active participation—in its highest form—is the reception of the Eucharist. We actively participate in the Mass by joining ourselves to the action of the Sacrifice on the altar.

So while I started out merely going to the Tridentine liturgy to avoid liturgical abuses, I keep going because the Tridentine liturgy is something worth preserving and, as it now stands, seems to be a better safeguard of the Faith. I don’t reject the Novus Ordo… and in some ways, the Tridentine liturgy has given me a better appreciation of what the Council was trying to accomplish, and so I continue to pray for a “reform of the reform” as our Holy Father as often called for.

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