Guest Post: First TLM report

This came by email:

I’m a college student in Dubuque, Iowa (Loras College if you’ve heard of it) and after growing up on the Novus Ordo I thought it would be
interesting to go to a Latin Mass. I found one in Dyersville, IA (Field of
Dreams location!) at St. Francis Xavier Basillica. I went this afternoon and was blown away.

The beauty of the church hit me as soon as I walked in – though I’d been
there once before I still was struck speechless. I have attached a few
pictures of the side altars and the magnificent baldachinno I know you
love. A few people trickled in (I figured there would have been more, (sadly I would only say 25-30 people were in attendance, I expected more) but as Mass started I could just feel a sense of reverence I had only ever felt on rare visits to the Cathedral of St. Paul back home. Although it wasn’t a solemn high Mass (the handy dandy book I received with responses informed me how to tell the difference) the music of the cantor combined with the elderly priest blew me away. The priest’s homily was so more deep than the average sermon, and the silent beauty of the Eucharistic prayer had me in total adoration. I walked out of that Basilica a person who can’t wait to go to another Tridentine Mass, with even more appreciation of the Church. This experienced touched me in a deep way. Every Catholic should go to one.

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34 Responses to Guest Post: First TLM report

  1. fvhale says:

    What a wonderful experience! I, too, remember the awe of my first TLM experience earlier this year. What I have learned since is that much of that beauty and reverence can also be part of the Novus Ordo liturgy (of course, it helps to have an ancient basilica), through beautiful vestments and vessels, reverent furniture art, environment, celebration “ad orientem,” good music, etc., and avoidance of certain things like starting with the church lady coming to the mic and saying, “I’m Jane Doe, and I will be your commentator today, please turn and greet each other” before the entrance procession, etc.
    I think one of the best things about more people experiencing the TLM is that the scales fall off their eyes about the way the Novus Ordo is celebrated. There can be beauty, reverence and awe in either form, but with the Novus Ordo there are several modern bad habits of practice which can lead to banality. (And I am sure that 100 years ago, when there was only TLM, there were probably some bad habits of practice then which could also lead to banality.) TLM now is a “rare treasure” and practiced with great devotion and reverence; there is nothing intrinsic to the Novus Ordo mass that would keep it from being handled in the same beautiful, reverent way.

  2. Clinton R. says:

    How wonderful this college student experienced the timeless beauty of the TLM. And how tragic our Catholic heritage has been taken from us by modernists with their Protestant envy. Stripping down parishes to resemble Protestant churches and the Bugnini created NO Mass has resulted in a massive loss of faith around the world. Perhaps God allowed the NO Mass to come about so we may see how glorious, beautiful and edifying the TLM is. If this one student was so deeply affected by attendance at a TLM, then how many more souls would be brought to Christ if the TLM was more readily offered? I pray the Lord sees fit to restore the TLM as the ordinary rite of the Mass and May He call faithful men to the priesthood with the desire to celebrate the Immemorial Mass of All ages. +JMJ+

  3. Gratias says:

    Welcome aboard, Iowa student. On your first traditional masses it is best to relax and take the beauty in without worrying about the readings. After seven years we are more proficient and would recommend having the 1962 Roman Missal (Angelus Press) in order to do the readings the day before, a great preparation for mass.

    Wife and I got to the EF through subscribing to The Latin Mass Magazine (highly recommended). Someone sent us a free copy that changed our lives.

    Here in huge Los Angeles Archdiocese the TLM is severely restricted (and the priests that offer it punished with vindictive transfers) but we have a wonderful, wonderful mass in San Buenaventura Mission 90 min (one way, but at least all the way is paved) from home. Today my radiator failed on the way, so we had to return home and attended my NO parish instead.

    I was overwhelmed by all the noises and uncatholic hymns that left no time to pray. The priest asked us to hold hands across pews (we rebelled), named the altar servers and asked for a round of applause ( none from us), and there was no kneeling after the Sanctus for consecration/transubstantiation. At least, what I first feared were Tambourines ended up being just an inspired drummer. For the recessional hymn the entire congregation was clapping at the highbeat, just like protestants Hope my car can be repaired. I sincerely promised to attend half and half NO-EF, but this may be too much of a challenge and might have to revise that in favor of the TLM.

    So Iowa Kid, enjoy you newly discovered treasure. It grows on you and there is no going back.

  4. iowapapist says:

    God bless you. I have attended the TLM at St. Francis on many occasions. The TLM in Dyersville is the closest one to us within the Archdiocese (140 miles away). The church is spectacularly beautiful. Many young people attend the Ancient Mass. You have now experienced the holiness of the Mass that Bishop Loras himself offered. My prayer is that everyone will have regular access to the TLM by the time you reach my age. Welcome to the fullness of Catholic worship.

  5. Phil_NL says:

    fvhale raises some good points.

    Out of all the improvements (or, given the resounding success, perhaps ‘marvels’ would be a better word) the student from Iowa describes, only the silent canon is in fact a characteristic of the EF. All the other aspects could – and should! – be part of an NO Mass as well.
    Sadly, there’s a high percentage of NO Masses – and, judging from the blog, especially in the States – that is not only lacking in reverence and beauty in terms of liturgy or the church building, as well as profoundness in terms of the homily, but is downright also ghastly in terms of abuses left and right. That increases the contrast enormously.

    I’m glad that the writer of this email is so impressed and enriched, but one keeps wondering how much of the same effect would have been achieved if he had attended a proper NO Mass, one as it should be done. For me, that was actually the big eye-opener. But there are many who even then have a strong preference one way or the other, so who knows.

  6. Inigo says:

    “Every Catholic should go to one.”

    I think:

    Every Catholic should go regularly.

  7. Long-Skirts says:

    Gratias said:

    “So Iowa Kid, enjoy you newly discovered treasure. It grows on you and there is no going back.”

    It is your inheritance.

    RED

    Vestments of red
    Altar cloth too
    Martyrs who bled
    Did this for you.

    Gold Tabernacles
    Veiled in red’s hue
    Martyrs in shackles
    Hung for this view.

    Red mums full bloomed
    In water and brass
    Martyrs consumed
    Burned for this Mass.

    Red rays of sun
    Rose-streak the nave
    Their suffering done –
    Now red we must crave!

  8. Marie Veronica says:

    Wonderful and I hope you continue to attend. It took me about six masses before I had my bearings. It is worth it.

  9. momoften says:

    and…it was the Extraordinary Form Mass that stirred a question of vocation in one son
    as he learned how to serve and sing at EF Mass. How many more young men would it
    inspire? I think lots if they were exposed to it. It is such a beautiful Mass, I find it
    difficult to go to most ordinary form Masses for they have lost their reverence because
    they have lost the silence.

  10. ordinary means says:

    It’s the reverence, you can just feel everything is ordered correctly.

  11. StWinefride says:

    So happy you enjoyed your first TLM, Iowa student!

    May I recommend a lovely, easy to read book called “The Mass and the Saints” by Fr Thomas Crean, O.P.?

    You can get it here from Amazon.com – view first, and then if you like the look of it – order through Father Z!

    http://www.amazon.com/Mass-Saints-Thomas-Crean/dp/1586173472

    Hope you enjoy many more TLMs!

    Phil_NL says:

    I’m glad that the writer of this email is so impressed and enriched, but one keeps wondering how much of the same effect would have been achieved if he had attended a proper NO Mass, one as it should be done. For me, that was actually the big eye-opener. But there are many who even then have a strong preference one way or the other, so who knows.

    Interesting! Having attended the TLM solidly for over 5 years now – I personally, have an overwhelming preference for the TLM over the NO. Even though I have experienced, many times, a NO Mass just as it should be done, it’s just not the same.

    The vertical dimension of the TLM is palpable and draws me towards God, whereas the horizontal dimension of the NO just doesn’t have the same effect on me. And believe me, I have attended some beautiful NO Masses.

    The fruits of the TLM in my life – even I cannot believe them! So yes, Fr Faber was right, the TLM is the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven. And importantly, it produces good fruits – especially Vocations to the Priesthood, the Religious Life…

  12. Jim says:

    And… today happens to be the feast of St Francis Xavier, the patron of the Propagation of the Faith. Happy Feast!

  13. jbosco88 says:

    Wonderful, I hope you have the opportunity to go to many more!

    I remember my first accidental visit to a “Extraordinary Form” Mass – I was an Anglican, and even then, it was obvious that the silence wasn’t because we were waiting for the Priest to do something, but was filled with something ineffable!

  14. CatherineTherese says:

    StWinefride said: The vertical dimension of the TLM is palpable and draws me towards God, whereas the horizontal dimension of the NO just doesn’t have the same effect on me.

    I concur! There is a recently ordained young priest in my diocese who has begun to celebrate in the Extraordinary Form. It is a beautiful, vertical experience, and after a couple months of attending these Masses, I find myself seeking out the EF whenever and wherever else it is accessible.

    It’s true, as is said, that one begins to develop a comprehension of its rhythms, and the agitation to follow along in the missal is less and less pressing (though I am, per Gratias’s suggestion, ordering a 1962 Roman Missal).

    I also credit Fr. Z and his community of readers & commenters for cultivating in me an awareness of, and boldness to pursue, those more traditional environments of Catholic worship. This, even in an apparent backwater of lukewarmness, geographically speaking. There are, thank God, pockets of RICH life in the faith if one seeks them!

  15. Phil_NL says:

    @StWinefride

    That was what I had in mind with the last line of my post. I’m probably one of the odd ones out (here on this blog) as so-one who’s EF experiences are not markedly better than my regular OF attendance. I generally ascribe it to having a very good OF (at least, except when a student pastor or a neighboring priest is coming over, which is sadly more often nowadays due to diocesan policies), but maybe it’s because I tend to tune out on any ‘horizontal’ stuff anyway, if it’s present. Mass is by definition a vertical endeavour, I’d say.

    But I won’t deny that for many, it does make a big difference.

  16. StWinefride says:

    Phil_NL – perhaps you are more spiritually advanced than some of us – I need the TLM!

    Catherine Therese, you say:
    It’s true, as is said, that one begins to develop a comprehension of its rhythms, and the agitation to follow along in the missal is less and less pressing (though I am, per Gratias’s suggestion, ordering a 1962 Roman Missal).

    I have a Missal and hardly use it! The reason being I am just so happy to be there (I know the Confiteor, Gloria, Credo etc of course). I cannot remember who described the following in this way, but I’ll do my best to recall it (perhaps someone knows?):

    “The moment we enter the Church for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are on Calvary. We are at the foot of the Cross. Our earthly time no longer exists – we witness with our own eyes Our Lord’s one time Sacrifice on the Cross represented in an unbloody manner…”

    Something amazing is happening on the Altar and I’m happy to be part of it.

    That for me, is true “active participation”. It’s interior. However, I’m not averse to singing – that’s praying twice anyway.

    God Bless.

  17. Phil_NL says:

    StWinefride:

    That I very much doubt! In fact, given the ‘right’ circumstances I can work myself into a fuming rage over the homily or the priest ad libbing (again, student pastors who visit are to be suffered, apperently). But as long as a certain threshold isn’t crossed, and it doesn’t make much difference for me. For better or worse, that’s for God to sort out.

  18. JuliaSaysPax says:

    Gratias- Tell me about it. Since going to a TLM during a summer program at TAC two years ago, I have bee trying to find another one. Alas, I have no car and the bus to Reseda (the nearest parish with TLM) takes 5 hours because of how poorly organized the weekend metro is.

  19. Drefcinski says:

    Fr. Z,
    Please pass the word to this college student (and everyone else in the Dubuque area) that the TLM is available daily in Platteville, WI at St. Mary’s (M-F 6:30 am; Sat. 8:00 am) and St. Augustine’s (Sun 8:00 am).

  20. Mom2301 says:

    So glad to hear this news from a fellow Catholic in the Dubuque diocese. It’s a shame you had to leave Loras College (where our seminarians are!!!) to find an EF mass. Dyersville was the home of my first experience with the EF and I have to agree it is a beautiful cathedral. Pray for Bishop Hanus that he might encourage the EF more. Perhaps we would see an uptick in vocations which would give some relief to our current priests who are almost all serving at least two parishes and some as many as five.

  21. mdinan says:

    I discovered the EF during the spring of my junior year of college…Low Sunday, I believe. It didn’t take long for me to feel more comfortable with the Ordo of that beautiful form of the Mass than I ever did with the Novus Ordo. Now, almost four years later, on those occasions when I assist in the Ordinary Form, I find myself yearning for the silence, the reverence, and the beauty of a simple Low Mass. Every time I hear it, the Asperges brings me great joy. The silence of the canon is so much more conducive to prayer…and when the bells sound, and the smell of damascus rose fills the air…as we gaze upon the Blessed Sacrament and silently pray, “My Lord and My God!”…is it possible to desire anything but He whom we are about to receive? I am always so glad to see my peers discover this for themselves! I pray that you come to discover richness and beauty you never dreamed possible through your assistance at this Mass.

  22. Simon_GNR says:

    Although I am basically a traditionalist in matters of faith and religious practice, I have never been to a TLM and *not* been disappointed, and left feeling somehow unfulfilled. The Extraordinary Form of Mass has never really “clicked” with me. With the readings in Latin only and the canon of the mass mumbled almost silently by a priest whose back I can see, but most of what he is doing on the altar I can’t see, the TLM doesn’t really open its chest of spiritual treasures, which I’m sure it possesses, to me. I feel like someone looking in a glass darkly, or even someone fumbling in a dark cellar for the light switch. With all the positive comments one reads about it, not least on this blog, I’m convinced that the TLM can be wonderful and deeply spiritually enriching, but I’ve never been able to appreciate for myself the glories of the older form of Mass. I want to, but at the moment I can’t. Any sincere advice would be welcome.

  23. StWinefride says:

    Simon_GNR, if you haven’t already read it, it might be helpful to read the Ottaviani Intervention – a Letter that was written by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci to Pope Paul VI on 25.09.1969.

    They begin:

    the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent. The “canons” of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery.

    Link here:

    http://www.fisheaters.com/ottavianiintervention.html

    Hope this is of some help.

  24. onosurf says:

    Sounds like you just had your first bone-in New York steak. It’s tough going back to the salisbury steak.

  25. onosurf says:

    @Simon_GNR Been there as well. You should study it. The above recommended reading (Ottaviani Intervention is a must). Once you study the Mass (put in about an hour) and go to 6-8 masses, you’ll get hooked and there will be no going back. I’ve been going solidly for 6 months, I see more of its richness each Sunday. You truly understand why so many saints died for the TLM.

    I bought this for my kids and it ended up being invaluable for me! I highly recommend it: http://angeluspress.org/Books/Children/Know-Your-Mass

    Good luck.

    Jason

  26. John Nolan says:

    @Simon_GNR

    The best way to appreciate the Low Mass is to serve it. Even now I still make the responses I learned by heart as a child, although sotto voce so as not to distract others.

  27. Sword40 says:

    All of the posters here have described my feelings to a “T”. My soul soars when I attend the TLM.

  28. CatherineTherese says:

    StWinefride said:
    I have a Missal and hardly use it! The reason being I am just so happy to be there (I know the Confiteor, Gloria, Credo etc of course). I cannot remember who described the following in this way, but I’ll do my best to recall it (perhaps someone knows?):

    “The moment we enter the Church for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are on Calvary. We are at the foot of the Cross. Our earthly time no longer exists – we witness with our own eyes Our Lord’s one time Sacrifice on the Cross represented in an unbloody manner…”

    Something amazing is happening on the Altar and I’m happy to be part of it.

    That for me, is true “active participation”. It’s interior. However, I’m not averse to singing – that’s praying twice anyway.

    Oh yes! I am beginning to grasp this, myself, and it is beautiful. Like you, I suspect I would not suffer in the least for lack of a missal in hand (but I still can’t resist ordering one anyway!). On the other hand, perhaps I should be patient and simply allow the fruits you’ve described (which resonate with my experience) to wash over me without adding anything for the time being.

    As a recent convert to the faith… little did I know how much better things could get! I am constantly in awe and filled with gratitude. God bless you, and thank you for the link you shared above as well, to the Ottaviani Intervention, which I shall read with pleasure!

    CT

  29. StWinefride says:

    Simon_GNR, there is a book I would also like to recommend because it was instrumental in my decision to seek out the TLM:

    Liturgical Time Bombs in Vatican II by Michael Davies: The destruction of Catholic Faith through changes in Catholic Worship.

    It is very instructive and a must-read. Michael Davies quotes our own Holy Father when he was Cardinal Ratzinger (this from 1997):

    I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing is to a large extent due to the disintergration of the liturgy…when the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless.” (my emphasis)

    Actually, another important book is Monsignor Klaus Gamber’s book: The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its problems and background.

    In his book he says:

    The real destruction of the traditional Mass, of the traditional Roman rite with a history of more than one thousand years, is the wholesale destruction of the Faith on which it was based, a Faith that had been the source of our piety and of our courage to bear witness to Christ and His Church, the inspiration of countless Catholics over many centuries. Will someone, some day, be able to say the same thing about the new Mass?

    There is another point too: the changes made to the TLM, are very similar to the changes Luther made in the 16th century to fabricate a Protestant mass (service). Luther’s goal was to destroy the notion that the Mass is a true Sacrifice and belief in Transubstantiation. There were also six Protestant observers at the Second Vatican Council – who according to some, did more than just observe.

    I made the choice many years ago to worship God at a truly Catholic Mass – it must not be allowed to die!

    Good luck!

  30. StWinefride says:

    CatherineTherese: Welcome to the Catholic Faith! Yes, do order a Missal they are lovely – I love seeing young people use old, used Missals, they have invariably inherited them from their parents or grandparents. Nice continuity…

    One of my favourite quotes is from St Frances of Rome:

    “A married woman must often leave God at the Altar to find Him in her domestic cares”.

    I don’t like to get too intellectual about the faith, I leave that to the men!

    God Bless!

  31. PatrickPilcher says:

    There’s Latin Mass three times a week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa also! Come on down! It’s at St. Wenceslaus Church at 7 AM Wednesday, Thursday, and Sung Mass with Incense on Sunday. Tell them I sent you!
    Patrick

  32. Mariana says:

    “Inigo says:

    “Every Catholic should go to one.”

    I think:

    Every Catholic should go regularly.”

    I say every Catholic should BE ABLE to go regularly. Sadly, not possible in this country. I feel very cheated. I’ve been to both the EF Masses a saintly FSSP priest from France has offered here and it was wonderful. Our Novus Ordo Masses are very reverently celebrated, and once a month in Latin, and I’ve never seen any of the ghastly stuff Americans post about on this blog, but still, all the stand up, kneel down, stand up again, make lots of responses, shake hands now seems silly and not all that reverent anymore. And I detest versus populum!

    It is utterly beyond me how people could think the old Mass had to be changed!

  33. CatherineTherese says:

    Just got around to reading the Ottaviani Intervention, StWinefride. (http://www.fisheaters.com/ottavianiintervention.html)

    All I can say is… WOW!

    Early in my conversion, I had so many questions about what was happening during the Mass, and my inability to understand or perceive the sacrifice, the propitiation, the prayers to the saints, the sacramental nature as opposed to the “supper,” etc, etc. I couldn’t even fathom. What I did know was that the more reverent the N.O. celebration (as yet my closest brush with “lex orandi, lex credendi,” the more traditional the aesthetics of the particular church, the fewer the number of lay EMOHCs, and such, the more satisfying was my endeavor to worship (habituating myself, as I was, to merely conceiving in my small way that God exists at all! – which in itself was a radical realization). But discovering the EF has accelerated, clarified, and put into technicolor all the vagueness of desire to experience Catholicism, Christ, our relationship to God, the meaning of worship, and so forth.

    A cartoon Jesus is not satisfying to the human mind our soul. “God is love” did not resonate or appeal (in the context of the mushy, blurry, emotional fluff that characterizes our modern idea of “love”), until I first began to comprehend that God IS, period… And that concept DEMANDS at least an imperfect recognition of the infinity of God. Attending and beginning to appreciate the EF has been, effectively, a confrontation with infinity – such that I don’t have to make it up for myself, for it has been embodied and expressed in the liturgy for centuries.

  34. StWinefride says:

    CatherineTherese you say: Attending and beginning to appreciate the EF has been, effectively, a confrontation with infinity – such that I don’t have to make it up for myself, for it has been embodied and expressed in the liturgy for centuries.

    Beautifully said!