Don’t Over-Romanticize the Pre-Vatican II Era

By pintswaquinas January 10, 2024

Many Catholics go to the Traditional Latin Mass because of its beauty and reverence, which they rightly contrast with the many abuses in Novus Ordo parishes. They drive past their neighborhood Novus Ordo parish to attend the Latin Mass an hour or more away.

But bad priests who celebrate careless liturgies have always existed, even when the Traditional Latin Mass was the norm prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). If we’re not careful, our minds may form distorted perceptions of how “good” things were before the council.

Masses were rushed.
We have reports of Masses before Vatican II that were rushed and where the priest didn’t seem invested in the sacred actions. Some priests chose to do the requiem Mass for their daily Mass simply because it was shorter.

Many were inattentive.
Much of the Mass was silent. There is a certain beauty to that, but many people were disengaged and waiting for Mass to end rather than carefully following the liturgy and praying. Even before the council, the Church was encouraging people to be more attuned to the prayers and sacred actions happening at the altar.

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None of this is meant to suggest that the liturgical changes that came after Vatican II were good or even needed. It simply serves as a caution against having an overly sanitized view of the Church of the past.

The Church has always gone through ups and downs. Yes, some periods of Church history were better than today. Others were arguably worse.

Just don’t let an overly rosy view of the past tempt you to separate from the Body of Christ.


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