From a reader:
To begin with, I was born in the late 1970’s in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, so I’ve had my share of erroneous interpretation and liturgical abuse. I have also found small bastions of the OF ["Ordinary Form" or Novus Ordo] celebrated with an attempt towards dignity.
I also am aware of the complaints that some of my older relatives had towards the EF, [Extraordinary Form or "old Mass" or Traditional Latin Mass] namely the incomprehensibility of Latin. [NB: Not the fault of the Mass.] I have learned some in high school, but I am awfully rusty. I went without a Missal.
So, with that in mind, I went to a Low Mass this morning.
My first impression when I walked in the door was, "good, I’m not late". My second was, "hmm…lots of reserved signs for small children". The back half was, in fact, entirely reserved for such. It took me some time to run the numbers in the back of my head before Mass began. There were probably a little over a hundred people there, at least ten of which were less than a year old. That is probably the same number of infants in a given Mass in my parish of a thousand families. I also noted that the vast majority of adults attending were my age or younger. It is just stunning to see people actually serious about the hard parts of their Faith. [A common experience for new comers: they are amazed at the number of young people, young families.]
The Church is beautiful, perhaps not a masterpiece of art and splendour, but nothing to laugh at either. I’d certainly prefer to be there today than the Cathedral in terms of ambiance. [Especially after what Archbp. Weakland did to it.]
Father speaks a few announcements, and I notice a heavy French accent, though not Parisian. This might be odd, and a little tough, but I’ve comprehended worse.
Mass begins, and I am rather taken aback by how quickly he speaks the prayers. I may be rusty, but I have enormous difficulty even catching individual words. There are no breaks except when he moves from book to book. I ask myself, "how does he breath?" [Yes… I think this is a legitimate criticism. Sometimes priests don’t account for the fact that the prayers are language and not merely formulas.]
We then hear the reading, Gospel and Homily. I’d say it is a very solid homily, especially for one of the more difficult Gospels. He wasn’t Fulton Sheen, but I do wish such homilies were more common. [Not many priests are.] Even so, he does speak longer than the average OF homily.
For the most part, I can ape through the various postures, though the genuflections are a bit akward (I’m a big guy, so it takes a little longer).
By the time Communion begins, I rue that I didn’t sit further back. I’ve never received Communion like this before. [!] I thankfully figured out that my hands must be beneath the cloth when I receive the Sacrament in time. My mind is still racing while I get up that I go back to my pew the wrong way. I felt silly by the time I figured this out, but that’s just how it goes. Oh well. [Yes. But the next time will be much easier.]
Mass concludes, and I am still reeling. I pray for a little, then leave quietly. On my way out I notice a rack of pamphlets. There is one that catches my eye – an encyclical concerning atheistic communism. I didn’t know if I had to pay for any of these, as this one was rather thick. It would be an interesting read, and it’s a shame that it has been forgotten as much as H.V.
All in all, it was a positive experience. Even so, I kinda wished Father hadn’t rattled off the prayers quite so much.
It is always interesting to hear or read first impressions of the older form, especially from people who are young enough not to have known it at all when growing up.