Print Article | Email Article | Write To Us

Which is Better: Latin Mass or Novus Ordo?

Saturday, February 26, 2011 3:00 PM Comments (661)

I’ve never been to a Tridentine (Latin) Mass. I know that seems quite scandalous to some and quite trivial to most. The truth is that I’d love to go. I’ve got nothing against it. I’ve just never had the real chance present itself. And I haven’t been motivated enough to seek out its fairly rare occurrence. In my life, I’ve never known anything other than the Novus Ordo. I’ve always thought it was beautiful when done well. And I figure if it’s good enough for Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Pope Benedict XVI - then it’s good enough for me.

I love the ideal of the Latin Mass and praying in a universal language in the universal Church (even though it’s also a universally dead language now). But I do appreciate the other arguments for its increased reverence, tradition and history. And I kind of like the idea of the Latin Mass being offered at a parish or being something people like me are more regularly exposed to or familiar with.

What does concern me, however, is the division I see this issue cause among the faithful around the thing that should be uniting us most. It’s called “Communion” for a reason. At the Last Supper, it was far more significant to the apostles that they happened to be dining together with the incarnated Creator of the Universe than what language was spoken while doing so. But on the other hand, by mere association with such an event, every little detail involved in it would be very important on at least some level. Hence we have the division we do.

Pope Paul VI, in Missale Romanum, said the following regarding the change to the Novus Ordo:

The recent Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, in promulgating the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, established the basis for the general revision of the Roman Missal: in declaring “both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify”;(4) in ordering that “the rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, can be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful can be more easily accomplished”;(5) in prescribing that “the treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s Word”;(6) in ordering, finally, that “a new rite for concelebration is to be drawn up and incorporated into the Pontifical and into the Roman Missal.”

I’ve heard many make the case that the Novus Ordo actually more closely resembles the Mass of the first 1000 years of Church history than the recent practice of the Tridentine (Latin) Masses. Surely Jesus didn’t speak Latin at the Last Supper. But many others point out that what has become of the Novus Ordo Mass was not what was originally intended either. It seems to me there is much good to be said on both sides of the issue. I’m learning.

There’s a humorous internet adage called Godwin’s law that states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” When that discussion involves the Catholic Church, you can replace “comparison involving Nazis” with “comment referring to the sex scandal.” And when the discussion is being had by a group of all Catholics, it would read “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of somebody identifying the source of all evil to be the Novus Ordo approaches 1.”

Well here’s your chance to talk about it legitimately. Which do you like better? The Tridentine Latin Mass? Or the Novus Ordo Mass? And why? And will the new English translation of the Mass help bring us together?

BONUS: Make some suggestions on how we can practically make sure the Mass remains a source of communion - not division - in Christ’s Church.

UPDATE: I’ve already had a number of comments (below) criticize even the posing of the question as to which form of the Mass people like “better”...and then they ironically go on to say which one they like better. Very funny guys! :-) Obviously, both are equal in the sense that they are valid and licit when done properly. I just wanted to know what people liked better and why. I don’t really criticize either form in the post and I certainly don’t have to have gone to a Latin Mass in order to ask this question. I was hoping to have a civil conversation about it to see what all of you thought AND to hear some ideas on how to bring them together (or at least not allow them to divide us). I sincerely thank those of you who have done that and continue to do so. I really appreciate it and I know others do, too.

Filed under catholic church, eucharist, history, john paul ii, mass, pope benedict xvi, tradition, vatican ii