A reader’s experience of the Extraordinary Form

From a reader:

Yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of attending my second
Extraordinary Form mass. It was held in honor of the close of our parish’s Forty Hours devotion.

Unlike the first mass where I felt overwhelmed and a little lost, this time I was able to follow along with the handout much more easily. More importantly I allowed myself to be immersed in the chants and the realization that all the prayers and every action were directed to God for our sake by the priest. The beauty and richness of the liturgy were quite unlike anything I’d really every seen before.

After leaving the Church I couldn’t help but think I would like to go to this form of the Mass more often and for the first time I really understood why many people have this attachment to the older form.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Yesterday at Mass Father spoke of offering our intentions at the Offertory. This is easier for me to do at the EF Mass. I’m glad that more and more people are discovering this treasure.

  2. Giambattista says:

    It’s exciting to me to read of others first experiences of the EF. It sounds as if this particular individual is well on the way to figuring the EF out. The EF definitely has a way of growing on you as this person is learning.

    It is a good thing that the EF is more widely available (and I sure hope MORE widely available) than it was when I first experienced it (with a video from England). I was in my early twenties in the late eighties and the TLM was RARE! In fact, it was another 6 – 8 years before I finally found a place to actually attend one. In any event, my first experience of the TLM was from a 1986 video from St. Mary of the Angel’s in London featuring Msg. John McDonald as the celebrant of the High Mass. This video was done under the original 1984 indult. When I watched it for the first time I was clueless. In fact, I couldn’t believe it was Catholic. I dug out my dads old St. Josephs Missal, continued to watch the video over and over, as I tried to start piecing things together – it was an exciting time. To this day that video is very special to me.

    In any event, I’m happy for the individual who is currently having what what eventually turned into very fond memories for me.

    Thanks for sharing this…

  3. keithp says:

    My experience exactly. My wife and I started attending a local EF in early July.
    I am very pleased for the OP.

  4. Dirichlet says:

    I had exactly the same experience nine months ago. Now I look forward to every Sunday, thinking about the chants and prayers and the beauty of worshipping God with such reverence.

    I am grateful for the day I stepped inside that parish, looking around my missal, struggling to follow What was going on. Thank God for the Mass; Thank God for Pope Benedict XVI!

  5. Jason says:

    You know those moments in life that are permanently etched in your memory, like when the nurse holds up your new baby daughter so you can meet her and get your first look at her? My first EF Mass was one of those. I could bore you all with a long story but the short of it is that the EF liturgy literally saved me at a time when my faith as a poorly catechized post VII nominal Catholic and recent revert was not very strong. The NO liturgy I was regularly attending was punishing in it’s effect on me. Satan thought he had me and when I tried to be Catholic he didn’t want to let me go. His method of choice was bad, bad, irreverent liturgy.

    I know how awful that sounds but that scoundrel can even use Catholic liturgy to his ends if we allow it by our own half-hearted approach to it.

    I’ll never forget the despair I used to feel coming out of Sunday Mass. Is this the best we can do? Is there nothing more? The Holy Ghost reached down and brought me to a liturgy I didn’t even know existed and I experienced a sense of fulfillment and joy that I had never experienced before.

    An important lesson in humility for me. Look at this Mass! We are really taking ourselves out of the world and doing our best to worship God today! I did NOTHING to earn this treasure. It was freely given to me by God Himself through His Holy Church. I get choked up just remembering that time. It warms me to read those comments from your reader.

    Of course the next thing as a guy brought up after the council was, “wait a minute, why did they try to ditch this and try to keep us post VII types from knowing about it?” I’ll probably spend the rest of my life contemplating that one.

  6. mrose says:


  7. Glen M says:

    For those who are involved in their E.F. I suggest taking time to consider the experience of the ‘first timer’. For many of us we took the time to research and learn the Usus Antiquior. If you are like me it wasn’t quick and easy. Many others, for various reasons, will not take this extra and necessary step. Put yourself in their shoes. If all you’ve ever known is the O.F. then walking into an E.F without any prior liturgical formation is overwhelming and not likely for a second visit. Una Voce provides resources for this situation. It’s a big step for someone to transition from the O.F. to the E.F. and if we truly want to increase attendance then we should do all that’s proper to assist our brethren.

  8. Gregorius says:

    Excellent, and congrats to the reader! I wish I had better access to the EF. But nobody takes me seriously. I’ll just have to keep praying about it.

  9. DLe says:

    I echo the previous posters above: congratulations!

    I remember going to my first EF mass in July this year. I remember hearing so many people speak of it as if it were the best thing since sliced bread–I was afraid that what I would experience would not live up to the hype, but what I felt afterward was anything but disappointment. Now, I just went to my third EF Mass yesterday. My voice felt a little hoarse at the end from all the chants and prayers–so much for ‘not enough lay participation!’

  10. jesusthroughmary says:

    Giambattista says:
    17 October 2011 at 1:21 pm

    “In fact, I couldn’t believe it was Catholic.”

    I am fighting the temptation to say that that is because you likely had never been exposed to Catholicism at your parish.

  11. MouseTemplar says:

    I grew up with the EF, but it didn’t make me familiar with it since it disappeared when I was still a child. Now I feel as though I’m discovering it and am finding myself gathering books about it to re-educate myself. My next project is to find and use a Missal…

  12. MarkJ says:

    This is exactly what the Liturgical Reformers of the 1960’s feared… which is why they did away with the Traditional Mass for 40 years and tried to claim it was abrogated, so there could be no comparison. But now it’s reappearing in more and more churches, and people are waking up and realizing what was lost… truly Catholic Liturgy in all its Traditional beauty.

  13. Giambattista says:

    jesusthroughmary says: “I am fighting the temptation to say that that is because you likely had never been exposed to Catholicism at your parish.”

    You are absolutely right! I really thought twice before typing the sentence “In fact, I couldn’t believe it was Catholic”. Seriously, that is what was going through my mind! After continued exposure to the TLM I realized it was ME, not the TLM which was hardly Catholic. lol Mind you, that was after 12 years of religious attendance at CCD and a 4 year degree at a Catholic university which required nine theology credits to graduate regardless of ones major!

    All I can say is that I’m so glad to have found the EF (I first attended a TLM in person in the fall of 1995 just after getting my first Internet connection which allowed me to track a location down). I really like reading about others first experiences because I remember my own so well. It is interesting to me that many people have similar experiences and emotions as they grow to love the TLM.

  14. stuartbreaux says:

    I had the same experience as the reader. The first time or two, I was completely lost. Once everything started to slow down I was captivated. The Eucharistic prayer is especially moving. I never understood the true meaning of the sacrifice until I experienced the EF. Of course, the parish I attended (St. Patrick’s in New Orleans) also had an extremely beautiful OF Mass, which is probably exactly what the Holy Father envisions in his effort to revitalize the liturgy. I’ve since moved, and I don’t think I’ll ever find another parish with a liturgy that exquisite. I really cannot understand why anyone would object to such a timeless experience of the sacred and of beauty. I almost wish I had come into the Church at an average parish because now during Mass I find myself grinding my teeth.

  15. James Joseph says:

    It’s interesting how many folks speak of the chants and the dance that goes on in the ancient Liturgy. I don’t believe I have seen much of that in my days.

    I have almost always only seen the Low Mass, which I am particularly attached to due to it’s simplicity and tranquility, and especially the whispering. The whispering of the Low Mass has instructed me on how to pray with my breath. and that in turn has taught me how to engage my intellect and reaching for contemplation. The whispering of the Low Mass has also taught me how to converse with God and Mary, and pray with intention.

    I do have a particular memory from the Ordinary Form, where, as a child, I slightly recall the Epistles being chanted. I certainly remember when the Gospel was chanted in the vernacular. I remember patens and cassocks too. In this way, I have an attachment to all of these sensory aspects as well. I find I can recover that by staring at an image of Our Lady and pretty much connecting everything to Her and to His Presence.

    I wonder if I’ll ever see a Latin High Mass.

  16. mrose says:

    James Joseph,

    I hope for you that you will get to see a Solemn High Mass, or even a Missa Cantata. I assist at the EF about half the time, and have only ever seen one (maybe two) Solemn High Mass, but I will never forget it.

    That being said, I also resonate with you about the beauty of Low Mass. It is a different experience in some ways from a High Mass, but it really puts me at the foot of the Cross. The silence is sublime. I try to take on the disposition of Our Lady at the foot of the Cross. It is wonderful too.

  17. Mariana says:

    I so agree. Around here (Scandinavia) I’ve been able to attend four EF Low Masses in about as many years, but our PP will now celebrate the EF Mass about every other month, so I’m grateful.

    No chance of a High Mass, I fear, but there’s always You Tube.

    The only thing is, attending OF Masses is a bit of a trial now!

  18. Mariana says:

    I mean, on You Tube you can at least WATCH all the beauty!

  19. Nordic Breed says:

    Because newcomers need to know at least some of the things to expect when participating in the Extraordinary Form I wrote a booklet called “Tips for Participating in the Traditional Latin Mass” available here: http://www.mediafire.com/file/no0eifjsxabeii4/Tips%20for%20Participating%20in%20the%20Traditional%20Latin%20Mass4.pdf
    The Latin Liturgy Association of Philadelphia has it linked to their web site. Since I put it up in February there have been over 2000 downloads. Please let all your friends who are considering attending the EF know about it. We want people to feel welcome and a lot less confused on their first time at this form of the Roman rite.

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