Monday, February 21, 2011

This Novice's Impression of The Latin Mass

I went to Latin Mass this morning.  It is a small church, but very pretty.  They are building a new church and I believe it will be grand.  This one is not grand.  Just a typical suburban church, about 40 years old.

I sped through town to get there because I underestimated how long it would take to get there.  It occurred to me how ridiculous it is to break laws in order to get to mass on time, but I did it anyway.  And I did get there on time.

I sat in the back so that I would be able to watch what others were doing.  Unfortunately, I sat behind a woman with 8 children.  I didn't know that when I sat down because only a few of them were there, but they all came and went throughout the mass.  I don't know where they were going, but they went there a lot.   They were very cute, all the girls had dresses and veils on.  The boys were dressed nicely.  I don't know how one woman could manage that many kids, I would say she did a pretty good job.  But it was still a lot of coming and going and very distracting.

And though I grew up pre-Vatican II, I had a hard time figuring out what was going on.  I could barely hear the priest.  I could see when he moved from one side of the altar to the other, and also hear the bells, and those were basically my only cues as to what was going on.  There was no homily.  It was 100% latin, 100% of the time.

The best part?   The Holy Eucharist, received on the tongue, while kneeling.

I am not sure what I think about the rest.  I think I need to go there on a Sunday to see what that is like.

I wish I could have heard the priest.  As I said, I grew up with the latin mass - and as I attended Catholic Schools, I was an A student in Latin.  I know my latin.  But if I can't hear it, I still don't know what is being said.

I felt lost.

(And there are no photos because I was entirely too intimidated to snap a picture)


  1. 'I felt lost.'

    Well Mary C, Jesus came to seek and save the lost, so be assured, He knew you were there and He knew the intentions of your heart in going in the first place.

    I occasionally attend morning Mass at Prinknash on a Saturday. Well actually, it's the Divine Office but we have Holy Communion so I presume it's a Mass aswell. Like you, I didn't really follow any of it, (but unlike you, I know very little Latin) I still embrace the whole spiritual experience including Holy Communion. The monks are hundreds of years old, or at least the monastry is, rather!!

    Regarding the eight children, it seems that traditional Catholics do have very large families so I would expect there to be many children at the Latin Masses in general?

  2. I can relate! I'm so hesitant to try new things where I am unsure of what to do, which is why I am forcing myself to do things that are outside of my comfort zone. I'll bet once you try this a few more times you will feel more comfortable.

  3. MC
    You can get an inexpensive Missal booklet so that you can follow the Mass. I think I picked up a bare-bones one with all the responses for under $20 from Leaflet Missal Company. I've only been to 2 dialog TLM's so even though I'm pretty comfortable with a Missa Cantata ( high sung Mass) I'm pretty sure I'd be a bit more lost at a low Mass. You're lucky to have a daily TLM. I'd have to go to an SSPX chapel for that.

  4. Joyce-there is am SSPX chapel near here? I am quite ignorant of these things...

  5. Thanks everyone.

    Joyce, I am thinking SSPX is Society of St. Pious X? There is one about 50 miles away. And that is a whole other subject.

    And there were missals there. I just couldn't figure out where we were.

    This mass is at 8:30 a.m., so I can only go on days off work.

  6. I see no point to a mass where one doesn't understand the language. And no homily? This would not have been a good experience for me. I need to connect with what's being said for me to really feel the religiosity. I fail to see what's so special about a Latin mass. Again I haven't gone to one, so it's not fair for me to criticize it but I can't imagine this filling my Christian needs.

  7. Kelly, yes, St. Jude's in Eddystone, PA.

    There is a non-SSPX in Berlin, NJ - Mater Eccesiae, strictly TLM, may have a daily TLM but too far away for me during weekdays.

    MC, yes, not sure I could go the SSPX route. It IS a whole other subject.

    Manny, many times priests do not give homilies during weekday Masses, so that's not so unusual. At our Sunday TLM (Missa Cantata) the priest always reads the Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular after he's read them in Latin and the sermon is always in English.

  8. Thanks Joyce. That would be more helpful. But does the congregation recite the Nicean Creed and the Our Father in Latin or English? Plus I absolutely must have the Glory To God sung in English. That's one of the highlights for me. It's the moment I really connect with God at mass. I don't think I would connect as well if at all in Latin.

    I really should put a blog together on why I'm against switching all the masses to Latin. Normally I'm a conservative (not just in the political sense) on things of the Church and culture, but on this I'm not. It would be a longish blog and not one i could do on the spur of the moment.

  9. Manny
    Yes, all the propers are in Latin I love the Gloria, but I once heard it from the Missa de Angelis, I wouldn't care if I never heard it in English again.
    I know some would disagree with me, but you don't have to go to a TLM to hear Mass celebrated properly. Many priests, including my own, can celebrate in both forms and either one would suffice because of their reverence and their adherence to the norms, as opposed to ad libbing and improvising.