I had to interrupt my other six-part series that I was beginning to mention this: I finally went to Mass for the first time today. It was wonderful! I went to the 8:30 Mass, and was nervous in general from when I entered the pew to when I left it. But it was something that needed to be done to break the ice, to move all of my conversion journey from the theoretical/video level to the experiential level. I loved going to Mass so much, though, that I stuck around for the 10:30 Mass, and prayed the Glorious Mysteries of the Latin Rosary while I was waiting. The second Mass was better, I was able to actually relax and smile, and enjoy the fact that I had overcome a number of challenges to finally be in the presence of the Lamb on the Altar, and in the Tabernacle.
I am fortunate to live within walking distance of my local parish, and I am also fortunate that the parish is fairly orthodox and that they have an opportunity for Holy Mass six out of seven days (with a Communion Service on Monday) and Adoration for six out of seven days (with the exception of Saturday and the morning on Sunday when Mass is going on.) I am also very fortunate that there is a lovely mediation garden behind the Church, with trees, flowers, and a statue of Our Lord and Our Lady, and benches where you can sit in front of them and pray. By Ordinary Form standards, it is a lovely parish - the Church is immaculately clean, the flowers are tended and watered, Father actually "says the Black and does the Red" of the Missal as Fr. Z would say, he preaches fairly challenging homilies on proper marriage, the family, and accepting that Jesus wants to have all of us, and not be relegated to just part of our lives. He also incorporates quotes from the Saints and their wisdom and mysticism into his homilies, which I very much appreciate. The people are friendly and nice, and because it is directly next to a home for the elderly, there is a great number of pious, quiet, holy elderly men and women that are incredible to watch as they live their faith. When I say elderly, I mean people in their 80's and 90's - truly inspirational men and women from a different era who were trained in the traditional Latin customs and piety, who know how to act at Mass and in Church, not aging hippies and dissidents. My parish has three fairly long times per week where the Sacrament of Penance is offered by Father, which again by Ordinary Form standards, I consider to be a blessing. The building is fairly modern-looking, but has the best of modern beauty, such as arching, slender wooden pillars, a lofty ceiling, and perfectly placed windows, and not the tackiness that was prevalent in buildings from the 1970's or 80's. The Church also incorporates some ancient elements, such as having a rather majestic Altar (a proper one, permanently fixed to a consecrated Altar-stone underneath, not a portable table-Altar - even though the Altar is thus permanently facing Ad Populum), and a beautiful Baptismal font connected to an elegant stone bowl of holy water. The Baptismal font is in the proper and traditional Latin Catholic place in the Church - just inside the doors to the main chamber where Mass is celebrated and before the pews and the Altar. There are also two or three beautiful stained glass windows, including a glorious one celebrating the final Mystery of the Rosary, Our Lady's coronation by her Son as Queen Mother of His holy Kingdom, in Heaven and on Earth. They have a visible (if plain and box-like) Tabernacle, that is actually at the front of the Church where it's supposed to be, and under a rather ornate, golden Sanctuary Lamp, which is extended from the wall and which is always burning, calling attention to the fact that Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, is actually and perpetually present among us, both bodily and spiritually, in the Eucharist and His Spirit. There is an army of Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist, as is common to almost all Ordinary Form parishes, but I will say that there is a bit - if only a bit - more justification for it in this Church because apparently they do not have a permanent Deacon or two to assist Father at the present time (which I hope they do at some point). And yes, the Extraordinary Ministers were going through a pseudo-blessing on all of the children who came up to them by laying their hands on their heads briefly (which is profoundly annoying because it diminishes the dignity of the Priesthood and because it is not in keeping with our holiness as the Church, the holy people of God. Just as the Church of the Old Covenant's purity and sanctity, insofar as they had a legal sanctity that the Mosaic Law afforded them, flowed from the Levitical priesthood, so too our truly holy and divinizing purity and sanctity flow from the Melchisidech Priesthood. We ought always to remember that and to do everything in our power to emphasize that it is Father who, as an extension of the Archbishop, exercises the Binding and Loosing, forgives sin, blesses us and our holy objects and water, and through whom Christ, our eternal and Divine High Priest, sanctifies us in all things. Holy Communion is offered under both Species, the Host and the Chalice(s), and it is done fairly respectfully. The Chalices used are all solid gold, the Hosts are treated with respect by Father and by many (notice I don't say most - we can't forget this is an Ordinary Form parish) of the laity. Father knows how to efficiently offer the Host on the tongue, and he doesn't squirm from doing this or get annoyed if one of the faithful wishes to bow profoundly for a moment, or wishes to receive on the tongue.
I thought that I would take this opportunity in mulling over my experience today to be as positive as I possibly can with my current situation, and to count my blessings in the midst of an admittedly negative though thoroughly necessary series on the dismal state of the Latin Church. I have been more and more coming to the conclusion that, at least in the experiential realm, the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms of the Latin Rite have to be treated as different Rites in order to stay sane as a faithful Roman Catholic. If nothing else, doing this mentally will save you a lot of stress.