Living in the Washington, DC area has many advantages, one of which is the rich cultural diversity found here. Just about every community on earth seems to be represented in some form in this city and its suburbs. This diversity also exists in the various Catholic communities found locally, and this has impacted my own spiritual life. On a regular basis I attend four different types of Mass:
- On most Sundays I attend my parish’s regular Novus Ordo Mass.
- For daily Mass, I usually go to the local charismatic Catholic community.
- About once a month I attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass on Sunday instead of the Novus Ordo.
- About 3-4 times a year I visit a Melkite Greek-Catholic church which celebrates the Eastern Divine Liturgy.
All of these liturgies are faithfully and reverently said and I like aspects of each of them. I admit that I prefer some forms more than others (I’ll keep coy about the specifics), but I acknowledge that such preferences are often a matter of personal tastes and not based on fundamental theological principles. But I’ve found that among those who believe in the importance of the liturgy (as I do), I’m a bit of an anomaly. It seems (at least online) that most people who are passionate about the liturgy are passionate about one particular form of the liturgy and believe all other forms to be inadequate at best and harmful or even heretical at worst. But although I am passionate about the liturgy, I do think multiple forms are possible and can even be complimentary.
Fortunately, I have found a kindred soul – and he is even here locally: Msgr. Charles Pope, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington. Msgr. Pope is the pastor of an African-American church which has a Gospel-style Mass, but he also regularly celebrates the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. From his unique experience he has found many similarities in the two types of Mass, which he explains in this video:
Of course, neither Msgr. Pope or myself are advocating chaos in the liturgy: there must be order and the Church is the one to impose that order. No one can make up their own liturgy and the liturgy must abide by certain standards and structures. But the Church herself allows for some diversity within those standards and I think she is wise to do so.