I had the chance of attending a Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for the very first time yesterday morning at the Parish of the Lord of the Divine Mercy at Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. I was really excited to attend a Mass in EF ever since I got hooked in various sites and blogs in the internet about the traditional Mass and especially after Pope Benedict's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. I think, what made me interested in the traditional form of the Mass is my traditional upbringing as a Catholic - growing up with my great grandmother and grandmother at home. As I mentioned before, I had this "Maikling Missal Panlinggo" of my great grandmother and another "Missal Panlinggo" published by the Dominicans with the changes made by the 1969 Instruction.
Back to the Mass at PLDM, I want to share some thoughts and observations.
The church was quite smaller that I thought it was (from the photos) but nonetheless, a fitting place for worship. I arrived almost 7:30 and (aside from the people and vehicles passing on the road beside the church) the atmosphere was that of prayerful silence.
It was nice to see the women in the congregation wearing their veils, scapulars, medals and bringing with them a collection of their favorite prayer books - in our parish in Amadeo (Cavite) some elderly women maintains this practice. The respect for the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle is shown by the traditional genuflection (or at least trying to) when passing at the center or before and after entering the pews. I can only wish that the server (probably one of the parish staff) did the same on preparing the altar and lighting the candles.
The congregation was attentive to the Mass. Pious acts and devotions, such as the rosary, veneration of the images of saints, or the stations of the cross were done before and after the Mass. I think the celebration was a 'dialogue Mass'. In this way there is a sense of 'active (or actual) participation' both externally (shown in the postures of standing during the entrance and the Gospel reading, kneeling for most of the time and especially during the Canon and sitting while listening to the homily) and internally (with the priest reciting the prayers inaudibly and the faithful, aware that the prayers are recited in their behalf, pray in their own silently). And of course, the 'ad orientem' posture (that is, facing the 'liturgical East') showing both the priest and the faithful in a position ready and hoping to meet Lord.
The vestments, Fr. Zerrudo was wearing reminds me of the words 'noble simplicity' as was obvious - no lavish ornamentations yet beautiful.
The homily (for that Mass on an Ember Wednesday) was brief and meaningful; no ambiguous elaborations.
The silent Roman Canon, which before I thought was one of the things to be revised in the Mass is the EF, enabled us to participate by allowing a silent atmosphere for uniting our hearts and minds in the prayer of the priest. Since I have some knowledge on the basic structure of the Canon, I, mentally, prayed for the Pope, the bishops, the clergy, the universal Church, my loved ones and friends on the silent part after the Sanctus and before the consecration in which I focused myself in the acts of the Lord. I prayed for my deceased loved ones, including my great grandmother, on the part after the consecration and before the Doxology. During the entire Canon, I keenly observed the signs of the cross made by the priest with his hands and while holding the body of the Lord (during the Doxology). It was truly an encounter with "my Lord, and my God".
I was not prepared to receive communion (mea culpa) so I just knelt in my pew and prayed while watching other people receiving very reverently.
After the Mass, the wonder of that extraordinary 'meeting' with the Lord is still with me. I am looking forward in attending next week. It was such a wonderful and blessed experience.