Novus Ordo Attendees Are The ‘Red-Headed Stepchild’ of Catholic Twitter


There has been a lot of discussion on Twitter lately about the differences between the Novus Ordo (NO), the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) and the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) mass. This began as a debate about whether it’s okay for a TLM attendee to go to a SSPX mass, just during the lockdown, in order to receive Communion, since TLM and NO Masses are not open to the public. I have my own opinions about that, but as a NO attendee I was looking at this debate through those eyes and I didn’t like what I saw.

Novus Ordo attendees — all of us — are the “stepchild” of the Twitter-verse. At least, we get treated like a stepchild. We hear all the arguments about the Novus Ordo being “less than” and sit timidly by the wayside, not quite knowing what to say. Well, I am sick of it. I’m tired of not saying anything in reply. I’m replying now, for the love of God and neighbor.

It seems that if the SSPX and the TLM goers agree on anything at all, it’s that the Novus Ordo is somehow “less than” holy. How can it be less than holy if the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus is there? I’ll tell you what’s going on here. The thing that’s unsaid is not that Jesus’ Sacrifice is less holy but that the people at the Mass are less holy because they don’t “reverence the Lord” the way the people at TLM and SSPX masses do. There’s a really big problem with this thinking. It’s the kind of judging that we’re not supposed to do. It’s judging where someone’s heart is. It’s judging whether or not this heart is more reverent than that heart — something only God can know. There is simply no way to tell if the congregation is lacking reverence based on whether the priest is acting like a child or based on the presence of liturgical dancers, or dancing puppets, or other abuses. As much as it may make us groan when these things happen, and as much as we may believe that they are manifestly irreverent, we cannot judge the hearts of the clown priest and the liturgical dancers and the hand receivers and so forth.

Look. Those who say the NO is “less than” — given that they judge the hearts of their brothers and sisters — are being manifestly judgmental (in the bad way) about people who attend the Novus Ordo. Where people are not kneeling for Communion, or not receiving on the tongue, etc., the congregation may be “manifestly irreverent”, but we have no right to say — or even imply — that those people are being “less reverent” in their hearts. Only God can judge that.

I give the sign of peace in a sober manner. I receive on the tongue but do not kneel because I am physically unable to. I do not use the orans posture. I bow when our Holy Mother is mentioned in the creed. Many people at the NO Mass I attend do not give the sign of peace in a sober manner. Many receive in the hand. Many use the orans posture. Many do not bow for Our Lady. But heaven forbid for me to say they are less reverent than I am! I can’t see into their hearts!

In order that you can get a better understanding of where I’m coming from, it’s important that I tell you something about my conversion story. I was an agnostic when I was dating my Catholic boyfriend. I believed in the God of the Old Testament, but I wasn’t sure about Jesus. That part where He says (in John 6) that we must eat His Flesh and drink His Blood just didn’t add up to me. I wasn’t averse to the idea, as so many protestants are. I just couldn’t understand how this could be done. I promised God that if He could show me how this could happen, I would believe Jesus is the Son of God and follow Him always. To make a long story short, He showed me the first time I attended Mass as an adult — a Novus Ordo Mass — at the consecration. He showed me in those “horrible” hymns “One Bread, One Body” and “Gift of Finest Wheat” which were sung at Communion. He showed me in the people filing up toward the altar, as if they were people filing up to the gates of heaven. I saw these things and I believed. I wanted to be Catholic.

It so happened that this Mass was in a city far from my home, but as my boyfriend told me, it didn’t matter. He said, “The Mass is the same, no matter where you go, no matter even what country you’re in.” I was intrigued which is why I asked him if I could go to Mass with him in the first place. Given this, how could I not have the conviction of going to the Mass that is closest to my house? Indeed, it is my conviction to this day. The Mass is ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC just as the Church is. If the TLM is closest to my house, I will go to the TLM. As it stands, the NO Is closest to my house….so that is where I go. In my heart, I know that God would have it no other way.

It doesn’t bother me that people receive in the hand. God meets them where they are. It doesn’t bother me that people use the orans posture. God meets them where they are. It doesn’t bother me that the lady three pews in front of me gives me the sign of peace. God meets her where she is, and so must I, so I return the sign to her. I must meet people where they are because God does. Perhaps they are really not being reverent. God knows if they are. I do not. I can only pray for them. Futher, I don’t pray “God forgive them for being so irreverent.” I pray “God, please meet them where they are.” It is up to God whether He wants to forgive. It’s up to Jesus to intercede for them. It’s up to the Holy Spirit to teach them right from wrong. It’s up to the priest to give them instruction, and if he fails, it’s on him, or maybe it’s on them, but only God can decide that.

Stop treating us like a step-child. We are your brothers and sisters in the fullest extent. We love you. Please love us back.

NOTE: Sometimes, when a parent has children, or when an adult’s faith is weak, or when irreverence is a distraction, and when the irreverence is manifest, it’s not a matter of judging hearts. One must go to another parish where the reverence is manifest so that the children will learn reverence or where the adult will not get distracted. I get that. I’m not judging people who “church shop.” I’m just asking that you not judge whether those who attend the Novus Ordo, even where there are abuses, are less reverent than you are. You can’t know that.

14 comments

  1. Good article. I think you summed it up well. May I just say this: during the Creed, we aren’t bowing to Our Lady, but to the Incarnation of God made man.

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    • What to say about this backhanded attempt to wipe soot on the faces of one’s ideological opposites by posing as the objectified bullied redhead. Just make a cogent argument and quit the posing. The fact is that you don’t gain either sympathy or praise for yourself by virtue grabbing for not judging the clown priest and grasping at the Eucharist. Poor little you. You couldn’t possibly make the independent judgment that these abuses don’t just offend traditional types but are a deep offense to the person of Christ. Mass exists for the worship of God and for the continuance of the unbloody sacrifice of Christ for a humanity driven from him by sin. It exists for His praise and honor not for yours. That is one of the first distinctions ginger Catholics ought to internalize. For those of us who have been here for the whole show, I can tell you the Novus Ordo falls short of this goal and was created out of rebellion and thirst for changes on the part of rebellious clerics and bishops. I know for a fact that Catholics were robbed of their inheritance in the process. The world was tilted on its Axis and the fruits of this 50 year experiment are bitter indeed. The Church has been reduced and scattered and has suffered mortal wounds that only Christ can heal. You need to learn a lot more about the bankruptcy of theology, worship and virtue embodied by the rebellion before you sound the bugle or beat the drum.

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  2. As someone who attends both forms and who first experienced a devotion to the Mass before I had ever heard of the TLM, I think you are incorrect. I understand that a lot of Novus Ordo goers feel like they are looked down upon. However, I have seen no evidence that TLM types look down upon those who go to the N.O. and I have spent a lot of time in Catholic circles on twitter and Facebook. It seems that you are the one who is being judgmental. Someone saying the TLM is better in no way implies that N.O. goers are worse. I have never once seen this stated or implied. You are judging people as being prideful, condescending and holier-than-thou without any actual evidence. It is uncharitable.

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    • Charles Heintel, I respectfully disagree. All one has to do is view some of the pro-TLM blogs to see a definite disrespect and condescension toward the Novus Ordo Mass and its devotees – particularly one written by a prominent priest from Minnesota. When he posted rather condescendingly and disrespectfully about how a priest could be trained in 10 minutes to say the Novus Ordo Mass, while it takes far longer for a priest to learn the TLM, and implied that this somehow goes to prove how superior the TLM and the priests who say it are, I defended the Novus Ordo priests with civility. I was then banned from his site.

      I am very happy at my parish, where the Novus Ordo Mass is celebrated with dignity, joy, and devotion, but I wanted to experience for myself what others find in the TLM, so I attended a TLM at a neighboring parish. I entered the vestibule, smiled at the ushers and others, and was greeted with a frigid stare. I realized later that I had not gotten the memo about ladies wearing dresses and veils. I was dressed modestly in pressed trousers, a silk blouse, and a cardigan – and no headgear.

      So I continued in and attended the Mass. The music was exceptionally beautiful, no doubt about it, and I loved it. However, I could not participate in Mass because there was no translation provided, and I have only the barest understanding of Latin. I could tell what part of the Mass we were at as we progressed, but that was it. I have attended the NO Mass in other countries in French, Italian, Spanish, and Turkish, but I always could follow along and had an understanding of what was being taught and of the Scripture readings, but not so with the TLM. For this reason, I did not approach the altar for Communion. When Mass was ended, I passed through the vestibule with the same icy glares in my direction. I attended Mass later at my own parish.

      I have engaged in enough blog conversations on various sites, defending the Novus Ordo Mass, to realize that, while not all TLM attendees are uncharitable, a great many do hold definite animosity toward those of us who love and are devoted to the Novus Ordo Mass. They seem to think we and the NO Mass are not quite up to par in sanctity and legitimacy as is the TLM. They are misinformed.

      There is no “competition” in the area of holiness when it comes to the TLM, the Novus Ordo Mass, or any of the Eastern Rites – all these Masses are equally recognized as legitimate, valid, and holy by the Catholic Church. Peace to you and all here.

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      • I tend to agree with Charles. I go to both (Sunday TLM-EF and weekday NO). I prefer the TLM, even the LF if I can during the week. The liturgy is so much more in line with glorifying God. The NO is licit, but the ‘we’ factor is distracting, as well as the priest becoming a central part rather then Our Lord. Our Parish is very traditional compared to most, as our NO is done ad oriens and does include latin in the ordinaries. But these two aspects I mentioned are still present.

        I also agree with Carrie in judging the hearts, minds, and faith of our fellow Catholics. I’m happy they are in the pews. God works in mysterious ways. One of my closest friends boarders on charismatic. If he had it his way, P&W music would be de rigor, yet he is good for my soul. He checks my more base tendencies, and assists me to stay on the path, like a workout buddy. I’ve met a few pretty nasty trads, but it has been rare. Go to Mass, or daily Adoration now. It’s all about being children of God and striving for a closer Devine filiation. And we do our best to stay focused on God.

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  3. Poorly written and researched article, based on no facts just opinion and feelings. Comparing the NO and TLM has nothing to do with judging hearts or reverence. It has everything to do with worshipping God as he has directed us. You really need to research how the NO came to be it will really open your eyes.

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  4. This article was not written to prove or disprove the validity of the Novus Ordo, it was written to express feelings about the attitudes of some people who prefer the TLM.

    Thank you for sharing. I have had exactly the same experiences. Believe it or not, there are those of us who really do understand “how the NO came to be” and have a different opinion about it than some of you who worship at a TLM. I know my faith better than most. My choices are informed. The very fact that this is questioned is indicative of the attitude the article addresses.

    BTW, I still love the songs you mention. I remember hearing them not too long after I converted. My heart would yearn and reach and praise God. They were an expression of the joy I felt. My tastes have expanded and I also love the more traditional music and chant so reverently used in our parish, but I refuse to scorn the songs that helped me when I was first learning the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist.

    Catholics on both sides of the NO/TLM preferences seem determined to believe they worship better. I find this sad.

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  5. I have critiques of both forms but they are both valid. The problems I encounter are not with the form itself so much as with the manner in which it is celebrated. In low mass TLM, priest often seems to be in a hurry, as if he had train to catch after mass. In NO, the celebrant can be too perfunctory, flatly reading the script.

    In NO on sunday, in many churches around country, music is dominated by marty haugen et al. Just the same dozen songs everyone knows and could sing, e.g. eagles wings. The overfamiliarity with these songs is like the overplayed top 40s tunes that you once couldnt get enough of once, but now you hate. Underlying all this, they all have the same bland, easy listening, top 40 pop, adult contemporary, light music feel. neither high nor now. No exaltation or reverent awe or anything else.

    I have been watching livestreamed masses from St John Cantius in Chicago, which does both NO and TLM both with Latin chant interspersed.

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  6. Outstanding article. What I noticed among those who look down upon the Ordinary Form of the Mass is this common trait: They never read Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum. Where he states clearly their is no superior Mass setting. Now when I run into someone who is very devoted to one of the Forms, I isually reply that the Anglican Ordinariate and Byzantine Mass settings won the liturgy wars.

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  7. I attend both forms. In the Ordinary Form I find greater community. In the Latin Mass much greater worship of God and prayerfulness. As we know both are completely valid.

    But……………in the Ordinary Form I have seen countless abuses, too many to list here. In the over 20 years I have occasionally attended the Latin Mass not one abuse.

    I am a teacher in a Catholic School and one of the abuses I found in the Ordinary Form is twice we (our teachers) have found Consecrated Hosts left in the pews by children who did not want to consume them.

    Do I think one form is better? No, both are valid, but I wish the Latin Mass could develop more community among the people and the Ordinary form would have more reverence.

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  8. I was away from the church for many years, although raised Catholic. When i returned to the church, i felt like i was in a Protestant service. I PREFER the TLM, because that is how I was raised, and that is what I returned to, what I was hungry for, what I missed. I do not look down my bony, judgemental nose on those who prefer NO, or perhaps don’t know anything else, but when I attend a NO Mass, I’m irritated by the conversations about the game, or the BBQ, or the hairdresser, right in the chapel, and the hugs and loud laughter and greetings. That was just not done in chapel when I was growing up. A nun would have thumped you! It feels very alien to me, so I seek out TLM if possible. No judgement, no condescension, just uncomfortable.

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    • My sister, Lisa. God bless you. I was raised TLM. Hid from God and His church for a number of years while pursuing carnal pleasures. Returned when His Spirit finally cornered me in the darkness I had made for myself. My return was to NO. Are there abuses in NO. Certainly, but not because of the form, but because of the lack of catechesis in the intervening years. TLM, after all, was not the form of the early church. It developed and at a point in time was established as the norm, not THE FORM. The defining quality of any Mass is whether members of the congregation are there to get something from the liturgy, or to give something to the liturgy.
      Contrary to some of the snarkiest replies to your article, TLMers are always downplaying NO as barely one step above devil worship,and their pridefulness in attending THE FORM is one reason I have happily stayed with my NO parish, supporting our priests when they’ve encouraged more reverence.

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