July 26, 2016

Latin Mass Recap

Went to a Latin low summer mass Sunday; I  find the long silences oddly comforting (Pope Benedict was always a proponent of that). It's a good time to pray, reflect, absorb the religious art.  It's strange is how uncomfortable I am with silences during the regular Mass, like during Offertory or after homily or Communion. They seem endless. They seem like “planted silences” that are not intrinsic to the liturgy, like they're out of context somehow. For sure the thirty second silence after a homily or Communion seem ridiculous because it's so brief that you're just anticipating having to stand up again. But with the Latin mass the priest is praying at the altar, facing away, and seems a good time to ponder things “in our hearts” like Mary did.

I thought about how I like the Latin Mass in part because I don't have to participate as much, which is certainly not the best reason. The priest does so much for you that you feel you are receiving more than giving.  If Mass is primarily about receiving God and outside of Mass more about giving the God you've received then it works.

The Latin mass is for the lazy like me because 1) the priest seems to pray many of the prayers for you,  2) there aren't many responses, 3) you don't have to say “Amen” when you receive Communion, and 4) you don't have to shake everyone's hand at the sign of peace. It's a very peaceful liturgy. You can tune in and tune out as you will, you're less self-aware, and it's comforting to know that priest up there is delivering prayers on your behalf. To borrow from jogging terms, the regular Mass is all associative, the Latin mass a mix of the associative and dissociative.

(Byran Loy wrote that “Associative thoughts during running a race are based on the performance itself. You think thoughts like monitoring bodily sensations such as muscle pain and include internal commands like 'relax the shoulders'. Associative runners consider their emotional state like 'I feel light and fast today.' They are focused only on the task at hand.”

“Athletes who dissociate, however, may think about things unrelated to the task at hand as a means of distraction. These dissociative thoughts, according to Schomer could include reflection on past events and planning for future events. Athletes who focus on the environment (looking at trees) or listen to music while running are also dissociating.”)

Saw someone praying from a prayer book as they stood in the Communion line, which was a fine idea since the lines felt awfully slow (the priest gives Communion to everyone - no Eucharistic ministers here - and he does so with a typically Latin reverence, making the sign of the cross with the Host individually before you receive).

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