Friday, January 7, 2011

Introibo ad Altari Dei...

Last night, I had the opportunity, for the first time, to attend/assist/celebrate a Traditional Latin Mass for the first time in public. (While on retreat after Christmas, I said a daily TLM in private, which is much preferable, to me, than saying the NO in private, but I'll get to that in a later post, hopefully.)

Those following my twitter feed (@fatherschnippel) noticed the following yesterday, late morning: "Message to Cinci folk: TLM at OSM, 7:00 PM, tonight, Epiphany Solemn Mass, urs truly as Deacon"

Yep, first time: Deacon at a Solemn High Mass! A bit of training from a very good MC, and off we went. To say it is different than the NO Mass is, umm, selling it a bit short. I am still trying to get my head around the experience.

First thought: strangely, it is much harder to 'pray' this Mass than the NO as a priest. At least these initial run throughs (with rusty Latin), I am so concerned with the Rubrics, the hand positions, the genuflections, the kissing the altar, hand, etc., I'm trying to get through it rather than 'pray' it. In TLM, it is not about the priest, it is about the ritual, the ceremony, the prayers; entering into a timelessness, almost. The prayers are beautiful in their wording, if sometimes wordy, even in the Latin (which can really get me toungue tied!)

Another thought, from a friend who was attending her first TLM: Afterwards, as we were digesting the experience over sandwiches at Cinci's oldest bar, her comment was: 'It seemed, ummm..., more masculine.' The guys at the table agreed: if NO Masses were celebrated like that, there would be more vocations. (leading a participant to quip this morning in a note: "Father, have you told your boss and your other priest friends that a very orthodox mass (even NO) with a very rigorous/demanding altar server program would help encourage vocations?" Well, we know it, harder to implement.

The chants (and the choir was really great last night!) all reflect that timelessness. Certainly, in TLM, there is not a notion of 'I don't get anything out of Mass,' even the laity have to work to pray along.

Another buddy, also attending his first TLM, tried to follow along at first, but dropped the little red hand missal and just decided to soak it in. I think he was still trying to put it into words, too. (I really hope he was joking with the 'needed more "active participation"!' line!)

Anyway, there is another chance to see me ply the trade of the deacon tonight, for the monthly 'First Friday' Mass at Old St. Mary's in Cincinnati's Over the Rhine. Hopefully, I won't be quite as lost, be able to enter the prayer a bit more and ultimately, soon, be able to step up to the top step of the altar and bat leadoff for the Solemn High Mass.

As a contrast, since I hadn't had my own Mass yet, I then celebrated a Low Mass at the same alter, with just two servers and maybe a few others at first in the Church. At least there, I was mostly getting the hang of things.

Finally, my friend (who commented above on the masculinity of TLM) was finally able to give me my birthday present, only a month late, but still appreciated: a center Altar Card she had picked up at a thrift store. Not to decorative, just pretty simple words hadn written on a paper, mounted in a frame. Awesome! And it will be very helpful at the home chapel, where we didn't have the cards yet. Mass intention for her today!

UPDATE: Fr. Z picked this up here. He highlights the beauty and the difficulty of this Mass: It wieghs upon the priest, it makes demands of both the priest and the people, it takes a while for things to get comfortable, routine. Isn't our prayer life much the same?

To be fair: the 'active participation' comment was firmly toungue in cheek


Unknown said...

This is so great!! Next time you do a TLM, I'll come down. Are you at St. Peter in Chains?

Albert Bloomfield said...

You are awfully kind to the choir. Since I am in the schola, I can apologize for the poor performance on some of the chant, though I think the Ave Maria sounded pretty good. Tonight we should sound better since our director will be there.

Anonymous said...

Bravo father! I thank you so much for doing this! It is a great example to people my age,(teens), to see priest's do this.

I will have to agree with your friend that "he guys at the table agreed: if NO Masses were celebrated like that, there would be more vocations"

I also agree with the fact that if you do have a strong server core, there would be more vocations!

God Bless you father, and thank you so much for all you are doing!

LargeBill said...

Fr. S,

I missed your twitter announcement. I'll have to pay more attention. The laity participation sounds a little intimidating. I only made it to 4th grade in Catholic school and know very little Latin. Heck, some of us struggle to fully follow along at Mass in English. :-)

Speaking of struggling to get things right, you'll get a laugh out of this. Before a meeting the other night the person leading us in praying the Rosary somehow went straight from third mystery to fifth mystery and after wards he somewhat sheepishly said (when he realized he had 11 beads left) "Anyone know the sixth Glorious mystery?"

Anonymous said...

What an interesting read, Father Kyle. I was only at one solemn high mass (at Old St.Mary's), which I blogged about for Sacred Heart Radio. I found it a little hard to follow, but nothing (I imagine) that going a few more times wouldn't cure. I also found that there was plenty for the laity to "do," although there isn't much to say. It is very prayerful. In a typical NO mass, what the laity "do" is sing a lot of songs and say a lot of responses -- but it is quite possible to do all those things without praying at all.

I agree with your friend -- it was very masculine. Men EVERYWHERE (there were three priests when I went, and a bunch of servers). And even though I couldn't see the consecration, it seemed very mysterious and important. I will be interested to see how the second one goes! I wish I could come down, but I doubt I can make it.

Gail F

Adoro said...

Awww! I totally missed that you were going to be offering this form of the Mass, didn't know you did it on retreat.

Wish I'd known! Of course I couldn't have come - MN to Cincy is quite a drive...

Awesome, though. Awesome. :-)

I love the TLM and am catching on to the Latin responses although they don't come naturally yet in most cases.

Unknown said...

Father, your comment about the "masculine" nature of the TLM put me in mind of a comment by Cardinal Heenan at the time the NO was first shown to the Cardinals.

'Cardinal Heenan addressed the Synod the day after the experimental Mass had been presented and said he did not know the names of those who had proposed the new Mass but it was clear to him that few of them had ever been parish priests.

"At home," he said, "it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children."
He also said we needed more than ever to stress the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and that the faithful were growing restless and disturbed by too frequent changes in the Mass. Remember, this was in 1967! He concluded his speech by stating that the Latin tongue must be preserved. "If the Church is to remain truly the Catholic Church it is essential to keep a universal tongue." How tragically prophetic those words were.'

Torkay said...

This is a deeply joyful occasion for you and for the Archdiocese, Father. Perhaps you will now understand why I told you more than 2 years ago that the answer to the vocations crisis was the restoration of Tradition. That is also the answer to the restoration of the Church in response to the Vatican II revolution.

As for the masculinity of the TLM, if you've ever met any SSPX priests, one of the first things you'll notice about them is their virility - and I don't mean a macho display. They have not been emasculated by the Novus Ordo, and not turned into Protestants. They have remained true to their vocation, the true alter christus.

So now the question is: when will Archbishop Schnurr be saying a TLM?

Anonymous said...

Father, one of the things I tell the men I train to serve at our EF and reform-of-the-reform OF parish is that those serving in the sanctuary must resist the temptation to indulge in private piety. It is a hard thing to give up because the Mass's sacred beauty can be an overpowering distraction, but as servers we are no longer private persons. The EF with its detail is a constant recall to humility, and that is not a bad thing.

I know our men prefer the EF for its gravitas and dignity, as well as for the challenge of getting the complex liturgy to flow seamlessly. To this end we call upon Our Lady's gift of recollection unclouded by sin, and the protection of St Michael.

Without being melodramatic, we are quite serious about the spiritual warfare aspect of assisting at the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary. I should add that our corps of servers includes men who've served in every branch of the armed forces, while two of the priests we serve have served as combat chaplains in Iraq. Several of us are husbands and fathers. We like to believe that our all-male sanctuary calls attention to the maleness of the priest who represents Jesus the Bridegroom. We are at home in our own male skins and not afraid to don a little "man lace" when the occasion calls. It's just work clothes for us.


Alexander said...

The laity participation sounds a little intimidating. I only made it to 4th grade in Catholic school and know very little Latin. Heck, some of us struggle to fully follow along at Mass in English.

The interesting thing is you don't need to know any Latin to fully participate. After going over and over you can basically know where you are at by the either examining what's going in the sanctuary and/or by the music.

It's sort of hard for me to explain. If one wants to follow the priest at a TLM you can first get used to it by following along visually. Once you become familiar with through site you can follow along through a missal.

Once you are able to do this you should hopefully pick up on a few repeated Latin words to better approximate what's going on.

For example “Gloria in excelsis Deo” is the Gloria, “Credo in unum Deum” is the Creed etc. They even sound and read similar (Credo, Creed. Glory, Gloria). “Sanctus” is Holy (excuse my grammar it may not be literally “Holy”) - Sanctus looks and sounds similar to Sanctity or Sanctify which is basically referring to holiness. “Deo”, “Deum” “Deus” looks close to the English “deity” which of course is referring to God.

Anyway, the pieces fall into place very smoothly. After going to a TLM for a while I can follow without a missal. Granted some prayers I don't have memorized because the priest says them inaudibly and they're for him anyway.

I'll give an example that happened to me. I was late to Mass one day and walked in when they were praying the Gloria. This was of course a TLM and it was obviously all in Latin. When I walked in it only took me hearing about 5 words being sung and knew exactly where the Mass was at even though I couldn't interpret what was being said.

Or could meditate on the passion of Christ which is actually another way to fully participate. And if anyone finds that odd, its because the modern interpretation of “active participation” has butchered its traditional meaning.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father, for your interest in the Roman Mass. It is beautiful-offered either as a Low Mass or High Mass. How about rotating in at Sacred Heart once in a while? You are in my prayers.

RAnn said...

Father, what strikes me about discussions such as these are how they differ from what my parents tell me about the time when the TLM was the ordinary--actually only--form of the mass. My parents, who were raised in two different states, in two different parishes, and then were members of several other parishes before the introduction of the NO, both said that the normal form of participation in mass for the average person was to say the rosary, read a prayer book (not necessarily a missal) or otherwise engage in private prayer. My dad mentioned how different it was in one military chapel where all these ex-altar servers said the mass responses in unison.

I guess what I'm wondering is how much of youthful enthusiasm for the EF is based on the fact that most celebrations of it today are by extraordinary priests (those who really believe it is best and go out of their way to learn to celebrate it, and then do what would have been a better than average job of celebrating it than the average priest did 50 years ago) and attended by extraordinary parishioners (as opposed to the random crowd the average parish gets on an average Sunday morning).