For many, the sad reality is that they do not have access to the Traditional Latin Mass or a reverent Eastern Divine Liturgy. For those people who long for the beauty of the traditional liturgies of the Catholic Church but cannot attend, there are many ways that the Novus Ordo can be beautiful as well. Here I will discuss some of the ways that both Priests and laymen can enhance the Novus Ordo in accordance with the will of the Holy Father in the Motu Proprio, Summuorum Pontificum. Many of these changes must be brought about by the priest, but without the first push of the laity, no priest will be willing to make the change.
The first and most obvious enhancement for the Novus Ordo, would be to celebrate the Mass in the preferred orientation of the Church, Ad Orientem. If you would like to learn more about this orientation of liturgy, please check out my article on the topic, To The East. This is truly the orientation preferred by the Church, and it is apparent if one takes a simple look at the altar missal. Each time the priest addresses the people, the missal tells the priest to do so while “Turning to face the people.” This facing Ad Orientem fosters a sense of reverence for the priest as well as the people. It helps the priest focus on the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass, instead of on the relationship between him and the people.
Another major change would be to return to the Apostolic Tradition of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, from the hand of the priest. I have also written on this in my article titled, A Response to Objections to Communion on the Tongue. This I see as the most important thing we need to restore in the Novus Ordo. Communion in the hand is the most widely spread liturgical abuse in the world. No one on this earth is worthy to touch the Sacred Host which is Jesus Christ; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. The priest’s hands are consecrated to be allowed to touch and consecrate the Sacred Host. The Chalice and Ciborium are consecrated to hold the Sacred Species.
We must also return to the use of Latin. I have already discussed the importance of the use of Latin in my article, Why we use Latin in our Liturgy. We use Sacred Language to put an emphasis on the mystery of the Holy Mass. While we can come to understand the meaning of the words we speak, many of us do not understand the spiritual significance of the words the priest says in the Mass. The Mass in Latin brings a real world example of this same mystery.
The last major tradition that must be brought back into the Novus Ordo is the beautiful traditions of sacred music in the Church. Seth Ball has written an amazing article on this titled Rediscovering Sacred Music. The sacredness of Gregorian Chant and Polyphony, as well as organ music. These types of sacred music foster within us a prayerful intention upon entering the church, especially if a prelude is played just before the Mass begins. Both Chant and Polyphony are beautiful prayers within themselves, but also assist in the prayers of the congregation. There is no doubt it is simpler to pray while a soft organ piece is played or solemn chant is sung rather than drums and guitars are played.
These are just a few ways that the Novus Ordo Missae can regain a true sense of reverence, a change that is already happening in parishes across the nation. This can be seen by Fr. Richard Heilman at St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff, Wisconsin, as well as the Church of the Holy Ghost in Tiverton, Rhode Island, and many others. We cannot expect these changes just to happen. If you do not have access to a Traditional Latin Mass but long for the same sense of reverence, speak to your Pastor. No priest will make the necessary changes if he does not know it is desired. Get together with people you know desire the same reverence, and make the change happen.