Before I went on the Camino, I stayed in Paris a few days to go to the museums and to wait for my hiking poles to catch up with me (they never did). 

By coincidence, the hotel I stayed at (Henri IV, on the Left Bank) was a few meters from the church of St. Nicholas du Chardonnet, the Paris center of the traditionalist Society of Pius X, which uses the pre-Vatican II Latin liturgy. 

I decided to go to the main mass. To my surprise, it was packed and included many families. Everyone sang the Latin responses, and the music was very, very good polyphony. The general effect was similar to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. But of course, such Solemn Masses with such music were rare in pre-Vatican II days, in which the Low Mass was the standard and music was, at best, French Romantic. 

My French is OK, and I followed the sermon. I have heard only this one sermon given by a priest of the Society of Pius X, so I won’t generalize, but there were problems. The priest was young and enthusiastic – enthusiastic about the way the liturgy was celebrated. He talked about the great privilege of saying the mass and administering the sacraments in the traditional rite. All very well, but there was no mention of the Death and Resurrection of the Lord. In other words, it was a sermon about liturgical externals, which may be important, but not about the reality to which the liturgy bears witness. The attitude was a little narcissistic and self-congratulatory. Again, this was only one sermon, so I will not generalize that that is the attitude of most or all priests of the Society.  But it did differ from excellent sermons I later heard in Spain. The masses may have been in the new rite and, except in Santiago itself, not equal in splendor to the mass at St. Nicholas, but the sermons were about the essentials of Christianity – the Death and Resurrection of the Lord, of the new life He has given us, and even about our union with Him through martyrdom.

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