Tuesday 17 February 2015

Seraphic Goes to the Parish Church

Today is Traddie Tuesday, the day of the week I dedicate to would-be converts who are scandalized by their local Catholic parish liturgy and/or the "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" attitude of the functional Deists running their convert classes.

This morning I will take my life in my hands by reflecting on my experiences at the ordinary Sunday Novus Ordo my family attends every week. I'm going to say mostly nice things, Aged P.  The parish priest is a good and kindly man I met years ago.  He is also completely compos mentis, unlike his immediate predecessor, of whom the most charitable thing that can be said is that he was barking mad and so couldn't help it. So delighted am I that my parents' parish have finally been gifted with a splendid priest that I actually told my mother that I would go there on Sunday, and so had to go.

People are always writing about how weird Trid Mass seems after a lifetime of going to the NO, but I can tell you that it is always startling to go to an English-language parish NO after years of going to the TLM, making exceptions only for the Polish Mass three or four times a year. There are so many differences.

The first obvious difference was the altar girls in their red cassocks and white cottas. There was one male server, but he was a seminarian, born and mostly raised abroad. The littler one was adorably sweet, but her attention did flag as she gazed at the children's choir.

The children's choir is a new institution. It is parked at the side of the church--not the back--but it is not an immediate distraction from the altar--unless of course you're on the altar. So far the choir is composed of four or five little girls and my nephew Pirate. As yet they do not really know how to sing, but it's early days yet and the choirmaster, a young man, sang along with the very possibly petrified pint-sized cantor.

But I am ahead of myself. Mass began with a laywoman lector welcoming us and telling us what to do, i.e. stand and welcome our "presider."

"Priest," muttered Seraphic as she stood. At the TLM, we have a bell for that.

The Introit opening hymn was "Sing a New Song." I am not making that up.

The procession ended at the chairs to the right side of the altar. I am happy to report that the Tabernacle was in the centre, where it belongs. Naturally once the presider was in the sanctuary, he never turned his face away from us. (The seminarian took the ciborium from the Tabernacle. Yes, I know.)

"The Lord be with you."

"And with your spirit."

"It's cold out there, isn't it?"

"Uh huh!"

You know how it goes. I once checked the text of the Novus Ordo and welcoming remarks do appear to be in it, as a possibility, I mean. Therefore, Trads can't really blame the priest if he acknowledges that the weather has made it harder to get to Mass. The possibility is in the black.

As absolutely never happens in the TLM, there was a gathering together of the Sunday School classes and a sending of them away. One little boy was wearing a soccer shirt emblazoned with the name of the god Ronaldo. I thought that mildly amusing. The most inappropriate shirt I ever saw on a child at Mass said "I sold my soul for rock 'n' roll."

First reading, read by layperson: Leviticus. Hebrews simply awful to the lepers.

(Evelyn Waugh once complained that the TLM used WAY more texts from the Old Testament than the NO does, despite the First readings. I don't remember a mention of the old rules concerning lepers, however.)

Psalm: Debut of tiny cantor.  Not the Psalm for the day, however, so much squinting of hymn board and flipping though pages by congregation.

Second reading, read by layperson: Don't rightly remember. Saint Paul's CV, possibly. My bad.

Gospel, read by priest:  Our Lord is very kind to the brave leper.

Homily: Good solid homily--delivered with modest simplicity--on our Lord's kindness to the leper and the courage of the leper. My one quibble is that the priest called the homily his "reflection." Noooo. A "reflection" is what nuns and lay people give when for some extraordinary reason we are called on to preach. Priests give sermons or homilies. The more we erase the distinctions between priest and lay, the fewer priests we will have and the more "presiders" we will have to make do with.

Creed: Apostles'. I had to read it in the book because of the new translation.

I think there were Prayers of the Faithful, but I simply do not remember what they were. My bad. Neither can I remember what the Offertory Hymn was. The Lord's Prayer was prayed by all, I reading along with the book. The Sign of the Peace was interesting in that few people around me actually shook hands. They just nodded. (My family shook hands among ourselves.) The Canon was said at a slow, reverent pace, so it did not seem to zip right by, as it has done in the past. (Natually it was much shorter than that of the TLM.)

At communion I decided I would do the Traddy Compromise, which is to genuflect behind person in front of you, stand up and stick your tongue out. The danger here is that the person behind you might walk into you as you genuflect, so if it's your dad, you should probably warn him ahead of time. (And try for a sideways kind of genuflection.) Meanwhile, the splendid new p.p. is rather short, so I did a sort of half-curtsy while sticking my tongue out. He didn't bat an eye, bless him.

Needless to say, there was no altar rail, there were Extraordinary Ministers and many, perhaps most, people received on their unconsecrated hands, as has been customary at that parish for at least thirty years.

As I knelt down after receiving communion to pray, the choir burst into "Here I am Lord", and I realized that the biggest and most distracting difference in the Ordinary Form is the almost total lack of silence. Either the priest is talking, the bells are ringing or the choir and congregation are singing hymns. It makes it seriously difficult to meditate and pray.

The recessional hymn was to the tune of Ode to Joy. Mass was done in approximately 50 minutes, a contrast to the 1.5 hours of the Sunday Missa Cantata.

There was no real chance to enter into deep prayer after Mass either although some kneeling people made an attempt at it (and perhaps they were successful) because of the roar of chatter.

There was no After Mass Tea. Off to the frozen snowy parking lot we went.

The altar girls did not pelt me with snowballs. So far I have not been chastised for saying in the paper that we may need to discourage the service of altar girls and altar women to foster more vocations to the priesthood, but I am going to a CWL meeting tonight, so it is a distinct possibility.


  1. Recently I have gone more often than before to the TLM. Your blog is one reason of it!

    I also feel that the most staggering difference is the amount of silence in Mass! What I wonder is that though I have really difficulties to concentrate myself on the NO mass and not being distracted by other things, I don't have this problem for the TLM mass. Do you have an idea, why?

  2. I went to Latin Low Mass today for Ash Wednesday, but had to go to my local Novus Ordo parish on Sunday. (Note: I am not hating on the Novus Ordo. I usually go to the Novus Ordo, but at an Opus Dei parish where there's no mucking about. I've never found it difficult to pray there.)


    On Sunday, while at my local NO parish, I saw something that I've never seen at Mass before. A middle-aged man (whom I know) was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and...no shoes. As in, he was barefoot. He went up to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist while barefoot.

    This blew my mind, and not in a good way. Honestly, I was livid. Wearing shoes is part of Public Dress Standards 101, sitting alongside requirements such as Wear a Shirt in Public. I'm not talking about whether or not men should wear ties or women should wear hats. I'm talking about shoes. You know, the things you put on your feet when you are in public? Yeah, them.

    I was just so angry. This man is a married father with a professional job, and he can't be bothered to wear shoes (this was, in fact, the reason for his lack of footwear.)


    And "Sing a New Song"? That's not even the worst I've heard. Nowhere near. Not even close.

  3. It is indeed strange to go back to NO, a reverse culture shock. It took me over a year to readjust and manage to pray during mass, rather than constantly be distracted by a number of things.

  4. You know what's interesting? I find prayer easier with music than without! I think perhaps because in silence I am acutely aware of every cough, pew creak, shuffle, car passing on the road outside, etc. With music, I just feel more open, warmer inside almost, and less sensitive to every little thing around me. I also don't mind "Sing a New Song" -- not my favourite or anything, but you know my theory that pretty much anything sounds good provided the entire congregation sings with gusto and joy! Parishes where only a couple of people are singing, though... euch. There, I will agree with you that certain hymns sound terrible. I hope you're having fun at home!

    1. I am having a LOT of fun, never fear! Thank you! :-D

  5. I'm sorry that you had to sit through "Sing a New Song" and "Here I am." I think good music is a wonderful aid to prayer BUT poor music--either poorly selected or poorly executed is a terrible hindrance to prayer. Sometimes, as in Sing a New Song, the melodic structure of the music all but guarantees poor execution. Not many people can pull off those opening intervals; they are almost ALWAYS out of tune when sung by congregations, and sometimes when sung by the choir.

    This is a major reason why I prefer to spend holidays at home with my NO Catholic parish (not all have poorly chosen and executed music. Ours does a fair amount of chant) or my DH's Episcopalian parish rather than go to my parents' place or his parents' place where I have spent Christmases and Triduums past grinding my teeth at the tacky choice of music and out of tune, squawky singing. Lord, deliver me!


  6. I didn't sit through them! I sang them loudly to encourage the rest of the congregation and was probably slightly sharp.

  7. Heather in Toronto24 February 2015 at 14:51

    The Sign of Peace head nod/bow has become more and more popular in Toronto. I think it may have started back in the SARS scare of 2002-ish or whenever that was, but it's very common now especially during flu season. I like it. It's both more hygienic and more dignified than the handshake fest. Far fewer people rushing around trying to greet everyone they can possibly get to before the third round of the Agnus Dei.


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