Having grown up in the 80s and 90s (turning 34 this week), I don’t remember the “Old Mass.” As a kid, I don’t remember Mass being something sacred or solemn, something that touched upon the divine, it was on the other hand, very casual and laid back and the music was usually very folksy. This is not said to discredit the wonderful community that gathered each week for prayer!
Had I not gone to seminary, had I not studied the history of the liturgical development throughout the centuries, I could have easily fallen into the trap of thinking that this is the way the Mass has always been.
On the day I was ordained, July 7th 2007, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI issued the document, Summorum Pontificum, which gave all priests in the world the ability to celebrate what is commonly referred to as the Old Mass, the Latin Mass, or the Trindentine Mass. (I don’t think the release of the document had anything to do with my ordination, but it certainly makes it easier for me to remember it).
Prior to my ordination, I had only been to a couple of Latin Masses and really didn’t understand what was going on, as it seemed so different from what I had always experienced the Mass to be. It wasn’t until about 3 years after my ordination that I learned the Latin Mass for a group on Cape Cod that needed a priest to celebrate it for them each Sunday.
Now, my point here isn’t trying to set one Mass against the other. And I certainly don’t ascribe to the notion of the inherent evil of the Novus Ordo Mass or its invalidity, but I will say that learning the Old Mass helps me to celebrate the New Mass with more reverence and solemnity, and with a greater appreciation for the symbols and gestures and what they communicate. In fact, I think what I have experienced is precisely what Pope Benedict had hoped for, “ that the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching.”
I don’t necessarily agree with each point made in the above article, but I do very much appreciate the closing lines:
“Reflecting on all of this, I can’t help but wonder if Jimmy Fallon might have told a different story if, when he decided to return to the Catholicism of his youth, what he had encountered had been something that was appropriately sacred and mysterious, rather than entertaining and frivolous. There is a power in reverence, an evangelical magnetism that transcends words. It draws you in, and makes you want to go deeper.
If we desire to bring people into the Church — or keep them there — we need our worship to reflect the sacred mysteries we celebrate. The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324) and thus there is no more important aspect of the life of faith on which we should focus our attentions.”
I think the musings of Jimmy Fallon about wanting the “Mass to be the Mass” does open up an opportunity for discussion about what the Mass is really all about and what the human heart really longs for when approaching the Altar of God – that experience of the sacred, of the divine, of the transcendent – the opportunity for the People of God to come together to worship HIM!