I'd figure that before I start adding specific altar serving sections on the Latin Mass, there are likely curious people who don't even know the basics of the Latin Mass itself, including servers. So I'm going to do in this part a Basic Q and A for the Mass, based off of a primer I did for a friend, and in the other part I'll break down each part of the Mass (according to the parts in the Baronius 2010 reprint of the 1962 Missal) and give a brief description of what is taking place.
Part 1: Basic Q and A for the Latin Mass
1) So what is this Latin Mass thing I keep hearing about? I go to Mass on Sundays (or occasionally errr ...)
2) Um, wow, a Mass in Latin and fancy stuff .... um, before I even Set out, what should I know? I'm nervous already thinking about it ....
- - For one, you are participating in a renewal of the faith, in the Mass of many of the Church’s saints, martyrs, etc. of all time.
- Most of the Mass is in Latin, save the re-reading of the epistle and Gospel and the Sermon/Homily, but there are translation aids available online or at the parish for certain prayers and the regular order of the Mass.
- Many who have experienced this Mass have come away joyful, and some even immediately switch over to the EF/TLM and never go back to the regular Mass unless out of Sunday obligation, even children, due to its awesome reverence, and allowance of private and concentrated prayer.
- Confession is usually offered prior to Mass during regular Sunday Latin Masses.
- The general atmosphere is one of reverence, quiet, and contemplation. Further the crowd for regular (not Sunday Masses) low TLMs are usually elders and the more devoted people to that form. However, the Sunday crowd is a mix of all ages, but is especially becoming popular among younger people, say 35 yrs and under.
- This form of mass also tends to be one for those who are serious and joyful about their Catholic Faith, or who seek more spiritually fulfilling worship (not received usually at parishes),
- With the MAJORITY of TLM goers, you'll find they are well-meaning and faithful Catholics who are proud of their faith and actually practice it fully, and happily participate in the Mass and believe all that is taught by the Magisterium.
- As a first timer, be prepared to see things that are rare, or not the norm like the Novus Ordo mass you usually attend.
3) So you say it's not like my normal mass, that Novus Ordo thingee??? How so? Is this Mass “different” from the Novus Ordo, or what I get usually every
- A canonically valid and licit Mass, said by a priest with proper faculties (under the Diocesan Bishop) with the proper form, matter, and intention, is sacramentally valid.. In other words as long as those conditions applied, your Novus Ordo OR the Latin Mass/EF is acceptable to fulfil your Sunday Mass obligation.
- Furthermore, the new mass came from the old, though abridged with the removal of certain parts. Some parts will be familiar to you, such as the Glory to God, (ad gloriem majroiem dei) the Our Father, etc. Direct Latin to English translations are present in dual-language missals/missalettes.
- There are altar servers who do some of the same actions as in the Novus Ordo (e.g. carry up cruets to the side of the altar and wash the priest`s hands, bell ringing, etc.) However they do much more than that ....
- You are receiving the Eucharist at the Mass. The way you do is different though ...
- Most of the mass will be said in the TRUE language of the Roman Catholic Church: Latin.
- There are more overall actions on parts of the servers, the priests, etc. They will move and perform the mass in a physically different manner than the Novus Ordo. (specifics in later posts).
- There is more "action" in a sense in the laity at the higher forms of the Masses, in terms of sitting, standing, etc.
- Unlike our Novus Ordo, the EF focuses on more of a “vertical” type of prayer with the clergy (particularly the priest) offering up our prayers on our behalf to Christ, and we unite our prayers with those of the priest to God.
- There are also more parts to the overall Mass liturgy, sadly that were taken out of the Novus Ordo Mass that may be unfamiliar to you, e.g. Prayers at the foot of the altar, the gradual, the introit, additional prayers said at the end of Low Masses as dictated by Leo XIII, etc.
4) So I don't want to embarrass myself or have some old person or stodgy priest yell at me. What do I do so I can come prepared?
- First, you got to have a spirit of openness and sound mind. Obviously if you are biased against new forms of CANONICALLY VALID AND LICIT forms of worship in the Church, you will not be receptive to this experience.
- DO NOT believe the rumours, lies, etc. that many liberal challengers, be they laity or clergy, throw against the EF/TLM to deter people from participating. In other words, go in with a clean slate. Do realize however that there is always a few "rotten apples in any bunch" but they will likely be identifiable and pointed out to you once you start to get involved. If you do happen to find problems with the priests, choir, inferior ministers, etc. then either support the TLM by being laity in the pews, or do not support that community and find another one who embraces a more charitable spirit to the Latin Mass.
- Get ready to be used to praying in quiet and silence a bit more vs the noise and clamour of the Novus Ordo. Also it's not a social hall, so please be courteous of the main body of the Church and others around you.
- Borrow an old 1962 Missal or prayer book that coincide with the Latin Mass from one’s parents/grandparents, if you can.
- There are also smaller red missals that might be for sale in the city or at the Latin Masses (usually $4-5 CDN). Do buy one if you are planning on coming to a few, or would like the standard (non-changing) parts of the Latin Mass. The Missalette also has other prayers, has notes on the side briefly talking about individual parts of the Mass or servers'/priests' actions and cues for the Laity as to sit, stand, etc.
- If you like you could bring a rosary, but I have not seen anyone of the TLM bring them to the Latin Mass and pray with them DURING the Mass. Before or after though happens frequently, usually in the form of a prayer group.
- If you plan on coming more than a couple times a year, and/or to Solemn TLMs, the best option is a 1962 bulk Missal and there are a few reprints that are for sale on the internet and around the EF parishes/communities in the city.
- The most well noted is the FSSP's Baronius Press Missal, and that "other group's" printing company, Angelus Press.
- Other older one's are around too like old St. Joseph's Missals (pre 1965), Fr. Lasange's, St. Andrew's Missals, etc. though the best access will be to the reprints from the FSSP and Angelus Press.
- I personally use AND ENDORSE the FSSP Baronius Press Missal, of which the FSSP is in canonical standing with the Vatican (a.k.a. approved).
Appropriate Attire and the dreaded “Fashion Police”
- The majority of people dressing up in minimum business casual, all the way up to the “standard:” suit for men; skirt and feminine top for women (full leg coverings optional but desired.)
- For a first timer, more likely this is what you would opt to wear: MEN> a minimum of a golf shirt or long sleeve shirt (tie-less) and slacks or chinos with decent shoes (NOT sneakers); WOMEN> a feminine modest top with little to no cleavage (no HUGE V-necks or tightness around the breasts), and feminine slacks with flats or proper heel-sandals in summer, NO flip-flops.
- For women, just be mindful in some TLM communities of a few weirdos that think pants on woman = sinful. Bleech. This is damn wrong to think so, but most diocesan parishes, lay-organized efforts, and FSSP, ICKSP communities won't scold you publicly for doing so. They know that kind of nit-picking is what kills the Latin Mass.
- You are showing your respect and reverence for the Lord in the tabernacle, as well as for the sacrifice that is re-presented in the Mass for all our sins that our Lord carried out.
- Here’s an analogy: Let's say that dinner you will take your girlfriend too is a private invite to 24 Sussex drive in Ottawa with the Prime Minister and his/her family. The private family has world-renowned chefs cooking the most amazing food for your stomach. Are you and your girlfriend going to show up in sweats and a tee shirt, when your other guests have dressed appropriate for the occasion to give respect and dignity to all parties involved? The same principle applies spiritually for the Mass, where the most spiritual food in the form of the Consecrated Host and Blood are offered and consumed in the Holy Mass of all time.
- Not necessarily by heart. It helps though. The language should not just be heard as “nostalgic symbols” or a sign of counter-(church)culture rebellion.
- As mentioned before, likely there will be offered “programs” or missalettes for sale/donation with the bulk of the non-changing part of the Mass called the “Ordinary”. This is the same for all levels of the EF, (Low, High, or Solemn Mass.)
- Most of the time the priest doing the Gospel will say the reading (Epistle) and the Gospel in English after the reading in Latin, and the homily is in the vernacular language (English).
- If you have a 1962 bulk Missal, You’ll have everything, albeit you will have to navigate to different parts of the Missal, that is from the Ordinary, to the specific readings or prayers, back to the Ordinary, a number of times.
- For non-frequent attendees, the best strategy would be to buy a missalette with the Ordinary in it in Latin and English and to take the handout or the mini “programme” with the readings/prayers for the day for those parts if you are an occasional attendee. If you go at least once a month, get the bulk 1962 Missal. The bulk missal has additional prayers and devotions too, with many in Latin. For example, if one purchases a Baronius Press Missal, they will even have the prayers of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy in there, with Latin and English.
5) Okay, what should I know when I actually arrive at Mass?
- Arrive hopefully at least a ½ hour before Mass begins.
- Usually, but not always, there is a priest available (at least 15 min before Mass) for confessions. People take their reception of the Eucharist SERIOUSLY as a Catholic is obligated to do so. The rules are actually well known and taught openly in the EF communities.
- To do so, one must:
- Be a baptized Catholic (not Christian), in the state of sanctifying grace and
- Free of mortal sin (some are are listed in the Catechism, others require application of the three conditions for Mortal sin: Willingly do it, knowledge, and objectively the act is of grave matter.) If one has mortal sin, to consume the Host is a sacrilege and in essence “digs a deeper hole for you” for your soul. If you die without sanctifying grace, you will go to Hell (this has NEVER been abolished from the teachings of the Church and it is in the Catechism). So therefore, you must put yourself in the state of sanctifying grace to receive. If one doesn’t receive confession for this matter, many EF people are reverent to the Eucharist and will not receive at that time and offer up spiritual communion (AS ONE SHOULD!).
- If this is your first time, or even second or third time, arriving early to Mass will help you get used to the atmosphere and you can also pray to Jesus before the Mass begins. At the very least, you can watch the servers set up the altar for the EF.
- If you can, buy a missalette (usually a red one) with the ordinary in it, but at the very least, take the Latin-English “programme” or the handout with the changing prayers for that day`s Mass.
- The Mass will begin when the Sanctuary bells are rung or if there is no sanctuary bell, the Choir will start singing with the servers in place to process to the altar.
- The Mass, like the Novus Ordo, is divided into the two halves: The Mass of the Catechumens (MOC), as they DID not stay for the second half in Church History (which is The Liturgy of the Word in the N.O.), and the Mass of the Canons (MOCa) (which is the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the N.O.)
- In the MOC:
- It mainly consists of multiple prayers including remission for sins, as well as the main readings of the Mass and serves to prepare us for reception of the Eucharist by bestowing unto us the Word of the Lord, and through the Gospel and Homily, the teachings of the Lord.
- The Homily may also touch on facets of the Catechism or even moral theology.
- BIG WARNING!!!: The Homily will likely be longer than an N.O. at High Masses, and can and likely touch upon hard to swallow teachings of Christ and the Catholic Church. It is not intended to appeal to you, it is meant as spiritual reflection or catechesis on the feast day and if needed, major moral issues, counters to anti-Church arguments, etc. You will not be fed “fluff” here and the priests actually mean business
- When the Gloria is sung at higher forms of the Mass/Sundays, you might be standing and sitting in rotation, which will depend on the celebrant/priest when he stands and sits.
- There is only one reading of either the Old Testament or non-Gospel New Testament Scripture in Latin (first, before English) in the EF. The N.O. has two readings. This is really the only disadvantage the EF has.
- Like the Novus Ordo, you will do the three crosses of the thumb at "Sancti evangelium ________" when the gospel is read.
- The Creed (Credo) is usually recited by the priests at the altar, and also the choir. Normally people don’t say the creed out loud like in the N.O., however thanks to Summorum Pontificum and with more lax EF societies/communities/parishes, you might sing it with the choir. Ask someone who`s a regular what they do.
- You will KNEEL at the words “Est Incarnatus est” until “Homo Factus Est” during the Creed.
- Like the NO, this is the part of the Mass, where you re-experience the sacrifice that Christ did on Calvary, albeit in an unbloody form. The bread and wine are consecrated into HIS body and blood in this part. Many of the basic, key parts are similar to the N.O:
- There is more incensing of the altar in higher forms of the Mass.
- Much of this part of the mass is said in silence amongst the laity, though the priest is praying and doing his thing in quiet speech. Generally, this part of the Mass is where one offers up their personal intentions or prayers in the silence.
- When the priest elevates the host for consecration, you say silently, “My Lord and My God.”
- When the priest elevates the chalice, you say silently “Be Mindful, O Lord, of thy creature, whom thou hast redeemed by thy most precious blood.”
- The clergy, servers, and even the people at one point, always in high and solemn masses, will be incensed. When they incense you, you bow before they perform the action, and after. You bow when they bow with just your head.
- COMMUION FOR THE LAITY: This is the biggest, difference you will perform, and hear complaints about. In the EF/TLM, communion is received on the tongue. No protesting or complaining will change that. You will be likely refused if you try to do it with hands only (unless you are lucky that you get a non-caring priest or he’s rushing or he’s sympathetic). Also you do not say “Amen” after the priest speaks his phrase in Latin which is NOT “the body of Christ.”
- To Receive the Host Properly, Kneel at the Altar Rail or the first Step up to the altar/in the first row of pews, listen to the priest’s saying, then tilt your head back slightly, stick out your tongue a good distance, let the host touch your tongue, and pull back after a second. Then bring your tongue back into your mouth, close, get up, and go back to your spot.
Well, since you asked ....
- Generally, follow the priest/laity when it comes to whether to sit, stand, kneel, etc. This is your first mass so let the experienced people help you in terms of cues.
- There is NO SIGN OF PEACE amongst the Laity. There is a ``Pax`` but it is done amongst clergy and looks like a sort of fraternal ``bear hug.`` The S.O.P. with us shaking hands and hugging and stuff, was purely a Novus Ordo innovation. There is also NO extending of the hands outward or chaining of hands during the Our Father. The priests are up there, not in the body and this isn't "kumbaya, love and peace, man" time.
- All the music in the higher levels of the EF mass involves organ and choir. Much of it is classical, baroque, or Romantic era compositions, though on occasion there may be a composition by the choirmaster used or placed in there (e.g. Surinder has made some for his TLMs with St. Pats.) However, the music is almost All Gregorian Chant in the Mass, as in Musicam Sacram (1968) Vatican document, it`s got the highest place in the Mass of Church music. There are no folksy songs, no theologically deficient hymns, guitars, piano, etc. The ending hymn might be a classical, but beautiful hymn like Immaculate Mary or Ave Maria on a Marian feast day, that is, something that was created Pre-Vatican II but is still sung between both the NO and the EF. Sorry but you won't be hearing Lord of the Dance or Eagle's Wings here to your liking.
- There are NO female altar servers, as was custom to the EF before the NO came in. Furthermore a chapel, either at Cambridge University or in Cambridge, UK, tried using female altar servers for the EF and was stopped by one of the Vatican’s pontifical councils or Ecclesia Dei (who deal with Latin Mass issues.) The vocal choirs can be of both sexes, though usually males prefer to serve and choirs tend to be made of all females (men are always welcome to contribute a good tenor or base though!).
- There are in most of the EF mass churches an altar rail, or the first row of pews is used for Communion. This IS NOT A SEPARATION or representation of clericalism (Priest rules, you are all peasants in his kingdom) where Priest and servers are better than laity and ``closed off`` from the Mass. Think of it in terms of the sanctuary being Heaven, and the body of the Church being Earth (reality), with the Eucharist being the bridge (via Jesus) or the ``little taste of what is to come in Heaven``. Also historically, even the Jewish temple had separations, even to the Ark of the Covenant where the Commandment tablets were kept.