There exist stark differences between the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass. Both Masses are valid in the Church. The Concise Catholic Dictionary defines valid as:
“founded on the truth or fact; in Church law, that which conforms to conditions essential to the efficacy of a sacrament; that is, the proper rite in administration, the intention and jurisdiction of the minister, and the moral fitness and intention of the recipient.”
There is much discussion about what direction the Novus Ordo Mass needs to take in order to be more reverent and fitting for proper worship. I believe the Church should restore the sacred and ban the Novus Ordo, and only offer the Latin Mass. In order to illustrate my line of thinking, I would like to present the following analogy:
The Mass is absolutely necessary for the health of the soul. Likewise, water is absolutely necessary for the health of the body. The Traditional Latin Mass, or the Mass of All Ages, has been celebrated by the Church for the last 2000 years. The Latin Mass is like pure water, which is found at its original source. There are no additives, pollutants, toxins or anything that would ruin its purity. The Novus Ordo is like water from a river filled with dirty pollutants.
I want to make it abundantly and absolutely clear that one can drink from either the pure water (the TLM) or the polluted river (the NO) and survive. It is not wise to drink from the polluted river for too long, lest you suffer unwanted side affects. Similarly, attending Novus Ordo Masses in which there is little to no reverence and that resembles a Protestant service has unwanted side affects in one’s spiritual formation.
One can filter the water to help remove the pollutants. With regards to the Novus Ordo this filter would be reverence. However, no matter how many times the water runs through a filter, there will still be some trace amounts of pollutants in the water. It is not pure. The less reverent the Novus Ordo Mass, the more pollutants there are in the water. Similarly, no matter how much reverence is added to the Novus Ordo, there will still be remnants of Modernism and Protestantism. Modernism is defined by Pope St. Pius X as the synthesis of all heresies and was rightly condemned in his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis. For a great summary of Modernism, please check out The Old Evangelization’s Modernism Series.
Now, using this analogy, if one were to see a vast group of people drinking water from a polluted river, knowing full well there is a pure source of water to drink, you would have them stop drinking from the polluted river and drink from the pure spring. If there were not pure spring available, it would suffice to drink the polluted water after it has been repeatedly filtered. However, we know that there exists a pure spring that has enough water to hydrate the entire world.
While it is admirable to want to slowly move people over from an irreverent Novus Ordo to a reverent Novus Ordo, so they can appreciate the Traditional Latin Mass, it makes little sense when the above analogy is applied. Unfiltered polluted water is bad for the body. It will allow the individual to continue to survive, but it will cause other negative effects to the body. An irreverent Novus Ordo, assuming the words of consecration are said properly, will feed the soul the necessary food required for it, but will cause ill formed consciences and catechesis. What’s best for a person who is drinking polluted water is to give him the fresh, pure water, no matter how much he fights it. Filtered water is far better for an individual than unfiltered water, but pure water is far superior and will provide lasting positive effects. Likewise, a reverent Novus Ordo Mass better for Catholics than an irreverent Novus Ordo, but a Traditional Latin Mass is most superior and provides ever-lasting effects which assist Catholics in their sanctification.
The argument that an individual who is attending an irreverent Novus Ordo, or even a reverent Novus Ordo will leave the Church if the Traditional Latin Mass is forced upon him seems silly. If he was to leave the Church because of his Mass preferences, than he wasn’t a faithful Catholic to begin with. It is not our job to keep every single Catholic within the Church, but to give those members of the Church who want to become Saints the tools to do so.
Using the water analogy, if a group of people stop drinking water and die of dehydration because they do not want to drink the purified water, than that is the problem of those who are too prideful to admit they are wrong.
Some argue that if the Church immediately moved over from the Novus Ordo, either irreverent or reverent, to the Traditional Latin Mass, it would cause many Catholics to leave the Church. While it is admirable to bring over as many Catholics as possible to the Traditional Latin Mass, it is imperative to realize we are dealing with souls. We aren’t dealing with hydration and the physical body, but rather, with spiritual food and the soul.
It may be better to drink from the polluted river than to die of dehydration, but to keep people from drinking out of the pure stream because they might die of dehydration if we move them over to pure water too soon is a cop out. If people want to stay alive, they will drink the water that is put in front of them. If Catholics truly believe in the Church and her authority, they will attend the Traditional Latin Mass. It might even be time to realize Pope Benedict XVI was correct when he said “From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge—a Church that has lost much. It will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.” If the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian Life, then perhaps the Novus Ordo Mass is the perfect place to start afresh.