I was born in the early 1970s to two nominally Catholic parents and was baptized into the Church at two weeks old mostly because my Italian grandfather who was a faithful Catholic was close by and made sure that I received my first Sacrament. My parents did not raise me to understand the Catholic Church. My parents did not prioritize Jesus, His Church, or the reason why either should matter in my life or much less in our family. I was simply Catholic because I was told I was but it didn’t mean a thing to me – until it did.
After so many years of not understanding my faith, not knowing the Person of Christ, and frankly not ever making the connection between why my life was exponentially harder than necessary and the fact that I was navigating life without a good faith foundation, I knew to my core that I needed to make a change. I wasn’t sure what that would look like, but thanks be to God He blessed me with a husband who was fully prepared to lead me home to the Church.
My faith didn’t become something that I would cling to until I was in my early 30’s. That is a long time to navigate life without having Jesus at the center. Disclaimer: I never formally abandoned Holy Mother Church, but by the same token I never truly had a grasp of what it actually meant to be Catholic.
By the time I reached my 30’s, I was a mother with four young children. My faith became something that I had to build from the ground up with the help and direction of my incredible husband. We returned to the Church with all the gusto we could muster for two wayward Catholics returning home. We started going back to Mass every single Sunday. We hit all the holy days of obligation and started to dig deeper into Catholicism. My husband began devouring all that Catholic Answers had to offer and whose apostolate he’ll tell you was one of the key reasons he was able to dive so deeply into our shared faith to lead our entire household to Jesus.
Our parish in Florida was a Novus Ordo parish. Quite frankly, I had no idea there was anything but this type of Mass available. We hesitantly went along with all the things that make my heart break now – we held hands during the Our Father, we allowed our daughters to serve on the Altar, we sang the contemporary PROTESTANT songs in Mass, and we made sure that we shook all the hands of all the people near or far during the sign of peace. Worst of all, we received Our Blessed Lord in our unconsecrated hands, many times from the erroneously-termed “Eucharistic Ministers”, which is yet another protestant inspired affectation (the use and title).
As the years went on, we became more traditionally minded. I began wearing a mantilla whenever I was in the presence of the Lord. My husband began praying the Rosary every single day. We just couldn’t get enough of Jesus Christ and the Church He left us. The more we learned, the more we felt a pull towards the Mass of old – even though neither of us had ever experienced the Latin Mass.
After my husband retired from law enforcement, our family relocated to the super protestant Bible Belt. We joined the closest parish which is 30 minutes away and tried to embrace this new community. We were surprised that this parish offered the Tridentine Mass every other week. We were intrigued – intimidated – and woefully ill-prepared for the journey the Lord was about to take us on. The Lord has the best sense of humor and I love how He will always nudge us in the right direction when we are too far off course.
We both knew we wanted to try the Latin Mass because of all the ways the Novus Ordo was lacking for us. We needed a reverent Mass. The N.O. Mass actually became a source of tremendous anxiety for us because we had to worry about jumping lines in order to get to the priest for Communion, avoiding the circus that has become the “sign of peace”, and the homilies?? I know God is love, but do I have to hear that every Sunday to the exclusion of any other instruction? Do we really have to listen to a priest who says playing with an Ouija board is ok as long as it’s just for fun?? Is a priest playing the harmonica just after Communion (and then receiving thunderous applause for his performance) truly Catholic worship?? As my husband says, it became a near occasion of sin for him to go to an N.O. Mass due to all the irreverence making him so angry.
So, we started to research and read all the things about the Latin Mass we could. We wanted to make sure that we could jump right in and fully experience this Mass that we had dreamed about for years. We bought new clothes, we watched a bazillion YouTube videos on what happens in the Latin Mass, and we talked to our girls about what would be happening. It was now time to experience our first Traditional Latin Mass.
A very nice man met us before we stepped foot inside the sanctuary. He handed us 5 red paper Latin Mass missals and gave us a brief explanation of how we could follow along. He told us not to get overwhelmed and just watch the people around us for cues as to when to stand, sit, or kneel (oh the kneeling is plentiful in the Latin Mass!). We had no clue what the priest was saying for the majority of the Mass and strangely enough, a peace like I had never experienced before came over me.
In all my years of being a Catholic, after my first Latin Mass I admitted to myself and my husband that this was the most Catholic I had ever felt despite not understanding a thing of what was happening around me. I knew I didn’t have to.
The Novus Ordo Mass was routine and familiar- I knew what was happening and still, there was something that always felt off. Perhaps it was the way that Protestantism has infiltrated the Church? Perhaps it is the lack of reverence shown to Christ? Perhaps it is the way the laity has pushed their way into participating in the Mass -usurping the priest far too many times to stand shoulder to shoulder with him – distributing the body of Christ with their unconsecrated hands and blessing the people (which is NOT found in the the General Instruction on the Roman Missal nor the Book of Blessings)who cannot receive for whatever reason (side note – if you cannot receive – you should not be coming up to receive a blessing – but this is separate blog post that I will address at a later time).
Being fully cognizant of the necessary connection between faith and worship, between “the law of believing and the law of praying” [lex orandi, lex credendi], under a pretext of returning to the primitive form, they corrupted the Liturgical Order in many ways to suit the errors of the [Protestant] reformers. For this reason, in the whole Ordinal not only is there no clear mention of the sacrifice, of consecration, of the priesthood (sacerdotium), and of the power of consecrating and offering sacrifice but, as we have just stated, every trace of these things which had been in such prayers of the Catholic rite as they had not entirely rejected, was deliberately removed and struck out.If any one saith, that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church makes use of in the celebration of masses, are incentives to impiety, rather than offices of piety; let him be anathema.
(Council of Trent, Session 22, Canon 7)
I stopped attending the Novus Ordo Mass because I needed ALL my attention and focus and worship to be centered on Jesus. I longed for tradition. I craved a reverent and HOLY Mass. I wanted to be surrounded by the beauty and glory of an old Catholic parish. I was searching for homilies that were packed with the truth – especially the hard and not so palatable truth about sin and the ramifications of our un-repented sins.
If any one saith, that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church makes use of in the celebration of masses, are incentives to impiety, rather than offices of piety; let him be anathema.
(Council of Trent, Session 22, Canon 7)
The Latin Mass was discontinued at our parish and we were both so sad. We knew that we could never see the Novus Ordo Mass again the same after experiencing the beauty of the Latin Mass. Again, the Lord with His unmatched sense of humor gave us the High Latin Mass an hour and a half away. When I tell you that my heart had never felt so full in Mass after I experienced “the smells and the bells” of a high Mass I would not be exaggerating. We now drive 3 hours round trip every single Sunday and holy day of obligation and feel so blessed to be able to worship the Lord in such a glorious parish.
I stopped attending the Novus Ordo Mass because I needed the Mass to be entirely about worshipping Almighty God through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ and not about feel-good entertainment. I stopped attending the Novus Ordo Mass because the lure of a “new & improved” Mass held as much appeal to me as did the sickeningly sweet version that New Coke had in the ’80s. (side note: for anyone too young to recall the marketing debacle of New Coke – it was a big flop and the Coca-Cola brand removed their new creation and they returned to selling the real thing). As for me, I will joyfully continue attending the Mass of old and soak up every ounce of the beauty & tradition that is found within the Latin Mass.
Please know that I am not passing judgment on you if you attend the Novus Ordo Mass. I ask that you not assume that I believe I am “holier than Thou” because I love the smells & bells, wear a veil, and exclusively attend the Latin Mass.
All that I know for certain is that our Lord deserves the holiest, most reverent, and beautifully offered mass that our priests can give to Him. I have only witnessed this level of majesty in the Latin Mass.
Please leave me a comment below on which Mass you attend. I am looking forward to sharing my faith with you all and hope you will share your faith with me. May we all continue to seek to glorify God with our lives.