I was born into the Traditional Liturgy, but was swept along into the explosion of experimentation occasioned by the advent of the Novus Ordo well before I was aware enough to appreciate its predecessor. Decades later, I began attending the Traditional Mass, sometime in the late 90’s, at a small mission church in Hawaii. I wish I could say that my reason for doing this evolved from some sort of deep understanding of the value of the Traditional Mass, but instead I have to admit that the driving force initiating this change was simply sheer irritation with many aspects of the Novus Ordo Mass as it was practiced at the time. Although I realize now how little I understood then of the actions and prayers investing that Traditional Mass, I immediately felt the solemn beauty and inherent reverence of that Mass.
One thing that I found most striking about the Traditional Mass was the demeanor of the attendees. These people were obviously serious Catholics. They were almost all dressed as if Mass was a special occasion. They bowed in respect when the priest processed by them on the way in and out of the Church. They came early to Mass, and afterwards, instead of hurrying out of the pews, they knelt back down again to fully embrace the Holy Eucharist they had just received. Before Mass, the church was quiet, and the many early arrivals were praying intensely or going to confession. There was none of the pre-Mass casual chatter commonly experienced amidst the pews in most Catholic churches today. They paid attention to the action in the Mass and to the homily. It was so unusual to experience, in certain parts of the Mass, a profound, worshipful silence. Even the children, of whom there were many, seemed to know that silence was imperative. It is a truth of nature that it is utterly impossible for some little fellows to stay still – but even they managed to stay quiet while squirming.
It became quite clear to me that people like this were not the typical Catholics of today – that is, that majority of Catholics who have rejected Catholic moral teaching and whose beliefs are indistinguishable from those of the unchurched pagan populace which supports abortion, contraception, aberrant sexual practices and faux-genderism, and most sadly, who have no idea that the Holy Eucharist is nothing less than the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Himself. And that is what got me to thinking that the Traditional Mass is going to lead the recovery of the Church in its journey out of the chaos of the last six decades – it is undeniable that this liturgy has an incredible impact on the people who experience it.
I do not mean in any way to denigrate those faithful and orthodox Catholic priests and laity who pray the Holy Mass in the Novus Ordo form. I know of vibrant Novus Ordo parishes filled with fervent Catholics. In fact, it seems to me rather a heroic and miraculous thing – these Catholics have somehow managed to retain their faith without benefit of the full-strength Mass of the Ages. I can only surmise that parishes and priests like these must have fostered a sturdy spiritual base of truly devout Catholic families which were able to nurture the faith across successive generations. However, such parishes are the exception rather than the rule.
The attack on the Mass that commenced with Traditionis Custodes makes me more certain than ever that the Traditional Mass will be at the forefront of the recovery of the Church. If the Traditional Mass did not have the capability to make a significant impact, then it would not be a target worthy of such an intense assault. And that brings me to the question as to why the Traditional Mass has the horsepower that it does: what exactly is it about the Traditional Mass that captures the attention and so powerfully influences the behavior of those who worship within its confines?
I think the answer has to do with Tradition – not “tradition,” meaning nothing more than a nostalgic hankering after the way things used to be, which is frequently and mistakenly thought to be a hallmark of traditional Catholics. The potency of the Traditional Mass is a consequence of that same Tradition which is the indispensable spouse of Holy Scripture, and which has been the mighty bulwark that has always protected the Deposit of the Faith and the unity of the Church. The Holy Scripture that we read today has been contemplated and pondered and lived and taught and handed down by generation upon generation of saints and apostles and martyrs and prophets who have fallen on their knees in their encounter with our Lord. There is a beautiful and compelling section of the Te Deum that portrays this dynamic of Tradition working down through the ages:
“Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;
The Father, of an infinite Majesty.
Thine honourable, true, and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.”
That very same Sacred Tradition has reverently wrought the Traditional Mass into a majestic composition of prayer, prayer connecting us directly to the living Word Himself. As opposed to the Novus Ordo, the Traditional Mass is not a conglomeration of hastily cobbled-together innovations and creative options grafted on to the stripped-down skeleton of its former self, developed in a mere few years after the Council by a Freemasonic archbishop,  and in blatant disregard of the requirements of the governing document from Vatican Council II, Sacrosanctum Concilium.  Peter Kwasniewski’s recent article absolutely destroys the fiction that the Novus Ordo was a product of the Council.  The Council fathers did not intend to dismantle this precious Traditional liturgy handed down to us from our Christian forbears. Rather, they were keenly attentive to the necessity for adherence to Tradition in the development of Holy Mass. They specifically required that new developments in the Mass were to proceed naturally from the Mass as it already existed:
“Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.” [emphasis added] 
The Traditional liturgy represents the practice and expression of worship perfected by devoted followers of Jesus over the course of two millenia. Michael Fiedrowicz’ detailed documentation of the development of the Mass reveals the depth and breadth of that painstaking process.  The Traditional Mass exhibits its force and power because that accumulated wisdom of the ages perfectly focuses and presents to us Jesus’ Sacrifice. It is a priceless treasure. It has to rank among the greatest works of humankind. No wonder it speaks so eloquently to those who are willing to listen, who are located here in the 21st century amidst the din of accumulating chaos and moral aberration and abandonment of the natural order of life established for us by God.
There is one other very important reason that the Traditional Mass will be the liturgy leading Catholics into the future: it is not vulnerable, as is the Novus Ordo, to further drastic change. In the broad sweep of Christian history, the Novus Ordo was engineered in a mere moment, and was used to introduce radical revisions to the Christian liturgy, revisions which countered the march of Sacred Tradition. The precipitous and uncontrolled means by which the Novus Ordo was built established a precedent for further wholesale change, against which the Novus Ordo is defenseless.
And now the Novus Ordo liturgy, impoverished as it is but nevertheless the primary liturgy of the entire Roman Catholic Church here in the 21st century, faces a new juggernaut of change. There is an ambitious new enterprise rising among us, known as the Synod on Synodality. As best I can tell, this new action by the leadership of the Church is designed specifically to call into question every aspect of Catholic practice and faith. The guiding documents call for “listening” to those in the “margins,” and it appears that those “margins” include any and all, whether or not they live the Catholic faith. A few courageous Catholics have warned of the possible dire consequences,  but most seem to be oblivious. Who knows what new forms of liturgy will come into being, as the Novus Ordo is steamrolled by the suggestions of the “marginalized?” And who knows what new “interpretations” of established doctrine will spawn from Synodality run amuck? It is not simply the Traditional Mass that is being attacked – it is Sacred Tradition itself. Some will say that this is nothing new – it has been ongoing since the Council. Historian Henry Sire, while meticulously documenting the “unmaking” of Catholic Tradition, in 2015 optimistically thought that within a generation “the Mass of ages will have been restored to its central place in the life of the Church . . .”.  However, that prediction was made before the leadership of the Church had revealed its utter antipathy toward the Traditional Mass and before the ramifications of the spasms of synodality had begun to become apparent.
And so the Church faces an unstable and uncertain future, one in which the decline in Catholic practice and faith is likely to continue unabated. As Auguste Meyrat recalls, Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1969 prediction of a much diminished and more vulnerable Catholic Church now appears prophetic.  Therefore, at a time in which confusion reigns and devils swarm, I say look to the Mass of the Ages as an anchor that we can cling to and a beacon we can look to as the world darkens around us.
- Kwasniewski, Peter. “Was the chief architect behind the New Mass a Freemason? New evidence emerges.” LifeSite News. October 12, 2020.
- Di Pippo, Gregory. “Summorum Pontificum at Fourteen: Its Legacy.” Crisis Magazine. July 7, 2021.
- Kwasniewski, Peter. “Daringly Balanced on One Point: The New Papal Letter on Liturgy.” OnePeterFive. June 29, 2022.
- Paul VI. “CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM.” The Vatican. December 4, 1963, # 23. https://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html
- Fiedrowicz, Michael. The Traditional Mass: History, Form and Theology of the Classical Roman Rite. Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press. 2020.
- Haynes, Michael. “Former Vatican adviser warns synod on synodality could lead to ‘chaos’, ‘ecclesial worldwide mess’.“ LifeSite News. October 21, 2021.
- Sire, H. J. A. Phoenix from the Ashes. Kettering, OH: Angelico Press. 2015, page 461.
- Meyrat, Auguste. “The Promise of a Post-Covid Church.” Crisis Magazine. August 31, 2020.