As readers know, I prefer the Latin Tridentine MassLatin Tridentine Mass to the new mass carried on in 99% of Catholic churches. Except for my virulent conservatism, it’s hard to know precisely why.
Today’s Gospel helped me understand. Jesus wept for Jerusalem. They were so wrapped up in themselves that they could not recognize their Messiah when he stood before them. They turned God’s temple into a “den of thieves.” American Catholics have turned the New Jerusalem, the church Christ built with his blood and tears, into a den of thieves. Today’s homily made that so obvious that I can’t believe I missed it.
Here are some reasons I prefer the old mass to the new.
Less Risk of Error For 40 years, “reformist” priests and lay liturgy committees have tweaked the new order mass. That tweaking has resulted in something that is a “mass” only if one has a profound understanding of the theology of the mass. The layers of crap piled atop the liturgies obscures our purpose in coming together. All of this crap increases the possibility of error. Over four decades, in most churches, that possibility has evolved into certainty. The old mass provides no room for interpretation or modification. It must be followed precisely. There is no room for error. And a church in error is not a church but a heresy with legs.
Christ vs. The People One cannot possibly miss the central figure of the Tridentine Mass: it is the Christ Jesus in all His majesty. The priest faces the crucifix. Every prayer, every gesture, every song, every moment is in the name of God–In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Every builds to the distribution of Christ’s murdered and resurrected body. Nor can one miss the central figure of the New mass: it is the people in the pews in all their selfish ego. It is about their comfort, their convenience, and their self-esteem. The priest faces them, not Christ. The songs praise them, often in words attributed to Jesus. In the new mass, there is no sin, no salvation, no loss and recovery. There is only a painted on happiness of community and mutual psychological masturbation. “I’m okay, and you’re almost as okay as I am.”
No Apologies The Tridentine Mass gives no hint of apologizing for our beliefs. It is a bold assertion of certainty based on the undeniable truth that Christ Jesus established this church and the Holy Ghost inspired these words. The new mass is full of doubt, second guessing. Its sentences hint of questions, not answers. And rightly so. The new mass allows lots of room for human error. One cannot be sure that the new mass he witnesses is the one we are supposed to pray. That leads to doubt, apologies, and the need for artificial self-esteem.
Reverence Finally, the old mass is reverent. I can take catechists and our children to the Tridentine Mass knowing that they will see nothing that will lead them to treat the Body of Christ, His church, or His people disrespectfully. The people tend to dress modestly but well, as if meeting a king. The order of the mass is reverential, graceful, beautiful, and holy. The Tridentine Mass makes desecration of the Eucharist, of the liturgy, and of little boys unthinkable. By contrast, the new mass as celebrated in most American churches treats Christ as an afterthought, His Body and Blood as treats. In new the mass, the Host is tossed in the hands of the “faithful” like poker chips to be flipped into the mouth, dropped, kicked, and desecrated. Having grown up in this “new” church, my children need constant lessons on reverence. I have to undo what the Mass does to them. That is a sin.
I pray fervently that Pope Benedict XVI will place a very high emphasis on restoring reverence, God-centricism, and conformity to the mass throughout the world. To help him, I pray that more and more Catholics make the trek to the nearest Tridentine Mass the nearest Tridentine Mass each Sunday, swelling those pews and emptying those where the new mass hold sway.