February 13, 2009

First (Usus Antiquior) Mass

Well, today I have offered my first Mass in the Extraordinary Form. I'll share a few of my many thoughts and feelings.

I was very self-conscious a lot of the time, trying to recall all of my practicing, watching and reviewing of how to offer the Mass correctly. Even though I have practiced with no small diligence, I still stumbled on certain words and phrases, most disastrously on both instances of the famulorum famularumque tuarum. Having added the amice and maniple to my usual vestments, I felt much more vested than usual and was self-conscious about that. Through all of the signs of the cross and other gestures of the Mass, I began to see the clear utility that the Roman style chasuble would have over the gothic one I was wearing.

Most of all, I was self-conscious about keeping the custody of thumbs and forefingers from the consecration to the ablutions. I didn't find it physically difficult; I had practiced doing things like page turns and chalice pall manipulation with second and third finger. But, still, it was new. I can see clearly, though, that this practice, once one was used to it, would produce a deep sense of the particular holiness of that part of the Mass that is prayed before the Body and Blood of the Lord.

Making my thanksgiving after Mass, I was struck most by a sense of secret. The use of the quiet voice in particular impressed on me this sense of secret, especially in the words of the Canon and consecration. I think that a lot of people see in this sense of secret a problem of exclusion and privacy, but to me this doesn't have to be the case. All real prayer has something secret about it, something intimate and unavailable to the casual observer. As Thomas Merton put it, "There can be no contemplation where there is no secret." (New Seeds of Contemplation, "Learn to be Alone.")

That Christ is, in some sense, secretly present in the consecrated elements of the Eucharist does not make the Eucharist a secretive event.

I offered the Mass for the folks who made this video, which I received for free and was more helpful than anything else in my efforts to learn the Extraordinary Form.


A Bit of the Blarney said...

Being a lay person, I had never considered how important each movement was in the celebration of Mass. It's been more that 40 yrs since I last attended a Latin Mass and even then being a teenager took little notice of all that is important in this. Thank you for sharing this and I look forward with anticipation for my opportunity to celebrate at one again! Cathy

for narnia said...

this sounds really interesting, Fr. C! where did you have the Mass? i would love to attend it sometime if you do it again. (i could also be an altar server at it if you need one and if you would show me how to serve at it if it's different from serving at a regular Mass.)
~tara t~

Matthew Ignatius said...

Did you celebrate with or without a congregation?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for offering the Extraordinary form!