By Kennedy Hall
Part 1: For the Love of God
I was hesitant to write this series of articles, as I did not want to come off as condescending or uncharitable to those who attend the New Mass. Some of the most faithful Catholics I know attend the New Mass, and I would imagine that many have never considered the liturgy all that much. If anyone is put off by the contents of these articles, please feel free to contact me, and also please understand that the positions taken herein are not based in antagonism. In essence, my liturgical positions are primarily a matter of the heart, even though I have come to see the theological justification for the superiority of the Traditional Mass. I do not exclusively attend the Tridentine Mass because I think I am better than any other Catholic, but instead because I know that I am likely worse than many Catholics. I do not presume to have the strength to be able to worship any different than my ancestors, as I understand how much more virtuous the lot of them were. If the reader takes anything away from this series, I hope it is that my stance is based in a deep love for Our Lord and Our Lady, and that my soul impells me to act in this manner.
Traditionalists need Charity Too
Surrounding the topic of liturgy, there are surely a myriad of voices online who comment on the subject. Some of these voices are quite helpful, while others may be antagonistic. I do not buy the stereotype that “trads” (traditional Catholics) are generally mean spirited, as my experience has been consistently the opposite. However, I will grant that when a “trad” goes wrong, it is usually in a stiff-necked and unfriendly manner. Again, most people I have met in the traditional Catholic world are kind, fun loving people who are seeking holiness, but “bad-apples” do exist. That being said, if I were to base my theological opinions solely on the people I have met, I would never attend a single parish on Earth. I can remember hearing jokes about vasectomies and people applauding Ireland’s decision to legalize abortion in a Novus Ordo setting. I would be daft to associate all Novus Ordo attending Catholics with the various heretics and apostates that fill the pews. This would be unfair and illogical to say the least.
When non-traditional Catholics flippantly refer to “angry trads” or “rad trads” in a negative way, it is not helpful. In addition, it could be argued that this flippancy is the other side of the coin with regards to the judgemental spirit they supposedly see in traditionalists. We should keep in mind that the sin of schism is a sin against charity, either against unity with the Church, or with other Catholics; brushing off, or dismissing traditional Catholics, including those who attend the SSPX is still a sin against charity–arguably a schismatic disposition.
Tradition in my Bones
Years ago I was commuting home with some colleagues from a Catholic elementary school. I had recently experienced a major interior conversion, and was on fire about my new found faith. In our conversation, the topic of liturgy came up. Of course, none of us had any theological training, so our conversation was based on mere opinion. One of my colleagues had expressed that her favourite type of Mass was the “folk” Mass, due to the sing-song nature of the music, and because the little children enjoyed it. She then asked me what my ideal Mass would look like; without hesitation I said, “I would like to be in a cave, somewhere in Israel, with monks chanting, and the whole place filled with incense and candles.”
They laughed, and so did I. I had no context for this traditionally spirited liturgical preference, but it was a natural disposition nonetheless. I should add that at this time in my life I began to develop a deep devotion to Our Lady. It was Our Lady of Guadalupe who brought me home, and my devotion to Her was bringing me closer and closer to the heart of the Church. Two years later I returned to Mexico City on another Mission–this is the location at which I had my major conversion two years prior–and I was elated to visit the Marian shrine at Guadalupe once again. I was again a chaperone on this trip, and one of our students hurt her ankle badly during the trip. Since she was on crutches, she couldn’t make the climb up the large hill at the shrine to Our Lady. Because of this, I stayed with her and accompanied her around the main level of the grounds. We found our way into the original Cathedral at Guadalupe, a building that Freemasonic Communists tried to destroy during the Cristero War. In this historic church, there is a perpetual adoration chapel off to the side.
We entered the chapel and I was awe-struck by the ornate beauty and holiness of the location. In effect, it was as if the wind had been knocked out me. There was a group of locals leading a series of prayers and hymns. I am fluent in Spanish, so I noticed they were not speaking Spanish, but instead a language with a similar style. They were speaking Latin. A sweet elderly lady led a Latin hymn, her voice filling the room like notes emanating forth from David’s harp. At this moment, I became a little emotional. It was as if I had traveled back in time, to an age when Christendom breathed with the sacred language of the Traditional Mass. Never had any prayer cut so deeply to my heart as this quiet Latin hymn. Shortly after, the group of locals finished their prayers and snuck away reverently. For a moment I knelt there, realizing for the first time in my life what Eucharistic Adoration truly was. No amount of reading or theological insight could have done for my soul’s ascent to Saving Truth, what a simple Latin hymn could do in a matter of a few moments.
This experience was an event that oriented my curiosity toward the traditions of the Faith, an orientation that grew stronger with the passing of my Nonno a few months later. His death, and his ancestral influence will be the focus of my next article.
Kennedy Hall is a Catholic High School teacher, rugby coach, and part time writer on Catholic topics. He has written for the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, Serviam Ministries and the Fatima Center. He teaches Catholic Religion courses to French Immersion students and also speaks Spanish and Italian. Kennedy has spoken at various youth events, as well as on the topic of true Catholic masculinity. He has a passion for the Traditional Latin Mass and the restoration of traditional piety. A prodigal son, he was brought back into the Church with the help of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and prays for the day that all men depend on the Blessed Mother. He lives with his wife and 4 children in Stratford, Ontario. Follow him @kennedyhall.