Tensions are once again brewing between lovers of the Traditional Latin Mass and those who are suspicious or dismissive of it.
For a while, Traditionalists had the support of Pope Benedict XVI. Under Pope Francis, more restrictions have been placed on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. Many Traditionalists now feel alienated from the Vatican.
But recently, famed actor and filmmaker Shia LaBeouf came forward and expressed his love for the Traditional Latin Mass. He credits it with helping him embrace Catholicism.
Of course, having such a major celebrity praise the Traditional Latin Mass is both very rare and definitely a morale booster for Traditionalists.
Here are some reasons Shia LaBeouf gives for loving the Latin Mass (and reasons you may want to check out such a Mass yourself). They come from a recent interview the actor did with Bishop Robert Barron.
1. It doesn’t feel too salesy
Shia LaBeouf mentions that it doesn’t “feel like they’re selling me a car” when he attends a Traditional Latin Mass. He contrasts this with many parishes’ over-the-top attempts to popularize the Mass through such things as guitar Masses.
The underlying idea here is that we’ve seen many parishes, in an attempt to be “relevant,” trying way too hard to appeal to modern-day Catholics. Nobody likes someone who’s too salesy. It comes off as inauthentic. And people today value authenticity.
The Latin Mass doesn’t change to embrace each new fad. It mostly stays the same. And that’s very refreshing.
2. It lets you in on something very special
Shia LaBeouf doesn’t really specify what he means here, but he compares it to discovering a new band. He notes that you feel resistant when a band is pushed on you. It’s another thing to find a band that resonates with something deep inside you.
One thing you often hear from Latin Mass devotees is that finding it made them feel connected with the great heritage of the Church in a way many New Order Masses didn’t. (Not that the New Order Mass can’t produce this effect, but many priests just don’t put in the effort.)
At the Traditional Latin Mass, you have Gregorian chant and prayers that go back to the early days of the Church. There just seems to be more of an emphasis on embracing our amazing heritage.
3. The silence
We live in a world of constant noise and stimulation. So many people are afraid of silence. We continually run background music and videos as we browse the web and do chores.
But if we don’t learn to encounter silence, we remain shallow. Silence forces us to confront the deepest recesses of our hearts — where the voice of God whispers to us.
The Latin Mass contains many beautiful moments of silence, many more than the New Order Mass. For many people, this helps them experience God more directly.
While we’re not saying you have to prefer the Traditional Latin Mass over the New Mass, it still deserves the respect of every Catholic. Pope Benedict XVI emphasized this point when he said, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too.”
Whatever you make of Shia LaBeouf’s conversion, he brings up some great points about the Traditional Latin Mass that every Catholic should consider. And it should also inspire New Mass parishes to make sure they are making their own liturgy as beautiful and reverent as it can be.