Mass in the Extraordinary Form teaches me that the priest is not just any old guy doing a job, but a man specially selected and set apart in order to perform the Holy Sacrifice. I can tell this by the fact that he is facing God, as I am, but he is permitted to approach the altar and to stand in the breach, as it were, between God and myself, obtaining God's pardon and grace for me. I can also tell this by the fact that the priest does most of the praying and performs most of the external actions, while I sit, stand or kneel quietly. This teaches me both the futility and the needlessness of relying purely on my own efforts to win salvation: futile, because I am powerless, and needless, because in that moment, God has appointed a minister to do for me what I cannot do for myself.
And all of this teaches me that the Mass is none other than the Sacrifice of Calvary. The priest is alter Christus: Christ, in the person of the priest, entering the Holy of Holies, offering His own Self to secure redemption, as Paul says in Chapter 9 of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The Holy Sacrifice itself is offered in silence: this teaches me that I am in the presence of Mystery. This silence is not the muteness of ignorance, nor the emptiness of a deserted church; it is the expectant hush falling over Calvary as the Savior breathes his last. This moment is so solemn that when the priest first approaches the altar at the beginning of Mass, he does so in stages, begging mercy and the forgiveness both of his own sins and those of the people. The penitential right is not slopped or rushed through, but dwelt upon, to make us understand our own sinfulness and nothingness before the stupendous mystery in which we are about to enter.