Well, I’m just back from following my first ever Traditional Latin Mass.
The Mass was given in a church belonging to our own parish, by a priest belonging to our own diocese, so that it was canonically given in full and total regularity.
Now — where to begin…
First, I was not put into some kind of aesthetic sensation of awe by the beauty of the Old Mass, simply because my Latin is too canny to be aware of the language of the Mass otherwise than as just another language that I understand. My meditation this morning, both before and after the Mass, has been centred around the expression Deo Gratias — because having discovered in the street some simple benefit for myself on the way to the Mass, I prayed briefly saying “Thank You, God” — and the most direct translation of the Latin, in the Mass later, is exactly that — or even just “Thanks, God”.
The language in the Mass is there not to set up God as on high and aloof from us, but to bring Him into this sort of close and familiar, familial, feeling of Love, received, shared, and given — in trust, confidence, and honesty.
That the language of the Old Mass is in Latin changes this not in the slightest.
It was maybe surprising that it was only til about halfway through the Mass that dear Père Le Quay started to realise that I was not actually familiar with it (more about this later) — except that my experience of the old liturgy was that it’s “just” the Mass. The only time I’ve EVER been shocked by the Novus Ordo was the ONE time that I attended the Mass given in English (I usually follow the Mass in French) — because I found that the translation itself was quite heavily protestantised, incorporated some quite dubious readings and interpretations NOT found in the Romance language translations, and generally speaking, it felt more like a *progressive* Anglican liturgy than a Catholic Mass. On the other hand, I was surprised by the liturgy of the Old Mass not in the slightest. OK, there were a couple of places where I didn’t know that I was supposed to respond to the priest, including once by virtue of being on the wrong page — but this is both normal and unsurprising.
Fundamentally though, it just seems to me that the Old Mass and the New Mass are essentially the same.
I have NOT been betrayed by incompetent catechists teaching their incompetent 1970s uncatholic understandings.
I do NOT have any difficulty with the Latin — nor do I inappropriately provide the language itself with any undeserved quasi-mystical veneration.
I understand the theology of the Mass where it is explicit in the Old Mass and implicit in the New — but ALSO where it is explicit in the New Mass, but implicit in the Old.
I remain in Full Communion with our Church, and with both of our Bishops, our curate and all the other parish priests, and all the Faithful of our parish whether I attend the New Mass in our parish or the Old Mass in our parish.
It’s just the Mass — and of course, “just the Mass” is a living miracle in our midst.
The only weird things about the Mass this morning are the following :
1) The congregation was constituted of the priest and myself.
It’s rather ironic, given the propensity of my traditionalist friends to claim that Vatican II and the New Mass have destroyed Mass attendance, that the choice that I have on the Sunday seems to be between attending the Traditional Mass as the ONLY lay Catholic in the congregation ; or to attend a perfectly orthodox, non-abusive, Novus Ordo Mass in the company of a congregation numbering in the hundreds, including dozens of children, and the majority of the Faithful being in the working age bracket of 20-year-olds to those in their 60s.
2) My only “surprise” with the Old Mass was, well — What on Earth is all this fuss about ???!!???
… and I’m asking this question of both factions.
Why on Earth do the liberals try and suppress a Rite of the Mass that has absolutely nothing wrong with it ?
Why on Earth do the more radical traditionalists condemn the New Rite which is so substantively equal to the Old ?
I mean, we can ALL complain when the catechism and the theology that people are taught, particularly our children and youth, are just so intensively and blatantly deficient, so that people end up being unable to comprehend the Mass at all, both Old and New — but the answer to this problem is to provide good catechesis ; not to provide either this or that extremist liturgical fetishism !!!
I will continue to accompany dear Père de Quay in his lonely traddy vigil, because the orthodoxy and the Tradition of our Church need defending — but I think when I do so in future, I’ll need to go to Mass twice on those Sundays. Because defending the minority cannot require abandoning the majority.