I went to my first TLM (Tridentine Latin Mass) this afternoon at a local diocesan parish. I had been hearing about it for a while and I wanted to see it for myself. I had good impressions and bad impressions, but overall I was happy that I had gone to a TLM rather than my local NO.
The Mass was a High Mass and was served by the parish priest with two seminarians as deacon and subdeacon. The priest and the deacon have good singing voices and the choir was wonderful as always. Unfortunately, the deacon’s command of the Latin language was not what I expected at all. He struggled through the Epistle and Gospel for the day. I could tell that he was reading words that he had never seen before. But I also realize that I would probably make the same mistakes if I were in front of a parish and doing the same thing. It’s one thing to read and recite the breviary in one’s mind and it’s a completely different animal when you actually say it with your lips.
The sermon was neither challenging nor something to write home about. The homilist was good because he emphasized the importance of the family and how we should model ourselves on the Holy Family. Once again, though, I do believe that it is inexperience again. After all, not every priest gives good sermons from the get go. It probably takes years before one masters the art of writing homilies and delivering them in a way that is profound for the listener. Then again, though, there are priests who are good at everything else that they do and are just not good at giving sermons. Believe me, I’ve met them more than once and the same could be true in the opposite direction as well.
I do think, though, that the TLM is a relatively new experience for my city. It’s been gone for almost forty years and so there are many things that need to be re-learned. There was a lot of shuffling among the serves today trying to find their places and so on. Also, I didn’t know when to stand up and sit down or genuflect, but I attribute this once again to inexperience. After all, I’ve only been two or three High Masses during my lifetime thus far and most of those were ten years ago.
By attending Mass, though, I realized how many issues I had when I wasn’t going. I’ve been strugglign with a lot of things recently including anger. My anger spilled over in Mass. I was just angry with a lot of things that I saw and that I didn’t see. Certain things just irritated me beyond what I thought was my irritation threshold. I just sat there and gritted my teeth the whole time. I just hope that God was not offended by my poor attendance at Mass. I suppose it’s one of those things that you work on your entire life just like everything else. If I could learn some way to leave my feelings at the door and just worship God, then I will be happy.
I think, too, part of the reason for my ill feelings and judgmentalism comes from the fact that I’ve been away from the Mass for a long time. Since last February, I’ve only been an occasional Mass goer. My local NO parish is a mess, but it’s the closest thing to my house and I only go there once in a new moon. However, I do believe that if I go and assist at daily Mass frequently then this will help my own spiritual life immeasurably. Even if it is in the Ordinary form, I’m sure that God will be pleased. After all, beggars can’t always be choosers in such things.
Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, pray for us!
St. Joseph, pray for us!