My Tridentine Experience

I entered the Sacred Heart church, Hove, just before 3.30 on a cold March [1996] afternoon. The increasingly familiar interior of the church, as ever, picked up my soul and gave me a glimpse of heaven. The beautiful statues, icons and sanctuary bring about a welcomed relief from the grime of everyday life, for once it shows me what man can achieve when he directs his mind towards his Creator, his Lord and God. The church was very quiet, people making their way to their places, many reciting the rosary and similar prayers. A few altar servers going back and forth between the altar and the sacristy making the final preparations to the Mass. Finally, the priest entered and the spectacle began. For once, the priest and the people united together to worship God, facing the altar of sacrifice, and offering themselves up in a service of adoration. We directed our thoughts, praises and worship towards God Our Father, and not the temporal parish priest. Little of the Latin did I understand, but for once I felt I could understand what was happening, and not just what was being said. The wonderful music brought a new meaning to the phrase "congregation participation" - my thoughts were silenced and my soul was leaping for joy. Receiving communion was simply a touch of heaven. I could wait patiently for a place at the altar rail, then take my place, prepare myself in prayer, receive the most precious substance in the universe, consume it whilst praying, and only then having to retake my place. At last I realised: after 25 years of my existence, I had discovered the Missa Cantata.

How true are the words of Fr. Faber, that the traditional Mass is "the most beautiful thing this side of heaven". From the hurried, stressful factory line of receiving communion at the Novus Ordo, to the calm, prayerful sublime world of the Tridentine. I don't think there will be any turning back for me. In the New Mass, my head is concentrating on the distractions, my heart is aching at the antics of the altar girls and my soul is fast asleep. The traditional Mass silences my head, excites my heart and sends my soul up to heaven and back. In wanting to lift the congregation up to the level of the angels, it seems that the new Mass has dragged the angels down to our own fallen state, pity them! Not doubting the validity of the Mass of Paul VI, the question arises to whether it actually prepares me for the reception of the Blessed Sacrament. Does it prepare me for the sacred? Or does it try to make things more relevant to my fallen and sinful life? Many of these questions have plagued me recently, and the only refuge that I have found is in the traditional Mass; where the sacred is emphasised, God is worshipped and man is humbled. At last, I have found somewhere to pray what I believe.

My heartfelt thanks go out to all of you who firstly help organise these Masses, but also for all who have helped keep the traditional Mass going all these years since the council. You have kept it alive for people such as myself and future generations to enjoy. I say "enjoy" because even though the Novus Ordo tries to be more relevant and engaging, I find it a real turn-off. If it is God's will, then our efforts to promote the traditional Mass will bear fruit, as they seem to be increasingly doing.

God bless,

David Joyce

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Last modified 6th March, 1997, by David Joyce.