Latin Everything Isn’t The Answer

According to google translate, “Non omnia Latini responsum” for those of you who think it is. How many times are you going to see an article/editorial/blogpost that says “The Church is fading with Millenials. How do we get them back?!” I’ve seen this about a bajillion times. Without fail, someone – or a few someones – jump into the comments and express that the Church would be saved if it would just offer the Tridentine Mass (or the TLM, or Latin Everything).

Sorry, folks. There isn’t a simple answer here. You love the Traditional Latin Mass? Cool! That’s a valid way to celebrate Mass and the Eucharist. We’re not all into that. The argument that “if you just try it, you’ll like it” isn’t realistic — for many, it’s out of reach, at an inconvenient time, or simply overwhelming. I find it incredibly presumptuous on the part of these folks to attempt to simplify a Big Problem into a simple answer. Latin isn’t going to save the world, or the Church, or the people who don’t want to be bothered with it. Here are a few big-idea solutions that could help the Church, but aren’t guaranteed. Nothing is guaranteed, but we also know that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church, so let’s stop with the “sky is falling” drama.


St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Fort Monroe VA

Solid liturgy. Yes, that’s a good and necessary thing. Do I believe there are a lot of people my age [I refuse to say ‘millenials’] seeking a structured liturgy? Yes. Some of these people are coming from a non-denominational background, and the consistency and structure of the Mass may be an answer.

Decent music. This doesn’t mean contemporary, this doesn’t mean pipe organ and chant, and this doesn’t mean the world’s best choir. Hymns that direct praise where it deserves to go – that’s to God, not ourselves – and fit the Scripture of that particular Mass. Music should not be the focal point. Some of the most beautiful experiences of music are when the faith community sings, unaccompanied, from the heart. It’s not about fancy – it’s about effective use.

A question-friendly community. Maybe I’m alone in this thinking, but there are a lot of us out here who don’t necessarily know everything there is to know and we are willing to admit it. But we want help. When we have questions, we want a place to discuss them, without being looked at as outsiders. We want to be among others who are seeking answers while in the Church. Adult faith formation: it needs to be a thing that’s offered, and supported, at all levels, by all involved, and is question friendly.

For goodness sakes, be child friendly. Young people might not have children, but if they do, they want them to be part of the community too. This means not relegating them to a cry room (if you have one), not giving dirty looks at loud squawking sounds, and having events where children AND adults can attend simultaneously. You know what I want? I want the adults who are willing to hold a squirmy baby to wear badges that say I’LL HOLD YOUR CHILD HAPPILY. (Okay, that would be really tacky, but we’ve got to communicate our willingness to help somehow. You figure it out, eh?)

A relevant, concise homily with a practical takeaway. This means under 10 minutes. Jokes allowed but not necessary especially if they’re irrelevant and simply an attempt to ‘engage the audience’. Project with the voice so that all can hear. Refer to the Scriptures of the day, and not just the one line among them that says something simple like “Jesus loves you”. We’re in the pew, we know that. End with a takeaway – a deep question to self-reflect upon, an action to undertake, a suggestion for the family to use for family faith formation on the days we’re not at Mass. If the homily fades out at the end, and there is nothing that spurs one’s mind to think “I need to think about that or discuss it with my family”, that time isn’t being used effectively. I think I speak for many – at least for myself and my husband – when I say I’d prefer a 5 minute, intense, “question all that you hold dear” homily over 15 minutes of generic platitudes. Yes, we’re a captive audience — captivate us!

The beauty in all of that? It can happen anywhere in any parish regardless of what language the Mass is offered in. We know the Mass isn’t about us, but communion is what brings us together. Be a community -a welcoming community – and the people of ALL ages will come. Fail to be that community, and they will leave, as many already have. Baby step your way to being that community, and be vocal about it, and your people will notice.


17 thoughts on “Latin Everything Isn’t The Answer

  1. Bingo, every time I hear a traditionalist speak about how after TLM mass transformed into the Novus Ordo mass it caused some sort of exodus, my eyes roll! It’s as if they’ve never heard of a correlation fallacy!

  2. You’re misunderstanding what they’re saying. The argument being put forth is that the Novus Ordo has allowed for liturgical abuse and is inherently less reverent. Not to say it’s less holy, because the Novus Ordo is a valid mass, but if you look into the differences, you’ll see what the real changes were. And hint – Latin isn’t the reason people prefer it

      • Impossible since Latin is the official language of the Church and since the Tridentine Mass specifies the Latin language so as to combat against the Protestant heresy

      • lol <–Yes I am really laughing.

        Wait ….so Latin is important…, even vital…, for traditionalists for all of the reasons you just stated by indicating the TLM is merely a Counter Reformation tool?

        This has also been my understanding.

        Now let me divulge in a bit of hyperbole to stress my thoughts on the matter.

        Do you still use the word heretic when speaking to Protestants?

        Should I be forced to comply? How about with the sword or the stake? as these were also prominent during the formation of the TLM.

        A combined liturgy, Impossible?

        If vernacular as indicated by councils and highlighted during Vatican II can be allowed. Why couldn't the Church in a council agree to create a liturgy with all of those issues you've stressed are important are placed in the mass and use vernacular language?

        A rejection of this positions seems to stress Latin is important.

        I think we can examine the history of the church back and forth for an extended amount of time.

        I like to keep it simple to save a bit of time, If you had the opportunity to force Novus Ordo Catholics to TLM, would you?

      • Sure, so let’s evolve the Novus Ordo mass to include the practices of the TLM and keep the vernacular and we can keep the TLM for official purposes.

        Yes or No ?

        Can you not honestly see a tribalism of TLM proponents yearning for a Golden Age that never existed? Have you examined the debates of Trent and the political intrigue? Come on, It’s a yearning for nostalgia that never existed.

  3. Pingback: Reclaiming the Sacred: Why the Latin Mass is Not Just about the Latin – Musings of a Michigan-Man

  4. Thanks for writing this, Marie. As someone who goes back and forth between the two, I’ve wondered why we can’t just have the Traditional Mass in the vernacular.

    That way, if someone would choose to try out the Traditional Mass, they would have a better understanding of what’s going on. I’m still learning.

    I definitely still prefer the Novus Ordo, but I do see the beauty in the TLM. Plus, I love singing Mass parts in Latin, when they are sometimes used in the Novus Ordo.

    For me, being able to easily participate in the Novus Ordo makes me feel like I am worshiping God, as feeble an attempt as it may be. I think, as long as we are truly thinking about what we are saying instead of just mindlessly uttering the words, we are on the right track. You can’t just leave it at that, of course, as we need to constantly build on our faith.

    I think all Catholics can do a better job of getting off of their high horse when it comes to discussing which Mass they prefer. One of the reasons why I was so against even attending the Traditional Mass in the beginning was the “holier than thou” attitudes that seemed to linger around those that promoted it.

    We’re all sinners. There’s no denying that, so let’s do a better job of unifying ourselves instead of leaving our house a mess when unexpected guests (potential converts) arrive.

    • I have noticed from observation that many Traditionalists are simply in love with the past. An allusion of a Golden Age long past. They seek the Nostalgia, much like a kid today who wears ripped jeans and listens to Nirvana. I’ve started to call them Antiquarians in response to such tribalism to the TLM

      Examining the documents of Trent thru Vatican II it’s apparent that vernacular doesn’t invalidate the mass. TLM supporters will, as Michigan man does, that it’s possible to use any other language than Latin in the TLM. TLM supporters such as Michigan Man will make claims that Novus Ordo mass is valid–which it obviously is– and that they support Vatican II. However, these comments are simply to build credibility for the coming rhetoic that have been pushed by schimastics and excommunicates of the Church. The NO, the Antiquarians will claim is full of liturgical abuses– (Also they never explain what these ‘abuses’ are in detail. It’s always an ambigious accusation of ‘parish priests’; furthermore, these abuses if they do explain occur in the TLM mass. Most Antiquarians fails to realize this because even though they love Latin, they don’t speak it.)– So as a pastoral method, why not create a vernacular TLM like mass in response to their objections? In truth, they’re not interested in fixing these ‘abuses’ even though when pressed to provide proof only resuls in the ad hominem attack of being called a modernists, also without proof.

      The Church creating these pastrol methods could possibly promote unity within the two movements in the Church; however, in truth, Antiquarians do not view Novus Ordo Catholics as Catholics.

  5. Great post! Honestly, if the Novus Ordos mass left and mass was only offered in Latin I probably would leave the church and become Lutheran, Methodist, or some other similar faith. I’d hate not understanding what is being said at mass.

    I totally agree on 10-minute homilies that are concise and give you something to think about or go out and do in the coming week. I knew this music minister who had a great priest who gave the best homilies but he only talked for 5-10 minutes because he said anything after that was Ego. HA!

    The tips in this post are great and really easy to do for any parish.

  6. Pingback: Traditionalists or Schismatics of the Catholic Church | Christe Eleison

  7. Latin mass definitely isn’t the answer to everything, but for me, it was the answer to some things. The beauty and truth in it called me out of atheism!

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