One of B.A.'s star turns is Cardinal Arinze, who was the Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship under Benedict XVI, and therefore a big Traditional Latin Mass hero.
(It is Traddy Tuesday, my day for comforting would-be converts whose attitude towards Sunday Mass is utter disappointment, so we are talking about Trad Stuff today.)
Apparently someone asked Cardinal Arinze about this new thing in the USA and Canada where communicants are expected to all stand up together, march to communion together and remain standing in their pews together until the entire collective has received communion, whereupon they can kneel down together and make a thanksgiving. Or maybe it was just the old "Does everyone have to stand and receive the sacrament in their unconsecrated hands even though this was originally an indult granted to sinful, wicked post-war Dutch/Belgian/German/French Bishops, or can we kneel and receive on the tongue as was clearly the norm everywhere else in the Latin Church until 1976?" question. I am not sure. When you're married to a Liturgy Nerd you often hear only half the story before.....zzzzzz....
At any rate, Cardinal Arinze's eyes bugged out of his head--at least in B.A.'s recreation of the event--and demanded, "Are we SOL-diers?" or--as B.A. has it--SOL-jahs?
Blind conformity to the collective may be what neurotic spirit-of-Vatican-II liturgists are after, but this does not have anything to do with Traditional Catholicism, let me tell you. Traditional Catholicism is wonderfully relaxed about how the laity pray during the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as long as we are QUIET (and, 75% of the time, silent), don't disturb other people and physically restrain our offspring from running up and down the aisles. Traditional Catholicism even goes easy on women who do not want to go to Mass for they have just given birth and want to take care of their young 24/7. "Great!" says Traditional Catholicism. "You do that little thing! Come back when you can!"
One thing that never happens to you during a Traditional Latin Mass--unless your noisy/peripatetic offspring annoy Mr or Mrs Cranky-- is being bossed around. Okay, in some parishes, possibly people force books and papers on you in the name of hospitality. However, in my church this very rarely happens. You walk in, you pick up books and papers, you select your seat, you genuflect, you sit. Or kneel. A bell rings eventually to tell you to stand up. But no person, least of all a lay person, tells you to stand up, Nobody tells you to introduce yourself to your neighbour. Nobody tells you to turn to the Asperges/Vidi Aquam in the book. Nobody gives you orders at all.
About five minutes after the bell a priest sprinkles water on you. You can either cross yourself, or you can do nothing. You can sing along with the rest of the congregation for their obvious part in the singing, or you can stay silent. If you stay silent, you are very likely to hear something that may be new to you in such ecclesiastical surroundings--lay men singing. Actual men, actually singing, in actual Latin. As they think it is worth doing, they think it worth doing badly. However,maybe because they sing the same tune every week, they very rarely do sing it badly. And if they do, it doesn't matter. Unless they are in the schola, of course, in which case the smoke of Satan has entered the choir stalls.
Next the priest disappears into the sanctuary or into the sacristy to swap his Asperges cope for the Mass chasuble, and you can keep standing or sit or kneel and pray or read or think until Mass begins and all around you the congregation crunches to its knees. That's when you should crunch to your knees, too, or else you will draw attention to yourself, which is THE no-no at the Traditional Latin Mass. No-one, not even the priest, is supposed to draw attention to himself. All the attention is supposed to be where the priest is looking, which is either going to be the altar, the Blessed Sacrament or the Scriptures. If your eyes get tired, you can rest them on the back of the priest's pretty chasuble, which should have holy symbols on it to edify your subconscious.
Interestingly, there was no one official missal. You could use any old missal, as long as it had a Nihil Obstat on it and you found it helpful and it wasn't too enormously out-of-date for practical use. (The 1962 Easter Triduum is rather different from the 1945, which is when my favourite missal was published.) And thus there are a wide variety of missals at my church, and people only take an interest if someone shows their new one off at After-Mass Tea. Naturally in Edinburgh, an old onion-skinned beauty one picked up for 50 p ("Can you believe it?!") at a used bookshop is WAY more impressive than a gilt-edged newbie from Baronius Press, not that the Baronius Press one isn't very nice. It is.
Meanwhile, you get to personalize your missal by stuffing mass cards into it as your Trad friends die or have anniversaries. It is considered very mean to die or get ordained without giving all your friend mass cards to stuff into their missals. And they are worth the price, too. Every time one falls out of my missal, I remember to pray for the person before stuffing it back in.
Where was I? Your public responsibilities at Mass, such as they are, are carefully delineated in the missal, and are memorized by almost everyone around you too, so you can follow them (if not the missal) quite easily. They are mostly saying "Et cum spirituo" when the priest turns around and kindly asks that "Dominus vobiscum. If it is the practise of your community, e.g. trads in France, to stand, not kneel, during the Lord's Prayer, the priest will not get annoyed if you stand. He can't see you anyway. He's not talking to you. Really, the only way you can annoy the priest is to make a noise you should not be making. Coughing is okay, but saying "Amen" loudly at the end of the Lord's Prayer is a capital offense, and you really should know better if absolutely nobody else in the entire congregation says it with you, you stupid attention-seeking eccentric from hell.
Meanwhile you can follow in the Missal, or you can pray the rosary, or you can read along with the hymns and propers the Schola is singing. Whatever brings you most fully into communion with God and the Bride of Christ, the Church (Militant, Suffering and Triumphant). This is, after all, the point. To feel like a part of a great big
Naturally you go to communion only if you are in a state of Grace and in a proper frame of mind to receive and you kneel along the altar rail (or in our church, on a designated kneeler) and you receive on the tongue. If you have a dicky knee, or some other ailment or condition that prevents you from kneeling, you stand in the aisle and look pathetically hopeful at the priest while keeping your hands clenched together, so he doesn't think you are some I-Have-The-Right-To-Take-The-Blessed-Sacrament-Into-My-Unconsecrated-Hands-and-Consume-It-Where-and-When-I-Want-You-Clericalist-Monster activist. (This gaze of exaggerated and dog-like humility is particularly important if you are over 55 but under 80 because everyone knows eucharistic rebels tend to be
When you return to your seat, you may sit, or you may kneel, or I suppose you may even stand, if that's how you pray silently best. Nobody wants to pay attention to you except the naughtiest of the altar servers. Everyone else is speaking to God and doing their best to pay attention to Him and giving Him the best homage of which they are capable. Some may be singing with the choir, inwardly or outwardly. Some may be reading one of the many great prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas, or of Saint Bonaventure. Some may be taken up until the Seventh Heaven, but will never tell anyone else. It's really not any of our business, as long as they aren't disturbing anyone else and have prevented their children from doing so.
If you are on your knees, you can stay on them for quite a long time, and it is handy for when the priest blesses you, for that is when everyone around you not already on their own, will get on their own. Being terrible romantics, we prefer to kneel for blessings, just like in historical movies, plays, books, King Arthur, 19th century Polish paintings, etc. But then we get up for the Last Gospel, if we haven't run off to set up the After-Mass Tea.
Because, guess what? Not being soldiers extends even to when we leave Mass. Personally, I stay right to the end of the Postlude because I love organ music and I think staying to listen is a mark of respect to the organist. And I do my best to arrive before the Asperges/Vidi Aquam because I like to begin things at the beginning. But B.A. told me about of a practice called "Chalice Veils" which means that ONLY time you absolutely, utterly, totally must be in church to fulfill your Sunday/Holy Day of Obligation is between the moment the priest takes the chalice veils off the chalice and when he puts it back on again, i.e. the Offertory to the Post-Communion.
Naturally, intentionally arriving late and staying only then for no seriously good reason would be very stingy-mingy of you. However, even then the priest wouldn't seriously care because he can't see you. As long as you leave quietly and don't disturb anyone else or step on the seeing eye dog, we're not going to say anything. You could be a doctor rushing off to an emergency. You could have an angry Protestant spouse who wants to be driven to the mountains before lunch. We have no idea, and it's none of our business. Still, if you didn't rush off, you could come to the parish hall for a cookie and a cup of tea. Or coffee. Your choice.
*One of the annoyances of being a Catholic in Scotland is that the vast majority of Catholic Scots think "Catholic" is an ethnic group and you show "loyalty" to your "race" not only by going to Mass from time to time but by supporting Celtic, Hibernian or any other football club that was started 150 years ago by some well-meaning priest. "If you were a Catholic, you would have understood [my hopes that Cardinal O'Brien be helped in living a chaste life]", quoth I over Facebook to a 20 year old homosexual activist. "I am a Catholic you're a bigot" wrote the homosexual activist. Happy face happy face happy face. Heart heart heart.