Sunday, April 27, 2008

Amen, Alleluia

I wanted to write up a more thoughtful, recap of my day today. I went to Mass at my usual parish, which as always was nice. I do like all of the priests at my parish. They're so different, so smart and each one of them always manages to say something that makes me think. They're so diverse too. For some reason, I was a bit melancholy today especially during my regular service. I'm just anxious and easily upset these days. I think it's hormones and the fact that I'm paying attention to them. It's all so tedious really. It was also cold today, so that didn't help. Hard to believe it's almost May. Our last freeze date is May 15.

Anyway, my neighbor, a former Catholic, and I went to the Latin Mass today. I probably can't say that I've never been to TLM, however, when the Mass was allowed to be celebrated in the vernacular, with the implementation of the Novus Ordo, I was probably a toddler so that's the only form of Mass I've known. Today's Mass in Latin was truly an experience. I can see why some people love it and long for it. It was reverent and it was lovely to watch the priest and his server celebrate the Mass. That is truly what I felt like they were doing, not that my NO priest(s) doesn't. They do as well-- it's always reverently done and always about the Mass and not about them, but still it does look and feel different. I'm sure a Solemn High Mass is quite beautiful, at least from the bits I've seen on TV, but I have yet to watch one all the way through. If I ever have the opportunity to attend one, I will.

This was a Low Mass and it was quite nice, but I didn't feel like I was totally involved in the Mass. I don't mean that in a negative way as I don't quite understand how it's supposed to feel and what we, in the pews are supposed to really do, but yes, there is a lack of participation by the laity. And in some ways, that's not really a bad thing. I can't say that I missed the hand gestures during certain responses or the hand holding during the "Our Father." In fact, this morning at my usual Mass, I sat by myself and didn't hold hands with anyone. And while I do hold hands during the prayer, I don't always want to. Most times, I do.

The silence of the Latin Mass really struck me. It was an amazing silence actually. While I could hear the priest as he celebrated the Mass and the server made the appropriate responses, it felt like you could also hear, see and feel God. Fortunately, the priest read the first epistle and the gospel in English and then of course, said his homily in English. I'd heard the readings this morning, so it wouldn't have mattered much to me if he hadn't, but I was glad he did.(The readings I mean. I know the priest generally gives his homily in the vernacular.) I enjoyed his homily. He explained a lot about the Mass. I think since they started The Latin Mass Community here, he's been teaching those that come a bit a long the way. He tied in his homily to the readings a bit and talked about the presence of God as well. I don't want to confuse his homily with the one I'd heard earlier in the day, so I'll stop here, but needless to say, both homilies I heard today were truly poignant and insightful.

I took in every moment that I could. In fact, I sat in awe of this small mission church that has forever been part of this land. For generations and generations people worshiped here, hearing the Mass in Latin and so it just feels right to have it being celebrated in Latin again in this mission church. Though, originally, from what I've been told, the first rite to be practiced in New Mexico was the Mozarabic Rite, which still exists in Spain, (I don't know if I made mention of it before.) and then was changed to Latin. Also, I don't know if any of that is part of the history of this old chapel, believed to be the oldest in the nation. It's a humble little chapel,with lovely artwork, simple rather than extravagant, no stained glass, just high clerestory windows, which let the light in, the pews are small and rattle when you move, the floor is so old and not level, it creaks beneath your feet as you walk, and the heavy, front doors beat and crash against each other when they close. It felt like I was a world away, until I heard the tourists out front giggling and talking in "outside" voices.

Also, the guide book really helped me follow it. I know I would have been lost without it and my friend being with me. She remembered it pretty well. The people there were of different generations and eras. I didn't feel like I was the youngest person there, but probably pretty close to it. I did enjoy it, I may continue to go from time to time, but I won't give up on the Novus Ordo Mass or my wonderful parish.

(picture credit from here.)

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