Seven Reasons why I joined a Latin Mass parish…

So we’ve been attending Latin Mass (i.e. the extraordinary form of the 1962 Missal). One of the CTales readers wanted me to talk a little bit about our new move toward the Latin Mass. So here goes:

We registered at Mater Dei Catholic Church, a parish served by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP). The move was not based on idealism or nostalgia. Nor did we seek it out in reaction to anything we had experienced. (There was, of course, that “Grover moment” that prepared me to at least give the Latin Mass a fair trial. Read about that here: Initial Doubts about the Latin Mass.) We tried it out and found that we loved it.

We simply wanted a parish where we were challenged to become saints. It’s not really about the Latin per se. (I teach Latin, so I am rather partial to it.) Instead, it’s about priests who constantly shepherd us as if their salvation depended upon it. If I could give one reason for why we go to Mater Dei, it would be the priests. Father Longua and Father Wolf are excellent. Each of them keep the parish focused on salvation, not on the minutia of being “traditionalists.”

Here are seven reasons why I like the “Latin Mass” parish:

  1. Confession is offered every day for at least an hour and the priests constantly challenge us to go to confession, at least weekly. Confession is offered before, during, and after Holy Mass. After every daily Mass, the priest returns from the sacristy, prays at the foot of the altar, turns to the people and says, “I’ll be in the confessional.” For me, this is a profound sign of priestly dedication. He doesn’t want to shake our hands or take compliments, he wants us to be reconciled to God. Let me add that I’m not saying that non-FSSP priests don’t do this. I’ve known many great parish priests who are in the confessional every day. I’m just saying that the FSSP priests seem to have this dedication consistently.
  2. The homilies are good and there is no fluff. It’s straight forward: heaven/hell, grace/sin, virtue/vice, be holy in the world, root out sin in your life, etc.
  3. Communion is received kneeling, on the tongue, and from the hand of the priest. When I was an Anglican, we received kneeling and I have never adjusted to standing for Holy Communion as a Catholic. The moment of Holy Communion becomes more reverent and shows honor to Christ.
  4. The parish promotes devotions like Eucharistic Adoration, Benediction, Holy Rosary, Novenas, Scapular, Marian devotions, etc.
  5. Since confession is offered so frequently, our family is going to confession on an almost weekly basis. I am finding that this is the secret to happy family life. The priests have also given me many tips and pointers on how to establish a nightly family Rosary.
  6. The music is well-prepared and beautiful. Our voices aren’t drowned out by someone up front with a microphone. This fact alone is an incentive to sing and sing loudly.
  7. Whenever the Latin Mass comes up, you sometimes hear Catholics say: “Well, I love the Latin Mass, I just can’t stand the Latin Mass people! They are so judgmental!” I’ve even said this before. However, we have not experienced any more “judgmentalism” there than anywhere else. No doubt, we’ve received “the evil eye” from people because of our five children are squirming around at the Latin Mass. But, heh, we got that at the Novus Ordo. So far, nobody has come up to me after Holy Mass and started in on why Latin is God’s language, or how Vatican 2 is evil, etc. It’s been pretty normal. In fact…dare I say it…the Latin Mass crowd is generally more friendly toward the children. They like to see large, growing families.
So there are seven reasons. There are probably more. Of course, we’re rather new to it all. I’m sure there will be disappointments. There is no spiritual Shangri-La on earth. However, we’re rather pleased.

I’d love to hear more for yall. Have you attended a Latin Mass parish? What did you think? Was your experience positive or negative?

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  • Agnieszka

    Thanks for that post (and the rest of your amazing blog)!
    My husband couldn’t convince me but you did. Sounds awesome! I want to go, and now!

  • Brian

    I think the “minutia of the Traditionalists” is actually a rarity when you actually experience the Extraordinary Form, and when I have seen it, it has more to do with worshipping God as He wants rather than how we want, but I digress.

    I have been attending the Extraordinary Form exclusively for the most part for almost 3 years now. 

    I agree with all that you have posted.  I will only add a few other things.  Like you, for me it is not the Latin per se, although I find the language beautiful.  It is the spirituality of the Extraordinary Form that attracted me initially and keeps me going.   Things which we are taught by the Church such as the priest being in persona Christi are much more obvious in the EF than in the Ordinary Form.  I recall the first time I went, I suddenly realized what continuity of worship was all about.   The exact thought that occurred to me as I observed the priest was, “Oh!  It’s like Moses in the tent of meeting offering sacrifice to God!  OH!  That’s what this means!  OH!!  IT’S LIKE A LIVING VERSION OF THE LETTER TO THE HEBREWS!!!” 

    The roles of the priest, congregation, cantor, server, and choir are clearly delineated.  Sometimes I find in the OF that the roles are blurred, albeit not intentionally, it just happens.  I have never heard someone reciting the priest’s prayers out loud in the EF.  I have heard some in the congregation reciting aloud even the Canon with the priest in the OF. 

    The roll of server is much more involved in the EF.  In the OF, the server is there to help the priest with ceremonial duties like setting up the altar, etc.  In the EF the server has an integral roll in the prayers offered.  I think it fosters a sense of vocation to the priesthood in a way that is diminished in the OF, and I say this because I have a 12 year old son who attends the Mass with me (even to the point of waking up on Sunday morning at 5:00 am to drive 25 miles to attend Mass in the EF at 7:00 am EVERY Sunday) and is an altar server, and lately he has expressed an interest in the priesthood.  He actually looks forward to it, and even laments when we don’t get to attend the EF if we are out of town. 

    One last thing is that I am part of the schola which sings the Ordinary and the Propers.  We use the chants from the Liber Usualis, and in doing this I recognized that in the EF when it is sung, the musical texts are scripture verses appropriate for the Mass being offered, not hymns put forth by the OCP.  In the EF, the Psalms are the hymns of the Mass.  Not to mention I share in singing the Psalms in the manner of the saints throughout the ages, and I feel a unique connection with my brothers and sisters who have gone before me.   

  • TomH

    My wife and I haven’t fully “converted” to the local EF parish in our diocese in southern, NJ but we do go roughly quarterly and do love it when we go.

  • David Werling

    Bravo!

    You will inevitably run into the _______ [fill in the blank]; but in my experience even they are, generally speaking, at least more serious about and faithful to Catholicism than the _____________ [fill in the blank] that you happen across at the novus ordo.

    The important thing is a life centered on the Eucharist and living our Catholicism to the fullest.  More and more people are finding that a life centered on the Eucharist and a desire to live our Catholic faith fully is nourished by the Traditional Latin Mass and its commensurate spirituality.

    May your journey with the Traditional Latin Mass be as joyful and blessed as my family’s journey has been.

  • Brandanism

    WOW bro! that’s great! Priests that know their vocations really well! Amen! how i wish that my parish that a priest will be in the confessional everyday, i think i’ll be a saint already, i mean it. if the priest knows that sacramentally that we can be free and be holy thought the Eucharist that will flow in our hearts desires to do penance, i know by God’s love, the Parish will be HOLY! amen! wow! your parish are really blessed bro!

  • Brandanism

    WOW bro! that’s great! Priests that know their vocations really well! Amen! how i wish that my parish that a priest will be in the confessional everyday, i think i’ll be a saint already, i mean it. if the priest knows that sacramentally that we can be free and be holy through the Eucharist that will flow in our hearts desires to do penances, i know by God’s love, the Parish will be HOLY! amen! wow! your parish are really blessed bro!do pray for Priests to be more like Jesus during consecrations! amen!

  • Jon

    Taylor,

    Congratualtions! My family and I have attended Mater Dei ourselves – the FSSP parish in Harrisburg, PA – for the last six years. We drive 80 miles round trip every Sunday, and often more. It’s worth it.

    I can think of a lot more than seven reasons for attending the Latin Mass. I know liturgy isn’t your speciality, but I know you’ll learn more about it, start reading the history of the liturgy, the reform, etc…, and you’ll have many more yourself. I’ll leave that to you.

    I know Father Longua. He used to be up at St. Gregory’s in Elmhurst, and came down to Mater Dei several times to celebrate Mass for us. He’s a wonderful priest, and a fine example of such for your sons.

    God bless you, your wife, and kids. You’re very much in our prayers…
    And welcome!

  • pbhj

    “Instead, it’s about priests who constantly shepherd us as if there salvation depended upon it.”

    Just saying.

    As a free evangelical not allied to any denom’ I find this quite interesting.

  • susie

    We’ve attended the TLM here in Omaha at ICC. I loved it!  My husband was ‘taken back in time’ so to speak…in a good way.  I’ve also gone recently to the Lincoln NE diocese for LM at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph last Friday on the Feast of OLOMC. It was GLORIOUSLY LIKE HEAVEN!  Thanks for this post! I have already linked it on my fb wall.  I pray we can ‘make the break’ and someday belong to ICC, or at least St. Peter where it is “half/half.”  I’ve found both parishes to be friendly.  God bless you and your family! 

  • JPW

    Based on what you have said, I would have made the same choice. I look for, and cling to, parishes like the one are attending, where devotions are fostered, there is frequent confession, etc. I find that parishes in suburbia (where I am exciled) tend to be, you know, the opposite of what you are describing. I have been very happy in inner city parishes, parishes in blighted neighborhoods, and parishes in ethnic communities that still have ethnic immigrants. It seems that God blesses the humble in this way. There’s an old Polish church in Hamtramck (in Detroit) that is solid, but is novus ordo in either Polish or English. Holy people there.

  • Mary Hartwell

    I’m 67 years old and grew up with the pre-Vatican II Mass and traditions. I CANNOT WAIT for the churches to be rid of all the sentimental foolishness that goes on in the Mass. Personally, I think it’s all irreverent and that Communion should be given on the tongue kneeling down. AND I don’t think the salvation of my immortal soul depends on whether I hold hands during the Our Father or hug and shake hands with everyone around me. I guess I’m an old crank, but I know reverence when I see it and it just ain’t happenin’ in the Catholic Church. And don’t get me started on how people dress!!!

  • Christine

    “We simply wanted a parish where we were challenged to become saints.”

    I think this alone sums up the reason I vastly prefer MEF to the Novus Ordo.

  • wineinthewater

    I think it’s interesting, really your post is “Seven Reasons why I Joined Mater Dei Catholic Church.”  There is nothing there that is inherent to the Extraordinary Form.  It is a shame that those things you list are not more common and there is a lot to talk about there, but none of them are inherent to the EF.  All you’ve described, except for kneeling for Communion, are things that should be at every parish .. maybe not exactly every thing, but similar.  That fact that it isn’t is a travesty.

    I have been to a couple of SSPX liturgies at a couple of different liturgies and it was like stepping into the horror stories about “before Vatican II.”  There were people ignoring mass while going through their private devotions, people sleeping, mumbled Latin, severe authoritarianism from the pulpit, etc.  I’ve also been to a Dominican Rite liturgy in Latin.  The faithful felt .. detatched .. but that was just my impression.  I prefer an approach to liturgy that is firmly rooted in tradition – I would distinguish between this and traditionalism – but the EF still has never really gotten ahold of me.  Glad it’s available though.

  • Lisa Sipe

    Excellent article-thank you! We love the Tridentine Mass and love our holy priests. We have been attending for many, many, years and can find no greater consolation than attending the Mass of the Saints-our brethren in Heaven. We wanted a place for our children to witness the Holy Mass in its entirety without all the distarctions that the Novus Ordo brings. A place to indulge our souls when we have to fight for our souls in the world we live in. A safe haven for our precious little ones who have to face the worldly distractions as well. WELCOME to our parish and Deo Gratias for Mater Dei!

  • Ky Catholic

    I go to Mass often at the chapel of the Fathers of Mercy.  The Mass is in English and celebrated with the utmost reverence.  There is confession before and after Mass, they have the rosary and angelus before Mass and Eucharistic adoration every day. 
    We receive communion kneeling and on the tongue. 
    Latin isn’t the magic ingredient.  Reverence is.

  • Colleen Hammond

    I love the precision, reverence, and “awe” of the Traditional Latin Mass. And like you, Taylor…it’s not that it’s “in Latin”. For us it’s because it’s a different Mass. Compare the two side by side…much has been altered.

    I was in the Confession line with your gorgeous wife last week, and SO wanted to help her with the two children she was juggling!!! But sometimes “help” can be misconstrued as “meddling” when you don’t know someone’s intent. So I tried to smile encouragingly!!!
    I have been victim to the “judgmental ones”, so…  ;)

    See ya Sunday morning!

  • Roseanne Sullivan

    I made a gradual transition back to the Latin Mass (which I attended until I dropped out of the Church when I was 18 in 1963–the Latin Mass and most of the Church as I knew it was gone when I relapsed in 1976). When I met up with the community that attends the TLM every week 30+ years later here in the SF Bay area,  I finally found priests and people that hold the same faith that I was raised in, you know, the one that was handed down from the Apostles?  It was a long lonely time for me in between, getting to know one Catholic after another who subscribed to the beliefs of the world instead of the Church. In the Novus Ordo version of the Catholic Church I found pockets of pious faith-filled people, but only pockets. The rest claimed that the Church has changed and morals have changed. Their Mass has become like a Ted Mack Amateur hour with every untrained person who likes attention getting a chance to perform. I love that the focus of the traditional Mass is  on Christ and on the sacrifice of the Mass.  I love the children in the large families after living so long in an unfertile world.  In other words, there is much to be said in favor of the extraordinary form. 

  • Gail K.

    I agree, all your reasons reminded me of mass with Fr. Paul Weinberger.

  • Terry Fenwick

    At every Mass, at the Holy Water font – even before entering, sitting and kneeling, I experience the Hand of Blessing – and His hand rests on me throughout the Mass.  When I leave, as I drive away, I can hardly imagine that it took us so long to come Home. The Church is what we have LONGED for all of our lives – and now? We have found what was never lost – but just waiting for us. It is the same no matter the language or country – France, Rome no matter – so Latin is the same. It is the Real Presence of the Lord that is important! 

  • Faustina

    I go about once per Liturgical season to Old Saint Mary’s in Washington DC.  I find that the priests there talk slower and louder so that I can figure out where I am in the missal. I used to get really lost trying to follow it at other parishes. However, even if the EF is difficult to understand I still get a better appreciation of what Jesus did for us and a better understanding about how to be like Him in the world.

  • http://wayofsuffering.wordpress.com/ wayofsuffering

    Hello – I just found your blog and it has been a great encouragement as well as resource for me. The closest Latin Mass is over 3 hours away one way, and is only held once per month. I am wanting to go for the first time in November. Your thoughts on the Latin Mass have been great; thank you!

  • Ruben

    I’d like to comment on the interior effect that the EF Mass has had upon me. The effect has been that through the form of the prayers and exterior signs of the EF, my mind has become far more awakened to the reality of the effects of my sins upon our Lord in his passion and death. I am confronted much more starkly and profoundly with that reality. I am more awake to how my sins scourged and crucified Him. At the same time the mystery of his love in the sacrifice he endured for me and all of us is experienced more palpably. My role as crucifier and his role as merciful savior crucified become far more clear, so that out of that comes a desire to become a better servant as he was, offering his sacrifice. There is an awesome pedagogue of the mystery of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice that comes alive in the EF Mass and that carries over into the daily offertory of our own lives, duties and sacrifices.      

  • Steve Boor

    Hi Taylor,

    I just stumbled upon the news that you are a fairly new member of the faith community @ Mater Dei.  Great news.  Welcome! 

    Hopefully, I’ll finally get to meet you in-person sometime soon (my family and I have been attending the EF pretty much exclusively for the last 15 months or so).  My family and I usually attend the 9AM High Mass.  If you do also, I’ll look for you in the social hall afterwards in the coming weeks, but there are so many in there now after Holy Mass that it may be hard to find you!  ;)  

    BTW, about a year ago, I bought and have read your book “The Crucified Rabbi” and thought it was just amazing.  Fantastic effort!!!

    I too find the Latin incredibly beautiful and noble, but my 2 years of Latin studies 30+ years ago in high school doesn’t come close to being sufficient.  So, I was wondering if you’d be willing & able to ask Fr. Longua abut teaching a Latin class at the parish, to help so many of us to get more proficient in the sacred language of the EF? 

    I agree with you also that the vast majority of parishioners I know at Mater Dei are just like your family and mine – we just want to participate in the kind of reverent Liturgy that is truly and primarily focused upon worhipping God, regularly receive the Sacraments, and be a part of parish life with other like-minded families that will help us to live holy lives pleasing to the Lord which will guide us and others to Heaven.  We truly are blessed in MANY ways at Mater Dei….

    Enough for now.  Hope to meet you soon!

    Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

    Steve Boor
    Plano, TX

  • Taylor Marshall

    Dear Steve,
    Wonderful to hear from you. We usually attend the later Low Mass; however,
    we go to the High Mass about once a month. We’re usually always present for
    the coffee and danishes. Let’s look for each other.
    I’d be happy to teach a “Liturgical Latin” class. Right now I’m working on
    my Ph.D. and teaching so I’m a little squeezed. However, if Father wants it
    and I can make time, I’d definitely do it.
    ad Jesum per Mariam,
    taylor

  • TomG

    Taylor, I was hoping it was all the altar boys in your classes that got you to attend Mater Dei.
    If you are thinking of putting together a class, I think, rather than teaching Liturgical Latin, a better first step would be to teach those interested how to use the missal effectively to pray the Mass. The little red Ecclesia Dei missals we have show everything in Latin and English, side by side, explain all the movements going on up at the altar, let you know where you are in the proceedings when the bells ring, etc. Knowing what is going on adds meaning to the mystery, without removing the mystery from the process. I remember, before Mater Dei, at the indult Mass in Austin, at St Edwards University, I was lost until I took the missal, read through it, and began to attentively follow along.