ON THURSDAY there was a funny case of secular media sympathising with Latin Mass goers which in turn provoked an attempt to take the wind out of their sails with a bold article commanding the reader to Stop saying the Latin Mass is ‘more reverent’.
Now, there are a whole lot of people who react badly to being told what they can and cannot say, so pretty soon the article was being reposted with many people boldly proclaiming the very thing the title forbade.
I read the article and watched through the little video at the end and came to the conclusion that the two sides are arguing from different premises. The word “reverence” means different things:
The Jesuits at America Magazine used the word “reverent” to describe a feeling or emotion. Using that definition, it makes sense that comparing different liturgies by the feeling aroused in the individual is very subjective and prone to many confounding variables.
The fans of the Traditional Latin Mass, however, were using the word “reverent” to describe tangible, visible actions which are objectively more reverent. A chart of such actions has been compiled by Jacob Bauer and shared on Facebook by Dr Peter Kwasniewski. These include but are not limited to:
- The faithful receiving kneeling and on the tongue.
- The faithful receiving from the hands of a priest/deacon.
- The minister of Communion making the sign of the cross with the host over the Communicant.
- The priest keeping his thumb and forefinger joined from Consecration to ablutions.
- The priest genuflecting before and after any handling of the Sacred Species.
- The priest genuflecting before and after each consecration.
- Laypeople forbidden from touching the Sacred Species.
- Laypeople forbidden from touching the sacred vessels.
- The priest not turning his back on the tabernacle for more than a passing moment.
All these are features of liturgical norms up in force up until about sixty years ago which have since become optional or even suppressed. All these are reverences according to the definition, “act showing respect”. We can definitely say that the Latin Mass has more reverences.
They are tangible, concrete, visible actions. They may produce feelings of reverence, which is good, but that’s not the point. It’s a way of praying with our bodies, employing our bodies to express the belief of the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Maybe we can agree that the Latin Mass has more external signs of reverence. Maybe that will clarify our position.