Those Baby Boomers and Their “Memories” of the Latin Mass


Someone in the wonderful world of social media left this comment in response to my most recent Liturgy Guy post on the use of Latin within the Mass:

“I remember Latin Masses.  No one understood what was being said.  If you tried to follow where the priest was you couldn’t because you couldn’t see what he was doing.  So, you took out your rosary and prayed.  The common expression was that the Mass was in Latin so that NO ONE in the world could understand it.”

I’m sincerely beginning to believe that some baby boomer Catholics are making a concerted effort to undermine the resurgence of the Latin Mass with such “memories” as this one.  The comment above is unfortunately a rather common occurrence on social media these days; a recollection that is invariably shared each and every time an attempted discussion of the traditional liturgy begins.

Here’s why I believe it’s total baloney:

1. I have exclusively assisted at the Traditional Latin Mass (sometimes called the Extraordinary Form) for nearly three years now.  It is easy to understand what is going on. Over time those who regularly attend the Mass learn the responses in Latin as well as the Ordinary of the Mass (the Gloria, Creed, Agnus Dei, etc.). After all, let’s use some common sense here: how darn confused can one be about something that they participate in EVERY week?  At what point do you accept personal responsibility for simply having never paid attention at Mass in your younger days; or…

2. …when do you acknowledge that you, your parents, or your parochial instructors, failed in their obligation to catechize you?  Many of us today still utilize the Baltimore Catechism and traditional children’s Latin Mass missals to educate our kids in the faith.  Both are pre-conciliar works.  Someone was buying them back then to teach an entire generation about the faith.  Apparently the boomers in social media who so greatly detest the Latin Mass somehow missed this formation.

3.  It’s interesting that such amazing nineteenth and twentieth century saints like St. Bernadette, St. Therese, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Padre Pio, and St. Edith Stein managed to attain personal holiness and demonstrate heroic virtue despite having only that confusing Latin Mass.

4.  It’s also interesting to further note that rectories, seminaries, and religious orders boomed in the twentieth century, hitting their highest levels in the 1950’s and early 1960’s despite the fact that (as some try to claim today) no one understood the Mass and were left in the dark, lacking spiritual fulfilment from the very source and summit of the faith. 

Frankly, none of this narrative jives.  This isn’t to say that uninspired Low Masses were never offered (because minimalism will always exist), or that some children were not subjected to deficient religious formation, because that will always be a struggle since fallible humans are responsible for passing along the faith. But the contention that Latin Rite Catholics were confused and stymied by the Mass of the Ages, the “most beautiful thing this side of heaven”, is nothing more than anti-Catholic hogwash.

Rant over.

Posted on January 31, 2016, in liturgy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 139 Comments.

  1. Proudnot2bliberal

    Its obvious you’re dealing with LIEberals facts & truths have no bearing on them

  2. I’m a boomer who was an altar boy from around 1958 to 1966 and lived through the changes. I loved the Latin Mass. The trouble today is that many Catholics are Mass snobs and feel their way is the only way (especially the TLM crowd, but no disrespect intended – merely a statement of fact.). There are also a lot more conspiracy theorists in the Church. I have said it many times, but there are various types of peanut butter. Some like crunchy, others like smooth, and others like the natural peanut butter, but you know what? In the end they are still the same thing – peanut butter…

    • I hate peanutbutter. I attended my first Latin Mass at 40 years of age. Ben.XVI directed that it is a Right of the faithful and it was NEVER banned. Clearly some in the hierarchy ‘conspired’ to eliminate it. It did not just organically -go away. If you are trying for a metaphor of The Mass as peanut butter its dumb. Your truth/my truth relativism is part of the muddled thinking of modernism. Pope Benedict XVI called TLM the extraordinary form for a reason. Some people call others snobs because they wear ‘dress up’ clothes to Mass.

  3. Not sure how old you people are, but to denigrate Baby Boomers about Latin masses is wrong. Must be a new Urban Myth. Not sure with who you are taking issue, but Latin was one of the languages taught in high school when I was growing up. It was the root of the rest of the Romance languages, Spanish, Italian and French. I am a “Boomer” that grew up speaking Polish and English and served mass in Latin as an Altar Boy. We learned the mass in Latin and the English translation. I still have the Altar Boy pamphlet and mass book with translations. Anyone that says they didn’t know the mass is questionable!

    • I don’t think that is the point of the article though – it is that the generation that had all of these gifts of the Church rebelled against it and left us the Church we have now. I’m not big on the generation blame game, however, I really am blown away by
      Boomers who think that pre-Vatican II was some sort of middle age relic.

      • Homeschool mom

        It wasn’t the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation that “rebelled against it and left us the Church we have now.” It was the generation *before*…. either the so-called ‘Greatest Generation’ (or the ‘Silent Generation’ who were born in the late 1920’s- 1944) who were the huge innovators.
        Baby Boomers were just kids or barely out of high school during Vatican II. And yet they seem to get blamed for everything. Strange.

  4. Hi. I’ve encountered that argument before. I agree, it’s a sad indictment of the attention spans of some of these people if they heard mass on a regular basis in the 1950s and 1960s, and never “picked up what was happening”. As for “Mass Snobbishness”, I’ve only encountered one priest who said he’d refuse to say Mass in the Traditional Rite. I am an acolyte in the Novus Ordo Missae and attend mass twice one a month to serve the New Rite at 9:30 Mass in my parish, and then I hear Mass a couple of suburbs over in the Traditional Mass. Both priests are very good homilists and say each of their masses reverently. I see no reason why the two rites shouldn’t exist concurrently, with both drawing from each other. The both rites have much to offer the faithful.

  5. I converted in a NO church where I am still a member, but have been attending more and more the Latin Rite. What I have found is this: the people are quite actively participating, singing the responses well. It is a Mass that fosters quietude, deep thought, prayer and earnest attention. There’s no small talk, or antics or showmanship. Most of the people who go are younger than me. I love the Latin Mass because it is this way. But let me say a word on behalf of Latin. Latin is a dead language only in the sense that it doesn’t add or change word meanings. No Western language would exist without Latin. Latin is woven throughout the very DNA of modern language. Learning it for those reasons alone makes it worth knowing. I never studied Latin in school, but I do speak several languages conversationally, and Latin, because of its many cognates is easier than Greek. The ancient script is still as modern as the alphabet it gave us, and we can, without too much trouble read it if we would but make the effort. I used to attend some very charismatic churches where the unhinged would begin praying their heartfelt inanities all at once, and I never really believed in my mind, that there was anything but emotion behind all the jabbering. I pray the Credo, the Holy Rosary, the Our Father, Doxology and Fatima prayers in Latin. It’s a beautiful way to learn the language. Anyone can do it. You can learn the many chants sung at the Mass by watching YouTube. The detractors of this Rite, and of Latin have, perhaps unintentionally, a desire to destroy history, to bury it under the rubble they wish to build their Utopian fantasy world on. I really believe that the continuation of the TLM will not allow that to ever happen.

    On Sun, Jan 31, 2016 at 8:04 PM liturgy guy wrote:

    > liturgy guy posted: ” Someone in the wonderful world of social media left > this comment in response to my most recent Liturgy Guy post on the use of > Latin within the Mass: “I remember Latin Masses. No one understood what > was being said. If you tried to follow w” >

  6. sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but “the extraordinary form” is NOT the Traditional Latin Mass, it is the Norvus Ordo Service done in Latin, HUGE difference. I would also remind you that NO priests have been validly ordained since 1962 when after that time they were merely installed to ‘preside over the Mass as a presbyter’. So if you ever find an Independent Latin Mass, I hope that you would attend and pay attention to it this time. Your soul in dependent on you doing so. Have a nice life.

    • I disagree. I attend a so called extraordinary form Mass and it is the Traditional Latin Mass using the 1962 missal. Whatever you may think of the 1962 missal, it is not the Novus Ordo .

    • And THAT, LAKramer, is the lack of charity and much besides that people so constantly note in TLM circles, shaming everyone involved. A disgusting display, and I hope you don’t repeat it and that, truly, you return with docility to the Church.

      • DN, The “independent” Latin Mass that LAKramer goes to is not Catholic. It’s sedevacantist – attended by people who don’t believe that there’s a Pope in Rome.

        An “independent” priest may have been ordained validly at one time or another – and the Mass he says could be valid – but it’s illegal, No matter how beautiful a sedevacantist Mass is, it’s still just theatre – and worse, a sacrilege.

        Please do not confuse the congregations in those non-Catholic sects with those who attend the valid, legal, and official Mass in the Extraordinary Form, which is the real Catholic Mass.

        People who attend the real Mass belong to the real Church and are welcoming, generous, and not uncharitable and haughty like the sedevacantists.

    • LAKramer,

      1. The “Extraordinary Form” is the Mass of Pope John XXIII, a direct descendant of Pope Pius V’s Mass with very little variations. It’s the Vetus Ordo of the Mass celebrated in Latin.

      2. The Novus Ordo Mass is the Mass of Pope Paul VI, formed after Vatican II, originally in Latin, but has been translated into various languages.

      3. Your “Independent Latin Mass” is not Catholic. Your priest may have been validly ordained at one time, but having jumped ship away from Mother Church, he is no longer Catholic. The Mass he celebrates may be valid by virtue of his ordination, but it’s illicit, sacrilegious, and a danger to your soul.

      Come back to the legitimate and Holy Mass. If you want Latin, there are a number of churches within your diocese that celebrate it. It’s also in churches staffed by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter; Christ the King and Sovereign Priest, and St. John Cantius in Chicago.

      • Michael Diveley

        I do not trust the Latin Mass celebrated in our Dioceses they are too connected with the Novus Ordo church. I went to a ICK Mass a year or so ago and they did the Divine Mercy Devotion. I prefer the SSPX which tells us to avoid the New Mass.

    • You are mistaken. The EF is the Mass from 1962. The Novus Ordo Mass can be said in Latin and ad orientem..but is not the same as the EF. Please get your “facts” straight.

    • No, LAKramer, you are wrong I attend an Extraordinary Form Mass and it is the TLM – the Novus Ordo Mass is called the Ordinary Form – whether in the vernacular or in Latin. The difference between the Extraordinary Form Mass and the Independent Latin Mass is that the Extraordinary Form Latin Mass is the only one sanctioned by the Church at the moment

  7. Richard A. Wozniak

    I too am a “baby boomer.” I loved and still love to attend the Latin Traditional High Mass and do so whenever I can. I also love the Byzantine Divine Liturgy and that of other Eastern rites. I do not have fond memories of the “low ” Mass, whether in Latin without music, or in English. I can tolerate the novus ordo when celebrated properly and reverently. I don’t tolerate the abuses and simply leave when I see them.

  8. William Shewmake

    I’ve been to a Spanish Mass, I’ve been to a French Mass, I didn’t understand them. If the Mass would have been in Latin I could have followed along with no trouble. If you would take the time to learn Latin, and they would said the Mass in Latin, you could go anywhere in the world and follow the Mass. Vatican II has it that we can use the vernacular but we are to retain the Latin, what happened? I think they got their foot in the door and then kicked out the Latin, I think that’s what they had in mind all along. Everything that was holy and beautiful was thrown out of the Church, the Latin Mass, Gregorian chant and the wealth of sacred music we had in the Church. Yes I’m 71 years old and I wouldn’t give up any of the time I spent listening to the Latin Mass, the language of Holy Mother Church.

  9. The way I see it, it’s all good in the eyes of the Lord. I don’t hear anyone carping about the fact that we no longer read the Scriptures in Hebrew or Aramaic, or use the words of consecration in the Aramaic or Hebrew that Jesus must have used at thr time He instituted the Holy Eucharist. Fact is times change and the people of God change and grow with it. As it is with all change, some love it, some hate it, and we all deal with it as we hope the Lord directs us to do.
    Personally, as an early member of the post WWII generation and a cradle Catholic I’ve have had a front row seat through it all. I get a kick out of the new converts waiing and gnashing their teeth about the loss of the Latin mass with all the frilly lace, the structured correographed movement of the clergy and their altar boys, altar rails and kneelling with tongue stuck out to receive. half a sacrament (Yes Jesus did institute Holy Communion with instructions to both eat His Body and drink His Blood, medieval theological gymnastics not notwithstanding), and all the old hymns, most of which were not sung in Latin, by the way. I was an altar boy from grade school through high school, and studied Latin for four years, followed by university with both Jesuits and Franciscans as instructirs, so i understood what was going on at Mass as well as anyone, fully catechized if you will, and it was boring, not beautiful, most of the time. There were prayerbooks that you could buy,or got as a first communion or confirmatoon present so you could follow what was going on…., but you were reading an English translation of what the priest was saying. They had to ring a bell to get your attention at the consecration since the priest had his back to you 95% of the time,
    That was the old chutch you are pineing to drag us all back to. But as for me and my house, we don’t miss it very much at all, and prefer to serve the Lord at our very active and dynamiv parish that fully embraces all of the reforms given to us by Vatinican II, including commumion under both species at each and every mass, or as i prefer to say, they administer the full and complete sacrament at communion. However I do enjoy an Anglo-Catholic service at an Anglicn chuch whenever I am up in NYC on Decembet 8, where they celebrate a High Mass using a medieval Catholic liturgy in Latin, replete with rubrics and time appropriate vestments, priest, deacon, and subdeacon, Gregorian chant, and with the church only lit by candlelight, And before anyone goes off thr rails, I also fulfill fulfill the Holy Day obligations at St. Patrick’s or a local Catholic earlier in the day. It is a beautiful ceremony. But much like a tradtional German Christmas meal of roast goose with all the finery and trimmings, not someting I would enjoy on a regular basis.
    We travel quite a bit in Europe, and have participated in and experinced Catholic worship in divese manners, styles and forms and languages. We always knew what was going on, despite the vernacular and the lack of standardized Latin. And as i see it, its all good in the eyes of the Lord. Let us not forget that Catholic means universal, not necessarily uniform.

    • That’s incorrect – Latin is the language of the Church – even in Vatican II time. Read the 1962 document on liturgy – it says Gregorian chant is the primary form of worship music. We’re in a complete state of rebellion in the typical Novus Ordo mass in the USA, especially in the suburbs. I’m not sure what Aramaic or Hebrew has to do with it, although I can tell you that many Jews still instruct their children in Hebrew and their faith is very strong. Losing that language (and I don’t mean classics majors, I took Latin as well) in connection with the faith is not only fatal but a clear violation of the Council/

    • That’s an amazing statement Jay. In my Chaldean parish, we would “carp” if they removed the Aramaic and the Maronite parish I sometimes attend has their entire consecration in Aramaic.
      I find it ironic that the Latin rite works so hard to remove it’s liturgical language.
      Learn from the Eastern rites.

    • Aside from the previously-referenced Hebrew instructions, there is the Greek Orthodox (in Ionic, not modern Greek), the Russian Orthodox in Old Slavonic, not “Russian”….we could go on.

      It’s likely that we are contemporaries, but clearly grew up in different worlds; my experience as an altar boy, 4-year Latin (HS) student, and singer (in multiple languages) tells me that if one WANTS to understand, one WILL understand.

      • My point, my brother, was that yes,I understood the ancient Latin Rites and practices quite well. But having grown up in the pre VaticanII church, I honestly do not lament its passing. It was a very structured ritualustic church and not very much alive with the Holy Spirit. And I believe God sent us St.John XXIII to renew His Church, much as sent St.Francis almost a millenium ago. As you note, there are a multitude of rites that have held held fast to their native languages and usage, despite of the enforced adoption of Latin and the Latin Rite as the language of the church folliwing the standardization of church pracices following the era of Constantine in the 4th century. But even with the Latin, many rites and usages continued in their native areas, and sometimes native languages. And so it is now in our time. The Holy Spirit, through the Council,has moved the Church to return to the language of the faithful in their diverse tongues. And also that if one really understands the Mysterium Fides, and is cognizant that the substance of the Mass is what matters, and is not hung up on the form,one should be able to follow the Euchatistic Celebration wherever one goes, whether it be in Latin, English,Italian,Hindi,or Swahilli.Are we not to be all things to all men? What better way than to meet them where they are so we may share the Good News,eh? Good Lent to you, it us fast approaching…..

    • Michael Diveley

      You better be careful claiming that the Holy Ghost is the author of the nasty effects since 1962

    • But as for me and my house, we don’t miss it very much at all, and prefer to serve the Lord at our very active and dynamiv parish that fully embraces all of the reforms given to us by Vatinican II, including commumion under both species at each and every mass, or as i prefer to say, they administer the full and complete sacrament at communion.
      From the “Council of Trent”. CANON III.–If any one denieth, that Christ whole and entire -the fountain and author of all graces–is received under the one species of bread; because that-as some falsely assert–He is not received, according to the institution of Christ himself, under both species; let him be anathema.

    • You were not properly catechised but protestantised like those Catholics who followed Luther. You deny the full presence Body Blood Soul and Divinity in the consecrated Communion wafer. Eucharistic miracles are solid evidence that your ignorance of the consecrated Host is that same ignorance as the Protestant.

      • Michael Diveley

        Those of us who loved the faith, who were very devout and loved the Mass and made an effort to understand the Mass it, we remain attached to the Tridentine Mass. Those who were just going through the motions accepted the New “Mass” to this day they are very ignorant of their faith. They see nothing wrong with the many abuses. They are more likely to use contraception, support abortion and homosexual marriage. Did you know that Vatican II called for Latin to remain in the Mass, they organs and Gregorian Chant remain. The Altar was not to be turned around, No special ministers of the Eucharist or communion in the hand. The liberal bishops allow all these. One abuse that the bishops do not allow is holding hands during the “Our Father” but the parishioners still do it. It is a mess, makes me sick.

  10. Great post! It’s like that scene in Orwell’s 1984 where an old man remembers what it was like before the revolution when a capitalist in a top hat knocked him over.

  11. It’s like it never was read by the American bishops

    December 1963

    116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.

    But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.

    117. The typical edition of the books of Gregorian chant is to be completed; and a more critical edition is to be prepared of those books already published since the restoration by St. Pius X.

    It is desirable also that an edition be prepared containing simpler melodies, for use in small churches.

  12. My grandchildren have no difficulty following the Latin Mass. By 5 they know what’s happening when and why; by 6 or 7 they find their way around all the propers, once Dad has sorted out their ribbons. A year later they do that too. What’s the problem?

    • Seriously, unless that complaint came from a bowl of room temperature tapioca, it’s complete balderdash.

      The challenge modern people experience with Traditional Latin Mass, has nothing to do with the language and everything to do with attention span. Very few people read anymore, or deliberately set aside time for silent prayer and recollection. We’re ruined on the teevee. Unless it’s effortless and entertaining we won’t make the effort.

      I wonder if the person who sent that message to Brian understands how lazy and intellectually moribund it make them appear. Really embarrassing. Pay attention and read the translation!

  13. In the document Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI clearly warned about the “absurd innovations” in the (novus ordo) liturgy – too bad most Bishops/priests/liturgy “committees” simply chose to ignore this. The Vatican II documents/references are only used by Bishops/priests when it suits their convenience but ignore anything to do with pre-Vatican II liturgical practices.

  14. I grew up in Ireland and the school I attended taught Latin, as indeed most of our schools did then. Additionally, the Latin Mass was explained to us, in English (the language we used), so that we were equipped to follow it in its entirety. I have since experienced Latin as a member of various choirs, with little difficulty in tackling pronunciation. It was not so easy for those who didn’t experience it.

  15. I’m a Gen Xer who grew up having the “spirit of Vatican II” crammed down my throat by people who knew nothing of the letter of it. I find a bitter irony that those who make the complain about not understanding the words (or letter if you will) of the Mass when it was in Latin seem to know nothing of the spirit of the Mass. Certainly not all boomers were like that. My mom, God rest her soul, passed before the resurgence of the Latin Mass, but always spoke fondly of it. She had been away from the Church, and experienced a radical reversion, after which she described herself as a “prodigal who came home and found the Father’s house a shambles.”

  16. I went to the Mass in China a number of times and didn’t understand a bit of it. I remember thinking, “If only the Mass was still in Latin world-wide, I would have been able to participate.”

  17. “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven”

  18. What church is this

  19. Sadly, my priest speaks very little Latin. Very sad emoticon would be appropriate here.

  20. There is a quote from Jerry Garcia saying how he missed the incense and music. A lot of them would go to the New Age, probably because we stopped being real and tried to please the senses with gimmicks. It was probably the Masons’ orchestreation to cripple its influence so they could exert theirs and be the charitable sugar-daddy of the poor, as well as bind or unbind/forgive or retain sins with divine-like authority in the minds of billions. The aggiornamento of kitschy gimmicks was not the fault of the Boomers. It started with a previous generation and many obedient people of good will bought their rhetoric, imho.

  21. If you read the entire text of the Tridentine mass Mass in English, one needs to wonder why we ever changed. It is so beautiful and all focus is worshiping God. I was too young to really remember but do have some recollection. I do not understand why the the extraordinary form was not put into the vernacular to appease the modernist and the Latin Mass continued.One has to wonder why the big drop off in Church attendance. My gut says that man get bored easily and needs to be stimulated and turns to other things. My cousin said it best…I was in AWE when I attended Latin Mass in my youth. It is time that we return to being in Awe of Christ our Savior again. God Bless.

  22. Michael Diveley

    I started Catholic school in 1960, was well taught the faith. The next year I knew what the Mass was all about. Before Vatican II I was following the Mass in my Missal. The letter from this lady reminds me of my late aunt. She was always a half way Catholic. Thirty years later my brother brought her a book “Catholicism for idiots”

  23. We are “Latin Rite Catholics” but led to believe that Latin is not right or good for our Mass.
    I never understood that one!

  24. I was raised Catholic and attended both Catholic grade and high schools. The Baltimore Catechism was more important than the Bible. We were taught by nuns who drilled into us the faith on a daily basis, and we were fortified by mandatory daily Mass attendance.

    We all understood what was happening during the Latin Masses, but most prayed their rosary, read novenas, said prayers to various saints, or (always in secret) read a non-religious book. We were made to understand that Communion was something no one deserved–so only a few dared to participate. Only a handful of people received on any regular basis and only if they had been to confession the Saturday before–lest their souls should be tarnished and they were found blaspheming the Sacrament.

    Adults sat in their pews usually away from their children who attended with their respective Catholic school classmates. Few of the adults went forward at Communion either–not even on Sunday. There was no sense of community or family cohesiveness.

    What was profoundly missing was a sense of joy and the feeling that God loved us. It was not the Latin Mass that was necessarily the deciding factor. But the Latin certainly helped add to the feeling of detachment. Yes, it provided an atmosphere of sanctity but its other-worldliness was as much a put-off as an attractant to some of us.

    Many of my friends of that era left the Church as soon as they gained independence. They found the atmosphere of clericalism, scrupulosity and individual isolation too much to endure. Yes, it was the ’60s, the era of hippies and rebellion. But it was more than rebellion to those who could no longer endure what some felt was an atmosphere of repressiveness.

    Vatican II was a proverbial “breath of fresh air.”

    There was a reason many people who were priests and nuns left the ministry during and following the Council, and it was not loss of the Latin Mass that caused it.

    I have no objection to those who want to attend and participate in a Latin Mass. But the memories of those early years are too strong for me to ever want to go back to the pre-Vatican II days. I prefer the “full, active participation” in the liturgy I find in the vernacular Mass.

    However, I totally agree that many priests took too many liberties with the Mass setting. These excesses I lay at the feet of the bishops who allowed some things to occur and even continue over long periods of time.

    As for the use of incense…please be aware that the use of it can send some people to the emergency room. My sister taught at a Catholic high school for years. At a school Mass they would beg their priest not to use incense; he would use it anyway. Two to three students would routinely have allergic attacks that would disrupt the service. How was that edifying?

    • Well put! That pretty much nails it the way it was. A lot of the younger folks and new converts that seem to be in love with the elaborate ritual never lived though or experienced the rest of the package as it was then. Like you, I never want to see those days and ways return. God bless St. John XXIII and the wisdom and charism of Vatican II. But there seems to me to be no reason why the Latin rituals shouldn’t in in the post-councilar church, along with all the other rites the rituals the church has adopted, adapted,and added over its 2000 years. God’s Kingdom, I suspect, is far more vast than many would like it to be……. Good Lent to you. It is soon upon us!

      • Michael Diveley

        In grade school the Baltimore Catechism is more important than the Bible, actually we did have Bible History Classes. When we were young my dad still had his Bible history text book from the 1930s. In the early church people were taught the faith before they were allowed to read the Bible. When we get older we should continue to read Catholic books. There are many books on how to understand the old Mass. My experience in Catholic school is the reason that I still love our faith. And it was a pleasure to attend daily Mass, I still would do so if a Traditional Mass was available nearby. The problem with many here is that they have no faith.

  25. Does anyone know what church this is???

  26. I remember the Latin Mass quite well. I served as an altar boy for several years prior to Vatican II. The Mass was great and is great. Missals had and have English translations to help worshipers follow the Mass (which is not difficult). While some good came out of Vatican II, it was a major mistake, in my humble opinion.

  27. This discussion has prompted many memories in me. And yes, many, many parishes were like the one I described in my last post.

    It is interesting that so many of the younger people and converts are attracted to the older forms. And yes, they want the rituals but have no idea, as Jay said, of all that went with them.

    Many of us boomers remember things like:

    You could only receive Communion on the tongue. You were forbidden to EVER touch a host (even if it fell out of your mouth). And you were NEVER to chew on it…it had to dissolve slowly in your mouth. If it got stuck on your teeth, you waited till it dissolved. This never made sense to me. At the Last Supper, Jesus blessed the bread and wine and passed them around. He did not go from one person to the next placing it on their tongues. (And I firmly believe there were women present at that Last Supper too. Seder meals were not exclusive male events. Surely Mary, His mother, was present and most likely the other women who later stood at the foot of the cross. But I digress…)

    You approached Communion with your hands angelically folded, fingers pointed upwards. If you fingers fell to the 30-degree position, it was an indication that you would spend a long time in Purgatory. If (God forbid!) they pointed downwards…well, you can guess your ultimate destination.

    You received in a kneeling position at the Communion rail. I see this revived in many churches today among some. They approach in the Communion line, and just as they reach the Priest they fall on their knees and stick out their tongues. (One person even stretches out his hands as though on the Cross). Several times this practice has caught an un-attentive (often older) person off guard, resulting in near stumbles and minor collisions. How is that helpful?

    Sister telling a mis-behaving child that for every minute of class time she had to waste on correcting their behavior, the child would spend those minutes (multiplied by the number of their classmates) in Purgatory.

    Women were NEVER allowed behind the altar rail, except to clean when the church was empty.

    Altar boys were, of course, boys. I know many make the argument today that only boys should serve since only men can become priests. But excluding half of the body of Christ from this altar service seems such a waste of potential. Women can become nuns or serve in other ministries. Pope Francis’ recent inclusion of women in the foot washing ceremony (though an anathema to some) is a welcomed sign.

    There were no lectors. The priest did it all.

    The priest’s word was law. There were no councils or advisers.

    Of course, there were no Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers. Only the ordained priest could touch the host. (There were no deacons then either.) Some of those dedicated to restoring the old ways will not take Communion from any Extraordinary EM now, especially if the EM is female. That is fine. But in our community the homebound are served almost exclusively by EMs volunteers. In the past, the homebound just waited till they were near death when the priest would come for the last rites. Do you think not receiving Communion in the months or years they were home waiting for death to arrive was helpful?

    A few years ago, our then current priest instituted a Latin Mass on first Friday nights. At first, some people came out of curiosity. But over just a few months attendance dwindled to the point where the practice was abandoned.

    Our community is undergoing the same tensions seen across the church. There is a small segment that wants the Latin Mass and a return to the older forms. There is a larger segment that does not. (And, of course, another portion that don’t seem to care.) Our current priest is aligned with the neo-traditionalists and has placed more and more Latin into the Masses—together with more chants and antiphons. And slowly the entire atmosphere has been changing to that of the pre-Vatican era.

    What is the result? More and more people from our congregation are going to out-lying churches to avoid the Latin and accompanying changes, taking their purses with them. Some stay, but the grumbling grows louder with time. I am in total sympathy with this migration– preferring to travel miles in our rural area to attend a church where the atmosphere reflects Vatican II. How is this polarization healthy for the church in the long run?

    To some who might think I have little faith, let me assure you that I am devoted to the Eucharist and treat it with the utmost reverence, attend daily Mass, love Eucharistic adoration and go to Reconciliation on a regular basis. I am just glad Vatican II occurred and shudder to think that the neo-traditionalists think the pre-Vatican era was a “golden age” in the church.

    I should also note that the post-Vatican II atmosphere has not prevented the creation of saints such as John Paul II, Mother Theresa, and the many who–even today–are persecuted and killed for their faith. Sanctity is not based on forms, but on commitment to the Spirit of God within you.

    I find it interesting that most of the “boomers” I know would agree that the Latin Mass should be available to those who want it, whereas the neo-traditionalists seem less tolerant of those who prefer the new forms. Why does a small segment feel it is necessary dictate to the larger one? To each his own. My father’s house has many mansions. Doesn’t yours?

    • Actually, in my experience most of the Latin Mass lovers don’t mind the novus ordo Mass but prefer the Latin, believing it to be more spiritually nourshing (at least for them). As far as those who leave the parish you attend for another parish they prefer, it sounds like you still have the novus ordo but with a sprinkling of what the Church had for over a thousand years. It isn’t even a true Tridentine Mass. It sounds like your priest is trying to compromise but who isn’t willing to accept the compromise?

  28. I’m a “boomer” too, and I loved the Mass before Vatican II. I accepted the changes because you did what the Church told you to. When I heard the Latin Mass again I felt like I was back home after a long journey and that I’d been cheated of it for forty years. But then perhaps we needed a lesson on appreciating what the Mass is as we study to find out that the Church had logical reasons for everything She taught. It’s all there if you bother to look.

    But it wasn’t just the Mass that changed. It was a whole attitude toward the Faith. Piety and sacrifice were mocked and a general attitude of disobedience of Church tradition and scorn for the sacred seemed to be fostered. There was much confusion. It really looks now like the rumors of schism are coming true because I can’t see how else all this bickering can end. I have cried for the Church. I’ve watched as most of my family have left the Church. Almost fifty years ago Fr. Joseph Ratzinger was quite prescient in his assessment of the Church of the future as being small and powerless like in Apostolic times. Fr. Hardon also said that only the strong in faith would survive the upheaval. Many have predicted persecution and you can feel it coming.

  29. Bravo! As a seven-year altar boy, beginning at age eight, I don’t recall a hue and cry about people not understanding the Mass. Most missals of the time had the English translation on the facing page. But, Latin was the language of Catholics; the gold standard. By gosh, .we even studied Latin as a mandatory subject in high school for two years (public schools!). Amazing how Latin facilitated command of the English language (but not the reverse). Among my contemporary Boomers (especially the ones who hid in teachers colleges til the all clear was sounded on the draft), there is this need to pull everything down to a single, collectivist, and irrelevant, common denominator. Not content with having diminished the culture, they can’t abide not doing the same to their hobby-like approach to the Mass.

  30. “It was a very structured ritualustic church and not very much alive with the Holy Spirit. ”

    Umnnnhhh….really? Does the term ‘presumption’ mean anything to you?

    Further, you imply that ‘ritual’ and ‘alive with the HS’ are mutually exclusive. You may hold that as an opinion, but it certainly is not a fact.

    • No, it was an empirical observation of how the pre Vatican II church was, based on my experience over a lifetime of being as good and faithful Catholic as I suspect you think you are as well. I have been involved with a thriving, vibrant, dynamic parish filled with the Holy Spirit since 1983, and I think I can tell the difference between the two. An excess of dedication to form being emphasised over the substance of living a Spirit filled life marked the old church that I experienced. My Church welcomes all Catholics, but I think yours will be very disappointed if anyone who does not comport with your way of thinking and follows the old Latin ritual practices is going to be in heaven. But at the end of the day we all have no more certainity of what God really thinks and how He decides than what we take and belive on the faith the Holy Spirit provides to each of us.

      • Here we go again, back and forth. My TLM parish is VERY inviting and they don’t think that those who don’t attend a Latin Mass are doomed. About half the parishioners at my TLM parish are converts to the Catholic Church and most brought into the Church through the TLM parish. As far as the other half of the parish, most were novus ordo Catholic that happened to check out the Latin and kept coming.

        Most of the parishioners attend both the novus ordo and the TLM, but prefer the TLM.

        Most of the older ones who brought their children up in a TLM parish have children who attend novus ordo parishes due to their spouses wishes and they accept it. The common thinking is that the standard novus ordo parish doesn’t seem to grow spiritual diamonds, while the average TLM parish has many vocations to religious life. Generally the novus ordo spouse will not under any circumstances attend a TLM parish while the Traditional Catholic realizes that the novus ordo is a valid Mass and gives in for the peace of the family.

        Sadly, the common response as to how the kids are doing in the novus ordo hasn’t been so great. If their are family problems, it seems that it is the children attending the novus ordo that are having issues. The grandchildren aren’t growing up to follow the faith or the children are having marital problems. While at the same time, I have never heard of an active family who is a devout member of a TLM parish get a divorce.

      • “…I think I can tell the difference between the two. …”

        Uh-huh. Well, your clairvoyance is seriously impeded:

        “…but I think yours will be very disappointed if anyone who does not comport with your way of thinking and follows the old Latin ritual practices is going to be in heaven….”

        See, I am a member of a distinctly OF parish. I don’t make judgments beyond my pay-grade. You do.

      • There is very big diffetence between empiralical observation and objective experience versus clairvoyance, kind sir, a distinction that perhaps eludes you. But I digress. I suspect that your tag of Dad29 refers to the fact you are young man with young children, about the age of 29. Way too young to be knowledgeable of the actuallity and reality of life in the pre Vatican II church, and therefore not well suited to comment on the subject.
        And i don’t prejudge anyone. But I do think we shall all find a like more folks in heaven than some believe deserve to get there, like our separated Protestant and Orthodox brethren, and some of the suppossed shoo-ins among the missing. But that’s for Our Lord to decide, not I. Good Lent to your and your family.

      • My sincere apologies, “dad29”. My beloved grandmother, God rest her soul, counseled to never try to reason with a fool. I failed to follow her advice. As it seems to be with the few other brave souls who take exception to the idea that all will be well with the Roman Catholic Church if only we returned to the old ways prior to St. John XXXIII, and all that came with it, and have tried to provide reasonable balance through the perspective of our life experiences, we too often find that some of our fellow Catholics seem to choose to denigrate what we have to say and think, and sink to personal attacks rather than offer ideas or rational thoughts. The old Church never was big on tolerance of differing thoughts. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to see that same spirit living on amongst some of those who seek to drag it back to the way it was…….

      • I think it’s best never to call someone a fool. Jesus’ words frightened me off doing so

  31. Personally, I have seen people saying a Rosary during Mass, not often, but they do. Some people can multi-task, I for one have a short attention span, but anything you do everyday, is going to become memorized. Sometimes when driving somewhere I will end up on the route to work instead of going straight to my destination. Perhaps I became distracted and how many of us have not gotten distracted during Mass with some worry.

    To me, the fact is that for most of my childhood during the novus ordo Mass, I was thinking about everything BUT what was going on in the sanctuary. It doesn’t matter whether it is the TLM or the novus ordo, we can become distracted. What matters is how hard we try to keep focused on something we have seen 10,000 times before. Some, like me who have a bit of ADHD find that doing two things at once can help us focus. A rosary is a great thing to do that and I guarantee you that most of the people saying the rosary are following along in the Mass just fine.

    The point is, focus on the Mass, being a part of it has more to do with spirituality than the language it is spoken in, and as I can attest, the TLM is a spiritual treasure from which I am feed and nourished. It has been a life saver as far as my spiritual lives. It brought me back to the Church and I finally realize why it is God’s true faith that we must be a part of to be saved.

  32. How old are you? I call B.S. on anybody under 60 years of age who complains about the Latin Mass pre vatican 2. It was 47 years ago!. The boomers who complain today were likely the treenagers who complained about Mass in 1969.

  33. I was born in 1945 and I am always amazed when people say they didn’t know what was going on in the Latin Mass.

    Believe it or not we had something called a “Missal” and it allowed you to follow the Mass, and had both Latin and English side by side.

    I have always said that the only people who didn’t know what was going on, did not want to know what was going on.

  34. Regarding whether people understand what’s going on during Mass, Bill Murray (whose sister is a nun) shared his sane perspective with the Herald last year:

    “If you’ve been in the business long enough you know what they mean anyway.”

    It’s a brief article, but worth reading.

    Many people carried their own hand missale to read the propers. I have the last Missal my mother bought –it’s a 1956, leather bound, and the price is still legible inside the front cover: US $3.75. So they were actually more affordable back then, simply because of supply and demand.

    Anyone who didn’t understand what was going on was either disengaged, or poorly catechized. It’s really that simple. We lost the faith, and the Novus Ordo was the response.

  35. I feel worshipping God in a language I don’t know enough of to order a cheeseburger in only displays hubris and pretension on my part. For that reason alone this “boomer” refuses to attend a Latin Mass.

    • So if you were traveling to a foreign country you would refuse to attend Mass while there because you wouldn’t be able to understand the language?

    • “I feel”

      This has nothing to do with how you feel.

      • You’re so right, and thanks for pointing that out. Time to get past the feelings and realize that Mass is not a “meet and greet”. We owe God a ‘sacrifice’ of praise, and we really need to have some catechesis on this.

  36. I grew up in the 50’s and our missals had Latin on the left side of the page and English on the right side. I knew exactly what was being said and done during mass. On top of this the religious who taught us reviewed everything during Catechism class. If this guy didn’t, then he was NOT paying attention.

  37. Really, as has been pointed out, if you don’t understand the Mass it’s your own fault. There are books with translations and most people are capable of learning other languages. There are just a few prayers and responses to learn anyway. Who doesn’t know what ‘sanctus’ means?

  38. “….I suspect that your tag of Dad29 refers to the fact you are young man with young children, about the age of 29. Way too young to be knowledgeable of the actuallity and reality of life in the pre Vatican II church, and therefore not well suited to comment on the subject….”

    Risibly inaccurate. Screamingly, laughably wrong. But your presumption to judge ‘where the Holy Spirit moves’, your totally un-founded assertion that I’m an E F guy–and now this–it’s too much.

    My wife of 40 years counsels me “not to feed the trolls.” Buh-bye.

  39. Reading these comments here it is topical in relation to our parish in Kent. I do not want to discuss the EF or the OF Mass.What comes across is the arrogance and lack of respect held for our people of whichever preference. The lack of will for spiritual intervention to heal rifts. Most elderly will remember the Latin Mass. Several generations might not know the Latin Mass. So congregations are varied in relation to their experiences. Every Catholic has a right to worship in a way they understand and that accords with the way they have been accustomed to worship. However, my experience has been to have our service and music ridiculed and degraded by the EF Mass supporters. This support came via the Social Media protection Mafia group who would condemn the slightest criticism. An organized hate campaign involving the police and personal insults in church emerged. . The Blessed Sacrament being abused and used to bring into the church to stop people from talking! A degree of fanatical behaviour and radical change has been evident for the past year and a half. Not content with installing a Sunday weekly EF Mass our OF service is manipulated to contain elements of the EF Mass and Latin responses and prayers. It is good for everyone to be exposed to the Latin language! Maybe even this is no big deal but I return to the belief that whichever form of Mass our people prefer or take part in this does not take away their human dignity and right to be informed about changes and introductions taking place. It does not take away their right to have an opinion. To understand the intentions! The arrogance exists when a new PP and followers who arrive take over control in a cunning and secretive way. A way that proved heartbreaking and painful for so many adults and children that approx. 200 left and about 100 remain spread across the three Sunday Masses. Most special ministers and volunteers have gone! (of course women are dispensable to the needs of the EF Mass!) Each Mass is legal and is truly A holy Sacrifice. Whatever differences and opinions nothing can divide our Spiritual entity within our humanity. We are one Church and one people. One mystical Body of Christ. So human respect should be honoured and divisiveness should be prevented at all costs. It is hard but I refer to Pope Francis who tells us that when there are disputes some leave and walk away. Some will adapt and conform unhappily. A few will stand firm and stand up for their beliefs and what is right for our people. I remain with the later because I want our Parish preserved for everyone and not for a few ‘elitists’ who hate simple music and prayers and believe that Jesus is happy for his little ones to sit bored and forgotten as observers when they could speak the prayers and learn with their parents who have been used to the OF Mass. There is room for all but above everything when human dignity is stripped away and families split and traumatized something is gravely wrong. Don’t worry about ‘what is going on’ but ‘how things are going on’ in our church and know that sometimes all is not what it seems. Sadly, I am critical because I believe we are all one in Christ and not two churches. So stop the divisiveness and understand that even if some fanatical/radicals do believe or know they are right this cannot be a justification for using your beliefs to cause others great harm in the spiritual lives.


      36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites….

      enough said

      • As long as Sacrosanctum Concilium 36 is being referenced, perhaps it might be helpful to quote both 36.1 and 36.2.

        36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

        2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

        Yesterday at my wonderful Roman Catholic Parish, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mas was celebrated (Yes, we celebrate Mass, not attend Mass) in English, our mother tongue. We sang the Kyrie Eleison in its original Greek, the Gloria in Latin with a Gregorian Chant, as well as the Sanctus, also in a Latin chant. Prior to communion, we also sang the Angus Dei in a Latin chant. Communion was administered under both species as instituted by Our Lord Jesue Christ. It is a very large church and was filled with the faithfull, almost all of whom received communion standing and in the hand from either a priest, a deacon, or a Eucharistic minister. There were two Eucharistic Ministers as chalice bearers for each priest, deacon and Eucharistic minister standing around the altar where wonderful, albeit post Conciliar, music and hymns were sung in praise and adoration of Our Lord Jesus present at our table. Like many of the readers here who go distances from their home parish for the Latin Mass as they like it, we happily travel greater distances than we need to celebrate in that fully embraces all that our church can be and is fully committed to communion under both kinds at each and every Mass celebrated in the Parish.

        So yes, there is more to be said than just quoting a few words from Sacrosanctum Concilium 36.1. Good Lent to all my brother and sister Catholics.

      • As you call the O.F. is the Mass of the Roman Catholic church. The New Mass is a trash Mass

  40. It will be interesting to see what Jesus has to say about that when we all get to the “Sweet By and By”, eh mate!

  41. I always knew what was happening. The missal coincided with the Latin. I loved it.

    • Honestly, compared to all the reasons to keep Latin, the excuse that people can’t understand it is really lame. I’m afraid I’m losing my patience with that excuse.

  42. The Latin mass beautiful I think because of its mystery to older people it was a special language that connected them to heaven but unfortunately it was closed in as a catholic ritual for Catholics ony . in this sense it wasent ecumenical . The faith need to be taught in an ever changing world the mass in the veneculer did just that Pope John the twenty third opened the door to evangelism Pope Paul the VI continued it Pope St. John Paul the great brought it to a higher level by bring it to different countries Pope Benedict continued being a missionary Pope and there’s Pope Francis who didn’t use his physical impairment as an excuse to turn down the cross that was offered to him no he picked it up and his now carring it . Those who are not in Union with this Pope are stuck in the past and will remain there licking their wounds .

    • Not sure how pope Francis got into this discussion, but your first point about the Mass not being ecumenical when it’s in Latin misses the mark. The Mass is not a time for ecumenism. It’s meant for worship and being obedient to the call of Jesus to “do this in memory of Me”. And if using the vernacular was supposed to bring more into the Church and make us more devotional, then it has failed badly. The church has been hemorrhaging people, and those who are left are largely dissenting from Church teaching and arguing about what it means to be Catholic. Ironically, the vernacular seems to have caused more confusion.

  43. I’m a baby boomer and I remember the Latin Mass with great fondness. I had no trouble following the Mass and neither did anyone else…besides all the available prayer books of the time provided the Latin on one side and the English on the other…only the lazy or the sleeping failed to know what was going on! –Fr. David Chiantella

  44. Elizabeth Korf

    Sadly these are the complaints my mother gives for the Latin mass. Which I find to be very sad. It just goes to show how badly catechized the laity was at the time. When I talk about going to a Latin mass she gets a bit perturbed telling me she wouldn’t do that if she where me. My thoughts are that she has swallowed the party line hook line and sinker. I understand that the Holy Mass is not done for me or my entertainment but in obedience to the Lord.

    That being said I do not belong to a TLM parish, or to a parish that says the TLM but instead go to a Ordinariate parish. I am, however, a strong supporter of the TLM when done well. For me it’s less about the Latin itself and more about the reverence and beauty held in the worship and churches of the day. I always feel I have truly “been to Mass” when those around me are reverent and the church that surrounds me is visually beautiful, harking itself to heaven and not to an amphitheater. Now this is only me, but I love my church because it is the closest I can get to the worship my soul desires. If we have to move it is one of the few things I will miss about Houston. I know how bad the NO Mass can be but it can also be done very well. I find it is not the form that makes the difference but the mindset of the celebrant and the parishioners. It just happens to be that in today’s society that those who are of a more traditional mindset tend to be more serious about learning and following the churches teachings. Now that is not to say that some traditional sects are not trying to make up their own rules just as the “spirit of Vatican II” sects do, just in the opposite direction. The bottom line is learn your faith and live it, don’t just be a Sunday Catholic who follows whatever the trend of the day is.

  45. A
    OF THE

    (or “fool me once, shame on you”)

    Daily Mass
    In uniformed plaid
    Then suddenly
    Adults went mad

    Priests danced round
    Nuns turned hip
    Fathers, mothers
    All jumped ship

    Michael rowed
    His boat ashore
    Through the Sanctuary

    Garfunked too
    Jesus loves you

    Jesus Christ
    God is dead
    So who You are?

    Morning pills
    Eat the Bread
    Grace Slicked-souls
    Will feed your head

    All were Virgins
    Female Ghost
    Feminist boast

    Tell what’s happening
    What’s the buzz
    Bishops do
    What never was

    But one Bishop
    Stood up straight
    Great man-Mitred
    Gainst the gate

    Great man-Mitred
    Took the Cross
    Plugged the hole
    To stop Priest loss

    And to this day
    Green fields, no dream
    From Catholic families
    Vocations stream

    And along the
    River banks they line
    Rosaries in hand
    For both Tiber and Rhine

    We believe in God
    The Virgin…the Creed
    If this flow continues
    Your waters will bleed

    But not with Christ’s
    Most Precious Blood…
    A mitred-muck
    Of sin-scabbed mud!

  46. Amen. Thank you for this!! 🙂

  47. Fr. Chiantella, I agree wholeheartedly. I loved the Mass as it was and never thought about it changing. I just woke up one morning and it was changed. I was trained to do what the church said, so I just did is I was told. Never thought about anything one way or the other. Now there’s chaos, and I long for the peace and reverence of the Mass I grew up with. During one of those beautiful Masses shortly after I had discovered this particular Church suddenly found an anger welling up inside of me and the thought that I had been cheated of this for 40 years. As quickly as it rose up in me it died back down again, and I realized that I hadn’t been any Saint during those 40 years, and my sins had contributed to any problems the church had. In grade school the sister teaching religion had told us that we were like links in a chain, and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I have been a weak link, and I pray that God will forgive me and help me to become as strong as He would like me to be in whatever time I have left on this earth.

    That being said, Elizabeth Korf, what you said is so true. Learn your faith and live it.

  48. I was a pre-NO altarboy. Of course it took some effort to learn the Latin, but it was hardly impossible.

  49. My reply if anyone begins a rant about not “getting” anything out of the Latin Mass. “It isn’t about you. It isn’t about what ya get outta the Mass. It’s about what you bring to give God at Holy Mass. A whole different perspective. Ah, the aftermath of the ‘me first, last and always’ 1960s.

  50. Bruce Bridgewood

    Nothing to do with Anglo-Catholics and everything to do with disaffected Romans

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