State the Obvious and then Duck

Dr. Tracey Rowland recently spoke at the “Sacra Liturgia Conference” in Rome to the great approval of those attached the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  But she also made the mistake of suggesting that there are some obstacles to a wider attendance of that form of the liturgy due to problems among those who regularly attend:

To summarize, according to Dr. Rowland there are three reasons why those who otherwise might attend the EF do not: 1) the presence of an “aestheticism” by which the celebration of the liturgy is subjected to a hypercritical spirit by those in attendance; 2) the outdated nostalgic manner of dress in congregations at the EF; 3) the anti-Vatican II critique that so often accompanies attachment to the EF.

I cannot imagine she did not realize the donnybrook she was getting herself into when she said these things.  I would have suggested a fourth reason why there are people who might otherwise attend the EF who don not: 4) that the EF movement shows a habitual resistance to the most respectfully delivered critique, even when it comes from a sympathetic source.

It seems to go largely unnoticed that Dr. Rowland is simply pointing out a fact that any fair-minded person with experience in the matter can verify.  There are a significant number of people who stay away from the EF, not because they have an aversion to the liturgical form of 1962, but for the reasons which Dr. Rowland mentions.

I have some experience with this, but unlike Dr. Rowland, I have not been nearly as nice about my critique, for which I am sure, I will render an account.  I know what she says is true and I would have been shocked had she not been roughly treated for having said it.

The knee jerk reaction to her critique from those on whom it lands is to respond by pointing out all the problems in the OF parishes and communities. This is a non-response to Dr. Rowland.  It is evasive and not very thoughtful.

In any case, I do not think Dr. Rowland was looking for an argument, and I hope that she makes no response to those who have criticized her, simply because it will do no good.  It is true that long-standing E-formers have been treated like lepers and are reactive to the touch.  The obvious still needs to be stated.

51 thoughts on “State the Obvious and then Duck

  1. Reverend and dear Fr. Angelo Mary,

    I would certainly agree on points (1), (3), and (4). However, point (1) is certainly not unique to those who primarily assist at the TLM (I am not excusing the hypercritical, simply pointing out that they can be found across the Roman Rite, so they are not a “barrier” peculiar to the older Mass), and I think point (3) is more a problem of perception than anything else (that is, traditionalists do not spent a lot of time bemoaning the Council and its reforms). I am not sure what is meant by point (2) — but I will point out (and this observation is not unique to me) that it seems odd to criticize traditionalists for their “aestheticism” regarding the Mass but then criticize the way that they dress on basically aesthetic grounds. Yes, I have seen people dressed in “outdated” clothing at Mass but it is generally not out of any sense of nostalgia, rather it is due to wanting to dress modestly and finding contemporary clothing lacking in that regard.

  2. Its not about the form of the Mass, Its about the people. I’ve gone to both forms of Mass and I’ve found it in both forms. It doesn’t matter what Mass you go to. Its there! Its a spirit that has entered the church. You have the hypercritical and then you have the wealthy snobs. All the same to me! Lack of charity is what it is. Doesn’t matter what form of Mass you go to. You go to Mass for God not for the people.

  3. David and Don’t Matter,

    Fairly said, by both of you.

    But again, I point out that Dr. Rowland is simply identifying the reason why people are put off by the crowd often found at the TLM. I am sure we could easily come up with a set of reasons why many are put off by the charismatic movement about which some charismatics would certainly take issue.


    You may have a point about the relationship between the aestheticism and the manner of dressing. However, I do not believe that the clothing customs associate with the EF are completely reducible to modesty. When the idea of counter-revolution is at work, particularly in groups and movements influenced by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, and cultural thinkers who are like-minded, the connection between liturgical custom and cultural custom is a one to one relationship, argued from necessity.

  4. Unfortunately, her observations are correct, but I would like to have seen her assumptions as to why the attendance to TLM is increasing. I currently do not attend TLM as it is not readily available, but the couple of occasions that I have been fortunate, I fell in love. Perhaps it was the all of “things” she mentions, but to the POSITIVE that made me know it was “right & justice”. But, I think she perhaps misses a key point and that is it takes “study” and adequate preparation even by the lay to attend TLM (especially today). Majority of people don’t know Latin, but moreover, “culture” writ large (especially in the U.S.) has all about the “feeling” and immediate gratification. We have the attention-span of a gnat, and have for the most part have no respect for the sacred.

  5. I disagree. My first Latin Mass left me feeling very intimidated because I did not know what to do, but that would be no different for anyone. My now Catholic (formerly Christian Reformed) wife was extremely intimidated at her first Novus Ordo Mass, as a matter of fact she cited some of the same things mentioned by Dr. Rowland, but I did can testify that it was merely her perception (an opinion she agrees with 7 years later). I constantly hear people use the above mentioned EXCUSES as to why they do not want to venture outside of their comfort zone (typically a state of lukewarmness btw) to experience assisting in the closest thing to heaven on earth! The idea that Catholics that assist praying the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Traditional Latin form are somehow holier than thou, hypocritical, snobs, paranoid, suspicious, or any other slight that you can think of.. is just plain repugnant. Having discovered the TLM (thanks be to GOD!!!), I was always welcomed with smiling faces from Catholics living exemplary lives. As a matter of fact, I was/am regularly challenged merely by their outward adherence to the Faith, to improve my life, to better follow the teachings of the Church. My wife is pregnant with our 5th child, I am 34 years old, people think we are crazy when we tell them we aren’t “done”. Thanks be to God for the example set by my Catholic brethren, they have helped us live counter-cultural lives. Sorry to those who feel like my desire to avoid offending Jesus is somehow outdated or nostalgic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these are the same people who mutter amongst themselves about how we should sit in the back or leave or children at home because they can occasionally be disruptive. As for a “lack of charity” as was mentioned in a previous comment; it’s probably the exact opposite in reality, as nothing is more charitable than trying to live the truth and avoid scandal. If the devil manages to twist someone’s perception of reality that is unfortunate, but every single parishioner in our TLM community is focused on Christ and honoring him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, they are not worried about how someone is dressed, or what their thoughts on V2 are, or what mistakes the priest might make. On the contrary, they tend to be some of the most patient and loving people I have ever met. I wore shorts and sandals to the Latin Mass for 2 summers before I realized that maybe it wasn’t appropriate, nobody ever said anything nasty to me, nobody ever avoided me, get over it people. Some say I have the “gift to gab” etc, but when I attend Mas I am assisting in worshiping my Savior Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, sorry if I don’t pay attention to you, or what you are doing, or make you feel welcome, or give you the “fellowship” you think you need. I love the TLM because it is Christ centered, not man centered. We are all praying together, and the prayers take all my concentration (that and dealing with my young children), so please be charitable about your judgement of ME!! I love seeing new faces at our Latin Mass, I WAS A NEW FACE ONCE!

    I grew up knowing only the Novus Ordo, I watched every person I grew up with, every “Catholic Family” fall apart, fall away from the One True Faith, and why?? Because of a watered down liturgy and an utterly lacking Catholic example both at the altar and in the pews. I want my children to grow up loving the Faith, knowing their Faith, it was good enough for the saints, it’s more than good enough for me and my family!

  6. When I attend an NO Mass I have no idea of what any individual attending that Mass believes or doesn’t believe – none (including the priest). When I attend my EF Mass I know that all of those attending (as imperfect as they are) all believe what the Holy Roman Catholic Church believes. I find that incredibly sad.

  7. How about this Dr. Rowland. If you don’t like the TLM, say so. Don’t insult people. Just ignore us. Nobody cares about the Eastern Catholics and they roll right along. All I ask is for a similar arrangement.

  8. Reverend and dear Fr. Angelo Mary,

    I do not think that Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s ideas are mainstream even among traditionalists. I can think of only one time in 13 years of assisting at the TLM that a related topic even came up in conversation (someone referring to TFP as a “cult”). It is true that they way traditionalists tend to dress is not entirely reducible to modesty — economics also plays a factor. Yes, there are those who might dress out of a sense of nostalgia but they are the minority. For example, I hardly ever see a woman wear a hat to Mass; most women wear chapel veils or mantillas as hats have been out of style for many years.

    As far as people being put off is concerned, I am not sure what traditionalist congregations can do that they currently are not. I don’t think it is helpful to offer a criticism of traditionalist problems without concrete suggestions of how to address them. For example, I don’t know what a traditionalist congregation is supposed to do about an oddly-dressed, but otherwise modest, person in its midst. And the problem of perception in (3) — I have to think that it is something for *mainstream* Catholics to address, or at least something that both OF’ers and EF’ers should work together to address.

    • dcstrad @ 2013/07/16 at 8:58 am:

      De Oliveira’s thought extends well beyond the TFP. Roberto de Mattei’s thought,for example, is deeply influenced by de Oliveria. De Mattei is fairly main stream. Revolution/Counter-revolution terminology, and the like, is a giveaway. But these are only examples. The correspondence between liturgical and cultural restoration is a phenomena that I think needs to examined relative to this. But what I am talking about has nothing to do with mere nostalgia.

  9. Hi all,

    As one who prefers the Ordinary Form, I would say that I agree with some of what was said in the short video, though a major reason for me remains hat I prefer Mass in English. As I have stated before, though visually I think the EF is beautiful, I feel like I have prayed and participated much more fully in the Mass in the OF. Contrary to some of the comments here, Mass in the OF is Christ centered, also where Heaven and earth meet, where Jesus is made present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Mass in the OF is Sacred. That is what the Church teaches.

    Can anyone explain when women started wearing mantilla veils to Church? I have found very little, possibly the first mantilla dates back to the 17th century in Spain but not yet for religious use.


    In Christ,

  10. Interesting, but frankly if someone is put off attending mass, any mass, by the fact that people dress modestly, then THEY have the problem.
    I have attended the TLM since 1988 and can tell you that yes, occassionally we have people that are a bit intimidating at first, but one has to realize that they came out of the tough scandalous situation of the 1970’s and have anger about the fact that their religion was taken away from them.
    The motu proprio proves that the Church acted unjustly to those priests and faithful that wanted to keep to the traditions – some slack has to be given for this.
    Also, in general most TLM communities are very welcoming and tolerant of personal idosyncracies, except when it comes to religion.
    Just last Sunday a drunken street person wondered into our church and slept on the back pew, people said nothing and someone even woke him up to come for coffee after mass was over.
    The issue is about the mass and not the people.
    Focus on that and worry about that…

  11. All women and girls, not just some, wore hats or chapel veils to Mass in the 1950s & 60s up to the time Pope Paul VI instituted the Novus Ordo Mass in 1969. Then the practice fell off as so many Catholic practices lamentably did. Why did they wear them? To show due reverence and humility because they were in the presence of God.

    However, women and girls did not wear long dresses or skirts that went to the ankle! Women did dress modestly, yet well, in their Sunday best but with the length usually a little below the knee. Comments I’ve heard after Mass from younger women who’ve attended the TLM for the first time reflect their fears that they’d be expected to wear ankle-length dresses or skirts, too, as if it’s the only correct length to wear to the TLM. Unfortunately many don’t return. The current fashion of long lengths was never the norm for Catholics before and has been a relatively recent phenomenon. Somewhere a Catholic woman started this trend and it caught on as a symbolic statement of sorts against the immodesty of current fashions. Most women I know who wear the longer lengths are usually exemplary Catholics but that’s not to say Catholic women who wear shorter, yet still modest, lengths can’t also be exemplary Catholics.

  12. Ann,
    Thanks so much for your information. I understand the Biblical references and reasons behind head coverings in general. Or course, back then women wore head coverings all the time. After looking further I have found that it may not have been until 1917 Code of Canon Law that the Church first required women to cover their heads in Church???? Fr. Angelo is that correct?

    I was curious, though, specifically about the mantilla veil.

    I am not sure why a long skirt length would be considered outdated since maxi skirts and dresses are very much in style. The few times I have attended the EF I haven’t seen any women that I recall wearing maxi length skirts, though.

    In Christ,

  13. Dr. Rowland’s third point is the major reason why I generally avoid the EF. Almost without exception, conversations with traditionalists devolve into complaining about VII, and it is daily fare to trash the pope. A quick look to on any particular day will give you an idea of what I am talking about. (In fact, while writing this I did just that. In the first comment in the first post on that page someone *is* trashing the pope: “Pope Francis will dismantle the Church”… blah blah blah.) I even personally know some people who are literally being persecuted by radical traditionalists, basically for defending the popes since the council, and for defending the council itself. I have no problem whatsoever with any form of the mass including the extraordinary form, but after getting to know, reading about, talking to and experiencing actions of many within the traditionalist movement, I will have no part of it at this time. I do not want anyone to mistake my participation with the EF to in any way represent approbation of the kooky theology of the radical traditionalist movement. As a disclaimer, I do not believe that everyone within the traditionalist movement is as I describe above. There are many good, faithful and reasonbable people who describe themselves as traditionalists. But – there are just too many kooks within the leadership of the movement, who are supported by a significant block of the regulars. No thanks.

  14. I noticed that Cameron just could not resist in his last paragraph in blaming the ordinary form of the Mass for all of the problems in the Catholic Church.
    Steve is so right about the attitude of those who attend the extraordinary form of the Mass; the majority show disdain for the ordinary form of the Mass, for the documents of the Second Vatican Council, for Blessed John Paul the Greatest, etc.
    I am 73 years old, and I have suffered through liturgical abuses for years. This forced me to read the entire text of Vatican II; I then used the very text that clearly states that no one may change the words of the Mass in confronting priests. How they would hate it when I could quote Vatican II. My final argument was that they were violating my rights; as a layman, I had a right to the liturgy as given to me by the magisterium of the Church.
    My wife passed away 5/7/2009, and she was the most Christ-like person that I have ever known. She was a daily communicant at the ordinary form of the Mass ever since it was implemented. She did not have to attend the TLM to reach a close union with God.
    Although I served the Latin Mass as an altar boy and although I still have a good grasp of Latin, I prefer the ordinary form of the Mass for good reasons. There is a more extensive use of Scripture readings; the responsorial psalms provide more beautiful biblical prayers, the phrases/sentences of which become ejaculatory prayers for me during the day; I actually prefer when the priest faces the people because I can see the chalice and the ciborium after the Consecration; I also like making the different responses during the Mass–which combines both mental and vocal prayer. I am blessed to belong to a parish where the priests are most faithful to the GIRM–no liturgical abuses.

  15. I listened to Dr. Rowland’s snippet and I in no way interpreted it to imply that she was AGAINST the EF. In fact, I think she sounded very respectful and was just stating the facts, Jack. I think I’d have to agree with the assessment. I do not have the EF Mass local to me (that I know of) and have only attended the EF a few times in my adult life. So, I have not heard the ‘bashing that goes on as suggested in her first point. As for (2), I did not hear her criticize the form of dress because it was MODEST but because it was from an era of long ago. I COMPLETELY agree with this. The first time I ever attended an EF of the Mass, I felt like a fish out of water. The veiling was tough enough for me to handle since I wasn’t used to it. But the women who dressed in clothing that my grandmother would have worn really wigged me out. I can only imagine what a teenage girl not used to this would think. It comes off as just being plain cult-like to others. I”m not talking about modesty here — I’m talking about something that looks like comes out of a Stepford Wife movie. Like Dr. Rowland, this isn’t being stated to be mean-spirited. And, to be honest, I don’t really care what people wear. However, people are nervous about cults so when something comes across that way, they back off. (I am not saying that the EFM is a cult!!! It surely is not. I am only saying that to those who aren’t familiar, it can come off that way and that is intimidating.) (3) Is also a reality. Some people I know who attend the EF will ONLY attend that form and they will state that the NO form is inferior. Yet, even the Pope hasn’t stated this so how can we? Michael Voris is even asking for Vatican III to right all the wrongs of Vatican II. Oy vey. Perhaps it will happen but who are we to start demanding it??

    Like Marian, I prefer the NO because English is my primary language. I am sure that if I attended the EF regularly, that it would become second nature to me. But for now when I attend, I spend the entire time thumbing through the Mass booklet trying to figure out where on earth we are. I then think, “Maybe I’ll just pray a rosary.” But, this is the MASS — I am supposed to be praying the Mass, not the rosary! It is not easy.

    Are there problems with what has been happening at Mass at your typical parish? Absolutely. The immodest dress is a regular issue. The lack of reverence is very sad. Liturgical abuses are most unfortunate. Confusion abounds. Is it BECAUSE of the Novus Ordo? I doubt it. It’s the sign of our times! So, yes, people who attend the EF have chosen this and you will have a very dedicated group here. It’s sort of like Evangelicals vs Episcopalians.

    Nate Cameron: “I grew up knowing only the Novus Ordo, I watched every person I grew up with, every “Catholic Family” fall apart, fall away from the One True Faith, and why?? Because of a watered down liturgy and an utterly lacking Catholic example both at the altar and in the pews. I want my children to grow up loving the Faith, knowing their Faith, it was good enough for the saints, it’s more than good enough for me and my family!” I have watched most of my protestant and Jewish friends fall apart similarly. It isn’t the Novus Ordo — it’s our culture in general!

  16. I believe Father Robert Barron has said that the most important words of the Mass is the dismissal. Both forms of the Mass have similar words.

    What good is it for us to receive the Lord in Eucharist, in either Mass form, if we do not imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the 2nd Joyful Mystery, and go out into the world and bring Christ with us? The devil has certainly done his job in taking our focus off the importance of the Mass. The type of Mass does not determine sanctity; our response to the graces received does.

  17. I found one article with the history of the mantilla (link below). I remember wearing one to Church as a child, the small white saucer shape. More often than not, my 2nd grade teacher wore a sheet of tissue fastened by a bobby pin. But if a woman is going to cover her head based on 1 Cor. 11, personally I don’t think the mantilla veil really covers it. 🙂 Mantilla veils are made of lace and don’t really conceal anything, especially the shorter triangular shape or round ones. I can’t imagine Mary wearing a lacy mantilla veil. I happily and proudly wear religious symbols which identify me as Catholic out in public and I think the veils that nuns wear are very Mary-like but I don’t really see a spiritual significance in a mantilla veil. Just my opinion!

    In Christ,

  18. This is merely tangential to the discussion at hand, but since it seems to have come up so much in the discussion, someone will have to point out to me why “nostalgia” is itself morally or intellectually repugnant, on principle. Criticism of nostalgia seems ubiquitous; it also seems to be emotive more than anything else: the argument seems to be that “nostalgia” is not an appropriate emotion for serious, thoughtful, and mature people to express, but I’ve never seen a principled critique of nostalgia, per se.

    I’m not saying nostalgia is an appropriate governing principle, itself. I would just appreciate a clear and reasoned critique of it, not ones that themselves appeal to popular sentiment, fashion, or tastes as if they were objective standards.

    And if we can’t provide such a criticism of “nostalgia,” we can’t offer it as a weakness, in itself.

  19. Christopher – Perhaps I’m misunderstanding what you mean by ‘nostalgia’, but I will tell you how I’m interpreting what you wrote and respond accordingly. I’m assuming you’re responding to the fact that some people (mostly women) can be turned off by how some of the women attending the EFM dress. If this isn’t what you meant, then my answer is useless.

    I think of it this way — if a clothing store sells nostalgic clothing and hardly anyone buys it then the store has to honestly look at that. Why isn’t anyone buying it? They can say that it’s nice clothing and continue selling it or they can say, “Alright, the people have spoken.” Dr. Rowland stated a fact that a number of women have felt uncomfortable about the way women dress at the EFM. You don’t have to understand it … it is what it is! I think the reason is that people fear a cultish group. I think of past news flashes from some of the Mormon extremists fighting for polygamy — these wives looked like they were from a different era. So, when women see this in a Catholic Church I think that’s what crosses their minds and they run like the Dickens from it. I realize that it’s hard for women to find modest clothing amidst the racks so I understand why they succumb to older fashions. However, Dr. Rowland wasn’t addressing that — she was merely stating that many women run from this.

  20. Jennifer: Thank you for the response. When I raised the issue of nostalgia, it was in a broader context than simply how women dress when attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form, but what appears to me to be a broader attempt at critiquing traditionalists and the traditionalist sub-culture in general (or any appeals to “tradition,” actually). This so-called “nostalgia” can be expressed in terms of clothing and dress, sure, but it might also be expressed in other ways. (And I’m not claiming it for my own, either, in any general sense.)

    But your answer isn’t really an answer in the terms which I laid down–so, well, I don’t see it as an answer to my question at all, unless it’s supposed to be an implicit admission that you can’t think of a good answer to my question, and that my criticism of the criticism of nostalgia is fair and accurate.

    To be clear: The first point of your response involves an appeal to the market (i.e. popular fashion, sentiment, and taste, which I don’t accept as objective principles upon which to criticize something, as their are basically disguised versions of argumentum ad populum). Your second point is basically the same: “a number of women have felt uncomfortable about the way women dress at the EFM.” Your third point (“You don’t have to understand it… it is what it is!”) is odd to me, since understanding is precisely what I was asking for–so I fail to see how your response is appropriate to my request; rather, it seems to forestall and frustrate it, and offer THAT as an adequate answer! (If I were a more insecure or sensitive person, I might even be offended, but I know you meant to give no offense.) Moreover, “It is what it is!” is simply circular reasoning, perfectly valid, but not at all helpful, and actually logically fallacious when trying to establish criteria for a position or conclusion. Your fourth point, about “cultish” appearance, is more meaty, and something that certainly must be taken into account–but the broader culture finds even the Novus Ordo “cultish” merely because it is ritualistic; and we can’t jettison ritual from the Mass, or it would not BE the Mass. Maybe your argument is that it’s a matter of degree, and people find older habits of dress more cultish than ritual (or more cultish when combined with ritual), but my inclination is to not be too worried about such things in general. Certainly, Catholics must consider how the larger culture views us, but I honestly don’t think it prudent for us to let the larger culture inform our sensibilities so much. We can’t escape enculturation in the world into which we’ve been born, but we can (and must) resist it, and certainly resist letting it color our perceptions of our brothers and sisters in Christ as somehow “freakish” or “cultish” because they dress “nostalgically.”

    All this, and we’ve still not touched on the odd growth in a certain nostalgic, almost nineteenth-century, trends of dress among completely non-religious twenty-somethings. Meaning we can’t simply assume that everyone in our culture will be turned off by older habits of dress.

  21. Jennifer….
    Your wrote with great clarity; exceptional post. I might suggest that you refrain from ‘pouring water onto stones’.
    Best wishes….

  22. Marie, that seems like an uncalled for personal slight against me, not at all helpful for this discussion, and doesn’t seem like it’s in the spirit of the guidelines for dialogue that Father set down for the comment section on his blog. I wasn’t attacking Jennifer, merely stating my problems with her response to my initial post.

    If I failed to respond reasonably and logically to Jennifer, please point it out. If I have failed to act in accordance with Christian charity, please point that out as well, as it will help me to make amends for the mistake and to prevent me from making similar ones in the future. Perhaps that comment wasn’t directed at me, but if it was, and all you have to provide as arguments against my points are vague and unfounded negative generalizations of my character, it would probably be best to say nothing at all, and keep such comments to yourself.


  23. Christopher – I think Dr. Rowland stated the situation as she sees it. You may not like her ‘reasons’ or lack there of. She is merely pointing things out — she doesn’t need to explain why it is the way it is. If I say that when I first attended an EFM I felt like a fish out of water, why must I explain that further? I’m not sure what you’re looking for. If I say that it appeared to be a cultish group to me, how much more can I say on that? I know it’s NOT a cultish group which is why I continue hanging out with orthodox Catholic friends. But many would not have gone to that next step and Dr. Rowland points that out. I guess you don’t like the answer or are frustrated that it makes no sense to you. I am sorry for that.

    I am glad that you like the EF of the Mass — with all its nostalgia. I think it’s a beautiful Mass but if I had to choose between the two, I would choose the Novus Ordo so that I could pray along as I know how. I am an obedient Catholic. If Rome changes the Masses to all be in the Extraordinary Form, I will surely attend and learn to love that form. As of right now, Rome has done no such thing and probably realizes that it would wig out a good number of Catholics if She did. No one is insulting those of you who love the EF. I think this perhaps proves Fr. Angelo’s 4th amendment to Dr. Rowland’s observations.

  24. Jennifer, again, thank you for the response. I think, however, we are working with different modes of discourse–I, rational/objective; you, emotive/subjective. This appears to me to be why you think that merely stating the situation as a person sees it makes that statement automatically immune from question or criticism. It doesn’t. If that were the case, then, by parity of reasoning, all those traditionalists would be just as immune from questioning or criticism when they “tell it like it is.” There could be no dialogue between persons with different viewpoints.

    I don’t know how else to explain what I was looking for: a rational, principled critique of nostalgia, as such. (Things seem to have spiraled out of hand, and away from that focus, however.) I don’t believe this is such a difficult thing to understand: either in terms of what I want, or of why I should want it.

    I want a rational (not emotional or subjective) critique of ONE issue that has come up in this discussion: nostalgia. I want someone to explain to my why it is, per se, a bad thing, one we would always do well to steer away from. You haven’t done that. You’ve provided subjective and emotional and popular reasons as to why you think/feel nostalgia is an undesirable thing. Your arguments mainly stem from your own personal and subjective responses to the Extraordinary Form and (I guess) to nostalgia in general (?). With all due respect, I am completely uninterested in that. I’m not disputing your personal feelings, nor do I wish to do so. Understand that. I’m not asking you to justify yourself, by any means. I am asking you (and others) to explain to me, rationally, why nostalgia is a bad thing, per se. I am not asking you to explain why you FEEL it is a bad thing, because those are your feelings, and you are entitled to them, and because they have no bearing whatsoever on whether or not nostalgia is a bad thing objectively speaking. Somehow, I think this point really needs to be emphasized to avoid any further confusion or possible bad feelings: you are entitled to your emotional responses and subjective feelings about other people’s dress, about the Extraordinary Form. I’m not particularly interested in how you feel. I didn’t ask about how you, or about how anyone, feels about nostalgia. I’m not disputing that some people have adverse reactions, similar to yours, to nostalgia or even to the Extraordinary Form. If that’s what you mean by “It is what it is!”–that people have these reactions, on an emotional level, and I just have to deal with that–fair enough. I don’t particularly care (at least not right now). All I want to know is: APART from subjective feelings, why is nostalgia a bad thing? That’s all. Nor am I trying to put forward nostalgia as an objectively GOOD thing, or as a guiding principle of liturgy, of dress, of decorum, or of aesthetics. I just want to know why it should form part of the criticism of traditionalism.

    What I don’t understand is why, when asking this one simple question, not getting an answer, and then pointing out that I didn’t get an answer, I am met with criticism about my character: that I am somehow an obdurate and unreasonable “stone”, according to Marie, and that I am at the same time an overly sensitive and reactionary partisan by you. (Apparently, only because I don’t agree with you.) Those are both unfair attacks, and, actually, are much more akin to what Father outlined in his fourth point above than anything that I have said. All I wanted to discuss was nostalgia, and why it should be objectively, rationally considered a bad thing. How this makes me a partisan for the Extraordinary Form (and also AGAINST the Novus Ordo) is beyond me, especially since I nowhere declared my particular loyalty or dislike for one or the other.


  25. Also, I would like to point out that I never questioned your obedience to the Church, nor that of anyone who has commented here. I saw no reason to do so. From your comment, it seems as if you felt I did. I’m sorry you had that impression, but I honestly don’t see where it came from. Nor have I questioned anyone’s preference for the Novus Ordo. People seem to be ascribing positions, opinions, and emotions to me that I just don’t have about this issue. It’s frustrating, and tends to destabilize the conversation.

    I have tried to be nothing but respectful. In all honesty, if I have failed in that, I would like for someone to point out how, and where, so that I can properly apologize and learn from my error.

  26. Christopher –
    Nostalgia: A bittersweet longing for things, persons or situations of the past. What’s wrong with this? Well, nothing is inherently wrong with this and I’m sorry if that was the implication. For me personally, I always have to sort of roll my eyes when people think that things of the past were so much better than today. The dress was better. The Mass was better. Yadda yadda. True, some things were likely better but some things were worse. What does it matter? We are alive in 2013, not 1913. These are our “good ol’ days”. Our world is here and now and with that goes the things of today. Bringing back the things of yesterday doesn’t make us holier.

    I suppose I can understand that you feel Dr. Rowland’s observations are more subjective or emotional — that someone’s way of dressing makes one FEEL uncomfortable. I cannot speak for others but for me, as a person with 5 senses, certain things visually cause me to trigger a warning sign in my head. As a quick analogy, if we see a building with smoke pouring out of it, our sense of sight and perhaps smell warn us that we shouldn’t enter. Does this mean we have a problem with smoke? Well, no … most of us love a good barbecue and the smell of the fireplace in the winter. In its proper place, we feel safe.

    I have NO problem with the nostalgia of the Traditional Mass. Our entire Mass, even the NO, is traditional in many ways. It’s not the wish towards things of the past, it IS the past. The Mass was designed in the early Christian times so we are participating in a timeless celebration each week and this is beautiful. But, how we choose to dress is something different. Fr. Angelo’s attire is far more ‘timeless’ in that sense for he is wearing a similar habit as St. Francis himself wore. Our attire is not so. I am not wearing the attire from Christ’s time period. I am not wearing the attire from the 1800’s either. If you went to a gathering and all the men had knickers on and white wigs, you’d feel a little uncomfortable, no? If you entered a Traditional Mass and saw this, you cannot claim to not have some sort of emotional response to this and feeling of discomfort. You’d wonder, “Who ARE these people?” And, “Should I run like heck out of here or what?” It seems like for some who like the Traditional Mass that the clocks stopped prior to Vatican II. why is that?

  27. Commands from God, Doctrines of the Church, things that cannot change are not nostalgia.

    Jennifer you are so funny sometimes! I have had some of the same feelings as you. I think for me there is a red flag when I see similarities to the attitudes of the SSPX. Then it is a “be on your guard” stance. I would agree, there are problems within both Forms, different problems but problems nonetheless.

    There is modest clothing out there in the stores if a person is really looking for it.

    In Christ,

  28. Marian,
    Perhaps you misunderstood my sarcasm. The Holy Sacrifice is not about ‘nostalgia’, it’s about remembering Christ. Too many people have lost sight of the meaning of the Mass; concentrating too much on the externals!
    But, hey, its always a blessing to be corrected by someone who has a better command of words than I do. 🙂

    Have a great day.

  29. Jennifer,
    You said, “It seems like for some who like the Traditional Mass that the clocks stopped prior to Vatican II. Why is that?”

    You were referring to the attire that people wear to the TLM, though women’s attire seems to be the main subject being discussed in this thread (an unintended pun!). My experience is that men wear their Sunday best, which is usually dress pants, jacket and tie, but I’ve also seen the less formal but neatly pressed khakis and a shirt. Again, the reason is to show respect when in the presence of Our Lord, not to try to adhere to past fashions out of a sense of nostalgia. It’s a good thing.

    From what I’ve seen, it’s mainly middle-aged mothers who assist at the TLM who dress in longer lengths. I think they’re trying to give an example to their daughters of dressing modestly, which is also a good thing. But as I tried to convey in my earlier post having a sense of modesty does not require that women and girls can’t wear knee-length skirts or dresses to the TLM. I wear them and assist at the TLM. I don’t know who started the trend of wearing ankle-length skirts/dresses to the TLM but there is absolutely no requirement to do so. I’ve been told that there’s also a practical reason why some women like to wear the longer lengths – varicose veins from bearing a lot of children. We should bless these faithful, Catholic women instead of criticizing them for dressing as they prefer to, as it’s a fact that more vocations to the priesthood arise from large families. And I think we can all agree that the Church is definitely in need of more priests.

    • Ann – Well said! I think the dialogue has gone to the dress-code because I really don’t thing most of us have an argument with the rest of Dr. Rowland’s points. What I took from her message was NOT that the Mass itself necessarily turned anyone off, though it isn’t easy to get used to. But more that (1) some people leave Mass and then pick away at it which turns others off (2) Some are uncomfortable with styles of dress that seem from a different era which turns (younger especially) newbies off and (3) a number of people (vocal ones) who attend seem to feel that the NO Mass is inferior to the TFM and that going back to pre-Vatican II will cure all the ills of the Church — this just frightens people off. That is what I took from her discussion and I think she made very valid points.

      I ‘get’ the long dresses from the points you make — I also know that little ones are quite good at lifting up skirts so the longer the better in that regard! It’s more than the length of the skirts, quite honestly. And, I personally have gotten used to it and know that by middle-age you are no longer as concerned with the latest fashion trends since they come and they go. My daughters often roll their eyes at some of my selections. For instance, I do not have young feet — I am not wearing spiked heels or pointy toed shoes. I want COMFORT first, price second, then style last of all!! I’ve done the hip-hugger thing decades ago, they are no longer flattering to my figure even if I COULD make them modest, which some do but rarely. Therefore, I didn’t go there.

      It’s more than all of that and with that, I will leave it at that!

      If people want to make the Traditional Latin Mass more inviting to others, they should heed Dr. Rowland’s words. Otherwise, keep doing what you’re doing! Nevertheless, I think you will continue to get new members since some people have serious liturgical abuses happening and they have nowhere else to turn in their area. My hope is that most churches will begin to provide both Masses to people and that the reverence of the TFM will begin to rub off.

  30. Thanks for your message, Marie! I am grateful for what I learn from everyone who contributes to this blog. Blessings on your day also!
    In Christ,

  31. I’d like to shed a little light on why my attitude is a bit thorny on the topic of TLM. A former friend introduced me to the TLM. My first impression was ‘this is not for me’. As Jennifer put it, I felt like a fish out of water. I put some effort into learning the Latin, how the missal pages are used on the different days….takes training as someone put it. I gradually came to appreciate this form of Holy Mass. Then something changed. The ladies were beginning to wear veils, the pants turned into skirts, and some women were telling me that my sleeves on my shirts were to short. and that the jeans I wore at home were not modest (because they were pants, not that they were revealing). I complied because at that time I wanted to be part of the whole.
    Visitors to the church, who were unaware of ‘dress code,’ were looked down upon. People became judgemental, and I saw a small group of people become a cult, and begin to ‘worship’ the priest, instead of God. Individuals were so caught up on the ‘smells and bells’ that they lost focus on the most important reason for being in the pews. I became one of those people.

    What irritates and saddens me the now is to see children of God fighting with each other over the two forms of the Mass, and the externals. As I stated above (many comments ago) that it’s not the form of the Mass that makes one holy, it’s the response to the graces received that makes us holy.

    Jesus prayed to His Father that we might be one as They are one. Where there is unity there is strength. The devil knows the ‘military strategy’: divide and conquer. He has done well to divide us on every front. And here we are arguing over trivials as ridiculous as the word ‘nostalgia’. God help us all.

    Christopher: My apologies. It was a slight.

  32. “Christopher: My apologies. It was a slight.” What was a slight? Referring to me as a “stone”? Or characterizing my interest in the negative portrayal of nostalgia as such “ridiculous”? I’m not trying to be cantankerous here, I’m just unclear on what you were apologizing about, though I appreciate the apology coming, whatever it was for.

    I do have to apologize, because I never intended this tangential issue to explode the way it did. I think I was misunderstood–actually, I know I was because people ascribed to me positions that aren’t mine, seemingly out of the blue. This is especially puzzling because the very people who, in this thread, wanted to distance themselves from “nostalgia” were supporting traditionalists and communities centered around the Extraordinary Form, but it was “opponents” of these that jumped all over me.

  33. Christopher,
    Jennifer is an amazing individual with great insights and a wonderful way to express her positiion. She frequently debates with people on this blog site who often dig their heels into the ground on trivials. My words were double-edged. For her it was meant to be funny. For those who do battle on this site with no interest of having an open mind then the ‘stone’ comment was a slight. Not just for you, but for anyone who strongly opposes what Father Angelo posts.
    Ridiculous, yes….I think it a waste of time and energy to spar over incidentals such as the word, ‘nostalgia’. I think it would be more edifying if we would try to see things through God’s eyes.
    God alone sees the future of the world. If He deemed it necessary to give us the gift of a second form of the Mass then why are we throwing it back into His face? God know what we need better than we do. He is a good Father!

    Personally, I perfer the NO. In three years time Cathoics hear about 90% of the Bible. How many Catholics actually sit down to read God’s word in their home? The only time they hear it may be at the NO. I don’t believe we hear that percentage of Scripture at the TLM.
    Consider, too, that the world has become more illiterate over the years. How many people will sit at a Mass were they don’t understand the words?

    The Spirit of God lives in and guides Holy Mother Church, now and forever.

    The soul living in peace has Christ living within it! 🙂

  34. My two cents: I am a convert to the Catholic faith. I started attending the EF because of all the confusion in many NO parishes. Sometime the worship does seem man-centered in OF masses especially in”churches in the round.” And I appreciate that sometimes trads have been spot on regarding certain signs of the times. My attraction has cooled due the response of Traditionalists (at Roraete Caeli but also other traditionalists) to the new Pope really freaked me out. It seems like they want him to fail. I am blessed to be near enough Mary Mother of God parish in DC but that pastor knows who to tweak ,em just the right way: “As I was reading in America magazine the other day….” Hee Hee. Stops them form taking themselves to seriously.

  35. Well, I never insulted Jennifer, so I don’t see why you felt the need to come to her defense as if I did. Disagreeing with someone, or criticizing the form or content of their argument, is not the same thing as criticizing the person or insulting them. We have to try to be dispassionate when we debate things.

    In light of that, it’s puzzling to me that you should say you think arguing about “nostalgia” is worthless, since you certainly engaged me in debate about it, perpetuating and exploding out of reason a point that I raised merely tangentially (and wanted it to remain tangential). In fact, you did so without even engaging the point at issue directly, which would have resolved the matter much sooner, and kept us from all these (to your mind) wasted words.

    You essentially said you would personally insult (“slight”) anyone who disagrees with Father strongly. I(Which, interestingly enough, I never said I did.) I guess you feel this blog ought to be for merely preaching to the choir, or that people should only voice their opinions if they are in line with yours. If not, they deserve to be slighted. How you reconcile such a modus operandi, such an attitude, with your heartfelt wish that we might all be one in Christ is a puzzle to me, given that reviling and insulting someone is divisive, not to mention sinful (see Matthew 5: 22, Summa theologiae II-II, Q. 72, A. 2). Insulting someone does not bring about the Kingdom of God or the unity of the Church, no matter how much you feel they deserve it, how angry or emotionally invested you are, or how strongly you disagree with them. It doesn’t even help to clarify issues, to convince, or to establish agreed upon points or principles. All it does is rile people up, cause hurt and anger, and divide. If you wish to see things through God’s eyes, as you say, give up insulting and slighting people, especially those you disagree with. You may feel perfectly justified in slighting or insulting me or others, you may feel indeed righteous about it, but remember that the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God (James 1: 20).

    I firmly believe you DO wish to see things through God’s eyes, which is why I took the trouble to respond and suggest that, in the future, you check your impulse to slight those who disagree with you or Father, whatever the strength of that disagreement. We are all sinners, and we all need each other’s help more than we need each other’s backbiting and anger.

    What is odd, and I’ve noticed this across the board over the internet, is that the more dispassionate and calm and objective I try to be when engaging people in debate, the more angry with me they seem to become. It’s really odd.


  36. Christopher,

    1. I have never felt a need to come to Jennifer’s defense since she is quite capable of standing her ground in the debate arena.
    2. My metaphor to HER was meant to be funny, first and foremost. It ended up becoming a slight for you, and I acknowledged as much. I also offered my apology for this.
    3. I never debated you on the nostalgia topic. You are confusing me with someone else.
    4. I would hardly describe the ‘stone’ comment as reviling, or insulting, let alone qualify it a sin. Improper, maybe.
    5. You have incorrectly deduced a great deal from my comments. I also stated that WE, as in all Catholics, should see things through God’s eyes, not just me.
    6. As for me being righteous….that’s a laugh.

    BTW, Your style of discourse is very similar to somebody I know…, I don’t see future conversations baring any fruit, so I will conclude here.

    Pax et bonum!

  37. I attend a TLM weekly. I wear pants (and a mantilla) and several people having wearing flip flops which really aren’t appropriate but I don’t care… So perhaps Dr Rowland’s observations are somewhat dated?

  38. Why must people on both sides of the divide get so hung up on what other people are wearing to Mass? Whether OF or EF – aren’t we all One in Jesus Christ? Aren’t we there to focus upon Him?

    If our hearts and minds were on what they should be on – the Eucharistic Presence – and our communal worship of Him, then the threads on the backs of those around us would be no more on our radar screens than the specks of dust we see floating in a shaft of sunlight.

  39. When I attend the OF Mass, not only are many people dressed inappropriately and let their kids run wild all over the church, but they shake hands at the sign of peace and then don’t recognise you half an hour later in the supermarket. There are major problems in the OF Mass and Tracey Rowlands would do better to try and improve the dress code there and endeavour to improve her own frumpy mode of dressing before she points the finger at others.

  40. Freda,
    What you fail (refuse) to identify is that the ‘inappropriately dressed, who let their kids run wild”, and forget to shake your hand after Mass, are not well disposed to the graces being offered at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If it were about the form of the Mass everyone would be behaving the same way!
    The first Mass was said in the Upper Room. No smells, no incense, no bells, just well disposed hearts, who loved Jesus, and followed this one command, “Do this in memory of me”.

  41. This mind set of judging others (those who attend the Novus Ordo) MUST STOP!
    “Do not judge lest thee be judged.”
    “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
    “He who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    The Bible is repleat with sayings that forbid what you all are doing. We are to be ONE BODY!! Not the elitist vs. the second class!

  42. For those of you who have judged your Novus Ordo neighbor based on their behavior, why not consider that they might have been victorious in a different virtue that day; something unknown to you, but absolutely known to God.
    Judging others places an absolute obstacle in the path of charity. And, man ‘o man, that is the only thing that will count in the end…..

    May Mother Mary show us all what it means to have mercy.

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