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Friday, November 9, 2007

Poll: 53% of Catholics Want Latin Mass

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The nay-sayers said the pope's motu proprio wouldn't work. They told us the majority of Catholics would never want to go back to the Latin mass. They told us the pope was merely appeasing "radical traditionalist." In spite of all the data to the contrary, they told us there really was no general interest in the Tridentine form of the mass. Now this....
Attending Latin Mass

Arkansas Catholic's weekly poll question beginning Oct. 25, 2007, asked, “In Arkansas Catholic this week, we read about priests attending a Tridentine Rite (Latin) Mass during their recent meeting. If a Latin Mass was offered in your area, would you attend regularly?"

53 percent said yes.

27 percent said no.

20 percent said, “I already attend Latin Mass regularly.”


And this was in a rural southern state no less. Will the liberal nay-sayers of the Church admit their error? No. Of course not. I don't know how they're going to try to explain away this poll, but I suspect a few will try. The majority of nay-sayers will probably just ignore it, as they do with everything that doesn't fit their bias.

The results of this poll are startling, even to supporters of the Latin mass, but deep down inside we all knew it to be true. This brings two questions to the forefront...

1. Why do so many Catholics want the Latin mass?
2. Why are some liberal nay-sayers so dead set against it?

To answer the first question, we must understand that the reason why so many Catholics want the Latin mass may have something to do with them wanting to be more Catholic. A good deal of Catholics today report the Church is getting too "Protestant" in appearance and practice. A lot of nay-sayers assume that it's all about the Latin language, as if supporters believe Latin to be "more holy" than some other language. This is not the case at all. While Latin is the historical language of the Church, and deserves to be preserved just on that merit alone, it is not the language that interests Latin mass supporters. What the majority of Latin mass supporters crave is fidelity to the ancient liturgy, and a sense of reverence and awe during the celebration. 30 years of contemporary worship has left them feeling a little empty. After all, there is nothing more "dated" than a contemporary mass. Catholics, young and old alike, are starting to realize that they're missing something from their heritage, and they want to get back to it. Does this mean they have something against the new mass? Not necessarily. Rather, they would probably have a greater affinity for the new mass if it were simply celebrated according to the rubrics of the old.

To answer the second question is a little harder. I believe nay-sayers fall into two groups. The first group probably just doesn't understand what's going on, and they mistakenly believe the Latin mass supporters want to eliminate the new mass entirely. I find that once things are explained to them properly, they are more agreeable to the Latin mass as an "alternative" for those who want it. The second group of nay-sayers are those who fall into the extreme liberal camp. These people are militantly opposed to the Latin mass at all cost. Why? Because liberals believe Vatican II was a watershed. They believe the Church dramatically changed course during this council, adopting a more "Protestant" and "New Age" type of Christianity. They're wrong of course, but they want everyone to believe it. A lot of clergy and lay councils have adopted this mindset. But the problem they have with the Latin mass is philosophical in nature. The Latin mass represents the "old Church," and everything they don't like about Catholicism. Celebration of the "old mass" in this post-conciliar period sends a clear signal to the world. It's a signal they don't like. It says the Church has not changed so dramatically. It says it really is the same Church today as it was back before the council. That message upsets the entire liberal propaganda machine. So they have to fight it.

It would be interesting to see what would happen is the same kind of poll were taken nationwide. I imagine the results would be similar. I think Latin mass supporters need to capitalize on this information as much as they can.


Anonymous said...

Have you sent this over to Fr. Z?

The Catholic Knight said...

You're more than welcome to forward him the website address.

"H" said...

There are non-liberal reasons for opposing the Latin Mass too. Namely, moving the Mass back into Latin means that most people are not able to fully join in the prayers and worship because they do not understand Latin. As you say, what people REALLY like about the Latin Mass is the rubrics. So bring back the rubrics, not the language! Latin Mass is a distraction from useful reform: instead of joining solemnity with understanding and mental participation, it makes Mass a spectator event, albeit a beautiful, solemn one. Let's focus our attention on bringing solemnity back to a Mass that the people can understand!

The Catholic Knight said...


I think that is what Pope Benedict XVI is trying to do with the new mass.

Deacon Greg Kandra said...

This is hardly "startling." It's not even scientific, or wide-ranging. If you read the poll, it is open to those who visit the Arkansas Catholic website -- a number which, I suspect, is very small. (My diocesan newspaper's website gets, at most, a few hundred visitors every week, out of more than a million Catholics in the area.) In the weekly poll, a person can vote multiple times, as well.

Hans said...

Regarding comments about the people being able to "understand" the Mass: I grew up with the Latin Mass. Children were taught to memorize parts of it, and missals helped us with the rest. All of this was on a "practical" level of course, and was geared to intellect.

On a different level, one can understand the essence of ritual and "know", in a spiritual sense,what it is about, without understanding fully (or at all!)what is happening in an intellectual way. The Latin Mass speaks to ALL our senses and "reaches" us via them as well. It does not reach us only via our intellect. The Tridentine Mass is an act of faith as much as anything else, and reminds us that we believe IN ORDER to understand, not the other way around.

For this reason, wise men and women and fools can attend the same Mass and reap the same benefits. The Eucharist is a mystery. Ours is a mystery religion! Understanding is good, but all the intellectual understanding that we can muster does not bring us any closer to Christ on the altar. This to me illustrates an essential difference in understandings of the new and old Mass: the new Mass is something that "we" do for ourselves, to bring us to God. The old Mass is something that God does for us, to bring us to Him.

Stephen said...

I suspect "H" has not attended a Tridentine Mass with a good missal in a long time, if at all, because otherwise he would realize that Latin is in no way a hindrance to understanding or participating in the Mass. In fact it is quite helpful, compared to a vernacular. The ideal of participation, as Benedict XV said, is to "pray the Mass." It is very easy not to pray when the words are so familiar as to be memorized, making it possible to tune out even when one thinks one is listening. The sacred language must be read, so one must be more attentive at least that far. The sacred language also underlines that Mass is offered TO GOD, not performed for the people. Why are the Epistle and Gospel said in Latin and then read in the vernacular in a time frame that is not officially part of the Mass? Because the Epistle and Gospel are being prayed, not recited. In the Tridentine Mass, the best of what we have is offered back to God, and that includes His own words to us. Instruction, though important, is secondary to the main purpose of the Mass. In the new Mass, instruction has tended to predominate over prayer and offering. In part that is merely the incompetance and banality of the translation; in part it's from the dumbing down of the prayers; in part it is carelessness regarding the rubrics, but a very big part of it is simply the use of the vernacular, which makes the prayers familiar in the way that "breeds contempt." It is much easier, then, to be merely a spectator, when everything about the rite is basically automatic.

In the past, a missal (which virtually anyone can afford and use) was often a treasured possession, to say nothing of a valued gift for key moments in one's spiritual life, such as First Communion or Confirmation. Now we have "throw away liturgy" in the form of missalettes. That does not send a good message about the centrality of the Mass to spiritual life. Disposable liturgy came about because the original translations were provisional, but an advantage of a sacred language is its permanence. The official words stay the same, while translations can be varied or improved upon without an upheaval in the entire rite.

By all means, then, attend to the rubrics, make the celebrants of the new Mass do it the right way, and get a solid translation in the hands of the faithful. I'd never disagree with "H" about these things. But in a literate population the idea that the sacred language somehow obscures the meaning of the Mass from the ordinary person is plain ridiculous.