It is exactly 4 years ago today that I attended my first Tridentine Mass. These 4 years have been a time of immense spiritual growth, the credit for which I cannot take.
I shall not describe so much my first Mass as to what led me to it and what I have got out of it. It is possible I have written about this before but it is a story well-worth repeating.
As fate would have it, I was not raised Catholic. My knowledge of the faith grew ever-more deeply during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI of fond memory. In the end, since I had come to regard myself a Catholic, the only remaining step was actually going to Church every Sunday, which I started doing in 2010. Even here I owe a lot to Pope Benedict XVI, as it was his trip to the U.K. that same year that proved the final draw.
To be fair, all of the Masses that the pope celebrated were Novus Ordo. Nonetheless, they were good Novus Ordo masses, as good as they come really, and from a pope who took worshipping God seriously.
When I finally attended my first Mass, everything seemed a bit off. I had read so much about Catholic worship, including many complaining that the priest turned his back towards the people, that the Novus Ordo Mass surprised me for containing very little of that. I did enjoy the Mass, and to be honest, almost all Masses you will find in Sweden will be decent by NOChurch standards. However, I felt a bit short-changed.
As time passed on and as my studies intensified, I felt I longed for more. I longed for authentic Catholic worship.
The final straw came when I watched an old movie and had to ask whether the service being depicted was a Catholic one or a protestant one. It was protestant, of course. I felt a sense of anger not being able to know the difference. At that time I knew enough to know that the protestant revolters certainly made up their own things, and that if the Masses were identical it was because the Catholics protestanised their liturgy. Also, something about a 2,000-year old Church having a Mass that is newer than a service in some heretical ecclesiastical community rubbed me off the wrong way.
Something had to change! As I am not the Pope, who could order a return to Catholic worship, that something was I. I had to bail the NOChurch Mass and actually attend a proper Catholic Mass.
As soon as the Mass started I felt at home in a way which I had never felt before. I felt as though a veil had finally been lifted over my eyes and intellect and I felt grateful to finally be worshipping in the Mass of all the great saints of the Western Church.
Everything made sense all of a sudden. All these little gestures which seemed out of place in the Novus Ordo were ither missing or in their proper context. It didn't take long for me to finally grasp why Catholics of old made these masterful altars. It is for Our LORD! We offer the best we can to Him, and we can do no better than to have all our gold at the place where the divine meets the terrestrial.
The liturgical calendar was different, but it made sense. I didn't have to scour my missal for liturgy A,B,C, and there were no more "ordinary Sundays" but every Sunday was all of a sudden put into the context of some event in the life of Our Blessed LORD.
No longer did I have to listen to protestant non-catechetical hymns during Mass. No longer would I have to be pretty much the only person singing at Mass. No longer would I have to wait for the change of performers at the NOChurch altar as they pass the baton to all and sundry. There were no prayers of the faithful, almost all of them banal. Rather we prayed the same prayers as the saints, and all of the Catholics in all of the world prayed the exact same prayers on the exact same day with the exact same intention expressed by the exact same words.
It was worship in honour of God, not worship to placate the pewsitters.
That is all a result of me making a vow to attend the Tridentine Mass on the first liturgical service of 2013. I have not looked back since, and I never shall. It has been a real epiphany, brought to me courtesy of the Epiphany.
This Epiphany can come to you too. If it's too late to start with the epiphany then make a resolution for Lent. If you hate Latin then consider it part of your penance! Just do something!
I promise you that the Mass of the saints will not let you down and you are likely to come to love it as much as I do, and that will bring you all the closer to Almight God, which after all, is the true purpose of the Mass.