• Having grown up in a family of avid Democrats and now residing in a decidedly post-Christian area, not to mention being an alumnus of a non-sectarian divinity school where I focused on the aesthetics of a Marxist philosopher, I don’t fit the conventional image of a Catholic who has drifted toward preferring the extraordinary form of the Mass.

    Make no mistake, I do question myself. Am I a victim of nostalgia, that go-to accusation of so many critics too young even to recognize nostalgia? Like most people getting along in years I’ve been drawn in by nostalgia, usually triggered by an unexpected association with loved ones and places long departed, but my affection for the Latin Mass just doesn’t seem to parallel those experiences. I’m attracted rather to the old rite’s efficacy in focusing my attention on the spiritual, a practical matter very much of the here and now. For someone who finds disciplined daily prayer difficult, that’s no small matter.

    Have I so misread Vatican II documents that embracing the old liturgical practice is mere personal fantasy, a case of I’d like it to be so therefore I’ve made it so? Respected scholars like Fathers Anthony Ruff, O.S.B. and John Baldovin, S.J. argue that people like me do just that and, since I can be prone to romantic idealism, I take such criticisms seriously. But considering the number of writers, church leaders and ordinary lay folk who find the old rite of continuing value, particularly when juxtaposed against hard to endure manifestations of the reformed rite, the issue can’t be so easily dismissed as personal delusion or misunderstanding. There is a phenomenal lure at play here and it would be unwise of me to ignore such an internal lodestar, however convinced some may be the old Mass counters the intentions of the Council.

    But I must concede unpleasant consequences to my liturgical shift. To begin, most of my close friends and family members don’t share my inclination thus making me an outlier among intimates. And however one waxes poetic over the old rite at some point all must acknowledge there are, despite heavy on-line cheerleading, large swathes of the country with no access to the extraordinary form of the Mass. And many places that offer a Latin Mass do so only once-a-month or at such an inconvenient hour that one can only wonder if the intention is to discourage. If those obstacles aren’t sufficiently disheartening, the mere presence of a Latin Mass is no guarantee that music or preaching will be exemplary.

    One must also contend, inevitably it seems, with the misguided zealousness of a few old rite advocates who neither grasp the nuance and breadth of theology nor have any ability to engage with those holding differing points of view. They revel instead in a reflexive “the church says so, case closed!” manner of argumentation that cannot fly in an era defined by clerical sex abuse. Though reformed rite people can also act this way, assuming a stance of moral superiority never bolsters anyone’s cause.

    Fortunately, most people I have met in Latin Mass communities are, as a friend once observed, “surprisingly normal.” Accepting that life is riddled with complexity, they do not wallow in resentment nor peddle fear as a primary mode of persuasion. They rather possess a forbearance that allows genuine engagement, surely a prerequisite in gaining the attention and respect of others. I am thankful for such people because their witness sustains me in moments when doubt sets in and I question my own wisdom.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 798
    I wouldn't let the opinions of theologians like Frs. Ruff and Baldovin worry you. Your main rationale - that the old rite focuses your attention on the spiritual - is reason enough to go. And your decision in the face of inconvenience and other obstacles shows that your reasons and real and significant.
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,145
    I find Ruff to be intellectually dishonest almost all the time, despite his scholarly bona fides, which are certainly present. Maybe he didn't used to be this way, but he's become an ideologue in a markedly negative way. Look at the way he treats Prof. Kwasniewski for evidence.
    Thanked by 3MarkB CharlesW dad29
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    There should surely be no problem with another person's preference of rite, OF, Maronite, Ordinariate, EF, whatever. I find the attitudes of both Ruff and Kwasniewski unpleasant, when they inveigh against a lawful Catholic rite of Mass.
    After 75 years of attending Mass, 50 of those years normally at least one weekday in addition to Sunday, in both forms, I suppose I can derive spiritual nourishment from either. But I rarely feel fully satisfied, indeed of ordinary Sunday celebrations I could count on the fingers of one hand those of which I felt wholly content.
    I do find a clear element of nostalgia in my own preference, it is for the school Masses, in which we sang the Ordinary as a school congregation, and for side chapels where I was a server, I do want to be vocally engaged. That need is satisfied at OF weekday Masses, Sundays are always marred by the inadequacy of the music .
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,515
    Being an easterner, of course I prefer my own rite. However, I can see arguments for tighter structure, more cohesive theology, and better music in the EF. In the OF, I see greater congregational participation, less clericalism - it isn't the Fr. Whatshisname show - and the music can be good if you have musicians and priests who want it to be good.

    As for Latin, I have no great love for it. It is no longer a universal language, and even priests don't study it in many instances. I hear that the Vatican often produces documents in Italian then translates them into Latin. We in the east went through something similar as long as we had immigrants who knew Old Church Slavonic better than they knew English. But the primary objective of language is communication so OCS has disappeared.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    The great cultural shift that carried Latin away from English schooling, and public life, in the sixties coincided with Vatican II. It was certainly not caused by Vatican II.
    But Greek was retained in the West for the Kyrie for 1500 years, I see no reason why we should not retain Latin for certain common sung texts.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,515
    Looooooord have mercy. That's why I cringe every time I hear those sopranos sing it. LOL. We have retained Latin for the Ordinary, we just don't sing it every Sunday. Some Sundays we use the ICEL texts.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,222
    I thought that Benedicts' letter cleared all this up. The old rite is valid and esteemed and those who prefer it should be given ample opportunity to experience it.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,870
    I have heard there is an attempt to abrogate Sumorum Pontificum
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,515
    Francis, I heard that, too. I heard some of the Italian bishops want it squelched.
  • It is hardly a secret that many disagree with the efforts of Benedict XVI to make the old rite a valid option. It is their hope that interest in the issue will quietly fade with time. While house hunting in Maine this past weekend my wife and I experienced an example of this first hand. I have attended a Latin Mass at the cathedral in Portland in the past and know one is regularly scheduled at noon. Yet, if one checks Mass times on-line, there is no mention of a Latin Mass on the cathedral website. How subtle.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen cesarfranck
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,383
    The noon Sunday Latin Mass at the Cathedral in Portland, ME, is offered by the St. Gregory the Great Latin Mass Chaplaincy, and although difficult to locate via the Cathedral website, one can find the above link there:

    At the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes site, click on † Mass Times above the drop-down menu bar, and at the bottom of the Worship/Mass Times sidebar on the left, under "Links", you will find the above St. Gregory the Great Latin Mass Chaplaincy link. In addition to the noon Sunday Latin Mass at the Cathedral, there is also an 8:30am Sunday Latin Mass at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Lewiston, ME.

    So much for obfuscation.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    Poking around the internet, and disregarding SPXX, I found a totally confusing picture. No mention of EF on the Cathedral website, despite the Mass, and -
    The Parish has the permission of the archbishop for the use of St. Birgitta Catholic Church as the location within his Diocese to provide the Mass and all Sacraments according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to any who so desire them.

    Pontifical Solemn Vespers at the Throne in the Extraordinary Form
    Wednesday, March 20, 2019
    Location: St. Stephen Parish (Portland)
    Please join Archbishop Sample for a Holy Mass for Vocations to pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
    Wednesday, March 20, 2019
    Pontifical Solemn Vespers at the Throne in the Extraordinary Form
    YOU ARE INVITED to join Archbishop Sample for Vespers, to pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. FOLLOWED BY Andrew and Miriam Dinners (For young men and women ages 16–30)
    And looking at the bulletin of St Stephen Parish I find 8 EF Masses this week !
    NB someone writing flyers doesn't know Vespers is not Mass!
  • Are you confusing our Portlands (Oregon instead of Maine)? Both are hip cities but with distinct differences.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    Quite likely, I said I was confused.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen cesarfranck
  • Have I so misread Vatican II documents that embracing the old liturgical practice is mere personal fantasy, a case of I’d like it to be so therefore I’ve made it so? Respected scholars like Fathers Anthony Ruff, O.S.B. and John Baldovin, S.J. argue that people like me do just that and, since I can be prone to romantic idealism, I take such criticisms seriously.

    Echoing what others have said (above), Fr Ruff is probably the last person on the face of the earth I'd go to for anything having to do with the Catholic liturgy. On the other hand, he excels in other areas, such as the Lutheran communion service. He takes seriously his role as a provokateur, and—as far as I know—his blog is the first to treat the 'clown Mass' in a serious way:


  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    A few months ago I watched a demonstration by Fr Ruff of how to lead a congregation in chant by suitable use of the organ. I thought it was excellent.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    And after pointing out that Clown Masses are not permitted, that blog entry, which is not by Fr Ruff, concludes
    Liturgical arts and the skill of liturgical ministers never serve the Liturgy fully if their form attracts more attention than their function.
    If like the author you are teaching undergraduates in theology and liturgy and your students ask you about clown Masses, it makes sense to give a reasoned response.
    What I dislike about Fr Ruff's contributions is his hostility to the EF.
  • And after pointing out that Clown Masses are not permitted, that blog entry, which is not by Fr Ruff, concludes……

    Which is why I carefully and clearly said it appeared “on his blog.”

    I never said he was listed as the author, although he's notoriously strict about what he places on his blog; and he watches his combox like a hawk by day and by night. Any “conservative” trying to comment there will be “pounded” or—more frequently—not allowed to appear. (There are a few exceptions.)
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,019
    Dixit_Dominus_44 : - fair enough, I certainly don't want to fall out with you.
    As to the OP's point about Fr Ruff :- The hostility is based on his understanding of the intentions and legislation of Paul VI. I think that Fr Ruff may well be correct in that understanding, but that Paul VI was wrong, and that he was not totally absolute in this, at least in respect of England. Fortunately we now have both EF and OF lawfully celebrated, what we need is the cross-fertilisation which Benedict XVI called for, not two trenches throwing grenades.
    Thanked by 1Randolph Nichols
  • a_f_hawkins : I agree. And I did not want to "highjack" this thread by talking someone known to be a liturgical provokateur. I was just severely taken aback by the suggestion that anyone would go to a source like Fr. Ruff when it comes to liturgy, spirituality, or theology. “Nostalgia” cannot explain a venerable Rite that has nourished so many saints for century after century after century.