I love the traditional Latin Mass, also called the Tridentine Mass, the Mass of Pius V, and the Extraordinary Form Mass.
Besides the use of the ancient Latin, the EF Mass 1) utilizes numerous signs which point to the Mass being an act of sacrifice, 2) engages appropriate moments of silence, 3) offers prayers which emphasize God’s holiness, and 4) displays reverential gestures which show forth that humans are creatures, whose only salvation is in submitting to God’s grace and dominion.
However, I must immediately note that the rite of the Mass is an outward form, it is a structure or method of gathering and offering worship. It is a body, or an outer shell, which contains an inner soul. What truly gives soul to the traditional Latin Mass is the people and the priest who leads them in worship.
So, I disagree with people who refer to the Extraordinary Form as the “superior Mass” as if the externals, the signs, and the gestures alone will convey holiness and grace in the Church. My personal belief is that the EF Mass truly impacts, it inspires, it powerfully moves people, when you see flesh and blood people, real people of devout faith, standing there or kneeling, before their priest who is also reverent.
After all, it is just as easy to offer the EF Mass in a sloppy, routine, and aloof way so that it is all pretty ceremonial, with no sense of feeling, compassion, and mysticism. Or if Latin Mass people become mean, snarky, and back biting toward it each, the traditional Latin Mass can quickly lose its aura of being a profound spiritual experience.
What this means, in the end, is that those who are at the TLM must be intentional in their pursuit of liturgical piety. They must learn the parts of the Mass well. They must pray the Mass quietly, in union with their priest. They must strive to self-educate themselves in the doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic Faith. This is different than just showing up and being fascinated because the priest is rattling off the Latin. When people see an “intentional” Latin Mass congregation, they are deeply moved.
When they see the attentiveness, the prayerful quiet, the intense love for Jesus in the Eucharist, the people who are visitors, get the sense that this is something very sublime and beautiful. There are many people who attend only a few Latin Masses in a good congregation of faithful, and they make up their minds never to return to the modern, vernacular Mass.
It is very sad and upsetting to me, personally, that many priests, and bishops, still consider the EF Mass as a “step backwards” and have no desire to provide this ancient rite for the people. It is true, in my opinion, that many Catholics have no desire to go to the traditional Latin Mass.
They like the Ordinary Form, or the modern Mass, almost always prayed in their language. Most Catholics, even conservatives, find the moments of silence in the TLM, and the priest doing all the prayers himself, to be hard to follow. Most Catholics also are attracted to how the modern Mass is more “entertaining” for them, while the old Mass in Latin is not entertaining at all, but focuses totally on giving adoration and glory to God.
Nonetheless, if priests and bishops would at least show more respect and encouragement to the EF Mass, I believe it would take hold more and would be a powerful fountain of grace and strength for beleaguered Catholics. Those are some of my thoughts. I pray that you grow not just to enjoy the gestures and externals of the ancient rite, but also educate yourself to enter into the liturgical piety and spirituality of the traditional Latin Mass. God bless and take care, Fr. Angel