How should a newcomer prepare for the Latin Mass?
A Roman Catholic priest answered this question this way: ‘for the first few times, we shouldn’t try to follow along or read. We should prepare and participate in a way similar to how we would for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – quiet prayer and meditation, while enjoying the beauty of the Mass without distracting ourselves by trying to follow a text. That could be left for later.
The older form of the Mass, he explained, is actually easier for people at any level, any state of mind or at any place spiritually. Basically, it’s easier for everyone. Those who want to follow along can do so and get a good deal out of it. Those who are not ready to follow along can still “participate” in the way most suitable for them.
The Imitation of Christ teaches “let it then be our chief study to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ . . . what does knowledge avail without the fear of God? . . . If I should know all things that are in the world and should not be in charity, what would it avail me in the sight of God, who will judge me by my deeds?”
It is the “Mass for the advanced,” as well as the Mass for the weak, the poor, the suffering, the joyful, the ignorant – it’s the Mass for everyone. It effortlessly “meets people where they’re at.”
“The more humble a man is in himself, and more subject to God, the more wise will he be in all things and the more at peace.” - The Imitation of Christ
– From Shower of Roses Blog
How should people dress at the Traditional Latin Mass? Do men need to wear a suit? Do women need to wear a chapel veil (i.e. mantilla)?
Whenever Catholics attend Mass, whether it is in the Roman Rite, in the Byzantine Rite, the Chaldean Rite, or any other approved Rite of the Church, everyone should dress modestly and in a manner that is suitable to the occasion. One should avoid coming to Mass dressed in attire that is physically revealing, vain or especially casual.It is always most edifying to note that gentlemen wear a coat and tie to Holy Mass. Going back to the tradition of the early Church, many women, in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, choose to wear the chapel veil (i.e. mantilla), as a way of expressing their modesty and femininity. From Sancta Missa
How long is a Latin Mass?
On average, a typical Sunday Low Mass with a sermon/homily is from 45 minutes to 1 hour. A Sunday High Mass sung with Gregorian Chant and with a sermon/homily is usually 1 hour to 1 hour and ten minutes. If the choir sings a polyphonic Mass setting the Mass be 10 to 20 minutes longer, perhaps. This, of course, will vary with the number of communicants approaching the rail during the distribution of Holy Communion and with the length of the priest’s sermon. From Sancta Missa
Does the Latin Mass fulfill my Sunday obligation?
Catholics of any rite can fulfill their obligation for Mass on Sundays and Holy Days at the Roman Mass in the Extraordinary Form. The traditional Latin Mass, of course, was the norm for centuries and as Pope Benedict XVI has stated, it has never been outlawed (i.e. abrogated).
In light of the proper understanding of the documents of the Second Vatican Counsel, and the clear teaching of Pope Benedict XVI in Summorum Ponficum, who today would dare question the validity, excellence, or spiritual benefits of the Mass that for centuries nourished the souls of the great saints and martyrs!
Mass in the Extraordinary Form (1962 Missale Romanum) fulfills the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, and there is no reason to doubt the authenticity or legality of the Mass that is our proud heritage. – From Sancta Missa
Do young people attend the Latin Mass?
Some people are surprised at how many young families choose to attend the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Typically, it is the large families in a parish who crave the Latin Mass most. While young people are the largest group that attends the Tridentine Mass, adults are returning today to be spiritually fed by the Mass of their youth. The Latin Mass must be available to any Catholic who wants to enjoy its rich spiritual fruits. – From Sancta Missa
Most of the faithful who attend the Traditional Latin Mass today did not grow up with it, so why do so many Catholics choose to attend it?
The magnificence and solemnity of the Traditional Latin Mass is attractive to increasing numbers of Catholics today, especially the young. The rich sensory experience of Mass in the Extraordinary Form, replete with a treasury of sacred music and art, reminds all that the Sacred Liturgy is a foretaste of the Liturgy of heaven we will celebrate in the New Jerusalem at the end of time.
Gregorian Chant is an integral part of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. It is a “poetry which sings on earth the mysteries of heaven and prepares us for the canticles of eternity” (Dom Prosper Louis Pascal Gueranger). Thus, when the faithful participate in the chanting of the Holy Mass, their hearts are raised up to the courts of heaven, as they sing with the choirs of the angels.
The quiet reverence that permeates the ancient form of the Mass fosters a deep inner silence enabling many Catholics to experience a profound spiritual participation in the Liturgy. The dignity and fixed structure of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form provides an atmosphere, which is most conducive to an encounter with Christ, who is both the Priest and Victim of the Mass. -From Sancta Missa
As a newcomer to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, how will I understand the Latin texts?
As the Roman Mass in the Extraordinary Form is always in Latin, it is useful to have a translation of the prayers of the Mass to assist the faithful to participate. Thus, to better comprehend the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, many parishes provide a Booklet Missal that provides the Latin text, a vernacular translation, and a guide for the postures to be followed at Mass (i.e. sitting, standing, and kneeling). These Booklet Missals provide the text of the unchanging texts of the Mass (i.e. the Ordinary of the Mass). Some parishes may additionally provide the translation of the Proper of the Mass (i.e. the readings and prayers proper to a particular liturgical day) and a program of sacred music (i.e. the Gregorian chant, responses and hymns for a given celebration). -From Sancta Missa
Is everything at the Tridentine Latin Mass said in Latin or are parts of the Mass in the vernacular?
Every part of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine Mass) is in Latin (with the exception of the Kyrie eleison which is Greek). On Sundays and at certain Feast Days the Epistle and Gospel reading will be repeated in the vernacular at the time of the sermon, but are said first in Latin. The homily is in the vernacular. The Leonine Prayers after the Mass are also in the vernacular usually. -From Sancta Missa
Why does the priest not face the people for most of the Traditional Latin Mass?
The priest offers Mass facing the same direction as the people, because he and the people together are offering worship and sacrifice to God. He is not turning his back on the people to exclude them. Rather, as a Christian community, are all facing ad orientem (i.e. toward the east) waiting in joyful expectation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who will return to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire (Rite of Baptism, 1962).
What in the early Church determined the position of the altar was that it faced Eastward. To quote St. Augustine: "When we rise to pray, we turn East, where heaven begins. And we do this not because God is there, as if He had moved away from the other directions on earth..., but rather to help us remember to turn our mind towards a higher order, that is, to God."
This quotation shows that the Christians of those early days, after listening to the homily, would rise for the prayer which followed, and turn towards the East. St. Augustine always refers to this turning to the East in prayer at the end of his homilies, using a set formula, Conversi ad Dominum ("turn to face the Lord"). -From Sancta Missa
Why does the priest not face the people in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form?
Because he is offering the Mass in Christ's name and in His Person, in persona Christi, to God the Father and is leading his people in adoration and worship. He is facing east, the rising sun, which is symbolic of the 'New Jerusalem' and he is leading his flock as the Good Shepherd does. When he needs to address the congregation he turns to face the people and says, for example, "Dominus vobiscum" (“The Lord be with you”) or "Orate fratres" (“Pray, brethren”). -From Sancta Missa
Does this mean that the people do not participate in the Rite of Mass?
Catholics should have a sincere, intense, interior participation in the Mass, raising their minds and hearts to God, uniting themselves with the priest offering the Divine Victim at the altar and offering themselves in unison with Him. Following the words and actions in a Latin-English hand-missal greatly helps one in understanding and appreciating the beauty of the Extraordinary Form of the Rite. Singing at Mass, making the Sign of the Cross, kneeling and other physical forms of participation are important to our worship, because God gave us body, made in His image and likeness, so that we might worship Him in our bodies. But the ultimate participation is achieved in the spiritual participation of the Mass, which finds its culmination in the worthy reception of Holy Communion.
Vatican II, in its decree on the Sacred Liturgy, envisaged the preservation of Latin in the Mass. We cannot conclude that Latin is a barrier to full, conscious, and active, participation. The documents of Vatican II clearly give evidence to this fact. Nor did the fathers of Vatican II did not consider Mass offered ad orientem (i.e. toward the East) as an obstacle to the full and active participation which they advocated. Even the General Instruction in the 2003 Roman Missal (G.I.R.M.) indicates that the priest is only required to face the people at specific moments in the Mass and not throughout.
If one has a Latin-Vernacular Hand Missal (i.e. Latin-English) one can easily follow the prayers and readings of Holy Mass. Deep profundity in the Mass requires spiritual participation that transcends all other forms of external participation. -From Sancta Missa
In the Traditional Latin Mass, do the people sing or say the prayers with the priest?
Just as in the celebration of the Mass in the Ordinary Form (post-Vatican II Mass), the priest alone will recite many of the prayers of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (1962 Missale Romanum). At a High Mass where the choir sings the Ordinary (unchanging) and Proper (changing) chants, the people are encouraged to sing the responses (i.e. Amen, Et cum spiritu tuo, Dignum et justum est, etc.), and if possible, the Ordinary (i.e. Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei). At a Low Mass the people can sing hymns along with the choir. At a special form of the Low Mass called the Dialogue Mass, which is celebrated in some places, the people may also recite some of the responses with the altar boys.
A newcomer to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass will notice that at a High Mass, the choir often sings while the priest is quietly praying at the altar. Because it typically takes the choir a longer time to sing its part than it takes for the priest to say his part, the two will overlap. -From Sancta Missa
In the Extraordinary Form, why does the priest pray in a quiet voice?
In the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass (Usus Antiquor), the priest uses three tones of voice (low, medium, and high). The low voice is used, for example, during the prayers surrounding the Consecration and the Consecration itself, as the priest quietly prays the words of consecration, in which the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. The medium voice is used by the priest at the altar to be heard the sacred ministers and servers who are near the altar and the high voice is employed to give the texts of the Mass that are heard by all.
It is, therefore, well to follow along in the hand-missal so that one might meditate upon the prayers of the Mass. The silence experienced during the Canons of the Mass is a hushed awe in which the faithful render thanksgiving unto the Father for the mystery of Christ’s supreme sacrifice made present again on the altar. When a newcomer attends the Usus Antiquor according to the 1962 Missale Romanum for the first time, they are, moreover, surprised that the most important part of the Mass is accomplished in silence. Through the silence of Mass, we enter into a contemplative and sacred silence, over which the Holy Ghost is hovering. This anointed silence in the Traditional Latin Mass is a timeless silence pointing to eternity. -From Sancta Missa
What is the Structure of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form?
The first part of the Mass is a kind of introductory service, made up of chants, prayers and lessons (i.e. readings from Holy Scripture) — namely, the Introit, the Kyrie, the Collect, the Epistle or Lesson, and the Gospel. On certain days the Gloria and the Nicene Creed are added.
This first part of the Mass is called the Mass of the Catechumens, while the remaining part is called the Mass of the Faithful. These names have their origin in the discipline of the early Church. In the first ages of Christianity, persons desiring to become Christians were obliged to undergo a course of instructions preparatory to baptism. They were called “catechumens,” a Greek word meaning “one whose is being instructed.” Catechumens, not yet fully initiated in the teachings and practices of Christianity, were customarily dismissed before the Offertory.
Likewise public sinners who had not yet been absolved were ordered to leave the church before the Offertory. The Sacrifice of the Mass was considered too holy for the presence of notorious sinners; likewise, it was thought to be too mysterious for catechumens. Only those who were baptized, — “the Faithful” — could take part in the actual Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Church, during the course of centuries, modified her discipline in this regard, and all are now permitted to remain.
The Mass is one continuous action, reproducing in a mysterious way the Life, Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. The structure of the Mass is as follows:
§ The Preparation – beginning with the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the Introit, Kyrie and Gloria.
§ The Instruction — including the Collect, the Epistle, Gradual, Alleluia, (or Tract, and on certain feasts the Sequence), the Gospel (usually followed by a sermon), and the Credo.
§ The Offertory — which includes the Offertory antiphon, the offering of bread, the pouring of water and wine into the chalice, the offering of the chalice, the washing of the hands, the prayer to the Blessed Trinity, the “Orate fratres” and the Secret.
§ The Consecration — including the Preface and the Canon of the Mass, embracing the prayer “Te igitur,” the Memento of the living, the Communicantes and the other two prayers before the Consecration and Elevation, the three prayers after the Consecration, the Commemoration for the Dead, the “Nobis quoque peccatoribus” and the Minor Elevation.
§ The Communion — including the Pater Noster, the Libera, the Agnus Dei, the three prayers before the Communion, the “Domine non sum dignus,” and the Communion of the Priest and the Faithful.
§ The Thanksgiving–which includes the Communion antiphon, the Post- communion prayer, the “Ite missa est,” and the Last Gospel. – From Sancta Missa
How can I recognize the celebration of the Mass according to the Extraordinary Form?
When the priest enters the sanctuary, he begins the Holy Sacrifice with the immortal words Introibo ad altare Dei (‘I will go unto the altar of God’). Hearing these treasured words, every Catholic knows he is present at one of the oldest and most venerable rites of Mass in the Catholic Church.
In the Traditional Latin Mass, the Church sets forth in a fully explicit way her doctrine of the Communion of Saints. The doctrine of the intercession of Our Lady and the Saints whose merits can win grace for our souls is given frequent prominence in the Ordinary and the Propers of the traditional Latin Mass.
The Offertory prayers of the Ancient Form of the Roman Mass are now unique in the Church for their doctrinal richness, employing sacrificial terminology of great rhetorical beauty. This is an important spiritual preparation for the moment of Consecration and has been handed on to us as a precious heritage of Catholic piety through the centuries.
The Consecration is the culminating point of the Traditional Latin Mass. It is because of the supremely sacred nature of this Sacrifice that it is celebrated with solemnity and devout veneration. All the words and gestures of the priest are meticulously regulated by the rubrics (laws) of the Mass, which include multiple genuflections, to ensure the greatest possible reverence in worship.
The 1962 Missale Romanum omits nothing that may serve to remind us that the Sacrifice of the Mass is the Sacrifice on Calvary mystically re-enacted on the altar. Hence the many Signs of the Cross made over the Sacred Species and the eastward orientation of the priest towards the altar of Sacrifice. – From Sancta Missa
Why does the traditional Latin Mass have so many restrictions and regulations in it?
The Mass is the sacrifice of Calvary made present on our altars in an un-bloody manner (Council of Trent). Therefore, as the pre-eminent Liturgy of the Church, it is of utmost importance that its celebration by regulated liturgical law.
All the prayers, ceremonies, laws and customs that have developed organically over time exist to guarantee its stabile and unchanging quality. These liturgical regulations (i.e. rubrics) provide the clergy a clear guide to the reverent celebration of the Liturgy. Furthermore, St. Thomas Aquinas stated that: “It is absurd and a detestable shame, that we should suffer those traditions to be changed, which we have received from the fathers of old.” During the English Reformation Catholics would say: “It is the Mass that matters.” – From Sancta Missa
At the Tridentine Latin Mass, does the priest distribute Holy Communion under the form of wine?
At the Traditional Latin Mass Holy only the priest who celebrates the Mass consumes the Most Precious Blood. So at the Traditional Latin Mass the faithful receive the Sacred Host. But it is of the utmost importance to understand that when the faithful receive the Sacred Host they receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, truly and substantially present in every particle of the Holy Eucharist. Here is an article you may find interesting to read to learn about the history of this:
Who should receive Holy Communion at the Traditional Latin Mass?
To worthily receive Holy Communion, Catholics who are well disposed (i.e. fasting for one hour, not in a state of mortal sin and desirous of receiving the Holy Eucharist), approach the communion rail to receive the Sacred Host on the tongue. The prayer that the priest says in distributing Holy Communion is different than in the Ordinary Form. The priest prays, “May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting. Amen.” As the priest says the “Amen” at the end of the prayer the communicant opens his or her mouth as the priest places the Sacred Host on his or her tongue.
Catholics who are not prepared to receive the Holy Eucharist as well as non-Catholics are encouraged to make a spiritual communion by uniting their hearts to our Lord by prayer. -From Sancta Missa
Why is the Sacred Host received kneeling and on the tongue?
Although the practice of receiving in the hand was common in the first centuries many abuses crept in, and desecration of the Sacred Host became more frequent. Increasing reverence and respect for the Blessed Sacrament led to reception kneeling and on tongue. -From Sancta Missa
Is this Rite of the Mass permitted by the Pope?
When Pope Paul VI introduced his New Rite of Mass in 1969 he gave permission for the continuation of the Tridentine Rite in England and Wales, for example. Many priests were accorded the right to continue celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass, as well, and then, in 1984 Pope John Paul extended that permission to the whole world. In 1988 the Pontiff asked the Bishops to be generous in the application of the permission.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged that every priest has a right to offer this form of the Mass, which he calls the Extraordinary Form. -From Sancta Missa
Why is the Mass said in Latin?
The Catholic Faith, which is so beautifully expressed in the Holy Mass, was spread by the Apostles and by the early Christian missionaries throughout the Roman Empire. The common language of the Roman Empire was Latin, but in the East, Greek was the vulgar tongue. Thus in the Roman Rite, while both Greek and Latin were used as liturgical languages, the preference was eventually given to the use of Latin, while some use of the Greek was maintained.
It has been the consistent teaching of many Popes, moreover, that Latin has special qualities as a language of worship in the Roman Rite, giving us a common identity with our ancestors in the Faith.
Latin is a symbol of the visible universality and unity of the Church that helps preserve a bond of unity with our common center, Rome, 'the Mother and Teacher of all nations'. -From Sancta Missa
As the languages of the different nations changed over the years, why did the Church cling to Latin, which is a dead language?
Because modern languages continue to develop, the meanings of the words evolve. For example, although the present vernacular Mass dates from only 1970, a new translation is already being prepared, amongst great disagreement as to the appropriate translation. Latin, by contrast, as a dead language, is unchanging and gives the standard to which all translations are referred. It therefore greatly helps to maintain unity of worship and prayer. Latin preserves the orthodox and unchanging meaning of the Mass from the danger of re-interpretation, which is possible when changes occur too frequently. -From Sancta Missa
Do other Christians use a dead language for sacred worship?
Latin is well adapted for the services of the Catholic Church, because it is both venerable and mysterious. It is venerable on account of its origin and its antiquity; it is the language in which the praises of God resounded from the lips of Christians during the first centuries. It is a sublime and solemn thought that the holy sacrifice is now offered in the same language, nay, with the very same words as it was offered in times long past in the obscurity of the Catacombs. There is also an element of mystery about the Latin tongue; it is a dead language, not understood by the people. The use of an unknown tongue conveys to the mind of the vulgar that something is going on upon the altar, which is past their comprehension, that a mystery is being enacted. In the first centuries of Christianity a curtain used to be drawn during the time from the Sanctus to the communion, to conceal the altar from the sight of the worshippers. This is now no longer done, but the use of an unknown tongue has something of the same effect, by inspiring the awe into the minds of the common people. It is a striking fact that Israelites and pagans made use, in the worship of the Deity, of a language with which the multitude were not conversant. The Israelites made use of the ancient Hebrew, the language of the patriarchs; we do not find Our Lord or the apostles censuring this practice. The Greek Church, both orthodox and schismatic, employs the old form of the Greek language for divine service, not that spoken at present. The same language is in use in the Russian (so-called orthodox) Church, not the vernacular, which is a Slavonic dialect. -From Sancta Missa
Can Latin in the Liturgy help attain unity in the Church?
The use of Latin is a means of maintaining unity in the Church, as well as uniformity in her services. For the use of one and the same language in Catholic churches all over the surface of the globe, is a connecting link binding them to Rome, and making one nations which are separated by diversity of tongues. Latin, as the language of the Church, unites all nations, making them members of God's family, of Christ's kingdom. The altar on earth is a type of the heavenly Jerusalem where a great multitude of all peoples and tongues stand around the throne, praising God. Moreover, the use of Latin, the language of ancient Rome, is a constant reminder of our dependence on the Holy Roman Church; it recalls to our minds involuntarily the fact that thence, from the Mother Church, the first missionaries came who brought the faith to our shores. -From Sancta Missa
Can Latin in the Liturgy help preserve the Catholic Faith against heresies?
The use of a dead language is a safeguard against many evils; it is not subject to change, but remains the same to all time. Languages in daily use undergo a continual process of change; words drop out, or their meaning is altered as years go on. If a living language were employed in divine worship heresies and errors would inevitably creep into the Church. -From Sancta Missa
Why is the Mass in Latin if I don’t understand it?
There are numerous reasons why Mass in the Extraordinary Form is offered in Latin. Professor of Philosophy at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, D.Q. McInerny, provides the most direct answer to this question: “Because this is what the Church herself wants.” In the very first document published by the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, whose subject was the liturgy we read: “The Use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (SC 36. 1). Recently canonized Saint Pope John XXIII who convened the Second Vatican Council wrote an Apostolic Constitution, “On the Promotion of the Study of Latin” wrote: Latin serves as “a most effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the past and future in wonderful continuity . . . Latin is the Church’s living language.”
Saint John XXIII further states, that he is “fully determined to restore this language to its position of honor . . . so as to ensure that the ancient and uninterrupted us of Latin be maintained and, where necessary, restored.”
Saint John XXIII in this document also stated that the Church “values especially the Greek and Latin languages in which wisdom itself is cloaked, as it were, in a vesture of gold.” The Holy Spirit chose three languages in which to proclaim Christ as King when no one else would. On the day of His Crucifixion Hebrew, Greek, and Latin were the languages that proclaimed, “Jesus Christ, King of the Jews” on the inscription over the Cross (John 19:19-20). All three of these languages are used in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
Latin is particularly salutary on account of its universality and its unchanging nature. The use of Latin in Catholicism across the globe fosters unity and establishes among all the Faithful in the Universal Church a link to Rome making one family of God out of many nations separated by diversity of tongues, ethnicities, and races (2). Saint John XXIII wrote: “Of its very nature, Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples” and “it gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all . . . For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time, of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority.”
Moreover, the mass is more of an action than a prayer (2). What is more important is to know what the priest and us are doing – and the people join the priest more in action than in word (2). Thomas à Kempis in his book My Imitation of Christ advises us the proper manner to approach the altar: “Christ: so neither can it please Me whatever you give, as long as you offer not yourself. Offer yourself to Me, and give your whole self for God and your offering will be accepted.” In the Old Law, the people sometimes could not see what the Hebrew priest was doing, much less hear anything being said, yet they joined in the action of the priest with his own prayers, each for his own needs (2). Similarly, the people who assist at Mass unite with the priest in the one Great Act of offering the Most High the saving Victim, like Mary, St. John, and Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross (2): “If, therefore, you desire to be My disciple, offer up yourself to Me with all your affections”(6). – From Shower of Roses Blog
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