"You aim at a devout life, dear Philothea, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God's Divine Majesty," says St. Francis de Sales in his book "Introduction to the Devout Life".
And we can all be Philotheas, as St. Francis notes: "I have made use of a name suitable to all who seek the devout life, Philothea meaning one who loves God."
1.It will make you wonder why we have lay ministers of Holy Communion in the Novus Ordo Mass.
If it’s the same Mass, and it’s the same Jesus in each Mass, then why is it that in the extraordinary form of the Mass (the TLM, as it is often called), only the priest may handle the Body and Blood of Our Lord? Could it be because (gasp) he is ordained for that purpose? Could it be that his hands are anointed for that purpose? Could it be because he is a…priest? Once you experience that a few times, it starts to look quite unsettling to see lay ministers – or even deacons and acolytes – distributing Holy Communion, or purifying the vessels (which they’re not supposed to do anyway), or just in general traipsing through the sanctuary. Those things don’t happen in the TLM, and it makes a huge difference in one’s sense of reverence and awe during the Mass.
2.It will make you more aware of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Precisely because the priest is the only one who may handle the Eucharist, awareness is instantly raised as to the importance of that little “wafer” – the True Body of Christ. Because the faithful receive on the tongue while kneeling, reverence is cultivated. It cannot be otherwise. Receiving Holy Communion becomes more humbling. It makes one more aware of Jesus and what He does for us by coming to us in the Eucharist. Truly.
3.It will make you wonder why we have guitar music at the Novus Ordo Mass.
After a period of adjustment, as your musical “palate” is cleansed of the sugary sweet pop tunes of OCP origin, Gregorian chant will impress its spiritual flavor on your heart and mind, and you will experience the way in which this sacred music – which was designed for nothing but the worship of God – lifts your soul to God.
4.It will bring you to a new understanding of the liturgical worship of the Catholic Church.
The interior logic and spiritual integrity of the extraordinary form will manifest itself to you over a period of time. It is an integrity that no longer exists in the Novus Ordo – at least as it is celebrated in most parishes. And even in the best of situations, you will sense, after some time, that there is something missing in the Novus Ordo. Part of that has to do with the abbreviated nature of the prayers; yes, the new translation is a good start, but the prayers are still…well…incomplete, when compared with those of the extraordinary form.
5.It will bring you to a new awareness of your own sinfulness…and it will make you more Catholic in your understanding of Church teaching on things like homosexuality, abortion, and artificial contraception.
The prayers of the extraordinary form talk about sin (and some of this sense of our sinfulness has been restored with the new translation). The sung Kyrie is an extended plea for mercy. The prayers at the foot of the altar and the Confiteor are much richer and piercing than anything in the Ordinary Form. Read the prayers of the TLM. How does this relate to an increase in understanding of Church teaching? I don’t know, exactly. But it does.
6.It will make you aware of how “horizontal” the worship is in the Novus Ordo.
I’m talking here about the typical experience of the NO in the typical parish in my experience.It’s flat. It’s not aimed upwards; we aim it at each other. The priest faces us; we interrupt our worship to extend the “sign of peace”, which in some parishes is tantamount of a free-for-all of pious handshaking and smiling and crawling over each other to greet everyone. The songs chosen (instead of the music proper to the Mass) are sometimes of questionable theology, and often are pure “schmaltz”, playing on our more secular emotions rather than lifting our minds and hearts to God. Why? Because they resemble secular music – not sacred music.
7.It will make you hunger and thirst for true worship every time you attend the typical Novus Ordo Mass at your parish.
This is because, as Richard Collins says over at Linen on the Hedgerow, “the two Masses are as different as chalk is to cheese”. Even in a Novus Ordo that is said properly – even with the Gregorian chant propers and ordinary, even with the priest celebrating the Mass ad orientem – it is quite likely that you will feel that something is missing. Because it is.
In short, you should not attend the TLM because it will make you more aware of your Catholic identity. And that is precisely what the enemy does not want.
Even if you decide, after my dire warnings, that you’d like to try the TLM, the enemy still has a few tricks up his sleeve for you. See, if you’ve had a long history of attending the Novus Ordo, and if you enjoy singing the songs from the “JourneySong Book” or “Breaking Bread” or any of the others of that ilk, and especially if you are an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, you will not experience the effects listed here immediately. It would take some time before the changes could take hold. So if you go just one time, you might feel like a fish out of water; it may seem odd and quiet and just plain different. And since we are human, and since humans don’t like change, you will quite likely say, “I guess it’s fine for all those trad types, but it’s just not for me.”
(And that’s part of the problem, too. The Novus Ordo should not seem so very different from the TLM – not if we really had a “hermeneutic of continuity” happening here. But, of course, we don’t.)
So, if you are forced to attend a TLM, or if you go just one time to prove you gave it a shot, fear not! You may be quite able to hold onto your Protestantized view of worship, and you will be able to continue to speak disparagingly of the use of Latin and the fact that you can’t understand the words (but if you know how to read, you have no excuse, because there will be an English-Latin booklet available for you to refer to, almost certainly).
If you really give the TLM a try, though – because maybe you seek a greater “actual” participation in the Mass, and you are a Catholic who wants to be truly Catholic – you will experience all of the above effects, and they really are good things and not bad.
But a word of warning is still in order:
Once you experience the effects noted, you will probably talk about them. You'll want a TLM in your parish. And then you will probably be criticized, if not ostracized, by many in your parish. You’ll hear endless arguments about how you are being “divisive” and not promoting the unity of the Body of Christ in your parish or diocese. And you will not be happy about this. It will hurt.
But I’ll tell you something: it’s worth every bit of the pain.