NOTE: Parts of this post were copied and edited from my other blog, In Exile.
For the past three Sundays I’ve attended the “Traditional Latin Mass” instead of the typical English one you’re probably used to. Formally called the “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite,” (“EF” for short) it differs from the usual Mass (the “Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite,” or “OF” for short) in its solemnity, richness of ritual and use of Latin. It’s also old, dating from the 16th Century, although in some variations it goes back over a thousand years before then.
I had long been wanting to go, but for various reasons haven’t been able to. Those reasons are largely resolved (perhaps it was just time) and so I went on April 22nd.
I loved it. Even before it commenced I felt that I was in the presence of something awesome. Something ancient and sacred was about to happen.
I had some idea of what to expect; I had gone to one before, perhaps 15 years ago. I had no clue then as to what was going on. This time I was better informed from prior study.
I loved it, although I still didn’t quite understand everything. My knowledge of Latin is bad.
The priest is offering the sacrifice on behalf of the people; we observe and unite our prayers to his. The offering of the Mass is between him and God, we are present but in a less participatory role than in the OF. I may have said this with less than precise terminology. If in error, I will accept charitable correction. But this is what I believe I’ve gleaned from my study and observation. The Mass is a sacrifice, the priest offers it, we observe. The OF Mass has altered this understanding, and I think the manner in which it was done has been detrimental to contemporary Catholicism. The emphasis seems to have shifted from worshiping God to the Mass being some sort of communal celebration about us.
Anyway, it was a transcendental experience; despite my newness to it I sensed that something was different, something otherwordly was taking place. A kind of awesome mystery. I felt completely detached from the outside world, something that rarely ever happens to me at an Ordinary Form Mass. This is actually one reason why I haven’t blogged in nearly a month. It’s odd, but this disconnectedness has rendered in me a lack of desire to engage much in online activity. I spend some time on Facebook and MeWe and elsewhere, but not for as long as usual. This week I was hardly online at all.
I can just imagine the experience may intensify after I am more familiar with the Mass.
This is the “Mass of the Ages,” the Mass the Catholic Church celebrated for centuries prior to Vatican II. I felt somehow connected to those who had celebrated it before… not just ordinary priests and laity, but saints. This is the Mass that St. Maximilian Kolbe offered; the Mass that St….. think of your favorite saint from centuries ago, he or she celebrated or attended this Mass.
They say that Vatican II created a rupture in the continuity of tradition between the contemporary Church and the one of ages past. I will not comment on that but it is apparent that we lost a lot. Although I will not become bitter, angry and resentful over “what we lost,” for you and I well know what those emotions can lead to, I will develop a much greater interest in the liturgy and its importance in life. I already have to some great degree taken the liturgy to be something more than something done on Sundays or how you pray. I do live a fairly liturgical life: from taking a keen interest in the liturgical seasons and deriving a personal connection or life application from them to praying the Divine Office. The liturgical year contributes to the ebb and flow of my life, almost like the temporal seasons and their connection to growing things.
I will be attending the Mass in both forms. My wife shows little interest in the EF. That’s all right. I like a good OF Mass said with due and proper attention to the rubrics. (The OF lends itself to abuse.) Besides, the readings aren’t the same, and for now it feels odd to not attend the Mass 99% of Catholics attend (just a guess at the percentage.)
I will blog about this over time. There is definitely something of value here to the recovering alcoholic and addict; the feeling of transcendental holiness and other-worldliness has got to be a sure “cure” for the people, places and things plaguing life. This is why I titles this post, “Spiritual progression, Latin style;” I feel that my growth as a Catholic, my spiritual development, has taken a quantum leap upward.
I’m going again tomorrow!Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)