On the blog Called By Name we have the description from Fr. Kyle Schnippel, Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, about his first time as deacon for a Solemn TLM. My emphases and comments:
Introibo ad Altari Dei…Last night, I had the opportunity, for the first time, to attend/assist/celebrate a Traditional Latin Mass for the first time in public. (While on retreat after Christmas, I said a daily TLM in private, which is much preferable, to me, than saying the NO in private, but I’ll get to that in a later post, hopefully.)
Those following my twitter feed (@fatherschnippel) noticed the following yesterday, late morning: “Message to Cinci folk: TLM at OSM, 7:00 PM, tonight, Epiphany Solemn Mass, urs truly as Deacon”
Yep, first time: Deacon at a Solemn High Mass! A bit of training from a very good MC, and off we went. To say it is different than the NO Mass is, umm, selling it a bit short. I am still trying to get my head around the experience.
First thought: strangely, it is much harder to ‘pray’ this Mass than the NO as a priest. [This notion of "praying" the Mass as a sacred minister needs some attention. The fact that you are doing it reverently is itself a kind of prayer. There are different ways to pray, after all. It is great to pray with meditation, but paying attention to what you are doing is also a good thing. Liturgical action has, for the sacred minister, also a practical issue: being workman-like. You can't pray as a sacred minister as if you were attending Mass, or you were celebrating privately with leisure. Also... how is it you pray during the Novus Ordo?] At least these initial run throughs (with rusty Latin), I am so concerned with the Rubrics, the hand positions, the genuflections, the kissing the altar, hand, etc., I’m trying to get through it rather than ‘pray’ it. [That's okay. Pray later. You'll get used to doing this and, when it is more comfortable, you'll also have some space to pray. But first and foremost, your role as deacon is pretty busy: you have a job to do.] In TLM, it is not about the priest, it is about the ritual, the ceremony, the prayers; entering into a timelessness, almost. The prayers are beautiful in their wording, if sometimes wordy, even in the Latin (which can really get me tongue tied!)
Another thought, from a friend who was attending her first TLM: Afterwards, as we were digesting the experience over sandwiches at Cinci’s oldest bar, her comment was: ‘It seemed, ummm…, more masculine.’ The guys at the table agreed: if NO Masses were celebrated like that, there would be more vocations. [Do I hear an 'Amen!'?] (leading a participant to quip this morning in a note: “Father, have you told your boss and your other priest friends that a very orthodox mass (even NO) with a very rigorous/demanding altar server program would help encourage vocations?” Well, we know it, harder to implement.
The chants (and the choir was really great last night!) all reflect that timelessness. Certainly, in TLM, there is not a notion of ‘I don’t get anything out of Mass,’ even the laity have to work to pray along.
Another buddy, also attending his first TLM, tried to follow along at first, but dropped the little red hand missal and just decided to soak it in. I think he was still trying to put it into words, too. (I really hope he was joking with the ‘needed more “active participation”!’ line!) [He needs, perhaps, a deeper understanding of "active participation"?]
Anyway, there is another chance to see me ply the trade of the deacon tonight, for the monthly ‘First Friday’ Mass at Old St. Mary’s in Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine. Hopefully, I won’t be quite as lost, be able to enter the prayer a bit more and ultimately, soon, be able to step up to the top step of the altar and bat leadoff for the Solemn High Mass.
As a contrast, since I hadn’t had my own Mass yet, I then celebrated a Low Mass at the same altar, with just two servers and maybe a few others at first in the Church. At least there, I was mostly getting the hang of things.
WDTPRS KUDOS to Fr. Schnippel.
I am struck by the contrast between this diocesan Vocations Director, and those who were in my home diocese back in the day. They were either trying to keep me out seminary or, once I was in, were actively trying to get me out. What fond memories I have of the vocations director who, having trashed me during my reviews, later came out of the closet in the pulpit of a church, wrote a nasty editor about the Church for the local paper, and then left the active priesthood… only to be welcomed back later with no requirement that he recant his publicly contumacious editorial.
Times have changed, of course. Slowly but surely things are changing.
I think I fixed the combox.