Before one goes to the Old Mass -- especially if one is only familiar with Protestant services or the New Mass -- it will be good to prepare. First, abandon all preconceptions about what the "Tridentine" Mass is all about. Forget about its being a rejection of the laity ("back to the people" and all that garbage). Forget about its being the most sublime form of liturgy every developed. Forget about its being a mediaeval corruption. Go to it, in other words, with an open mind. Don't expect it to conform to what you've been told that "good liturgy" is all about.Read the rest.
Second, study the Mass beforehand. You wouldn't go to an opera without reading a synopsis of the work, without knowing anything about the composer, without learning which arias to pay particular attention to. Find a good overview of the traditional Roman Mass, and read the whole thing. A good step-by-step introduction can be found here. A simpler bilingual missal is here. And an excellent spiritual guide to the Old Mass is here. It's a good idea to follow the Mass with a missal, whether or not you know Latin (and knowledge of Latin is *not* necessary for a fruitful participation in the Old Mass). And if you go to the Mass without having prepared, don't start whining that you didn't "get anything out of it."
Third, everyone knows that the Roman Mass has traditionally been said in Latin. So, nobody's surprised by that. And everyone knows that, for most of the Mass, the priest will be looking east toward God instead of backwards toward the front doors. These are not the only differences. One of the differences that catches many people off guard the first time is that many parts of the Mass -- particularly the most sacred parts -- are said silently. In a High Mass (which is sung), you may not notice this so much. In a Low Mass (which is said), it's unavoidable. Follow the silent prayers in your missal and join your heart to the quiet prayers being whispered at the altar. God has big ears and can hear you and the priest just fine. Just because one doesn't hear anything doesn't mean that nothing is going on.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
7 Tips for Participating in the Traditional Mass
~from Fr. Jim Tucker