All this motu proprio talk had got me thinking that I should seek out our local Latin Mass group again, especially since I'd heard they were not down at the Cathedral which, as you can see, definitely has a good setting for it.
Past experience suggested this would not be the best move for the entire family, so we went to our own parish as a family at our usual mass, and then I drove down to the Cathedral on my own for the 3:30 Tridentine mass.
The celebrant of our parish mass was the pastor, rather than the new associate pastor about whom we've waxed eloquent a few times. Our pastor goes in for the basics. Unless you specifically ask for guidance, he does a 2-3 minute confession. In regards to liturgy, his philosophy is one of doing everything required by the GIRM and nothing more. The music leaders for the different masses has told me that pretty much his only guidance is to do what people like and not make the mass longer by continuing with extra verses after the entrance, offertory or receiving of communion are over. So while our pastor doesn't go on any quests for liturgical beauty, he also shoots down without a thought all the zany additions that well-meaning people sometimes suggest. "How about if we have the children do a skit as part of the homily, Father?" "No." "What would you think of some liturgical dance for Easter?" "Absolutely not."
So it was from a pretty basic novus ordo mass that I set out to experience the Tridentine mass.
I've done a fair amount of reading about the Tridentine mass over the last few weeks, so I think I grasped more clearly what options were being followed than in the past.
There were perhaps 150-200 people in the congregation, mostly young through middle-aged. There can't have been more than a dozen people there who were adults when the 1970 missal was promulgated. The cathedral organ was in use, but there was no choir, and I'd picked up enough recently to discern from the two candles lit on the altar that this was to be a low mass.
It proved to be a sort of half-dialog low mass. The congregation responded with "Amen" and "Et cum spiritu tuo" but with the longer responses only the servers spoke. This may in part have been because the priest celebrating (a fairly elderly one) was not using a microphone, and his Latin was very fast and quiet. Unless he slowed down and raised his voice, it could be difficult to know what he was saying, and thus when to respond. (If you had an Irish Catholic grandmother like I did, we're talking about the HailMaryfullofgracethelordiswiththee speed that you grew up with on the rosary.)
I wasn't clear from the instructions in the missal if it was an option for the congregation to join in saying the credo and the pater noster. It seems logical that it would be, since I believe it's an option for a choir to sing it instead of the priest speaking it, but whatever the options they were in this case said only by the priest. I understand, of course, that speaking is not necessary for participating in the mass. Still, I must admit to much preferring symbolism of the entire congregation saying these particular two prayers in union with the priest. (And besides, I was looking forward to getting to say "consubstantialem"; it's not a word you get to use every day.)
In the Eucharistic Rite (is that the right term in the old missal?), I was having enough of a challenge reading through all the Latin (my Latin is rusty but passable, and I was trying to read as much as possible on the Latin rather than the English side) that I didn't have the change to read all the rubrics written in the margins of the missal pamphlet I'd picked up at the beginning, so although I know that certain sections were supposed to be said silently by the priest, I'm not sure if all of them were, or if the priest was simply speaking so quietly that I thought he was saying them silently. The period was essentially silent (impressively so considering the number of children present) punctuated only by the ringing of the bells and the rustle of pages.
It was an interesting experience. In a sense, it struck me that this was very much to the old missal what our normal Sunday mass is to the new: follow the rubrics and do nothing more than is required by the rubrics. I'd kind of hoped that the group might have a schola, in that MrsDarwin is trying to help get one started in our parish and I was hoping to get some of that mutual enrichment between the missals that the pope wrote about. As it was, the quickly and quietly spoken Latin reminded me again how much I appreciate our new associate putting in the time to chant the entire ordinary of the mass. (Nothing special, just basic plainchant.)
Lurking somewhere in the back of my mind, when I head off to something like this, is the experience (perhaps grown with dimming memory) of attending Wednesday night masses with the Eastern Rite group during the college semester I spent in Austria. There were only 25 people present, and the huge, burly Slovakian priest would arrive just after dark, say mass for us, and wolf down dinner and a liter or so of beer before driving off again.
Still, for being a weekday mass for two dozen people in a side chapel, the priest chanted the entire liturgy, and the incense censor swung wildly about. The congregation sang the responses beautifully (MrsDarwin and I joined in as best we could phonetically, not knowing Old Slavonic) and though I could see there were sections that the priest was saying silently, there wasn't the ten-minute-total-silence experience that the Latin low mass seems to involve.
There are those I know who truly breath the air of the Eastern lung of the Church, but the fact is that I am Latin to the core. I feel like it would be mere liturgical tourism for us to join an Eastern Rite parish. And yet, I keep hoping that I'll run into the Latin Rite equivalent of those Wednesday night masses in the dimly lit, incense filled side chapel of the Kartause.