New ‘Mass of the Ages’ Film Offers Closer Look at the Traditional Latin Mass
An interview with filmmaker Cameron O’Hearn
I recently spoke with Cameron O’Hearn, a Catholic filmmaker who has produced and directed the three-part documentary, Mass of the Ages. This endeavor was in place long before Pope Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis custodes of July 16.
The first part of this documentary premiered Sunday, Aug. 15 (the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary). As I aim to learn more about the various expressions of faith throughout the global Catholic Church in communion with Rome, the following is the transcript of that interview.
What led you to produce and direct this documentary?
I have always had a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, which I owe to my parents. I also had some significant retreat experiences in high school. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I found a fitting home for that devotion, which I found in the Latin Mass. In the Latin Mass, the way it is celebrated, in the rubrics, ensures a proper respect for the Blessed Sacrament. I discovered a liturgy where the Eucharist was adored.
The Pew research study released on Aug. 5, 2019, revealed that 70% of American Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence, but what was more shocking to me is that only 60% of weekly Mass-going Catholics believe! I remembered the phrase Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi (“law of prayer, law of belief”) — in other words, the way we pray has the greatest influence on what we believe.
Because I’m a filmmaker I wanted to create a documentary that revealed the Traditional Latin Mass to the world. Without the love and power of Jesus within us we are an ineffective Church. I want to show people that the Latin Mass is a solid foundation during a time of confusion and division in the Church.
How did you personally develop a love for the Traditional Latin Mass?
My first Traditional Latin Mass was a Low Mass, which is almost completely in silence. The priest is not facing you — he is facing east. For some people that might be a hindrance for prayer, but for me I found a Mass filled with silence where I could actually pray and meditate.
My wife and I started to alternate between the old Mass and the new Mass — attending the Latin Mass one week, and the Novus Ordo Mass the next week. Depending on where we went for the Novus Ordo Mass, it was a completely different experience, depending on who the priest was, what liberties he would take with the celebration of the Mass, and so forth.
There was sometimes irreverence toward the Eucharist that we did not want to subject our kids to. We decided to make the Latin Mass parish our home for our family.
Why must today’s Catholics understand the Traditional Latin Mass, and the changes to its form that have occurred since the implementations of Vatican II?
A lot of Catholics think that the new Mass — after Vatican II — is just the old Mass translated into the vernacular (the spoken language). But there are so many significant differences between the two. Many think that the Mass sort of rolled off the shelves after Vatican II. But it took almost 10 years after Vatican II to assemble it. There was a committee called the Concilium, and it’s a story of twists and turns, and political agendas. We want people to see what the new Mass is, and what the Latin Mass is, so that they can make the best decision for their family.
During the filming process, is there anything that you found the most surprising?
The most surprising thing for me was that the caricature of the Latin Mass-attending Catholic is wrong. There are some Catholics who attend the Latin Mass who can be bitter, cliquey, and some of them might even reject Vatican II. Those are real things. However, you may find the same types of people in Novus Ordo Masses.
But that is certainly not the majority of Catholics who attend the Latin Mass. The majority of Catholics who attend the Latin Mass are everyday Catholics who are good and faithful parishioners who are not even thinking about criticizing Vatican II. They are hopeful, friendly and believe the doctrines of the Church. You find very consistent doctrinal beliefs among your typical Latin Mass-going Catholics — about the Real Presence, about God’s plan for love and marriage, and other foundational Catholic beliefs.
Who is the target audience for Mass of the Ages, and how can we view it?
The intended audience is practicing Catholics who don’t attend the Latin Mass, and who are curious about it. Our website is TheLiturgy.org. To view the premiere, go to the website and click on “Watch.” We will have a national screening tour for episodes one and two this coming winter. So, people can experience episode one and two in theaters. We’ll have more info on TheLiturgy.org.