From a reader:
Thank you kindly, Father. I’ve been to the Extraordinary form once. My sponsor was the celebrant. There is something greater there than at novus ordo. Something heavenly and otherworldly was at play. I definitely felt the fear of the Lord, I felt like crawling under a pew. But as Mass began, I felt flooded with Mercy.
Why is there such a big difference spiritual in the Masses?
That reverential awe, that holy fear at the mystery you encounter, both tremendum et fascinans, is precisely what our liturgical worship must bring us to feel. This is precisely what we need at the heart of any project to revitalize any dimension of Holy Church’s life and action in this post-Christian world.
Awe at transcendence, is what we should require from our liturgical worship. This experience helps us to put the worldly in perspective and to deal with the mysterious challenge of the fact that, even through our Lord conquered death definitively, we still have to die.
I think one of the reasons that the Extraordinary Form is better at this than the Ordinary Form is because the rites control us, leave us less in control. The difficult elements of Holy Mass in the older form provide a good foundation for our encounter with mystery. Especially important are the silences, the lack of ability to see everything. We seek God in the spaces between the holy signs. There is an apophatic side to Holy Mass that comes through more easily in the older form. This can be fostered in the Ordinary Form, too, but I think it is easier to foster in the older form.
In any event, I am glad that you had that key experience, which will shape your experience of other Masses for some time to come.
Your experience was yet another reason to thank Benedict XVI for the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.