If this is your first time participating in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass or if you’re reacquainting yourself with the Mass of your childhood know that you are most welcome! This Traditional Mass may be hard to adjust to at first if you are used to the Ordinary Form celebrated in most churches.
Here are a few of the most notable differences you will encounter at the Traditional Form of the Roman Rite. You will notice that the priest will face ‘ liturgical east ’ with you. This is because of a long standing tradition heavily rooted in Scripture that tells us Christ will come again from the east. The priest does not give us his back; instead he humbly offers sacrifice and stands before God on our behalf.
The language spoken is the official language of our Roman Catholic Church. Latin has always been a part of our faith from the very beginning! Three languages are spoken in the Holy Mass. They are Hebrew, Greek and Latin. This is significant because they are the very same three languages that announced to the world that Jesus of Nazareth is king while he was crucified for us.
Finally, you may notice the silence of the Mass can be a bit overwhelming at first. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict often reminds us of the great need for sacred silence. “We live in a society in which it seems that every space, every moment must be 'filled' with initiatives, activity, sound; often there is not even time to listen and dialogue. Dear brothers and sisters! Let us not be afraid to be silent outside and inside ourselves, so that we are able not only to perceive God's voice, but also the voice of the person next to us, the voices of others...Holiness, in fact, never loses its own power of attraction, it is not forgotten, it never goes out of fashion.”
Rev. Brian Patrick Woodrow
Diocesan Liaison to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite
Helpful Hints for Those New to the Traditional Latin Mass
1. Red Latin Mass booklets are provided in most churches each week. Please note that two candles light on the altar signals that it will be a LOW MASS , in which you:
- Kneel from the beginning of the prayers at the foot at the altar (p.10) until the priest proclaims the Gospel at the altar (p.18), when all stand .
- It is often the custom to stand during the Gloria when applicable.
- Sit while the priest reads the Epistle in English.
- Stand while the priest reads the Gospel.
- Sit for the sermon.
- Stand for the Creed (p.20) and genuflect at “Et incarnatus est…”
- Sit from the Offertory (p.22) to the Sanctus (p.28)
- Kneel from the Sanctus (p.28) until the Last Gospel (p.48), when all stand .
- Kneel for the Prayers after Low Mass (p.50).
2. Most churches will provide sheets titled Propers that includes the prayers of the priest which change from week to week. There prayers are the Introit, Collect, Epistle, Gradual, Gospel, Offertory, Secret, Communion and Post Communion. Today’s Propers are different than those printed in the red booklet, as the red booklet includes the Propers from Trinity Sunday as examples only.
3. The Latin responses to the priest (marked S in the red booklet) are made by the altar servers. The priest alone says the Pater Noster (Our Father, on p. 38) except for the last line, which the servers and people recite aloud (“Sed libera nos a malo”).
3. The Canon (which corresponds to the Eucharistic Prayer in the Ordinary Form) is said in a low voice by the priest. The bells are rung by the server before the Consecration, and at each Elevation.
4. Holy Communion is received on the tongue while kneeling at the altar rail. Standing is permitted in the case of a physical disability. The communicant does not respond “Amen”. The priest says the following in Latin to each communicant: “May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thy soul unto life everlasting. Amen.”