Friday, March 30, 2012

New Mass, Old Mass, and Charity

My post “The Bad Ol’ Days According to a Deacon” has generated a little discussion.

Let me say right off the bat that I welcome comments from those who disagree with me, if they are willing to support their points with evidence and if they are willing to argue from the facts. Especially where the Novus Ordo (NO) Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) are concerned, the sooner we all come to some sort of understanding, the better.

That said, let’s look at the discussion. (I’ve abridged some of the comments; you can read them all in their entirety at the original post if you wish.) One commenter told me that (my emphases, and with some minor corrections to facilitate readability):

You belong to the dark ages. Nothing can be said to change your mind... you are too puffed up with your "knowledge". There are a lot of us that adhere [to] and actually like Vatican II and the changes that [it] brought about for a much needed spiritual revival that still needs more enlightenment. … Jesus said "Love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, soul and mind and thy neighbor as thyself". He wasn't concerned with liturgy but with the attitude of the heart. You cause division and [are] on a personal crusade with your gift of words which gives me a headache and heartache. You appear to be as a pharisee which Jesus encountered who were bent on rules and rituals and never "got" the presence of God who stood in front of them. Jesus was of the heart and not of the mind in its vain glory.

Much of this is an ad hominem attack: I’m in the dark ages, I’m puffed up, I’m a Pharisee, I cause division, and I am on a personal crusade. In addition, I don’t “get” the presence of God. These are not valid arguments against the TLM or for the NO. They are simply personal attacks.

Asserting that Jesus “wasn’t concerned with liturgy” strikes me as odd, and unfounded Scripturally. Jesus instituted the Mass at the Last Supper. I think he was definitely concerned with liturgy! But the reader is surely correct in emphasizing the importance of “attitude of heart” as well. However, it is difficult to judge the “attitude of heart” of others; that’s called “being judgmental” most of the time.  We can observe others’ words and actions, though, and these overt, observable elements can certainly be “judged” to be right or wrong.

My husband Jerry responded to the first commenter with this (abridged) statement:

Gee Klink how very open-minded you are when you describe others as being in the dark ages. I experienced the liturgy prior to Vatican II and, of course, continuously ever since. You have a preference for post V II liturgy and I, along with many others, find the Traditional Latin Mass far more reverent and meaningful. I don't know any of us who prefer the TLM that would deny you your right to worship under the present liturgy. Unfortunately many of the post Vatican II advocates argue vehemently against our right to the TLM....and it is a right, by the way, per the current Pope's direction in writing. …[I]n this Diocese (and others) not only is the TLM not offered on any regular basis even when there is a group of the faithful requesting it, but it has been actively suppressed by the "can't we all just get along" folks. "Can't we all just get along" seems to only apply if “getting along” means doing it their way.

...Frankly, my experience has been that Catholics who prefer the TLM are among the most giving and loving of their neighbor to be found anywhere. It is that group which ridicules the TLM and fights so vigorously against it that often does anything but love their neighbor...particularly if that neighbor is a TLM advocate.

This is a criticism that I think holds some water: I have heard many stories and experienced myself that when a TLM gets started in a parish, those who dislike it begin to attack and try to subvert it. In our parish, one woman said she would do everything she could to stop it. This was in spite of the fact that the TLM was being celebrated at a time that did not interfere with the existing Mass schedule, or anything other event at the parish. In another diocese, a priest told me that he started to offer the TLM on Saturday mornings when no other Masses had ever been scheduled in that parish; but the outcry against it was so great, his bishop told him to stop. Why do those supporters of the NO desire to squelch the legitimate spiritual desires of their neighbors? Is that charity?

Another reader chimed in:

I've heard this same tripe bandied about ever since Vat II. I grew up with the Latin Mass and most of these things they are saying are just not true. I never saw anyone confused. Everyone had a missal and followed along quite well. As a matter of fact, I still "hear" the Latin while Father Hardy-har-har is saying the English. The only people I ever saw with a rosary instead of a missal were usually older immigrant women (Italian) who couldn't read English very well, but that certainly didn't preclude their participation in the Mass - with or without a rosary.

…If it is so dang difficult, explain to me why boys as young as 10 can reel off the Latin responses as servers. 

And we might wonder why the TLM seems to be growing in popularity among young people (see Michael Voris’s comments here).

Yet another reader added:

Well we've been attending a TLM church now for a bit over a year, and in that time my girl has been catechised to the extent where she could take her first Holy Communion, she goes to Confession of her own free will, and if something comes up where we can't attend our usual Solemn Mass on a Sunday morning, she asks to go to the early Low Mass rather than another church with a Novus Ordo.

She's already spoken to Father about why girls can't be altar servers, and we're thinking of ways she can help with the Church.

All this has come about through going to a TLM, where she never had any desire to participate at any other churches we went to. (long story short, we went to a baptist church for quite a few years).

My girl will be ten in a few months' time, so don't say it confuses the kids. She pays attention, loves the Asperges Me at the start of the Mass, and loves to take Communion.

And yeah, she's picking up a bit of Latin, too.

The experience of people who want to learn the Latin responses, who want to attend a Mass where the priest “has his back to us”, and who want Gregorian chant have no problem embracing any of those things. And while it is their right to have the TLM, per Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae, there are vehement voices speaking out against them, telling them they’re from the dark ages, etc. Clearly the Holy Father has said that the two forms of the Mass – the ordinary form, or NO, and the extraordinary form, or TLM – can and currently must coexist. The TLM crowd seems not to object to this; it is the NO crowd who protests, even though they are not required to attend a TLM!

The first commenter returned to rebut Jerry’s comment:

…this is beyond the preferences of Masses and goes to the heart of Christianity. I see by this website, there is plenty of criticism that is going around and that your "love" is preferential. Bishop Skylstad is just one example by being slammed through such charmed poetry and other such thoughts. How disrespectful towards a man of God, who through his years, has been esteemed and regarded for his wisdom among peers and secular alike… By the way, we Catholics do not hold the key to heaven; it is there for all believers of varied faiths who love their Lord and experience relationship with Him. He is an awesome God with arms big enough to hold all his children from the past, in the present and for the future. Simply put, His Love is limitless and His judgment tempered with mercy and grace. He is found in the heart.

If this goes “beyond the preferences of Masses”, then why is it an issue for the anti-TLM people? The “heart of Christianity” would seem to allow those who want the TLM to enjoy it; this would be the response of charity and also of justice, since the TLM is valid and the Holy Father has encouraged it.

There may be plenty of “criticism” on my blog, but I try – really I do! – to make it constructive. I try to base my criticisms of liturgical abuse on the facts, using the GIRM, Canon Law, and other Church documents to support my postion. This is the case with Bishop Skylstad. My personal experience of him (and I have met with him in a face-to-face meeting, and have had email correspondence with him) does not lead me to believe that he is a particularly holy man. As for Bishop Skylstad being “esteemed and regarded for his wisdom among peers and secular alike”…well, let us say that I beg to differ. I could write a scathing blog post using quotes from all manner of newspaper articles and past situations the bishop has found himself in, but that would be quite uncharitable. Yes, he is human. Yes, he deserves the respect of his office, which I have tried to give him. But he is also more accountable to God than the laity because of his office; he is to be a shepherd, which means he must know and follow what the Church teaches. It is not charitable to let his persistent liturgical and canonical errors go by without comment, because God will judge him for scandalizing the faithful.

Finally, our first commenter is sadly mistaken when he downplays the importance of the Church for salvation. The Catholic Church has the fullness of the Truth; that cannot be denied. Those who are exposed to that full Truth and reject it do so at the risk of their souls. It is not charitable at all to encourage them in their belief that they’ll be “saved” because they believe they have a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ”. That relationship is not one that we can define for ourselves; the Church teaches us infallibly what that relationship must entail.

And part of that “personal relationship with Jesus” concerns the liturgy, the proper worship of God.

And that brings us back to our starting point…

Save the liturgy, save the world.


  1. Wow! I see where I have generated a full page today… great dialogue. However, you don’t get it. I am not against the TLM or the NO Mass. What I am against is the veiled heart of religiosity which justifies itself in discrediting others and using your blog as a means to an end. A personal attack???… take a look at yourself and what you have written. You are a talented writer, you have a gift and you are passionate for your cause. Use this gifting for the edification and building up for the Church as a whole. Take a look outside of your box to see a greater God and write words unto Him in admiration and adoration as a heartfelt experience.
    My judge is the great “I AM”, who knows my heart as no other. Don’t worry about my salvation… I know to Whom I belong; it is to the living Christ and I say that in great humility. I have respect for the Catholic Church but it does not contain complete truth… it is in constant enlightenment as we, who are God’s children are. If you recall, Limbo was a teaching, which is now no more because the church became “enlightened”. That is only one example of many. The church has gone through its dark ages as well. You state that what I have said is only my opinion and has no solid backing (paraphrased). You ignore quoted scripture which is solid and has a sure foundation.
    St. Francis de Sales is truly a gem in Eastern Oregon. It could hold its own in any European country with its stained-glass beauty and atmospheric reverence. The parish is so fortunate to have a Rector who treats his assignment at St. Francis with dignity, devotion, love and sacrifice for the good of his people. I notice your criticism of him as well in your blog but I suppose you call it “constructive” to again, justify yourself and your cause. Now that we’ve looked at TLM and NO, how about DMZ… demilitarized zone… we know what that means militarily. Jesus created a spiritual place of DMZ; He paid for it with His precious blood. A place of peace and reconciliation; a zone of refuge in a torn world. It is sad to me that even in this place, churches that bear His Name wrangle instead of joining in brotherhood. Not a great showing for most believe that they are “right” within their own belief system.
    Oh, by the way, Wonderful to have women on board in the liturgy and girls as altar servers as well. It may surprise you but God does not distinguish gender; he only sees the willing heart. As Jesus said… “let the little children come unto me”… He didn’t say boys only.

  2. What's that bit about husbands sacrificing themselves for their wives as Jesus sacrificed Himself for us all? And the bit about women honouring (yes, and obeying) their husbands?

    Sounds a bit gendered to me.

    Of course, if you believe that gender is a social construct then I can see that you might have a few issues with that.

    As it stands, there are differences between men and women and the Church does address them.

    And with respect to 'enlightenment', it would depend upon the context. The Enlightenment wasn't very; not with the destruction of churches, the desecrations, the murders of catholics who refused to recant to the atheists in France, and the list goes on.

    When people talk of God as being 'AWESOME' the often forget what 'awe' entails.

    1. You misunderstand me... when it comes to serving our living God, He looks upon the willing heart that says "I will go Lord, I will do Lord" at the expense of self and derived out of a great Love towards the Master. There should not be any man made blocks to prevent someone who has that calling to serve. There have been false teachings at varied times of history whether one cares to look deeper. But that is a whole other story. We only catch glimpses of truth as they are revealed by the Holy Spirit.... this is the Light that I mean. The beauty of the epiphany moment; where God sheds His Light for greater revelation as to who He is for the greater Glory. There have been atrocities done on both sides of the fence in the name of religion. Catholics in their crusades and the cruelties of the Protestant reformation... both in extremes. I hope that we all live in a better day of spiritual evolution with more to come. This is what I mean by enlightenment.

      This is my goodby to this blog. Not because of what you said Nik, but it's time for me to go as I need to spend my time more profitably with folks who do understand.

    2. Klink,if you would like to continue this conversation privately, please email me at I am still trying to figure out exactly what you are trying to say.

  3. The Crusades began as a response to muslim atrocities in the Holy Land. It only took a few centuries to get that response.

    A reading of Rodney Stark's God's Battalions is excellent, as he is not writing from a Catholic point of view, but from a sociological perspective.

    Bill Muehlenberg is a religious commenter here in Oz, and he's written a the book.

    One thing to remember also about the differences between Protestants and Catholics is that a lot of people like to hold up Jan Sobieski III as a hero for turning the tide at the Gates of Vienna, but very few realise that he was Catholic.


Please be courteous and concise.