As I studied the Latin texts and intricate rituals I had never noticed as a boy, I discovered that the old rite's priestly spirituality and theology were exactly the opposite of what I had expected. Whereas I had looked for the "high priest/king of the parish" spirituality, I found instead a spirituality of "unworthy instrument for the sake of the people."I've only been to one TLM (at St. Alphonsus of Liguori in Baltimore several years ago), and though I was familiar with the responses, the liturgy felt strange (I knew all the responses. Well before I ever went to any Mass, I'd found these Tridentine missals in a corner of the library at St. Xavier's in Bombay and memorized all the responses). I felt strange just sitting there not participating, as if I were simply a spectator. However, I'm a huge fan of the Pope's motu proprio. I hope and pray that some cross pollination can take place that might help the way the Novus Ordo is celebrated.
The old Missal's rubrical micromanagement made me feel like a mere machine, devoid of personality; but, I wondered, is that really so bad? I actually felt liberated from a persistent need to perform, to engage, to be forever a friendly celebrant. When I saw a photo of the old Latin Mass in our local newspaper, I suddenly recognized the rite's ingenious ability to shrink the priest. Shot from the choir loft, I was a mere speck of green, dwarfed by the high altar. The focal point was not the priest but the gathering of the people. And isn't that a valid image of the church, the people of God?
The act of praying the Roman Canon slowly and in low voice accented my own smallness and mere instrumentality more than anything else. Plodding through the first 50 or so words of the Canon, I felt intense loneliness. As I moved along, however, I also heard the absolute silence behind me, 450 people of all ages praying, all bound mysteriously to the words I uttered and to the ritual actions I haltingly and clumsily performed. Following the consecration, I fell into a paradoxical experience of intense solitude as I gazed at the Sacrament and an inexplicable feeling of solidarity with the multitude behind me.
Here is Fr. Z's excellent commentary/fisking of this article.