Traditional Mass vs Novus Ordo: Is one liturgy superior?

Have you noticed a resurgence of attendance to Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) in your community? Some Catholics, especially young adults and families, have been drawn to the beauty of the liturgy as it was before the Second Vatican Council. The vast majority of Catholics, however, attend a Novus Ordo Mass, meaning the “New Order” of the Mass as established in the 1960s. But is one liturgy better than the other?

“I have a fairly conservative group of friends in the Church, and there’s a lot of talk right now about departing from attending the Novus Ordo liturgy and attending the [TLM]. I fully understand that both liturgies are approved and people have a right to go where God calls them, but what I hear people saying is there is more grace for the priest and the participants in the [TLM] because the [TLM] is a more pure and somehow superior gift of worship to our Lord,” said Linda.

Is there any truth to this, Linda wondered?

Patrick Madrid responded to her question by explaining that he grew up serving as an altar boy in a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) school, but attended a Novus Ordo parish with his family. He said he has a deep reverence for the TLM liturgy and attends it whenever he has the opportunity.

Having experienced both forms of liturgy from a young age, Patrick says that he personally finds the TLM aesthetically superior. But he immediately acknowledged that aesthetics are a subjective quality—not everyone agrees on what is beautiful or not.

“I think it’s also correct to say that in terms of precision and quality of the prayers and expression of theological truths in the Traditional Mass, that there’s more of that,” said Patrick. This was especially the case, he argued, prior to the revisions of the English translation of the Mass in 2011.

More Grace?

However, when it comes to the efficacy of the Mass, Patrick says that no liturgy is superior.

“Those aesthetic aspects to the Mass, they are good and beautiful but they are not essential to the Mass itself. So the essentials to the Mass we can see at the Last Supper—there was no incense, there were no vestments, there were no statues, there was no ringing of bells. None of the things that we associate with the beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass took place at the first Mass. And yet, the first Mass—celebrated by Jesus Christ Himself—is completely perfect in its efficacy for those who were disposed to receive grace,” explained Patrick.

For that important reason, Patrick says, “The Mass is the Mass is the Mass.”

You might be more receptive to God’s grace if you find the celebration of the liturgy to be more beautiful in one way or another. However, there is no more grace available at one form of liturgy.

Listen to the full conversation here:


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Lindsey Kettner serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a wife, mother, and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she studied journalism and advertising. She writes daily at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.