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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

toner- I was confused when I went to the traditional Latin Mass because I don’t speak Latin. But Latin is the universal language of the Church, with the great advantage that its meaning doesn’t change. With the traditional Latin Mass, there is no need for Masses in English, Korean, French or Spanish. We are united as Catholics by the beautiful, traditional language of the Church. Most churches, by the way, have paperback missalettes that offer translations.

- I attended the traditional Latin Mass, and I had no idea what was going on, even with the missalette. With some effort and experience (three or four Masses), you will soon be at home with the Mass of the Ages. Consider that we spend time learning how to hit a baseball, kick a football or ride a bike. Can’t we spend a little time preparing for holy Mass so that we may worship Almighty God?

- The traditional Latin Mass is too quiet. But, as Mother Teresa taught us, “The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace.” All Extraordinary Form Masses (Low Mass, High Mass, Solemn Mass) have moments of quiet. These are not energetic Masses. The value of silence has been explained by Cardinal Robert Sarah in his recent book “The Power of Silence.” All of us Catholics need catechetical refreshment: wide reading and serious discussion.

- The traditional Latin Mass is just too “other-worldly” worship for me. But of course it is! It is so for all of us, or ought to be. We are worshiping God, not back-slapping our neighbors, talking about the Panthers, or exchanging recipes. We are called to lift up our hearts, not according to the customs of the world, but in and through the divine liturgy. Although we should study the Mass, it is, remember, the great “Mystery of Faith.”

- The traditional Latin Mass is very “regular,” with no spontaneity or improvisation by the priest. But that is how Mass ought to be, for it is not the personal property of the priest (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 1125).

- The priest, deacon and subdeacon ignore the crowd. First, it’s not a crowd; it is a congregation united in worship for the moment in that particular traditional Latin Mass and joined with the communion of saints for eternity by the very same Mass which was prayed for centuries by countless saints.

- There is no modern music at a traditional Latin Mass. But Mass is not supposed to be a stage for musical exhibition or a concert. Mass is not supposed to be a secular, routine or banal experience. Even Vatican II called for pride of place for Gregorian chant and the pipe organ so as to lift our minds “to God and higher things” (“Sacrosanctum Concilium,” 116, 120).

- In the contemporary Mass – the Novus Ordo or Ordinary Form – the Liturgy of the Word features more Bible readings. But as Peter Kwasniewski writes in “One Peter Five” (Dec. 29, 2015): “When it comes to biblical readings, the old rite operates on two admirable principles: first, that passages are chosen not for their own sake (to ‘get through’ as much of Scripture as possible) but to illuminate the meaning of the occasion of worship; second, that the emphasis is not on a mere increase of biblical literacy or didactic instruction but on ‘mystagogy.’ In other words, the readings at Mass are not meant to be a glorified Sunday school but an ongoing initiation into the mysteries of the Faith.”

- There are no “extraordinary ministers” at a traditional Latin Mass. But when we assist at Mass, we do so in and by prayer. We join with the priest in offering to God all of our joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, successes and sins (in the spirit of contrition). To assist at Mass does not mean offering physical help; it means praying the Mass with the priest.

- At a traditional Latin Mass, I have to kneel and receive the host on the tongue. But, first, it’s not a “host.” By the mystery of transubstantiation, you are receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Second, if you are physically able, and know that you are receiving Holy Communion, should you not want to kneel?

- The traditional Latin Mass has a strange calendar of seasons. But it doesn’t! We are used to what George Weigel calls “biblical insanity.” In the contemporary Mass readings (for 2010), Jesus is born on Dec. 25; on Dec. 26, the holy family flees to Egypt; on Jan. 2, the magi, who have just left, arrive; on Jan. 3, Jesus hears that John the Baptist has been arrested; on Jan. 4, Jesus feeds the 5,000; on Jan. 5, Jesus walks on water; on Jan. 6, Jesus goes back to Galilee; on Jan. 7, Jesus feeds a leper; on Jan. 8, Jesus goes to Judea, where John the Baptist, who was arrested on Monday, has not been arrested yet; on Jan. 9, Jesus is baptized by John (see Weigel’s “Evangelical Catholicism”).

- The Traditional Latin Mass is “incurably and eternally Catholic.” Yes, I couldn’t agree more with you. Deo gratias – thanks be to God.

Deacon James H. Toner serves at Our Lady of Grace Church in Greensboro.