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The Traditional Mass Is The Best Evangelizer

July 7, 2022 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

The Traditional Latin Mass, in my experience, evangelizes in ways that the Novus Ordo does not.
In a new document issued June 29 this year, Desiderio Desideravi, Pope Francis makes claims about the Novus Ordo, which do not hold up and which better describe, in fact, the Traditional Latin Mass.
So often those who pronounce with authority on the Traditional Liturgy do not pray it and thus do not know or understand it. I have offered the two liturgies side by side for over a decade, observing most closely the prayer, and effects on the faithful praying, attending each.
He criticizes the Church’s Traditional Liturgy as a kind of empty formalism which cannot evangelize, when that is exactly what it has done for nearly 2,000 years.
A Vatican News article provides a gloss on the document, explaining the Pope’s defense of the legitimacy of the new liturgy by finding fault with the Church’s organic and Traditional liturgy:
“To heal from spiritual worldliness, we need to rediscover the beauty of the liturgy, but this rediscovery ‘is not the search for a ritual aesthetic which is content by only a careful exterior observance of a rite or is satisfied by a scrupulous observance of the rubrics’” (https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2022-06/pope-francis-apostolic-letter-desiderio-desideravi-liturgy.html).
“Overcome polemics about the liturgy to rediscover its beauty,” the Pope urges.
It is not a matter of mere “polemics” to defend the unique and unrepeatable spiritual patrimony of the Western Church. The Missa Antiqua will never die.
Basic evangelization means making new converts to the faith. The TLM draws converts every year to my parish. The Novus Ordo does not.
Doctrinal doubters and deniers, along with many well-intentioned faithful, attend the new Mass exclusively. Praying the Mass should result in the healing and perfecting of our faith.
Typically, dissenters to the Church’s teaching on marriage and life are found more often in Novus Ordo congregations but not in TLM communities. To the contrary, most of the faithful who attend the TLM give assent of intellect and will to all that the Church teaches in faith and morals. Which, in fact, qualifies as evangelization and which does not?
With TLM, the entire family attends Sunday Mass, parents together with kids. But not so much with the Novus Ordo.
With TLM, couples who ask for infant Baptism attend Sunday Mass faithfully and are sacramentally married. Novus ordo do not always conform to this.
With TLM, more men participate more often in Sunday and weekday Mass and devotions, at times up to a majority of the congregation at any given event. Those who attend the Novus Ordo Masses are less likely to do so
The TLM congregations are large and growing. Novus ordo groups cannot usually claim this.
Perhaps the most glaring difference is the frequency of Confession for those who attend the TLM in contrast to those who exclusively attend the Novus Ordo and who rarely confess but who receive Communion at the same percentages.
New parishioners are joining the Traditional community on a continuing basis: Another new member joined this week.
In my experience, Traditional Catholics are also more likely to show up for weekday Mass and Wednesday evening adoration. Novus ordo families, with the exception of those who also attend the Traditional Mass, do not often participate in devotions beyond the Sunday liturgy.
This is yet another document that creates more division where there was mutual peace about the matter of the Church’s way of worship and yet more refusal to allow the Holy Spirit to decide the legitimacy of the new liturgy within the Catholic faith.
There is a great lack of silence in the new liturgy which in fact has none except where there are perfunctory pauses between prayers, all of which are proclaimed out loud. This, I think, tends to inhibit congregational reflection.
Despite that, here is a claim in the new document for that which does not exist:
“Among the ritual acts that belong to the whole assembly, silence occupies a place of absolute importance” which “moves to sorrow for sin and the desire for conversion. It awakens a readiness to hear the Word and awakens prayer. It disposes us to adore the Body and Blood of Christ” (n. 52).
See and read: https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/20220629-lettera-ap-desiderio-desideravi.html.
The Traditional Liturgy, on the other hand, creates space for profound participation by stipulating that certain prayers of the priest are to be uttered in the low tone to give interior room, through silence for deeper participation on the part of all, entering thereby more deeply into the prayer of mind and heart without the distraction of loudness and constant noise.
The Vatican News article on the new document repeats the perennial complaints about the toxic effect of the priest’s personality on the prayer of the Mass:
“Pope Francis then observes that in Christian communities their way of living out the celebration ‘is conditioned — for better or, unfortunately, for worse — by the way in which their pastor presides in the assembly’ and he lists several ‘models’ of inadequate presiding, albeit of contrasting features: ‘rigid austerity or an exasperating creativity, a spiritualizing mysticism or a practical functionalism, a rushed briskness or an overemphasized slowness, a sloppy carelessness or an excessive finickiness, a superabundant friendliness or priestly impassibility’.”
“These are all models that have a single root: ‘a heightened personalism of the celebrating style which at times expresses a poorly concealed mania to be the center of attention’ (n. 54), amplified when celebrations are broadcast online. Whereas, ‘to preside at Eucharist is to be plunged into the furnace of God’s love. When we are given to understand this reality, or even just to intuit something of it, we certainly would no longer need a Directory that would impose the proper behavior’” (n. 57).
The Church already provides the answer to this complaint which has been constant about the new liturgy: the Traditional Latin Mass. The organic development of the liturgy over a matter of many years brilliantly emphasized what was necessary and enhanced what aids worship and prayer. Among the means of accomplishing this, the ad orientem posture of the priest, required in the Traditional liturgy. The problem described will not go away, but only continue.
Signs of the Spirit’s action include, but are not limited to, large and growing families and frequent Baptisms. Growth in the spiritual life and desire for prayer by attending devotions outside of Mass. Repentance which leads to sorrow for sin and recourse to the Sacrament of Confession. The flowering of Catholic culture and liturgical arts. Participation in processions each year such as that of Corpus Christi.
All of these describe the culture of faith that has grown up around the Traditional Liturgy among those who pray it on a regular basis.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.
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