“The Latin Mass Has Made Me a Better Priest.”

image[Photo: Fr. Timothy Reid offering a Rorate Mass in December 2015]

As the Church nears the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s landmark Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, another anniversary recently occurred at St. Ann Catholic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has been 9 years since the Latin Mass returned to Charlotte. Since that first Low Mass, offered on a Saturday morning (May 31, 2008), the traditional Mass has continued to grow in availability and popularity in the city.

I recently asked the pastor of St. Ann’s, Fr. Timothy Reid (a Methodist convert who recently appeared on EWTN’s The Journey Home) how offering the ancient rite has impacted him as a priest:

“After 9 years of offering the Latin Mass, I can say that it’s made me a better priest. I’ve loved being steeped in its tradition and being formed by its rubrics and prayers. Most importantly, offering the Latin Mass has improved the way I offer the Novus Ordo Mass. The discipline that the Latin Mass requires in offering it has certainly carried over into the way I offer the Novus Ordo Mass. I’ve certainly experienced the mutual enrichment that Pope Benedict XVI hoped would happen when the Latin Mass and Novus Ordo are offered side by side, and I believe our parish has, too. I definitely have a renewed and greater appreciation for the awesome dignity of the Mass.”

Fr. Reid’s response shouldn’t surprise us. In fact, I’ve heard similar sentiments expressed by other priests who offer the Traditional Latin Mass. To a man they have expressed an enhanced understanding of the Holy Sacrifice, as well as their priesthood, through exposure to the older rite.

You may recall that Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon discussed these very same benefits when he addressed the Sacra Liturgia conference in Rome in 2013. At the time he noted:

All of this is why I would urge bishops to familiarize themselves with the usus antiquior as a means of achieving their own deeper formation in the liturgy and as a reliable reference point in bringing about renewal and reform of the liturgy in the local Church. Speaking from personal experience, my own study and celebration of the older liturgical rites has had a tremendous effect on my own appreciation of our liturgical tradition and has enhanced my own understanding and celebration of the new rites.

Echoing the very same sentiments expressed by Fr. Reid, Archbishop Sample further noted:

The bishop should also encourage his seminarians to familiarize themselves with that usus antiquior, not just for the possibility that they may…be called upon to celebrate this form of the Mass for the benefit of the faithful, but indeed for the future priest’s own appreciation of the deep and rich liturgical tradition from which the reformed rites flow…

The simple truth is that the Roman Rite has two forms presently: the Ordinary Form (the Mass introduced in 1970), and the Extraordinary Form (a liturgy which dates back to the earliest centuries, largely unchanged since the first millennium).

Isn’t it time for the Church to listen to men who offer both forms of the Roman Rite, like Archbishop Alexander Sample and Fr. Timothy Reid? Hasn’t the time come for all priests in the Roman Rite, and particularly for seminarians, to deepen their understanding of the Sacrifice of the Altar by learning the Traditional Latin Mass?

[Photo credit: John Cosmas]

Posted on June 4, 2017, in liturgy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. Franklin P. Uroda

    The Holy Sacrifice in any language works. If it has to be in a foreign language, I’d rather it be in Hebrew or Greek-the Holy Spirit inspired languages-rather than in Latin, the language of the barbarians who killed Jesus, the Best Man Who ever lived. For me, it’s hateful that the Church went along to get along with Latin, rather than resist the evil society. Just the opposite of what we’re supposed to do. Okay, Latin was the ordinary language of the people, but it shouldn’t have been introduced into the Holy Sacrifice Liturgy.

    • charleseflynn

      I do not recall where I read the following argument:

      Western civilization is founded upon three cities, Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome. The three cities have three languages, each with a unique capability:

      1. Jerusalem, with Hebrew, a language uniquely capable of expressing the meaning and purpose of things.

      2. Athens, with Greek, a language uniquely suited for precise philosophical discussion. English has one word for “love”, while Greek has six: eros, philios, ludus, agape, pragma, and Philautia. (Disclaimer: I just found out about three of these.)

      3. Rome, with Latin, a language uniquely suited for the exposition of law, because of its extraordinary resistance to ambiguity.

      Some scholars believe that each of these three cities executed its most admirable citizen or distinguished visitor:

      Jesus Christ, Socrates, Cicero.

      • Franklin P. Uroda

        Latin-speaking soldiers of the Roman Empire murdered Jesus In Israel. I don’t have a relationship with Socrates or Cicero, i.e., couldn’t care less about them, though I thought-in 11th grade-the Cataline orations made sense.

    • “The simple truth is that the Roman Rite has two forms presently: the Ordinary Form (the Mass introduced in 1970), and the Extraordinary Form (a liturgy which dates back to the earliest centuries, largely unchanged since the first millennium).”

      The actual truth, though, is that the Novus Ordo is a new rite. Benedict may have wanted there to be only “two forms,” but the overwhelming truth of the matter is that the Novus Ordo is a new rite.

      Pretty much all of the liturgists during the time of the “reforms” believed this. They wrote “the roman rite as we know it has been destroyed.” The differences in all the key parts of the Mass are even greater than the differences between different western rites already in existence. How can it be the same rite when there was no organic connection with what came before? The Novus Ordo was put together by a committee, it was a new creation, not a development. Pope Benedict offered no reasoning in Summorum Pontificum as to why they are two “forms” as opposed to “rites.”

      The de-facto destruction of the Roman Rite as it once was amounts to an injustice on a grand scale, and the Church will continue to suffocate until the injustice has been remedied. We have to face the fact that the Novus Ordo, as a liturgy, is not as effective at passing down the faith as the traditional roman rite.

      • The problematic solution of two “forms” within one rite was as much a political solution as it was a theological or liturgical one. But it is what we have for the present.

      • “Pretty much all of the liturgists during the time of the “reforms” believed this. They wrote….”

        No, James, that is not what they wrote. Josef Jungmann said the reforms were organic. Rev. Fr. Damasus Winzen said the reforms were organic. Fr. Reynold Hillenbrand said the reforms were organic. The publishers of ” Orate Fratres” said the reforms were organic. No serious proponent of the liturgical renewal said what you claimed some unnamed person said.

  2. The advantages for the priest celebrant don’t always extend to the lay faithful. Mass in a language not understood, often mumbled and inaudible, said quickly in about 35-50 minutes rather than the more extended renewed Mass. A miserly selection of Scripture readings — 104 rather than 468, and much a much richer selection with the reformed Lectionary. A prohibition on concelebration. Altars pushed against the wall that could not stand by themselves. Abbreviated fiddleback vestments rather than fuller gothic.

    • Kurt, I’ve been exclusively assisting at the traditional Mass for over four years now. You appear to have no real experience with it. Your comment reads like a bad stereotype of an anti-traditional Catholic.

      • I will meet you have way. The miserly Scripture selection is simply a quantifiable fact. It is not in the language of the lay faithful. I could be wrong that the Tridentine Mass can now be concelebrated contrary to the pre-counciliar prohibition, so let me know if I am in error on that.

        On the other points, my statements were certainly commonplace features prior to the Council. (Mumbled, inaudible, brief and with fiddlebacks). Now, my experience prior to the liturgical renewal and your experience today may well be different experiences. I would certainly expect that when you have a form used by exception and by those particularly committed to it, that they would see that it is presented in its best possible form.

        So it is not that I do not have experience , it is that my experience is what it was like when universally practiced rather than practiced by some present day liturgical connoisseurs.

    • Franklin P. Uroda

      When I was an altar boy in Catholic school, 20 years before Vatican II, I loved-still do- the liturgy of the Holy Sacrifice, and just about any other rite, e.g., Benediction of The Blessed Sacrament on Fridays. “Tantum Ergo/O, Salutaris” still ring in my ears. After Benediction, my journey home took me past an Assembly of God (Pentecostals) church which also had services, and in Summer time, their doors were open and the music and singing, and the enthusiasm could be heard all over the block. I always thought that it would be great to have that kind of singing and music and the enthusiasm in our Church as well. Their minister would, on Saturday, do what is known as “Street Preaching” on one of the busiest street corners in town. People would gather, right there in public and listen to him. He would punctuate his talk with “In the Name of Jesus.” I felt bad that our priests, ministers of the True Church, weren’t doing the same.

    • I converted to the Catholic faith partly because of the Latin Mass. Its beauty undeniably expresses our love for God. It is, after the Our Father, the greatest prayer, expressing the one true faith. If the Mass is mumbled and inaudible to you I can only assume that you are not participating in the Mass by following the prayers in the missal. No I don’t read Latin, I follow along with the English translation in the missal, and my Latin is gradually improving. In Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Japan, and Central and South America – in fact any where in the world – I am at home with the Latin Mass (except for the homily which is in the common/vulgar language). You note there are only 104 Scripture readings in the TLM, perhaps you can provide me the list so I can then provide you with some of the ones you are not counting. I could be out on a limb on this but I am assuming that you are only referring to the Epistles and Gospels and are totally ignoring all the other quotes from Scripture that are found throughout the body of the Mass and the varying other readings for the Mass of the day (e.g., Introit, Collect, Mystery, etc,). If the only Mass I had found in the Church was the Novus Ordo I would have remained a Lutheran, whose church service it resembles. As I told my wife back in my Lutheran days, you Catholics are becoming more and more Lutheran every day.

      • Helmut, I am glad you have come to the Catholic faith. I’m glad the translated Missal makes it possible for you to truly embraces the riches of the Mass. Of course, the translated Missal you use was once banned by the traditionalists. It was promoted by the early liturgical reformers. The traditionalists did not speak of the participating in the prayers of the Mass but recommended private devotions as the priest said Mass. They claimed it was a good thing the people did not understand the Mass, rather than learning and appreciating what the text meant.

        Yes both the current and the former Mass order have Scriptural citations beyond the readings. But the current Mass does have a richer selection of readings.

      • I find it interesting that you confuse the development of the faith with reforming it. I was really surprised that, without naming him, you included St Pope Pius X as a liberal; the pope that wrote and required the oath against modernism (Sep 1, 1910), which I believe was his response to the developing liturgical movement that started in the 19th century . The pope that wrote “Don’t pray at Holy Mass, but pray the Holy Mass.” Explaining himself further, His Holiness wrote: “The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the altar. If You wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens at the altar. Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the altar. When acting in this way you have prayed Holy Mass.”
        St. Paul was not a reformer when he spoke out against the circumcision of the gentile before his conversion to Christianity. Pope St. Pius V wasn’t reforming the faith when he codified the TLM for the universal Church rather than allowing the various readings and prayers that some said during Mass to continue. The history of the Church is full of novelties springing up that required papal direction back to the traditions taught. At one point German priests had to be told that they could not use beer as a substitute for the wine in the Mass. Just because the novelties existed at the same time as real doctrine doesn’t mean they were doctrinal.
        Your comment that the Church banned bi-lingual missals reminds me of when the Church banned bibles or how my FIL told me he was told not to read the bible. In the former case the bibles were bad translations, in the later what he was really told was not to study the bible without having assistance in understanding what was written. Personal interpretations can have negative effects on one’s faith. What documentation do you have that reflects bi-lingual missals were banned by the Church?

        I am not able to agree with your evaluation that it is liberals who are responsible for the proper development of the faith.

      • ” The pope that wrote ‘Don’t pray at Holy Mass, but pray the Holy Mass.’”

        “Pray the Mass” — the all but trademarked slogan of the liturgical progressives. St. Pius X was highly thought of by liturgical progressives for encouraging frequent and early (age 7) communion. So I am delighted to enlighten you that St. Pius X was admired by proponents of the liturgical movement.

        Anyway, I was speaking of reforming the liturgy, not the faith.

  3. I would definitely agree with Fr. Reid and Archbishop Sample. Offering the usus antiquior has deepened my understanding of and love for the Eucharist and the Priesthood. It has also enriched the way I celebrate the Novus Ordo. I love the “Aufer a nobis…” that the priest says quietly as he ascends to the altar after the Prayers at the Foot. It speaks about being worthy to “enter the holy of holies”. When I meditate on the Book of Revelation and liturgy in the Kingdom, that’s really it. We’re in the holy of holies, whether celebrating the EF or the OF. What a great gift not only for the priest but for him as he serves the people “in persona Christi”. We’re not just going into a “living room” or even some “sacred space” we’ve created but “the holy of holies.”

  4. If only!!

  5. Too many” I’s ” and” me’s” in the above work and not enough “for them” and “we”/ the Mass is not a personal gift to the priest!!

    • The Mass is the sacrifice of the Son to the Father. I specifically asked Father how he (not we) has been impacted by the traditional Mass. He graciously answered the question. Please see Fr. Z’s link to this very article for further understanding of how priest & faithful influence & impact each other’s souls through their pious witness.

      • Mass is the highest form of prayer. TLM is more solemn, reverent and one will learn more about the faith. As our existence is to know, to love and to serve God.

    • Franklin P. Uroda

      IMO, whenever truly humble priests, politicians, teachers stand before an assembled congregation, crowd, class, they are filled with a sense of awe and responsibility to the people surrounding them. Most especially priests who must realize that their audience is a “Holy People” “Dedicated to the Blessed Trinity” and that he is leading/guiding them in the highest form of prayer, The Holy Sacrifice of Jesus. They truly become better people because of his ministrations.

  6. Daniel Muller

    “The simple truth is that the Roman Rite has two forms presently”

    No. The Roman (or Latin) Rite has three forms as expressed in its three missals. Missale Romanum 1962, Missale Romanum 2003, and Divine Worship: The Missal 2015.

  7. In a recent guest post by Fr. Adam on shrinetower.com, he shares his observations on this topic: “In the Extraordinary Form, the priest also leans on the altar while saying the words of consecration. It is reminiscent of St. John leaning on the chest of Our Lord during the Last Supper. It is a beautiful symbol of the closeness with the Lord in that moment.” He also says “The faithful’s participation is more interior than exterior.” which means we need to know what is going on in the EF Mass.

    • Is the priest “in persona Christi” or “in persona Ioannes” ?

      The first project of the liturgical reformers was to educate the lay faithful about what is going on in the Mass (“Pray the Mass”, etc.). The conservatives resisted these efforts.

  8. God & His laws cant change, thus His Kingdom of God on earth (His 1 religion ) cant. True validly ordained Priests are so rare & most are heritical. this 1 isnt real if he was ordained in the v2 rite. Blasphemy.!!

  9. I will say as someone who came into the Church post-Vatican II and who never even heard of the TLM until a few years ago, the experience of it has helped deepen my faith as a lay person. I’ve never assisted at the Mass, but I’ve enjoyed the different elements and how they engage us if we let them.

    I still predominately attend Novus Ordo Masses, and often I find myself saddened at the absence of certain elements.

    In my opinion, what has been lost in the Ordinary Form (and also why many Vatican II Catholics resist a return to the Extraordinary Form) has been proper catechesis. The reason I enjoy attending the TLM isn’t because I understand every word that is said. It’s because I understand the symbolism of each part of the Mass. This is why I am able to attend and more fully appreciate the Novus Ordo (and why I avoid certain parishes and priests who ignore the rubrics).

    • Bryan, I appreciate your comments as a post-Vatican II Catholic. What I find interesting as a Catholic born before the Council is that you have some of the sensibilities of a pre-Vatican II liberal, or, the term I like to use, a proto-liberal. There is sometimes a misunderstanding that all of the liturgical reforms emerged out of nowhere during the Council. In fact, there had been a developing liturgical movement starting the 19th century. The defining difference between proto-liberals and traditionalists could be summed up in the proto-liberals popular slogan “Pray the Mass.” The liberals encouraged the lay faithful to follow the Mass and understand the rites and ceremonies. Traditionalists favored private devotions while the priest celebrated Mass. If you had visited a liturgically liberal parish in the 1940s or 1950s, you would have seen these distinctions from a conservative parish:

      1. Hand Missals with the latin and vernacular text. In the 19th century these actually had been banned by the Church authorities. The liberal element of Catholics in German speaking lands began using them in defiance of Church authorities, who eventual relented and authorized their use. Conservative Catholics used prayer books unrelated to the Mass.

      2. Vestments in the fuller gothic style rather than the abbreviated “fiddleback” vestments. Again, these had been prohibited but their popularity in northern Europe eventually led to their authorization.

      3. Dialogue Mass.

      4. Free standing altar.

      5. A sermon at every Sunday Mass (optional until Vatican II) and focused on the readings, not some other topic.

      6. Focus on the liturgical seasons rather than the calendar of the saints. The liturgical seasons had almost come to be ignored. The liberals push a re-focusing on the seasons.

      7. A High Mass every Sunday. The traditionalist concern was on rigorously following the rubrics. Their thinking was that the use of anything optional with complicated rubrics only increased the chance that something would be done wrong. Better to not even try and have a said Low Mass.

      8. The connection of the liturgy to social action — understanding the liturgy as a communal action that relates to the social nature of man and the Mystical Body of Christ. The liturgical proto-liberals were also allied with the social liberals in the South and border states that ended race segregation at Mass.

      9. More frequent communion, even weekly.

      10. Congregational singing.

      11. Full implementation of the reforms of Holy Week, including evening worship.

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