One of the benefits of living in the city is the close proximity of Catholic Churches. I have four churches to chose from for Mass; one for the Latin High Mass ( a forty-five minute drive and my usual choice), one for the Latin Low Mass (a thirty-five minute drive in the opposite direction, and my second choice) and two decent Novus Ordo parishes right in my own neighbourhood. I can't help but notice a striking difference between the two Rites when it comes to reverence, silence and prayerful meditation.
The Latin Masses are both held later in the day, as they are in "borrowed" Novus Ordo Churches, so I sometimes head to the 9 AM Novus Ordo Mass just a few minutes from my home. The priest there is good. One thing that really strikes me though, is the noise level at this Mass. The people chit-chat away prior to Mass, not even being careful of their conversation. Prior to the Confirmation Mass last week, a man sat sprawled at the end of my pew, talking quite loudly to a woman behind him. He used words like "jackass" and proceeded to describe an incident that showed someone in a less than favourable light. I glanced over at him, then I took my rosary, knelt down and started whispering the prayers. When I looked up, he was gone. Maybe he didn't like me whispering in Church!
This past Sunday, I went there again. I was greeted by the usual dull roar as people spent their moments before Mass socializing with each other, though there were several people who knelt in prayer. After Communion, the people in the pew behind me carried on a conversation rather than engaging in prayer. Distracting, yes, but more importantly, it showed a total lack of reverence for Jesus whom they had just received! Now, this parish has a good, holy priest, so why are the people so disrespectful when it comes to silence and prayerful meditation before the Tabernacle and after Communion?
Mass has become a social event for many people, but this only appears to be the case at the Novus Ordo Mass. The atmosphere at every Latin Mass I have ever attended is one of prayerful meditation and reverence for the Sacred Mysteries of the Altar. Why is this? Are trads socially inept or are they simply better educated in their faith? What would it take to get people to possess the desire to immerse themselves in the presence of Jesus, and show respect to Him in His own house?