The NYC marathon put the kibosh on the Latin Mass I usually go to in Brooklyn, so on All Saints Day and Sunday I went to Mass a couple of places in Manhattan. It’s remarkable how different it can seem in different presentations (High or Low Mass, music, behavior of the congregation, physical setting and lighting).
Still, the differences brought out the special qualities of the Tridentine ritual all the more strongly. Those qualities all depend on what the Mass is. It’s not, fundamentally, a community celebration or expression of solidarity or moral lesson or performance by the priest or choir. It’s God Himself objectively becoming present. Because of that it’s always to the point. It doesn’t matter whether things are good or bad, whether you’re up or down, whether you like or dislike the setting or the music or the people. Without regard to those things the Mass itself keeps on giving you what you always need and can’t be found nearly so reliably any other way.
For that reason it seems to me much more humble, accessible and human than the revised form of Mass. The Tridentine ritual makes no personal claims whatever for the congregation, clergy or hierarchy. It treats the latter as simply instruments. It truly accepts you wherever you are, because it’s not about you or your surroundings or what’s going on in the world or your life, it’s about the one thing that all human beings need more than anything else.