When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Been there done that recently by attending a Latin Mass for the first time, but I understand it wasn’t a true TLM. However, it was a very positive experience for me. Unlike the many parishes I’ve attended, there is total silence with little eye-contact as you enter. People are highly focused on prayer and God. Please don’t mistake this as a “coldness” as it is far from cold. At the church I went to, that was my initial impression but it soon changed and I could feel the dynamics that were operating at a deep level within people.
I found the people to be highly reverent, genuflecting deeply and with purpose, for example. Even children walk slowly and respectfully.
As far as the gestures, just relax. More than likely you’ll receive a booklet as you walk in and if you can follow, it often tells you to bow or to strike the breast (a tap). Bows are held long from my experience so expect that. Ask the usher which Canon they are likely to use and if they can show you the page. This is where I got lost as there are like 4 of them. Often these booklets will have English on one side so you can follow along.
Also remember that everyone in there had to struggle with finding their place in the Mass with regards to Latin and then learn to make the pronounciations. Sometimes it runs fast so even if you can read it, they are fluent enough to let it roll. I have found them to be enthusiastic and vocal participants once they have it down. Don’t be intimidated. If you are fluent with the Mass in general, like me, you may find that you fully comprehend what is being said, but with your heart, not your ears. At the church I went to, they actually had tapes you could borrow with many common prayers in Latin so you could get the pronounciation, flow and cadence down. The prayers themselves can be found abundantly on the web.
Expect some parts of the mass to be inaudible, especially consecration. This actually grabbed my attention when the priest barely whispered the words at that point. There is a meaning to this and I had once found it on the web but can’t find the link (someone help me out if you know where to find it). The inaudible portion has something to do with Jesus having already spoken the words Himself.
When I first went to communion at this church, I didn’t know if kneeling at the rail was going to allow for reception in the hand of Holy Communion. I kept glancing out to the side and could see no one receiving it this way, but then when that plate got slid so closely under my chin, there was no room for reception by hand. Once again, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. What was awkward at first in a matter of days became my preferred choice of receiving Holy Communion. I’ve been attending daily as that parish is where a group of lay Carmelites are based and I’m going to be joining. This daily attendance has given me a better opportunity to experience this mass better. I realized that I did not have all the distractions associated with walking up, then at the last minute seeing the host and saying “Amen”. You see it at the last minute at the rail too, but you’ve been kneeling there preparing yourself, not subconsciously people-watching on the way up. I get the biggest rush from communion now that nearly two weeks have gone by.
Everything has a purpose in such a Mass. When you get out you may have lots of questions. I have found it fun to explore those things, even the minor nuances.