Sunday, October 15, 2023

Ordinary Form of the Mass Is Closer to the Mass of the Early Church

Many Catholics today are unaware of the history and development of the liturgy, especially the Mass. They may think that the way they celebrate Mass now is the same as it has always been, or that the changes introduced after the Second Vatican Council were a radical departure from tradition. 

However, a closer look at the sources and documents of the early church reveals that the Mass of Paul VI, also known pejoratively as the "Novus Ordo" by unschooled traditionalists or the Ordinary Form (proper name), is actually closer to the ancient liturgy than the Mass of Pius V, also known as the Tridentine Mass or the Extraordinary Form.

The Mass of Paul VI was promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969, following the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council. The council called for a reform and renewal of the liturgy, in order to make it more accessible, participatory, and faithful to the sources. The council also encouraged a greater use of the vernacular languages, a wider selection of biblical readings, and a more active role for the laity.

The Mass of Pius V was codified by Pope Pius V in 1570, following the Council of Trent. The council aimed to defend and clarify the Catholic doctrine and practice against the Protestant Reformation. The council also standardized and simplified the liturgy, in order to ensure uniformity and orthodoxy. At the time, each region had its own rite. There was no organized or codified Latin rite so with the threat of Protestantism with its confusion, the Church had to organize and codify the liturgy. The council also mandated the use of Latin as the official language of the liturgy and restricted the use of other rites and customs.

The early church, however, did not have a fixed or uniform liturgy. The liturgy was more flexible and adaptable to different times, places, and cultures. The liturgy was also more organic and spontaneous, reflecting the living tradition of the apostles and their successors. It was also more diverse and rich, incorporating various elements from Jewish, Greek, Roman, and other sources. This liturgy was a precursor to inculturation. 

Some examples of how the Mass of Paul VI is closer to the early church are:

- The Mass of Paul VI follows a basic structure that is common to all ancient liturgies: Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist, and Concluding Rites. The Mass of Pius V adds some elements that are not found in the early sources, such as the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the Last Gospel, and some devotional prayers.

- The Mass of Paul VI allows for more variety and options in choosing the prayers and texts for each celebration, such as the Collects, Prefaces, Eucharistic Prayers, and Antiphons. The Mass of Pius V has a fixed set of prayers and texts for each day and season, with few exceptions.

- The Mass of Paul VI restores some elements that were lost or suppressed in the Mass of Pius V, such as the Prayer of the Faithful, the Sign of Peace, the Fraction Rite, and the Communion under Both Kinds. These elements are attested by many early sources, such as Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, Cyprian, and Augustine.

- The Mass of Paul VI emphasizes more clearly the role of Christ as the main celebrant and mediator of the liturgy. The priest acts in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), not as a separate or superior entity. The priest also faces the same direction as the people (versus populum), not away from them (versus apsidem or ad orientum). The priest also dialogues with the people throughout the liturgy (Dominus vobiscum), not only at certain moments (Orate fratres).

- The Mass of Paul VI fosters more participation and involvement from all members of the assembly. The people are not passive spectators or silent listeners, but active agents and co-celebrants, if you will. The people join their voices with the priest in singing or saying some parts of the liturgy (such as Kyrie eleison, Gloria in excelsis Deo, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth), not only in responding (such as Et cum spiritu tuo). The people also exercise their proper roles and functions according to their gifts and charisms (such as lectors, cantors, acolytes or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion [when needed]).

However, the Mass of Paul VI is not without its critics. Some Catholics prefer the Mass of Pius V for various reasons, such as:

- They believe that the Mass of Pius V is more reverent, solemn, and beautiful than the Mass of Paul VI. They appreciate the use of Latin, chant, and incense, as well as the elaborate gestures, vestments, and ornaments.

- They believe that the Mass of Pius V is more faithful to the Catholic tradition than the Mass of Paul VI. They claim that the changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council were influenced by the Protestants and modernist errors and that they diluted or distorted the true meaning and purpose of the liturgy.

- They believe that the Mass of Pius V is more conducive to personal devotion and sanctification than the Mass of Paul VI. They argue that the silence, the mystery, and the transcendence of the Tridentine Mass help them to focus on God and detach from the world, while the Ordinary Form is too noisy, banal, and worldly.

These are some of the arguments that are often raised by the supporters of the Mass of Pius V against the Mass of Paul VI. However, these arguments are not necessarily valid or convincing, as they are based on subjective preferences, selective interpretations, or inaccurate assumptions. A more objective and balanced evaluation of the two forms of the Mass would require a deeper understanding of the history, theology, and spirituality of the liturgy, as well as a respect for the authority and guidance of the Church.

So as we can see, the Mass of Paul VI is closer to the Mass rite of the Early Church. We have written accounts detailing how Mass was celebrated and can attest to this fact. The Ordinary Form is not an "innovation" or departure from tradition. It was not a formulation of Protestants at Vatican II in order to feel and look "Protestant."  It was not an introduction to modernism or another heresy.  It is simply the One and Same Mass that has been prayed since the birth of the Catholic Church.  The Tridentine Mass is the same Mass as well but with additions made in order to ornate and embellish the rite even more. This was needed in order to make it stand out from the new competition: Protestantism and its innovations.  

Today we see Protestants using all kinds of methods to lure people in, especially the young. They use modern music, dance, and lighting like those used in clubs and the like.   The sect Hillsong is an example. Well, during the Protestant Reformation, Caucasian European males created their own sects and used different ways to entice Catholics out of the Catholic faith. The Council of Trent was the response. It explained the faith more concisely and codified the Roman Rite to keep the flock unified and organized.   

With the expansion of the Church worldwide and the change of times, the Church had to act again in the 1940s up to Vatican II. They had to adapt to the new world that is no longer Latin and Greek, but a collection of languages and cultures in a diversified world.  The Mass had to be adapted to this new reality just like it was adapted during the Council of Trent during the reality of the Reformation threatening Christendom. 

A new Mass was not created. This is impossible.  It was just simplified back to the way it was before the Council of Trent with some minor differences in externals (vernacular, vestments, etc).  This is why the Mass of Pius V can never be abrogated or suppressed.  It is the one and same Mass and the Church cannot exist without the Mass which brings about the Eucharist.  It can be restricted as we saw with Traditionis Custodes, but this is only to protect the rite from ideologists who want to hijack it to push agendas against Vatican II, the papacy, and other aspects of the Catholic Church that do not cater to their palates due to their ignorance of the faith.  

So be proud of your Catholic faith and our Liturgy!  Whether we participate in the Extraordinary Form or Ordinary Form, we are participating in the one and same Mass that has been celebrated uninterrupted since Christ's Last Supper!  This is awesome!


For those who are interested in learning more about the history and development of the liturgy, here are some sources that can be consulted:

- Marcel Metzger, History of the Liturgy: The Major Stages

- Anton Baumstark, On the Historical Development of the Liturgy

- Liturgical History |

- THEO 60402-01: LITURGICAL HISTORY - Department of Theology

- What Is Liturgy and Why Is it Important in the Church? - Crosswalk

What was Mass like for the early Christians? (

Medieval Christian Liturgy | Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion

Christian Worship in the First Century | Called to Communion

Sacerdotus: There Is Only ONE Mass

Sacerdotus: Eucharistic Prayers: Not From Napkins

Sacerdotus: Protestants Did Not Develop The Ordinary Form Mass

Sacerdotus: No Such Thing as 'Novus Ordo' in the Catholic Church

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