Friday, April 7, 2017

Why I Don't Attend the Traditionalist Mass

Given my theological and cultural conservatism, and especially given the frequency with which the word "tradition" is used on this blog, it might be expected that I should attend the Traditionalist Mass, or Latin Mass, or Extraordinary Form-- I'm never even sure what to call it.

However, I've only attended two Latin Masses in my life-- one low, and one high. (The High Mass was on All Saints' Day.)

Maybe one day I will be an enthusiastic traddie. I'm not there yet. I'll try to give my reasons. Please note I don't claim they are good reasons.

Also, please note that I actually think that the liturgical changes after Vatican II were a bad idea-- with the exception of the additional Old Testament reading. (More Scripture has to be good, right?) If they were reversed tomorrow, I would cheer.

1) Contrarianism. I know most people with my opinions gravitate towards the Latin Mass. The little voice in my ear that made me declare myself a Manchester United fan at school, when Liverpool were all-conquering and every other boy was a Liverpool fan-- to choose only one instance out of hundreds-- may be at work here.

2) Trepidation. I know Latin Mass Catholics are very keen on reverence and doing things right-- and laudably so. But it makes me nervous that people will look askance at me for my shoes not being sufficiently polished, or for not bowing my head at the right places, or for giving a response when I shouldn't, or not giving a response when I should, or...

3) Logistics. Hard to get to a Latin Mass, comparatively speaking.

4) My "Protestant" aesthetic sensibilities. I've always preferred understatement and plainness when it comes to ritual. The kind of Mass I like best is a weekday Mass with no music, no frills, and nobody standing around yakking before or afterwards. The most moving Mass I ever attended was in a hotel conference room at seven o'clock in the morning. That's just personal preference-- I realise church is the right place for Mass.

I should admit, though, that the low Latin Mass I attended was about as understated as anybody could ask-- and that some Ordinary Form Masses can be horrendously overblown (from my point of view).

5) Ignorance. I don't know the Latin liturgy, and I'd feel self-conscious.

6) Populism. There is a Wildhearts song I like (or used to like) with the title "I Wanna Go Where the People Go". That explains my mindset, I think. The same reason I don't like going to arthouse cinemas (and I do like multiplexes).

Somehow, while the vast majority of Catholics go to the Ordinary Form, I feel I am disassociating myself from them if I don't do the same.

I accept that attending the Latin Mass does connect you with more ordinary Catholics through time, though.

7) Low expectations. As I admitted before, I am frequently bored at Mass. But that doesn't seem surprising to me. Anything done repetitively is going to get boring, surely?

1 comment:

  1. I know that in our church some regulars approach and bombard any apparent new-comer(s) with pages of Mass readings or missals, sometimes almost sitting on on the person's knee through the entire Mass to make sure they follow it right (and often the person has actually been there before, it's just that THAT regular parishioner hadn't seen them before).
    That would definitely turn me off.
    It's good for people to know that the translations are available, but ultimately they need to follow Mass their own way.
    Australians being a bit laid back nobody here notices the dress or(within reason) the actions of another,I know in USA it would probably be a bit different, going by Americans that I've come across