I originally had shared this on the Word On Fire Institute Form Discussion.
Let me start by saying, I love the NO Mass. I have a wonderful church I go to that is NO. And during the pandemic quarantining I watched Father Mike Schmitz’s Livestream Mass every Sunday. However, I wanted to share my experience with the Latin Mass because I feel like others are stereotyping me in a negative way -someone who enjoys the Latin Mass. If you still want to call me names or misjudge me for this, I can’t stop you but I thought I would share my story anyway.
I’m 27 years old, married with 2 kids. I mention this because people often call those who love the Latin Mass and are Millennials – trads, trad movement, rad trads, etc.
I grew up with the NO Mass. I remember when I was around 10 or 12 years old I had a family friend say, “Masses used to be said exclusively in Latin but in the 60s that all changed.” This statement shocked me. I also remember seeing images in Catholic children’s books (probably the St. Joseph’s children’s missal) of the Mass that looked so beautiful and different from what I had ever experienced. Then around that same time, my deacon once said, “you need to experience the Latin Mass. It’s beautiful.”
During my college years, I fell away from my faith. On September 24, 2019, I felt called back to my faith after 5 years of struggling and falling away.
I did not experience the Traditional Latin Mass until recently in November of 2019. So what happened?
Well, the first thing I did when I was born again Catholic was to pray the Rosary daily. The second was to start learning all I could about my faith. It intrigued me that the liturgy changed in the 1960s. I’m no expert on this, by any means, but it puzzles me. I understand that people were falling away from the church since that time and the church needed to react. I felt the need to experience the tradition. One reason I needed to experience this was because of my family tree. My mother’s family is very Catholic historically. Most notably, my family holds one of the first altars of the Americas, and my great aunt, a contemplative nun, used to assist a priest during exorcisms in South America. My great-grandma used to do work with nuns and raise her ten children including my grandma who was one of the greatest influences on my faith journey. I felt the need to learn about my Catholic history and my attending Latin Mass was part of my journey.
Here are the two benefits I received from the Latin Mass:
- Community – People gathered outside our church to say “hello” after every Mass. The children would play on the church lawn long after the Mass had ended, and my daughters had friends to run around with after sitting still during Mass. This does not have to be exclusive to the Latin Mass. But it’s something NEW I experienced when attending and others have around the United States have similar testimonies. Again, I hope the N.O. will adopt this practice.
- Communion while kneeling – I LOVED this experience. The Eucharist is the reason I’m Catholic and my motive for trying to learn all I can about the faith. I want to receive my Lord in the most loving way that I can. I feel the expression of kneeling is beautiful. I remember telling the priest how so difficult to drive so far away for the TLM but that I love the way we receive the Eucharist. I think of little St. Imelda when I’m kneeling, I feel almost childlike when I’m near the altar waiting for my turn to receive Jesus. It really is so beautiful.
- I think about Jesus in the Nativity scene when I see the Eucharist. I think to myself:
This is Christ most adorable
This is Christ most tiny – he God so mighty, yet at that moment and space – God is tiny enough to consume
- This is Christ most humble
- This is Christ most silent
- This is Christ most loving
- This is Christ most united with my heart
I’m not mentioning this to flaunt my piety but to emphasize that the reception of the Eucharist is my greatest motivation for attending the Traditional Latin Mass.
I completely understand that the NO is valid and true. It’s just that my heart really wants to receive our Lord on my knees and on the tongue. I’m not against the hands, I’ve received on my hands growing up and now my bishop has restricted all the priests from giving on the tongue. I do not protest this, but I feel broken-hearted. I understand that it’s not about me or what I want but my heart still feels so uneasy.
I pray for the Pope. When he was an Archbishop, he witnessed a Eucharistic Miracle that has been scientifically studied firsthand. I know that God is in control of all things. That being said, I will tell you with all heartfelt honesty, that the latest document felt harsh.
Here’s why I felt the document was harsh:
- The nearest Latin Mass parish is surrounded by violence and drugs, 4 young men were shot in front of the church, 2 died due to drug/gang-related violence 5 minutes before Mass began. Our Mass used to be located in the safe part of town but it was moved far away – an hour away or more for most parishioners. Around the same time, it seems as if similar occurrences were happening in other places far from where I live, according to Steve Skojec of OnePeterFive (1P5 Minute #22 – A Message to the Bishops & Cardinals of the Catholic Church on YouTube at 4:30-5:07 in the video, see below). He implied that TLM Masses were being moved into dangerous parts of cities. I was with my daughters who were both toddlers when the shooting occurred. Now with this new document, I fear for the worst for the parishioners since the document was ambiguous about where they are to go. I hope I’m 100% wrong about this.
- The document seemed to imply judgment, or it was a judgment call over the faithful and those who wish to practice the Latin Mass. Sometimes judgment calls are needed by leaders. But this seems inclined to give the bishops the power to limit and restrict and nothing else.
- The way the media and other Catholics reacted. Of course, not everyone but many jumped on this bandwagon of “you’re Toxic” and “Divisive”. Especially being labeled a “trad”. I don’t really know what it means but it doesn’t sound nice. I feel like I’m being ridiculed for appreciating tradition. It’s true I like tradition.
- Most likely, I think the Latin Mass closest to me is going to disappear. Our bishop isn’t a fan of ‘trads’. If that happens, I can see a beautiful community being scattered again. I felt so disappointed when I had just found the community and then covid happened – it was no one’s fault. But now if and most likely when it gets canceled, they’ll be scattered forever. They made big sacrifices to build that community and it’s going to fade away.
By no means do I wish to judge or criticize my local ArchBishop (the other Bishops) or the Holy Father. Moreso, I wanted to share my experience with you on a personal level as to how I’m personally reacting to this Apostolic Letter.
This is not something I felt comfortable writing and sharing since I don’t know how others will respond. But I think it’s necessary to put out my perspective on this matter even if I’m wrong. I can’t grow if I keep everything to myself. Thanks for reading.