The local Una Voce chapter did a short email interview of their most recent convert to Catholicism and the Latin Mass (me). Here’s the Q&A:
- How long have you assisted at the traditional Latin Mass in Brooklyn? How did you find out about it?
A bit more than a year, since the Lent before this past one. I found out about it with an internet search—just plug “Latin mass” and “Brooklyn” into Google and it pops right up.
- How/why did you become attracted to the Catholic Church? Was this a long spiritual process?
Long and tedious for anyone to hear about! The Catholic Church always seemed the center of gravity of Christianity. Still, I thought that Christ is where Christians meet, and the notion that the Catholics had some general advantages never seemed reason enough to switch. Eventually though some experiences brought home to me that there was really nothing in protestantism I could rely on. In the long run what’s there is only what you put there yourself.
Also, it seemed to me that if God went to the trouble of suffering among us as a man He must think it’s important for us to be able to find Him concretely as a particular presence in the world rather than have to view Him as a concept or philosophy or story. But if there’s no publicly recognizable Church that can teach authoritatively then concepts and philosophies and stories are what we’re left with. In the end we’re back to a religion that gives us only what we put in it ourselves.
- What led you to the traditional Latin Mass?
The new mass, especially as translated and presented, is very close to the Episcopalian communion service, so it calls up some unfortunate associations for me. The traditional mass seemed worth trying. Also, I’ve had friends who are traditional mass fans.
- Why do you love the traditonal Latin Mass?
In the traditional mass it is God, and not the particular people who happen to be on the scene, who is primary. You can’t look at it and think it’s a lecture or social event or celebration of something the people there are doing among themselves. Everything is clearly done in unity with the Universal Church and the visible things are clearly ancillary to God’s action.
That gives the traditional mass enormous strength. It doesn’t matter whether there are problems with the priest, the bishop, your fellow parishioners, or you yourself. None of them are at the center of what’s going on. The mass is basically the ordinary way God makes himself concretely available to us. That’s easier to see with the traditional mass because it’s so clearly independent of the particular participants.
Also, I love the text. The prayers are very beautiful and always to the point. It’s no accident that all those people were willing to hear them again and again for century after century. And I like the idea of being united by the form of the service with the Church throughout the ages. I like hearing sacred music and having the words be the same as the words I hear on Sunday.