A note from a priest about his first TLM

As I have said before, when the younger clergy learn the older form of Mass, it changes who they are and how they say both forms. 

This is the terrible nightmare of the aging liberals.  The biological solution is pushing them aside and bringing up these younger priests who have a healthier and more integrated vision of our liturgical worship.

On that note, I want to share a  nice brick by brick note from a priest, Fr. Ryan Hilderbrand in Montgomery, IN.  I asked him if I should "anonymize" his note and he said I could post away.  My emphases and comments.

I’m dropping a quick note to give you further hope in the new priests of our age. I am Fr. Ryan Hilderbrand, and I was ordained to the priesthood on 6 June 2009. My first Mass in the ordinary form was that evening. The next morning, I was the celebrant of a Solemn High Mass in the extraordinary form; in effect, this was my second "first" Mass, and my pastor billed it as such. The people of the parish had requested such a Mass, and one of the best things about it was the fact that, with a few exceptions, this was entirely an "in-house" job – the servers were trained for this Mass, and the parish choir chanted. The deacon and subdeacon were classmates of mine from Mundelein, and the assistant priest was a good friend of mine from the south side of Chicago. Please find two photos, attached, of the Mass. Credits to my brother-in-law, Mr. Richard W. Morris, Jr. [Excellent.  I think the work of specialist groups is important, but the real work will be done when diocesan priests and seminarians make the provisions of summorum Pontificum and the vision of Pope Benedict their own.]

My own reflection on the Mass is not particularly deep. I remember thinking ahead of time being afraid of dropping something, turning left instead of right, &c. However, the nerves stopped as soon as the "Asperges" was finished. Assuming the grace of the Holy Spirit, of course, I believe this was because I realized quickly that I didn’t have to "act," that the people’s eyes weren’t "on" me, but "with" me. The old joke is that people go to first Masses and to NASCAR races for the same reasons – to see the accidents. When the "actor" feeling dissolved with ad orientem worship, all of the nerves went along with it. I remember PRAYING the Mass that morning.

Incidentally, I had a "first" Spanish-language Mass in the OF that afternoon. We didn’t bother to take down the setup for the EF Solemn Mass, so that was done "ad orientem" as well. No one complained! Peace!

Brick by brick.

Thanks, Father, for that great note.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Luke says:

    Lover for God equals a love for the Church. Very beautiful indeed.

  2. Hidden One says:

    I wonder if ad orientem celebration shall be generally continued at that parish… I hope so!

  3. Sam Schmitt says:

    “the people’s eyes weren’t “on” me, but “with” me.”

    That says it all.

  4. lucy says:

    Beautiful. Thanks be to God for good men answering God’s call to their vocations, and not being afraid to fullfil what our Holy Father obviously wants. Well done !

  5. Konichiwa says:

    I love it! Any more pictures Fr. Z?

  6. Central Valley says:

    Thanks be to God for Fr. Hilderbrand. He gets it, the Mass is not about him, it is about HIM. God how we need priests like this in the diocese of Fresno, Ca.. Enough with the celebrity priests, send us holy priests who know the Mass is not about them.

  7. rwprof says:

    Should you ever find yourself in Montgomery, don’t miss the Amish restaurant — at least don’t miss the pies there.

  8. Fr. John Mary says:

    I am in absolute agreement with Fr. Hilderbrand. We offer both forms of the Roman Rite “ad orientem” as a conscious choice in our community and it is a bit “disorienting” to celebrate parish Masses “versus populum” when I help out. I just keep my eyes down during the Liturgy of the Eucharist or on the crucifix which is in the Benedictine arrangement and this helps me to keep my focus on my role as priest.

  9. adamwelp says:

    It’s nice to see an EF Mass in the northern fringes of the Diocese of Evansville. I hope Fr. Hilderbrand’s example spreads to other cities in the Diocese, namely my hometown of Jasper. I most certainly would make the trip back home for an EF Mass at say, St. Joseph’s.

  10. Girgadis says:

    Last night I attended a Mass in the Ordinary Form celebrated in Latin and ad orientem. I found it much easier to meditate on the sacred mysteries taking place at the altar than when the priest is looking at the congregation. I don’t really know how else to say this, but I don’t like making eye contact with the priest during Mass. Please forgive my inability to articulate this exactly as I should, but I have to believe this is most distracting for the priest as well when this happens. I thought the focus last night was rightly on the Eucharist, as it should be, and that the congregation was praying with the priest rather than anticipating what came next. The fact that so many seminarians and recently ordained priests were also in attendance gives me hope for the future. While this was not a Traditional Latin Mass, I came away, as I usually do after Mass at the Monastery, thinking that I had come as close to I can to Heaven while still on earth.

  11. JPG says:

    Most interesting “in house job”. I think that this speaks to an innate sense on the part of Joe and Mary Catholic that something is amiss in the OF or the typical celebration of it. Something is lacking for the human spirit in the newer approaches to the Mass as it seeks the Divine in the Protestant style , Modernist influenced enlightenment tinged worship as celebrated in most OF Parishes. The compulsion that we must be doing something or that one’s experience of the Divine in the strictly rational or I should say purely of the reason denies the other levels of perception and experience. At an EF Mass, one does not need to follow word for word. Occasionally it is wonderful to sit back and let be. I was struck in my limited experience of the OF of dividing the Sanctus from the Benedictus. I could not hear the priests words but this practice brought home what was occurring on the altar. I responded with my whole being not simply with my intellect. I was in that sense overwhelmed and transfixed by the EF. I imagine that a fair number of Catholics when confronted with the threadbare Protestant worship were dismayed in the sixteenth century. It may explain how so many returned to the True Church and True worship. This is something seldom discussed in the Protestant triumphalism found in most accounts of the Reformation. But I digress. The hermeneutic of continiuty will triumph ultimately because the current changes are based in what is seemingly a fad. Joe and Mary Catholc sense this and thus may readily become involved when presented with the EF.

  12. Mitchell NY says:

    This I pray will be the story coming from all parishes within a few years. A wonderful Priest and parish who do not fear being lead in the correct direction. It is exciting and I hope he shares this experience with as many as he can. God Bless

  13. moon1234 says:

    We had something very similar at St. Norbert’s in Roxbury, WI. Three priests of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest were ordained by Bishop Morlino on Friday July 31, 2009 in the diocese of Madison, WI. One of the priests, Father John Blewett had his first public Mass on Sunday August 2nd, 2009 at St. Norbert’s. It was a Solemn High Mass with Te Deum.

    This was a completely “inside job”. The Latin Mass choir at St. Norbert’s sang, young boys of the parish served. It was a fantastic day.

    Video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ58H7Vwg8U&feature=PlayList&p=4E1EEAA135A45FE5&index=0&playnext=1

    Shameless plug for the Priests we love.

  14. irishgirl says:

    Well done, Fr. Hilderbrand! You’ve got it right!

    When I was visiting a friend who works at a well-known shrine here in the Northeast this past Saturday, I went with her to an OF Mass, said by the priest who runs the shrine. I cringed-he used the absolutely banal ‘Mass for Children’ for the Preface and the Eucharistic Prayer! I had all I could do to keep from slipping out before it was done….

    And then I compare it with the TLM I go to on Sunday…different as night and day! Reverence-silence-‘say the black, do the red’….

    We need priests who will do the Mass right!

  15. Father Michael says:

    I know this priest and his parish pastor….both great priests. I admire Fr. Ryan for having the intestinal fortitude to offer the EF as one of his First Masses! It is challenging enough to offer the OF of the Mass as reverently and “by the book” as one can,sometimes using the “Ad Orientem” position,without at times feeling the “brick by brick” almost literally; tossed by parishioners! By the way, we are offering a Requiem Mass by Victoria, here in Bloomington, In on November 3rd at St. John the Apostle Parish at 7:00pm. Father Michael Magiera from Holy Rosary in Indianapolis will be the celebrant, accompanied by students from the IU School of Music.

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