THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The numbers tell the whole story. The trends do not lie. It has been just two months since the pope's motu proprio went into effect -- putting the old (Tridentine) form of the mass, and the new (Novus Ordo) form, on an equal playing field. In just that short period of time the effect has been so profound that even the secular news media has taken notice.
(Washington Post) - It's the traditional Latin Mass, a formal worship service that is making a comeback after more than 40 years of moldering in the Vatican basement.
In September, Pope Benedict XVI relaxed restrictions on celebrating Latin Mass, frequently called the Tridentine Mass, citing "a new and renewed" interest in the ancient Latin liturgy, especially among younger Catholics.
Spoken or sung entirely in sometimes inaudible Latin by priests who face the altar instead of the congregation, it is a radical departure for most Catholics, who grew up attending a more informal Mass celebrated in their native tongue.
"It's the opposite of the cacophony that comes with the [modern] Mass," said Ken Wolfe, 34, a federal government worker who goes to up to four Latin Masses a week in the Washington area. "There's no guitars and handshaking and breaks in the Mass where people talk to each other. It's a very serious liturgy."
And it is a hit with younger priests and their parishioners.
Attendance at the Sunday noon Mass at St. John the Beloved in McLean has doubled to 400 people since it began celebrating in Latin. Most of the worshipers are under 40, said the Rev. Franklyn McAfee.
Younger parishioners "are more reflective," McAfee said. "They want something uplifting when they go to church. They don't want something they can get outside."....---------------------
(The Catholic Herald) - With the quiet support of the Pope, France is seeing an explosion of traditional religious communities, says Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis.
We are often told that the Church has to modernise, because the young, especially, can no longer relate to its teachings. It is sometimes even suggested that we should be grateful for a decline in vocations to priesthood: could this not be a sign from the Holy Spirit that the age of the laity is finally dawning?
This eagerness to make a virtue out of a necessity finds its most radical conclusion in a booklet entitled Church and Ministry published in the Netherlands by a group of Dominican academics. One of them, Fr André Lascaris, recently explained his thesis in the Tablet.
Numbers of vocations to the priesthood in Holland are plummeting, and according to Fr Lascaris there is “no hope of a remedy for this situation”. Apart from his own remedy, of course. His proposal is clear and simple: “In the absence of ordained priests, lay persons should be allowed to celebrate the Eucharist.” He adds: “Whether they be men or women, homo or heterosexual, married or unmarried, is irrelevant.”
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Defying expectations, the old traditional (Tridentine) mass has found increasing popularity with young people. Why is that? I would like to propose the same explanation for the Church as we have witnessed in the world. Liberalism is a self-eradicating philosophy. Just as liberal societies fail to reproduce at a rate capable of sustaining themselves, liberal churches have a similar problem. In the Catholic Church, which has been heavily influenced by liberal forces over the last 30+ years, the problem has manifested itself in two very obvious ways. The first is the crisis in vocations. The priesthood is dying out in the western world, along with vocations to religious life. Nuns and monks have virtually disappeared from the western world. The second is a general lack of education and holiness among the laity. In spite of the use of vernacular language in the liturgy, and the expanded lectionary of Scripture readings, the ignorance of lay Catholics on religion is at an all time high. In addition to that, the pejorative phrase "Cafeteria Catholic" has not only become a household term, but in many circles is actually seen as a virtue by those whom it describes.
Some of this can be blamed on our decadent western culture, which has abandoned religion in general, is clearly on the decline, and following in the footsteps of the ancient Roman Empire. However, the Church cannot escape a good deal of the blame. The introduction of the new ordinary (Novus Ordo) liturgy in 1970 was perhaps a major mistake on the part of the Roman Catholic Church. To make matters worse, rushed translations into the vernacular languages further degenerated the liturgy to the current watered down version we English-speaking Catholics are all too familiar with. As if that wasn't bad enough, new (abusive) innovations crept into this vernacular liturgy, to suite the fancy of whomever celebrated it, and thus continued to distort the meaning and significance of what Catholic worship is all about.
In the words of one priest I recently spoke with; "when the mass becomes as 'ordinary' as anything we can find in the world, it should be no surprise when the youth begin to crave the 'extraordinary.'" What is clearly lacking in the new vernacular mass is the extraordinary sense of solemnity, and yes, young Catholics are starting to crave this. They are beginning to crave it more than pop music, more then drums, more than clapping and excitement. They are craving a return to solemnity, and that's why the old Latin mass is becoming so popular. The evidence is now starting to pour in. The Tridentine mass belongs to the youth, and in time, the youth will soon belong to the Tridentine mass. The youth, the future of the Church, is going Tridentine and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it.
What will accelerate this process is the decline of the new vernacular liturgy (Novus Ordo). The diminishing priesthood crisis exists only in vocations for the new liturgy. (read more here) The priesthood is growing rapidly in Catholic communities where the old Tridentine liturgy is celebrated exclusively. The same is true for all Tridentine related vocations -- religious orders consisting of monks and nuns. As the priesthood diminishes in Novus Ordo communities, the availability of the Novus Ordo mass will also diminish. Like the effect of Liberalism on western culture, the Liberal influence on Catholic liturgy cannot reproduce enough priests to sustain itself. Like Liberal societies, the liberal influence on Catholic liturgy is clearly on the decline. Without significant and profound reform, altering it in every way, the new vernacular liturgy (Novus Ordo) will find itself extinct in the not-too-distant future. The availability of priests who exclusively celebrate the Novus Ordo mass will soon be close to nil. When that happens, the Novus Ordo liturgy will be a rare event -- perhaps even unusual. I suspect that day will come sooner than most expect. Maybe 20 years or less. If you doubt this, take a close look at how many gray heads currently makeup the Novus Ordo priesthood.
The only way to rescue the Novus Ordo liturgy will be to radically transform it -- in effect -- making it more like the Tridentine liturgy. This is going to take a whole lot of work, and I seriously doubt its success, when the alternative of making the Tridentine available in the vernacular is an easier solution, and would swiftly put an end to the problem. Not to say that rescuing the Novus Ordo is impossible. It can happen, but it's going to take some strong leadership, along with some draconian tactics, to get the job done. Currently "defective" translations are being corrected, and that is a good first step, but it's going to take a whole lot more than that. The liturgy itself will have to be altered, to bring in more elements of solemnity typically found in the rubrics of the Tridentine liturgy. Furthermore, priests will have to be virtually retrained in the proper celebration of the Novus Ordo, and liturgical servers, choirs and alter boys/girls will have to be re-educated as well. Beyond that, even the laity will have to be re-educated in their proper role during the liturgy -- what is expected of them, and what is to be avoided. That's just the celebration itself. There is so much more that needs to be addressed, including the aesthetics of architecture, chapel layout, and iconic appeal. The list goes on and on. Yes, it can be done, but it's going to be one hell of an uphill battle. Is the current pope strong enough to make it happen? Only history can, and will, give us the answer to that question. If ever a pontifical act is made, giving official permission for the Tridentine to be celebrated in the vernacular, then we shall have our answer. The end of the Novus Ordo liturgy will quickly follow.