“nothing was required of me but to pray”

At Ignitum Today there is a entry by a gal who attended a “Traditional Latin Mass” for the first time in years.

The first part of the piece:

[…]

This Sunday by happy accident (no one could find the 3 year old’s shoes until past the time for us to leave) we ended up at the local TLM church instead of our regular Novus Ordo parish. This  Mass was a different experience altogether.  I’ve been before, but I don’t know how I missed the silence.  I don’t know how I missed the calm and the peace. Before the Mass, there was no talking at all.  No chatting at all, there were just respectful silence and a swiftly moving line of penitents at the Confessional.  (There was Confession before Mass.  Not at 3:30 on a Saturday and only for half an hour, but beforeMass began)

Once the processional began, I realized that, to my delight, nothing was required of me but to pray.  The squirmy baby in my arms usually distracts me as I try to follow along.  Sunday I just prayed.  The Mass washed over me in a soothing stream of Latin.  The chanting of the priest was met by the soaring voices of the choir.  The boys at the altar were serious about their duties and obviously joyful in the doing of them.  The whole of the Celebration was as smooth and as beautiful as a well-rehearsed dance.  I watched it all in appreciation, and then bowed my head and prayed.

[…]

Thank you, Pope Benedict, for Summorum Pontificum.

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Benedict XVI, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to “nothing was required of me but to pray”

  1. lizaanne says:

    This brought tears to my eyes.
    Indeed — thank you Holy Father — you have saved the liturgy, and as a result, saved souls.

  2. mamajen says:

    Coming from a very strict NO upbringing, it’s still hard for me to grasp that to “just pray” is truly okay. My misunderstanding of what I was supposed to do kind of wrecked my first experience with the TLM many years ago. I am so eager to try again now that I know better! I would love my husband and children to be able to experience it, too. I hope more mass options become available in my area.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    How beautiful and how well-written. Thank you for sharing this, Fr.

  4. monmir says:

    When I started to attend the EF Mass I was able to go back and forth to the NO Mass after a few months it was impossible. Now NO Mass is only if I would have to miss Mass.
    Many in my parish travel a fair amount of time to attend Sunday Mass and also the weekday masses.

  5. wolfeken says:

    Well put. In a world of noise, the traditional Latin Mass, Low or High, is an oasis of prayer and contemplation. (Unless some in the congregation attempt to audibly act as the choir or altar boys, but that’s another story.) One of the strongest arguments for the TLM keeps getting stronger with each day’s new I-Pad, I-Pod, BlackBerry, cell phone, texting machine and the other billion distractions that have turned into noisy addictions. Silence for an hour or so in a church is absolute paradise on earth.

  6. BillyT92679 says:

    I’ve been to the EF for years, even in the vast liturgical wasteland of Rochester NY, and now in Buffalo, going back to the late 1990s.

    I do like it a lot and appreciate it very much. Honestly, I prefer the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostum most of all. And a very good OF can be lovely. Same with a reverent Maronite Holy Qorbono.

  7. tealady24 says:

    What no preening and walking about as if you are IT? No music “ministry” giving us the latest in those thoughtful (but hardly sacred) Protestant spirituals?? No priest positioning himself smack dab in the middle of the altar where Jesus crucified should be???

    No, just quiet and piety and yes, praying from start to finish. That is what the Mass is actually; yet, how it has morphed into the silliness it has become is truly so disappointing.
    I don’t require “showtime” at mass; all I need is our blessed Lord.

  8. cathdeac says:

    I am attending a “Traditional Latin Mass” for the first time in my life tonight at 8:30PM in Bergamo (Italy).

  9. AGA says:

    A poor misguided priest once said that he didn’t like the tabernacle within the sanctuary because it made him feel in competition with it. [?!? Wow… just… wow…]

    The Novus Ordo may be an unnessary near occasion of sin to pride for some priests and laity both.

  10. The Sicilian Woman says:

    I’ll read that whole post later, but I’ll comment now enough to say, especially given the Mass I attended in my usual parish this past weekend, that the silence of the EF is golden. It’s what we need to focus and pray.

    Last weekend, my usually wise and in-line pastor invited a Christian singing group – complete with woodwind and horn sections, keyboards and drums – to participate in the Mass, singing the processional, the Responsorial Psalm, the Gospel Acclamation, and so on. I dreaded every musical part of Mass. Nothing against the talents of this particular group – they’ve traveled and performed across the world, including in front of JPII or BXVI, can’t remember which one – but that sort of music did NOT belong in Mass. It was loud, jarring, and not conducive to prayer or reverence at all. All I kept thinking was how much more I understood the purpose and the need for the EF Mass, on top of how badly I wanted to run out of there to the Mass at a neighboring parish about 15 minutes away.

  11. This morning I watched the Mass from EWTN. The newly ordained Fr. Patrick was the celebrant, and offered the Mass with dignity and devotion. It seemed clear to me that he has been trained and offers the Usus Antiquior . Priests who do tend to be the better liturgists for it.

  12. The Sicilian Woman says:

    P.S. I just peaked to see who the blogger was. Rebecca Frech has a faithful Catholic (plus other topics) blog of her own that I’ve been reading for the a while.

  13. HyacinthClare says:

    OH yes. How beautifully, perceptively expressed. I attended a OF mass yesterday at a funeral, first OF I’ve attended in months and months, and everything that used to irritate is still there: the words projected on the wall; the vocalist obviously and clumsily changing the words to eliminate all male pronouns referring to God; the priest with his back to Jesus, looking at US and speaking to us as if we were the purpose of the mass. This was a reverent, quiet OF… a funeral. And yet… so much is lost. So much is lost.

  14. KristinLA says:

    That was my reaction too, “Oh. I’m not the supporting cast of a musical. It’s not about me. It’s about offering the perfect sacrifice.” Also, whether in Latin or English, reading the prayers is more helpful to me than listening because I am more visual than auditory. The prayers are supassingly beautiful.

  15. HyacinthClare says:

    KristinLA, that “not the supporting cast of a musical” is priceless. I hadn’t heard that one, but that is exactly right.

  16. St. Epaphras says:

    It’s interior participation vs. an exterior participation. No programmed demands on you, snatching you out of entering fully into the Holy Sacrifice. Even at reverent and correct NO Masses I get the feeling someone is substituting artificial participation for the real thing. In such a case it’s not the priest’s fault. That’s just the way the NO Mass is. Often I don’t respond at the “Responsorial Psalm” or sing the “hymns” (ha! ha!) or any number of things. I know, I know…

    Hoping the writer gets to assist at many TLM’s with her family. There are layers and layers of true “participation” she will no doubt get to experience!

  17. cblanch says:

    I’ve never attended a TLM as it’s not readily available where I live, but I have been experiencing more and more the desire “to just pray” at the NO Mass I attend. I find it annoying that I have to “do” something all the time. I have to “do” something all the time outside of Mass and it would be great to just come in and worship the Lord quietly. The people responsible for making all of the liturgical changes must not have been too concerned with anything contemplative. It’s hard to hear Our Lord with all of this active participation.

  18. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Last weekend, my usually wise and in-line pastor invited a Christian singing group – complete with woodwind and horn sections, keyboards and drums – to participate in the Mass, singing the processional, the Responsorial Psalm, the Gospel Acclamation, and so on. I dreaded every musical part of Mass. Nothing against the talents of this particular group – they’ve traveled and performed across the world, including in front of JPII or BXVI, can’t remember which one – but that sort of music did NOT belong in Mass. It was loud, jarring, and not conducive to prayer or reverence at all. All I kept thinking was how much more I understood the purpose and the need for the EF Mass, on top of how badly I wanted to run out of there to the Mass at a neighboring parish about 15 minutes away.”

    In fairness, section VI of Musicam Sacrum says:

    “VI. Sacred Instrumental Music

    62. Musical instruments can be very useful in sacred celebrations, whether they accompany the singing or whether they are played as solo instruments.

    “The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, since it is its traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lift up men’s minds to God and higher things.

    “The use of other instruments may also be admitted in divine worship, given the decision and consent of the competent territorial authority, provided that the instruments are suitable for sacred use, or can be adapted to it, that they are in keeping with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.”[43]

    63. In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However, those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions.[44]

    Any musical instrument permitted in divine worship should be used in such a way that it meets the needs of the liturgical celebration, and is in the interests both of the beauty of worship and the edification of the faithful.

    64. The use of musical instruments to accompany the singing can act as a support to the voices, render participation easier, and achieve a deeper union in the assembly. However, their sound should not so overwhelm the voices that it is difficult to make out the text; and when some part is proclaimed aloud by the priest or a minister by virtue of his role, they should be silent.

    The use of orchestras and large choirs goes back centuries. What you might have found wrong was the use of drums and keyboard. Instruments of this nature have been forbidden in Churches for some time, but the use of orchestral instruments is something that goes back at least to the time of Mozart.

    The Chicken

  19. Liz says:

    That is so beautiful. It truly is more refreshing and less exhausting.

  20. maryh says:

    Are you saying that in the TLM, the congregation doesn’t sing at all?

    No, you shouldn’t feel like the supporting cast of a musical. You should feel like you’re praying when you’re singing. That’s why the proper type of music is so important.

    Silent and contemplative prayer aren’t the only kinds of prayer that are appropriate to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. No matter what language it’s in.

  21. wolfeken says:

    Mary H wrote: “Are you saying that in the TLM, the congregation doesn’t sing at all?”

    At our parish, the choir is made up of some members of the congregation. They dedicate themselves to the parish choir by showing up for rehearsal during the week and before the Mass. Although it would be much, much easier to simply walk in ten seconds before Mass and wing basic music from the pew, the dedicated choir and rehearsal route often produces quality Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony from the loft.

  22. Ben Dunlap says:

    maryh, that depends on what kind of mass and on the customs of the local community.

    At a spoken mass, no one sings at all.

    At a sung mass, the congregation often sings the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. In some places the congregation will also sing the simpler responses to the priest (‘Et cum spiritu tuo’, ‘Amen’, ‘Sed libera nos a malo’, ‘Deo gratias’, etc.). Sometimes there are processional and recessional hymns as well, and maybe a hymn during Communion.

    The formal distinction between a spoken mass and a sung mass doesn’t really exist in the newer liturgy, which is too bad. Most of the time you get a spoken mass with some singing added on. I’ve only experienced a fully sung mass in the newer form a handful of times.

    Many people seem to really want and need the silence of an old-fashioned spoken mass, and the older liturgy carves out a formal space for this without denigrating other forms of liturgical prayer.

  23. Ben Dunlap says:

    Oops, left out the Creed. The congregation often sings that too, at a sung mass.

  24. netokor says:

    Last time I attended the NO Mass, the English, the singing and the sign of peace seemed foreign and terribly jarring. Once the TLM grows on you are not the same. If I were to have to attend the NO Mass again, I would bring ear plugs and put lots of vaseline on my hands. After a while people would stop trying to hold hands with me during the Our Father and would never want to shake my hand again during the sign of peace.

  25. maryh says:

    Thanks @Ben Dunlap, @wolfeken

    I remember the kind of distinction you name with the spoken vs sung mass when I was growing up. That makes sense to me. I have no problem with some Masses having mostly silent participation of the congregation. I was just beginning to think that if I were interested in the TLM, I’d either have to give up singing, or have the time and talent to sing in the choir.

  26. maryh says:

    There ought to be an order or society or something dedicated to the Latin Mass that also says the Novus Ordo Mass. (Maybe there is?) They’d have some sort of rule where they must be allowed to say at least one public Mass a day in Latin (TLM, whatever the correct term would be), but they would also say other Masses, as needed, in the NO.

    Given the shortage of priests, and the shutting down of parishes, it would be hard for any but the most obstinate bishop to object to that. And it would give more people easy access to the TLM. It would become something they could just check out, or even, something they ended up going to because they missed their usual Mass. It would become just a normal option.

  27. NBW says:

    I love the TLM! I wish our parish would have TLM Mass everyday and all Sunday Masses. For now I am grateful that there is one TLM Mass at our parish.

    Thank you Pope Benedict XVI!

  28. acardnal says:

    maryh, there is. Canons Regular of St. John Cantius in Chicago. They celebrate both the OF and the EF DAILY ! And they do it correctly, beautifully and reverently.

    http://www.canons-regular.org/go/about/day-in-the-life/

  29. maryh says:

    Thanks @acardnal. I looked at their website, but I’m not sure I completely understand. Can a diocese or parish ask for one of these priests, or do they have to have their own parishes, like FSSP?

  30. acardnal says:

    maryh, I don’t know the answer to that.

  31. KristinLA says:

    maryh
    The TLM I attend is a low Mass, i.e. no chanting or singing. I hope the church offers a high Mass for Easter because I’d like to go. But I’m not sure if the people chant or just the priest and servers. I don’t feel like I am praying when I’m singing. I have no musical training so I’m usually straining to sing the right notes, which distracts me from the prayer part. Is a compromise possible? Can there be quiet meditation after Holy Communion?

  32. maryh says:

    @KristinLA
    I can understand how singing could be a distraction for you then. But there have been times in my life when the only way I’ve been able to pray has been to sing. Singing can truly be “praying twice” as the saying goes. It should be sacred music during Mass, and it should be offered as prayer, to God, not as “entertainment” for the congregation.

    But then, I think that is why the Church, in her wisdom, allows for the different variations: without any singing, with only the choir, and with both choir and congregation.

  33. Ben Dunlap says:

    maryh, some Benedictine monasteries have something like that sort of flexibility, although monks tend to be tied to a particular place.

    There also seems to be a revival of interest among Dominicans in their own proper rite, which to anyone who’s not a pretty avid student of the liturgy would look and feel pretty much the same as the older form of the Roman Rite.

    Also the Norbertines of St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County, CA are fluent in both forms of the mass and offer both at some of the places where they provide chaplains or pastors (e.g. Thomas Aquinas College, Sts. Peter & Paul in Wilmington).

    I think it’s exactly right that the key to the growth of the older form is to have more priests who are willing and able to use both forms.

  34. maryh says:

    @Ben Dunlap I think it’s exactly right that the key to the growth of the older form is to have more priests who are willing and able to use both forms.

    I absolutely agree with that.

    @acardnal The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius sound great. I’ve facebooked the link to see if our local Catholic school knows about them. We generally have a vocation or two in each graduating class.

  35. Athelstan says:

    But, but, but…how can we be sure that she was actively participating?

  36. Volanges says:

    I have to admit that I’m surprised at what she wrote.

    Even as a 5 year old, back in 1958, I was able to ‘follow’ the Mass in my own little Missal. As I grew older, I followed along in the Missal of whoever I happened to be with. I was ‘fully, consciously, actively, participating’ and not lost in private prayer. And that, even though we never experienced ‘dialogue’ Mass in my parish.

    I thought if I were to attend an EF Mass today that I would be expected to participate in the same way as I do at an OF Mass, with obvious limits. Unfortunately these is zero chance of an EF Mass within a 1000 miles of my home.

  37. Supertradmum says:

    Volanges, me too. And my son had no trouble understanding the TLM. I shall pray for you and you pray for me, as I cannot get to a TLM. One has to have a car here to get to one outside of London.

    By the way, for parents, Maria Montessori has a great book for children, on the TLM. Sadly, all my Montessori books,as well as my library of Ronald Knox books and translations bar two, and Robert Hugh Bensons, plus some of my Aquinas were all stolen. Here is the link to the book.http://www.amazon.com/Mass-Explained-Children-Maria-Montessori/dp/0912141611

  38. Jean Marie says:

    How I wish I could attend a TLM Mass. I remember making my first Holy Communion in Latin and then everything changed after that. On Long Island, New York, the only church that I’m familiar with that offers the TLM Mass is St. Ladislaus in Hempstead. Many, many years ago this church was built by the Polish community, a people who have long since left, and now the area is poor with a very high crime rate. It’s like they decided to throw us a bone, and then said deal with it.

  39. rtjl says:

    Aga – “A poor misguided priest once said that he didn’t like the tabernacle within the sanctuary because it made him feel in competition with it.”

    All the more reason to restore the prayers at the foot of the altar. We are far to casual about the sanctuary. We need to be reminded that not even the priest just waltzes into the sanctuary.

    We live near a Greek Orthodox church where a Greek festival is held every July. During this festival the GO priest gives tours of the church. When he gives tours, he himself will not enter behind the iconostasis (the sanctuary). The most he will do is stick his head and perhaps an arm in in order to point certain features out. Even the priest is reluctant to enter the sanctuary when not celebrating the Divine Liturgy. The cleaning lady at the church is given a special blessing by her bishop in order to authorize her to enter the sanctuary to clean it and her duties are considered an official ministry! I suppose we would consider her a sacristan.

  40. Matt R says:

    maryh, no; canons regular are bound to a particular place where their community is based.

  41. Mariana says:

    Beautiful. Thank you!

    I’ve been to all three EF Masses offered here in the last 4 or 5 years, and since then our (very reverent) Novus Ordo Masses seem so strange. Why all the get up, sit down, turn left, turn right (at the Peace)? How I wish I lived in a country where the EF was offered regularly! I’m very fortunate to be living in a town that actually has a Catholic parish, so I shouldn’t complain, but….

    One thing that does help at Novus Ordo is not saying the responses out loud. And my veil shields me from my neighbours. Now if only our (very pious) PP wouldn’t LOOK at us, but turn his back to us and face ad orientem. Not going to happen….

  42. maryh says:

    @Aga
    A poor misguided priest once said that he didn’t like the tabernacle within the sanctuary because it made him feel in competition with it.
    And that’s the problem with the body language with the priest facing the people. If you have the tabernacle front and center, and the priest front and center – with his back to the tabernacle, his body language certainly is saying he is in competition with it, whether that is his intention or not. Standing in front of someone else at a gathering has exactly that natural meaning – it takes a deliberate act of recognition and of will to counter it.

    For example, if an art expert were giving a presentation on the Mona Lisa, would he block the image of the Mona Lisa he brought to talk about? Now imagine he had somehow acquired the original. Would he block that?

    That’s why once you had the priest face the people and turn his back to the tabernacle, something had to give. What gave was moving the tabernacle out of the sanctuary. That’s why I think that the tabernacle has to be moved back to its rightful place in a church before it makes sense to turn ad orientam. Without the tabernacle to turn towards, it does indeed look like the priest is turning his back on the people. With the tabernacle there, it just makes sense.

    Of course, that seems to be the order people are doing it, so I guess lots of other people had that idea before me.