A few days ago, a friend of mine went to the mass in the Extraordinary Form for the first time. This person comes from a Protestant background and entered the Catholic church just last year (after several years of attending the Novus Ordo mass).
We attended the mass together and later talked about it.
First of all, my friend was struck by the silence. In fact, he was almost overwhelmed by the silence to the point that it made him extremely uncomfortable. The silence seems to be, for many people, one of the most striking things about the mass in the EF.
He didn’t like not knowing what was going on up at the altar during the consecration and not being able to see what the priest was doing. At the same time, he felt that it was right for the priest and the people to all be facing the tabernacle.
He also didn’t like receiving communion only under one species. (Communion under one species is normal in the EF.) He felt that “something was missing” although he did feel that it was right to receive communion on the tongue and while kneeling, though he found going to the altar rail for the first time to be a little scary.
At this particular mass, the congregation sang a hymn at the beginning and at the end of the mass. There was no other music. He liked having no music at communion, as he felt better able to pray.
He liked the last gospel. (At the end of the mass, the priest reads John 1:1-14.)
Well, to be more accurate, he didn’t know what was going on at the time, but he liked it when I explained it to him after the mass was over. Yes, I did have a missal with me, but my friend didn’t have his reading glasses with him, so he couldn’t read the missal during the mass.
He liked the fact that there were as many men as there were women present at the mass, and he was amazed by the fact that the several small children who were there were well behaved. (There were several families there, some of them with young children, older people and younger people who had come on their own. At a guess, there 50-60 people present.)
He liked the formality and the he loved the reverence of the mass.
When we first left the church, it was the overwhelming silence that he talked about and how uncomfortable it had made him. He said that he almost wanted to get up and run out of the church it was so uncomfortable.
A day later, I was a bit surprised when he called me and asked me where he could get his own missal because he wanted to go back to the EF mass on a regular basis.
Where I live, there is a mass in the Extraordinary form offered twice a month. I will be curious to see what my friend has to say after he’s been going for a few months.