Fellow blogger, Mark Shea, wrote an article for the October 2007 issue of Chronicles Magazine (one of our favorites) entitled, “Some Thoughts on Motu Proprio Mania.” Mr. Shea begins the article by creating an analogy between the liturgy and shoes. He writes, “The point of shoes is not to notice them, but to walk in them. Shoes you constantly notice are Bad Shoes. Liturgy you focus on is liturgy that is not doing its job, which is to refer us to God, not to itself." Mr. Shea then proceeds to give two reasons people focus on the liturgy: liturgical abuse and oversensitivity. He argues that many attendees of the Tridentine Rite have a tendency to be oversensitive and that they often berate him for attending his reverently said Novus Ordo rite—a rite with which he is perfectly happy. He concludes by writing: “Nor it is my job to suggest that, if you like the Tridentine Rite instead, you are a second-class Catholic and a narcissist. It would be nice if many enthusiasts for the Tridentine liturgy could return the favor.”
Mr. Shea makes many good points in his article and We agree with some of his analysis. There are many Catholics who are oversensitive regarding liturgical matters and charity must be exercised in any criticism no matter how applicable. However, the article also has some serious errors that We feel are necessary to address. These errors are dangerous because they are held from within the Church—by those who are doctrinally orthodox. We want to make it clear that We appreciate Mark Shea’s work and desire not to anathematize him, only his ideas. There are premises at the very beginning that We take issue with such as the analogy with shoes and the use of the term “Tridentine Rite.” These are errors of a different sort and are for another article.
We already granted that some Catholics can be overly critical and lacking in charity at times. However, when We look at the specific examples used by Mr. Shea to illustrate this point, We are incredulous. Three of the five examples are: the way people dress at Mass, altar girls, and holding hands during the Our Father. These are serious issues. At Mass, we witness the sacrifical act of Jesus Christ to the Father for our salvation. At the same time, we get to witness mini-skirts, t-shirts with beer bellies, and cleavage. This is wholly inappropriate and shows a complete disregard for the event taking place. A distinction needs to be made between acting as a judge of an individual person and acting as a judge of a person’s actions. The former is sinful; the latter is necessary. Regarding the importance of the altar girl issue, see Our myth-anathematizers regarding the issue. Finally, hand-holding during the Our Father is an action which blurs the distinction between the City of God and the city of man. It emphasizes horizontal worship at the expense of vertical worship. People are poorly catechized as is, this needs to be stopped. Always remember, lex orandi, lex credendi.
Mr. Shea goes on to argue that the traditional Mass and the Novus Ordo are both legitimate Masses and that he finds the latter more spiritually nourishing. He laments that he is often blasted for those viewpoints. To those of you who do not think that the Novus Ordo is a legitimate form of the Mass: you are schismatics. At the same time, Mr. Shea, to state that the two rites are equal in all terms is also false. You write, “I am supposed to feel the superiority of the Tridentine Rite, and if I don’t feel it, it’s because I am selfishly putting my feelings ahead of the TRUTH, which is fully expressed by the feelings of Tridentine Rite fans.” For all We know, the people with whom you converse may simply assert feelings. If that is the case, We sympathize. However, you should KNOW the superiority of the Tridentine Rite and if you don’t then you should read more about the liturgy so that you can understand. Afterward, if you still FEEL that the Novus Ordo is more spiritually fulfilling, put your feelings in their place by subjecting them to the intellect and the will. The use of Latin during the canon and the ad orientem position are NECESSARY for the liturgy of the Roman Rite to accomplish all of its goals. These are not solely the possession of the traditional form, but are always required and are not an option. Furthermore, the use of canons other than the Roman Canon are unacceptable. These points have been made wonderfully by Msgr. Klaus Gamber in his book, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy. He goes as far to say that the Novus Ordo should not even be called the Roman Rite, but the modern rite. By the way, in the preface to the French addition, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger states that Gamber’s thought is at the heart of the Church.
No Mr. Shea, we cannot say that those who attend the modern rite are second-class Catholics. That would be uncharitable and out-of-line. The truth of the matter is however, that the Mass of Paul VI is a second-class Mass.