Thursday, July 30, 2009

On Having Two Rites in the Roman Catholic Church

I have been reading the August 2009 issue of U.S. Catholic. I enjoy reading that magazine. I don't always agree with everything it has to say but it always gives me food for thought. This month's cover article is about the renewed use of the Tridentine mass along with the current mass that has been in use since Vatican II. The article by Ted Rosean maintains that having two rites separates us rather than unites us. It serves to widen the chasm between those on one side and those on the other and those who live in the middle.

To offer full disclosure, I have never been to a Tridentine mass and I consider myself a "middle-of-the-road Catholic." I have several very conservative Catholic friends who love the Tridentine rite. These are good people who can certainly choose how they want to worship. I know the Pope has endorsed it, and I will concede that it does have more of an air of mystery about it than the modern Mass. It is all about worship. The modern Mass combines worship and fellowship.

I think that there was a reason that Vatican II sought to reform the liturgy and it wasn't just because of the Latin. Latin can be used to celebrate the new mass as well as it can the old. It is just another language, albeit one that few people understand. I agree with Ted Rosean that "The Second Vatican Council had some very good reasons to call for an end to the Tridentine Mass and to promulgate a new rite. More sophisticated research uncovered a fuller understanding of how liturgy was celebrated in the early church. Improved scripture scholarship developed into a new lectionary with a wider selection of readings. . . Perhaps most important for the average Catholic, the Mass was celebrated in the language of the people. . . In 1965 the church came to the seemingly obvious conclusion that people should understand what is being said in Mass."

I think that the new Mass is more in keeping with the spirit of the Last Supper, which was the first Mass. Jesus broke bread with his friends. They took it in their hands and ate. Those original Apostles were like us in many ways. They were sinners, yet Jesus saw fit to share a meal with them. Yes, worship is extremely important. We do need to be reverent at Mass. But there is room for friendship as well. Mass is a conversation, a sharing of prayer, and ultimately a meal. It's symbolism and history are profoundly rich.

As Rosean states, "the Mass that emerged from the reform of Vatican II is wonderful, divine, human, and sublime. It works. . . We do not need to celebrate an old rite. We need to get more people to celebrate the existing rite well."

3 comments:

Christine said...

I think that both rites are appropriate, and that the reasoning used is faulty. The existing rite did not come about because people did not understand Latin. In most countries, Latin was studied by all students. It is the dumbing down of education and the watering down of education that have done the most harm to ANY Mass. There is little or no understanding by many of the so-called "faithful" who attend Mass solely because they always have, not because they believe in the mystery of the Eucharist.
I have never attended a Tridentine Mass, but know many people who do. They are more able to enter into the sacredness of the mystery. They also feel as though everyone (including children) who attends the TLM is more reverent.

Although I don't feel the need to attend the Tridentine Mass, I do not feel it is divisive. It only becomes divisive when people decide that one rite is "better" than the other. The rite that is best is the one in which those seeking God feel His presence. For some that is the Novus Ordo (which is being revised!), for others it is the Tridentine rite.

My 2 cents. :)

albert cooper said...

Ive got a good idea to solve the problem,cancel out the Norvo Ordo forced on the faithfull by the treacherous Liberal Left Clergy at The Second Vatican Council,to leave the true mass for all time valid ,namely The Tridentine Mass !!
The curse of Modernism,lack of belief in the real presence,the seeking if excuses for sin,the lack of vocations to the religious life,young people in general leaving the church,etc all this things were to supposedly be improved by the V2 Council,but why try to fix something when its already working perfectly well,as it was before the council.

JMJ said...

May I suggest you take a look at "The Mass of Vatican II", by IgnatiusPress. This is how the Novus Ordo was intended to be. It is unlikely many of us will find that this is what is being celebrated in our local churches- but maybe some are lucky.
Then, take a look at the "Latin-English Booklet Missal for praying the Traditional Mass". Both of these booklets are inexpensive and available online or thru a Catholic store. You will notice that, as was the case in the old days, Latin is on one side of the page and the corresponding English is on the other. Anyone can read and follow along with the Mass, even if they don't know Latin- it just takes a few times to get the hang of it. Carefully read the prayers that the priest is praying for the people in the Mass. It is amazingly beautiful and humbling what he is begging God for on our behalf. You may just find yourself seeking out a Traditional Mass once in a while. Peace be with you. ~t