London’s left wing ‘Catholic’ journal The Tablet has launched an attack on Fr Tim Finigan over his celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. You can read the article (and Fr Finigan’s comments) here.
What struck me about reading the article was the petty, sniping tone. All sorts of little grumbles about people who ‘don’t like’ the Latin Mass and who ‘feel excluded’ or ‘don’t understand’ what is going on. Grumbles that there are no extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, no bidding prayers led by the people etc. etc.
Good heavens! What if a conservative Catholic were to write a critique of any number of groovy Novus Ordo Masses led by Fr Folkmass and Sister Sandals? It could go on and on…
Father, I used to be shocked and mystified by that “tone” you’re talking about. It’s ubiquitous among those we call “liberals”. The irony, of course, is that they preach tolerance, respect for differences, etc., while displaying the opposite of those qualities. Finally, when I took my own subjective response out of the puzzle, I understood that they *must* behave that way precisely because of the way they view themselves and that which they wish (perpetually) to change. What confuses us is the misnomer “liberal”. (Liberality has nothing to do with it.) The term “conservative” is accurate for those who wish to conserve; the opposite is “revolution”, not “liberal”. They want to change, discard, destroy that which is, while conservatives, by definition, wish to preserve that which is. “That which is” could refer to liturgy, government, social norms, literally anything. Now, such a motive is by its very nature anti-, hostile, “sniping” (to use your word), and ultimately violent. As a former revolutionary, I know from my own experience and from close observation of fellow revolutionaries that the motive is not merely a desire to improve something (society, the Church, government, whatever), but anger, envy, hatred, and pride. Moreover, personal and collective histories bear this out, for whenever concession is made, it is deemed insufficient by revolutionaries, and still more radical change is demanded. The reason for that is a misunderstanding of their motive: they do not seek improvement; they seek destruction.Some things need improving, but actual improvement of anything is always a product of conservative thought, never its opposite. It’s an irony, but there it is.If you scratch a conservative deep enough, you find love; if you do the same to a “liberal”, you find hate.
I’ve personally not been to Latin Mass, but I can’t think it would be too terribly different from what we have at St Marys…just a different language. Correct me if I’m wrong, of course, but wouldn’t they know what’s going on if they’re good Catholics who attend Mass often?
I have to say that I love the beauty of the Latin Mass. For me, it would take some time to participate with understanding, but it is at least a sight to see and beautiful to hear and smell.It would be really amazing to get to the point where I can understand and fully participate!-g-
Unfortunately Father, the ‘critique of the groovy Novus Ordo Masses’ has been made frequently in the past 40 years – and generally ignored by the hip clergy and hierarchy – not to mention ‘Catholic’ periodicals.How many similar articles have we seen in The Tablet, America, Commonweal, The National Catholic Reporter et al. decrying the rubrical abuses in the NO Mass…?Not many – if any – I suspect.
Seeker, you are absolutely right. I have been to Mass in French and guess what? Even though my French is lousy, I knew what was going on!I would be thrilled to have a Mass where I do not have to hold hands with strangers or sing crummy music from the Gather hymnal but instead would have quiet, communal reverence.
Class -Holding hands with strangers…Hmmm… I think even though your point may be that a High form of Mass is preferred to the NO Mass, I think you should rethink that particular part of your statement. You may not know the people beside you in the pew, but I think we all could use more connection… after all we need fellowship, and we need to get out of our comfort zones.I come from a background where my mom especially would B-Line for the door after church, but we ought to be investing in each others lives, so starting with the holding of hands isn’t a bad ice breaker :)-g-
“I think we all could use more connection… after all we need fellowship, and we need to get out of our comfort zones.”Apart from the question-begging on what “we” need, George, this comment expresses exactly how we went astray on liturgy. It is not the purpose of liturgy to fulfill social needs.
Estiel,I see your point in the “us” focus if I am getting your drift. It is true that the Mass is supposed to be vertical and not horizontal.However, The Lord didn’t desire us to be isolated. God is concerned with our needs, even though it is within the structure of His will.I suppose I am not leaving this only at the level of Liturgy. As I said, I very much enjoy the Latin Mass. The closest Parish to my home has it every Saturday in a beautiful sanctuary from the 1800s. All I have to do is walk 2 short city blocks and I’m there. BUT!I am concerned with the attitude of seeing the people around us as strangers, and being uncomfortable with holding hands.We are a BODY, and should not act as single floating members. Liturgy is the work of the people, and therefore, with us all being one in Christ, none are strangers and holding hands shouldn’t be a problem.Is it a little to Kumbaya for Mass? Maybe, but my point still stands.Lovingly,-g-
George, there are a number of associations without and within the church in which social needs may be met, fellowship experienced. There are prayer groups, etc., and clearly, friendships can be made more easily and naturally in smaller groups than in larger ones.It is a fallacy of our age that we confuse by-product with purpose. This false construct has caused the damage and destruction of so many good things….Of course, the Lord is concerned with our needs and did not desire us to be isolated. It is unfair to suggest that orthodox liturgy implies that he does not love us. But liturgy is not an expression of his love, but of ours–not for ourselves, but for him.
While I think that was a despicable article with a very unpleasant tone and entirely unfair in it’s criticism of a priest who is obviously trying his best and doing a good job, I’m afraid that if I was to turn up to a Church and find a Latin Mass I probably would feel excluded. I’m a post Vatican 2 child and wouldn’t know the language and I’d feel very awkward about receiving the Eucharist. Maybe I’ve just been lucky but I’ve never come across any of these ‘groovy’ Masses some people can’t stand (though I have heard some terrible music occasionally) A Latin Mass introduced as part of parish life in the way Fr Tim seems to be doing it is all very well but does it lead to a cliquey situation where the ‘Latin Mass’ people are looking down on the regular people? (which I’m afraid they seem to do on the internet at times)
George W – The church hall AFTER Mass is the place to shake hands and talk with the strangers to make them welcome and show we are all of one family of God. The Church is for prayer TO God and Worship OF God. Did not Christ Himself criticise the Pharisee who went right to the from the the Temple to pray, so that all could see him at prayer?Angela – The experience of Parishes where there is a weekly Sunday Mass provided in the EF alongside one or more in the OF is NOT one of division but of a satisfied parish working together. The ‘Latin Mass’ people do not, look down on the ‘regular’ people (a poor choice of phrase) but do criticise the ‘dumbed down’ theology of the OF and the all to often abuses, many of which the ‘regulars’ at the OF may not realise are in breach of the Regulations for the celebration of the Mass.Nobody is suggesting that the only Mass offered in a Parish on a Sunday be in Latin, let alone in the traditional form. If Masses can be fitted into the parish schedule in Portugese, Cantonese, Spanish, etc – which the majority of parishioners of a mainly English speaking parish could not follow, then how different is it to have one in Latin? There are always Latin-English booklets available.If a visitor doesn’t know the ‘form’ for the traditional Mass they are always welcome to discretely ask their neighbour for some guidance. I don’t know any ‘Traditional’ Catholic who would refuse to give a few pointers to the right place in the missal, or when to kneel and stand.
If a parish has 3 Masses, one might be in Latin, another in Spanish (useful where I live), and the third in English. If it has more than 3 Masses, the remainder could be in English–or in whatever language is preferred.Easter and Christmas especially should offer a high Mass in Latin.This apparent terror of not knowing “what’s going on”, fear of not knowing “what to do” seems a bit silly and fabricated. Don’t they have misalettes at all churches? Don’t they say “stand” and “kneel”, etc. If one can read, one can participate. Latin Mass booklets (which are at all Latin Masses) have English on side of the page and Latin on the other. If picking up a booklet and opening it is not too much trouble, there’s no problem with understanding and participating.There is a level on which this discussion can be called simply a matter of taste, a disagreement in aesthetics. The “talking down” that Angela refers to is that kind of discussion, but so is the suggestion that somehow Latin Mass people don’t like their fellow human beings, they’re anti-social, or similar innuendoes. (Snobbery is no less snobbish for inverting itself.)There is no just cause for this sort of ad hominem talk, and it seems to occur when people are defensive about their tastes, not when they’re defending the meaning of the liturgy, though they often say otherwise. There are people for whom Beauty is not Truth (apologies to Keats) and who just want to have a good time at church, sing in an upbeat tempo, perhaps with guitars and tambourines, visit with folks, and love the Lord a little. There’s nothing wrong with that. But for those of us for whom this kind of Mass is downright painful, I must say that we have suffered too long. We do not ask that all Masses be Latin, with chant instead of folk music, but would it be so bad to throw us a bone and at least let us have one Mass?
Hey folks,I don’t think we are on different pages. I was only trying to make a comment based on the “holding hands with strangers” comment. I hope that makes sense. I am wholeheartedly in agreement with your assessments L)-g-