You are in for a disappointment.
I mean, I do believe that sometimes those of us who adhere to the EF Mass really ramp it up too much.
We rave and rant about how mystical, reverent and inspirational it is and then - for the first time visitor it’s so-ooo quiet.
And the priest has his back to the congregation so you feel just a little bit…er…ignored?
You came expecting the Latin, of course, but you have no idea when to stand, kneel or genuflect…and you just know that everyone is looking at you, waiting to see you make some fundamental mistake like sitting down when the rest of the congregation stand.
You come away bewildered and asking yourself what all the fuss was about.
Next week it’ll be back to the jolly old Ordinary Form, so much easier, and it’s all in English (unless you happen to go to a Tagalog/Polish/Chinese/Urdu/Swahili Mass).
So let’s dispel some myths.
First, don’t feel unwanted just because there are no greeters on hand to give you a leery smile and an even leerier hug before you enter the church.
“I’m the parish greeter, but they won’t have me at the Latin Masses!”
We at the traditional end of the Faith just happen to believe that you are grown up and should be treated like one, we are confident that you can find a pew in the church without some creep good soul guiding you to your seat.
Next, don’t worry about everyone watching you - we are all so intently devout (ahem) that we would not notice if Noddy and Big Ears marched in to Mass.
And as for sitting, kneeling and standing…do nothing until you feel that you know what is what - and that may take quite a few visits.
Just sit and watch and pray.
You don’t even have to follow the prayers of the Mass, you may pray to yourself or just meditate and soak up all that is taking place.
But, if you feel that the above advice is just a bit too laid back, here are a few key essentials that you may like to observe:-
Genuflect before entering your pew and, again on leaving when Mass has finished (not when you go up to receive Holy Communion or return).
Wear a mantilla, hat or scarf (if you are a woman) and if you wish to do so - it’s a personal choice and no one will condemn you for going bareheaded.
Receive Holy Communion kneeling (if you are able, by all means stand if you are infirm) and by mouth. If you have not done this before just close your eyes and open your mouth reasonably wide with your tongue resting on your lower lip. The priest is adept at placing the Host gently on your tongue.
And that’s just about it, really.
But don’t expect to love the old Mass immediately. It takes time to establish itself in the hearts, minds and souls of those who have not experienced reverence, piety and peace in church before.
But there is one other effect from attending a Latin Mass that our old priest always emphasized when he sat round the dining table after a meal.
“The Latin Mass” he would say: “Brings special graces to those who attend”
And he was right.