Monday, April 02, 2012

Advice to Catholics attending a Tridentine Mass for the first time

  • Don't even pretend you know anything about this liturgy, because you don't. Hearsay isn't experience. Forget everything you've heard about it being a liturgy of "passive spectators" and needing to be "fixed," because it's likely based on superficial opinion, misinterpretation, and partisan distraction. Suspend your critical faculty, which poisons your ability to find God in any case, sit back, listen, observe, and pray.

  • Pretend you're visiting some far off country, distant both geographically and in time, and observing how the Catholics of that alien land have always worshiped God. If you were visiting a Coptic church, a Jewish synagogue, or even a Buddhist temple, chances are you would be disposed to maintain a respectful and attentive deference. Expect no less of yourself here.

  • Picture yourself wading ankle deep in the shallow waters along the sea shore, realizing that if you were to turn and wade out into the surf and keep going, you would soon be over your head. This is your present condition. You are splashing around in the shallows of a strange divine liturgical sea that is deep and vast enough to engulf you; and whatever else it may be, it is Catholic all the way down.

  • Please understand that the Tridentine liturgy is not linear and simple like the new one, but multi-layered and complex, with many things happening simultaneously. It involves a learning curve. Don't expect to understand much of anything your first visit. Like reading St. Thomas Aquinas, it can be daunting at first, and takes time, but if you're a docile pupil, it's quite possible you will eventually fall head-over-heels in love, as Flannery O'Connor could attest.

  • Watch and learn from those around you that those who love the old liturgy may love their Lord with as much white hot passion as anyone, even if they don't express it through breezy 70s-style songs with electric amplification and visible enthusiasm. Don't misinterpret their recollected restraint for emotional coldness or spiritual torpor. It's not. Rather, it is a fitting and reverent appreciation of the drama of redemption unfolding before them, that awesome and terrible Sacrifice at which they, and you, assist.


1 comments:








I am not Spartacus

said...

If you were visiting a Coptic church, a Jewish synagogue, or even a Buddhist temple, chances are you would be disposed to maintain a respectful and attentive deference.

I wonder how many Trads go to synagogue services - probably fewer than the number of ESPN Employees who would have shown-up had there been a "Pro Day" for a young, Jenna Jameson