• Monica Smit

Novus Ordo vs Traditional Latin Mass in North and Central America

This article is written based on my personal experiences attending different masses while road tripping North and Central America. 

I have a few comments I’d like to share about my experiences so far. The idea of sharing is to encourage a few small changes that I wholeheartedly believe could make a huge difference in every congregation. 

First thing I want to say is…the Traditional Latin Mass is doing something right. At these masses, I see people of ALL ages. The churches are always full, the children are well-behaved, and the church is peaceful and quiet even when it’s full. People are always dressed modestly and conduct themselves with reverence. 

At Novus Ordo masses, people are often chit-chatting before, during and after mass, even when I am kneeling and praying right in front of them. Hardly anyone kneels after communion and as soon as the priest leaves the church, people start talking like it’s their living room.

I am not overexaggerating when I say that I have seen less then 5 young adults in the 10+ Novus Ordo masses I’ve been to. People are not always dressed modestly, and the churches are often less than half full. 

One noticeable thing that BOTH masses are lacking is a welcoming committee of any sort. If I don’t walk up to people after mass, NO ONE would talk to me. I purposely stand in an obvious place wearing a welcoming smile without my phone in my hand. Only at ONE Novus ordo church in Nova Scotia did someone introduce themselves to me straight after mass. 

PLEASE CONSIDER STARTING A WELCOMING COMMITTEE OF SOME SORT AT YOUR CHURCH. Have ONE person at every mass willing to introduce themselves to anyone who looks new. If I was close to converting and went to a church where no one said hello, that could be the deciding factor for me. You just never know…please I beg of you, welcome new people!!! It could be the difference between heaven and hell for that person.

A not-so-inspiring aspect of Latin masses I’ve attended is the singing. In a high mass, the congregation is meant to sing the responses along with the choir. At a few of the churches, I was too embarrassed to sing because no one else was. I’m not a shy person, so If I’m embarrassed to sing, I’m sure a lot of others are too. I would love to hear priests encourage their congregation to sing with more valour. Even if they don’t have a good voice, singing is a higher form of prayer and creates a prayerful ambience. It’s also a good example to the children who are observing their elders. 

The purpose of writing this article is to highlight that the Latin Mass really does ‘stand out’ to me all around the world. The dress-code, reverence and presence of God seems to be at an optimal level. Every time I am lucky enough to attend a Latin mass, the fire in my soul is re-ignited. 

If we just sang with more vigour and introduced ourselves to newcomers, we could make a huge difference in someone’s life. 

Every time religion comes up in conversation with a lapse or practising Novus Ordo Catholic, they tend to make a similar comment;

“The problem with the church is that it hasn’t changed with the times, it hasn’t evolved, it hasn’t modernised enough”.

My response is;

“I’m sorry but I disagree, I think the problem with the church is that it changed TOO MUCH. The Traditional Latin mass HASN’T changed, and as a result, it has full churches with members of all ages. In fact, change is not the answer…TRADITION IS THE ANSWER”

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