This Sunday, for the first time since we came into the Church, we are attending a Latin Mass. We’ll rise early in the morning, don our Sunday best and drive a short ways down the interstate to do something entirely new and foreign, worship in a tongue other than our own. I’m even going to wear a tie for the occasion, remarkable in itself.
You may be wondering how it is that a person can be Catholic for so long and never attend a Latin Mass. Well, first of all the ordinary form of the Mass was an important element in our coming into the Church, it made an easy transition for us since basically the “services” were very similar, in order and in style. In fact, I wonder if, had there been no extraordinary form at the time, but only the Latin Mass, we would have made the change. That’s a disquieting thought; I’m not sure we would have; it would have been much more difficult, being so foreign to anything we were accustomed to. As it was, we could easily embrace the Mass in the ordinary form and get on with day to day life being Catholics, nothing to it.
Another reason is in some circles, attending a Latin Mass has come to be seen more as a way of making a political statement than as a statement of faith; true or not, the perception is there. I’ve wanted to avoid that label for myself; I don’t want to seen as bragging about being more orthodox or more Traditional than anyone else. Attending Mass should be, as much as humanly possible, about offering worship to God. This, in itself, has been a strong reason why I’ve never been very interested in attending a Latin Mass.
Finally, there are all the logistical problems to consider; there’s the matter of not knowing the least bit of Latin, the need to acquire Missals, for my wife there’s the question of finding a chapel veil somewhere, there’s the fear of walking into a Catholic Church and feeling completely lost and out of place, oh, and there’s the matter of the tie.
However. For some reason, in the last couple of weeks, my interest has been piqued and I’ve been moved to look into the Traditional mass. One of the first things I did, naturally, was head to the web. I found many videos of TLM in both high and low form and watched examples of both types. That was an eye opener, to say the least. I’d always been under the impression, for no reason that I’m aware of, that the mass in the ordinary form followed the Latin Mass pretty closely, the only differences being the turning of the priest to the congregation and the language being the local dialect, in my case English. The magnitude of my error was plainly visible when I watched those videos.
It was plain that what I was seeing was an entirely different form of worship, maybe even an entirely different theology of worship. My world was shaken and questions flooded into my mind. Do I have any idea of what it really means to be Catholic? How did the Church go from that form of the Mass to the ordinary form so prevalent today since they seem worlds apart? Do I need to relearn what it is the Church believes? Have I taken far too much for granted in my faith and am I at fault for not going deeper? How can this be?
I don’t know the answer to any of these questions but must find them; that journey of discovery begins bright and early Sunday morning, tie and all.