What this does is create a sense of community – something that I have found to be lacking in many traditional parishes I’ve attended or visited. Often times, the Traditional Latin Mass is attended by people from every far corner of the geographic area, creating a loose federation of individuals that know each other by face or even by name, but have little in the way of a sense of real common bond. It’s a lovely thing to have coffee and donuts in a Church basement as a means of socializing with your fellow parishioners, but it’s a different thing entirely when a priest and his confrères make you feel as though you’re a part of something more cohesive and organic.
This communal aspect is almost familial, and is rooted first and foremost in the liturgical experience. The CRNJs believe in a participatio actuosa that is neither the frenetic, hand-holding around the altar experience of many post-Vatican II parishes, nor the austere, entirely interior participation of those more inclined to chapels of the Society of St. Pius X. It is a human, natural, anthropological form of worship, where one is engaged but not coddled, involved but never given the sense that it’s all about them.
I think the difference in impression is due more to the difference in the size of the congregation than anything objective (other than the members of the congregation living in closer proximity to one another than those attending the EF elsewhere). It is true that many traditionalists have a low Mass mentality, but one will not [usually] find it among the priests of the Institute of Christ the King or the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. I think the biggest weakness in the parish life for traditionalist Catholics is the geographical spread of the personal parishes. The faithful live so far apart that one cannot really say that they are living with one another.