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Do Real Men Love the Latin Mass?

October 18th, 2010

I ask the indulgence of our non-Catholic readers, for that matter, of our non-traditionalist Catholic readers. This is a completely esoteric post, but here goes.
While I was in Kalamazoo MI this weekend, I went to Latin Mass at Fr. Sirico’s parish, St. Mary’s. Now, this was not the Novus Ordo in Latin, which is what sometimes passes for Latin Mass. This was the Real Deal: a Tridentine Latin High Mass. The priest faces the altar, chants the Mass, including the readings, in Latin, Communion rails, and every week the second Gospel at the end of Mass, a chanting of the Prologue to John’s Gospel. Beautiful, reverent, mysterious. As Fr. Sirico says, don’t worry about what’s going on, just worship God.
I was told by the locals that men are particularly attracted to the Tridentine Mass. Why should that be? My first thought is that the old Mass has none of the fluffy stuff from the post-Vatican II era, no hand-shaking, no guitars, no fake friendliness. All that stuff was supposed to make the Mass more “accessible” may have had the effect of making the Mass more feminine. But I’m just guessing.
So here are my questions for my readers.
First, is it true that guys are particularly drawn to the old Latin Mass?
Second, if it is true, why is that?

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  1. October 18th, 2010 at 18:31 | #1

    As a 46 year old man, I am not particularly attracted to the Latin Mass. This is not because I prefer the “feminine” style of worship that seems to be pervasive in our masses. Rather, I prefer to participate in my worship. And I prefer to do it from the midst of an active community. Yeah, the kind of community that shakes hands, tries to be friendly and charitable, and seeks to live in love.

    You mentioned “Fr. Sirico says, don’t worry about what’s going on, just worship God.” It’s difficult to work past the arrogance in the statement. It’s almost like he’s saying, “I get it, even if you don’t. Don’t worry, I’ll intercede for you. You just sit there.”

    That’s not how I live my faith.
    That’s not how I worship.

    If that’s the Latin High Mass, I’ll continue to endure the feminine modern mass. Why? Because I want to be an ACTIVE participant, not a passive observer. At least it lets me do that.

    At the risk of sounding harsh, maybe that’s why it might be attractive to certain men — the experience so closely resembles their living room couch. Don’t have to be emotionally involved with other people. Just watch until the show’s over.

  2. MRP12
    October 18th, 2010 at 19:34 | #2

    My husband and I attend a Latin Novus Ordo Mass. We have a communion rail (that we use), no guitars, and no hand-shaking (yay). We BOTH love it. I just wish it was a novus ordo ad orientem (which I used to attend at a diff. city). So, I’m really not sure if it’s a gender thing.

  3. October 18th, 2010 at 19:52 | #3


    I like Latin in the Mass. For us moderns, it signifies the unity of the Church across space and time. I made sure that my father’s funeral Mass last week included Latin antiphons and a Latin ordinary, because we all knew he liked that too. Like father, like son. But it was a Novus Ordo Latin Mass, which I prefer.

    I remember the Tridentine Mass from my childhood, and I don’t like it any more now than I did then. Why? Simple: it causes me to feel like a spectator at a performance, not a co-worshipper with the priest. Most of the time I can’t hear what the priest is saying, and a good deal of the time I can’t even see what he’s doing. Some people of both sexes like that because it means they can be wrapped up in their prayers without having to bother much about anything but receiving the Eucharist. I don’t begrudge them that. I’m not opposed to the Pope’s provision for “Extraordinary Form.” I even think the priest should face “ad orientem” when addressing God on the people’s behalf. But my style is more “active” than that of the traditionalists: I like to hear everything that’s being said and see everything that’s going on. That makes it easier for me to feel involved in what’s going on. And far more Catholics feel that way than the opposite.

    More generally, though, I think you’re right to suspect that a lot of men don’t like the vernacular Novus Ordo Mass. Yet in my experience, that’s not due to the vernacular or the priest facing “ad populum.” It’s because parish life, even the music, has become so feminized. I’ve been part of many parishes in which the sanctuary at Sunday is awash with women who don’t really need to be there. Most of the hymns are sappy and can only be sung tolerably by trained sopranos–unlike Latin plainchant, or even the good old Anglican hymns in English. All that is relatively recent in Church history. Also, most parish volunteers are women, but that’s always been the case, because far more women than men have time for such things. The upshot is that Catholic parish life, including what goes on at Mass, is not appealing for most “manly” men. They have to force themselves to be there.


  4. Richard Munro
    October 18th, 2010 at 22:59 | #4

    I am old enought (54) to remember the beauty and mystery and music of the Tridentine Mass. I even have a recording of John Paul II doing a Latin Mass (the real deal as you say0 and also Father Sidney MacEwan (a Scottish priest from Glasgow who was also a recording artist and a friend of John McCormack he was at his death bed and sang for him ISLAND MOON…). I love listening to it and I love listening to the Gregorian Chants. I was married in Spain and as we had a mixed audience we did most of the songs in Latin which everyone knew. It was joyous to see Scottish-Americans, Irish-Americans , Argentines, Italians and Spanish all singing the same Latin hymns together. My wife’s aunt a nurse-nun sang AVE MARIA even my lapsed Catholic father got into the act and wept saying it reminded him of his mother (he used to attend Mass every Sunday in his kilt). I think the old Mass was more masculine so was the old Douey Rheims (don’t remember the spelling) Bible. There is a lot of PC today and junk 70’s “youth music. My favorite Mass is the Spanish Mass at our Church because is is more lively and has better music. But I will say this I have been in Mass many places even with Jennifer Roback Morse AND Father Siricio..at San Juan Capistrano..I have been in Mass in most of the Catholic Countries of Western Europe and in Canada. ..on US Navy Ships on US Marine Corps bases….at Fr. Meyer July 4 1976…at Iona (yes there is a Catholic Chapel)… and St. Mungo’s in Glasgow.and as long as there is the Body of Christ in community and in the Eucharist and in the Our Father and I can say the Hail Mary….and look up to see the images of the saints and Holy Family I know I am home. I forgive the digressions to pop culture and wimpiness.

    I do not expect trumpets or magnificence at my Masses; I only expect to come closer to my God and commune with the Saints. But do I vote for LATIN Masses and Spanish Masses the answer is yes. If I never went to another “Youth English” Mass in my life that would be ok by me. PANIS ANGELICUS FOR ME and UBI CARITAS and also the Gaelic Hymns of Father MacDonald (who baptized my father’s mother in Oban, Argyll circa 1890). Listen to Kathleen MacInnes sing STAR OF THE SEA sometime…just gorgeous. DIA AGUS MUIRE DUIBH…May God and Mary be with you!

  5. Alberto González
    October 19th, 2010 at 03:03 | #5

    I wouldn’t say that I’m so much drawn to the Extraordinary Form (EF for short, aka TLM) per se as I am drawn to any liturgy that is done reverently. I grew up with the Ordinary Form, and still feel most comfortable with it. However, it is important to realize that the OF can and should be celebrated with all the same reverence and dignity as the EF; our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI is proving to the entire world that that is indeed the case. Just look at any papal Mass, be it from the Vatican, or nowadays, even from His Holiness’ apostolic journeys. This very positive trend has made me consider going to World Youth Day in Spain next year, when previously I might have shunned such a thing for being too much like a “Catholic Woodstock.”

    That said, I do love the EF and frequent it on occasion, though my own personal preference is a Latin OF, or even an OF in the vernacular so long as it is very well done. (I found that the Solemn Liturgy at the Basilica in DC is amongst the best examples of this anywhere in the world, even though the priest’s homilies sometimes fall a bit short.)

    Also, I see what you mean by saying that the Guitars-R-Us crowd that hijacked American Catholicism in the 60’s has feminized the Mass. The breakdown of orthodoxy has certainly pulled us away from objective reality in favor of a more emotional thing. Here, we could point out that the nature of women certainly makes them gravitate more toward the emotional than would be the case with men, so your comment makes sense. However, (and I know you will agree), it would be an injustice to say that femininity is necessarily defined by the Kumbayah Khorale. Let’s not kill the hope for those orthodox Catholic men who are looking for decent spouses!

  6. Alberto González
    October 19th, 2010 at 03:15 | #6

    Also, I’d like to add that I very much agree with Michael’s assessment. I feel a bit like a spectator at the EF, but I blame myself for that and not the liturgy; I’ve been conditioned to the OF. I want to teach myself to feel equally comfortable in both forms of the Roman Rite.

    I will say that I made a major breakthrough in accomplishing this goal when I spent the summer in DC. One Sunday, I visited the Parish of St. John the Divine in McLean, VA. The pastor there is Fr. Paul Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. This is one of the most brilliant priests I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. This parish celebrates the EF, but in a way I had never experienced. The way it is celebrated here has all the reverence one would expect at the EF, but at the same time, it draws the worshipers in because the prayers are recited clearly, audibly and slowly. The whole Mass is done this way.

    Also, I would dare say that this church has given me an impression that a circular layout can actually serve a useful purpose in the liturgy. Normally, I detest these layouts, but this church (a modern construction) has been completely redesigned so that it looks like a true house of worship. The circular orientation keeps everyone closer to the sanctuary and lets us see what the priest is doing, which of course is an element that often gets lost in the EF. I felt very drawn in, and I can say that I felt very much at home at that Mass. It gave me a whole new outlook on the EF. When a circular layout does this rather than reinforce the “community mentality,” I might actually be compelled to say, “Well done.” (Even though I might still bash it a little for aesthetic reasons.)

  7. October 29th, 2010 at 07:26 | #7

    I am an active Catholic.

    Active in Catholic social action as a 4th degree Knight of Columbus.

    Active in worship, through Eucharistic Adoration, Rosary and the Mass

    I am an active Catholic, that is why I love the Traditional Latin Mass.

    I just go there to worship. No hand shaking, no cheesy stuff.

    I do not attend the Traditional Latin Mass to OBSERVE. I go to Mass to pray.

    Because the Mass is Calvary once again, and I am there beside Mary and John at the foot of the cross.

    Because for me, the worship of God does not have to be your after Mass fellowship. Because that happens AFTER Mass, where TRUE Christian fellowship and TRUE FAITH IN ACTION counts the most!

    That was how the saints prayed and lived the Faith, and that is how I will do it.

    Thank the Lord for Summorum Pontificum!

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