I stumbled upon this blog post in our local newspaper today Schism or diversity in Catholic Church?. The part I want to address is the following...
In this Catholic diocese of Gaylord, there are two priests allowed to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, said in Latin. What is surprising to me is that there are a number of young Catholic families attracted to this ancient form. The appeal, apparently, is to the “mystery and sacredness” of the rite.
My youth was steeped in attending the Tridentine Mass, and, as an altar boy, I learned all the proper responses in Latin without a clue as to what they meant. Only after six years of courses in Latin, do I now understand the language, and prefer to read the Vulgate version of the New Testament in Latin (or a version in Greek) on my techie tablet privately, when not attending the vernacular liturgy. My concern is for those families who have little or no knowledge of the language used in the ancient rite.
While the author says "mystery and sacredness" is the reason, that's only part of it. There are many reasons my wife and I along with our young family attend the Latin Mass which I'll explain. I also want to clarify I do enjoy the Novus Ordo Mass and attend Mass in this form quite often.
One of the two priests mentioned above in the quote is the priest at Holy Rosary, a parish in the Diocese of Gaylord. We've had the privilege of learning the Tridentine Mass along with our priest (and the army of altar servers) as it was implemented in our diocese. Our priest has done a great job of explaining the differences between the Novus Ordo (Ordinary Form) and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Tridentine Mass or Latin Mass) and answering many questions from the faithful along the way.
I'll be the first to admit, I don't know much Latin. I've memorized some of the prayers and responses but frequently use the Latin/English guide to follow along. My kids have picked up the prayers/responses and recite some of them better than I do. Do they know what each prayer or word means. No, not yet. Do they know which each prayer or word means in English. No, not yet. So we're working on that. With the ability to follow along and to know and watch what the priests and servers are doing, the Tridentine Mass is beautiful to participate in. My oldest will be in 3rd grade next year and Latin will be part of her curriculum next year as she is introduced to the language.
Kneeling for Communion. This has become a big issue for me, as the more I learn and read about our Catholic Faith, the more I realize this is the way communion should be received. On the tongue while kneeling is the only way to receive Holy Communion at the Latin Mass. Our parish priest offers kneelers at all masses now, so that is really great. I didn't understand kneeling if there were no kneelers present, but I've prayed about it and now understand better. Pope Benedict XVI has said the proper way to receive communion is kneeling. The Holy Father's reasoning is simple: "We Christians kneel before the Blessed Sacrament because, therein, we know and believe to be the presence of the One True God." Read the article.
Music is another reason I prefer attending the Latin Mass. Our choir and organist spend many hours working on traditional songs and chant to provide music that helps you pray and to glorify the Lord. At our parish some of our choir members participate in the Latin and Novus Ordo choirs, so we generally have very traditional sacred music. Other parishes I've attended or been a member of the music can be a major distraction and you never know what kind of song is coming next.
Modesty in Dress. I've noticed in the years I've been attending the Latin Mass with my family that others who attend are dressed modestly and wearing their Sunday best. In my opinion, it's a big difference from the other masses that can usually consists of jeans, t-shirts, shorts, and other clothes more suited for the beach. I find myself less distracted at mass because of this and it gives my young children good examples of proper dress and modesty.
As far as the author's concern for the families attending the mass, many of the families are teaching their children Latin and are working hard and getting involved in the Mass being altar servers and/or choir members. Our parish priest has been teaching Latin to junior high/high school students and adults so they learn the language. I attended a class last week, as he does invite beginners, and I was very impressed at what the kids know.
I also like the consistency of the Latin Mass. I've seen it performed by at least a half dozen different priests over the last few years with very minor changes to the Mass itself. Now compare that to the Novus Ordo Masses and I think you can guess my answer. Now granted I know this wasn't always the case and there were many liturgical abuses before Vatican II happening with the Tridentine Mass, but I'm just telling you about my experience.
So in my opinion, the Latin Mass is good for the Catholic Church. Our parish has seen an increase in members as well as seminarians and religious vocations and I don't think it's a coincidence it's been since our parish has offered the Tridentine Mass.