I was shopping for churches, so to speak, and a great thing happened to me.
I started in the very local area, where there is a catholic church right next to the town I live in. I visited it, but it was very modern…priest facing the congregation, lay people reading the gospel, babies crying everywhere (despite that there was a cry room - what’s so darn hard about bringing your screaming child to the back of the church?). There was something about the service that was…right, but the modernism really turned me off. I was saddened, thinking that “well, if this is what the catholic church has become, then why do I even want to become catholic?”
I had heard about a parish that served the Tridentine Mass, but I had neglected to visit it first. I spoke with the priest, who very kindly, gave me a free St. Joseph Latin-English missal (An old and slightly weathered one copyrighted 1959), as well a brief explanation on the Tridentine mass. Last Sunday, I went to my first service there, which was, evidently, my first REAL service.
Words cannot describe the glory of God, and words cannot describe the Tridentine Mass, because the Glory of God was prevalent and evident throughout.
It was so beautiful. The parish was, by no means, anything like the churches and cathedrals I had seen in Germany, and it felt old and in need of a few minor repairs, but it was more glorious than even the Vatican itself.
It was a miraculous experience. My missal required a lot of back-and-forth flipping, and I constantly had trouble finding where the priest was in the pages, but somehow, I understood the jist of everything being said, even though it was in Latin.
I had never experienced something so beautiful, so solemn, so modest, and yet, so rich and robust.
All throughout the service, I felt like crying from happiness, and I thanked God profusely for finally answering my prayers, which I thought he had been neglecting. “Please, God, help guide me to the true faith and the true way of worship.”
I thought God had led me to Russian Orthodoxy, and I believe he did, in order to help me understand Christianity better and in order to help guide me towards Catholicism. But one distinct thing I noticed about the difference between the Orthodox Liturgy and the Latin Mass, even the English Vatican II revised liberal horibble “mass,” (despite what is said and done), was that even though the Orthodox liturgy and churches are very beautiful, there was something sad about it all - something dead - as if Christ is there, but is in mourning; and the Latin Mass and the reformed catholic church I went to were happy and alive. Solemn, but happy. Living, breathing, and Christ was, undoubtedly, there with everyone.
God works in subtle and mysterious ways, and it may take Him years to answer your prayers, but He does it for a reason - so that we learn and strengthen our souls.