The Usus Antiquior and the New Evangelisation

latin-massAt this year’s Sacra Liturgia Conference in Rome, Professor Tracey Rowlands spoke about the Traditional Latin Mass and the New Evangelisation. Here are some highlights of her talk:

“I want to argue that the usus antiquior is an antidote to the ruthless attacks on memory and tradition and high culture, typical of the culture of modernity, and that it satisfies the desire of the post-modern generations to be embedded within a coherent, non-fragmented tradition that is open to the transcendent.”

“The project of the 1960s generation was one of transposing a high sacral language into the vernacular of a low mundane culture, with the result that something sacred became more mundane, and when the sacred becomes mundane, it becomes boring.”

“In wrapping the faith in the forms of the contemporary culture and generally correlating the liturgy to the norms of the mass culture, the 1960s generation of pastoral strategists unwittingly fostered a crisis in liturgical theory and practice.”

“[The 1960s generation] dismantled a high Catholic culture by removing its cornerstone and they left subsequent generations of Catholics in a state of cultural poverty, confusion and boredom.”
“A Catholic who is ignorant of [the usus antiquior] is like a student who majors in English literature but is unfamiliar with Shakespeare.”

“It may be argued that [the] usus antiquior was the one thing that could bring the warring European tribes [of the 20th century] together.”

“[Benedict XVI] compared the pastoral strategy of bringing God down to the level of the people with the Hebrew’s worship of the golden calf and he described this practice as nothing less than a form of apostasy.”

“It would be a major advance if those responsible for liturgical decisions could at least get the message that modernity has not been fashionable since the 1960s.”

“Elements of Catholic culture which were suppressed by the 1960s generation of pastoral leaders are being rediscovered by younger Catholics who treat them like treasures found in their grandmother’s attic.”

“Catholics of the post-modern generations want to know how the Church looked, how the faith was practiced, when there was a coherent Catholic culture.”

“The whole structure of the usus antiquior engenders a deeper sense that there is a sacrifice, not a mere meal… There is really no greater antidote to secularism and what Pope Francis calls a ‘self-referential Christianity’ than a reflection on martyrdom and the sacrifice of Calvary and the Roman Canon sustains a person’s reflection on this reality.”

In an era when globalisation is regarded as a good thing and governments spend millions of dollars of tax-payers’ money to keep alive the memory of minority languages and pre-modern social practices like Morris dancing, the Church should not be ashamed of her own cultural treasures.”

“The usus antiquior should be a standard element of the cultural capital of all Latin Rite Catholics since is so effectively resists secularism and satisfies the post-modern hunger for coherent order, beauty and an experience of self-transcendence.”

“I believe that the proponents of the usus antiquior are often their own worst enemies and foster practices and attitudes which deter many Catholics from attending Masses according to this Form.”

“The obsession with dissecting every minute detail of the event is a symptom of what Joseph Ratzinger called the problem of aestheticism.”

“If pastoral pragmatism and its inherent philistinism is a problem at one end of the spectrum, aestheticism seems to be the problem at the other end of the spectrum.”

“Ordinary Catholics do not want to feel as though in attending the usus antiquior they are making a political stand against the Second Vatican Council.”

“The more [ordinary] people feel as though a whole raft of theo-political baggage comes with attendance at the usus antiquior Masses, the less likely they are to avail themselves of the opportunity to attend them.”

“To evangelise post-modern people [the Christian narrative] has to appear to be something starkly different from the secular culture they imbibe which is a culture parasitic upon the Christian tradition but completely decadent.”

This entry was posted in Latin, Liturgy, Traditional Mass, Year of Faith and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to The Usus Antiquior and the New Evangelisation

  1. Toad says:

    It is sheer sexist prejudice to be dismissive of a serious article simply because it is written by someone named “Tracey.”
    And we want none of this kind of thing!
    (Probably a ‘modernist’ attitude.)

    “…the ruthless attacks on memory and tradition and high culture, typical of the culture of modernity, “
    Really? Modernist (whatever that is) persecution?


  2. Brother Burrito says:

    This is a great article. Raised in my formative years during the spiritual famine of the post conciliar Church of the 60s and 70s, I am left unequipped to fully appreciate the beauty and depth of the UA. I grok that it is good, but it makes me nervous because it is all so new and strange to me, and the cause of so much fighting. The snottiness of some trads is also very off-putting. What keeps me going is the helpfulness and kindness of the vast majority of trads, exemplified by my colleagues here, and elsewhere.

    There is a phenomenon in critical care medicine called “refeeding syndrome”. If a very sick patient is given too much nutrition too quickly, after having only been on fluids for a while, they can develop a dangerous metabolic imbalance, which can kill.

    My advice to the Church is to reintroduce the Usus Antiquior most definitely, for it is very good for us compared to the watery NO, but do it slowly, at least to start with.

    As the patient strengthens, their appetite will improve.

    My parish is having its first ever UA Mass in a few weeks, with a visiting priest presiding.


  3. johnhenrycn says:

    “I grok…”

    Now, I’m not going to google grok, because the work of science fiction it’s from is on cusp of that thing I’m pleased to call my “mind”. I will allow myself one kick of the can…Isaac Asimov’s Foundation?


  4. Brother Burrito says:

    No, it’s not that book, but from the same era and genre.


  5. The Raven says:

    Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein


  6. johnhenrycn says:

    Great book. Great author.


  7. Brother Burrito says:

    Hmmm, a major figure in the story is a tough no nonsense north American attorney. Was the book an inspiration to you, JH?


  8. johnhenrycn says:

    Truth be told, BB, I can’t remember anything about it, except that it made a deep impression on me when I read it on the patio in the Summer of ’66, or thereabouts. As a child, mythology was my first love (hello, Tiddles!) As an adolescent, it was science fiction. As a young man, P.G. Wodehouse. As a middle-aged man, Patrick O’Brian. As an old man…well I’m not quite there yet.


  9. Brother Burrito says:

    The very same sequence as me until I qualified when soul destroying work hours and restorative drinking stopped me reading much at all. Now in middle age and still working long hours, I find that the bleeding internet has destroyed my ability to read books almost completely.

    I need early retirement and getting off the net, urgently.


  10. johnhenrycn says:

    “…the bleeding internet has destroyed my ability to read books almost completely.”

    Don’t I know it! It’s a constantly broken resolution of mine to “blog off ” for 6, or at least 5, days per week, and then to limit my blogging time to an hour or so. If I ever keep to it, it’s not because I value the company on this site any the less. I remember that Joyful Papist never blogged on Sundays, and I think that goes for some others here too.


  11. johnhenrycn says:

    That’s my goal. Never on Sunday. If I follow Melina Mecouri’s rule, everything will be okay.


  12. The Raven says:

    Worryingly similar reading patterns going on here: I started with Greek myths, moved on to Science Fiction and I’m busily re-reading P O’B at the minute (my father “borrowed” my paper copies, which has left me looking at them on my Kindle).

    I preferred Vonnegut to Heinlein; I guess that I’m insufficiently optimistic.


  13. The Raven says:

    I thought Melinda Mercouri’s rule was “never stop asking for the Elgin Marbles and never be seen without a coffin-nail clamped betwixt the lips”?


  14. johnhenrycn says:

    STOP! We’re both wrong. It’s Melina Mercouri (ha!). But you’re right, Raven, it’s the coffin nails what did her in, as Preserved Killick (Aubrey’s steward) would say. Which, it’s not Sunday yet, as he’d also say. I’ve read all of the Aubrey/Maturin series, except the last three or four. Started them again back around the Year Dot, as Dr Maturin would say, and am now up to the Reverse of the Medal for the second time. Should finish them all by the time I reach Toad’s milestone. Oh dear, it’s Sunday now.


  15. Toad says:

    For what it’s worth (quite!) the big literary moment for Toad was discovering Perelman in the 1950’s.

    Good to see Raven back pecking.
    But what is up with our beloved Joyful?
    I worry, you see.
    Old men do.


  16. golden chersonnese says:

    The conference had a facebook page. What ever next? (sorry if anyone’s already said that.)

    Here are their photos. I’ve recognised a few people already:

    (Toad, nearly everybody appears so young!)

    I can see Cardinal Burke, Mons. Keith Newton (Ordinariate) , Bishop Peter Elliot (auxiliary of Melbourne) and Dr Tracey from Melbourne too, Toad.

    Still looking.


  17. Toad says:

    That must be Dr. Tracey in the penultimate picture. For obvious reasons.
    Toad awaits moderation. Oh, the verguenza.


  18. golden chersonnese says:

    Ahem. This is Dr Tracey, Toad.


  19. Roger says:

    The problem is that the essential mystery of the Sacraments has been exposed, The priests role is first to serve God and be a mediator between Man and God. This role of an acceptable mediator is as old as Man. There is a common priesthood (sic the first commandment) but the priest is a Man set appart.
    The training of the priest required years of study. The Temple had the holy of holies and the Court of the Gentiles, a separation between the priest and the laity. In the Church this is the veiled Tabernacle and the priests ground (the altar) . This area has been secularised. The laity their own common area.
    In the 60’s the veil of the Holy of Holies (the altar) was torn!
    Now the altar has lost its sanctity and the Host has become as common as Mother’s Pride.
    This is what happened to the Reformers in England the priesthood became the mediator for the Crown before God (thats Anglicanism). The Protestants go further the preacher (Man) dominates amongst Men and the Pulpit not the altar is more important. Man has replaced God.
    The priest first and formost is as a Man set appart, with His own language(of God) and treading Holy Ground. He is for God and consecrated and dedicated for the purpose of serving the Most High.
    The result has been the Loss of the Holy of Holies and the Court of the Gentiles has extended from its place to occupying the holy of holies. God has been driven out of the Church. The result is loss of Vocations to be firstly the servant of God secondly of man.
    The resulting Loss of Faith is a general Apostacy because the Faith of Our Fathers isn’t that of modern Catholics. You see this with when secular learning is taken as Gospel Truth and the Truth marginalised and called myth. Vatican II was a Pastoral Council BUT was has happened is that the sacrd and the Dogmas have been ditched and dumped.
    But this loss of prayer and penance (which is placed on the priest and the religious) required by God and placed on Man by Adams Sin is being ignored. St Bernadette was told the truth “..promise you happiness not in this world, but in the other..” This great Truth has been losted in the pursuit of happiness of the flesh and the world.
    Man is in the greatest danger because he is ignoring Gods Laws (Anathemas) and lets Not blame the laity here. The failing and blame is with the Shepherds just as it was 2000 years ago with those in Jerusalem.
    Since 1960’s the veil of the Holy Of Holies has been removed.


  20. Paul Rodden says:

    I find Rowland’s words very balanced (but that’s not surprising, as she’s one of our few outstanding theologians).

    Her comment, “I believe that the proponents of the usus antiquior are often their own worst enemies and foster practices and attitudes which deter many Catholics from attending Masses according to this Form.”, is so true, and I’m glad such an renowned theologian is willing to highlight it.

    From my experience, it’s true of nearly every area of Church life they get their prissy/pedantic hands on, too. Despite their orthodoxy, they have a habit of putting fragile, normal Catholics off everything worth believing or doing, so they end up lapsing. I despair.

    Sadly, most of the ‘traditionalists’ I know are cliquey social retards, snobs, or at best, pastorally clueless. Mercifully, if you’re in the home counties, you’re lucky a lot of them leave your parish and commute to Blackfen or Flitwick where they find coteries of like-minds and can ridicule the Novus Ordo plebs,..


  21. kathleen says:

    Sadly, most of the ‘traditionalists’ I know are cliquey social retards, snobs, or at best, pastorally clueless.

    Wow Paul, that’s a rather unfair and harsh criticism of traditional Catholics! Seems to me like you must have met the ‘wrong’ ones. 😉
    Although it is true one can find all types everywhere, I have also found plenty of what one might call ‘liberal’ Catholics, who preach ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ till blue in the face, being anything but tolerant and accepting of any ideas that smack of ‘tradition’ or the (IMO) ‘sublime’ Tridentine Mass.

    Besides, Blackfen is where the indefatigable Fr. Tim Finnigan resides – one of the nicest and most popular parish priests one could find.


  22. Toad says:

    “…cliquey, socially retarded snob,” sounds disconcertingly like Toad.
    Can it be so? Is he an unknowing “Trad?” He always thought he was a “Pleb.”
    Can one be both, perhaps?
    Interesting comment from Paul.
    Kathleen’s response was speedy,


  23. Paul Rodden says:

    Hi kathleen. Thanks for your reply. I’m sure you’re a kind person. I follow this blog as it is excellent, and I do know a handful of good, Traditional Catholic, souls. But…

    …when you say, ‘Besides, Blackfen is where the indefatigable Fr. Tim Finnigan resides – one of the nicest and most popular parish priests one could find.’, I have to say that’s you’re experience and I presume you’re an ‘insider’. That is how cliques or coteries of like minds work.

    I have reports – and experienced and observed myself several years ago – a very different side of him. His behaviour towards those who disagree with him is often plain nasty, and charity isn’t a word I would associate with him if I were an ‘outsider’. He’s clearly against being ‘nice’ as much as Michael Voris 🙂 – even though Michael Voris has a great deal of excellent stuff to say.

    So, I also have to say, ‘It depends where you stand.’, and that is the point I believe Professor Rowland is making.

    “The more [ordinary] people feel as though a whole raft of theo-political baggage comes with attendance at the usus antiquior Masses, the less likely they are to avail themselves of the opportunity to attend them.”

    – That’s exactly what it feels like from ‘outside’ – as a non-‘aesthete’. I was there once, but I would say I was in a position of invincible ignorance rather than dissent. However, Finigan and his cronies at ‘Faith’ were simply nasty to me because I wasn’t were they thought I ought to be. They were so clueless. They couldn’t distinguish ignorance from dissent. They never asked questions to try to find out why I held the views I held, they merely attacked and never trued to befriend.

    They certainly weren’t charitable. They didn’t try to woo me. Instead, they belittled and patronised me and accused me of ‘Modernism’, so it made me dig my heels in. In short, turned me right off, and I can’t tell you how many times I hear of this sort of behaviour by ‘Traddies’ towards other people and the damage it does.

    I have come to orthodoxy despite them. I had to look to the Church rather than their petty nastiness to get over it. I even feel guilty because I can’t stomach how elitist they are, so I can’t face attending EF Masses.

    The one plus, is that the pain they caused me has made me so aware of how caring I have to be towards dissenters – to woo them back with Christ’s love. Rather than whacking them with arguments as if they are merely logical machines rather than persons, or calling them names as if they’re punchbags without hearts – the way I have been treated by those ‘who know better’ – I think they deserve better, however wrong, angry, or misguided they are.

    All I wanted to do was to point out that ‘Traditionalists’ shouldn’t be too quick to pat themselves on the back and think Rowland didn’t mean them…After all, our Holy Father’s clearly not oblivious to it either.


  24. Paul Rodden says:

    In short, if we are to label people, the very Catholics who accuse other Catholics of being Modernists are what Ratzinger would probably refer to as Integrists. For, ‘the problem of aestheticism’ is simply Integrism by another name.


  25. Toad says:

    “Integrism,” eh, Paul.
    We are always happy to squeeze in another “…ism” round here.

    Mind you, the charge of “modernism” is difficult to refute when we are obliged to live in a “modern” age. As people always have done, in fact.

    Or could it be that “modernism” means exactly what each of us wants it to mean, no more no less? And could it be that Toad is repeating himself, again?



  26. kathleen says:

    Thank you for your honest and detailed explanation – I really do appreciate it.

    You make some excellent observations, mainly how absolutely vital it is to put charity first in one’s dealings with those who, er, think differently. And yes, one should always give the other who disagrees with one the benefit of the doubt, that his/her disagreement might well come from a lack of knowledge rather than outright bellicosity. You were a seeker, and these people were impatient and/ or pre-judged you unfairly. I’m really sorry to hear that.

    That said, charity works both ways, and perhaps it would be wise for you to forgive and pray for these people who hurt and snubbed you. They were wrong to do so.
    I truly admire your ability to have discovered orthodox Catholicism in spite of your negative experience with traditional Catholics, and I hope and pray you will develop this further. I am still learning myself! 😉

    I am not in fact “an insider”, in the sense that I have only met Fr. Tim once through a mutual priest friend at this priest’s silver jubilee, but I do know people who know him well, and he is indeed highly thought of by his parishioners and even further afield. I also follow his interesting and informative blog, “The Hermeneutic of Continuity”.

    There are many ‘ways to God’ where Liturgy is concerned, and the NO Mass, when celebrated with reverence is every bit a true path to God too. In my parish we only have an EF Mass on rare occasions. One of the main reasons the Usus Antiquitor rites are so beloved by many is because the language is so unspeakably holy and beautiful. I’m sure you know well the saying: “Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.”


  27. Toad says:

    “It would be a major advance if those responsible for liturgical decisions could at least get the message that modernity has not been fashionable since the 1960s.”

    The message here, from Tracey, appears to be that “those responsible for liturgical decisions” must ensure that their decisions are fashionable ones.

    Is “modernity” different from “modernism”?
    If so,how?



  28. Roger says:

    Thank You Paul.
    Christendom became fragmented and diversive. This wasn’t the fault of the laity but the shepherds and the nobility. What has happened to the word Catholic? Instead there is this tension between Traditionalists so called and Modernists? The key year is 1958 because Pius XII (who saw the need for a Council by the way!) marked the End of a Period in the Church which had followed the Tridentine tradition.
    Note how prescise Fatima was over the year 1960 (when the Council had been called and a new wave of Cardinals appointed) .
    There are sound reasons for the Tridentine Rites and the formation of the priesthood because of the battles fought by the Church in prior eras. Remember this was the fruits of the working of the Holy Ghost.
    We are in a new Era and the greatest danger is from a world that sees itself as New and detached from a Past. A world that has rationalised Religions away and just sees them as fables and myths. The Catholic Church has frankly self destructed since 1960 and that Paul should feel that he is unwelcome is a disgrace.
    Before 1958 change within the Church was ponderous and methodical, but post 1958 it has been like an Earthquake fracturing and dividing.
    What is happening? Well we can answer this because the Church is destined to recreate the Life of Christ, after all it is His mystical Body! The Triumph of the Entry into Jerusalem through to the destruction of the Body (as evidenced by the Shroud) and its burial. The priest lives on the altar and by the altar. His life (not her life) is consecrated to the God and He is the mediator and conduit for the Sacraments. It is in the Communion of the priest that the Holy sacrifice takes place, in the priests mystical heart! Being popular or not is of no consequence it isn’t about the personality of a Man (a Creature) its about a channel for Grace.
    We must now start looking forward to Our Lords return praying for this. His route to Us was through the coming of the Virgin and this is His same route today. The Triumph Of Mary in Our Day is that She is the Path and route chosen by God to bring Christ to this world. It is again through Her that He will return to Resurrect and Heal His fractured Body (the Church).
    And make no mistake the Church is badly fractured and this is the work of Men!


  29. golden chersonnese says:

    The message here, from Tracey, appears to be that “those responsible for liturgical decisions” must ensure that their decisions are fashionable ones.

    I think it was a case of Tracey’s Australian, rather than Canadian, irony, Toad, both of which you’ve obviously got issues with.


  30. Toad says:

    Toad’s “issues” concerning irony, are more empirical that national, Golden. Irony, after all is irony.



  31. Toad says:

    That doesn’t make any sense, does it?


  32. Roger says:

    Toad reference on Modernity and Modernism.
    Modernism we can leave to posterity the Popes have already dealt with this.
    Modernity however has been expressly linked to citizenship. Its a Globally used word and always with this concept of Today in conflict with old (including modernism) values.
    It has an strong Association with Capitalism and Globalism. It is put across as a popular, but in reality is New World Order and since it opposes Christ we can call it (as St Augustine would say ) Bablyon. What distinguishes it from the Past is Global communications and a common vernacular language English. Well Modernity is a Society springing from the world the flesh. Modernity is specifically Social and this equates to Man.
    The Church is also a Society and is the God Man. For a New World Order (New Babel) we have New Jerusalem.
    What will be the Fate of Modernity? Confusion because this is the Anathema against Babel.
    My Faith isn’t entrenched in the Past its eyes are to the Future and the Victory of the Lamb!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s