Monday, 3 January 2011

The Trid Social Scene

And today something a little different. Does everybody know by now that B.A. and I go to Traditional Latin Mass on Sundays? If you read my other blog, you probably do. If you read my column in the Prairie Messenger, you definitely do, because Traditional Latin Mass stuff is all I write about in the Prairie Messenger.

"It's like a party," I said to B.A., who may have had a minor heart attack, because "Mass as party" is an idea TLM lovers don't like very much. However, what can I say? I love the Traditional Latin Mass, and I try to get to every Missa Cantata going, and I love to see who else is there. It's like a party.

Okay, now to get to the letter. Yes, there's a letter. I found it in my combox this morning. (My internet was down all yesterday; I almost died when I found a troll's comment had sneaked in.)

Hi, Seraphic. Great post, as usual.

I have a question: I've started to attend a TLM parish and, like you already stated, most of its members are twenty-something men. Nothing against that, au contraire!

But I don't know how to behave amongst these young, conservative NCB. All my life I went to a charismatic parish and it's a whole different world.

I would like to make friends with them and, well, I've never had male friends - I'm a girl's girl and, honestly, I'm not very experienced. They are so nice, giving me flyers and explaining the liturgy, but I barely know them and I would not like to send any mixed signals. It's a very small parish and I don't want to be "the flirt".

This girl's girl was totally anonymous, which is just wrong, so I've given her a name which is New Trid Girl.

So much to say. First, the Traditional Latin Mass attracts men (not mostly twenty-something men in my parish, though) because it is serious. It is entirely lacking in the "Jesus is My Boyfriend" music and sentiments of charismatic worship. It holds linguistic challenges, and as it underscores the serious and special nature of the priesthood, it also underscores the serious and special nature of masculinity. (Masculinity is indeed serious and special to men, and only traditional religious rituals these days seems willing to acknowledge that fact in healthy ways.) It certainly underscores the serious and special nature of the Blessed Sacrament. Nobody touches the Blessed Sacrament with unconsecrated hands, and you can bet that any TLM priest takes his duties towards the Blessed Sacrament very seriously indeed.

If you ask me, men are just less likely to 'get' all the nuances of banquet/community gathering/sacrifice/community sing-song involved in the Novus Ordo as it is said today. The TLM, in contrast, is quite obviously a sacrifice. The Holy Eucharist is unequivocally Christ's body, blood, soul and divinity. The congregation falls to its knees. There is none of this o-but-everyone-stood-in-the-first-century nonsense that completely ignores Scripture references to Christ Himself and St. Paul praying on their knees.

Traditional worship gives men something firm to hang onto, and not only is it worship worthy of God, insofar as the human person is able to make something worthy of God (and the theological discussions here regarding priest-as-alter-Christus could be endless), it is worship worthy of men's own little selves to perform. Women are endlessly tolerant. Men, not so much. Not Trid Men, anyway. As you will discover.

Now, as yet there are not a lot of people who can get to the Traditional Latin Mass, and there are not as yet a lot of Traditional Latin Masses to go to. And this means that Traditional Latin Mass communities are small, tightly knit and delighted when new people come along, as long as the new people don't try to change anything or get up everyone's nose. The great thing about this is that you don't have to do anything but show up, take the handouts, pray, and hang around afterwards hoping someone nice will talk to you. They will. If in doubt, ask someone in the tea-and-coffee queue a question about the liturgy.

When you are gone, other parishioners will discuss you and wonder where you are from and watch to see if you come back the next week. They will probably be delighted to see you again. And, in the natural span of time, people will befriend you. Just keep showing up and look friendly and approachable. Don't worry about mixed signals. Just say "yes" to those invitations that you welcome, and "no" to those invitations that you don't.

I haven't the least idea where you are from. If you are in Britain, than you know better than I do the social rules for Britain of 1962, which is more or less what I think I am obeying these days. Sending thank-you notes or making thank-you phone calls to hostesses is big. I imagine that most Trids (or, as people are more likely to call us, Trads) in Canada and the USA also put a lot of stock in old-fashioned good manners.

As a woman, you are in luck, for TLM people are nothing if not traditional, and traditionally women do not try to make friends with men. Men try to make friends with you. Meanwhile, a girl's girl who hasn't dated much and goes to the TLM is, I suspect, many a Trid man's idea of the perfect woman, so congratulations.* Just make sure you keep up with your girlfriends. Don't get too bedazzled by all the twenty-something Trid men.

The great thing about being a girl's girl is that you don't take men too seriously or fall into masculine patterns of speech and behaviour to be "one of the boys", which personally I think is romantic death. So wear a fashionable but modest dress or skirt to Mass, nice shoes and your lovely new white mantilla. Smile at everyone in the community after Mass, and be particularly attentive to the elderly. Don't just tag along to after-Mass events, but keep your ear sharp and attentive for personal or general invitations.

Incidentally, I hope you and the priest have already exchanged introductions. If not, introduce yourself and tell him that you are new to the Old Rite. Don't be put off if he seems shy. Many TLM priests (and indeed parishioners) have suffered a lot because of their love for the TLM, and some need to get to know a new person a lot better before they risk sharing their opinions and friendship.

As far as I know, no young woman in my community has ever been labelled "the flirt" or anything unpleasant. But at least some of us always notice what young women and newcomers wear. As people often disapprovingly point out, we care a lot about "externals." And, as we might counter, "externals" certainly do influence "internals", which is why we love the TLM so much in the first place.

*Update: I just remembered that that last woman who married a bachelor of my TLM community was divorced-and-annulled little me. Many a Trid man's perfect woman could be a mysterious rich widow or a world-weary German aristocrat in a black leather jacket. You can never tell with men. In the meantime, girl's girl who hasn't dated much is a perennial favourite of men all over, bless their little hearts.


Lara said...

New Trid Girl says

Sorry about the anon letter, I did not meant to be rude, just could not think a nice pseudonym.

Thank you for the advice. It's really helpfull. I've already introduced myself to the priest - he's always open to chat with the parishioners after mass.

And I've got my white mantilla and my grandma's missal, so, if you don't count the times when I'm completly lost, I kind of look the part!

Oh, and I'm from Brazil.

Seraphic said...

Goodness me! I cannot even begin to imagine what the social rules are for Brazil! I did not know anybody in Brazil was reading my blog. How exciting!

Don't worry about being lost. You will get the hang of it in a few months, if not a few weeks. Don't forget, in the old days babies grew up hearing (or at least watching) the Mass and when they had learned to read, they began reading the Missal. So nobody will be surprised at all to hear you lose your place, if you happen to mention it, or anyone notices.

talitha cumi said...

Such a good post, and so true - except for the lots-of-single-men part, at least for my parish. The only single men I see regularly are 1) an ex-boyfriend (no hurt there, we were NOT a match) who's now engaged to someone he met online, good for them; 2) another ex-boyfriend, one that I'm still in deeply and painfully love with, and can't really avoid as we have mutual best friends; and 3) a nice but morbidly obese man who works part-time at the local sewage treatment plant and who, while I do appreciate the compliments, quite simply holds no attraction, physically or mentally, for me.
What's a girl to do? Online dating is not a good way for me, I've tried it; I won't date non-Catholics, being the child of a mixed marriage and seeing how awful it can be (38 years and counting of fights and put-downs, with 3 out of 5 kids fallen away from the Faith); and while I attend the Novus Ordo when I can't get to a Latin Mass, the men there are generally a) elderly or b) far too young and happy-clappy for my taste (I'm 30). And there is only the one Trid (non-SSPX) parish in my city and a few-hours'-drive radius. I've even thought of moving to another province, mostly to get away from the ex and try to start over, but I'm tried of drifting.
Oh, this sounds whiny, I'm sorry. I'm not normally this pessimistic, but today's one of those "Why, God, WHY???" days. Grr.

Seraphic said...

Welcome, LittleGirlGetUppi, and feel free to rant in this Safe for Catholic Singles Zone.

It seems that your chief hurt here is the ex-flame. If you have the money, I suggest "European holiday" ASAP. When I had money, I found out that there is nothing like international travel to get over an ex-flame.

Meanwhile, like at least one other blogger I know, I married a reader. I encourage all girls with writing skillz to blog mightily about their favourite things and see what happens.

My parish has several bachelors, but they are all ages from 5 months to 80-something. We lost a whole bunch of our 20-somethings to the seminary and graduate school in September.

AveLady said...

Alas, while my trad community DOES attract a decent number of men, the only ones in my age group not married already seem to fall into the "confirmed bachelor" area. They rarely initiate conversations with single women and have a very guys-only sort of clique. Segregation really seems to be what the men, at least, are most comfortable with. I'm all for guy-time, but after Mass is time for general socialization, not stag party. Boo.

We have a fabulous choir which does include a few more generally outgoing single men. Unfortunately they, oddly enough, are all non-Catholics (mostly Christians - and not the whole choir, just the outgoing single young men) who just come for the music. 'tis all very odd.

theobromophile said...

Lovely post, Seraphic, and Happy New Year!

In the meantime, girl's girl who hasn't dated much is a perennial favourite of men all over, bless their little hearts.

My risk-averse self cannot help but point out: double down on trusting your intuition. While wonderful men, bless their hearts, love girl's girls, there are also lousy men who see a girl's girl who hasn't dated much as a perfect target.

I don't mean to throw cold water on the party, but just a reminder for those women to not allow themselves to think that since they haven't dated much/are inexperienced/aren't used to all this that their intuition is anything but perfect.

(End of maternal-ish hand-wringing.)

Seraphic said...

Yeah, but my guess is that they won't be going to Latin Mass and hanging out with Trids on a regular basis.

Sure, you can meet bad guys at church. But there aren't many places for a sociopath to hide in a small Trid community.

Meanwhile, you are right, women should trust their instincts when they suggest that a man is bad news.

The Crescat said...

I've blogged mightily about my favorite things for almost six years and the adoring male readers are not overflowing me in-box.

The most attractive men I have ever met at church were at a local Orthodox parish. Manly men with even manly beards. Ooo la la.

At least I got custody of the only latin mass parish in town after a recent break up. I didn't want his friends. lol

Seraphic Spouse said...

Oh dear, Crescat. Are you sure? Be honest now. Have you not got invitations to coffee through your blog?

Are the friends hot? Why don't you want them? Why are the sins of the one being visited on the heads of the many?

For some reason I read your comment and thought "Workshop." However, the idea of running workshops on meeting men fills me with fear. I'm much better at "how to enjoy being Single."

Ginger said...

Seraphic, I'm a sedevacantist, so I'm sure our opinions differ on the fundamental underscores of this post.

HOWEVER. I loved the way you describe the Latin Mass. All of it is very true and the very reasons why I (not to mention the cute single NCB I know) hold it so dear.

The Crescat said...

Seraphic. Honestly, cross my heart... No. I know we've exchanged emails before about blog presence and I have tried to appear more "fuzzy" but many people, too many, always say "gee, you're a lot nicer than I thought you'd be" upon meeting me. Many are even surprised I don't have a voice like Kathleen Turner after a few gins and a carton of cigs. I think men are probably terrified to contact me, for what ever reason.

I would totally attend of one of your workshops. I would love a reason to travel to Scotland. :-)