In many respects I totally blew my opportunity to properly share the beauty and spiritual depth of the TLM and likely came off as arrogant and judgmental just like the stereotype. Encounters like this though few, seem to have a common outcome of misunderstanding. I found myself apologizing to God repeatedly for mishandling the opportunity to help awaken a deeper interest in the Latin Mass.
I've been replaying the whole scenario in my mind for several weeks now, and though I have a benefit of hindsight, I'm still uncomfortable with the stonewalling that I got from this gentleman. Sure seemed like he had his defenses up, almost like when a Catholic is confronted by some fundamentalist - one who's views are strongly motivated with a misplaced zeal and well learned talking points. Almost like a Jehovah's Witness where the brainwashing is so thorough that you don't even want to enter a conversation with them. This same apprehensiveness was now coming from a fellow Catholic, I know because it's the way I felt when conversing with an SSPX member many years ago.
So why all this animosity between Catholics? I get defensive whenever anyone attacks the Church and I get defensive when someone calls me holier than thou, I even get defensive when a pope suggests that my love of the Latin Mass is merely a fad. But I embrace the opportunity to share the beauty and spiritual depth so masterfully preserved in the Latin Mass. I desire to share all the spiritual benefits I have come to know through the Latin Mass, I feel an obligation to share this gift from God.
So this brings me to the questions I've been pondering since my rather unpleasant conversation: Does the Novus Ordo offer something spiritual that is lacking in the Vetus Ordo? If so then why have I never encountered a Catholic with valid arguments to persuade me? Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever experienced anything of the sort! Even the gentleman reference above made no effort to correct any perceived misconception on my part. He did boast of his large family and many grandchildren - a clear attempt to establish his Catholic orthodoxy which was never called into question. On the contrary, when I meet someone who appears to be a practicing Catholic I feel obligated to share this spiritual treasure with them!
But these people typically will not go to a Latin Mass with an open heart and open mind. They forgo any preparation and perhaps begrudgingly attend one or two Latin Masses just to say, "There I did it and it wasn't for me, now leave me alone". A more typical attitude is one of complacency, "I don't feel like I'm lacking anything" or "My family could never sit through a Latin Mass". Please don't misunderstand, I'm not suggesting that these people are bad Catholics or lacking in faith and conviction, just that they are convinced the Latin Mass contains nothing but nostalgia, this is what is taught after all!
Going back to the gentleman referenced earlier, he was a Catholic convert of nearly 40 years. I always say that converts make some of the best Catholics! Anyway, he didn't mention how many of those years were spent attending a Vetus Ordo Mass (presumably none). Now on the day we talked I'm pretty sure he attended the same Mass that I and my family did because of obligations afterward, but was he merely attending? What I mean is, did he pray the Mass? Was he even aware of the differences in the prayers? These are questions that now run through my mind.
You see I regularly attended the Novus Ordo from my early teen years until I was 30 years old. Of those 15+ years I would say at least 7 of those years were experienced as one who fully understood the Catholic faith with all it's splendor! Now I have almost 7 years of experience with the Latin Mass and friends I'm not going back. Some things are so precious that compromise is not a consideration, but Our Lady Akita reminds us:
“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see Cardinals opposing Cardinals, Bishops against other Bishops. The priests who venerate Me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres. Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be filled with those who accept compromises, and the devil will induce many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. "
I work in the HVAC trade and when it comes to certain model furnaces we have a saying, "If you don't find a failure in that model furnace you're not looking hard enough". Friends, if you don't see a failure in the model of modern worship within the the Catholic Church you just aren't looking hard enough.