This weekend I attended a Latin Mass in a local parish. Here are some of my initial observations about it…
- I didn’t feel as out of place as i thought i would. I sat at the back so i could follow what everyone else did and therefore hopefully did not draw attention to myself.
- The responses to the priest from my Catholic brethren appeared to be largely interior. Only one person spoke his responses aloud…most people spoke their responses in whispers, if at all. It reassured me somewhat that in my not responding or participating audibly during the Mass, i didn’t seem to have a neon ‘newbie’ sign flashing from my forehead.
- As many women who wore head coverings, did not wear head coverings. Though I have to say that of the women who wore Mantillas and other head coverings, at least half of them fidgeted with them throughout the Mass, which i personally found a bit distracting as it seemed to defeat at least a part of the purpose for which I assume they were wearing them in the first place.
- One Latin Mass is NOT ENOUGH!!!! What i mean by that is that there is far too much going on to take it all in, in one Latin Mass.
- I could not, no matter how hard i tried, follow the Mass in the Latin Mass Book provided by the parish. I kept looking for recognisable words like ‘Domine’ …’Kyrie’ etc….after a while i just gave up trying and just tried to ‘get’ where we were in the Mass by looking for the ‘signs’ given by the priest. I often couldn’t tell though, to tell the truth.
- I am some kind of dumb ass. I kind of thought the reading/Gospel and homily would be in Latin. ! LOL! Yeah, because every Latin Mass goer knows their entire vocabulary in Latin right? Dorkus!
- That old chestnut about not understanding what the priest is saying during the Latin Mass, holds more than a grain of truth. Though if one were to attend Latin Mass regularly, i’m sure one would soon pick it up…or at least learn the responses.
- Alter rails. Love. Love. Love receiving Holy Communion on my knees.
- There was no handshaking at the Sign of the Peace.
- There was as much noise going on as at almost any other Mass…there were still children and babies making noise, playing with toys, crying etc…some grown up people left the Mass early etc. Oddly perhaps, that was kind of reassuring.
- There was a lot more kneeling, and kneeling and sitting at different times as we would when at a Novus Ordo Mass.
- The collection plate still came around. LOL!
- There was unquestionably a discernable air of reverence. People entered quietly and departed quietly. Many were on their knees before Mass and after the Mass had ended. There was little, or no chat going on before and after Mass.
- The congregation was noticeably smaller at the Latin Mass compared with the Novus Ordo Mass which i ordinarily attend, at the same parish. I got the feeling that there was not such a sense of ‘community’….though the priest invited parishioners to the presbytery for refreshments at the close of the Mass. Most people seemed to head off to their cars rather than take him up on his offer, me included….though i did feel like crap so that’s my excuse and i’m sticking to it. (Admittedly though, i’m fairly anti-social even when i don’t feel like crap). Interestingly, only one person made eye contact with me before/during/after the Mass.
- I recieved Holy Communion on the tongue for the first time in a couple of years. I stopped receiving on the tongue when an EMHC would regularly stick his finger in my mouth when I was receiving the Precious Host from him. It made me feel uncomfortable and drew attention away from Our Lord because i would be so anxious about the finger in mouth EMHC!
- There were no music/hynmns although we sang the Salve Regina at the end of Mass.
- The priest did have his back to us for the majority of the Mass but i didn’t feel ignored. It felt like what it was. The priest was leading us in prayer, leading us to Communion with Christ, therefore he would be facing Our Lord and we, behind him, would be facing the Lord and not the priest. That was okay with me…though when i attempted to look for tell tale signs of where we were in the Mass, i could not *see* what was happing…it still wasn’t a problem for me though.
- I did miss participating as per usual, but this could be overcome if i learned the responses in Latin. Perhaps too, it would be a good exercise to practice interior responses…after all, we don’t always have to have something to say, do we?
Okay, they are just some of my intial observations. I admit here and now that since i was having quite a poor day health wise, and had taken a shedload of medication, i probably was not in the most receptive or appreciative state of mind to explore and embrace the beauty of the Latin Mass.
Now that i have been to one Latin Mass, I will certainly consider going again. The Latin Mass is just as much ours as the Novus Ordo Mass is ours. We have just as much a place there as in our regular parish Masses.