Today I attended the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for the very first time. I'd wanted to go for a while, and never managed it. Luckily, however, the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest has an oratory site in Green Bay and celebrates both High and Low Masses every single Sunday. Mindy, Jason, and I went along, and I'm still processing, but I have some observations:
- Having been interested in Latin Mass for some time, I've done my research, so I knew a bit what to expect and felt comfortable most of the time. I didn't have a missal with all the prayers, but I had my Handbook which contains the text of the Ordinary Form in both Latin and English as well as collects and Prefaces for each Sunday, so followed along as best I could. I didn't find it daunting to not know exactly what the priest and altar boys were saying. I knew the basics, and that was enough to foster an atmosphere of prayer.
- I loved loved loved that the people there were really dressed in their Sunday Best. Many men wore suits. Most wore, at the very least, nice shirts and ties. Women were all in skirts and dresses of modest length (ie, knee-length or longer). Shoulders were covered. No tank tops, shorts, jeans, stiletto heels. Even little children were in "nicer" clothes.
- The importance of Confession was obvious. Not only did the priest remind us all in his homily the requirements for receiving Communion worthily, but the line to the confessional was long both before and during Mass.
- Of the perhaps 150-200 people present, less than 50 had grey hair. That is to say, the vast majority of people there were my age or close to it, young families in their 20s to their early 40s, usually with many beautiful children. The children were squirmy sometimes, but it didn't seem to bother anyone. And those old enough to receive Communion and serve at the altar knew how to behave.
- Speaking of altar boys, holy Moses! There were ten of them. I've since learned they have a variety of jobs, from the master of ceremonies (who looked about 17 and did the most "work") to the candle bearers (couldn't have been more than 8. Precious). Every Sunday for High Mass they have this many boys serving, and judging from the calendar of liturgical ministers in the bulletin, there is a veritable army of them waiting to serve. Amazing.
- I loved being able to receive Jesus kneeling on the tongue! That is my preferred way to receive, and I so seldom get the chance it was a wonderful treat. I feel so much more passive and receptive to the Lord when I'm not dealing with worries about being too tall to receive on the tongue standing or irreverence by receiving in the hand. And the lovely gold paten the server used put at ease any worries I had about anyone dropping the Host (that happened to me once when I received standing, and I was horrified but lucky enough to catch just in time. With the paten there are no such worries)
Overall, I enjoyed the Extraordinary Form, although I don't think I'll become an regular Trid myself. But it's important to remember that regardless of my feelings, the Holy Mass is not intended to be enjoyed. My opinions and feelings, both positive or negative, matter not a whit to the validity of the Sacrifice.
I'm so thankful for Papa B's Summorum Pontificum!