A reader sent in impression of the first Holy Mass he attended in the Extraordinary Form, and not just a Low Mass, either:
I attended my first TLM this past week. It was a beautiful Solemn Pontifical Mass said by my Bishop. During and after the mass, I had three main impressions.
1. I was taken by how serious, reverent, and solemn it was. The thought struck me during mass that serious, reverent, and solemn is exactly what mass should be. The mass put me in a “Last Things” frame of mind. That seemed appropriate since one of the purposes of Catholic worship is to help lead us to heaven. [Exactly, as I told a group of young people at Brompton Oratory last week, Mass has to help us prepare for death.] By comparison, I think the O.F. makes me / us feel too comfortable, in an “I’m OK, you’re OK” (i.e., we don’t have to change) kind of way rather than focus our attention and change us / move us interiorly.
2. The inclusion of more intricate rubrics made sense to me. The Eucharist is the sum and substance of our worship, and therefore, why shouldn’t that be reflected in all that happens during mass? [Again, BINGO!] Gestures and body posture are important, even to those not making the gestures. They take us out of the ordinary and help us to focus. Americans stand during the pledge of allegiance / national anthem. We hold our hands over our heart. We do so as a sign of respect and to show that what we are doing is different, special. Whether it is the priest or altar boys, their gestures convey to the congregation that what is happening is different and special from what happens in the outside world.
3. Kneeling while receiving communion just seemed so “right” (correct). I usually receive communion on the tongue, so that was not different, but kneeling seemed more reverent. Again, it’s a posture that reflects the seriousness of what is taking place. Standing is an indication of equal status. Kneeling is a sign of humility and reflects the fact that we do not have the same status of Him that we receive.