The Tridentine Masterpiece

 “Nam oportet et hæreses esse.” (1 Cor 11:19).  “It is fitting that there be heresies, so that those who are true, may be manifested among you.” 

How appropriate is this sentiment of St. Paul’s when we apply it to the Ecumenical Council of Trent.

In the annals of difficult ecclesiastical births, none was so trying as the effort to marshal a council following the dawn of the Protestant Reformation.  Even when it met it was plagued by intermittent attendance, sickness, military threats, and political machinations.  Yet 450 years ago, on 4 December 1563, after sporadic meetings lasting over eighteen years, the Council of Trent closed its deliberations and forwarded its decisions to Rome for Papal approval.  What it accomplished during those eighteen is staggering.  If all the other 20 ecumenical synods were put together, they would not equal the dogmatic output of the Tridentine Council.  In terms of Church doctrine, no Council has had a wider effect.

The implications of this go much further however.  Trent did not even begin to meet until twenty-five years had elapsed since Martin Luther’s excommunication.  For reasons that included politics, geography, fear of conciliarism, and lack of papal leadership, the Council was severely delayed.  During that time large sections of the Church were ripped away: Germany, Poland, the Low Countries, Switzerland, Britain, and Scandinavia.  By the time the Fathers of Trent assembled, those areas were gone, though a few would later be patiently recovered for the Church.

With that said however, this generational delay allowed the Church time to collect her thoughts.  The great theologians of the Mendicant orders (and the young Jesuits) began to focus their efforts to create a comprehensive answer to the Protestant challenge.  The Council would be no knee jerk reaction, nor a mere repeat of the ineffectual Lateran V.  The theologians and bishops came to Trent with a thorough understanding of the theological issues at stake, a firm grasp of Protestant claims, and a sober realization of the seriousness of the task which lay before them.  In a certain sense, the delay of Trent was a providential blessing.

Council_of_Trent_by_Pasquale_Cati 1588While the postponement of the Council was keenly felt throughout Christendom, and though the sessions were at times tense, the outcome was astonishing.  There exists no area of Catholic life that the Council did not address, refine, or reform.  Dogmatically, things which were assumed for over a millennium were defined for the first time (or reaffirmed definitively and solemnly).  The canon of scripture—including the Deuterocanonicals—was proclaimed, along with the septenary number of the sacraments.  Apostolic Traditions were held to be received with equal reverence to the scriptures.  Of course all of these had been accepted immemorially, but Trent re-established them as cornerstones of the Catholic faith.

Of course the Council was eager to address the particular claims of the Lutheran and Reformed movements, but in reality it went much deeper than that.  Instead of merely anathematizing heretical tenets, the Fathers of Trent took the occasion to root their answers in a wholesale reaffirmation of lived, hierarchical, traditional, liturgical, and mystical Christianity.   Nor was the Council needlessly divisive; in clarifying the faith they had no desire further to alienate those outside the fold.  For example, the first decrees it issued were condemnations of Pelagianism, the same heresy Luther himself attacked as latent in late medieval scholasticism.  The Council reasserted the Augustinian position that first grace is absolutely unmeritable by us.  Following that however the Fathers took up a wholesale defense of the intrinsic nature of Justification, that we are really made new creations in Christ, grafted into him and regenerated and, with our graced wills now freely able to do good, merit a real claim to eternal life.  The Tridentine documents on Original Sin and Justification are some of the most theologically sophisticated works ever to be produced by an Ecumenical Council.

Following upon these pivotal decrees the Council turned its attention to the ordinary means of justification and sanctification: the sacraments.  Their grace-conferring characters were confirmed.  Transubstantiation received a substantial defense while the sacrificial nature of the Mass was firmly established.  The Council confirmed the value of celibacy and tightened Church law regarding Marriage.

This is only a sampling of the dozens and dozens of dogmatic decisions reached by the Council, but it is well to draw attention to the manner in which these decisions were framed.  In the first place the Council truly wished to cast these ideas in such a way that Protestants—suspicious of scholastic subtleties—would be able to appreciate.  One of the striking achievements of Trent was that the Council managed to communicate the substance of the medieval Christian tradition without the cumbrous scaffolding of scholastic terminology.  Rather the documents of the Council are filled with the language of the Bible and of the Fathers.  This is an underappreciated aspect of the Council which anticipates the genuine desire for mutual ecumenical understanding, while at the same time taking seriously the Church’s duty to safeguard the deposit of faith.

Trent should also not be seen as an authoritarian Council, intended to reduce Catholic intellectual life to mere rote obedience.  There were many theological traditions represented at Trent: Thomists, Scotists, Augustinians, devotees of the via moderna of Ockham, and even some inclined to the more extrinsic, imputational theories of the Protestants.  The Fathers in their decisions retained Catholic dogma, while permitting a wide latitude of interpretation about that dogma within the various theological schools of Christendom.  Far from silencing theology, Trent merely set the boundaries of the “garden,” within which the thinkers of the Church were free to meet and explore the depths of revelation.

Equally significant were the decrees of Reform that the Council accomplished.  What the Tridentine Fathers brought about was no mere “Counter-Reformation” as it has sometimes been derisively called.  Trent was no reflexive reactionary gathering attempting to circle the wagons.  Rather Trent was the culmination of a period of “Catholic Reform” which had its roots long before Luther, and could be seen in the rise of observant Religious orders, in the purified Church in Spain, and in the great humanistic and artistic achievements of the Renaissance.  Trent set its seal of approval on all of these movements, consolidated them, and gave them an impetus which was to last for hundreds of years.

Indeed it was only after the conclusion of the Council in 1563 that we begin to discern its epoch-making effects.  A congregation was set up for the implementation of Conciliar decrees (today the Congregation for the Clergy).  Under its supervision seminaries were created for the first time, leading to the professionalization of the clergy, instructing them in theology, philosophy, Latin, and canon law, and equipping them to keep their congregations Catholic and to begin to win back those fallen away.  Great reforming bishops like Charles Borromeo and Francis de Sales, fired by the Council’s mandate, reformed their dioceses from top to bottom, providing models of episcopal leadership that would endure well into the modern world.  The incomparable Roman Catechism was written for parish priests, to help them instruct the laity and catechize them in a systematic way for the first time in history, with the aim of beginning the theological education of the lay members of the Church.  The artistic, musical, and mystical traditions of the Church were reaffirmed and given new life and new forms.  The insights of humanism aided in the revision of Jerome’s Vulgate bible, and St. Pius V undertook the great streamlining of the Latin liturgy and Divine Office.  While partisans of medieval liturgical pluralism might blanch a bit at the homogenization of the Roman liturgy, one cannot deny the tremendous success of the Missal of Pius V, particularly in the mission territories.

The Council of Trent did indeed stanch the bleeding.  Northern Europe was gone, however the spirit which the assembly breathed into the Church stopped the spread of Protestantism, and indeed helped whole territories to be won back to the Church, such as Poland and southwest Germany.  More importantly it equipped the Church for worldwide expansion.  For every Protestant lost, 10 souls were gained—in Asia, in Africa, in the Americas.  Trent was a missionary revolution, producing a streamlined, purified Church, free of the corrupting accretions of the late medieval period.  It was also that rarest of things in Church history: a Council of Concord.  We are used to the fruits of a Council being disorder and chaos, and Church history supports our present experience—one need only look to the confusion following Nicea and Ephesus, or the conciliarist councils of the fifteenth century.  Trent was different.  Its spirit inspired a whole age of the Church, lasting hundreds of years.  Nominalist historians have derisively called it the “invention of the Roman Catholicism,” as if Trent fundamentally altered the faith.  In spite of their inaccuracy they identify a central point.  Trent stamped its ineffaceable image upon Catholicism, but it was successful not because it innovated, but rather was able to present that faith “once for all delivered to the saints” in ways that were perfectly suited to its place in history.  Even though responding to new challenges and situations, Catholicism will indeed be “Tridentine” forever.

Editor’s note: The image above depicting the Council of Trent was painted by Pasquale Cati in 1588.

Donald S. Prudlo


Donald S. Prudlo is Associate Professor of Ancient and Medieval History at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. He is also Assistant Professor of Theology and Church History at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. His specialty is saints and sainthood in the Christian tradition, and he is the author of The Martyred Inquisitor: The Life and Cult of Peter of Verona (Ashgate, 2008) and has recently edited The Origin, Development, and Refinement of Medieval Religious Mendicancies (Brill, 2011).

  • lifeknight

    I possess a copy of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, but have looked to it for clarification only twice in several years. After reading this article I will dust it off and use it more often. Thank you for a glimpse of the council that gave us the Traditional Latin Mass!

    • jacobhalo

      I am not thankful for Vatican II who changed the Latin Mass into a protestantized mass.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        I’ll bet there are many local priests who in the 1500s said the same thing about Trent destroying local cultural additions to the mass.

        • jacobhalo

          The disaster with Vatican II’s changing of the mass is that they protestantized it. With Ecumenism, It wanted to placate the Protestants. Don’t forget, there were 6 protestant ministers who were “observers” on the Liturgical committee.

          • TheodoreSeeber

            And the disaster with Trent was suppression of local custom. Everything old is new again. There were plenty of Protestants “observing” the liturgical committees at Trent as well- including not a few modernists.

            • jacobhalo

              There were protestants at the Council of Trent, but they had no influence as did the protestants at Vatican II. Ecumenism during the days of Trent meant trying to convert other Christian denominations to Catholicism. Ecumenism has taken on a new meaning.

              • TheodoreSeeber

                “they had no influence”

                Hahahahaha- the Council of Trent would never have happened without the Protestant Rebellion; you must have heresy to create new and novel doctrine.

                The only people doing any converting prior to trent were soldiers and kings.

                • jacobhalo

                  Did the Council of Trent change its mass to look like a protestant service? The Council of Trent strengthen the church. Vatican II was a disaster.

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    Talk to the Eastern Orthodox about the Protestantism of the Council of Trent sometime.

                • jacobhalo

                  There was a reason for the Council of Trent-The Reformation. There was no reason for Vatican II. The church was vibrant: high mass attendance, full Catholic schools, full seminaries, convents, long lines a confession. What do we have after Vatican II? the opposite. Empty seminaries, convents, schools, no one at confession. These are the fruits of Vatican II? What a disaster!!

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    Those were the fruits of Trent during the first 18 years as well.

                    • jacobhalo

                      Vatican II is working on 50 years, with no relief in sight.

          • Bono95

            How many Catholic clergy were on that same committee?

            • jacobhalo

              There should not have been any protestants. Do you see how the protestants ministers influenced the changes in the mass? The mass has lost its identity.

              • Art Deco

                Agreed, though I think less due to the content of the texts than to a loss of a set of regular expectations. You can have a reasonably dignified NO Mass, but the parish clergy and the busy types in your local congregation prefer not to. As wretched as our bishops can be, the palpable problems we have are generally due to the exercise of discretion by slovenly and silly parish clergy.

              • Bono95

                “the Mass has lost its identity”
                Really? Than how come I was able to tell from the first Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation onwards that I can remember that I was attending Mass, despite the fact that I had never been to a Latin Mass of any sort until 1 year ago and had never attended a true Tridentine Mass until early this fall?

                I like the Tridentine Form, but the rather uncharitable attitude some people who really like it have towards the NO and those like me who grew up with and have a liking for that form is rather off-putting. If you want to get me and people like me to appreciate the Tridentine Mass more, trashing the perfectly valid Novus Ordo form, a fully legitimate and inspired Council of the Catholic Church, and implicitly regarding Catholics who attend often, prefer, or have any liking for a Mass where the prayers are in the vernacular, the congregation participates, and the priest faces the people is not the way to do it.

                • Bono95

                  P.S. You didn’t answer my question. I’m certain there were more than 6 Catholic clergy at the Council, but how many more?

                • jacobhalo

                  If a Catholic fell asleep in 1965 and woke up today, attended the mass, I’m sure he or she would not recognize that it was a Catholic mass.

      • lifeknight

        Take heart! I know of several young priests who are learning the TLM. You may have to drive a bit, but there are options….esp. since the MotuProprio (my Latin is not so good).

        • jacobhalo

          Yes, there are many young priests and seminarians who want to learn the TLM. Our parish has almost a 100% attendance rate at mass, with a ton of young people. I understand that other Latin masses are the same. The novus ordo has about a 25% attendance rate.

          • lifeknight

            I know we are not to be spiritually prideful, however the TLM often brings a deeper sense of the sacred to young people and oldsters like me! My large family is somewhat split with respect to their Mass preferences. About half go to Novus Ordo and the other half to TLM. I’m just happy they all still practice the one, true Faith–at least so far!

            • jacobhalo

              Don’t feel bad, no one except my sister and me attend mass, and we were all Catholic school educated before Vatican II. The fruits of Vatican II.

      • GaudeteMan

        If the Latin Mass was good enough for Jesus its good enough for me!

        • I get the tongue-in-cheek comment, but I’ve read many seriously say that the Tirdentine Mass has been good for 2000 years, ignoring that it’s at most 1100 years-old and that the Mass varied between regions and even between dioceses in Italy until Trent. The reason why it spread somewhat in the Holy Roman empire was that it was the liturgy of Rome, no better or holier or more reverent than elsewhere.

          PS: the oldest liturgy is the Maronite, dating from the early 2nd century, and it’s more akin in congregation participation to the Novus Ordo than to the Vetus Ordo Mass.

          • Art Deco

            I believe the Byzantine-rite has priority.

            • The Byzantine liturgy was a 4th-century innovation. It couldn’t be otherwise, since its main compiler, St. John Chrysostom, and the Byzantine Empire date from that century.

              • Art Deco

                The Maronite Church claims never to have been in schism. I believe a formal re-affiliation occurred at the end of the 15th century. However, if I am not mistaken, the origins of the Maronite Church are fairly opaque. They make use of Aramaic in their liturgy, but I am not sure their rites have been documented any earlier than Late Antiquity.

                • The Maronite liturgy is attributed to St. James, the brother of the Lord and bishop of Jerusalem. Though historically such precision cannot be achieved with the information available, it arguably dates from the late Apostolic to the early Patristic eras.

                  • Slainte

                    If Our Blessed Mother was ever Virgin, how could Jesus have a brother named James?

                    • St. James was St. Joseph’s son before he was a widower and betrothed the Blessed Virgin Mary. I assumed that all readers of Crisis were familiar with Church Tradition.

                    • slainte

                      I knew of Saint James through the story of “El Camino de Santiago de Compostela” and its final destination in Gallicia, Spain.

                      Augustine, I was surprised by your response to my query and thus checked the Catechism of the Catholic Church (“CCC”) to learn more.

                      CCC Part 1, Sec. 2, Chapter 2, Article 3, Para. 2 provides:

                      500 Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus.157 The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, “brothers of Jesus”, are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls “the other Mary”.158 They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.159
                      THe CCC does not suggest James’ filiation to be connected with Joseph, rather James is the son of another unknown woman also named Mary who was not Our Blessed Mother.

                    • St. James the Great, after whom Santiago de Compostela is named, was the apostle, brother of St. John the Evangelist, sons of Zebedee, but St. James the Just, brother of Our Lord, wasn’t. He is the author of the letters bearing his name in the New Testament.

                      That the CCC chose that argument is fine, of course, but it’s not the only one. Besides the one I presented, another is that St. James was a cousin of Jesus, as Aramaic used the same word for both brother and cousin and Greek admitted the word brother for cousin, though it has a proper word for cousin.

                      Regardless, it’s rather disingenuous to insinuate a heresy first and then provide a quote from the CCC. Either you knew of it and was dishonest, or you were ignorant of it and now feign superiority. Typical internet trolling, for sure, yet regrettable at a Catholic site.

                    • Bono95

                      I thought “brother” meant “cousin” in this case. :-/

          • amdg

            Wow. Ignorance of all things liturgical, Augustine: do you have a copy of the current Maronite liturgical books? Have you compared them with their liturgy as it was in 1982, not even a generation ago? I thought not. How about the earlier versions we have, from the time of the printing press on? No again.
            Those who’ve done at least some study of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy – Chrysostom or Basil – know how many changes it has seen through the centuries: more, actually, than the Roman “usage” (to use clear language), among the Latin rites.
            I go to a Greek Catholic Church, but I still don’t want lies floating around about the uniformity of our tradition(s): it does us no good, and this attempted attack of the Pian/Tridentine/Leonine (as in Pope St. Leo I) is just as bad.

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  • djc

    This is perhaps the best article I’ve read here. Bravo!

  • NoreenD

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Mr. Prudlo, in very basic and simple terms, you have explained the overall purpose and results of the Council of Trent. Unfortunately, Vatican II, while initiated for good reasons, in many ways, created more problems than it was worth. I was in grammar school when Vatican II began and in high school when it ended. Talk about confusion! I was taught the fullness and the splendor of Catholicism but by the end of Vatican II, there was such an eruption. It seemed the waters were muddied and the faithful laity became unsure of the way. Fortunately, the tide is turning back. I fear it will take many years for the Church to throw out the nonsense and return to proclaming the triuth, in season and out of season.

    • jacobhalo

      I agree with most of your statement, but you wrote that “Vatican II was initiated for good reasons.” Please give me the good reasons, because I can’t think of any.

      • Athelstane

        There were warning signs that all was not well in the Church – and yes, one measure was how indifferently the Mass was often celebrated. The truth is…traditionalists pretty much always encounter a devout, reverent Mass with reasonably good chant and hymnody reasonably well executed, because those involved in it are bound to be those who care deeply about it and have sacrificed to obtain it…but back in the 50’s, you were likely to run into St. Louis Jesuit hymns and lots of badly mumbled Latin.

        There was also the question of issues left unresolved by Vatican I when it was forced to terminate abruptly after the Italian conquest of Rome in 1870. There was supposed to have been a constitution on the episcopate, for example. So there was a question of unfinished business, business left undone because of the “prisoner of the Vatican” problem solved only in 1929, followed rapidly by Depression and war.

        All of which is not to say that there were not some malign agendas which took advantage of these genuine concerns. Obviously, those existed, and they had some impact on the progress of the Council, and most certainly how it was actually implemented.

  • Adam__Baum

    I’ve taken advantage of the local offering of the Latin Mass, and observed in that visit a certain solemnity I generally don’t observe.

    What bothers me is the prideful disdain of SOME attendees and advocates. They aren’t merely content to have this form preserved, but they implicitly question the fidelity of non-attendees. I wonder how they view the Byzantine Liturgy.

    And then are these other curious strains of thought. Vatican II is protestant, Trent was wrong, most interesting coming from some who use Papal Encyclicals to sanctify the envy they masquerade as concern for the poor.

    How’s this hyperpiety working out for say, Mel Gibson whose replaced his public piety with scandal after scandal?

    • Athelstane

      What bothers me is the prideful disdain of SOME attendees and advocates. They aren’t merely content to have this form preserved, but they implicitly question the fidelity of non-attendees.

      It’s a problem that does crop up among traditionalists, unfortunately, albeit, I think, not as commonly as some have charged.

      The key is in learning to distinguish between the substance of the rite and the faith of the communicant. A traditionalist may (rightly, I think) hold that the traditional Roman Rite is theologically richer and more coherent with the full sweep of Catholic doctrine; but it does not mean that those who attend it instead of the Mass of Paul VI are ipso facto more devout or “better” Catholics. Most Catholics have no choice but to attend the latter.

      I wonder how they view the Byzantine Liturgy.

      In my experience – with great esteem. The Latinophile bigots of old seem to be pretty well vanished.

      • GaudeteMan

        I wish you were right on the Latinophile bigots having vanished but they have been re-hatched indeed. We attend a traditional parish (for a variety of reasons) but a good number of our esteemed pew-mates can’t seem to talk about anything else except how hideous the NO Mass is. I wouldn’t call it ‘prideful disdain’ as much as blissful ignorance. The pastors of these traditional churches seem to perpetuate the ignorance by not addressing these sins against charity when they ridicule the NO. What is most interesting is that those with the loudest protest against the NO are former NO Mass attendees. Unless our joy level be amped up a few degrees, I can’t see how we are going to attract anyone to the most reverent and beautiful form of worship.

        • Adam__Baum

          “What is most interesting is that those with the loudest protest against the NO are former NO Mass attendees.”

          And that bears an annoying resemblence to poorly catechized ex-Catholics lauding their new found familiarity with the Bible or their “personal relationship” with the Lord.

        • Athelstane

          I wish you were right on the Latinophile bigots having vanished but they have been re-hatched indeed.

          When I speak of “Latinophile bigots,” what I really mean are Eastern-Rite-o-Phobes. Think of people like Bishop Ireland, early 20th century, who did his level best to “Latinize” Catholic Eastern Rites in his bailiwick, even to the point of driving some into schism. There was a certain cohort in the Church that did look down upon the Eastern Rites, even when celebrated by those in full communion with Rome. But my sense is that they’re pretty much extinct. I know many traditionalists who will happily attend an Eastern Rite parish for Mass if they can’t find a TLM within driving distance.

          I think what you have in mind are traditionalists who who deeply dislike the Mass of Paul VI (the Novus Ordo), and that’s an entirely different kettle of fish.

          What is most interesting is that those with the loudest protest against the NO are former NO Mass attendees.

          Well, in fairness, why do you suppose that is? At least they usually know whereof they speak.

          It’s my story as well…like many people who have shifted to the TLM, I endured some pretty awful things, or, should I say, people doing awful things, and treating those expressing concerns pretty callously. I wanted a Mass experience that would leave me in peace, not in pieces.

          Which of course goes to how the Mass is being celebrated, rather than the missal per se. Which is a fair point. I would argue that the Mass of Paul Vi encourages such things, alas, and is weakened by a reduced emphasis on the Four Last Things in its collects, readings and propers. But I also don’t see the point in spending any of my time trashing it to all and sundry.

          Unless our joy level be amped up a few degrees, I can’t see how we are going to attract anyone to the most reverent and beautiful form of worship.

          These kinds of behaviors aren’t everywhere. But it’s a conscious point that those of us in Juventutem chapters are taking to heart – to show real joy and welcoming in our spiritual life.

      • jacobhalo

        As a traditionalist, I agree.

    • Not only then do some attendees turn to Pharisaism, but also in their complete failure to understand Latin and to speak it, resulting in mumbled gibberish and several responses going said solely by the celebrant. Oftentimes, it’s a sad spectacle of mock reverence, adorned with fine suits and mantillas.

      • jacobhalo

        Our congregations replies are well enunciated. We have reverence for the mass. You can hear a pin drop at a latin mass. The novus ordo sounds like a wedding reception before mass. After mass, we stay awhile longer and give thanksgiving for what we have. The novus ordo people almost step on the heels of the priest when mass is ended. People leave before the closing hymn. How can lay people( extraordinary ministers) handle the host at the Novus Ordo? Their hands are not consecrated?

        • “Novus Ordo people”? Your tongue is definitely not consecrated either.

          Pharisaism 101: form over truth; stony heart over natural heart; rules over charity.

          • slainte

            Both Form and Substance matter as do Dogma (rules) and Pastoral considerations (mercy).
            God is present in all these things and to all those who love Him. He softens the stony heart and causes the natural heart to leap with joy. He even loves the Pharisees.

            • GaudeteMan

              Mercy and justice are inseparable realities. He loves Pharisees but too much to allow them to persist in their hypocrisy.

              • slainte

                Then why are you reluctant to render mercy in favor of those who are Catholic traditionalists a.k.a. pharisees?
                I favor the Latin Mass because it captures the exquisite beauty of Christ’s heart wrenching sacrifice that is so ably captured in the above video entitled “Meditations on the Holy Sacrament of the Mass”. While I attend the Novus Ordo Mass, its utilitarian practicality does not resonate with me as profoundly and deeply as the Latin Mass. I do not dispute the efficacy of either Mass.
                I would be interested in learning your view regarding whether the Novus Ordo Mass and the EF Latin Mass each emphasize different, but equally legitimate, aspects of Christ’s sacrifice.
                How else might one explain the different tone and character of the respective expressions of Christ’s Sacrifice…one seemingly mournful the other joyous?

          • jacobhalo

            When you don’t have a viable answer, use the ridiculous, which you did.

        • GaudeteMan

          Come on Jacob, at least capitalize Mass!!!

          • jacobhalo

            sorry MASS

        • Marcelus

          Talking about experiences, I believe, as I’ve into posts by mostly US CM readers, that there may be a certain something to the kind of NO Mass you may attend there. I live in another country, and though it’s still NO mostly everywhere, there is no laughing, props used, jokes told , cheerful mood when we attend Mass. It is solemn and respect is shown for the priest before during and after Mass and for the faithful. Eventually, some kids from the Catholic Youth groups playing some reiligious songs with classic guitars on some festive sunday, but that is all.

          I’ve never been to a Latin Mass, and I have seen some youtube videos . I will certainly look for some parish that does offer TLM for what I’ve seen, seems to be beutiful.

          Though everyday after Mass, I retreat to myself and before the Holy Eucharist I find it that I come in direct contact with the Lord when praying in Latin, NOt that I now much about it but the basic prayers from Laudate I’ve doing so for quite some time. I don’t know, it’s personal.

          I agree, I personally would never receive communion from hands other than the Priest’s

      • slainte

        My first attendance at Latin Mass (3 years ago) was a challenge as I began to learn all of its nuances, but I found that the Latin I learned in high school many years ago came back very quickly. In addition. the missal provides the Latin and English translation side by side for those who need additional assistance.
        It is a very worthwhile endeavor to participate in the Latin Mass…well worth the short learning curve presented at inception.

  • T. Browne

    “Nominalist historians have derisively called it the “invention of the Roman Catholicism,” as if Trent fundamentally altered the faith.” Thanks for making a note of this. One encounters this insinuation (“It was Trent that gave birth to Romanism”) in a disheartening number of history books, some of them bestsellers, some of them the work of gifted scholars. The late Patrick Collinson (in his introduction to the Reformation for Modern Library Books) was one such purveyor of the myth.

  • Athelstane

    One of the striking achievements of Trent was that the Council managed to communicate the substance of the medieval Christian tradition without the cumbrous scaffolding of scholastic terminology. Rather the documents of the Council are filled with the language of the Bible and of the Fathers.

    An incisive point – one that is too often overlooked.

  • bdlaacmm

    Wow! I can’t believe the divisiveness of many of these comments. Vatican II and Trent are equally the work of the Holy Spirit, and neither is a disaster. If things are going “badly” after 1965, imagine how much worse they would have been without the council. I assure you, they would have been FAR worse. Vatican II is responsible for what health there is in the Body of Christ today.

    As for the Latin Mass, I admit to preferring it, but in the end of ends, it simply does not matter. The Mass is the Mass, whether celebrated in Latin, English, German, or Spanish. Christ did not speak Latin at the Last Supper, after all. I have a great respect for the traditional forms of worship. I happen to pray in Latin in the privacy of my home (where no one can comment on my undoubtedly bad pronunciation), but in my parish church, it’s English all the way, and the prayers are equally efficacious.

    • Art Deco

      Vatican II is responsible for what health there is in the Body of Christ today.

      Yeah. Springtime of evangelization. All we need is a string of such springtimes and the Archdiocese of New York will have as many practicing Catholics as St. Augustine’s old diocese.

      • Adam__Baum

        Too bad the Cardinal isn’t as much a “cheerleader” (his word, not mine) for overflowing Churches as he is/was for Obamanocare.

      • carlolancellotti

        Your attitude is part of the problem, not of the solution.

        • Art Deco

          The Second Vatican Council was prelude to an institutional implosion. That’s what has happened. No amount of papal whistling past the graveyard changes that and nothing in my attitude generated it or exacerbates it.

          • carlolancellotti

            a) post hoc does not mean propter hoc

            b) obviously for the whole Catholic “system” (in the US) to collapse as it did after 1965 there must have been something seriously hollow and fragile about it. The 1960’s came after the 1950’s for some reason

            c) your attitude is part of the problem, because bitching about the situation does not do anything to promote evangelization. At the end of the day the Pope does not live in your office, school, neighborhood or wherever you are responsible for bringing Christ.

    • GaudeteMan

      ”As iron sharpens iron so man his fellow man.” But lets not forget that ‘diablos’ comes from a Greek word which means ‘to divide.’ Healthy discussion is good for the Body of Christ. As GK said, ‘its not you that I want to defeat but your ideas.’

    • Athelstane

      The Mass is the Mass, whether celebrated in Latin, English, German, or Spanish.

      Well, the two are not identical missals. It’s not like the Mass of Paul VI is merely that of the Old Mass translated into the vernacular. The Mass was changed in profound ways, such that the language used was probably the *least* important thing that was altered. The ancient 1 year lectionary was discarded for an unprecedented 3 year lectionary, the readings all were changed, the collects and propers were mostly reworked, often with entirely new collects and propers freshly composed, the offertory was completely reworked, the Canon of the Mass reduced to merely one of four different Eucharistic Prayer options, the entire (also ancient) Roman Calendar was completely reworked, the Prayers at the foot of the altar, Last Gospel and Leonine Prayers ditched entirely, rubrics were massively stripped down and simplified…I could go on and on.

      If you mean to say it is still our Lord made present in the sacrifice of the Mass, body, blood, soul and divinity, in both Masses, there’s no disputing that. Graces still flow through the Ordinary Form, regardless of how well it is celebrated. That point should not be overlooked.

      But it is a Missal with some significantly different theological emphases from the old one, and that should not be overlooked, either.

      • Adam__Baum

        The first Mass had no lectionary, no readings…

        • Athelstane

          Hello Adam,

          A point that’s not very helpful, alas, given that a) we know very little of what was actually said and done at The Last Supper from the Gospel accounts; b) while the Last Supper was, in a real sense, “the first Mass,” it was also a very unique one that is not replicable in this way; c) whatever the Last Supper was, it can’t be used as a fulcrum to simply disregard the 14-16 centuries of the traditional Roman Rite, or indeed, any of the other ancient rites, rites sanctified by so many generations of worshiping Catholics and saints.

          This last point is precisely why St. Pius XII warned against the dangers of “exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism” in the liturgy in Mediator Dei. What we have is the tree, the great ancient oak of Catholicism, not the acorn it grew from. We can’t simply hack away limbs and trunk in some vain quest to get back to what we think the roots of it are.

          There was a great wisdom and theological penetration in the ancient lectionary developed during the age of the Church Fathers. It is something that should not have been modified lightly, let alone set aside. This doesn’t make the Pauline Missal illicit or bad. But it does raise hard questions that ought to have been asked more insistently when it was being put together back in the 60’s.

    • Adam__Baum

      This is a crucible, not a cotillion.

    • Bono95


  • slainte

    Both the Novus Ordo and the Tridentine Latin Mass validly re-present Christ’s sacrifice and consecrate the Holy Eucharist. However, I believe that there is a profound difference of emphasis expressed in the respective masses. The Novus Ordo Mass focuses on the joy of Christ’s sacrifice as it relates to the resurrection while the Tridentine Latin Mass focuses on Christ’s sacrifice as it relates to His passion. The same sacrifice differently expressed.

    This video “A Meditation on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” demonstrates the Mass and the Passion.

  • cj

    “…corrupting accretions of the late medieval period…” and include Renaissance?

  • Mary

    I was a young Catholic school student during the Vatican II Council and it wasn’t until later that I realized the Council had split the Church into a more conservative faction and a ligeral faction bent on more change. Naively I thought the Church is the Church is the Church. Not I watch the news and see Cardinal Dolan explaining why so many Catholics want to be cheer leaders for Obama but a small thing called contraceptive mandates do not allow that… and heaven help me, I see the fruit of redefining Catholic belief in the “Spirit of Vatican II” because if you read the words of Vatican II it is pro Marian devotion (where is that in the local Church?), pro adoration BEFORE the Real Presence in theTabernacle (you mean the one in the remote corner?) etc. It is not Vatican II that divides us, it is the way it has been misinterpreted and put into place falsely using the Council for change that was never intended. I do not think the way the Council has been used has made the Church healthier, instead I see the slow decline of faith, the lack of will for Holiness, the desacrilization of Worship and Litugy—the Church has become emptied of meaning even if it appears to be full pf people, especially since most come to feel they are part of the service but leave feeling they can put aside the significance of their faith.

    • You naively assume that those factions didn’t exist before the council. Rather, those heretics who came up with clown masses had been to no other liturgy than the Tridentine for all their lives. Proof positive that a liturgical form is no guarantee of fidelity, which comes from the heart, from within and reflected without.

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  • Padre David Poedel

    As one who swam the Tiber in the other direction, I must say that my view of Trent and Vatican II are much different now than before my “swim”. The “triumphalism” of Trent in this excellent piece is sobering, especially since my last service in Southern Poland showed me the most beautiful Lutheran Church built in the area of Jelena Gora that was “appropriated” by the Counter-Reformation and still not returned. Also imposed were the edicts that Lutheran Churches must be constructed of wood, and not stone, with no entrance on the “street” side, lest any good Roman Catholic accidentally stumble in.

    Like many of the commentators here, I lived through Vatican II and confess that I loved the reforms, especially the vernacular Mass, which I celebrate each Lord’s Day and Church Festival, often using Prefaces from the Roman Missal.

    I am prepared to be anathematized here, especially since I am a priest at a blog for “faithful Catholic laity”. I’m not looking for a fight, just a sober balance with a view from the other side.

    God’s peace and blessings from this Lutheran who loves and cherishes his Roman formation!

    • slainte

      You are very welcome here Father.
      What caused you to leave Catholicism to become a Lutheran and then a cleric?

      • Padre David Poedel

        It is quite a long story. I knew my vocation at age 7 and nearly responded to it formally in the mid-70’s but was convinced not to by a caring Air Force Chaplain because of the nastiness happening in the seminaries those days, though he was deliberate in not sharing details…I trusted him. Then it was a woman who later left the Lutheran Church and me….by then I was well on my way to Ordination.

        • slainte

          But were you Catholic first before you became Lutheran? What did Lutheranism offer you that you did not find in Catholicism? Please elaborate so that we may better understand.

    • Adam__Baum

      “I’m not looking for a fight, just a sober balance with a view from the other side.”
      I’m sorry I don’t believe you.

      • Padre David Poedel

        Well, I suggest that you avail yourself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation then, because my intent is one of love and fellowship….you can’t know that without knowing my history and my irenic relationships in at least 2 Dioceses. God’s peace to you!

        • Adam__Baum

          Suggestion given all due merit. My interest is truth.

      • slainte

        I am merely extending him a courtesy and requesting to know his story.
        How does one engage, even for the purpose of evangelization, without being willing to hear another’s story? After hearing and due deliberation, if all is as you indicate, then judge and enforce.
        Is the location in Poland a point of sensitivity?

    • MarcAlcan

      So you loved the reforms that were not even mandated by Vatican II?

      And how can people who dissent from Church teaching be called “faithful” Catholic laity?

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  • rodlarocque1931

    Trent was successful because it sought to clarify issues and solve problems. Vatican II is a huge failure because it destroyed that clarity and unity.
    In addition Vatican II made no attempt to clarify any new doctrine and so it is not at all on the same doctrinal level as Trent.
    I prophesi that Vatican II will be relegated to the dustbin of history, but not before it almost destroys the Church…. just look around, adaptation to the modern world just doesn’t work, and that is because the world is not netural with regards to truth, it is the kingdom of the Father of Lies and will never meet the Church half way, as the naive bishops at V2 were told it would.

  • Eric Maurer

    Why not provide the rest of the latin? “ut et qui probati sunt, manifesti fiant in vobis.”

  • Marcelus
  • Adam__Baum

    I seem to recall the occasional post by “Dick Prudlo”. Is the author and that poster the same person.

    • Donald Prudlo

      Not the same person.

      • Adam__Baum


  • Marcelus

    Last 28 October, Francis sent his blessing, pointing out that “celebrating the holy mysteries according to the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite… contributes to a better understanding and implementation of the principles of the Second Vatican Council, remaining faithful to the living tradition of the Church.” This is according to a communiqué sent by the Apostolic Nuncio to Paris, Luigi Ventura, to the Abbot Vincent Ribeton, Superior of the French district