TLM – Part 4 – It’s So Quiet…

The Latin Mass is very quiet.

In fact, when I have been, the church was very quiet before the mass, which is not what happens at the parish I regularly attend!

The mass itself is also very quiet.  Much of what the priest says is inaudible to the congregation.  This can be a problem for a congregation used to making responses, singing along, being lectors, being extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, doing something.

After all, we are called to “full, conscious and active participation” in the mass, right?  And that must be doing something external, right?

Must it?

Can’t “full, conscious and active participation” also be done by uniting oneself with the sacrifice of the mass, being prayerful and receptive to God’s grace?  Can’t we participate by being active interiorly?

Yes, it’s a very different experience.  With a good hand missal, you can follow along and read the prayers that the priest is saying whether you can hear them or not, but, honestly, I don’t do that.  Instead, I work on an interior participation in prayer.  For me, this does not mean praying the rosary or doing something separate.  It means focusing on what I know to be happening on the altar.

I won’t try to describe the experience here, but I will say that it is extraordinary.

Yes, it does require effort.  Maybe it gets easier with more experience, I don’t know, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone that God requires us to make an effort.

There’s no question that the Latin Mass can be daunting and strange for someone who is only used to the Novus Ordo mass.  Some people recommend simply going a few times and soaking it all in before you even try to follow along.

Or, alternatively, you can watch the mass online before you go in person.  There are a lot of opportunities for that.  If you’re interested in doing that, try this link.  You can also find instructional videos online which are intended for priests, but they break the mass down and explain it in ways that are helpful for laypeople, too.

And enjoy the quiet.