The New York Latin Massathon

The NYC marathon put the kibosh on the Latin Mass I usually go to in Brooklyn, so on All Saints Day and Sunday I went to Mass a couple of places in Manhattan. It’s remarkable how different it can seem in different presentations (High or Low Mass, music, behavior of the congregation, physical setting and lighting).

Still, the differences brought out the special qualities of the Tridentine ritual all the more strongly. Those qualities all depend on what the Mass is. It’s not, fundamentally, a community celebration or expression of solidarity or moral lesson or performance by the priest or choir. It’s God Himself objectively becoming present. Because of that it’s always to the point. It doesn’t matter whether things are good or bad, whether you’re up or down, whether you like or dislike the setting or the music or the people. Without regard to those things the Mass itself keeps on giving you what you always need and can’t be found nearly so reliably any other way.

For that reason it seems to me much more humble, accessible and human than the revised form of Mass. The Tridentine ritual makes no personal claims whatever for the congregation, clergy or hierarchy. It treats the latter as simply instruments. It truly accepts you wherever you are, because it’s not about you or your surroundings or what’s going on in the world or your life, it’s about the one thing that all human beings need more than anything else.

5 thoughts on “The New York Latin Massathon”

  1. Peace, Jim.

    I share your
    Peace, Jim.

    I share your sentiments about the Mass, the Rite I have worshipped in since I became a Catholic in 1970. I have seen film clips and photos of the Tridentine Rite and it seems very performance-oriented to me. Latin Mass web sites focus on vestments, clergy, and architecture, and very little spirituality seeps through.

    The Roman Missal today is more difficult, certainly. It is far easier to crash and burn if a priest and parish don’t make the effort for good liturgy. I think it a value that liturgy is no longer an automatic for Catholics. While the casual Catholic certainly needs a sense of surety (and I think any liturgical celebration provides this, if God is truly present) I’d hope the people who are responsible for worship are working their heinies off to make sure the music, preaching, and the small details are just what they need to be.

    I guess that to me, the Tridentine Mass just inspires laziness at a time when Catholics should not be taking things for granted.

  2. It’s interesting we respond
    It’s interesting we respond so differently!

    To me the Tridentine rite is the very opposite of performance-oriented. All the music and whatnot is plainly ancillary to what it is, which doesn’t depend on who’s doing it or how. That’s why it’s lasted as long as it has. As to “laziness,” I’d call it “contemplative” instead. It views the Mass as basically something God’s doing rather than something we’re doing.

  3. speaking from a femail
    speaking from a femail perspective,the Tridentine mass does not take me down any PC paths of terminlogy.I am just a soul standing before my God.I can leave behind all physical associations,I am not expected to perform! I wait to receive, which is wonderfull.

  4. It’s great to here that the
    It’s great to here that the Traditional Latin mass is offered in Brooklyn. Is it a high or low mass?
    Also, is the priest who celebrates friendly to Catholic tradition? I have heard that Bishop’s give liberal, trad unfriendly priest with the task of old mass so that they can keep trad’s “in line”.

    Thank God its not that way in south Jersey, but I here it hapen’s.

  5. It’s usually low, with
    It’s usually low, with occasional exceptions. The priests do it because they like the Traditional Latin Mass. I’m told that when it started some years ago the bishop assigned a priest who didn’t like the TLM but he changed his mind after offering it for a while.


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