GUEST POST: A young person’s first TLM

From a reader:

I want to share with you my high school friend’s first experience with the EF.

Last week, we had the first mass in the Extraordinary Form in our area by a priest who has been waiting a long time to do it. So, I was telling everyone about it and how it went last Friday. Well, she heard all these things and wanted to learn more. So, I gave her the Baltimore Catechism to read about the mass. She then decided she wanted to go. So, I took her with me tonight. I told her what was different, no amen for communion, etc, went through the booklets they had at the church with her, and went in for Holy Mass.

At the end, I asked if she got lost, and she said: “Not really, if I did I just watched.” Then I asked her what she liked the most. Well, my high school friend, who only knew about the EF for a week, said: “I really like the silence of the mass. It helps me reflect and concentrate on what is happening. What is actually happening. I also like the Latin.” She now wants to go more often and is telling her friends and family about it.

To all high school students like me, talk about the EF at school around your friends, you never know who might be interested in it!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Wonderful! I took my husband’s medical partner to a TLM much against her wishes. Only out of friendship did she agree to go and the hope we would stop trying to convert her from the Unitarian Church. At the end of the mass, she was weeping copiously and asked to see the priest. When I brought him to her, she could not speak for the tears that would not stop. After a few glances from my priest, he said that they should talk alone. I waited a hour or more. When I saw the two of them again, she was mounded with books about converting to the Catholic Church. She did and is one of the most devout Catholics I know. I was later told that these conversions are called “the tears of Magdalen.” [A term I haven’t heard, and I am not entirely sure she would want lots of people to associate with her.]

  2. PrairieHawk says:

    I am a regular attendee of the Ordinary Form of the Mass and I am hoping some of the readers here can help me to understand. The problem I have is that there seem to be two communities growing up in the Roman Church, the Ordinary Form folks and the TLM folks. I don’t think this is healthy for the Church and am wondering what can be done about it.

    I have attended the TLM once at my cathedral and found it to be beautiful, if austere and a little frustrating that the priest’s back was to me and I couldn’t understand his language. [You know that he didn’t really have his back to you, right? You were both facing the same direction. And the language was not his language, right? It was the your Church’s language.] At the Ordinary Form where I usually go, I have been asked by my pastor to be an Extraordinary Minister. But I don’t participate in this because I am not comfortable handling the Precious Blood (frankly, the Chalice frightens me because of what’s in it). I would be fine with eliminating Extraordinary Ministers, altar girls, and Communion in the hand. I think that these changes would make for a fine restoration.

    So my question is, should the Church consolidate to one form of the Mass with those changes, or do we keep on keeping on with two forms? What I see happening is that people may be starting to think, “My Mass is better than your Mass,” when in fact there is one Sacrifice and one Lord. What do people on wdtprs say? [The guy whose blog this is think that this may take us rather far afield. However, it seems to me, and to Pope Benedict, that under the influence of the Extraordinary Form some of the things in the Ordinary Form you say you could do without, will eventually drop away.]

  3. Texas trad says:

    The TLM has always been called “the Mass of all Time.” [No, I don’t think “always”.] Given what has happened in the last 30 years to the mass, we would be wise to return to the roots of the church, to “the Mass of all Time.” There is no comparison between the two masses when it comes to beauty and peace.

  4. The Cobbler says:

    “The problem I have is that there seem to be two communities growing up in the Roman Church, the Ordinary Form folks and the TLM folks. I don’t think this is healthy for the Church and am wondering what can be done about it.”
    The Roman Church itself gets along with the Byzantine Catholic Church (more or less a splitoff of the Eastern Orthodox who managed to end the east/west schism for their part). Is that division healthy? Probably.

    It’s the quarrelling between people that I think is the trouble, not the mere fact that there are people who lean one way or the other in terms of what exactly they find beneficial to their spiritual lives. And by quarrelling I don’t even mean the disagreement — where some things do have objective significance in terms of, say, how well a given practice calls attention to the Sacrifice of Christ (which, you’re right, is the same in every Mass; but I expect you’ll sooner or later hear some extreme example of a valid Mass that’s downright blasphemous in some way, shape or form — when you do, try not to assume anyone’s comparing every Novus Ordo celebration of the Mass to a “Clown Mass” or a renegade priest abusing the Sacrament for Satanic blasphemies or whatever the example winds up being… the point is that everything else in the Mass may or may not honor and lead us to that Sacrifice), even if the answer to questions here is itself “it depends on another thing.” (For instance, the Novus Ordo has the priest and the people seemingly dialoguing. Now, Liturgy of the Hours has back-and-forth about the glory of God, so response prayer doesn’t have to devolve into self-centered dialoguing. But we would do well to retain either the facing-the-same-direction thing to remember that we’re being led by the priest in worshipping God, or retain the Latin so that we feel like we’re praying something special rather than having a conversation. And having the Mass in English doesn’t mean you understand the Mystery; English translation of the Mass should therefore sound sacred and like the Latin… but is a perfectly valid option in principle, just not well done at this point in history — as my opinion as one average joe commenting on the matter, anyway. Getting back on point after that digression-for-examples…) What’s concern-worthy is the tendency to suggest that those who don’t side with us on one or another of these issues must be inferior Catholics if they’re Catholic at all, when they could A) just not have realized all the stuff that goes into considering the matter or even B) want something that really would be fitting if all put together right even if by itself in the context we’re expecting some of the elements involved wouldn’t help point us toward Christ.

    (As an aside, I hope you can follow my massive use of parentheticals. I never have figured out how to include large, relevant side notes in a flow of thought. In my own head the “flow” of thought tends to be in multiple directions at once. Hence the way these things wind up when I try to convey them… which is typically not easy for people to follow, and really is my fault for trying to say too much all at once. This is one reason I’m not an academic.)

    It’s also not just TLM vs. Ordinary Form people… it’s TLM with the people chanting vs. TLM with the people only praying silently, quasi-privately; it’s TLM waited-painfully-through-the-lack-of-opportunities-for-decades vs. SSPX (and let me tell you, if you think the TLM vs. Novus Ordo debate can get ugly, you should see the resentment between those who think other TLM Catholics have compromised with the enemy and those who think SSPX ran off and left the rest of us to face slanders of “heresy” and “schism” all alone and, what really stings, with a grain of truth in them only because of the SSPX bishops getting themselves excommunicated a while back [I mean a few seconds ago in Church time… the eighties, was it? It was shortly before I was born]). I’m not excepting myself when I say that we all need to focus more on prayer and study to make our cases and less on trying to figure out and critique our fellow Catholics, most of whom who prefer conservative worship in the first place are honestly mistaken on anything they’re mistaken about in the first place and need to be pointed in the direction of the reasons (both historical and theological) for the stance their opponents take rather than criticized for not already knowing/agreeing. That’s not to say we shouldn’t debate, it’s to say the debate needs to be less about finger-pointing and more about increasing understanding of what’s involved and what’s at stake. The main reason I’ve been following the whole SSPX reconciliation thing at this point is hope that eventually the discussions they’re actually having with Rome will become public so the rest of us can learn from it, because as yet we have a ton of people, lay and priest alike but mostly lay, with more varying opinions than you can imagine arguing with minimal citation of sources (and, when sources are cited, typically using a source as a fallback to avoid actually engaging in discussion of the thing the source took a stance on)… And we need to do something to help see and treat our fellow Catholics as fellow Catholics so that when areas of historical split get resolved we don’t perpetuate them in practice on the ground out of resentment.

    “What do people on wdtprs say?”
    You are about to find out how deep the rabbit-hole goes!

  5. The Cobbler says:

    And now for the OP (Original Post)…

    So, I gave her the Baltimore Catechism to read about the mass. … At the end, I asked if she got lost, and she said: “Not really, if I did I just watched. … I really like the silence of the mass. It helps me reflect and concentrate on what is happening. What is actually happening.”

    I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, that one should learn about all that intercession the priest is doing quietly in the Extraordinary Form outside of going to it, then go to it and pray and follow along by watching and listening (and, yes, responding and chanting where there are places for responding and chanting) rather than by trying to follow every word. It’s really something else, but it takes getting out of the habit of following along to every word and/or dialoguing to be able to participate in the old form as we ought.

    Of course, I’ll add that I’ve learned this through experience and if I haven’t been to the old form in a while (I’ve only ever had the opportunity to go about once a month, and didn’t have that for a while) I come back to it and realize how many “Novus Ordo habits” I have… don’t worry about it! You’re there to worship Christ, not to fret over whether you’re “doing it right” or following along; that’s a large part of what I like about the old form having a sort of polyphony of prayers (people, servers, choir, priest), it’s actually easier (once you realize what you should be focused on) to follow what you should really be following rather than paying attention to what you’re going to say and do all the time. That and even the non-silent, chanting and responding parts in the extraordinary form seem contemplative somehow — perhaps because the back-and-forth isn’t the main thrust of what you’re doing with all that chant.

    Just my own two cents’ worth of experience and speculation.

    Also: “[… and I am not entirely sure she [Mary Magdalen] would want lots of people to associate with her.]” Lol (really), rather true — she doubtless hopes all the sinners will associate with her, but also hopes that few of us will be such sinners as to need such association. It’s one thing to say “Hey, the Saints were human too!” and quite another to forget that, being human, the Saints probably hope nobody else messes up the way they did in their worse moments.

  6. The Cobbler says:

    Well, I should read the other comment threads before coming back and commenting on any… Phil_NL sums up my point about debate vs. quarrel better than I did.

    I should also stop remembering several minutes later points of self-editting that I couldn’t all revise at once and missed in the midst of all the others. In this case, where I say “sacred and like the Latin” I meant “sacred like the Latin”. I guess not a big deal when I’m pointing you to a better comment anyway. ;^)

  7. rroan says:

    Hmm – I’m curious about that line about how the priest “has been waiting a long time to do [the EF]”. Why did he have to wait? [Why do you have to know? Perhaps he didn’t know how to say the EF. Perhaps he has an oppressive bishop or pastor. Perhaps … perhaps… perhaps… We don’t know, and that’s okay! o{]:¬) ]

  8. Acanthaster says:

    What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing!

    I was recently talking with the soon-to-be Vocations director(now teach and chaplain for the local Catholic high school). He mentioned that the Latin class was wondering where Latin is still used today…so he sent them all to an EF Mass last Sunday! 30-40 high school students, praise the Lord! I’m happy that they all were able to experience that.

  9. Magpie says:

    I think the EF is a much more grown up Mass. As you say Father, there is baby food and there is proper food for grown ups.If we eat baby food all our lives, we don’t grow up spiritually, or if we do, it is with difficulty.

  10. MikeD says:

    This reminds me of when I brought a friend of mine in college to a TLM. I remember it was at noon in the middle of the week in a rough part of town. It was a low mass attended by a handful of folks at least three times our age. I was surprised, although perhaps I shouldn’t have been, when he said that he wouldn’t mind if “they brought back the Latin Mass.” That would have been prescient had Summorum Pontificum not been issued three years earlier (which, of course, he was unaware of at the time). What a wonderful Holy Father we have.

  11. This will probably make most YM’s that like the Rockband Mass go a bit crazy…I’m all for it.

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