This was in my inbox this morning. The writer has negatives and positives to express. I was interested to read how, for her, so much seems to have hinged on the priest’s actions and attitude.
My emphases and comments.
I read you enjoy hearing about your readers’ first TLM experiences, so I figured I’d share mine. I attended the only TLM available in Saskatchewan. It was a High Mass with about 30 people (the majority were converts according the Mass organizer), and after much anticipation and excitement to finally have a chance to experience what all the hype is about (I’m not normally where I have easy access to a TLM), I can only describe it in two words, disappointing and confusing.
It was disappointing because after reading so much disdain from other readers about the NO and how much more reverent the TLM is, I didn’t find it anymore reverent. The biggest complaint I’ve heard is how irreverent the NO’s “cattle drive” is for communion, so the irreverence at the TLM really irked me. The way TLM has been described, it sounded like some reverent event where people get on their knees to receive communion ever-so-reverently on their tongue, while the priest recites a much longer communion distribution prayer, giving a better understanding of what Jesus actually did for us. I’m going to give the priest the benefit of the doubt and assume he recited the communion prayer silently, but the “line ‘em up; knock ‘em down. NEXT!” at the communion rail, was a lot less reverent. [This seems to have more to do with the priest than the rite of Mass or the attitude of the congregation.]
It felt more like the priest was trying to break last week’s communion distribution speed than anything else.
I also found it very confusing. Thankfully I sat next to a nice lady who guided me through the little Latin/English Mass booklet, but I couldn’t for the life of me follow along. I think somewhere I got a misunderstanding of what active participation meant because I was under the impression that there was very little active participation involved in the TLM. I was wrong. Between trying to follow along and sing the responses in Latin, and making sure to stand, sit, kneel, genuflect and make the sign of the cross in all the right places, I was (attempting) to actively participate more than I had ever experienced in the NO. [Now I'm confused. That sounds like a good thing.] It didn’t take long for me to get lost until I recognized the sound of the Preface from the NO and the bells at consecration. [I am still confused. How do you not know where you are in the first part of a TLM? With the exception of the prayers at the foot of the altar, the Novus Ordo follows pretty much the same structure once you get to the Kyrie.] I wasn’t even sure when Mass was officially over and it was okay to leave because nobody left for like ten minutes. It was just very confusing. [Nobody left? Perhaps they were praying after Mass? Making an act of thanksgiving? That is not a flaw of the older form of Mass or a problem with the congregation. The problem rests in people rushing out immediately (or even before) Mass is ended. No?]
But I do have some good things to say about the TLM [Actually, some of the negatives seemed like positives, to me.] and my experience. First, I have to tip my hat to the priest who had to be pushing 90, yet seems a lot younger. Hopefully there’s another priest to take over once he retires, otherwise there will be no more TLM. I still have mixed feelings about the lack hymns (by hymns I mean real hymns, not those “Jesus is a Friend of Mine” type songs), but the Gregorian chant does trump a lot of those new Mass compositions for the NO. My experience has not put me off from the attending the TLM per se, but I still prefer the NO Mass as long as I can find a parish that doesn’t turn it into an overly-liberal progressivist Mass.
An interesting collection of observations.