From a reader (edited and with my emphases and comments. This is very good for people who went to a celebration of the older form of Mass and had a hard time with it, who found it difficult to follow along.
Thank you for your blog keeping Catholics informed about the Traditional Latin Mass and the various issues surrounding it. I am 49 years old and though my memories of the TLM have long faded I have a very vivid recollection of the specific mass I attended as a child where reception of the Eucharist was changed from going up to the railing and kneeling to receive to lining up along the centre aisle of the church and receiving on the hand. (a silly story I won’t get into)
I have always desired to attend a TLM to "see what it would be like". I was away from my home in Halifax, NS this past weekend visiting Oswego, NY for a conference. While there, looking for a Church to attend for Sunday Mass, to my surprise I noticed that St. Marys Church offered a 1:00 pm TLM. I went.
I do not understand Latin. In spite of being provided with a good Latin/English missal I had a great deal of trouble following the mass. I did not know how to pronounce the responses. There was, as I have read in the past, parts of this mass that were said silently. (By the way the mass was said by Father Morisette and despite my ignorance it was evident even to me that it was very well done.) [NB: The critical importance of the priest's competence and also his style.]
I love this mass. It is so appropriate. [He didn't understand it and had a hard time following it... but he got it anyway. Read what's next... ] It’s not about me but God. I want to emphasize that my experience was not an emotional one (emotions can be passing and flighty) rather it was an experience of faith. Those who built this mass up centuries ago knew exactly what they were doing. The mass honours God the way He should be honoured. It brings to my mind the last part of Malachi 1:14 – "For I am a great king, says Yahweh Sabaoth, and among the nations my name inspires awe" [A constant point of my writing and preaching and talking when I mention the point of any Mass is that it must produce "awe at transcendence", and encounter with mystery.]
As far as all of the difficulties mentioned above..I don’t mind! I can learn. The problems I encountered are not with the mass – they are with me. [Not the Mass. That is humble.] I need to brush up on my faith and on the TLM and perhaps on Latin.
I live in the Halifax area of NS. We used to have a Latin Mass Society here. I don’t know if it is still around. To my knowledge there are no TLMs in my diocese…if there were any nearby I would start going.
A good note.
No… a great note.
Folks, it is okay not to understand everything on the intellectual level. There is also comprehension at a deeper level.
I wonder very often about what people really "get" from Mass when so many things have been simplified into order to increase "intelligibility" or to "aid comprehension".
Sure, we gain something when we use the vernacular.
But do we not also lose something?
Something beyong the content of the prayers, which is of course also compromised in translation?
Do we not lose also a sense that what is going on is important in a vital, mysterious, awesome, challenging, even frightening way?
What do the prayers really say? There is a psychology to our worship as well. Just as anything in human affairs, when you make something very familiar, you increase the risk of it not seeming important anymore.
I think people who are curious about the TLM, the older form of Mass, and who are perhaps afraid of it or anxious that they will not understand, should relax and perhaps let themselves be a little afraid.
After all, these are sacred mysteries.
This is an encounter with mysterium tremendens et fascinans.
Go ahead… be afraid, be very afraid.
Not in the sense of base fear, but of awe and reverence.
It’s okay not to understand everything. It’s okay to be a little uncomfortable, for Mass to sieze you and take you where you would prefer not to go.
So often people require entertainment and distraction from the encounter with mystery, which is nothing other than a confrontation of the central mystery we face each day, namely, that even though our Lord rose from the dead, we still must die and pass to our judgments we know not how. We are confident as Christians, and joyful at God’s promises, but this is a fearful mystery.
It is precisely what is being represented in Holy Mass.
It is okay not to understand it all.
It is okay to be overcome with awe.
It is okay to struggle with it.