The National Catholic Review

An ordinary Sunday morning. No parish assignment, no preaching. So I decide to go to a church that celebrates the Latin Mass every Sunday at 11 AM. I knew it would be in Latin, but I wasn’t sure if it would be the old Tridentine or new post-Vatican II Latin Mass. Clearly it was Tridentine! One reason to attend was to see if I could feel comfortable being the main celebration of the Latin Mass.

The church was half-filled, older men and women, some families with children, and a number of people in their 30’s who followed with their missals. The music, all in Latin, was in abundance with 90 percent sung by the choir and little by the congregation. The opening procession included 8 servers in surplices (all male), an assistant to the priest and the main celebrant.

In most churches this Sunday would be the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, but following the old liturgical calendar, it was Sexagesima Sunday. The priest wore purple vestments, and a purple cope since it began with the Asperges. On the altar were six large candlesticks, 3 altar cards, the missal stand with Missal and the covered chalice. Incense abounded at the beginning, at the gospel and the preparation of the gifts.

The Kyrie was sung. After the opening prayer the readings were chanted by the priest in Latin from the pre-Vatican II, 1962 Missale Romanum for Sexagesima. The celebrant ascended the pulpit and read the two readings in English using an old translation, probably the Douay version, with “thy” and “thee." He preached for about 10 minutes.

The Creed followed, in Gregorian chant with choir and congregation alternating. The priest said the creed privately. He finishes and sits and listens with the congregation while choir continues. There is no prayer of the faithful. The offertory prayers are not heard at all by the people. Then incense over the gifts, the celebrant, servers and congregation. At the Orate Fratres, only the servers respond, even if the congregation knows the response in Latin. Then the lengthy preface of the Trinity, traditionally used for Sunday Masses.

The Sanctus is sung by the choir, while the priest continues with the Roman Canon which the people could barely hear. Before the words of institution, the priest stops and waits so the Sanctus can be completed. After the institution (with incense and bell ringing) the choir sings the Benedictus while the priest continues the canon up to the great Amen. Again he waits until the choir has finished singing.

Although the altar servers remain kneeling, the people stand for the Pater Noster. (I suspect that the congregation should have remained kneeling too, but maybe that is one effect of the new liturgy that has strangely carried over to the old.) No greeting of peace. The Agnus Dei is sung. The servers recite the Confiteor, and the priest turns and says the prayer over them asking for forgiveness of sins. The priest holds up the host, “Ecce Agnus Dei”, followed by the triple fold response by the people: “Domine, non sum dignus.”

Communion is distributed at the altar rail, kneeling, and only on the tongue.

After the postcommunion prayer, the priest turns, blesses, and sings Ite Missa est. He moves to the left and recites the last Gospel, the prologue of the gospel of John. The priest and servers exit. Somewhat to my surprise since the liturgy had been so faithful to the pre-Vatican II Mass, there were no Leonine prayers.

REACTIONS. During the celebration I felt very uncomfortable. It was strange and foreign. Even though I was very familiar with the Tridentine Mass from my childhood, it seemed remote and distant. The Mass seemed to focus on the priest whose words for the most part could not be heard (they were in Latin anyway!) and who rarely faced the people. The choir performed well and their singing overrode the priest, who had to wait several times until they finished singing.

In my mind I could not but think back to the Second Vatican Council, and all that the Council and subsequent documents tried to bring about – active participation, emphasis on the important things, vernacular, elimination of accretions and repetitions, etc. It was sad and disheartening. What happened? Why would the Catholic faithful seek out and attend this older form of the Mass? Is the Tridentine Mass an aberration? What does it say about the reforms of Vatican II?

After the Mass, I was tempted to talk with some of those present. But I decided not to as I feared I would have been negative and perhaps controversial. My feelings were still very raw. One thing I know: I myself will never freely choose to celebrate the Tridentine Mass.

Peter Schineller, S.J.



ROBERT KILLOREN | 8/22/2014 - 2:44pm

I attended a Tridentine Mass in Washington, D.C., and had a similar reaction. In some ways it was quite nostalgic to see the old Latin Mass again, and it was indeed mostly a "seeing" experience, for there was very little for the congregation to do except to witness the priest's sacrifice of the Mass. At the Mass I attended the Epistle and Gospel were read by the priest at the altar in Latin. He later read them in English at the pulpit before giving his sermon. Good thing he did or I wouldn't have had a clue as to what was said despite my high school and college Latin classes. In the old days, at least we had a missal that contained the readings and the Mass in English. I actually saw a number of people following along in reprinted old missals like the St. Andrew Missal, the 1945 edition. The Canon was said completely in Latin, whispered by the priest (the rubrics, spelled out in red in the Old Roman Missal, said that the prayers be said silently or in a whisper). It was nice to see the old Mass form but I didn't feel like I had attended Mass. Rather, I watched Mass and along with many others fingered my rosary while the priest mumbled the Latin words. I know that some feel this imbues the Mass with mystery and an elevated sense of dignity, but I totally missed participating in the Peoples' Mass. I remember serving at Mass in the seminary before the Vatican II reforms were in place. It was a private Mass, only the priest and me before a side altar. When on serving duty one always hoped to get Fr Near as the priest. He could say the entire Mass in Latin in under 10 minutes. I guess I'm glad that the Tridentine Mass is available for those who prefer it. And I do enjoy the international dimension that Latin can provide, like we saw on the Pope's visit to Korea. But even though I didn't know exactly what was being said in Latin or Korean, I knew what is always said at those parts of the Mass because I've heard and participated in them for over 50 years. I hated the division this battle between old and new caused over the years, and am glad that is put to rest. But I won't be attending another Tridentine Mass because I love the new Mass (in whatever language it is prayed).

Gabriel Galeano | 8/22/2014 - 10:48am

"The Mass seemed to focus on the priest whose words for the most part could not be heard (they were in Latin anyway!) and who rarely faced the people."

Wrong. The priest faces the High Altar of the Lord and the focus is directed towards the Lord Christ and His Sacrifice. The focus should not be on the congregation, and they're less involved in the liturgy because the priest is the celebrant - we are co-celebrants and participate in our own hearts.

I am not qualified to discuss the theology of the Mass, but I prefer the traditional Mass (and solemnly performed Novus Orodo Masses in Latin, ad orientem) to the modernist liturgy in the new rite. All focus should be on the Sacrifice of the Mass and not ourselves. We are not Protestants!

Angela Sullivan | 8/26/2013 - 1:47pm

Interesting article.I guess personal taste & familiarity are really at the core of what we as individuals prefer. Well I will honestly state, I grew up with The Novus Ordo Mass,I was born after the Council. My Father did not like The New Mass. What I find very interesting is that I love The Tridentine Mass, But unfortunately do not care for The Clicky little groups that attend it, or are Part Of a Latin Mass Community. Since I have members of my own Family who are part of a Latin Mass community, I can speak from personal experience. I notice they are exclusive not inclusive, they consider themselves better then "Regular Catholics" and are extremely critical of The Pope,this bothers me ( I am speaking of Pope John Paul II) the lack of humility love and kindness is so astonishing to me it is contradictory to the Teachings Of Christ & His Church.. But I do Love The Mass. Most Catholics in the Main Stream do not like the modern Americanized version of the New Mass and many have left the Church due to this. I do not agree with that either, but I do sympathize. I will describe my experience this Sunday. The Hymns sung were very Bland Protestant Banal sounding too difficult for The Congregation.. The Mass Settings sound like very badly written Jingles. The Mass participation as far as singing was concerned NON EXISTENT. I am a professional Musician, and can tell you the Church I attend employs excellent musicians, BUT the Music is not Beautiful nor is it singable for The congregation. The Soprano who sings has a very HIGH VOICE, The Mass settings are too difficult and not very Pretty. So no one, except a few like myself, participate.I always drop an Octave when we are singing a High E F# etc. The interval leaps in The Gloria are so ridiculous, the tune itself is laughable. not beautiful, but I can assure you most of the music is just NOT singable for the Average person. The Latin parts are more beautiful,easier to sing have the "Sacred" quality necessary and EVERYONE LIKES THEM BETTER. The Range is not difficult and The LATIN Language is much more suitable for singing. The English Language is not. The Latin Parts have Prettier Melody, and are Easier to sing. and for those who state OH but its Latin, DUH! I think we all know what Agnus Dei Means. The Pastor at my Church tries very hard, but TOO hard, as if he has to perform, his Homilies sound very fake and contrived. I think Teaching The Gospel has gotten lost in a feeble attempt to entertain. He sounds like Mr.Rogers. He is perfunctory in his duties, works very hard but, seems to have a very distant relationship with most of the congregation except The School. I doubt he even knows my name. The shaking of the Hands is a HUGE mistake no one really wants to do it so when you stick your hand out most recoil, or put up the famous peace sign which reminds one of John Lennon. Then others walk all over The Church continuing the hand shaking which disrupts THE LAMB OF GOD.
The Focus should be on Christ The Eucharist.These facts are hard to ignore The Mass has lost 75% of its attendance due to the New Mass. something is wrong. I think that more Priest should say the Latin Mass. I also believe that we need to use Catholic Music Not Commercial Jingles. Tridentine Catholics need to learn their Catechism other then The Latin Mass, they need to encourage and evangelize stop acting so snotty. That's a big complaint from many Catholics who love The Tridentine Rite! I do not agree with dividing people into groups ,that's very American NOT CATHOLIC and a GREAT weapon for satan, that is why I do think its essential That The Latin Mass be said without having to ask permission or belong to a group. Division is a mistake. Pope Benedict XVI was a great blessing to The Church. The Catholic Church is The Bride Of Christ She needs to be treated as such.

L K | 8/23/2013 - 3:07pm

Fr. Peter, I hope you have been praying about your experience as well, so that you take your initial "negative" and "raw" reaction from the natural level of feelings to the supernatural level.

You say po-TAY-to, this woman says po-TAH-to, the Church says: both the Tridentine and Novus Ordo are valid and licit forms of the Mass.

From the article above: "Sheer curiosity is what led me to first attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form...As I listened to prayers chanted in Latin, saw trails of incense floating in the air, and observed the priest offer up the Mass, I realized, this is exactly how centuries of Catholics celebrated Mass. Suddenly, I felt transported outside the constraints of time and space. I always knew we Catholics are united in the Eucharist, but now, at Latin Mass, the term “universal church” carried a fuller, deeper meaning...I returned to Latin Mass in the weeks that followed, being attracted to the indescribable beauty of tradition, sacred music, and reverence."


Luke Hansen | 8/23/2013 - 5:40pm

Per our comments policy, please include your full name. Thank you.

Carolyn Disco | 8/20/2013 - 1:08am

Thank you, Fr. Peter, Ann Chapman and others.

I graduated from college the spring before Vatican II began, so I grew up with the Tridentine mass. I think too many have an idealized view of how it used to be.

I welcomed the new mass wholeheartedly and could not be dragged back to the old days no matter what. I found it ostentatious, a format that elevated the priest in a cultic manner, and consigned the laity to a passive stance resonant of a believe, pray, pay and obey mentality. The bells and smells did not impress me or promote reverence.

I was the first woman lector at a mass in my parish, and the experience left a moving imprint. My participation was welcomed; I really belonged in this new sense of church. There was a parish council to which I was elected. A priest actually wanted to know my views. A survey was done to determine mass times, instead of the pastor alone deciding what worked in our family schedules.

Someone really did ask my opinion as opposed to issuing a directive to be followed without comment. I was treated like an adult for a change. It's about the type of church we became, manifested in how we prayed.

I too could not go back to that era of catechism answers to every question, a brittle spirituality built around fear of hell and rules for every instance. I heard of a Vatican II peritus who actually told people that no one, no one could consign him or her to hell --- and that was news.

I could exhale and breathe fresh air. Maybe some need a clearer sense of certainty, or some clergy feel a loss of prestige and control. I found the guidance to grow a deeper faith than the one I was raised in.

There is no going back, ever.

Vincent Gaitley | 8/19/2013 - 10:35pm

Geez, Father Schineller,
That priest who 'rarely faced the people' was busy facing God, and in that Church during that Mass it was an act of adoration with all facing one way. Now Mass is form of post modern theatre. The Revds. Vladimir and Estragon face the people and promise that God is there (He said he'd be here) and in stilted, staged English (something Holy lost in translation) fail to move.
You're so convinced of the efficacy of Vatican II as an act of liberation that you forget the warm, awe inspiring, tradition of the old Mass. Once we spoke to God as our ancestors did, and as all our fellow Catholics did around the globe for centuries in Latin. Now we are a globalized Babel uttering in English the most awkward translation ever. When I was an altar boy every person in my parish at Mass knew my name, I was part of a community and a school and an uncommon tongue saved for worship and study and prayer. Now we all speak English to God, and I am a stranger among strangers. Language is more than words uttered, it is a way of thinking and acting. Years ago the most unique, identifiable trope of our Roman Catholic heritage was discarded--now disdained by a Jesuit who should know better. Celebrating the Mass in Latin wasn't about you, Father. It was about the connection to the early Catholics, the bishops of Rome, a spiritual empire, and two thousand years of souls speaking to God. Together. In one voice. In one language. God help me, how could your feelings be "raw" over that Mass?

Bill Taylor | 8/24/2014 - 6:05pm

"The priest who 'rarely faced the people' was busy facing God." Sorry. I grew up with the Latin Mass, learned to celebrate the Latin Mass at the seminary, and celebrated Mass in Latin for several years. Problem one: Priests routinely referred to the Mass they celebrated as "My Mass." We all did. And I remember priests galloping through the Mass, blurring words, skipping whole phrases, and congratulating themselves for finishing in ten minutes. This is facing God? Some continued to celebrate this way when the altar was turned around and they celebrated in English. But, after more than fifty years, I relish celebrating with the folks, all of us together, side by side with John and the two Marys, one with Christ in his sacrifice.

Problem two: I went off on sabbatical and finally attended a class on Liturgy by Jake Empereur, S.J., a famous liturgist. There, I learned that the pomp and circumstances of a Latin Mass was modeled on the ceremony in some royal court. All this bowing, scraping, and kissing. The peasants, of course, were not even present. This was for the sake of the sycophants crowded around the throne.

Problem three. The Mass began as a community ceremony in a language everyone understood, with people gathered around the celebrant, sharing Christ's sacrifice together. And then, bishops and archbishops began to imagine they were the new Jewish High Priests. Clericalism was born. The High Priests vanished into the Holy of Holies. This is still most obvious in the Eastern Churches. In the West, the Communion Rail formed the barrier between the holy and the profane. Vatican Two tried to scrape away all these historical accretions and get back to the original experience. They could have done it better. But it was a step away from something that could barely represent the humility of Christ.

Nicholas Silva | 8/18/2013 - 12:29pm

To answer your question Father, people seek the Tridentine Mass because it is awesome. Catholics who seriously care about the faith in normal parishes tend to be marginalized, their piety mocked, and their ideas ridiculed. Then people (especially young people like me) go to Latin Mass parishes and the flipside is true: strong catechises, clear Catholic identity and culture, people living like they actually believe our religion, priests praying like it really mattered. If you want to know why we prefer the Latin Mass, it's because its a beacon of authenticity in a world were ambiguity is preferred. It's other worldly and takes one out of the mundanity of normal life, it's challenging and requires a discipline of spirituality which has formed countless saints.Tradition is a reaction to the fluctuation of the age that has been embodied in the instability of the common celebration of the New Mass. When Catholics want to find comfort in something unchanging for once, they go to Tridentine Mass and find it.

The Latin Mass won't go away anytime soon, nor the laity who love it or the booming vocations that come from it. We are small but resilient. While most Catholics are still soaking in the radiation from the liturgical fallout after Vatican II, while numbers in Mass attendance fall, parishes close, people leave, we still exist. That's what a people built in Tradition do, we endure, we last, we carry on, we hold out, stay steadfast. We have many children, we raise many priests and religious, we evangelize fiercely and when this game is done in the Church, we'll be what's left and have survived the longest because we have the tools that make, keep, and produce good Catholics and we use them. Soft-core Catholicism will lose eventually to the secular relativistic war machine in due time as it wears out and eats away at its adherents. The only Catholicism that will come out unscathed is a Catholicism that isn't afraid to face it head on and point out Satan where he is and move the hearts of its followers to radically resist him in all expressions of our faith at all costs.

Anne Chapman | 3/12/2012 - 11:09pm
Joseph, really - you make heaven sound a bit like the Emerald City of Oz.  Only Dorothy saw through it, the falseness of it all, and knew that it is much better to be in Kansas.

It seems that you do not believe that the mass should reflect what Jesus actually taught through his life and his words.  And apparently you also believe that the mass should be equated with various cultural institututions - churches and cathedrals as free music halls and museums, and palaces that people can walk through and be in awe of all that ostentatious wealth. 

But, perhaps instead the homeless man would be comforted to know that Jesus did not live like a king, with gold and silk and jewelry and palaces.  It might comfort him to know that Jesus was a poor man, like himself, and that Jesus understands his life, that Jesus' parents also were homeless, and so he was born in a stable or a cave. Luke could have had Jesus be born in a palace, but he did not - why not? Because this gospel, like all of them are pointing to a deeper truth, to something we are to learn. So maybe you should think this through a bit more, reflect a bit more on the choice of symbols in the story of Jesus's life and those he chose to use in his parables and teachings.  The Jewish people expected the messiah to arrive in triumph - a secular leader, wrapped in glory and power and wealth -  in other words, by all that is symbolized in elaborate cathedrals, by dressing hierarchy in gilded vestments with 40' silken trains, by having gold vessels, etc.  So they did not recognize Jesus as their messiah because his message was the opposite of what they expected. They were looking through the secular lens, but Jesus turned it all upside down, and taught us that these trappings of wealth and power are exactly what we should be avoiding, rather than seeking.

I agree with those who believe that the mass should reflect would Jesus taught us in his words, and especially in how we live.  There is much truth in Cate's observation that Jesus did not hold himself above others, he was always with them, seated at the same table, sharing the same food, speaking in the language they all shared.

Rod Larocque | 3/12/2012 - 5:13pm
I am in my early 40's and have been attending almost exclusively the Traditional Mass since 1989. I find the Old Mass to be so much more spiritually fruitful than the Novus Ordo mass.
The reason is because the Old Mass clearly demonstrates what the Church actually believes goes on at Mass. I once found an old Baltimore Catachism and read it and when I asked my Novus Ordo priest why we do such and such at the new mass when the Catachism says this.... he just rolled his eyes.
Also, I attend the Old Mass because I don't have to worry about having my faith challenged each week. In the past I would worry what the priest might say now that we no longer have to believe.
Attending the Old Mass and socializing with traditional catholics let me avoid all the church controversies and liturgical wars. I can pray with confidence that I have a valid and holy and pleasing mass, a doctrinally sound catachism and fellowship with likeminded catholics that do not question what the Church teaches on any serious issue. This means I can better progress in the spiritual life and hope to attain sanctity.
Of course my chapel has it's share of weirdos, including myself, but I do know Our Lord is there and I can pray to Him each Sunday knowing He is pleased with this tried and true Sacrifice and that I am not compromising on His teachings for the sake of making peace with the modern world or making my pew more comfortable.
Des Farrell | 3/12/2012 - 3:18pm
Nice post cate. And Campion, yes it's my pleasure to sing Fr. Donal's praises in this magazine. He is working around the clock this week. To be honest Novenas aren't really my thing but when I look at the inner city poor, sick and elderly I wake up to what Christianity really is. Its not great for my ego! 
Im a big fan of St Francis Xavier, there's a priest with guts, to use a polite phrase!
Im sitting outside the church actually typing this on my phone. For me Catholicism is more about sandstorms and shipwrecks then Latin and tassels so St Francis Xavier is the saint for me. I have to laugh when I think of all the shipwrecks so many saints survived, what they must think of our soft gadgety culture!
God bless! 
Catherine Desiena | 3/12/2012 - 10:29am
When I look at a photo like the one in this article, I wonder where Jesus the carpenter went. Have they all forgotten?  He lived a simple life, and he warned against ostentatious trappings and public piety - Woe to you the pharisees..... 

I know it's not polite to say this, but when I looked at this photograph, the first word that came to mind was ''idolatry.''   It seems to me that people can go to the theatre and museums and places like the castle in Downton Abbey if they want to see gilt and displays of worldly wealth and hear a professional choir sing Mozart and be an audience.  Churches should be simple and reflect the settings of Christ's life and the simplicity we are to seek. He was mostly outdoors - in nature - on riverbanks, in the desert, in the mountains. Perhaps that's why so many people say they feel closeste to God in nature.  These places are God's cathedrals and so much more awesome than the over-gilded palaces and museums built by men. Jesus found God there. He didn't spend much time in temples. He warned about wealth and ostentatious displays of wealth by the religious leaders and ostentatious displays of public piety also.  He also taught in people's homes, around a table, sharing the meal. He told us to do the same. He didn't say to go to castles and gild everything with gold and have a priest put on a performance for an audience in a museum setting. And he taught them in their own language. At his last dinner with his friends, he didn't stand on an altar and exclude them from the prayers, turning his back on them. He sat with them at the same table, and he invited ALL to do this in memory of him. He didn't exclude anyone - not even Judas.

John Whyte | 3/12/2012 - 10:07am
Last time I was at St Kevin's Harrington St. (18 months ago) they were packing them in.  Gardiner St. is a beautiful church. My favorite Dublin church.  Whenever I visit there I can sense Matt Talbot and all of the great Belvedere Jesuits who were there over the years.  Is Fr. Donal Neary still the PP there?

"O most lovable and loving Saint Francis Xavier..." I wonder have the Jesuits found any Caravaggios on Leeson St. lately?
John Barbieri | 3/10/2012 - 3:45pm
What a sad topic with equally sad responses.
Do we reallt think that G_D cares about this?  
While the house (church) is burning, does it make sese to argue about new wallpaper for the living room? 
Alan Mitchell | 3/10/2012 - 12:07pm
Of course, speaking of the TLM as the Tridentine Mass is a misnomer as Fr. John O'Mally, S.J. has pointed out in the pages of this esteemed magazine.  As he says, the Council of Trent never decreed that the Mass had to be said in Latin:

Laura Lowder | 3/10/2012 - 11:38am
Such a shame, all this. Father's biases appear from the very outset - as does his tragic lack of understanding what is going on in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. It shouldn't take so much effort; after all, he has a degree in theology and is part of the noble Order of the Society of Jesus.

The priest isn't officiating at a banquet or some sort of "table," but leading the Congregation to God. His role is that of "alter Christus," a meaning largely lost by far too many priests reared on the Ordinary Form. There isn't a need for a "sign of peace" because the Confiteor is prayed before the priest even sets foot into the Sanctuary. That is our "sign of peace," our making our peace with God before approaching the Holy of Holies.

The people don't HAVE to listen, sing, utter responses in order to Participate. Mental and spiritual engagement with the Mystery is more than sufficient - And, let's face it, Father, too darned many people don't know the difference between Participation and being entertained, any more. They think they have "particiapted" at Mass because their mouths and hands have done things, when their real attention has been far removed from the Liturgy.

Finally, I have to wonder what Father was really afraid of, that he would not ask the Faithful what they got out of that Mass. Perhaps it was a fear that his own prejudices might find an intelligent and Faith-Filled challenge?

Joseph Vadis | 3/10/2012 - 10:28am
Tancred, I wouldn't go that far. There are many good and holy Jesuits - Fr. Pacwa et al - my uncle is a good Jesuit. I've asked him why the good Jesuits don't make a stand. His reply was that there are not enough to be effective and that if the few that there are would say anything, they'd immediately be shipped off for psychological evaluation. Very sad. Rather than abolish the order, pray to Saint Ignatius that he ask our Lord to restore the order to it's original humble glory!
Chuck Farley | 3/10/2012 - 10:23am
The Jesuits should be abolished for good this time.
Jason Edwards | 3/10/2012 - 10:21am
I understand that many people don't like the Tridentine Mass experience and I respect that.  However, it's sad to see so many personal hangups getting in the way of the theology behind this beautiful celebration of the liturgy.  Like others have said, there is no doubt that God is the focus of the TLM.  When I was recently visiting Costa Rica and went to Mass there, I couldn't believe how the priest barely took a breath the entire Mass - it really felt like it was all about him.  The silence in the Traditional Mass, a silence that Pope Benedict has encouraged us to bring back into our lives, offers us a chance to silently allow God to speak to us.  It also allows us to offer our entire selves upon the altar as the priest offers the Spotless Victim to the Father.  The silence in the Canon allows both the "baptismal priesthood" and "ordained priesthood" to offer their sacrifices to the Father (habemus ad Dominum).  Also, the Second Vatican Council never at any time instructed the altars to be turned around - facing 'ad populum' is an innovation that breaks from the Eastern and Western traditions of 'ad orientem' - facing the East, awaiting Christ's second coming.  I always saw it as similar to Moses leading the Jews through the desert - Moses didn't "have his back turned" to the people - they were following in the same direction towards the same destination, a shephard and his flock.  Lastly, the Leonine prayers were "encouraged" and not required (at least not since the 1983 Code of Canon Law) and they were encouraged to be said after Low Masses, not the Sunday High Mass or Sunday Missa Cantata.  Again, it's ok to not "get into" the Latin Mass, but I encourage Father and all the faithful to at least take the time to understand the theology behind the TLM and why the faithful desire it over some of the innovations and disruptions of other celebrations of the liturgy (like a recent "teen Mass" I went to, complete with a drum solo at the end).
Joseph Vadis | 3/10/2012 - 10:18am
"The Mass seemed to focus on the priest"

You are greatly mistaken Father. The Mass is most definitely focused on God. It is YOUR preferred Mass which is focused on the priest as entertainer and the congregation as entertained...unless snoring through a typical homily devoid of spiritual nourishment.

How truly sad it is to read such a disdainful and humanistic analysis of the majesty which is the Mass dedicated to the worship of God through the Sacrifice of our Lord.

Poor Saint Ignatius! His own prodigy so blind.
LEONARD VILLA | 3/9/2012 - 11:16pm
Some of the remarks made betray a real lack of awareness of liturgical tradition or even of the intended reform of the Second Vatican Council.  All the ancient liturgies have a pre-Lent period which sexagesima Sunday is a part of, so the obvious question should be why did the reform eliminate it?  Wasn't that purely arbitrary? Fr. Schineller does not ask that question? Even the reformed Mass was supposed to be offered ad orientem, put falsely by moderns, as the priest with his back to the people, because for the sacrifice priest and people turn to the Lord.  If you read Louis Bouyer's book on The Eucharist there is liturgical tradition for both the silent canon which mystified Fr. Schineller and the spoken canon.  The number of candles, altar cards etc. were all part of liturgical tradition which Fr. Schineller said he grew up with. 

I have gone to the ancient Mass celebrated according to norms set before teh Council where the laity make all the responses including Mass parts and the proper parts and the readings are in the vernacular all in accord with the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and the congregation is of various ages.  All in all active participation means that one unites onself mind and heart with the sacred action and I suspect more of that goes on at the Latin Mass than in many of the vernacular Masses.  Moreover the same Council intended Latin to be the language for any future reform with more vernacular being used than before.  Fr. Schineller does not ask the question why did something else take place?  The focus indeed is on the priest who acts in the very person of Christ to whom the laity join exercising their share in the priesthood!  It's all there, Father Schineller and without the abuses that plague the Novus Ordo where the focus is on the priest and congregation turned inward to theselves a criticism the Pope has offered.  I suggest Father if he has not done so read the papal criticisms of the reform and maybe the Latin Mass won't be so strange.
Bill Mazzella | 3/9/2012 - 11:11pm
we really do not need a  missal for the eucharist. We basically relive the life, death, resurrection of Christ. At one time the people did this together. Mandatory words are only for those who want to control. What is necessary is reverence, God's people, and proclaiming the death of Jesus until he comes again. It is not rocket science. And if people as unlearned as the apostles could do it, so could anyone.                      
Bill Mazzella | 3/9/2012 - 8:37pm
No question that sometimes advocates of the novus ordo or the vernacular mass acted without consideration for people's feelings. In itself neither liturgy is the real deal. We should remember that Latin was called the Vulgate (vernacular) when it was first used as it was the language of the people. The big thing about the Mass or Eucharist is that it is the gathering of the people of God coming together. It is a celebration of our new life in Christ together. So to condemn either of infidelity is not a good idea. People can choose their preference without opposing the other from choosing.
Barry Moorhead | 3/9/2012 - 6:39pm

At 73 yrs. I well remember the Latin mass. I even sat (& knelt) through baroque ceremonies like the faldstool mass of a prelate in the presence of a greater prelate, and solemn high masses in the presence of a prelate vested in cope and miter at the throne.
But most of all I remember the soul-killing daily sung masses for the dead (when permitted by the ordo), sometimes up to six a week! These were always sung in Gregorian chant, complete with the ''Dies irae.'' The only exception was the gradual and tract, sung to a psalm tone. (Many of us survived by opening our St. Andrew missals to the proper mass of the day, or the liturgy of the previous Sunday). But, all-in-all, I suspect that for most of the attendeesit was the rosary or devotional prayers from a prayer book. And we always brought those masses in at about 25 minutes.
I have no desire to go back there.
JIM MCCREA | 8/23/2013 - 7:36pm

I was a server .... oops, altar boy ... in those days and the MOST IMPORTANT THING that I was taught was to say those Latin responses as fast as possible! Twenty minutes ... top ... for low masses. High Masses, still as fast as possible, but with lots more fol-de-rol. It was a spectator sport for the few who actually paid attention. Rattling beads and "doing" the stations were popular ways to kill the time until the priest had performed his very own private show. There was no shortage of male ushers because they got to sit in the back, smoke cigarettes and catch up with their friends about the week's doings.

Oh, yes: gimme that ole' time religion!

Angela Sullivan | 8/26/2013 - 3:16pm

Today they are are answering Cell phones and most are not attending. and The Music is BAD. I guess we need Holier People. But one cannot deny The Banality of many of The Novus Ordo Masses and Yes I am sure The Traditionalist have glorified The Good Old Days BUT 75% decline in Church Attendance since The NEW MASS was issued. I see it as a rupture.

JIM MCCREA | 8/22/2014 - 6:22pm

Coincidence is not the same as causation.

Subsequent to Vat II, society changed drastically. If anything is a contributing factor to the drop in mass attendance, it is the laity's (and many members of the clergy's) utter disillusionment with Humanae Vitae and the failure to allow priestly marriage. Many people had held on in anticipation of change which did not come. These are the people who are raised and steeped in pre V2 theology, discipline, liturgical practices and the Baltimore Catechism. None of that held them.

Returning to the bad old days will not bring people back. There is much made of the influx of membership from Latin America, Africa, etc. However, let's see what the retention rate is for 2nd and 3rd generations, post-immigration of their parents. It probably won't be much better than the results for post-European immigration. Cultural attachment is not the same as active, participative church membership.

Alfred Chavez | 3/9/2012 - 12:10pm
One last comment: I always wonder at the attitude some have about not having girls on the altar.  Don't they recall that at the original Mass, there were two females and a male standing witness? 
Alfred Chavez | 3/9/2012 - 12:05pm
It surprises me how often memories of the Tridentine Mass are scrubbed to the point that it is idealized beyond what it actually was.  Don't Latin Mass advocates remember the ''Missa recitata''-Masses where the congregation recited all the responses in Latin?  I rememeber those from the late 50s.  Or the reading of the gospel in English (after it was said in Latin)?  Or the antics of young boys too young to appreciate what they were doing? (Well, some things never change, but girls aren't nearly as distracted-they don't yawn, look off absentmindedly, or get up to run to the bathroom nearly as often as boys do.)  

Nor do the idealizers remember the Masses where a priest occasionally did a homily?  We had a priest who always turned around after the gospel and homilized, to the chagrin of those who had hoped for a quicker Mass.

I do agree that it was time to end the experimentation that folks did under the now well-understood and specious claim that it was all being done in the spirit of Vatican II.
T BLACKBURN | 3/9/2012 - 11:46am
Whoa, easy Kenneth at #23. St. Francis Xavier died early in the Council of Trent, and he was off in Asia when he did. He never knew about the Tridentine Mass. Ignatius Loyola also died six years before the council ended and promulgated its decrees. He was in Rome; the Council was in Trent. He must have known how things were drifting, but he never experienced the Tridentine Mass, either. They both just said Mass the way they always had.
ed gleason | 3/9/2012 - 11:41am
Kenneth's attitude and  comments are an example of  why the Latin Mass  will never make it  back.
david power | 3/9/2012 - 11:37am

While I don't agree with the spirit of what Fr Schineller wrote as it seems to me that he is just a stuck-in-the-mud liberal I think that you show little understanding of St Ignatius.
St Ignatius it was who broke all tradition in getting his Priests from having to sing the Daily Office.That was a massive deal back then but it was low on St Ignatius's priorities.
He was utilatarian in spiritual matters"Whatever gets the job done!" or whatever brings souls to God.
The Tridentine may do that for some but there are many who are left cold by it.
Ignatius would have most likely done what Pope Benedict and had a plurality of celebrations to help everybody.
I dislike both of them as they both contain way too much Priest for my liking.The best Mass I have been to is the Jesuit Mass in Rome at the Gesu side chapel or the early Mass at St Maria Sopraminerva with the Dominicans .Simple,sober and solemn.In and out in 20 minutes and spiritually recharged  . Less is more in my book and Jesus is centre stage!
Kenneth Wolfe | 3/9/2012 - 11:16am
I'm sure Saint Ignatius of Loyola would agree with you.  Probably not.
Maybe Saint Aloysius Gonzaga would agree with you.  Probably not.
Maybe Saint Francis Xavier would agree with you.  Probably not.

Looks like, Father Schineller, you are much, much smarter than all of the Jesuits before you!  Somehow they never dreamed of fighting for what is now a banal, 40 year old service based on anglican/protestant developments since the founding of your order.

P.S., Father - Mass is not about thee, thee, thee.  It's about Thee, Thee, Thee. 
Thomas Rooney OFS | 3/9/2012 - 10:14am
I'm not sure where I read it, but there's a story in Vatican II apocrypha that a group of bishops was deciding on the canon of the vernaculas Mass.  One exasperated shepherd, lamenting the disappearance of the old language, threw up his hands and said:

"AT LEAST keep the least give them THAT much Latin!!!".

There was silence, and then uproarious laughter.

Or so the story goes...

If anyone knows the source of this legend, please let me know.  It's driving me crazy that I can't remember where I read it!!!
Vince Killoran | 3/9/2012 - 9:57am
Latin in the Mass works for me when the participants can sing or chant the prayers-"Kyrie Eleision" (ok, I know it's Greek!), "Pater Noster," & the "Agnus Dei."  Quiet moments during the liturgy are important but not a passive congregation.

I just re-read Thomas Day's WHY CAHTOLICS CAN'T SING.  A funny, insightful book on why the usual was the English-language Novus Ordo occurs isn't quite right and a return to the Tridentine Mass definitely isn't the way to go.
C Walter Mattingly | 3/9/2012 - 9:07am
PJ (#10),
Thank you for your perspective. It was an eye-opener, highly informative for me.
Somewhere there has to be a meeting place, a sense of all times and people who have gone before us and upon whose shoulders we stand, that foundation we call the Church and its tradition, and the current and unique requrements of the time in which we live. We need not necessarily expect "O Magnum Mysterium" to communicate fully what it once did, but we must also be mindful that "Yo, Big Mystery!" won't get the job done.  
Thomas Rooney OFS | 3/9/2012 - 9:00am
A lot of folks see me as an "odd duck" of sorts.  Meaning for all intents and purposes, I am a bleeding heart liberal...and I LOVE the Tridentine Mass.

A couple of folks said it here already, but it bears repeating.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass isn't necessarily about making us feel good.  It's an awesome, mystical ritual of bringing Calvary into our very midst.  All of us, celebrant and congregation , focused on the sacred Mystery, rather than inward, facing ourselves.  The reverence, and meticulousness of the ritual.  Receiving the Eucharist kneeling, with a paten under our chin "lest He strike His foot against a stone."  To me, the Latin on intensifies the quality of Mystery and sacredness. 

I've been to only a handful and probably would attend more, but celebrations of the Eatrordinary Form has become scarce in our Diocese.  I've no real issue with Mass in the vernacular and I personally have never experienced "clown mass"-type irreverence. 

What bothers me is the politics and animosity the very existence of the Tridentine Mass seems to cause; I've had to defend myself from other progressive Catholics for supporting such an antiquated, exclusive, elitist ritual.  And the traditional Catholics I know generally are of an ultra-Conservatove mindset, and can't imagine how I could ever go back to a vernacular Mass.  

The Latin Mass can't and shouldn't be made the Ordinary Form of the Mass again...but IMHO, it has its place in our Church and it ought to be celebrated.
Stanley Kopacz | 3/9/2012 - 8:49am
It would have been nice if the trads had their nostalgia mass and left the english mass alone.  Unfortunately, now I have to say "konserbstanchul" and genuflect before ancient Greek philosophy.  When I party too much on Saturday night, I usually end up at the afternoon Polish mass.  I know enough Polish that, with the "Pan  z  wami" missal and the English missal, it comes off like a bad cell phone connection.  That's enough mysterianism for me.
Anne Chapman | 3/9/2012 - 8:48am
Carlos, it is clear that you find the TM to be more ''meaningful'' in some way than the mass in English, which includes more active participation by all in the community than does the TM.  That is your preference and you are welcome to it. But, you seem to be wanting to impose that mass on all - including on those who prefer the novus ordo.

Why do you feel that need?  Have you thought about that at all - the reasons you seem so intent on imposing your reaction to the two forms of the mass on others?

Why do you say people are ''afraid'' of the TM?  What gives you that idea?  I grew up with the TM. Nobody was afraid of it, mostly they were bored because they simply sat there watching passively, or reading a missal. Since most can read faster than the priest could mumble with his back to the congregation, there was ''dead'' time and a lot of people prayed the rosary (not the right time or place) or simply daydreamed until it was over. Every now and then we got to say ''Et cum spiritu tuo'' or ''Amen.''  That was it. I'm guessing your experience is exlusively with the ''high'' mass, with chants and bells and smells.  But, when the TM was the norm, high masses were celebrated only on special occasions.

Everyone does celebrate the ''same'' mass today and are ''united'' in the form.   Some celebrate it in English and some in Spanish and some in Mandarin but it is the same mass.  Nobody in the entire world has Latin as their native tongue - it is foreign to all.

Also, unlike Mr. Dumakaitas's assumption, we ''old'' folk (I grew up with the TM - the change to English occurred somewhere around the end of my college years) did NOT know the Latin mass ''better'' than people know the NO. They knew it less - it was in a foreign language. Nobody knew the prayers unless they read them out of the book. My children knew all the prayers by heart when young. We old folk never knew the prayers by heart except for the two brief responses we were permitted.  Without a missal we would be hopelessly lost as to where we were in the mass and what was going on. Mass on Sunday was the height of boredom.  And you are a bit confused about mass and lectio, which are two totally different things - the mass is not intended as an occasion for lectio. The changes in liturgy were made for a reason - the bishops knew that the people were not involved in celebrating the mass as community - and they changed it so that ALL in the community would be active participants, not silent and passive members of an audience watching a stage production on the altar - a stage production in a foreign language so they had to read a book to follow.

Those who like this are quite welcome to it. But for those of us who, like Fr. Shineller, have no desire to return to this particular version of the mass which we knew very well, please stop trying to impose your preference on everyone else. There is nothing ''sacred'' about Latin. It is a language once used in the world and now dead. Latin was not the language of Christ or of the apostles or of the early church communities. They met together and they used their own languages when they came together to pray and learn and share the bread and wine. Unless they were Roman, they did not use Latin.  It came into regular use in the church after the church entered into its too-close and unholy partnership with the Roman empire - it was the language of those who murdered Christ.  The bible was written in Greek.  People spoke Latin at one time if they lived in parts of the Roman empire - they don't now.  The attachment to Latin seems a bit ludicrous on multiple levels, but if some like it, feel free to go to a Latin mass - just leave everyone else out of it.
T BLACKBURN | 3/9/2012 - 6:53am
Mr. Damukaitis, Is the Tridentine (from the Council of Trent) Mass 1,500 years old, or only the standard liturgy for 500 years, one-fourth of the Church's history?
J. Basil Damukaitis | 3/9/2012 - 1:57am
I am 46 and do not remember the Old Mass.
But I attend it regularly now.
My reflections. I HATED THE TRIDENTINE MASS the first 4 times I went.

So why did I keep going back?  Because I'm an historian.  I figured, this is the mass of the past 1500 years basically, so there must be something to it.

Please remember that "Feeling" contrary to 21st century humans, is NOT the highest human faculty.  That feeling could be due to ignorance of the Mass, unfamiliarity, so don't put too much into it.  Others...non Catholics too, see it for the first time and are wowed by it. SO who's feelings are right?  (they're not right or wrong, they're just feelings!)

I find the new Mass HIGHLY clerical, more priest centered than the Old Mass.  The old Mass has the personality of the priest diminished so that the symbol of him as an "alter Christus" is more apparent.

Active participation?  Father, please remembre that the Latin is "actuoso" poorly translated as "active" the nuance of the Latin is that one should be participating in the Mass, not saying other prayers.  One can do this aloud or silently. Sometimes not focusing saying or singing everything (and I do prefer the Dialogue Mass myself), allows one to participate more deeply in the Mass through awareness of the ritual, listening to the chant, or following in the Missal.  I GUARANTEE you that most old folks know the Mass better while it was in Latin, than my generation who grew up with the vernacular. The ancient desert fathers knew this because they recommended the monks for lectio, speak softly as they read at the same time.  In other words, there is something very passive to simply sitting in the pew and "listening" since humanly, we often drift, even the best of us.  The Old Mass knew this instinctively, even before the hand missal, which is why they built the Churches they did.

Lastly, a bit ignorant to put down the Mass that so many English martyrs died for, the Mass that shaped Western culture, the Mass that produced so many saints.  Maybe your reflections are proof positive that the Liturgical Reform was a miserable failure.  Perhaps the conciliar and post conciliar documents should have started with understanding the theology and rubrics of the Mass first, before it was changed???  

Carlos Orozco | 3/9/2012 - 1:16am
Anne, I am no arguing that sacrilegious masses are the norm or that Novus Ordo is to blame. I have simply stated that the Tridentine Mass is overly rich in spirituality and symbolism and that elements of it can be incorporated to the new mass.  By the way, I find it even more beautiful that the Church used to pray UNITED with the SAME mass around the world. And I somehow find difficult to believe that Catholics were afraid of the Tridentine Mass. Certainly Iñigo de Loyola, Carlo Borromeo, Mother Teresa de Ávila, Juan de la Cruz, Therese of Lisieux, Padre Pio and a long list of saints would find that argument silly and injust against their beloved mass.
Robert Klahn | 8/22/2013 - 12:03am

The mass was partially the same throughout the world. All of the mass most understood was in the local language. So, most masses in the world were in languages most of the world did not understand, where ever it was and what ever language you spoke. The portion in Latin most of the world did not understand, equally. The portion in the local language was no understood by the majority of the world that doesn't understand that world.

So, how were we all participating in the same mass all over the world?

Oh, and the mass is mine every bit as much as every saint who ever lived combined.

Anne Chapman | 3/8/2012 - 10:37pm
Carlos, the masses you cite on youtube are hardly the rule. Seldom have presiders lacked that degree of common sense.  The exception does not make the rule, and it is silly for those who prefer the TM to continuously and repetively bring this up to imply that the ''clown'' mass is somehow typical. It is not and these errors in judgment do not invalidate the beauty of  the Novus Ordo which allows all of the community to pray together, in the commonly spoken and understood language of their own culture, singing together in worship, rather than sitting as a silent audience for a choir, and interacting as a community in christian love, rather than as silent strangers, afraid even to look at one another, much less speak or shake hands. 

There are wonderful forms of silent prayer and devotions for those who want quiet. The mass is meant for the community to worship as a community.

But, those who strongly prefer the Tridentine should go to a Tridentine mass. The rest will go to the ordinary form. There is no need for those who prefer the post-Vatican II liturgy to impose it on those who want Latin and incense, nor is there any reason for those who prefer the TM to impose it on those for whom it is not the most meaningful form of liturgical worship. To each his or her own.  One form is not ''better'' than the other.

Not everyone has studied Latin, so instead of ''pax vobiscum'',  I will address the majority rather than the minority - Peace be with you!
Robert Klahn | 8/22/2013 - 12:04am

And also with you.

JIM MCCREA | 8/22/2014 - 6:26pm

Oops ... don't you mean "and with your spirit?" Have you not been properly recatechized?

Carlos Orozco | 3/8/2012 - 9:27pm
Why not take inspiration and elements from the Tridentine Mass to enrich our spiritual lives? It would certainly close the door to grotesque and sacrilegious expressions as the so called "clown" or "Halloween" masses. You kind find these "gems" at youtube. How can Catholics sink that low?
PJ Johnston | 3/8/2012 - 8:24pm
I am a liberal (very liberal) queer Catholic, and I usually feel the least-disincluded in Tridentine mass environments.  I think the description of the Tridentine mass in this piece is hostile and one-sided in tone and wish you would consider your entire reading audience.

When it comes to the practice of confession, I get vastly more competent confessors who can deal effectively with scrupulosity and difficulties of conscience in the confessional, because by and large Tridentine Catholics still confess but are not willing to opt out of contemporary American society by refusing to use birth control and having the large families that would result from that particular practice.  There are probably divorced-and-remarried Catholics too.  Mostly these Tridentine Catholics just mainstream Americans other than happening to attend the Tridentine mass, so they live all the contradictions between official teaching and real life much more acutely than non-Tridentine Catholics.  On the other hand, I tend to get terrible pastoral direction from more mainstream priests, I think because for the most part only conservative Catholics confess (so non-Tridentine priests are less experienced overall?) and most mainstream Catholics would never think of confessing in cases where their conscience and a traditional examination of conscience based on the official teachings of the Church differ.  So priests who may be less experienced in hearing confessions in the first place may have no experience at all in handling difficulties of conscience.  I once confessed to a liberal priest nearing his retirement who said he had never once heard the confession of a scrupulous penitent, which makes it completely understandable that he didn't know how to deal with the situation at all.

There is also a definite undercurrent of (ideally celibate?) gay male homosexuality among many of the participants in the Tridentine mass.  Gender/sexuality issues are picked up upon, even without anybody having to be very direct about them, and are generally dealt with in a sensitive and circumspect manner.  No ugly stares or confrontations in the pews over being queer or working class or whatever.  When I attend mass in more mainstream parishes, I _never_ feel socially welcome.  Homosexuality has become such a politicized issue that even where most of the people in the congregation might be supportive in theory, there is a de facto situation where visibly queer people don't attend services and no one is used to seeing them or dealing with them in parishes, so the supportive people are standoffish or confused or whatever and all you end up noticing is that one guy who gives you the evil eye or the people who don't want to shake your hand during the passing of the peace or the fact that you always have a bubble of people not sitting anywhere near you in an otherwise completely full church.  This is a whole new level of social awkwardness that most people have no interest in dealing with, and fortunately there are enough queer people (closeted and otherwise) at Tridentine services that you never have to deal with it.

Then there is the beauty of the liturgy.  While some parishes have enough resources to do a good job with post-Vatican II liturgy, the results are often very bad.  The Tridentine mass usually holds up very well despite a small cast of principal players and a serious lack of money and musical talent in the congregation, because in the end it's very simple to do and requires little additional ornamentation to be done well.  One cantor or a small schola can carry the service, and the priest is not on centerstage trying to hold up the entire thing.

With all these benefits, it's difficult not to like Tridentine masses, even for people like me who would prefer to like post-Vatican II liturgy for all the theological reasons Peter Schineller details.
JIM MCCREA | 8/22/2014 - 6:28pm

I am a (very) liberal queer Catholic. If I want opera and good theater, I go to where it is done well. The RC Latin Mas is NOT that place.

I was raised with it. I know of what I speak.