Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back Again; TLM Post

I knew this would happen. :P It's been over two months since my last update. Two lovely months.
I think I'm going to try to keep on top of it this time. I'm going to shoot for one update a week. Give or take a few days. I'll probably slip a few more times and let another few months go by, but I'll get better, I'm sure.

It also strikes me as almost certain that nobody is reading this blog right now.  I guess I'll have to change that, gradually. For now, I'll talk to myself. I feel silly doing it in real life, so I'll do it here in cyberspace.

I want to write tonight about the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) a.k.a. the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, a.k.a. (inaccurately) the Tridentine Rite, a.k.a. the Mass for crazy traditionalist Catholics who are probably some sort of mentally unstable because they actually like Latin stuff? Are you kidding me?
Yea, that. Love it.

My spirituality very much conforms to the TLM. The Novus Ordo doesn't do it for me, and hasn't for years. If I had the choice, I'd attend the EF exclusively, but I don't. Not yet.

I went to the TLM this past Sunday, the first week of Advent, and brought with me someone who had never been before. They didn't like it at all, which I find seriously disappointing. The first thing I heard was that "average people wouldn't get it." Nobody is going to understand it because it's in Latin. Well whatever.
Of course, the best comebacks occur to us far too late. No exception here. I thought of this one about three or four hours later. Way too late to make a difference then, but it's never too late to blog about it.

People understand the Novus Ordo? Well of course. There's nothing there that requires any particular kind of attention.

I love metaphors. Here's a good one: The Novus Ordo is grade one social studies, and the TLM is university economics. What did you learn in grade one social studies? I don't remember myself, but I imagine that I could have slept through the entire year and been no worse off. I could probably pick up the curriculum right now and write every test for that year in three hours.
Did grade one social studies have any kind of useful purpose in your life? I doubt it. I can't even vaguely remember what it was about. I think I'd have learned more reading the newspaper once than attending that class all throughout grade one.
University economics, on the other hand, is hard. It requires countless hours of studying. There is an enormous body of curriculum. There's depth, and there's applicability. A solid grounding in university economics is invaluable towards one's understanding of the business world. [For now we're going to pretend that university students exclusively learn good economics, which I've been told is not at all a given these days.]

So is there anything wrong with grade one social studies? No. It's all fine stuff to learn, I'm sure. Is it something to hold onto though? Is it something to devote oneself to? No, it is not.

There's nothing wrong, per se, with the Novus Ordo. I say that with some qualification, but it's close enough for the point I'm trying to make. There is a lot of good in the Novus Ordo. The thing is that there's so much more in the E.F., that the N.O. simply pales in comparison. The theology of the Novus Ordo is simple, easy, and tends to be uninspiring. The theology of the Extraordinary Form is multi-faceted, complex, deep, yes, confusing, and rich. We could (and should) spend a lifetime studying what is contained within that Mass.

In my opinion, the Novus Ordo is doing a disservice to those serious about their faith. We are a Church of bright young people trying desperately to reach our full potential via a very limited, and limiting, selected-by-committee Mass that all too often resembles a middle of the road Protestant service. I wouldn't spend my life mastering grade one social studies, and I'm not going to spend my life looking for something more challenging in the Novus Ordo.

So is the Traditional Latin Mass confusing? Yes, and proudly so.
It's time for Latin Catholicism to stand up and leave behind our overwhelming, inhibiting shallowness that is exemplified in an all too common, poorly celebrated Novus Ordo. Each and every one of us is more than intelligent enough to get something more out of our Mass. Some will understand more than others, to be sure, but everybody without exception, who approaches the Traditional Latin Mass with an open mind and an open heart will deepen their faith in the Church.

It's comfortable to doze in mediocrity, but to be comfortable in our faith is the last thing in the world we want. Every Catholic needs to be challenged and pushed and inspired to do better. No exceptions.