All Masses should be offered with reverence, but sadly, they just aren't
A “Reverent" Holy Catholic Mass Explained
We were at Mass in one of the Mission Churches founded by St. Junipero Serra. It was a beautiful church with incredible art from hundreds of years ago. The priest began the Prayers of the Faithful and said, "Please mention your prayer intentions so we can offer them to God".
One person behind us said, "For my uncle, let us pray to the Lord."
Another yelled out, "For my pregnant friend, let us pray to the Lord."
Then a woman shouted, "In the words of the great Mahatma Gandhi, 'Earth provides enough to satisfy everyone's needs, but not everyone's greed', may there be a spirit of peace and unity in our environment and in the hearts of all, let us pray to the Lord."
Needless to say, we were shocked.
Now we like Gandhi as much as the next guy, but is shouting across the church and permitting a free for all, appropriate in the presence of Jesus Christ during Holy Mass?
Sadly, this was not the first time we had been subjected to a Prayers of the Faithful free for all.
What does reverence mean for you?
When the topic of reverence at Holy Mass comes up, pretty much everyone agrees that "reverence" is good.
For some, reverence is rock guitars, clapping, holding hands, and walking all over the church to shake everyone’s hand at the sign of peace.
For others, it’s a cantor singing all 16 verses of a hymn, no extraordinary ministers, and everyone receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.
This way of looking at the Holy Mass is problematic because it is all about subjective taste and preference and has little to do with what the Mass is really about.
It’s no different from preferring coffee to tea when eating breakfast.
The Holy Mass is not about subjective tastes and preferences; it is about the re-presentation of the crucifixion on Calvary, right and ordered worship of God, and what is good and pleasing to Him, not us.
The Catholic Church in her wisdom gave us the road map on how to properly worship God.
Therefore a "Reverent Catholic Mass" is simply a liturgy offered precisely and carefully in accordance with the official rubrics established for the particular liturgy you are attending.
For the Roman Rite, it is following the General Instruction of the Roman Missal without deviation nor including novelties, whether it is for the Novus Ordo, the Traditional Latin Mass, or the Ordinariate.
For Eastern Catholic or other liturgies, it is following their distinct and official rubrics carefully and precisely.
The question may arise then, why is a website highlighting "reverent" Masses necessary or even appropriate?
It is because the Novus Ordo specifically has suffered from abuses where novelties and liberties have been taken that range from distracting to incoherent to weird to scandalous. For many, especially younger Catholics, it can be difficult to love the Novus Ordo because of the casual, anything-goes attitude that it has been subjected to. It sends the signal that our religion is not to be taken very seriously. We are told that the Mass is the same Mass everywhere throughout the world and it unites Catholics. But, the level of reverence is unpredictable from one parish to the next. It feels like in general, the Novus Ordo is a free for all.
It is even argued that this is what has led to many people no longer believing in the real presence.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life." The Mass should reflect this reality.
Some people say that the Novus Ordo cannot ever be reverent. We very much disagree with that. It can be extraordinarily beautiful and exceedingly reverent when offered according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. In fact, we attend a Novus Ordo parish.
We know that the "liturgy wars" are filled with negativity and divisiveness. Our goal is to highlight what is good, true, and beautiful and not to assume we have all the answers. We want to create a positive contribution and a unifying effort in this space where those who love tradition and orthodoxy can come together and work together. This is why in our Map we include all Catholic Rites and Forms. It can be easy to focus on all the disappointing news that goes on. We want to try and stay away from that, stay focused on what's awesome, and just help others find good, solid parishes that will help them grow closer to Christ.
As Catholics, we should love all the diversity of Catholic liturgy be it the Novus Ordo, TLM, Eastern Rite, etc. Special care should be taken with Catholic liturgy and we believe that a true Eucharistic revival begins with reflecting on how we attend Mass, how it is offered, and how much we are willing to put Christ and His ultimate sacrifice above our subjective preferences. We don't pretend to have all the answers. But we do know that the Church has at its disposal the tools to bring about the renewal of Christendom and it starts with the Mass.
I hope this helps.