Reading Matt's impressions of assisting at his first EF Mass got me to thinking about things.
When I first started to attend Mass in the EF on Sunday afternoons, it was purely out of curiosity and professional interest. On my reading of Summorum pontificum, our Holy Father had empowered the laity to ask for this form of Holy Mass, so it seemed to me only proper for me as a priest to be acquainted with it.
But what really hooked me was not anything about the Mass per se, but the people I observed and met. Here was the reverence I had been missing. Before Mass was not a cacophony of worldly conversations. Cell phones didn't ring, and nor were any answered during Mass. (!) Nobody here would need to be asked not to drink their coffee during the service. There was no anguish to be endured over irreverence before the Blessed Sacrament; everyone who entered or left the church was eager to make the appopriate reverence. I realized in my own Catholic heart that silence and reverence were things that had drawn me into the Church from the beginning, and I had forgotten how close they were to my heart.
So I went back; not so much for the Mass--though the EF itself continued to interest me on the intellectual and professional levels--but for the chance to pray with brothers and sisters who also just wanted to pray and join themselves to the Lord's sacrifice in quiet reverence.
For me, though, I have to keep myself from the thought that this is really a question of OF vs. EF or modern vs. traditional Roman rite. The scandalous lack of liturgical and sacramental catechesis and our terrible lack of reverence is not the fault of the newer form of Mass itself. This is to oversimplify and to ignore a very wide complex of questions and issues. It is eminently possible for a Sunday assembly to celebrate the Ordinary Form of Mass with all of the reverence that is due to the liturgy and to the Most Blessed Sacrament. Not that I have seen this in most places I have lived and prayed, but it is certainly possible.
There is a cultural struggle here, but it's one that is not reducible to OF vs. EF. These might be symbolic of several aspects of the struggle, but they are not the thing itself. This is just something I am trying to keep in mind these days.