Dies Irae

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I will repeat, I am not a traditionalist.

I make this point for effect because I will follow it with the statement that as a "centrist" in Church matters, I find myself wondering what anyone could possibly find to object to in such a lovely chant. (Click the MP3 link) I think of the magnificent thunder of Mozart's requiem Mass and how I wouldn't want that Dies Irae sung at my own funeral. However, what can be found in this chant other than the perfect serenity of God's wisdom and will?

Why do people rage against the Latin Mass? I don't understand. I might not choose to make it my daily Mass, but if it were reinstituted, I wonder whether it might not have a reviving effect upon the Church as a whole? When beauty and holiness are together celebrated and the human spirit uplifted, what can be the fault or flaw?

Part of the resistance stems, I think, from the less than positive spirit with which some who desire the return treat others who, for whatever cause, resist it. Too long, it seems, this glorious part of tradition has been unduly suppressed, for reasons that I cannot comprehend. I think these decisions are often made by people who have a great deal more information to hand than I do. But I would suggest that evidence indicates that the information may have been misinterpreted.

I join my prayers to those who are begging God daily for the indult that seems just around the corner. And I pray that the indult stands long after the man who engineered it has gone to his rest. This is too valuable and too lovely a thing to have lost for so long.

And, I add to that prayers that those who are liturgically right-minded might exert some effort into turning the vernacular mass into the living image of this great Mass. There is absolutely nothing that stand in the way of great poetry, great beauty, and great prayer in the English Language. May the leaden-eared be passed over and a new and Godly, orthodox group of believers begin to forge anew in our own tongue the beauty inherent in this ancient one.

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Personally, I don't rage against the Latin Mass. I am, however very grateful, as a convert, that I was able to be introduced to the Mass in the vernacular and I can't understand why people rage against it. Good will to all and both and may God be pleased with each of our attempts to honour Him with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength.

Dear Owen,

I couldn't possibly agree more. Thank you for giving the counterbalance: the other half that was left unsaid. I, too, am enormously grateful to have come to the Church in the course of the English Mass; it will make going any direction much, much easier and more spiritually fruitful.

God bless and



I think people rage primarily at the abuses and the lack of reverence at the Novus Ordo. There are some that blame the Norvus Ordo itself for this, but I think most (myself included) believe the Novus Ordo can be celebrated in a very reverential manner. While I do prefer the ancient Mass, there are things in the Novus Ordo that I do like such as the Great Amen. I love when this is reverently sung by the congregation as opposed to silently prayed by the Priest. I also like when the gifts are brought up. I believe this makes the point that the congregation is joining their sacrifice with the Priest's, but not to be confused with the Priest's ("Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice AND yours..."). I make this point because often the lines are blurred between the congregation and the Priest. There are some (even a Sister that I have heard about) that believe that the Priest doesn't even have to be there, that the congregation can offer the Mass which, of course, is a major error. It's these kinds of errors that lead to the lack of reverence and banality that often accompany the Novus Ordo Mass. But it's not the Novus Ordo Mass' fault.

Dear Tom,

Lack of reverence, as you rightly point out, is not the fault of the form of Mass, but rather the attitude of the people. If those who are irreverant at Novus Ordo were to go to the Ancient Mass, the irreverence would propagate there as well.

The distortions and misunderstandings are rife. But then tell me that it isn't possible to misinterpret the Ancient Mass and make the Priest out to be some sort of trans-human God avatar. Things can go wrong in many ways, and the wrongness that I have often perceived in the Catholic Church at large stems directly from the isolation achieved and supported by the high rationality and reverence to the point of the inhuman that can occur through the misuse of the Ancient Mass.

I remember the first time I ventured in to a Catholic Church and there was no one to greet me, those few people I did see were on their kneelers praying their rosaries, and I reflected on how cold and heartless the entire thing was in comparison to the Church I had just come from (a Baptist service). Nevertheless, I endured the coldness for the truth, and to some extent continue to endure it for the truth. The present parish is somewhat warmer than the one I attended previously, but all of them are icy in comparison with the Protestant churches.

And I think that this is in large part a miscarriage of reverence--the sense that being alone with the alone is something one does in community. But the truth of the matter is that we gather together as community not as isolated individuals, although that appears to be what many think, and we celebrate the communal aspect of our salvation, because we are saved through Jesus Christ in the communion of the Church, and that is also an aspect of reverence--proper appreciation of people--something most of the Church doesn't really get very well right now.

But , that aside, the Church has the truth, and while there can be "abuses" and "miscarriages" regardless of how one celebrates, when we are on guard against them, they can be better rooted out and prevented.



"Lack of reverence, as you rightly point out, is not the fault of the form of Mass, but rather the attitude of the people. If those who are irreverant at Novus Ordo were to go to the Ancient Mass, the irreverence would propagate there as well."

This was my point, that the lack of reverence is not the fault of the form of Mass. But your point concerning taking reverence too far, to the point of coldness, is well taken.

To the question of relative warmth, are there any adult Baptists who go to Sunday services because Baptists go to Sunday services?

Most American Catholics, I'd wager, don't go to Sunday Mass to build community. The community is there, it was there before, it'll be there after. It's called a parish, and (in what I'd guess is the typical Catholic attitude) it has little more to do with welcoming each other than the kitchen table has to do with siblings welcoming each other when they show up for breakfast.


I have given further thought to your combox comments, and I don't really want to disagree with you so much as point out that I think our backgrounds affect how we perceive walking into a church with no one there to greet us, and people quietly praying their rosaries or whatever in the pews.

When I walk into a church and I see people kneeling down in prayer I don't think to myself that someone should be there to say hello to me. I think that it is such a beautiful thing to see people in prayer. And when I find my pew and kneel down in prayer, I don't view it as "just me and Jesus" or that salvation is just between Jesus and me. I see myself joining the faithful in the silent song of prayer.

I think with your Baptist background you walk into a church with a different set of expectations than I do. I'm not saying that my expectations are correct and yours are not. Perhaps there is a middle ground here. I'm all for having greeters at the doors, but not in the church. I love meeting new people at coffee and donuts after Mass. I love all the parish activities.

I hope this makes sense.

God bless,




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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on December 5, 2006 5:05 PM.

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