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1) The tweets below were by a Protestant convert to Catholicism and they reflect some common misunderstandings/errors that I’d like to address. (I’ve removed the identity of the tweeter, as it’s not about him, but his commonly-held misunderstandings).
2) I see at least three separate misunderstandings/errors, which are all interrelated:

• What was changed in the Mass after Vatican II.
• The purpose of the Mass.
• The relationship between abuses and the rubics of a Mass.
3) First, what was changed between the TLM and the Novus Ordo? It wasn’t simply the exact same Mass but now in the vernacular. Among other things, the prayers said are significantly different. For example, almost every reference to sacrifice was removed.
4) The idea that the changes were superficial and just aesthetic is a common misunderstanding, however. I was a Catholic for almost 15 years and had nearly completed a Master’s degree in Theology before I even knew the prayers were radically changed.
5) I remember when I first discovered the old Mass prayers, and I was *blown away*. Why on earth had the Church removed these beautiful, theologically-dense, and uplifting prayers?

Yet Catholics still think the differences between the forms of the Mass are cosmetic in nature.
6) But the tweeter is correct in understanding that most of the changes to the Mass *were* done to make the Mass more acceptable to Protestants, or as he says, a “bridge to Protestants”.
7) However, that gets us to the second misunderstanding: seeing the Mass as a way to attract converts. This is false: the Mass is *not* intended to be an evangelization device.

I wrote a whole article about this a few years ago: onepeterfive.com/making-mass-re…
8) We can see the fallacy of viewing the Mass as a means for evangelization by looking at the early Church. At that time, non-Catholics were never allowed to attend Mass, and even Catechumens were forced to leave when what is now called the “Liturgy of the Eucharist” began.
9) Obviously, the early Church never thought of the Mass as a way to attract non-Catholics, since non-Catholics couldn’t even attend! Yet the early Church attracted countless people to the Faith and even converted the most powerful empire on earth.
10) We realize that the Mass isn’t intended for evangelization when we understand that the Mass is to be a “vertical” act, not a “horizontal” act. In other words, it is to be completely directed toward worshipping God, not toward attracting men.
11) But we see the “horizontal” aspect throughout the changes that were made: vernacular, the priest facing the people, simplifying the prayers, etc. This changes how a Mass is celebrated.
12) Making the Mass “horizontal” thus leads to the third error: that the abuses are simply “unintended consequences”. On the contrary, because of the focus on directing the Mass toward man instead of God, I would argue that the abuses are natural consequences.
13) Think about how many people change their behavior when they are in front of a camera compared to when they are in private with friends. The same is true for a priest celebrating the Mass.
14) If the priest sees his celebration of Mass as something directed toward the congregation as opposed to being directed toward God, he will act differently. This is especially true if he sees it as something intended to attract people, i.e., to “sell” Catholicism to them.
15) Instead of being focused only on the worship of God, he will understandably be thinking of ways to please the congregation, which is where abuses originate. I would argue that most abuses are actually well-intentioned, but misguided, efforts to attract people to the Church.
16) We need to realize that if a non-Catholic is attracted to the Church because of attending a Mass, that’s a corollary benefit; it’s not the fundamental purpose of celebrating Mass.

Again, we celebrate Mass to worship God, not to attract men.
17) It might seem I’m overreacting to some well-meaning tweets, but these misunderstandings are rampant among good Catholics (and I’ve held them myself in the past), and even though they are well-meaning, they lead to a distorted view of our central act of worship, the Mass. /fin
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