The Theology of Mass “Preference”

With increasing frequency, I hear people saying that, while they prefer the traditional Latin Mass (and attend it when they can), they still attend the novus ordo Mass;  generally speaking, it’s easier to get to the new Mass or, in some cases, the people concerned have commitments in their parishes which they are not yet ready or willing to relinquish.  Having educated themselves on the Mass controversy, and come to the conclusion that they really ought to be attending the traditional Mass, they are still somewhat (and naturally so) attached to their parish communities.   But are they right to continue to attend the new Mass, knowing what they now know? Here’s a short talk on the question of informed Catholics continuing to attend the new Mass…

Comment: 

Imagine the reaction of a judge in any courtroom you care to name, listening to  to a defendant accused of any crime, who, while admitting his guilt sought to excuse himself by arguing that he would have “preferred” not to have committed the crime at all, but…  Is that a defence?  Aren’t we all expected to conform our behaviour to comply with the law, whether road traffic laws or the moral law?  Try running a few red lights and telling the court that you’d really have “preferred” not to do so, or excusing the murder of your annoying neighbour by insisting that it really wouldn’t be your first choice of action, your “preference”, but… 

Why, then, do we think that it’s OK to swap the new Mass for the traditional Mass when it suits us, spuriously claiming that we “prefer” the traditional Mass, so that’s all right then?  

Answer:  it’s not.  It’s really not all right.  God more than “prefers” the traditional Mass; this is the worship that He wants from us, as is clear from the history and tradition of the Church – not to mention the decimation of entire congregations since the introduction of the new Mass in recent years.   So, what any of us “prefers” is irrelevant. Goodness, we might “prefer” to spend a couple of hours clap-happy singing in the nearest Pentecostalist church –  who cares?  “Preference” is irrelevant. Our duty is to give due and true worship to God. We are quite simply not doing that at the new Mass. 

If you have some cast iron evidence to the contrary, of course, let’s hear it!                                                               

18 responses

  1. This idea of “preference” is a clear indicator that Catholic worship has become man-centered, instead of God-centered. But that’s not surprising, since the Novus Ordo itself is man-centered and is a catalyst for pride, instead of humility. Time and time again, we’ve heard of laity who, thinking they know better than Tradition, leave their traditional parish in a huff with some flimsy, self-serving excuse, and say, in effect, “I’m taking my toys elsewhere (oh, and my checkbook too!).”

    That said though, it is apparently very difficult for some, especially older persons, to leave their historical family parish, no matter how Protestantized it has become. The friend who introduced me to the Traditional Mass in 2002 was one of those: he preferred to grit his teeth and stay where he was, no matter how happy-clappy the liturgy and the clergy were, and no matter how sick it made him. I really didn’t understand his reticence, probably because I had never known an historical family parish.

    Also, there are a couple of things in this video that puzzle me and seem contradictory. One is Abp. Lefebvre’s statement that the Novus Ordo “is subject to reservations.” That seems astonishingly tepid, considering these words of the Ottaviani Intervention: “It is evident that the Novus Ordo has no intention of presenting the Faith as taught by the Council of Trent, to which, nonetheless, the Catholic conscience is bound forever.” To say that such a monstrous crime should be approached with “reservations,” rather than with horror, is inexplicable.

    Another is Abp. Lefebvre’s statement that the Novus Ordo “bears within it a poison harmful to the Faith.” This not only makes his “reservations” remark even more inexplicable, but it also makes me wonder why, if this liturgy is a poisonous “danger to souls,” and why, if “the Church cannot ask her members to endanger their Faith,” and why, if “this liturgy is to be completely avoided,” how it can be legitimate to attend the Novus Ordo “occasionally,” if “there is no danger of scandal”? (I’m referring to occasions other than family/friend weddings or funerals.)

    Obviously, every single occurrence of the Novus Ordo is a scandal, without exception, since it is specifically designed to avoid offending heretics and thus cannot possibly do anything other than to grievously offend God.

    • RCA Victor,

      I love your post – so clear.

      However, I wouldn’t make too much of the “reservations” word – I think we all do that at times, trying to make a point. My reaction to anyone saying they have “reservations” about something is immediately to ask “why?” So, I don’t think it takes anything away from his later words, to have said “reservations” to begin with. The list he then gives makes clear why there are reservations about the new Mass!

      I’ve just watched the video again and the priest WAS referring to family weddings, funerals etc when he said it was OK to attend the NO occasionally if there was no danger of scandal. I do agree that it seems an odd thing to say – either you may attend a wedding or funeral or not and not fully participate.

      I do wonder, though, about Holy Communion. I can see the point of not joining in the sign of peace (insufferable) and I don’t say out the responses, and any other novelties, but if the priest pronounces the words of Consecration properly and the whole liturgy has been reasonably conducted, I can’t see anything wrong with receiving Holy Communion.

      Diving for cover, LOL!

      • Fidelis,

        I never, ever receive Holy Communion at the Novus Ordo now. When I go to weddings or funerals I treat the New Mass like a Protestant service and do not participate at all.

      • Fidelis,

        I think you’re right, Father does seem to be referring to weddings or funerals with the word “occasional.” The last Novus Ordo I attended, in fact, was my uncle’s funeral in 2012, and it was a disgrace to God, to the Church, and to his faithful soul.

        I think that the mere existence of liturgical “preference” is evidence of the work of Satan, whose goal is to divide and conquer. It’s the cafeteria mentality applied to the liturgy – instead of “I can accept doctrines A-T, but not doctrines U-Z,” it’s “I accept the Novus Ordo, but not the TLM.”

        However, seeking to avoid Editor’s rolling pin … I suppose she is talking about Catholics who accept both rites, and see no problem in attending one or the other, whichever is most convenient. Apparently they’ve not noticed the stark contrast in solemnity and reverence, the stark contrast in the way in which the faithful dress and comport themselves, the stark contrast in music, the stark contrast in complexity of rubrics, the stark contrast in vestments….and apparently, these Catholics have not asked themselves “why?”

        I can’t legitimately criticize “convenience,” since Our Lord has placed me a two-minute walk from my traditional parish, but I’m sure convenience is a major issue for many who drive 50-100 miles or more to find a TLM. But here again, a solution proposes itself, one which has been embraced by several families in our parish: they’ve uprooted themselves and moved here from Florida! (i.e. 750-800 miles)

        Again, though, I know this is not possible for many.

        Perhaps the bottom line is grace: when bi-ritual Catholics have received the grace to be utterly – even viscerally – revolted by the Novus Ordo, then they will do something about their “preference.”

  2. I should say that I am meaning if you are attending a family funeral or wedding, receiving Communion – I totally agree that we should not be dealing in our personal preferences when we know God wills the ancient Mass and if we can’t get to it, then to sanctify Sunday in other ways, as given on the video.

  3. I have listened to the lectures of Father Gregory Hesse which are available on YouTube. He explains that according to Catholic doctrine and church law, the Novus Ordo is “contrary to Divine Law” and is a “schismatic rite”. Now that I know this, I feel no moral compunction to attend the Novus Ordo on Sundays if the Traditional Mass is unavailable. The Novus Ordo is a non-Catholic rite, and Catholics are not permitted to actively participate and receive communion in a non-Catholic rite.

  4. Petrus and Miles Immaculatae

    I’m chewing that over. I would only say that even the SSPX don’t say that the NO is invalid, so if it really is Our Lord in Holy Communion, would it be so wrong to receive?

    I’d like to see one of the Father Gregory Hesse videos on YouTube – is there a link you can recommend, as I’m put off my long videos. ,

    • Can the Blessed Sacrament ever be separated from the Mass? Are the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament separate things? I am inclined to thing that they are not. Even Eucharistic adoration in the monstrance is essentially a prolongation of the elevation that takes place during consecration in the Mass.

    • The Novus Ordo Mass isn’t invalid per se, but that doesn’t mean every single Novus Ordo is valid. It’s too much of a lottery for me.

    • Fidelis,

      A lot depends on how the priest does the consecration. The rubrics for the NO are quite clear, saying that the words of consecration must be said onto the host while bowing over it. Similarly the with the wine, again, the words must be said into the chalice while bowing over it. When the host and chalice are elevated it is supposed to be with both hands. Unfortunately, many priests say the words of consecration into thin air while waving the host about or moving the chalice from side to side. I’ve seen a video from a church in America where the priest held the host and chalice in front of him and said the words of consecration as his head moved from side to side looking at those to his left and then those to his right. He even partially turned round to the choir, who were sitting behind him. In cases like that it is probably safe to say that the consecration is invalid and therefore didn’t take place. In situations like that it is best not to receive.

      • RCA Victor,

        Thanks for that short video of Fr Hesse, who, I see from the information under the video is a Canon Lawyer, Doctor of Thomistic Theology and former Secretary to Cardinal Stickler so I’d say he is well qualified to comment and he is very convincing indeed. However, my dyed-in-the-wool novus ordo friends will write off what he says as one priest’s opinion. Still, it’s worth sharing the video. Thanks again.

  5. I often attend the LMS Masses. Here are some points I’ve noticed:

    – Mass is often at an inconvenient time eg 8am/9am. If you have a family and have some distance to cover it is difficult to attend.
    – The priest usually consecrates a host for his personal consumption. The congregation are fed from the Novus Ordo hosts in the tabernacle.
    – The LMS congregations are an add on to parish life. Few are ever appointed to “Liturgy committees” or catechesis leaders. TOO dangerous lol
    – Although MP SP allows priests to celebrate the TLM whenever they like I cannot think of a single DIOCESAN parish where it is celebrated as the main Sunday Mass. Sad 😦

    • Another problem with LMS Masses is that they are often still learning how to say the traditional Mass and it’s just very ameteurish. I once read a blog post by Damian Thompson and he said that he had stopped going to LMS Masses because there was so much waving and semaphoring.

      For them the Old Mass is more of a hobby than a daily spirituality.

  6. Mr Blah Blah,

    You are right to highlight the problems trying to get to a LMS Mass. The only one I would make an excuse for, if your like, is the one about “few are ever appointed to liturgy committees” etc. That’s probably because the people who attend the LMS Masses are nearly always from a number of parishes in the dioceses, and even from other dioceses, not necessarily from the parish. In some cases, very few parishioners attend the Traditional Mass in their parish.

  7. I think that, by now, the provision of the traditional mass is sufficient that it is in most cases easy to get to. I cant think that, at least in western europe, there could be any location more than ~1 hour’s drive from a traditional sunday mass.

    (Granted, we are fortunate to have the use of a car – public transport would make things more challenging, esp with sunday timetables etc),

    Provision in the dioceses can be a lottery, dependent on how atrocious the local Bishop is, but the SSPX are everywhere. On holiday in Europe, I have been at SSPX masses in everything from small chapels built in someone’s back garden, through grand City Center Churches, to masses held in rented industrial units. Of course, its the mass which is important, not the surroundings.

    if there was no traditional mass available, then I would not seek to fulfill my obligation at a novus ordo and i would never wish to expose my children to the novus ordo. Ultimately, if I wanted them to attend banal protestant worship, then I would take the myself. I don’t need the Church to foist it on us.

    I am rarely at a novus ordo these days, and only in rare case of a family event, or assisting with fund raising for a Catholic charity. However, I do not receive communion or join in the disco dancing etc.
    Any such rare attendance would always be in addition to my usual traditional mass, not in place of.

    I feel it is sad not to receive communion, but my reticence is not simply to do with the type of mass, but the rock bottom standards, where the norm is casually dressed lay people “dishing out” the Eucharist by hand, amid the din of chit chat. Everything about it screams “we don’t believe any of this” – because those present don’t.

    I find it unpleasant to attend a novus ordo as an adult. Modern catholic churches are the only buildings I know (save pubs and nightclubs) where the noise level actually increases, when you come in off the street.

    I can only imagine that it would be extremely disorientating for a child to flit between the two masses and, in their usual straightforward fashion, they would certainly reject the idea that the 2 are stated to be fundamentally the same thing.

    Anytime we go on holiday or have a few days away, the ability to get to a traditional mass is one of the main considerations. As above, it is easy enough, if prepared to make a reasonably short journey.

    Attending mass in a foreign country is always a great affirmation of why the traditional mass is best. How comforting it is to hear the familiar words “Introibo ad altarei Dei…..” – you suddenly feel very much at home, despite being far away.

    Its much better than the various shambolic* english language novus ordos I have endured abroad previously. (* that is, more shambolic than usual).

    I really like taking my kids to the “same mass” on holiday as it is a great education about the Universal Church, though they are too young to grasp this at present.

    Later this year, we are to visit Germany. There is ample choice of SSPX locations nearby (even an FSSP one).

    Probably we will go to the SSPX purpose built Priory of St Jude Thaddeus, mainly chosen as it is easy to get to and looks a really lovely building (shallow I know! Did I mention the free parking? Haha!)

      • Liberanos,

        In that case, according to the priest in the video it would be more pleasing to God to sanctify Sunday by praying the rosary, spiritual reading and reading through the Mass, rather than attend a new Mass.

        It’s a hard message to hear when you’ve been brought to with the Sunday Mass obligation but these are very strange times we are living through and if it is true that the new Mass was created expressly to protestantise us, how can it please God for us to attend it? I think a lot of us are wrestling with that conundrum.

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