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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Novus Ordo versus Traditional Mass (Quo vadis, Pope Francis? Part 188)

Most of us know only the Novus Ordo Mass, with which we grew up. It is a shame to have missed the beauty of the traditional Mass, and a greater shame that Pope Francis suppresses it, keeping us from appreciating and experiencing its depth and beauty.


The Lost Symbolism of the Liturgy

In his recent letter, Desiderio desideravi, Pope Francis, wishing to see the western Catholic world united in appreciation of the Novus Ordo, begs us to be once more a people capable of perceiving symbols. He seems to sense, though he does not say it outright, that the vehicle of a symbol is not merely and completely arbitrary. That is because the stuff we use for symbols comes from the creative hand of God, and it is imbued with its own power for significance that we can accept or reject, be taught by or remain ignorant of.

“The Liturgy,” he says,

is done with things that are the exact opposite of spiritual abstractions: bread, wine, oil, water, fragrances, fire, ashes, rock, fabrics, colors, body, words, sounds, silences, gestures, space, movement, action, order, time, light. The whole of creation is a manifestation of the love of God, and from when that same love was manifested in its fullness in the cross of Jesus, all of creation was drawn toward it. It is the whole of creation that is assumed in order to be placed at the service of encounter with the Word: incarnate, crucified, dead, risen, ascended to the Father.

I agree with all of that, and because I do, I find the Novus Ordo, as it is commonly celebrated, to be rather pallid. It is not, as Chesterton said of Catholicism, “a thick steak, a glass of red wine, and a good cigar.” It is more like tinned meat and bottled water.

We cannot easily separate the Mass from the spaces where it is celebrated, which suggest the functional, the informal, and the quotidian, like Monday with a few frills added; and this is true even when the church building is old but has been renovated, that is, denuded of much of its symbolic power. We cannot easily supply, in our experience of the Mass, the want of solemn preparation, occasioned by the loss of the old prayers, and the psalm “Judica me,” while everyone around us is abuzz with chatter.

Article published by Crisis Magazine For the full article, click here.

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