Of all the things about me, there is only one that makes me in some way a kind of minority. I attend the Traditional Latin Mass. There aren’t a whole ton of us, and over the last ten years or so I have encountered many people who simply couldn’t understand why I’d attend such an old type of Mass. It is vastly different from what the majority of Catholics attend, making it much harder to attend regularly, especially depending on where you live. Here are the reasons why I like it so much:
1. The Music
I always loved the TLM music. Unfortunately, the choir at my church is rather inexperienced and limited so we don’t get to hear many Latin hymns, but they always only use an organ. It provides a kind of old, solemn sense of sincerity that I really like. Music is music, and it is of course more about the message than the instruments used, but I feel like the separation between common instruments used everyday (I personally am a guitarist) and the only one used in church, provides a distinct line between listening to music of the world and listening to God’s music.
2. The Closeness to God
I have been to a few different kinds of Masses, but at the TLM I feel much closer to God than anywhere else. Because there is less interaction between the people and the priest, it is much easier for me to focus my thoughts and energy on being there for God and not just myself. As an experienced Altar Server, I do have many back and forth prayers with the priest, but the TLM is designed to be as little about the general experience of the people as possible. For example, when our priest turns to face the congregation to say “Dominus Vobiscum,” (“The lord be with you”) he actually turns back around before the people can respond. They of course then do respond with “Et cum spiritu tuo,” (“And with your spirit”), but the priest turning early makes it more of a prayer in honor of God than a conversation with the celebrant.
3. The Seriousness
I am a pretty serious person. My friends know that I am very capable of being incredibly goofy, but there are certain things that I enjoy being solemn. One of them is Mass. People say that the TLM is less joyful than the Ordinary Form of the Mass, and to be perfectly honest, it sometimes is. Speaking in a language you don’t know, and singing songs that you sometimes have to research to understand can be difficult to necessarily “enjoy,” but I like knowing that what I’m doing is a challenge. I like knowing that coming to Mass is a sacrifice that takes time out of my day which can often be mildly boring. But, as I said, for me the sometimes boring seriousness makes it much easier to converse with God and to accomplish extra things for my soul.
4. The Standard
Something neat about the TLM is that no matter where you go in the world you will get the exact same thing. My father, for example, was once visiting Slovakia. He found a Latin Mass to attend, and even though he didn’t understand ANY of the sermon whatsoever, he always knew exactly what was happening and what the priest was saying for the rest of the Mass because it was in the same language as our church here at home. I take comfort in knowing exactly what to expect, and to not feel out of place even if I’m going to mass on the other side of the planet.
This is my case for the Traditional Latin Mass. I hope it was informative, and if you are a Catholic without much experience with it, I encourage you to go! You might learn that you like it.