The old adage is: You only have once chance at a first impression.
I am always interested to read about first impressions from participating at Holy Mass celebrated with the 1962 Missale Romanum.
This is from a reader. Edited and with my emphases and comments. For the whole piece go here.
I am one of your blog readers, and I attended my first Mass in the Extraordinary Form this morning, after considering it for some time.
It was such an awesome experience! I wrote a blog post about it here.
Below is the text of the post, if you’d like to read it that way.
Mainly, I just want to let you know what an inspiration you and your blog have been to me! I rejoined the Church less than 4 years ago, and have had lots of learning and catching up to do. I was never even really aware of the EF until I started reading your blog and a few others. I really appreciate it. It is our right as Catholics to be able to know and experience our patrimony, [precisely] and thank God that we have people like you to help expose us to it!
Thank you for all that you do. I love WDTPRS!
God be with you; you are in my prayers every day, with all of our priests!
My first encounter with the Extraordinary Form
Well, it’s just after 9 AM–the time when I might just be getting out of bed on any other Saturday–and I’ve just returned from my first Mass in the Extraordinary Form (EF)! My parish offers it every morning, Monday-Saturday; or rather, an FSSP priest offers it at my parish. I figured the familiar surroundings would make me less nervous about going, and that the daily Mass might be simpler to start out with.
And now for my impressions…
Well, it was very different from the Ordinary Form (OF), and I felt a little clumsy and a little lost at times. That didn’t trouble me, because it was only to be expected, right? Maybe I could have taken more time to prepare myself a little better beforehand, but I didn’t want to start coming up with excuses not to go! I felt like this was something I really needed to do. And as with all the "threshold-crossing" moments of my life, the devil was already giving me enough grief about it, trying to discourage me and distract me–I wasn’t going to give in!
No matter how clumsy and lost I might have felt, I did not feel like an outsider. Reading some other people’s accounts of attending Mass in the EF, I’ve gotten the impression that they have felt sort of like outside observers, like aliens in a foreign land. I think that is wont to happen if one regards the EF as something foreign or alien. [good] I regard it as part of my own culture and civilization, part of my patrimony, my inheritance, my treasure. [right!] This is the kind of Mass my family and ancestors knew. Like many things handed down from previous generations, it may seem new and different, maybe strange or hard to understand in ways, but it’s still mine. It’s part of me and I’m part of it.
More than anything I was fascinated and full of wonder! [The point of worship is to experience awe at transcendence.] I don’t know if I will ever let another Saturday go by without attending morning Mass in the EF. I feel drawn to it now. [mysterium tremendum et facscinans] I want to leave behind my clumsiness and disorientation. I want to know and understand it better. And I want to participate and enter into it even more fully.
I’m baffled at how some people have said that they don’t get to participate in the EF. If anything, I think it demands much more focused and alert participation than the OF. [Precisely! Anyone can do stuff. It takes real focus to participate with active receptivity.] The priest prayed most of the prayers silently, and I was reading them to myself. Reading is a different process than listening, a different encounter with the words and, in this case, the prayers. I consider it a more active process. [!] While I read along, I was carefully listening for cues like bells ringing and the priest’s uttering aloud the opening words of certain of the prayers. I also glanced up to watch for gestures like bows or genuflections or what part of the altar he was standing at.
The overall effect that this process had on me was a dual one:
On one hand, through the act of reading, I felt like the prayers were more my own and that I was playing a more personal, individual, and active part in the Mass. In the OF, it’s easy to sort of shut down and slip into a more passive watching and listening to the priest, as if he’s the one who actually "performs" the worship, especially the Eucharistic Prayer, and we’re just the "audience." [This is counter-intuitive for many people, but it is profoundly true. This is expecially the case when the ordinary form is celebrated versus populum instead of ad orientem.] I suppose that’s possible with any Mass, but by reading the prayers myself, I felt more unified with the priest, more like I was acting with him and imitating him. He read the prayers, I read the prayers.
But this morning’s Mass really emphasized that for me. I saw the priest and his role in a different way. And I realized what a blessing the priest is–what a leader, an advocate, and intercessor we have in him. And I realized how much I needed and wanted him there for me. As he prayed before the Crucifix, I sensed that he was carrying my prayers and those of everybody else on his shoulders.
I’ve never been to a Mass celebrated ad orientem before, so I’d never really thought about that before. …