The following testimonial was submitted by "JS":
My decision to make the switch from the Novus Ordo to the Traditional Latin Mass was 43 years in the making. I am a cradle Catholic who was born during the height of the liturgical revolution (1975). My mother is Catholic and she was a teenager when the TLM was driven underground. I’m not sure when her parents became cultural Catholics, but by the time I gained the age of reason, I knew that they no longer attended Mass outside of major holidays. My Father was raised in a nominally protestant household, and he did not convert to Catholicism when marrying my Mom (He now is a Catholic. Praise be Jesus Christ!). Luckily though at the time, he agreed to raise my sister and me as Catholics. We were baptized, confirmed and attended Catholic schools from 1st through 12th grade. Unfortunately, looking back, my knowledge of what my religion required of me did not differ much from my protestant friends. I never was taught or even picked up a Baltimore Catechism (or anything similar) until I was in my 40s. I basically knew that Catholics had male priests who were required to be celibate, going to Mass on Sundays was a big deal, and not eating meat on Fridays during lent was a thing. Other than that I assumed we were just one of many Christian options.
In grade school, I was an altar server. Even though I had a poor understanding of the Mass itself, I really felt proud and excited to be able to serve. For a couple of the early years I remember holding the paten under people’s chins, but by the time I reached 8th grade so many people received in the hand that the priests stopped asking us to hold the patens anymore. We would just go back to our seats while the priests and Eucharistic ministers distributed communion. I honestly didn’t think anything of it at the time because while I know I was told it was the body and blood of Christ, subconsciously I did not truly think of it in that way. Eucharistic adoration was not a thing at my parish, and the real presence was not a regular topic of homilies. The high altar had been long gone before I came to that church and the tabernacle had been placed off to the side (literally in a corner). When I genuflected before entering a pew, I assumed I was genuflecting to the cross that hung behind the altar. In short, all the actions of those ‘in charge’ at Mass spoke much louder than the few words I heard about the real presence during my 12 years of Catholic school and church attendance.
That said, something deep down in me always knew there was a God and that church was a place that I could go when I was in trouble and needed help. God had given me the grace to believe in something bigger than myself, but I would have to work hard to come to any real understanding of my faith. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too interested in working hard for that understanding when I was young. Video games, TV and movies were more important to me in my younger years, and then in high school and college… friends, sports, music, money, alcohol and the (unsuccessful) pursuit of girls became my priorities. I still went through the motions, but honestly my weekly Mass attendance became more of a superstition to me than a participation. Most of my friends never attended Mass, so I thought I was practically a saint for just showing up and putting my hour in for the week. I struggled to keep awake during the liturgy of the word and I let my mind wander into my worldly plans for the week during the liturgy of the Eucharist. To my shame, I don’t know how many sacrilegious communions I received. In my defense however; by that time, I approached the sacrament purely as a symbol. The real presence (and the consequences that come with that reality) was not even a thought my mind.
Fast forward to young adulthood. I got married and had kids. Having kids and trying my best to raise them as good people was a new opportunity for me to put in some work at better understanding my own faith. I made some minimal efforts and began to pray more and attend church weekly, but like the seed thrown onto rocky soil… my sparks of inspiration were easily choked out by the cares of the world. It wasn’t until I turned 33 that I had an experience which allowed grace to grab a better foothold in my soul. It was the first time I realized that following Christ and following the world were two mutually exclusive paths. I was deep in the hold of the world though, so it was going to require some very uncomfortable choices and conversations. I started digging into my faith, asking questions, going back to confession. I attended some men’s conferences, listening to conversion stories, reading Scott Hahn books, etc. In short, I was starting to actually TRY. I received some wonderful graces like truly understanding the real presence, acceptance that the Catholic church was the only true church, and the necessity of sanctifying grace. I even learned how to say the rosary properly for the first time in my life. Unfortunately I was not equipped to make permanent the most important changes. There was a specific mortal sin that I could not free myself from. For almost a year I attempted to do so, but I eventually admitted defeat and convinced myself that the “God of mercy” would understand my unique and concrete situation. I confessed to many different priests during this time. Some told me to increase my prayer. Some told me to discern my situation. A few told me I had nothing to be worried about (God gave me the grace to know that these particular priests were wrong). Luckily God’s permissive will allowed me more time to struggle without calling me to judgment.
In 2018, my time was up. Although making progress in many aspects of my faith over 10 years, I still was unwilling to trust God with that remaining mortal thorn in my side. It always weighed on me and I knew deep down I couldn’t keep going down the same path and hope to be saved. I committed to saying the rosary daily for the first time in my life. That led to accepting an invitation to a retreat that I had been declining for several years. This retreat led to my realization that God was giving me my ‘last chance’. I prayed for the grace to trust Him. As expected, this renewal of faith led to some of the toughest moments in my marriage to date. God (through Mary) answered my prayers though. Within a month or so of this last chance realization, I received a YouTube video from a site I had never heard of (The Remnant). The person who sent it to me was not a traditionalist. They sent it to me because it was discussing a current events topic. However, halfway through the video, the speaker began talking about the loss of the Traditional Latin Mass in the late 60s and how it was driven underground and why the Novus Ordo version undermined the faith, especially the belief in the real presence. It was like someone shining a light on something you had no idea was there, but made complete sense at the very core of your being. I had heard of the Latin Mass in passing over the years, but had never attended one in my life. I even remember telling someone at some point that “We obviously couldn’t go back to Latin because no one knows that language.” That said, I agreed with everything else this guy in the video was saying, so I thought… I wonder if there are any nearby that I can attend? I did a quick internet search and discovered that 45 minutes away in a small farm town, there was one at 11am on Sundays.
My first Latin Mass was a low Mass in November of 2018. I went in thinking it was going to be the Mass I had always attended, but simply said in the Latin language. I was baffled. I couldn’t hear three quarters of what was being said. I haplessly tried to keep up with what was going on in the little red book. My kids were completely lost. About halfway through I decided just to watch what was going on instead of trying to understand. What I walked away with were two things.
I started binge watching Remnant videos and listening to traditionalist podcasts. It was like when you are nearing the end of a puzzle and all the pieces start becoming easily identifiable as to where they fit. The things I was hearing from traditionalists were unambiguous and made complete sense. I rarely heard or read anything that told me to ‘search my conscience’ or ‘discern what was best for my situation’. Of course, the answers I was getting were very hard sayings, but for the first time I was hearing Truth preached in a way that didn’t soften itself or apologize for itself. The homilies at the Latin Mass were also unambiguous, logical, and devoid of sentimentality. Within 3 months I began attending the TLM almost exclusively. Within 6 months I began to find attendance of the Novus Ordo extremely difficult. Most importantly, I am convinced that my switch to the TLM gave me the graces and strength I needed to eliminate and keep at bay (God willing) that last mortal sin that had been plaguing me.
Because of my experience of growing up in the post-conciliar church without any knowledge of the TLM, I can say definitively that there is no comparison between the two orders of the Mass. The TLM is NOT a preference for a fancy sounding language, pretty vestments, incense, bells or even Gregorian chant. Those things are all wonderful, but the TLM is vastly superior because it is outwardly supernatural. Because it is a link to the timelessness of the faith where the focus is vertical (to God) and not horizontal (to man). Because it is the Mass that the saints attended, and regardless of what century they occupied, they would still recognize. St. Joan of Arc would not recognize the Novus Ordo. Pope St. Pius V would not recognize the Novus Ordo. St. Ambrose would not recognize the Novus Ordo. Etc.
Grace is available at the Novus Ordo, and the sacrament is valid. I thank God for allowing some of this hidden grace to sustain me through many dangerous years of my life until I could discover the full nature of that grace through a ceremony that was stolen from my generation. I know of many people much holier than myself who still attend Novus Ordo Masses. I do not judge them. I just know that I was not strong enough to remain in the Novus Ordo. I required something greater to overcome my many weaknesses, and that is exactly what the TLM has done for me.