Monday, July 28, 2008

Thoughts after my second EF Mass

Yesterday I had the opportunity to assist at only my second Extraordinary Form Mass, again at St. Patrick's in Nashua, NH. (You can read about my first time here.) This time I took my son with me so it was just the two of us. As compared to the first Mass this one was sparsely populated, with probably around fifty or so people in the pews. This should not come as any great surprise as that first Mass was, from what I can tell, the first EF Mass in the Diocese since the Silly Season started. I did, however, have my first-ever biretta sighting, with Fr. Richard Dion attending in choro.

With it being far less full and thereby offering fewer distractions than my first EF experience, I actually found myself able to follow along in my hand Missal fairly well. I should say, of course, that much thanks is due as well to the older lady who sat near the front and provided spot-on posture cues for those of us who felt a little lost; she probably has no idea how many people were keeping her in their visual range.

I distinctly remembered last time being drawn into the silence and finding myself truly praying as best I could since I simply had only the barest idea of what was going on from moment to moment. This time, however, I was affected in a much different way because I was able to follow those prayers which the priest was quietly reciting. I was simply astonished at how the power and density of each of the prayers and particularly struck at how different the offertory prayers are from the modern variant - in comparison the modern prayers seem positively pallid. I'd read many times traditionalists crowing about the superiority of the ancient prayers but until this point I had never concerned myself much with those thoughts; now it is something that runs through my head even a day later. I have a great respect for the historical ties of the modern offertory prayers to their roots in Jewish practice, I only wish there had been a way to make that tie without cutting out the depth of meaning in the 1962 prayers.

I've assisted at an Extraordinary Form Mass now twice, and the difference in each experience could not have been more different. It does indeed leave me wondering what I shall find the next time I am so graced as to assist again. May the wait only not be so long this time as it was the last. Deo gratias!