Sunday, January 10, 2016

Has The EF Maxed Out Its Appeal?

I got the following National Catholic Register article from a friend of mine who liked our choir while he was here in Reno, but never really understood the EF Mass:

An Urgent Warning About The Future of the Traditional Latin Mass by Msgr. Charles Pope. Excerpt:
It seems that a ceiling has been hit. The Traditional Latin Mass appeals to a certain niche group of Catholics, but the number in that group appears to have reached its maximum.
Some traditional Catholics I speak to say, “If only the archdiocese would promote us more,” or “If only the bishop would celebrate it at all or more frequently.” Perhaps, but many other niche groups in the archdiocese say the same thing about their particular interest. 
At the end of the day, for any particular movement, prayer form, organization, or even liturgy, the job of promoting it must belong to those who love it most. Shepherds don't have sheep; sheep have sheep. . . . [N]umbers matter. (Emphasis added.)
Does Msgr. Pope have a point? Have we lost our last best chance of seeing the Cathedral filled for a Friday EF Mass? Is there any hope of the EF Mass getting more traction on its own merit or appeal? Who is to blame: the clergy, the laity who want the EF, or both? Or is Monsignior's premise, that "if you build it, they will come" isn't working for the EF, even correct?

My opinion, which along with 50 cents won't get anything from a soda machine, is that as long as Catholic children are denied the experience of and exposure to the EF--even in Catholic schools--there is no hope of the appeal of the EF growing any further. My Jesuit high school taught Latin, but the priests never celebrated Mass in the EF or taught chant. Hand-wringing and giving up are not the answer, however; education about the proper place of the EF, chant, and polyphony are tantamount to the generations that have known only OCP/GIA, Haugen-Haas, Repp-Parker-Miffleton, the St. Louis Jesuits, etc. That's the exposure Catholic kids are still getting today, if not also to Protestant "praise and worship" music. These forces are well entrenched, as Fr. Francisco reminded us.

This leads to the other reason my friend posted this article. He says he simply loses track at an EF Mass, even with the Missal in both Latin and English:
Maybe TLM devotees could take a page from the evangelization efforts of NO parishes and offer occasional "teaching masses" wherein newcomers are invited, and the priest walks them through the Mass with commentary about what is happening, where to turn in the Missal, etc. I am drawn to the TLM but haven't gone very often because I get lost. I like the signs of increased reverence, but want to be able to follow along.
Should the Cathedral, Holy Spirit Mission, or even RPC do more in this regard? If so, would it result in greater interest in the EF? We did, of course, have a public chant workshop a couple years back. I'd be interested in hearing your opinions. The comments on the article make for interesting reading also;  they go from most recent at the top to the oldest at the bottom.

One other point: I think some of the most devoted evangelists in the world are vegans. I don't know any who don't want to make you a vegan also, and they mention it every chance they get. Do we (I) ever talk to other Catholics about the beauty of the EF and chant with as much fervor?


  1. I agree with the evangelization suggestion. I work in a parish with a school and there is "youth mass" every Wed. at 8:30 a.m. If I get the OK from my pastor and a priest to do the mass, would RPC be willing to do the music? I think it would be a great experience for the students and adults.

    1. We could probably at least get a schola to do so. Run it past Kathy and see what happens!

  2. Good points presented here!

    No doubt about it, both the EF Masses and my limited time with Regina Pacis (both as singer and as worshipping parishioner) were intensely catechetical (perhaps re-catechetical) experiences for me in my two years in Reno. If I were made to lean, I'd lean toward the Mass of the Ages, the EF.

    The Novus Ordo Masses at the Cathedral were also beautiful, though. To hear the N.O. almost completely chanted, with fitting congregational hymns, Gregorian Ordinaries, and vernacular chant for the propers (and the absence of non-liturgical music) -- it's just so gorgeous. I could never do without either of our beloved forms, and no one should ever have to. Both forms of the Mass, celebrated well, are absolutely spell-binding in both beauty and grace. And I think both should be offered side-by-side, every single week, in every single parish.

    So yes, the EF does need to be promoted. Perhaps education and exposure (liturgical/ catechetical) are some of our best available tools. But nothing can replace, in this process of evangelizing, the Roman Catholic parishioner set ablaze with the Good News in his or her life. Let us all move in that direction, and continue to ask those close to us, "WOULD YOU LIKE TO COME TO MASS WITH ME"?