The COVID era has been a time of shock, honesty, reflection and reckoning for many families, and therefore a time of monumental change. For me, one of the most significant developments was in my faith. In 2021, I put aside the tasteless Catholicism of my younger years in favor of the Latin Mass, and I haven’t looked back.
I haven’t always been a traditional Catholic. I grew up with the same ho-hum homilies, fan-shaped seats, and awful ’70s songs as the next Catholic. But when I moved last summer, I made a commitment to find a church where I knew my faith, and that of my children, would be nurtured, not undermined.
My research led me to the traditional Latin Mass, the liturgical form celebrated in all Catholic churches around the world for centuries until the revolutionary reforms of the Second Vatican Council and the establishment in 1969 of the New Mass or New Order Mass.
Not all New Order parishes are dogmatic diversions and aesthetic horror shows. My previous parish, run by faithful Dominicans, was one of those exceptions. But I couldn’t expect to run into another hen’s tooth. So when researching which red state to flee to, choosing an area served by a Latin Mass parish was a must.
So I was saddened when Pope Francis wished Catholics a Merry Christmas last month by launching the attack on those who celebrate the traditional Mass in Latin. The Congregation for Divine Worship issued a series of clarifications to the Pope’s Apostolic Letter, “Traditional custodians”, published in July. The document aims to severely restrict the ability of priests to celebrate the Tridentine Holy Mass.
Francis’ novella rules are vindictive and absurd. Newly ordained priests must receive express permission from the Vatican through their bishop to perform the Old Rite. Where celebration of the traditional Latin Mass has been permitted, details should not be published in parish bulletins. Masses in Latin cannot be celebrated at the same time as the pastoral activities of the parish community. Priests cannot celebrate the Traditional Latin Rite twice on the same day, and not on the same day they celebrate the New Mass.
Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, seeking to bridge differences with traditional groups as well as to honor the Latin liturgical tradition for its “venerable and ancient usage”, showed pastoral generosity and flexibility regarding the Latin Mass. front against those “who feel attached” to the ancient form of church worship.
The pope’s strange intolerance, even contempt for the ancient Roman rite, is clearly juxtaposed with the seemingly free reign given to Catholic churches, institutions, ministries and priests around the world, including the Vatican, to stage liturgies featuring stage a pagan Andean fertility. goddess and one representation of an Aztec god, to promote outrageous depictions of Our Lord and his holy mother, and blatantly a snub to the constantly reaffirmed teaching of the Church on human sexuality and mortal sin.
Francis’ stated goal in targeting the Latin Mass is to promote “concord and unity in the Church.” Instead, Francis’ campaign reflects fears that mainstream Catholics, albeit in the minority, pose a threat to the liberal, modernist monstrosity that he and a radical set within the hierarchy have been busy manufacturing and layering. at Christ Church.
It is the hypocrisy behind Francis’ “come as you are…unless you are a traditional Catholic” that could have the opposite effect to what he probably intends; it certainly helped me to distance myself from the new mass. In fact, preliminary research indicated that the parishes of the traditional Latin Mass prosper, especially among the Age range 18-39 years old.
The sacraments shape our faith
I was personally drawn to the liturgical emphasis on the sacrifice of Christ, the reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, the doctrinal orthodoxy and biblical fidelity of preaching, and the supplication to safeguard the welfare of one’s soul. I discovered a unity of form and substance that gives food for thought and imposes itself.
Michael Brendan Dougherty Explain that “for Catholics, the way we pray shapes what we believe”. He argues that “the practice of the New Mass trains people in a new faith: to become truly Christian, one must cease to be a Christian at all”.
As the bishops began to depart from traditional Christian positions on marriage, sexuality, suffering, death and the right to life, they replaced Christ, his mother, the saints and the fundamental tenets of Christianity with twists, finger-pointing and punches on social justice issues like climate change, immigration and so-called racial justice.
A recent Pew study to study provides insight into the kind of effect this estrangement from Christ has had on Catholics’ understanding of their own faith. Sixty-eight percent of those who call themselves Catholics say people who don’t believe in God can still go to heaven. In contrast, only 21% of evangelical Christians hold the same view. Only 16% of Catholics believe their religion is the only true faith leading to eternal life in heaven, compared to 50% of Evangelical Christians.
Dismay at apparent deviations from church dogma has undoubtedly come to a head with the pandemic. Without warning or precedent, churches were closed. Participation in the sacramental life of the Church was considered non-essential by the successors of the apostles of Jesus; once you saw this outrage, you couldn’t ignore it. What other lies had we been served? What other omissions, half-truths and full-fledged heresy had we ingested and alarmingly ingested, even regurgitated to others?
Enter the traditional Latin Mass, where the sacraments are venerated, and Jesus Christ is presented as the only name by which we must be saved. Priests always instruct the faithful on how to get to heaven, not how to fit in with paganism. The moral teachings of the church are taught with great love and without excuses. Parishioners are not only instructed in the lives of saints, but they are also encouraged to become saints.
Christians need the guidance of their pastors to navigate this treacherous journey and stay fixated on the prize which, according to St. Paul, is “God’s call through Christ Jesus to life from on high.” Catholics who attend Mass in Latin yearn for the unity, constancy and clarity of a Church which, as the second-century bishop and Saint Irenaeus described it, “although dispersed throughout the [sic] the whole world… received from the apostles and their disciples this faith…. [and] preserves it with care… as if it had only one soul and one and the same heart, and it proclaims them, teaches them and transmits them, in perfect harmony, as if it had only one mouth”.
Pope Francis may leave a divisive legacy within the Church, but Catholics must trust in God’s providence. In Acts, when the Jewish council meets to discuss how to deal with these renegades Peter and John, and their preaching about Jesus, one of the Pharisees advises to leave them alone. “[I]If this design or this work is of men, it will come to naught. But if it’s from God, you can’t destroy it.
Pope Francis may well go down in history as the pontiff who, despite his most calculated efforts, led people like me en masse away from blandness, indifference, error and confusion, to return to the old rite and with it, the true Catholic faith.
Carina Benton has dual Australian and Italian citizenship and a permanent resident of the United States. Recently emigrated from the west coast, she is now contributing to the repopulation of the interior of the country. She holds a master’s degree in education and has taught languages, literature and writing for many years in Catholic and Christian institutions, as well as secular ones. She is a practicing Catholic and mother of two young children.