It’s hard to even begin the post, not only because it addresses such a specific topic, but because I’m almost intimidated by the eloquence and clarity of greater writers and speakers on this topic, such as the blog of The Medieval Professor, or Matt Fradd’s podcast, Pints With Aquinas. But I do feel like I have some opinion and thoughts to add here, so I will go forth and blurt them out. Even if they don’t help anyone, at least they shall aid me in clarifying my thoughts. So, the topic at hand. Tradition and Solemnity in the Catholic Faith.
I suppose the branch of thought was originally brought to my mind as I came to realize the sheer informality and almost jovial attitude that I was experiencing in many Novus Ordo celebrations. Now don’t get me wrong, Novus Ordo in itself is certainly not bad, and I have found great satisfaction in early morning celebrations, and even some standard celebrations. What I am protesting against is something I have come to see in more and more parishes, and it’s something I believe was enabled because of the Novus Ordo celebration. We see it in many Protestant celebrations, and consequently Catholic celebrations (I haven’t had any experience with the Orthodox churches which is why I am not mentioning them), an almost “town-hall-meeting-esque” attitude. Where “Mass” becomes more of a social gathering than praise and worship at the house of God. I think it begins with the fact that Latin has become a thing of the past. You see, the Latin language, through its beauty and heavenly poetic sounds, communicates that something sacred is happening. This language set apart for prayer creates the perfect space to propel one into a deeper state of prayer and understanding of God and His transcendence. When we remove that mysticism, and couple it with “community notices,” or common district jargon or jokes, most if not all previous mysticism or reverence in the language of the Mass is lost.
In addition to this corruption of language, I also believe we are placing far too much emphasis on the subjective experience and views of the religious person. These are the very things which shouldn’t be emphasized. The Mass (and I guess other religious practices too) is first and foremost a way of giving praise and worship to a higher being that we feel we owe it to. And it’s from that same praise and worship that our other beliefs and ethics should stem from. Subjective experiences are the last things that should be in our minds. When we place more emphasis on this subjective experience (which plays into the whole town hall idea) we are further demystifying the Mass and our relationship with God.
Because of these things, I have come to embrace and practice a more traditional Catholicism. One where the first and foremost purpose of Mass is to revere God. One where subjective experience is not something that plays into worship. And one where I can fully appreciate the roots of the faith, by praying in Latin, and attending the Traditional Latin Rite (I really need to get to more of these, but distance really is an issue.)
I hope that got my point across. I just think we are losing a lot of the trademark Catholic solemnity that is so important. Oh, and on a quick note, I love choirs in Mass. When they sing in Latin (or even English in this case) it really goes a long way to elevate the Mass. But when someone shows up with a guitar? That’s not on. Thanks for reading.