- Pope Francis facing ad orientem. Perhaps you find this surprising? I do.
Whenever speaking of priests and bishops I don’t really want to say, “He’s one of the good ones,” but I feel that way about my archbishop, Alexander K. Sample. I find him level-headed and wise.
Here’s a talk he recently gave on discovering the Traditional Latin Mass, or Tridentine Mass or, as it’s officially known, the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
I too have a desire for the Traditional Latin Mass, originally somewhat out of curiosity, and then because I’m sorta studying Latin, but mostly because I want to be holy and I am weak.
That might sound strange, but my thoughts are simple. We are called to be holy. God has given us many gifts and various means to help us become holy. These include prayer and scripture, fellowship and peaching, etc. The Mass is a gift to us. God does not need it, but we do. The Mass was made for us and we are made for Mass. It seems to me, in terms appropriate to reverence before our Lord and Savior, that the more traditional Mass is a better fit with our natures and fundamental human needs than the Novus Ordo Mass, or Ordinary Form. In other words, the more traditional Mass encourages holiness more than the more modern Mass, and I need all the help I can get.
Many will beg to differ.
Those who say they are Christians but not religious are gravely wrong. All humans are religious. Religion, and religious activities, are given to us as gifts. And the religious impulse is part of our DNA, put there by God. Our nature calls out for religion, and for rites, and for reverence. These things really matter. In fact, I think in today’s crazy world reverence is more important than ever. (Side note: It’s like how sexuality is a gift that is meant for a covenantal monogamous marriage context only, and not for a pick-your-own-adventure/buffet-style of anything goes freedom. We are not meant for that kind of freedom. It kills our souls. It doesn’t lead to virtue and theosis.) The Traditional Latin Mass seems to have a great deal more inherent reverence than the more common alternative. And I worry that alternative is slowly killing the Church.
For more of the Archbishop’s thoughts on liturgical reform, here is a two-part discussion he recently did on Mater Dei Radio:
Liturgical Reform Part 1 July 20, 2016
Liturgical Reform Part 2 August 16, 2016
However, the Traditional Latin Mass is not an absolute requirement for the Christian life. It is not an absolute requirement for holiness. And many find the Novus Ordo Mass very encouraging. In fact I do too — I am still in the presence of the Lord, still kneeling, still praying, still receiving His body and blood. But I believe the traditional Mass is a gift that coincides and fits human nature best. There is a fittingness between the Mass of the ages and the design of Man. I would like to have the regular opportunity to receive such a gift in my area. In the Archdiocese of Portland there is a slowly growing number of TLM masses here and there. Where I live it’s limited, especially since I am committed to working within my own parish and seeing what can be done there.
I hope the Archbishop’s views continue to get propagated and accepted throughout the archdiocese. But I know he is wise and will not force anything. It is really up to us to discover it and ask for it. Fortunately for me and my family, our parish, which does not do the Tridentine Mass (yet), is generally very reverent and solemn, frequently includes Latin, and the music is often quite beautiful, and the homilies are good and orthodox. Still, I would love the option, and I pray for it every day.