by Anya Proctor
A Teen’s View on the Latin Mass
I am nineteen years old. All my life I’ve known the Novus Ordo Mass, where, as a young teenager, my attention would often wander. I’d gaze around at people, at their outfits and personalities, or think about school, or what I’d eat for lunch.
Then I would snap back to reality, feeling guilty for not paying attention. I loved God, and understood the basics of my faith, but going to church was just sort of something I did every week. It wasn’t a fully spiritual experience.
On top of that, homilies often got weird. Priests would drabble on about other religions, the gospel of Judas, funny stories in the newspaper, irrelevant anecdotes, and even blatant heresies.
When my family moved to a small town, the weird Masses just became intolerable. Our first Sunday in the new town involved a priest using props on the altar to demonstrate his homily—as if we were all five-year-olds.
Homilies often got weird. Priests would drabble on about other religions, the gospel of Judas, funny stories in the newspaper, irrelevant anecdotes, and even blatant heresies.
My First Latin Mass at the Cathedral
We decided to attend the traditional Latin Mass an hour away from home. Stepping into a Cathedral was impressive, but celebrating Mass with the images of Jesus, the apostles, and the angels beautifully crafted onto the walls and windows of a strong, awe-inspiring place offered me a spiritual experience I’d never had before.
I did not get to know the priest’s personality at this Mass. I came to know God. I got to fully experience Christ Incarnate in flesh and blood, on my knees, deep in silence and prayer — to meditate on his union with me as he was placed reverently on my tongue by his holy servant. I closed my eyes when I received Jesus. I felt physically, spiritually, and emotionally transformed. Many times in the Cathedral, tears have come to me as I have prayed and focused on Jesus’s love and sacrifice for me.
I felt physically, spiritually, and emotionally transformed. Many times in the Cathedral, tears have come to me as I have prayed and focused on Jesus’s love and sacrifice for me.
Why the Latin Mass?
At this Mass, I do not want to immediately leave church to dwell in the world with material things and selfish preoccupations. I want to dwell in that moment with Jesus forever. Not until I was 19 years old did I fully understand the spiritual gift of the Eucharist—this sacred cornerstone of the Catholic faith.
The Novus Ordo focuses on people: shaking hands, singing folksy songs, laughing at jokes, watching people participate in a nice little ceremony.
But Mass is not intended to celebrate people. That’s for luncheons, birthday parties, and maybe youth groups—but not Mass. The Mass is for the Lord. The Mass is where the priest is so reverent he faces the Lord, not the people, so that they don’t focus on him, but only on Christ.
The Mass is for kneeling, praying, meditating with silent hearts which bring us closer to God. The Mass is for uniting with our Savior, who became a human being so he could horribly suffer on our behalf—have his flesh nailed to a wooden cross and be humiliated in front of an entire nation so we might live forever.
Isn’t the least we could do show Him respect at the holiest point on Earth, where he meets us at the altar? Can we kneel down for Him? Close our eyes for Him? Realize that He is too sacred to touch with our sinful hands? Give up an hour of focusing on ourselves and instead focus all of our energy solely on Him? These ideas are lost and degraded in the new Mass.
A Catholic at College
So, as a college student, among people preoccupied with themselves and the things of the world, I find it difficult to connect with others about the way the Traditional Mass changed my life. Not even among Catholics.
I attend a medium-sized liberal arts university in Florida. We have one Catholic group on campus, which attends a Novus Ordo Mass. It’s so hard to participate in that Mass since being transformed by the Latin Mass, so now I drive every Sunday by myself to worship and receive the Lord.
I am lonely sometimes. Not just because I drive to Mass alone, but because I am largely alone here, period. I don’t know if anyone at my school really shares the same values as me. This is because the spirit of Latin Mass encourages a reverence which requires devout compliance. It’s hard to say Latin Mass and then hurt God by partying on Saturday nights, enjoying crude jokes, or devoting energy toward anything at all that doesn’t glorify Him.
Now, I’m no better than anyone and am a great sinner. But I no longer have the same desires as my fellow classmates. When I meditate so deeply on the Lord as the Latin Mass enables me, I feel so spiritually inclined to serve God and no one else—not money, possessions, or even self-satisfaction. These are all inferior to the fullness of serving God.
So although I might go to Mass alone, and be alone much of the time, I am never truly alone, because Christ is here with me when I pray at night, or say the rosary at my desk, or go to Mass on Sunday.
And that is enough.
I am lonely sometimes. Not just because I drive to Mass alone, but because I am largely alone here, period. I don’t know if anyone at my school really shares the same values as me.
Photo’s by Amy Proctor