My first Extraordinary Form experiences

I blew it the first time.

At the CMAA colloquium, we had virtually everything we needed to follow along at the two Latin Masses during the week. The problem is that it was spread out throughout the 250-page book.

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I wanted to be able to follow the Mass. I understood that it had differences from the Ordinary Form, but hadn’t experienced it for myself. But I did it wrong. I didn’t sit back, relax, and just experience the Extraordinary Form. I got lost flipping through all the pages, instead. I realized my mistake fairly quickly after Mass.

So I tried to fix my mistake during the second Mass. I did better. I did a little page flipping but didn’t obsess over it. And it was a better, more meaningful experience. So with all that in mind, here’s what I thought:

The rituals, when carried out correctly and reverently, are beautiful. No denying that. I’m a fan of incensing, especially.

I can see why people believed the liturgy needed reform. It was very top-heavy and really dragged in places — during the week, one of the complaints someone noted about the OF is that sometimes, the priest is just waiting for the music to end, but the exact same thing was happening at the EF, multiple times. Some of the rituals (for example, the silently read gospel at the end) were too much.

Singing the readings is a really bad idea. Miked or not (at the EF, they were not), they were incomprehensible, which made it hard to follow along.

Latin propers just make sense there. I mean, they felt like they belonged there in a way that English propers didn’t at the OF and even Latin propers didn’t at the OF.

I still really missed the level of participation that the OF has. It’s true. I don’t like just sitting there. For some people, this may help them enter into deeper meditation during Mass. I didn’t feel that effect.

This all having been said, I’m glad I went to the EF Masses, and though I wouldn’t necessarily actively seek one out, I wouldn’t object to going to one with someone who invites me, and I would be happy to play the music for an EF Mass. It didn’t necessarily appeal to me before, and I still don’t have any particular attraction to it. But this job isn’t about me, and the Church doesn’t conform itself (and shouldn’t) to my whims. If I can help EF attendees draw closer to God, that’s what I want to do.


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