Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Views of a former Novus Ordo Catholic concerning the Traditional Latin Mass

By: Donald Haverkamp – 6/14/19

My daughter and son-in-law (both graduates of the Great Books program of the University of San Francisco) and my ten grandchildren lived in Sacramento, CA and were active parishioners at St. Stephen’s, The First Martyr Church (a Fraternity of St. Peter parish - FSSP). When they first moved to Sacramento and began attending St. Stephen’s, my wife, Kathie, and I were obliged to join them for Sunday Mass when we visited them in their new home. It was here where I experienced the Mass in Latin (Extraordinary Form Mass or Traditional Latin Mass) for the first time since I was an Altar boy before Vatican II. It was a solemn High Mass, and it brought back to me just how beautiful the Catholic Mass can be.

Since I had spent the whole of my adult life in the post-Vatican II era I had become comfortable but nonchalant in my understanding of worship and what the Mass was really all about.  I had to re-familiarize myself with the liturgy, better understand what is happening upon the altar, and relearn the replies in Latin, and I was able to experience the Mass again as I had in my youth.

The three main things that initially drew me to this Mass when I first braved it a few years ago were kneeling to receive Holy Communion, the reverent silence, and the fact that the priest (in Persona Christi) was praying to God instead of facing the congregation.  Strangely enough, for the first time in my life, I realized that Mass is a prayer... the most profound prayer that we can partake in on this side of eternity, to be sure. And that in order to participate in this type of prayer, it is absolutely essential to foster an interior life. If you are to get anything out of the Traditional Mass, you can't hide behind droning words in an awkward dialogue with the priest. You must put forth effort to truly lift your heart to the Lord and to be with Him on Calvary! Truly "actually participating" at the Traditional Mass certainly takes some effort. But isn’t ‘He’ worth the effort?

When attending this Mass I felt like I had returned home. The smell of incense penetrated the Nave, and the high altar stood in all its glory within the sanctuary, which an altar rail separated from the Nave to signify its special, holy place for the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy. The confessional was busy both before and after Mass. From the loft, the choir brought angelic music to the liturgy. And the church was packed!

Unfortunately, the Traditional Latin Mass is not offered anywhere near where we lived at that time. So, we were only able to attend the Extraordinary Form occasionally when we visited our family in Sacramento. The more I attended this Mass, the more painful it was to not have it available every Sunday. I had become addicted to the Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite.

There is an unsurpassed solemnity that the “old” rite carries. I am proof that you do not need to be an expert in Latin to understand that something holy is happening; quite the contrary, it appears that wider use of this form of the Mass may be necessary today to regain the belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and of our Catholic identity. It certainly has for me.

Though I have become “hooked” on the Latin Mass because of its beauty, reverence and adherence to church teaching, there is something else that draws me to the
Extraordinary Form. It is the large young families with beautiful, well behaved children.  I found it easy to connect with them and I looked forward to my trips to Sacramento, not just to visit my immediate family, but also to attend Mass at St Stephan, the First Martyr Church and reconnect with this extended family. Then a life changing event happened for my family.

My daughter and son-in-law decided to move to Idaho and became parishioners at St. Joan of Arc church (FSSP) in Coeur d’Alene. When we first visited them in Idaho we, of course, joined them at St. Joan of Arc church for Mass. We again experienced another parish filled to the brim with young families with many well-behaved children properly trained to show respect to the Blessed Sacrament. With all this, I became involved with a group of Catholic in southern Oregon who were interested in the Latin mass and had formed the Southern Oregon Una Voce (SOUV) chapter of Una Voce America to solicit the diocese for a regular Latin Mass in Southern Oregon.

After being elected the chapter president and having attended two previous Sacred Liturgy Conferences in Portland, the SOUV chapter sponsored the 2017 Sacred Liturgy Conference in southern Oregon. My desire for the Extraordinary Form Mass only intensified through this involvement in both the SOUV chapter and the Sacred Liturgy Conferences.

In terms of evangelization, the beauty and reverence of the Mass is, of course, very effective. Yet, there is still something more to be said about the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. When attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form I feel like I have stepped into another world (Heaven). Isn’t that how the Mass should feel? Otherworldly? Heavenly? I truly get a sense that something real special, real holy is going on.

I do not like being labeled as a traditionalist, or “traddy”, for I am Catholic; I believe being traditional is already implied. I yearn for the traditional high altar, sacred music, altar rail, holy silence inside the church, incense, altar boys and the priest in Persona Christi facing Ad Orientem leading his people in worship of the Lord. So, during another visit to our family (now in Idaho) a decision was made that we should also make the move to Idaho to be closer to our grandchildren and to also have the availability of a regular Traditional Latin Mass parish (St. Joan of Arc, FSSP). We made this dream a reality in late 2017.

I now pray that eventually the Extraordinary Form Mass will be available every Sunday in every community so that those, like me, who wish for this form of worship, will have it available to them. I also continue to work, through prayer, advocacy (by advising two Una Voce chapters as well as actively joining the Traditional Knights Latin Mass Network), and participation in the annual Sacred Liturgy Conferences to educate and inspire others about the life changing realities of the Holy Mass, to encourage dignity and beauty in the celebration of the sacred liturgy and to promote the use of sacred music according to the mind of the Church.

May God bless everyone with greater availability of this extraordinary Traditional Latin Mass!

-          Brother Haverkamp is a member of Rouge River Council 1594, Medford, OR

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the official position of the Traditional Knights Latin Mass Network. That said we’re happy to share these and others with our Brother Knights.