Thursday, April 2, 2009

What I Love About the Traditional Latin Mass: Silence

I love silence.

Ever since I was a young girl, I have needed silence in my life. As a bee is drawn to flowers, so I have been drawn to finding places that allow me to step away from the world and simply think. Or ponder. Or pray. Or - just be. I feel we live in a hyper-overdrive world, constantly shouting at us to run faster, do more, get to the point and move along because we're holding up traffic. There is a "rushrush" to our daily lives that is so taken for granted that the moment one has some time to rest and reflect - they feel guilty. Guilty because they're not "doing" anything and "doing" is so highly valued in our society.

Did Jesus Christ rush around in life? I have never gotten that impression. In fact, I used to joke to myself that He didn't carry around a day planner to schedule His day. He simply took orders from His Father. However, I am a bit of a planner, myself, and realize that planning can be good. But how often do you find a place to be quiet so you can think or pray?

The Traditional Latin Mass is that place, at least for me. I am slowly discovering the beauty of our liturgy, but it has taken time. It is as though I found a treasure that has been caked with mud and as I slowly cleaned it, finally saw the amazing beauty of it. I almost want to whisper, where have you been all my life? But it was hidden. Now I'm seeing it and simply reveling in its truth.

I would like to point out that I believe the TLM is a mighty gift to the church. I know there are many Catholics who would love to attend one, but can't - or others who prefer the Novus Ordo. I think the TLM may be a gift because it can filter the strength of the liturgy through it's historic lens, and shine it into the "regular" Mass. The truth of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a very awesome thing. Unfortunately, it has been diluted many times by man's flights of fancy. One of the areas I believe has been tossed in exchange for "the new" has been the silence.

Silence was the response of our Blessed Mother as she pondered what the angel had told her. Silence was the response of the Wise Men as they beheld our Savior for the first time. Silence was the response of the disciples when Jesus would say some of the most amazing things. Silence was the response of those who loved Him as they looked upon Him hanging from the cross. Silence was the response of the disciples who had breakfast with their risen Messiah.

Silence is our response when we are confronted with the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What else can we do? Words seem to only justify the poor state of our soul. In silence, we are humbled as we realize there is absolutely nothing we could do or say that could justify our standing before Almighty God. Only in humility, kneeling before Him, remembering what His Son did in order for us to be set free from the bondage of sin, can we even attempt any connection with our Creator.

There is so much to ponder during Mass. Each prayer, each action, all points toward the incredible sacrifice that was made by both God the Father and God the Son so that we may live. During the TLM, the silence that is woven within it allows me to separate myself from the world, the chaos, the tyranny of the now, and clearly focus on Jesus Christ. He who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Such thoughts do not have room to grow during a liturgy that allows no pauses, no breaks for us to fully absorb the meaning of it all. We need time.

It is ironic to me that the pursuit of leisure is so highly prized by our culture but yet rest cannot be found. Jesus Christ said, "Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He gives us peace, but that peace takes time to consume and absorb. It's not like some fast-food restaurant drive-thru lane. He is inviting us to enter into the most magnificent and sacred of places to take, eat, and remember. To meditate upon His gift, to relish it and give Him glory for it.

The silence, is what allows me to receive fully what He has for me during this time, and for me to give Him the only thing I can offer. My deepest praise and thanks, and a devotion toward pleasing Him in all things.

I pray we all will find those places to rest, and especially find them in the liturgy.


Adrienne said...

It was the lack of silence that finally drove us from our parish church.

We attend a Mass in one of our other parish churches (we are a tri-church parish) at 6pm because there is no choir. No choir is better than listening to a non-stop barrage of bad music.

Shirley said...

"Be still and know that I am God"
One of the reasons I love to spend time alone horseback is the silence. I will be moving soon, and I almost dread going to the church there- I hope it will be reverant; I know it will be NO.