A reader’s impression of 1st TLM (Pontifical!)

A reader sent in impression of the first Holy Mass he attended in the Extraordinary Form, and not just a Low Mass, either:

I attended my first TLM this past week. It was a beautiful Solemn Pontifical Mass said by my Bishop. During and after the mass, I had three main impressions.

1. I was taken by how serious, reverent, and solemn it was. The thought struck me during mass that serious, reverent, and solemn is exactly what mass should be. The mass put me in a “Last Things” frame of mind. That seemed appropriate since one of the purposes of Catholic worship is to help lead us to heaven. [Exactly, as I told a group of young people at Brompton Oratory last week, Mass has to help us prepare for death.] By comparison, I think the O.F. makes me / us feel too comfortable, in an “I’m OK, you’re OK” (i.e., we don’t have to change) kind of way rather than focus our attention and change us / move us interiorly.

2. The inclusion of more intricate rubrics made sense to me. The Eucharist is the sum and substance of our worship, and therefore, why shouldn’t that be reflected in all that happens during mass? [Again, BINGO!] Gestures and body posture are important, even to those not making the gestures. They take us out of the ordinary and help us to focus. Americans stand during the pledge of allegiance / national anthem. We hold our hands over our heart. We do so as a sign of respect and to show that what we are doing is different, special. Whether it is the priest or altar boys, their gestures convey to the congregation that what is happening is different and special from what happens in the outside world.

3. Kneeling while receiving communion just seemed so “right” (correct). I usually receive communion on the tongue, so that was not different, but kneeling seemed more reverent. Again, it’s a posture that reflects the seriousness of what is taking place. Standing is an indication of equal status. Kneeling is a sign of humility and reflects the fact that we do not have the same status of Him that we receive.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Wow, this reader really nailed it. It is wonderful that there are bishops saying the EF. If only in my Diocese!

  2. teomatteo says:

    “1. I was taken by how serious, reverent, and solemn it was.”

    This reminds me of what my nine year old son said as we left his first EF mass. I asked him what he thought of the mass and I expected him to groan on about how long it was but he simply said: “they are serious about Jesus at that church!”

  3. onosurf says:

    Bravo to the emailer!

    The first time I experienced the Roman Rite, I was totally confused. Fortunately, though much persistence, it became addictive. For this emailer to get this much on his/her first go, they are very blessed.

  4. Giuseppe says:

    Bravo to the emailer. Kneeling for communion is revolutionary.

    After my grandmother broke her hip, she had a hard time walking up for communion, so she sat in the front row and knelt and the priest came to her and gave her communion. (She actually couldn’t put her knee to the kneeler, but unless you sat next to her, you wouldn’t know she wasn’t fully kneeling.)

    Any way, even when her hip seemed a lot better, she kept doing this. I am sure Father knew and played along with a reverential old lady (who probably reminded him of his grandmother.)

  5. RuralVirologist says:

    “If only in my Diocese!”

    If only in my country.

  6. aragonjohn7 says:

    ^ : )

  7. fvhale says:

    I suspect the reader and I were at the same Mass last Friday. Not my first EF Mass, but my first Solemn Pontifical EF Mass. A few more observations:

    1) This was the largest gathering I have ever seen in my 14 years at this parish. We brought in almost 200 extra chairs, and every available space (cry rooms, side chapel, overflow, etc.) were standing room only.

    2) Everyone joined in with the chants of the Ordinary, in addition to a wonderful choir. We were not “mute spectators,” and I would dare say no less “active participation” than when we sing OCP songs during an OF Sunday mass.

    3) About a zillion people received commuion, kneeling, on the tongue, many from the hand of our archbishop-designate who was the celebrant. Again, there was amazing “active participation.” The choir and the organist had no problem supporting the time it took for commuion. The entire mass was about 2 hours.

    4) After the Mass, there was a party that lasted another 2 hours or so, a reception for the occasion, with numerous clergy, religious and laity joyfully basking in the perfect weather and real commuion. It was, perhaps, the best day in the 40-50 year history of the parish, filled with joy in the Holy Spirit. Many, many people will remember this Mass for a very long time, and many will be changed by it.

    Thanks be to God!

  8. lucy says:

    I suspect that I was also at the same Pontifical High Mass as the emailer and one other in the posts. It was beautiful. I’m pretty sure that most of the congregation were regular Novus Ordo attendees because no one seemed to know what to do. We prayed that they would be moved by this, perhaps their first EF Mass and hopefully ask for more of it or seek it out in the diocese. Thanks be to God for the pastor allowing it to happen at his parish. The nuns singing during Communion was the loveliest you would ever want to hear; as if it were coming from heaven itself.

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