Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Basic Q and A for the Latin Mass Part II No. 1: Breakdown of the Parts of the Mass

Q and A Part II: What is Going On at the Latin Mass?

Hello Everyone. 

Here is part two of the Q & A of the Latin Mass. While many of you are used to the Novus Ordo, due to the way the liturgy is carried out in the Latin Mass, you might think you are seeing something completely different that isn't a Catholic Mass. Well, it is a Catholic Mass, just not what you are used to with the Latin Rite Novus Ordo. 

To give you an overall idea of what is happening in the Extraordiary Form liturgy so you aren`t totally off guard when you attend, I`ll be breaking down the Mass in parts according to the Baronius Press 1962 Roman Missal. Each Part will have a name, whether it is present in both forms of the Roman Rite or removed, your cues if any, what is happening generally, and then some description of what is going on and any relevant notes (e.g. better meaning,  Scripture correlations ...).

Since this will turn into a huge post, I'll break it down into each sub-section. 

The Parts are as follows:
NO. 1
The Asperges (only before High/Solenmn Mass on Sunday)
I. Mass of the Catechumens
A. Preparatory prayers at the Foot of the Altar
1. The Sign of the Cross
2. The Psalm 42 - Judica Me.
3. The Public Confession
4. The Priest Goes up to the Altar.

NO. 2
5. The Introit
6. The Kyrie
7. The Gloria in Excelsis
8. The Collects
9. The Epistle
10. The Gradual
11. The Gospel
12. The Credo

NO. 3
II. Mass of The Faithful/Canons
A. Offretory to Preface
13. The offretory verse
14. The offretory of the Bread and Wine
15. The Incensing of the Offerings of the Solemn Mass
16. The Washing of the Hands
17. The Prayer to the Most Holy Trinity
18. The Orate Frates
19. The Secrets

NO. 4
B. Preface to the Pater Noster
20. The Preface
21. The Sanctus
22. The prayers before the Consecration
23. The Prayers at Consecration
24. The Prayers after consecration

NO. 5
C. Pater Noster Till Ablutions
25. The Pater Noster
26. Libera Nos and Fraction of Host
27. Mixture of Body and Blood
28. Agnus Dei
29. Prayers for Holy Communion
30. Prayers at Communion and Communion of priest and faithful.
31. Prayers during ablutions
32. Communion-verse
33. Postcommunion Prayers

NO. 6
III. Conclusion of Mass
34. Dismissal
35. Blessing
36. Last Gospel
[37. Low Mass - Prayers from Leo XIII]


Does this happen in Novus Ordo? Rarely. Only on specific occasions or parts of the N.O. Liturgical Calendar. 

Cues for Laity: The laity stands for the Asperges.

General Gist: The Priest sprinkles clergy, inferior ministers, and the laity with holy water. 


  • During the Asperges, a reference to Psalm 51 verse 7 (NRSV-CE: "7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.) is used in the text, almost verbatim:
  • Hyssop is a tufted plant which the Jews use for ritual sprinkling (9, Latin-English Booklet Missal)
  • Holy Water is a sacramental, the devout use of which is able to remit venial sins. (9, Latin-English Booklet Missal)
  • Catechism Reference to Sacramentals, CCC 1667-1679: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c4a1.htm  
  • Catechism Reference to Holy Water tied into our Baptisms: CCC ``694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As "by one Spirit we were all baptized," so we are also "made to drink of one Spirit." 27 Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified 28 as its source and welling up in us to eternal life. 29``

I. Mass of the Catechumens Part A

I. Preparatory Prayers at the Foot of the Altar

1. The Sign of the Cross
Does this happen in the Novus Ordo? Yes. 

Cues for the Laity: You will stand upon hearing the sanctuary bell ring, or if the choir begins to sing at a Missa Cantata/High Mass or Missa Solemnis/Solemn Mass. Low Mass - Immediately after the priest and server take their place, then you will kneel till the Gospel. 

General Gist - N/A

  • Each time one makes the Cross, they are revisiting an essential core Catholic belief: That we believe in the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: 3 divine persons with one divine nature
  • The Sign of the Cross is done by the priest 52 times during the Mass, the emblem of the bloddy sacrifice on the Cross, which the Mass represents and renews. (11,  Latin-English Booklet Missal).
  • The priest begins to speak Latin at this point
2. Psalm 42 - Judica Me
Does this Happen in the Novus Ordo? No, this was stripped from the N.O. 

Cues for the Laity: Low Mass - You kneel until the Gospel. High/Solemn Mass- You will be Kneeling

General Gist - The priest recites a number of parts of Psalm 42, with the server responding after the priest says something. In a Solemn mass this will be done with the Master of Ceremonies (head server) and the Deacon and Subdeacon. 

Relevance - 

  • The Priest alternates with the server in reciting this Psalm to express his desire, joy, and confidence in going to the Altar of the Sacrifice (900, The Daily Missal and Liturgical Missal ...)
  • This psalm is chosen in particular because of the line introibo ad altare Dei: I will go unto the Altar of God. (3, The Holy Mass)
  • When the priest says the Psalm, it refers to Our Lord, and it is in His name, that the Priest recites it. (3, The Holy Mass)
  • The Psalm is, of course, like most or all others, composed by David, the great king of Israel from Biblical times and Scripture. He composed this Psalm in his youth, hence the lines about his youth in it in Latin. Furthermore, these parts are chosen to reflect the foresight of David/history of out salvation that are present, especially in the the Lord is our Light and Truth: Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam. (3, The Holy Mass)
  • The bottom line of why our Priest is asking God for his aid in meeting Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is that Man is a sinful creature, unworthy and of nothing. The Priest is determined to humble himself and confess his sinfulness to the Lord and thus needs God's aid to carry out the Holy Mass, and further to repent for his (and collectively, our) venial sins. (3, The Holy Mass)

3. The Public Confession - Priest's and Server's Confiteor
Does this Happen in the Novus Ordo? Yes, though it's abridged, even with the New Translation's longer form. Cool part is in the Novus Ordo we are at "through my fault x 2, through my most grevious fault to (decently but not heavily) beat our chests near our hearts with a closed fist, as is done in the EF with the Novus Ordo. Our Novus Ordo confiteor is now closer to the exact Latin translation of the EF mass.

Cues for the Laity: Low Mass - You kneel until the Gospel. High/Solemn Mass- You will be kneeling 

General Gist -

  • The priest recites a public confiteor, where he confesses to us (his fellow Man) and all the Saints, Mary, and the Holy Trinity for his sins (and collectively ours too, for venial sins). 
  • The server or the other Clergy + MC follow(s) after the Priest. They kneel to either his right side, or both sides if it is a Solemn Mass/2 server Low Mass. 
Relevance - 

  • The Confiteor is a memorial of Our Lord's sorrow in Gethsemani when he was experiencing the Agony in the Garden. We also confess our sins through our fault that doing this with all our hearts, we may be confident that all our sins will be forgiven immediately at this beginning of Mass, provided we go to Confession later for Mortal sin (though ideally we do this prior to receive the Sacrament of Eucharist worthily) (7-8, I Like Mass)
  • The recitation produces the forgiveness of venial sins, provided we are contrite for them. (5, The Holy Mass)
  • When the Confiteor is done, besides the Priest or server availing himself to the Holy Trinity, Mary, and the Saints, he avails himself to his fellow human, all through his own fault with his free will in the phrase ``mea culpa x 2, mea maxima culpa`` which translates to ``through my fault x 2, through my own grievous fault`` he also strikes his breast three times to testify to his inward repentance while saying those words. (6-7, The Holy Mass). 

4. The Priest Goes up to the Altar
Does This Happen in the Novus Ordo? No. The priest is usually at the "presider's chair" or stand when he says the confiteor in the Novus Ordo.

Cues for the Laity - At all levels of the Latin Mass, the laity kneel at this part.

General Gist - "with a prayer for pardon on his lips the Priest goes up to the Altar which he kisses ... begging for the intercession of the Saints whose relics repose in the altar stone." (906, The Daily Missal and Liturgical Missal ...). The priest will bow down over the altar and say a prayer over the relics in the altar stone, and if the Mass is a Solemn Mass, the first incensing of the Mass will take place, requiring the aid of the other clergy, the Master of Ceremonies, the thurifer, and a boatbearer if there is one.


  • The priest will say ``Oremus`` in Latin or ``let us pray`` before the prayer. He does so as this is preceeding a prayer he will make to God. He lifts his hands to God, in Heaven, to whom he will speak.  (10-11, The Holy Mass
  • When he is praying in a hushed tone a secret prayer, his thought is to be all pure or to go up to the altar with a pure soul (15, Latin-English Booklet Missal) for as he says, he is entering in to the Holy of Holies (historically, the most holiest part of the old Jewish temple, that kept the Ark of the Covenant), asking that everyone`s sins be taken away by all the saints and for forgiveness.  (10-11, The Holy Mass
  • He prays the iniquities prayer again, a doubling, because he`s closer to God, and the closer you get, any little sin is like an intolerable blot on the soul. (10-11, The Holy Mass
  • The reason that the Saints are associated with the prayers at this time, including kissing the altar stone and the prayers over it, is that the early church offered Mass on the tombs of the martyrs, associating their sacrifice with that of Christ`s  (10-11, The Holy Mass).
Solemn Mass: Incensing of the Altar
  • When the incensing of the altar occurs at the Solemn Mass, this takes one back to the Old Testament, Leviticus, when it is mentioned that incense was used in divine worship. The New Testament biblical reference for incense in the Mass comes from the book of Revelation/Apocalypse Chapter 8, verse 3, where he saw an Angel standing, with a golden censer, near the Altar, on which was the Lamb (Jesus) and 24 elders around him. The prayers of the Saints are symbolized by incense. 
  • Since the Mass is our highest form of prayer, under our Holy Mother the Church that wishes to do as Heaven does (13, the Holy Mass) therefore the incense also symbolizes the priest's and our prayers going up to the Saints and the others in Heaven. 
  • When the priest blessed the incense, it raises the incensing action to the supernatural order. (13, The Holy Mass)


Works Cited
1. Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei. Latin-English Booklet Missal for Praying the Traditional Mass. Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei: Glenview, Illinois, USA. 2008.

2. The Ordinary of the Mass. The Daily Missal and Liturgical Missal with Vespers For Sundays and Feasts From the Editio Typica of the Roman Missal and Breviary, 1962 With Supplements Containing The Additional Masses for Englang and Wales, Scotland, United States and Australasia. Summorum Pontificum Edition. Baronius Press: London. 2009. 

3. Gueranger, D.P. The Holy Mass. Baronius Press Limited: London, United Kingdom. 2005.

4. Sheil, Rev. L. S.J. I Like Mass. Irish Messenger Office: Dublin, Ireland. 1951.

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