Sometimes the Lord drops in a gift so big you just can’t wrap your mind around all the goodness in it. That’s what the Traditional Latin Mass has been for me. The Lord has poured so much healing into my life through it that it makes me want to design T-shirts that say “One Latin Mass can change your life”, put the nearest Mass time and location on the back, and then give them to everyone I know so they can wear them when they go to HEB. That way, everyone else that goes to HEB will know: the world’s most beautiful event happens every Sunday in a little hilltop chapel less than ten miles out of town, and anyone who wants to can be there.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m thankful for our daily Masses, too, which are Novus Ordo. Any time Heaven itself comes to earth and Our Lord stands in our midst–WOW! What a miracle we have before us every day, and I want to be there.
But the Latin Mass changes my heart more.
For me, the beauty of the TLM isn’t so much about the Latin (though I do love that part). I think the biggest factor, for me, is the intercessory nature of the ad orientem posture. When the priest offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass facing God, it’s such a clear expression of what the Mass is that even I can’t miss it: it says that the priest is “standing in the gap” and interceding for us, making atonement for our sins before the Father. It helps me to better understand the reality: God loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to be hindered by the stumbling blocks our sins can cause in our relationship with Him. Removing those hindrances between us and Himself is so important to Him that He designates an entire segment of the population—priests!—to take care of that, day in and day out. To me, this speaks of God’s Provision for His flock and the perfection and generosity of His friendship.
Of course, a Novus Ordo Mass atones for our sins, too–thank goodness! But it never really “sank in” for me until I began attending ad orientem Masses. It took witnessing the priest saying Mass facing the liturgical East to really help me understand.
There are other elements of the Latin Mass that have been crucial to improving my relationship with the Lord, too. I actually like not quite understanding all the words; for me, that fosters greater trust. (I don’t have to understand everything; God does!) And I appreciate, very much, the way the Latin Mass aids detachment and focus. The music, in chant, removes the personality of the singer, leaving only the beauty of the notes, the words, and a voice God created. The rubrics remove the personality of the priest, leaving only the beauty and power of the Sacrament itself. All of our attention is drawn to the Lord, so that, by Communion time, if we’re practicing good recollection, we’re entirely absorbed by His Presence and ready to receive Him.
All of these elements, and they way they have fortified my trust in God’s attentive, loving, all-knowing, personal Provision for each of His children, have been keys to strengthening my faith and confidence, and, because of that, they have helped me grow much faster in friendship with Christ than I ever could in the 20 years I spent as a Catechism-studying, Sacrament-frequenting Catholic before I had access to Latin Masses. It’s changing my spiritual life “from the roots up.” I’m very thankful for the healing it’s bringing to my life, and I pray for the day when everyone can experience the truth, goodness, and beauty of the the Mass of the Ages.