Hi, my name is Ryan. I’m 27-years-old, and I’m new to this diocese. And for the love of all that is holy, can someone please do something about all of the $@#!&* tambourine playing going on around here?!
I apologize in advance if this post comes off as too much of a rant. And I should say this from the start: I’m not a Traditionalist Catholic. I’ve never found the criticisms of Vatican II to be very convincing, I’m a big fan of some theologians that Trads usually aren’t fond of (e.g., von Balthasar), I think that Pope Francis’ simpler style is (for the most part) pretty awesome, etc. I guess you can say I’m a “JP2 conservative”…faithful to the Magisterium, adherent to the hermeneutic of continuity, etc. All that to say, I was never interested in picking on the Novus Ordo liturgy…
But we’ve made a decision as a family to start attending the Traditional Latin Mass regularly. And here’s why:
When we were received into the Catholic Church, we lived in Boston. There, it was never hard to find a beautiful, reverent, Novus Ordo Mass. Life was good, and when I was on the right side of town, I even enjoyed the occasional Anglican Use Mass or Maronite Divine Liturgy.
Last year, I read Pope Benedict’s “Spirit of the Liturgy” (a must-read, by the way), and began to re-think a lot of the views I held on the liturgy. I began to agree with the need for kneeling to receive Communion, having the priest celebrate ad orientem, etc. [Ed. note: many thanks to Fr. Z for catching the Latin typo in the original!] But, I have to admit, I didn’t see these things as really pressing issues, mostly because what I saw in and around the city of Boston was (for the most part) in keeping with the solemn nature of what we as Catholics believe to be taking place at the Mass.
Now, though, we’ve moved to the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida. And, if I may be blunt, the state of the liturgy around here is utterly atrocious.
Imagine seashell-shaped parishes filled with Baby Boomers dressed in Bermuda shirts and khaki shorts. Imagine complete strangers holding hands with each other during the Our Father. Imagine jamming out to contemporary Christian songs that were popular 15-20 years ago. Imagine all sorts of improvisations on the part of priests. Heck, imagine everyone getting called up to stand around the altar together during the Eucharistic prayers, rather than kneeling back in the pews–yeah, that happened! I was there!
It’s enough to make me want to scream: “People! We are attending the re-presentation of the once-for-all-sacrifice made for us on Calvary, and simultaneously realizing the eschatological Wedding Supper of the Lamb made present in the Eucharist! PUT DOWN THE TAMBOURINES!
And so we attended the Latin Mass this past Sunday. And it was breathtakingly beautiful. And you know, it wasn’t that hard to follow along in the missal. And, in what is no doubt a bitter irony to the kind of people that like contemporary Christian music, at a Latin Mass of about 100 people, there were probably triple the number of young people than at any other Mass I’ve been to since we moved here…
And maybe this will sound extreme to some of my readers, but I don’t really want my kids exposed to what’s going on in the Novus Ordo in this diocese. I think liturgy has a huge pedagogical component to it, and I don’t like what those liturgies teach my children. I think they take away from the utter seriousness of what the Mass is, I think it says “this is just a Sunday get-together” rather than “this is a Holy Sacrifice”, I think it teaches that liturgy is about your musical preferences rather than worshiping God…Besides which, my two-year-old was way better-behaved than he has been at the Novus Ordo, and I’m sure that’s because he picked up on the reverent and serious silence, rather than looking at a guy his grandfather’s age rocking out on a guitar and thinking “aw man, it’s party time up in here!”
If this is where we are at, if this is what the Novus Ordo has become in some dioceses, then maybe the best thing to do is to hit the reset button and start from the beginning. Maybe we need to all go home, re-learn the 1962 missal, then calmly re-read Sacrosanctum Concilium in about 5 years to learn what the Council actually said, and we can have this discussion again.
Until then, you can find me and mine down the street at the TLM on Sundays, reclaiming my heritage and birth-right as a Roman Catholic–i.e., good liturgy.