Sense of the Sacred

This past Sunday I finally made it to my second Traditional Latin Mass after we woke too late for the early Novus Ordo Mass at my parish. It had been nearly two years since I’d last attended the TLM, but I figured we’d do we’ll enough. Kieran insisted on sitting in the front, but it went well.

What I noticed most, though, was the sense of being in a sacred place. Before and after Mass, there was near silence. There were no idle conversations, and what was spoken was in a whisper. When I then went to the NO at my parish again yesterday, the loudness after Mass was jarring. I went back to the other parish this morning, only it was a NO this time, and there was a lot of talking after Mass there, too.

Why is there this difference? Jesus is present in the Eucharist at both Masses. The Tabernacle is in a central location behind the altar at both Masses. The only difference in layout is that the moveable altar is moved so only the high altar is there.

While some say they notice a difference in attire between the two Masses, I didn’t really. Some women wore mantillas, but not all. Some women even wore trousers (shocker, I know). The men didn’t wear suits. In short, there wasn’t a substantial difference in dress between those at the TLM and those at the NO.

Even if there had been differences in dress or the layout of the church, there shouldn’t be a difference in attitude. After all, Jesus is present in the Eucharist whether the Mass is in Latin, the vernacular, or Greek. While we should feel perfectly comfortable and at home at Mass, shouldn’t we also have a sense that we are in a holy place? Shouldn’t that affect our deportment in the sanctuary? (Before anyone thinks I’m perfect or judging, I, too, am guilty of talking in the sanctuary. I often tell myself it’s ok because everyone else is, but that doesn’t make it right. I need to work on this.)

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