Sunday, December 03, 2006

Latin Mass

This morning, I gave the first reading for the 9.30 A.M. Latin Mass at the Fisher House Catholic Chaplaincy here in Cambridge. (Luckily, the reading was not in Latin.) I woke up to get there on time at 7.30 A.M. I had set my clock to 7.40, but I was awakened by the sound of bursts of rain getting blown against my window by the wind. This meteorological wake-up call was courtesy of a storm which had produced wind gusts of up to 100 miles an hour in Scotland, according to the BBC website. Luckily, Cambridge was not hit that badly.

I arrived at Fisher House roughly fifteen minutes before Mass started. I was rather nervous because I had never attended the Latin Mass before, and consequently I did not know exactly when I would have to get up and give the reading. (As it turned out, it was right after the Collect.) Sister Pauline, who was in charge of the readings, showed me where to begin and end.

Overall, it went well. I did mess up slightly when I began the reading without mentioning what book of the Bible it was from. Luckily, I noticed this mistake quickly and corrected myself, with some slight embarressment. (If I remember correctly, the book was Jeremiah. I was so wrapped up in giving the reading that I did not really pay attention to its contents.)

The Mass itself was a rather interesting experience. I remembered a bit of my high school Latin, but not enough to understand more than a small portion of what was being said. This lack of comprehension was rather disconcerting. Indeed, part of me wondered why I was even there. (Most of the people who were there were old enough to remember the pre-Vatican II Latin masses.) Still, my experience did give me insight into the appeal of the Latin Mass. It had a mysterious feel to it, with its ancient language and some of the rituals, that to many people must have conveyed a sense of the divine. It was definitely an interesting experience.

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