“Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam”
I will go into the altar of God, to God who giveth joy to my youth.
Such great joy it is indeed when I attend the traditional latin mass!
For a young and hyper person like me, coupled with the fact that I’m African ( as it is perceived we are very extroverted in nature), it is almost impossible to believe that I should like such a quiet “inactive” event.
I started attending the extraordinary form a couple of years ago (2004 I think), then I didn’t quite understand why everyone had to be so quiet, why only the priest spoke most of the time and why I couldn’t give the sign of peace. It looked and sounded bizarre and I wondered what the congregation could actually benefit from such passive attendance, but now I see it from a whole new perspective.
My first reason for my love for the mass is that it is Quiet:
Wow! Quiet! Yes! I believe God can only speak to a person when he/she is calm and composed; when the mouth is closed and the mind open. . It gives good relaxation and a comfortable position to undertake a spiritual dialogue with our Lord. When you want to listen to someone, especially an elder or one with higher authority, you most likely won’t go rattling while he/she is speaking because you want to hear what he/she has to say, you want to think about it and give a sensible response. That’s how I see the mass, a place where you can let God speak to you away from all the noisy distractions of everyday life.
The Prayers are Edifying:
“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy : deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.
For thou art God my strength : why hast thou cast me off? and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflicteth me?
Send forth thy light and thy truth : they have conducted me, and brought me unto thy holy hill, and into thy tabernacles.
And I will go in to the altar of God : to God who giveth joy to my youth.
To thee, O God my God, I will give praise upon the harp : why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me? Hope in God, for I will still give praise to him : the salvation of my countenance, and my God”. (Psalm 43, Douay Rheims Version)
Beginning with such a wonderful psalm sets a perfect mood for perfect worship, the prayers said in between the liturgy show so much love, respect and humility towards God, one could actually feel lifted up by these prayers, one could feel like ones heart is bursting with praise and adoration, one could feel the very words rush into the soul filling it with Love and yearning.
It shows the uttermost Respect to God:
“Domine non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea”
Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, but say the word and my soul shall be healed ( see Matt 8:8)
When we are in front of a respectable person, for example, the President or the Queen, our behaviour is totally different from when we are with our peers or people younger than us. If we can show such honour to mere mortals, how much more God? The Traditional Latin Mass does! Every gesture, posture and prayer reminds us about the nature of the person we are facing, it tells us that although God is our friend, He is also The Almighty and should be treated this way, just like how we would relate to our earthly parents, we talk to them freely but with respect.
The Priest Faces God
This gives a psychological effect on people. The priest facing the altar makes people see that we come to mass to worship God, we pray and draw all our attention TO Him! The priest who is our spiritual leader acts as the “driver” and we sit/stand/kneel behind. I am yet to see a bus where the driver drives facing the people, or where the leader guides his people through a path by facing them, such definitely affects how the followers react.
The Music is Beautiful:
Gregorian chants make perfect background to create a blissful and heavenly environment, music moves the soul to ones heart desire and I think in this case moves it to God.
Its closest to the Definition of Mass
In catechism we are told that the mass is a sacrifice, it is Calvary continued. Therefore, we are to imagine what Jesus Christ went through to save us, the pain of betrayal by his own apostle, the denial and abandonment He faced, the ridicule He received, we are to show compassion for the scourging at the Pillar, the crowning with thorns, the drops of blood lost all for the love of us. This mass puts all into consideration, it makes us truly understand that Jesus is crucified again at every Mass and we participate in this event as if we are at the foot of the Cross watching Jesus draw His last breath.
I think once we establish the definition of the Mass we would modify our behaviour accordingly and look for which form of celebration pleases God best. In a world where the environment plays a major role in ones actions, it would be wise indeed to attend Mass which brings one closer to God and that’s why I love the Traditional Latin Mass.
P.S: If you've never attended one, please give it a try, its a wonderful experience!