Contra “The Dead Spirituality” of The Catholic Church: Against the Caricature That The Mass is so Dry and Mechanical   2 comments

1. Introduction

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

As a child coming of age into young adult years, my Reversion to Catholicism is one marked by an initial hatred for The Catholic Church as I understood it. I was the poster child of Progressive Modernist thought who yet embodied a fierce New Age Protestantism about things pertaining to The Church and the surrounding cultural and spiritual developments that I found myself growing up around in. This series is written to rebuke the writings of my Youth, a sort of self-imposed Penance to atone for my own personal ignorance. The writings of my youth are held on the internet at the Yahoo! Voices website, there are 4 Articles written between July to November 2007, just after my graduation from High School. It should be noted that the rebuke is thematically addressed rather than chronologically answered.

The First Article written in July 2007 was titled, “Christianity Vs. True Christianity: A Problem with the Church?” This article embodied perfectly my Anti-Catholic view influenced by Progressive Modernism, Protestant propaganda yet New Age influences at the time. The Second Article written in August 2007 was title, “Church of Christ: The Church is Not the Real Thing!” This article embodied my confusion and the varieties of cultural propaganda set against the Church, this article sounds most like what I hear today, and that I have come to most fight against today. The Third Article was written in the same month and was titled, “Is the Bible Really Full and Complete?” This article was my argument that the Bible was incomplete and that since it has been left to many revisions it is no longer a trustworthy book, this attack the notion that The Bible was the Complete and Final Word of God. The Fourth and Final Article was written in November 2007 and was titled, “My Road to Christian Gnosticism” Here it is showcased for all to see my love of Heterodoxy and lack of understanding of Orthodoxy, of course in celebrating fighting against the superstitious ignorance of the Church I now confess that I was the one being superstitious and ignorant.



II. My Argument Against My Past Self

Back when I was young before I even completed my childhood religious education, Church was fundamentally boring to me. I never understood it, but it is right and proper to point out the fact that I never understood it because I was a child and I grew up in a household that was equally lacking in understandings of the Faith. Waking up and Going to Church every Sunday was not something I looked forward to, largely because of 2 Reasons: First, it felt like the Spiritual and Transcendent was minimized, not necessarily non-existent but certainly minimized, thus making The Mass feel very Dry and for a child, Boring. Second, it felt like I was just going through the Motions although I did not understand why I was doing them, thus making The Mass feel very mechanical. However, after 9 Years of staying away from the Church I learned of another form of Catholic Mass that was very much the opposite of my childhood experiences. In this “Contra” article I want to talk about the 2 Differing Kinds of Mass Styles in the hopes of answering against this charge.

The Mass style of my childhood is a relatively newly created Mass that was the result of The Second Vatican Council, called the Novous Ordo (Latin: New Order) Mass. Now, while Catholic’s must recognize its legitimacy, one can still feel that it does not express fully the Catholic Faith and Catholic Worship, at least to their individual Spiritual Temperament. I want to briefly go over here what Traditionalist Catholics and Ex-Catholics have complaints over this New Order Mass, (1) Lack of Reverence, (2) Protestant Nature, and (3) Emphasis on Immanent rather than Transcendent.

With regard to Lack of Reverence, the New Mass sees a lot of Modernists attending it, much of what was Traditional for a Catholic to do is no longer obeyed. I know firsthand and from others that no one is notified that they ought to make a confession if they are in a State of Mortal Sin before receiving Communion. I know of stories and have seen with my own eyes, people do not get dressed in a High Casual or even Formal Apparel as a gesture of the significance of what they will be encountering, rather I have heard stories of people coming to Church in manner that would imply that they have something more important to do after the Mass has ended. Most people in the New Order Mass, before the Mass has even ended tend to leave after Receiving Communion and do not bother waiting for the Priest to actually dismiss them all. With all of this being said, can one imagine what this says to us subconsciously? To me as a Child and even looking back on it now it tells me, “We either do not see the significance of why we are here or we don’t care we just do it without trying to know why.”

With regard to its Protestant Nature, much of the New Order Mass is in the Vernacular (or the language of the locality it finds itself in) this carries with it 2 problems in particular. The First problem resides in the fact that it takes away from The Mystery of God; in fact it kind of vulgarizes anything to do with God. How so? Because, we use the vernacular language for common conversation, for worldly discussions, and yes even bad discussions, yet when we are in Church and God’s Presence is more apparent there than anywhere else we are told to “Lift Our Hearts up to the Lord,” but how can I do that if I am still talking the common language? I cannot, so irreverence abounds. The Second problem resides in the fact that Living Languages are subject to changes and abuses, so that means we will need to change what we are saying in a very frequent manner in order to constantly refine what we are expressing. Now how can I call myself a Worshiper of the Eternal (in the House of the Eternal) if the words I was using are always in flux and refused to use a dead language (i.e. Latin) that can never change or suffer abuses? The answer is I cannot, I would find myself speak with my lips giving what was required but truly my Heart was far from Him.

Finally with regard to Emphasis on the Immanent rather than on the Transcendent, I mean the community is enclosed we look at each other (Vox Populi), rather than looking together toward something Transcendently Other (Ad Orientum). The New Order Mass, sought to emphasize the Last Supper rather than The Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, in doing this however we’ve removed the Contemplative Silence and Mystery of Christ Death and Resurrection. The New Order Mass sought to have the Laity Participate More in the Mass, but in doing this it has removed the Transcendent Awe-Full Silent Stillness and Sacred and replaced it with busyness, stimulation, and in effect emphasized multiplicity and immanence of created things.

Just prior to my Reversion back to Catholicism, I learned that the Church still maintained a more timeless and fuller expression of its Worship and Faith, this expression was found in the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). The Traditional Latin Mass, is the opposite of all the complaints I pointed out in the New Order Mass, for because it is Traditional it seeks to (1) Maintain Reverence, because it is in Latin it truly celebrates its (2) Catholicity, and because it is Truly The Sacrifice of the Mass it puts an (3) Emphasis on the Transcendent while respecting the Immanent. Unfortunately, many Catholics today do not know that the Latin Mass is available or have accepted blindly the New Order Mass.

The Mass and Mass Goers of the Traditional Latin Mass are Keeping Reverence Alive. From my experience those who go to The TLM are some of the most Politically Incorrect, Counter-Cultural People around, in that they are opposed to the Cultural Zeitgeist of Modernism and Liberalism. It’s been my experience that every time the TLM is practiced, the Priest always reminds those that Eucharist is taken only by those in a State of Grace and must go to Confession if they want to receive The Body and Blood of Christ under the Sacramental Veils. It’s been my experience that all people present at the TLM dress in a High Casual and even Highly Formal apparel, their dress code speaks loudly, this is the most important thing they are doing for the day. Finally, in my experience all people wait until the Priest has left and the music has ended before we leave our Pews. Therefore, I am only left to conclude that those who come to the TLM are either those who have been lead to it by God’s Grace or have Zeal for their Faith, and understand that The One True Living Faith Seeks To Be Understood.

The TLM Celebrates its Catholicity in an unashamed manner from the Language to the Smells and the Bells, there truly is no hint of Protestantism here. Only until after the Final Blessing and Final Reading of the Last Gospel is a General Prayer said in the Vernacular, the rest is spoken in Latin, thus undoing the 2 problems I’ve stated that I encountered earlier. Truly listening and reading in a dead and alien language allowed me to “Lift My Heart up to the Lord” for now there was no association with lowly things, since the dead language speaks only of Sublime things. Now my lips speak as closely as my Heart can get to Christ, for now I speak in a Language that is unchanging and more closely tied to the Eternal because of that thus allowing myself to worship the One True Eternal God with greater ease and surety.

Finally The TLM puts an Emphasis on the Transcendent while Respecting the Immanent. By looking together in one direction (Ad Orientum) we can do nothing but acknowledge the Presence of The Transcendently Other. The TLM restores the purpose of The Mass, which is to serve as a Memorial of the Lords Sacrifice on the Cross on Calvary, thus it reclaims the Contemplative Silence and Mystery of Christ Death and Resurrection. The TLM does not seek to have the Laity to participate in an Active and Public way but more so in a Passive and Personal Way, by passive I mean that the layperson is to be Silent and Still in their Hearts and Minds while Centered on the Work of The Priest and the Presence of God, by personal I mean that this time although spent together is radically also a time when we alone commune with God in our Hearts and Minds. By virtue of these things it becomes easier for one to adore the Unity of the Creator and the Transcendent with greater ease.

One thing that people seem to notice right off the bat is the Beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass over the Novous Ordo Mass: Beauty points to Transcendence in Catholicism. It is well-known that many people convert simply because of the Beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass, everything from Items to Architecture and Art. It’s been my experience that “The Smells and The Bells” are more prevalent at the TLM then at the Novous Ordo Mass. It has also been my experience that most Churches that exclusively practices the Novous Ordo Mass style has architecture that seems very postmodern and some place seem to be frivolous and asymmetrical. Again as Catholics we need to respect the Second Vatican Council as having been guided by the Holy Spirit, but at the same time those who have been through the Novous Ordo Mass and are turned off by it, need not necessarily despair for there do exist parishes that do Practice the TLM exclusively or at least manage to share it with the New Order Mass, without Sacrificing Catholic Architectural, Artistic, Aesthetic Beauty. If one is interested in learning more deeply about the Traditional Latin Mass, also known as the Tridentine Latin Mass, or Mass in the Extraordinary Form I welcome them to read, “The Latin Mass Explained” in it the author Monsignor George Moorman discusses Why The Mass is Done, The History behind The Mass, How the Mass is Done and the Significance of each part found in the Traditional Latin Mass.


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