I finally went to my first Tridentine Latin Mass last Sunday. Sorry it took so long, but I hope that you can comment on my reactions.
First of all, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it for the most part. It truly gets better each time you go, as you begin to truly understand and anticipate every step of the Mass. You and I share all the positives you mentioned, so let me address the negatives as best I can.
- Have trouble following Latin along–not because I can’t read the Latin (I have a dual translation missal) but because I can’t hear the priest! Last Sunday, I was only halfway back into the chapel, and all I heard was “low mumbling.” I do not say this pejoratively, but I can think of no better description. I can barely hear anything at this Mass.
Remember you were at a LOW MASS (LM). LM tends to go much more quickly, with the priest speaking considerably more quietly than would be the case at a High Mass (HM). The general wisdom is that people should attend a HM for their first TLM, so they can soak in the full splendor of a TLM. HM offers much more singing, usually with a choir or group of chanters (though my congregation’s takes a break during the Summer months – this may be standard, I don’t know). Plus, the priest audibly chants many of the prayers, and we then respond in kind. LM has no singing. All of the parts are spoken by the priest and the altar boys. At LM, the altar boys respond to the priest on our behalf. At HM, we respond for ourselves. Also remember that the Priest is offering the Mass directly to God. Congregation participation is not a factor, especially at LM. While the Mass is being offered, we are expected to follow along in our Missals and pray the Mass along with the priest. As you attend more LMs, you’ll find it easier to follow along and know where the priest is.
- Very little congregational interaction. Perhaps it’s just this particular group, but last Sunday there was almost little congregational response. All we said was someting to the effect of “And with your Spirit” and “Amen.” No Creed was said during the Mass, among other ommissions.
I’m certain the Credo was said, though you probably missed it. Like I said above, at LM, there is no congregation participation or responses.
- No music. No musical accompaniments. The only song last Sunday was a vocal one sung during the recession.
I addressed this above. Actually, I’m surprised you even had that one song or a recession, for that matter, at LM.
- Worst of all, the moral theology as represented in the sermon. The FSSP priest who holds weekly Mass there is a nutcase. His sermon, last Sunday at least, had not bearing on what was mentioned in the Gospel reading, nor on what was read in the epistle reading. Basically he railed against those who dress immodestly, including the more reasonable examples, but even including those women who wear pants (or other “males’ clothing,” such as shorts), individuals who swim with members of the opposite sex, and young men and women who flirt (he didn’t define what he meant by flirting). He sounded like some imam or mullah ordering that all the women put on an extra burka layer, and that all the men make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. Very rigorist, in my opinion.
I just didn’t see why he was addressing a congregation which, I imagine, already has very high moral standards, even if they do wear pants with buttons, button down shirts, bow ties, etc. (why else would they be members if not traditional?)
I can’t really comment on this, having not heard his sermon. However, I think most people at TLMs find these kind of sermons refreshing. These are tough messages that people today need to hear. Yes, it may seem like preaching to the choir, but if that priest’s words keep one young person from slipping into an immodest act, he may have saved a soul. Plus, if a young person leaves Mass and mentions that priest’s words to another friend who needs desperately to hear that kind of message, is it not a good thing? Speaking for myself, I’ll take one of these any day over the mealy-mouth, say-little sermons I’ve heard elsewhere.
Anyway - I look forward to hearing more from you as you attend more TLMs. Hopefully you will be able to attend a HM soon. God bless!