I’m not old enough to remember Vatican II. As I grew up, I sometimes heard people talk about a “Latin Mass,” but I never attended one until well after I graduated college. That’s when I started teaching Catechism at our local church, and in order to make sure I could answer 9th grader questions, I researched a lot before each class.
I found a cool mixture of tradition and reverence at the Tridentine Mass. I grew up with the Novus Ordo, but I attend both the Tridentine Mass and Novus Ordo, depending on what makes the most sense for my family at the time. I’ve even gone to Eastern Rite churches when I travel. To me, the Mass was always about the miracle: the transubstantiation of bread into the Body of Christ.
Sadly, I feel alone in thinking this way. A storm brews inside the Catholic Church. On one side are the so-called “traditionalists,” who treat the Novus Ordo as heresy. The other side has the “progressives,” who believe the Church needs to modernize for the 21st century.
I get caught in the middle of this storm. My in-laws never attended my wedding because I wasn’t “Catholic enough” (read: attends the Novus Ordo). I bristle when people complain about “rad trads,” and then tell me they are OK with artificial birth control and abortion. It’s aggravating, and unfortunately I have few friends that I pleasantly converse with about my Catholic faith.
But this whole debate is really a fallacy, because being Catholic has absolutely nothing to do with what language the Mass is said in. I’ve met wonderful people on both sides of this debate, and it greatly bothers me that people spend their time vilifying others with all the evil that already exists in the world.
For so-called traditionalists (or “rad trads,” or whatever other silly titles they have), your blanket judgement of people that attend a Mass in vernacular is ridiculous. Jesus didn’t give us a rigid Mass structure, he gave us guidance and the Church built a Mass, which has evolved over time, even before the Tridentine Mass came into existence. So don’t lecture me how you are the original Mass, unless you want to roll back to saying the Mass in Aramaic.
For so-called progressives, I’m even more dismayed. So little is expected of us as Catholics: weekly Mass, regular Confession, follow basic Church teachings, pray regularly and teach your kids about the faith. When you consider that in many places you can’t attend Church without risk of death, these requirements are a small price to pay for salvation. Yet over the past month here at my local church I’ve seen:
- A bulletin announcement for parents picking up kids from Catechism, asking them to please attend Mass with their kids.
- A lasy in front of me at Mass constantly checking Facebook on her phone during Mass.
- People regularly showing up late to Mass and leaving early (get an alarm clock perhaps?).
- Folks coming into the pew in front of me while I’m praying and talking loudly.
- People shaming a mother for bringing her kids to Mass when they make one tiny peep of noise…sadly, the same loud people that interrupted my prayer earlier.
And I’m not trying to call out my local Church, because I’ve seen similar things elsewhere.
For both sides, you all are being played by an atheist-minded media hell-bent on tearing the Church apart from the inside. This media gleefully alters quotes from Pope Francis to get people riled up. It dramatizes Church business like the Synod of Bishops on the Family. I think I spend more time proving that what the media says is wrong to people than I do talking about how much I love the Church.
And that is the problem. We’ve become so focused on hating each other we often forget that the Church is supposed to bring people together, to help us overcome the daily temptation to sin, and to be our supernatural support structure. We’re so busy arguing about who is better that we forget to see the good in others. We’ve been corrupted by the world around us, rather than changing the world for the better.
I encourage you to change the status quo. If you’ve never attended a Tridentine Mass, find one and go. Same for Novus Ordo. Talk to those Catholics after Mass. Volunteer to teach Catechism and build young adults who are strong in their faith and knowledge of the Church. Turn off your phone and pray peacefully on Sunday. Set a good example, not just at Church, but whenever you walk out into the world.
Be that light to the world that Jesus wanted us to be.
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