Thanks to the heads-up from blog contributor "Anonymous", I attended a Latin Mass at Sacred Heart on a Saturday evening a few weeks ago.
Contrary to my expectations (and perhaps contrary to the hopes of those who scheduled it for 7:30 pm on a Saturday evening in October), there were about 100 people present. The Filipina ladies in mantillas that I have always seen at Latin Masses
in New York City were present, kindly distributing booklets at the door to
facilitate comprehension and participation. Yes, the majority of those present were senior citizens with a sprinkling of middle aged people, but there were also a surprising number of families with young children and some teenagers. In a clever move, the organizers posted signs requesting that worshippers confine themselves to the first 10 pews on either side of the aisle, thus avoiding the dispiriting sight of the usual Catholic seating arrangement (i.e. as far away from everyone else as possible). A holy silence prevailed as I entered the church, but the extraordinary atmosphere for this extraordinary Mass couldn't prevent the teenagers and some adults from doing that infuriating, bastardized form of pseudo-Catholic genuflection (slightly bend a knee and then swat away imaginary flies from in front of your face).
Father Jerome, the pastor, was the celebrant and did a wonderful job. He admitted, during his short sermon, that he had to teach himself the Latin, and so he apologized for any mispronunciations he might have made. That was a telling statement. Would a priest go to the trouble of teaching himself to say the Latin Mass just to appease a few cranks once or twice every 2 years? Or does Father Jerome believe in its spiritual value and does he plan to re-introduce the Old Mass into his parish on a more regular basis? If he can draw 100 people on a Saturday night, how many would attend at 10:30 on Sunday morning?
The Mass was beautiful and serene. The usual organist was on duty, but she played mostly Latin hymns rather than the awful, un-singable stuff she usually chooses. People sang. It was a great experience, which I hope will be repeated. The Filipina ladies were asking for names and email addresses afterwards, in order to organize supporters to agitate for more of the Latin Mass. I haven't heard from them yet, but time will tell. The Mass was a great success which I hope will be the sign of a resurgence of Tradition in our local churches.