I took some photos with my cell phone:
Once a quarter, St Albertus celebrates the Extraordinary Form - the High Mass - and this time around, my sister-in-law, who is a member of the preservation association, invited us to attend. So, with the Sons of LarryD in tow, we met her at the church.
I had some idea of what to expect before the Mass started - I've read numerous accounts of other people's impressions of the Tridentine Mass (both positive and negative) - yet I had wanted to attend one in order to form my own opinion. One's imagination is an insufficient substitute for the experience, as it so happens with most things in life.
I'll come right out and say it - I prefer the Extraordinary Form. The quietude. The majesty. The solemnity. The reverence. The mystery. Despite my unfamiliarity with the rite - the Asperges and the "sung" reading and Gospel, for example - I had little trouble following along with the aid of the 'Red Book'. The basic format and progression of the Mass was the same. The Latin didn't throw me - I had two years of Latin in high school. I had no problem saying "Et cum spiritu tuo"! And the Gregorian chant was the perfect complement to the mystery and wonderment.
Several observations - this was no "getting caught up in the novelty" moment. I didn't attend the Tridentine Mass in order to gain membership into an exclusive club. But I went in fully aware that this was the mass that saints such as St Therese of Lisieux, St Maximillian Kolbe, numerous Popes and countless Catholics before me had attended. There was a deeper sense of the continuity with the Body of Christ from centuries past - a connectedness with brethren of the faith who have gone before me. This is in no way to suggest I was "disconnected" from the congregation worshiping with me, though. It's hard to explain, but the union with the Church from the past strengthened the unity with those around me. But not due to any personal action - all because of the actions of Christ with, through and in the sacrifice on the cross made present. Christ's words "I will draw all men to myself" were actualized during Mass, in a way that I had never experienced in a Novus Ordo mass.
Also, the redemptive nature of the Mass, it's sacrificial reality, was more obvious. The priest became nearly invisible to me - the Extraordinary Form is all about Christ. Perhaps it was because of a higher focus on our sinfulness and need for redemption - there's no opportunity for the priest to interject "I'm okay, you're okay" pablum into the Mass; no insipid Prayers of the Faithful (I'm not saying the Prayers of the Faithful are insipid - some of the intentions can be, though); no watered down Eucharistic prayers. The Mass was 100% centered on Christ's saving actions - on the cross and at the Last Supper. My participation - yes, exteriorly it was less than the Novus Ordo, but interiorly....wow! - accentuated the fact that my salvation is entirely dependent on what Christ did for me. "Doing stuff" at Mass shifts the focus from Him to me - for Him to increase, I must decrease. The EF humbled me, and at the same time, lifted me up. It became clearer to me that in the Novus Ordo - at least at the majority that I have attended in my lifetime - the attempt is made to "lift up" people without the humility part first. Christ was lifted up onto the cross only after he was humiliated - so why should it be any different for us? The EF makes it very clear - we are sinners in need of a savior. We must seek forgiveness of our sins.
The Latin, the Gregorian chant, the incense and bells - these elements drew me out of the everyday, and pulled me into a supernatural reality. Time seemed to stop - certainly the focus on "me me ME!" did! - and Christ opened a doorway between His heavenly realm and our earthly home. Not only did I receive His flesh to eat - to strengthen my faith - but I was given a glimpse of What Lies Beyond - to bolster my hope. The Mass creates saints for this very reason - supernatural sources of faith and hope, combining to stoke the desire to live lives of supernatural charity.
So that's it. For now, I'll still be attending the Novus Ordo at a nearby monastery, because it just isn't practical to attend the EF regularly at this point in time. At the very least, I'll make it to the quarterly celebration at St Albertus. Yesterday's mass touched me very deeply - my love for Christ, my gratitude for His sacrifice and my realization that the Mass is the Most Important Thing - all were strengthened. I'm not going to be bashing the Novus Ordo left right and center -it is, after all, an approved rite of the Church - but I know in my heart which rite is superior.
Oh! And the celebrant was a priest blogger - Fr Acervo from Fr. Acervo's Corner, ordained only two years ago. I introduced myself and the Sons to him after mass - very cool to meet a fellow blogger.