Experienced exorcist Fr. Gary Thomas confirms that “The devil hates Latin,” and adds that this opinion is based on his own experience and that of others. (See here.)
Following the implementation of Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio “Traditionis Custodes,” it will be even more difficult to attend a Latin Mass. It seems that reducing the number of Latin Masses has been made a top priority in the Vatican, but the number of traditionalists, as given in the National Catholic Register, is very small: 2.5 percent of Mass-goers in those dioceses where they are most numerous, and about one percent on average elsewhere.
All things holy are a threat to the devil, but the various elements of the traditional Latin Mass must be very powerful indeed. Apparently, for it to be attended by even one or two percent of all faithful parishioners is intolerable to the devil, and he wants it gone at all costs.
Latin Mass, where you can focus on prayer
I started attending the Latin Mass after I came to the U.S. Before that, I had attended the Novus Ordo (the new form of the Mass that was promulgated in 1969). So, before I came to the U.S., I knew almost nothing about the Latin Mass.
As I kept attending the Latin Mass, and gradually grew more familiar with it, I found that I was better able to concentrate on prayer at that Mass than I had been at the Novus Ordo Mass.
The Novus Ordo is almost always in the vernacular, and often uses music that sounds like secular music. One of the reasons why I could not concentrate at the Novus Ordo was because of that kind of music. The church where I attended Novus Ordo Mass used a type of music that they called “folk music,” but it did not consist of actual centuries-old folk melodies. It sounded a lot like secular pop music, or poorly-written show tunes. That type of music often interfered with my prayers.
Difficulty in praying at Novice Ordo
So, for example, I would hear the lyrics or the melody and think, “Why are they using the word ‘alleluia,’ when it is Lent, a season when ‘alleluia’ is not supposed to be said? Did they stop caring after Vatican II? Why did they choose such a cheerful song?” My thoughts would constantly turn to things like this, not to things in keeping with the meaning of the liturgy. And then, to top it all off, I would start thinking things like, “Oh, the guitarist just played the wrong chord.” I could not concentrate on my prayers at all.
At every Mass, we should be focused on praying to and communing with God. That is not always easy, even at the best of times. It is extremely hard to do when one is being assailed by jangling and clattering sounds that have no sense of mystery. There is a serenity to the Traditional Mass. In it, we can concentrate on our prayers.
Latin Mass and Gregorian Chant for the Worship of God
Why is such secular-sounding music encouraged? Most of it is easy and (for some people) fun to sing. I suppose the liturgical reformers thought that the easy singing and easy-going atmosphere of the Mass had the advantage that anyone could join in immediately without feeling self-conscious.
But is such an easygoing atmosphere actually suitable for the Mass? Shouldn’t the highest and holiest of earthly activities, when God himself is present on the altar, be celebrated by something a little more solemn? Wouldn’t more silence be appropriate? If people want to hear pop music or show tunes, they can do so outside of church, seven days a week.
There is a fundamental difference between music for entertainment in the secular world and music for prayer to God.
The Bible tells us to “put on the armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11) in order to resist the devil. Part of the armor of God is prayer (Ephesians 6:18). The texts of the Traditional Mass are part of the Church’s centuries-old treasure trove of prayers. The ancient and original music for the Latin Mass, Gregorian chant, is a kind of prayer in melodic form. The melodies move slowly and bring out the meaning of the words.
My mysterious experience with Gregorian chant
I used to participate in the Gregorian chants of the Latin Mass. And once I had a strange experience that made me realize the difference between secular music and Gregorian chants.
One Saturday, I was rehearsing the Gregorian chants that I was going to sing the next day (Sunday). I had put off rehearsing until the last moment. The movement of notes in Gregorian chant is unique and completely different from that of modern music. Therefore, I always had a hard time learning it. That Saturday, I had to spend the whole day practicing the chants over and over again, in order to get them learned in time for Sunday Mass. Finally, by nighttime, I had managed to bring my chant-singing up to an acceptable level of competence. I remember joking to my husband, “I’ve been practicing Gregorian chants all day long, and my whole body is filled with prayer.”
“Finally, I can relax,” I thought, as I was drinking my tea. Then I glanced at my husband and saw that he was on the Internet researching something about his hobby. As soon as I saw that, I suddenly felt a sudden surge of anger toward my husband for being so easygoing, and not thinking about the financial burden he was placing on me.
I remember that deep down, I was almost 100 percent sure that my husband was wrong, so the anger took over and quickly turned into hatred. Demonic images of hatred floated around in my head, and I felt as if the blood in my body was being poisoned.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I felt, “This abnormal anger is strange. It is dangerous.” But still, I thought to myself, “Of course it is. This anger is justified. That is why it has become so terrible,” and I ignored the warnings of my heart. On the other hand, I prayed for a moment (saying, in my mind “May God take this anger”). It was only for a moment, and for a somewhat selfish reason (“tomorrow is Sunday,” I thought to myself, “and with this anger I probably will not be worthy to receive communion”).
Then something unexpected happened. Suddenly, a soft feeling the opposite of hatred, welled up in my heart. Perhaps it was the love of God. As the anger faded, I began to see my own stubbornness, my unwillingness to trust people, my unwillingness to do anything but be angry. Also, the difficult situation was not a curse, I realized, but a gift from God. It was strengthening my patience, which I needed. I also realized that my greatest anger was not at my husband, or at the fact that I had to go through a difficult situation, but at God for seeing me in that difficult situation and not fixing it.
After that, without knowing why, I could not stop crying for a while. Then I fell into a strong drowsiness and went to sleep shortly thereafter. The next morning, I woke up feeling very refreshed, both physically and emotionally.
When we sing Gregorian chant, we are vividly reenacting the prayers of old. I cannot prove it, but I believe that the mystical power of Gregorian chant and Latin prayer purged the evil that had been lurking deep within me.
Increasing use of Gregorian chant
The Traditional Mass consists of prayers that have been handed down through the ages, together with Gregorian chant, which complements them. But now the Vatican is trying to eliminate the Traditional Mass as much as possible. The essential problem is that, by restricting the ancient Mass, the Vatican is restricting the ancient prayers within it that foster communion with God. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that, at least in my own parish church, now that the Latin Mass has been eliminated, the Novus Ordo Masses include more Gregorian chant than ever before. What will happen in the future? Only God knows; but now that it has become more difficult to receive the benefits of the Latin Mass, I strongly feel the need for all of us to trust God and deepen our faith even more.
Image of Close-up of a Book of Gregorian Chants in an Italian Cathedral Dreamstime