Catholic Traveler's Novus Ordo Survival Guide
By Traditional Catholic Traveler
Summary: How to survive the Novus Ordo when you can't attend the
Traditional Latin Mass.
Keywords: Latin Mass, 'Tridentine' Mass, Traditional Latin Mass,
Extraordinary Form, Novus Ordo Mass, English Mass, Travel,
Traveling, Traveler, 'Survival Guide'
As a traditional Catholic who has often had to
travel to a location where there is no Latin Mass, I have come up with a
"survival guide", if you will, for making it through the "happy-clappy"
self-affirmation service that they call "Mass" (or, sadly, "Eucharist")
... although I'm sure at least some of them would barely be recognizable
as Masses by popes, saints, and even laypersons of the past. During my
travels, I have had the most unorthodox, nonsensical things said to me.
I have seen "lay preachers", "pew-hoppers", seas of bare-headed women in
pants. I have seen priests walk into the "audience" and women "command"
from the podium.
I have had to endure Protestant hymns and being
"accosted" by those who want to shake my hand. I have had to "wrestle"
with ushers to receive Communion from priests. I have been stared at and
have been made the "center of attention" for not following the crowd. I
have seen hand-holding and hand-raising, hip-swinging and clapping. I
have endured the so-called "butt parade" (lay persons who choose to
half-heartedly bow rather than genuflect, exposing their rear end for
all to see). I have seen the sanctuary be invaded by hordes of people
dressed like homeless waifs.
I have endured homilies that would make saints
cringe. I have suffered through video displays on the church walls. I
have endured jokes and calls for clapping. I have suffered through the
screechy singing of laypersons leading sappy 60's songs. I have had to
endure drums, guitars, and tambourines. I have had to bear the painfully
poor speaking skills of lay persons reading from the sanctuary as the
priest sits off to the side, apparently banished from participation.
I have had to experience the atrocious results of
church wreckovations. I have had to go searching for the Tabernacle. I
have had to kneel on the floor when kneelers were not available. I have
seen "Catholic art" unsuitable to adorn even a garbage dump. I have
suffered over the irreverence of those who should know better and by the
scandal they give.
I have been in tears more than once and I have
even had to question whether or not a valid consecration actually
occurred. I have seen the Holy Eucharist be handled like a potato chip
by the priest. I have seen priests who appear to be confused about how
to dispense Communion on the tongue.
I have seen and experienced many things, but what
I have usually NOT been able to enjoy is silence, kneeling for
Communion, and reverence for the Holy Eucharist.
Alas, though, I must still meet my Sunday
obligation to attend Mass, despite the internal "torture" it may cause
me to attend in the Novus Ordo rite (if such a sinner as me feels this
way, how must Christ Our Lord feel about the antics that occur?).
Therefore, I have come up with a "survival guide", if you will, to try
to help me endure whatever I must encounter at the N.O. (Novus Ordo
Mass). Perhaps it may provide useful to some other traveling traditional
My "Traditional Catholic Traveler's N.O. Survival
Guide" consists of three basic parts: Rules, Supplies, and the Plan.
Each will be detailed below.
Let's begin with the "rules"...
* First and most important, try NOT to travel to locations where a
Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) is not available. That way, you won't need
this guide. That is the best and safest route of all. Unfortunately,
though, this is sometimes impossible.
* Second, investigate the local parishes if there is more than one. Even
parishes that are just a few miles apart can vary greatly. Be sure to
check for kneelers (some don't have them). If there is a Latin Novus
Ordo, you'll probably find that to be the among the "safest" of the N.O.
Masses. Also, if you locate a parish that keeps a small crucifix on the
altar, that is a good sign that the parish priest may be orthodox.
* Third, always attend N.O. Masses on Saturday evening. I find that when
they are particularly offensive, I am glad that at least I didn't have
to attend them on the Lord's Day. (Yes, attending on Saturday evening
does meet your Sunday obligation.) Also, should you encounter a
situation where the consecration is invalid (e.g. wrong form, matter),
you'd still have time to attend a valid Mass on Sunday.
Next, you'll want to have certain "supplies" on
hand to help you endure the N.O. I recommend the following... (Of course
some of these are light-hearted and are not meant to be taken literally)
* Small crucifix to hold in your hand during Mass (when no one else is
thinking of Calvary, you will still be able to)
* Your Rosary (I recommend the sorrowful mysteries)
* Latin Mass missal (while everyone else hears the N.O., you can still
enjoy the TLM)
* Very good ear plugs. If you enjoy the blessing of hearing loss, you
can simply turn down your hearing aid or leave it off
* Eye coverings. Of course, if you enjoy the blessing of blindness this
won't apply to you.
* Knee pads (for those parishes without kneelers)
* Women: Veil (a very long one that fully blocks your peripheral vision
* Tissue (you may need a lot)
I also recommend having these printed materials
available (many of them are available on this site)...+
* Flier regarding the sign of peace (great to give to "pew hoppers")
* Women: Flier explaining why you wear a veil
* Other assorted fliers (e.g. re: silence in church, against clapping in
church, against Communion in the hand, against 'lay ministers', etc.)
* Printout with the following quote of Pope Pius XII (to have available
in case you are berated for praying the rosary or following along in the
"So varied and diverse are men's talents and
characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to
the same extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services.
Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are
they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on
account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot
participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can
adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for
instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or
perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they
differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with
them." (Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei)
Lastly, have a plan. You can tailor yours to meet
your particular needs, but I recommend the following...
* Be mentally prepared. You know it will be difficult, but you can
handle it. Don't forget to pray for graces.
* Try to bring like-minded persons with you if you can (assuming it
won't end your friendship with them or cause them too much
trauma...Please do not ask me since it will do the latter)
* Arrive early. This will allow you to (1) ask where the priest
distributes Communion, and (2) sit in the least offensive location (e.g.
away from the guitars, drums & excessively loud, screeching female
singer), (3) secure a location which will allow you to maneuver for last
minute changes (e.g. at the end of the isle in case the priest
distributes Communion in a location other than what you were told). It's
recommended to sit up near the front to ensure that you will be able to
receive Holy Communion from the priest before he runs out (but NOT in
the first few rows). It may be particularly helpful to sit behind
someone taller than you, if possible. This will allow you to more easily
avoid having to see the antics which may occur. Short traditional
Catholics definitely have the advantage here.
* Once you are there, keep in mind this important rule of thumb: DON'T
LOOK. You don't have to watch things that offend you (or God). Instead,
you can look down, say the rosary privately, recite other prayers
privately, contemplate Christ Crucified (it's particularly helpful to
stare at the crucifix), etc. Remember that "What you don't see won't
bother you." (Well okay, that's not entirely true, but it still does
help make things a bit better.) You can and should employ this important
rule of thumb at any time, but particularly at times such as the
following: when lay persons (other than altar boys) are in the
sanctuary, when priests have left the sanctuary to shake hands with lay
persons, when hordes of 'Eucharistic ministers' (as they wrongly like to
call themselves) barrel their way down the isles, when others are not
kneeling for the Holy Eucharist, when persons are dressed immodestly,
when "the book" is being given more attention than the Holy Eucharist,
etc. One exception I may make is when the Holy Eucharist is being
mishandled by the priest. I prefer to look at this time so that my
internal pain may in some small way make reparation to our Crucified
Lord. [Tip: Also have a mental picture of a TLM that you can go back to
in your mind...it can help you keep your sanity.]
* Another very important rule of thumb is DO NOT JOIN IN. Even if you
are the single, solitary, sole, only person in the entire church that
doesn't - do NOT clap, do NOT talk, do NOT take Holy Communion in the
hand, do NOT stand for the consecration, do NOT sit after Holy
Communion, etc. Do NOT do anything that should not be done even if you
are all alone and stand out like a sore thumb. YES, everyone else CAN be
wrong. YOU CAN be the ONLY one who is right. This is not a democratic
situation...it doesn't matter at all what the majority does. It only
matters that what is done is right.
* In addition to not joining in, be sure to do all the things you SHOULD
do, even if no one else does [e.g. stay after Mass for prayers,
women-wear a veil and be silent (as scripture commands), etc.]
* The Consecration at the N.O. Mass happens so fast you might miss it.
Be sure to be prepared for this moment so you can properly adore Christ
in the Holy Eucharist.
* Just after the Consecration at the N.O. Mass, I HIGHLY recommend that
you recite (silently) the TLM prayers said just after the Consecration.
Tune out the responses at the N.O. Mass that cast doubt on the Real
Presence and instead focus on the sacrificial prayers of the TLM. Try to
memorize these prayers. If not, add a printout of them to the list of
supplies mentioned earlier.
* It is advisable to remember not to allow your hands or other body
parts to be in locations where others can grab them (before, during, or
after Mass). You would be surprised what the "pew hoppers" might do.
* Handling the 'sign of peace' can be particularly tricky. Remember that
Christ is really and truly present on the altar, despite the fact that
everyone seems to ignore Him there. In my experience there are two good
ways to handle the 'sign of peace'. The first is to kneel and close your
eyes. Then, mentally contemplate Christ in the Holy Eucharist (probably
left alone on the alter). The second is to stand there with your eyes
closed, head down, arms folded in, mentally contemplating Christ in the
Holy Eucharist. Don't be surprised if strange people touch you. Just try
to focus on Christ in the Holy Eucharist. If possible, have one of those
fliers mentioned previously ready to give out to those who touch you
(e.g. after Mass). It is also helpful to remember the MANY reasons why
this practice is inappropriate. You are not being "mean" or
"anti-social". Read your flier to remind yourself of these reasons
(there is a good flier on this site dealing with this).
* When it is time to approach for Holy Communion, you will likely find
that most people will stand there and put their bare hands out to a lay
person (after sticking their butt out at you...sorry, I mean, after
bowing). You, however, must: 1-receive only from a priest, 2-kneeling if
possible, and 3-receive on the tongue. You should already be prepared to
receive from a priest because you got there early and found out where he
would be distributing Holy Communion. Of course, you may have to make a
last minute adjustment if it turns out that he is distributing Holy
Communion elsewhere. This can be tricky....the ushers will certainly
indicate their displeasure and others will not appreciate your "cutting
in line". However, it is important to receive only from the priest.
Usually, the ushers can be ignored (or a simple "I only receive from a
priest" will do). Regarding "cutting in line", there is usually at least
one kind-hearted individual who will let you go in front of them if you
are pleasant and patiently wait for them to wave you in front of them.
If not, you may have to ask. I have found that if you tell an usher in
advance that you only take Communion from a priest, they are happy to
help you maneuver into the right line to accomplish this. The next
challenge comes when you try to kneel for Communion. Ideally you will
kneel without incident and the priest will give you Holy Communion. In
my experience, I'm afraid I have to genuflect just before Communion and
receive standing (gulp). Maybe this is one area I can work on. In any
event, you want to make sure you don't trip the person behind you as
they probably won't be expecting you to genuflect or kneel. I have found
that taking slow, loooong strides and kneeling slowly prevents this from
occurring. Lastly, receive Holy Communion on the tongue even if the
priest stands there wondering what to do. He will most likely recover
his senses and proceed to give you Communion in the proper way. Just be
patient. It may have been a long time since he's seen "your kind"
in his parish. And lastly, and EVER SO IMPORTANT, adore the precious
Body & Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. There is a danger of being
so caught up in getting all the externals right that you fail in this
regard. Don't ever let that happen. Take a second to adore Christ. Don't
worry that you are holding people up (if there was an altar rail like
there should be, your extra second of adoration wouldn't hold anyone
* When it comes to the end of Mass and the priest works up the
"audience" to clap for the terrible music you've had to endure, simply
hang your head and close your eyes. Say a prayer for your sadly
misguided brethren since they do not know better and are being misled by
their own shepherds.
* Also: You'll want to be prepared to deal with other parts of the N.O.
Mass that particularly offend you (the more you know about the N.O. vs.
the TLM, the more there will be). For example, be prepared to silently
recite a traditional Catholic prayer when they add the "Protestant
preferred ending" to the Lord's Prayer. You can come up with your own
way to endure these things or simply resort back to the rosary and
contemplating Christ Crucified. With you there, at least someone in the
church will remember that Mass is the re-presentation of CALVARY, not a
* After Mass: Have a support system. Call someone back home who can
sympathize with you. If there is no one you can call, try to remember to
bring written materials that will help you get through the trauma (e.g.
Michael Davies books).
* Later: Write to the bishop of the diocese regarding your experience.
Your letter may get laughed out, thrown out - or both. Still, you have
tried. If you're really feeling upset, consider writing the Pope.
* Ongoing: Do all you can for the restoration of the TLM everywhere so
that you and your fellow Catholics now and for generations to come will
not need this guide.
One final note: I don't at all endorse attending
illicit TLM's. We are a hierarchical Church and I don't see how we can
go out on our own just because we aren't happy. We must "fight the good
fight" from within. Besides, if all those "independent" persons were
attending at diocesan parishes, they couldn't be "written off" by
members of the hierarchy who would be "obligated" to provide them access
to the TLM (at least in theory). I know many will disagree with me on
this, but I believe I am entitled to my opinion.
In closing, you will hopefully not need this
"survival guide" too often. Not at all would be best. But if you do, I
hope it helps.
God bless you.
Traditional Catholic Traveler
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