Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Basic Q and A for the Latin Mass Part II No. 3: Breakdown of the Parts of the Mass

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

No. 3: From the Offertory to the Secret Prayer

NO. 3
II. Mass of The Faithful/Canons
A. Offertory to Preface
13. The offertory verse
14. The offertory 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

13. The Offertory Verse (Antiphon)

Is this in the Novus Ordo? Yes, though it's not a verse, rather it's an offertory prayer, and well ... not the same as it is said and done in the Novus Ordo.

Cues for the Laity: You are sitting.

General Gist: After the priest does the Dominus Vobiscum, He'll say Oremus and turn to the altar. The Priest says the Verse/antiphon in a hushed/silent tone in the middle of the altar.


  • The offertory marks the beginning of the Mass of the Faithful. 
  • It is a prayer recited by way of preparation for the oblation (119, The Latin Mass Explained). 

14. The Offertory of the Bread and Wine

Is this in the Novus Ordo? Yes. From an altar serving perspective, the carrying up of the other ciboriums, the bread and the wine in cruets, and the lavabo, or washing of the priests' hands are present (note: see how the OF comes from the EF? These actions are but a few minor examples of how the whole OF derives from the EF). 

Cues for the Laity: You will remain seated

General Gist: At this point in the Mass, as like the Novus Ordo, the gifts of the bread and wine are presented on the altar. Prayers and preparations take place, and the altar servers aid in this preparation (as mentioned above), as well as the clergy. During the Low Mass the priest will carry out all necessary preparatory actions. In the Solemn Mass, one will see the distinctions of each clergy member in their actions: The Deacon presents the Paten with the Host upon it to the priest as he cannot consecrate the Host (though he can carry the Holy Eucharist;) the sub-deacon remains further off from the celebrant. In the Solemn Mass, the deacon does the actual pouring of the wine into the chalice, while the sub-deacon will pour the water into the chalice (which is the highest functioning act he does in the Mass) (65, The Holy Mass).

In the Oblation of the Bread:

  • Priest uncovers the Chalice and places it to his right. The chalice veil is removes and the server rings a bell to signal the congregation to unite with the priest in offering to God the gifts of bread and wine (120, The Latin Mass Explained). The pall is taken of the Chalice and stood up against the altar ledge.
  • The Priest takes up the paten with the host and offers it up saying the "Suscipe, Sancte Pater" prayer.
  • He makes the sign of the Cross with the paten, over the corporal (120, The Latin Mass Explained) (a 9-square unfolded cotton cloth), on which rests the host. 

In the Oblation of the Wine:

  • The celebrant goes to the Epistle side of the altar, and pours the water and wine into the chalice from the cruets given by the altar servers (the altar servers kiss these cruets as a sign of love and respect for the sacred minister, the alter Christus.). The priest blesses the water cruet before taking it from the server. The priest says the "Deus, Qui Humanae prayer"
    • Note: In Requiem Masses, the water is not blessed. 
  • The priest returns to the middle of the Altar, the priest takes the chalice and offers it to God. 
  • He makes the sign of the Cross with the chalice, and placing it on the corporal, he covers it with the pall. Bowing down he says the "In spiritu humilitatis" prayer. 
  • The priest will then raise his eyes and extend his hands to ask God to sanctify and bless the sacrifice prepared in the glory of his name (23-25, Latin English Booklet Missal ...)


  • When the host is offered initially to the Eternal Father, it is not consecrated, but this host is immaculatam hostiam (without spot) where allusion is made to the victims [the young lambs] of the Old Testament, which were obliged without blemish, as they were a type of Our Lord, who was one day to appear before us as the Immaculatus. (63, The Holy Mass).
  • The priest mentions in his offering of the bread also pro omnibus circumstantibus, that is on behalf of all here present. He also extends the sacrifice of the Mass to all Christians, living and dead to avail to us and them as a means to procure good things for man, as well as salvation (64, The Holy Mass).
  • When the priest blesses the paten with the sign of the cross and places the Host on the Corporal, it expresses the identity existing between the Sacrifice of the Mass and that of Calvary. (65, The Holy Mass).  
  • When Christ held the Passover Seder and instituted the Eucharist on that night, He himself mixed water with the wine, as the abstemious are wont to do, and the Church continues this custom (65, The Holy Mass).   
  • The priest blesses only the water cruet, because 1) the wine represents Christ, Who needs no benediction. The water represents human nature, which, with its frailties, has great need of God's blessing. (121, The Latin Mass Explained; 67-68, The Holy Mass). This dual nature is beautifully clear in the Latin regarding Christ`s nature, in the prayer of the co-mingling of the water and wine. It is said ``Deus, qui humanae substantiar diginatem mirabiliter condidisti ...`` translated as ``O God, Who in creating mad didst exalt his nature very wonderfully ...`` This representation is found in the two liquids. 
  • Further in the co-mingling prayer, it is asked that we are made to be participators of the Divinity of the Lord. Thanks to our Lord, Christ, we are able to participate in the Beatific Vision in Heaven where we`ll see God even as He sees Himself, and our state will be that of creatures placed immediately below the Divinity. The Holy church holds this Truth before our mental gaze. (67-68, The Holy Mass).
  • The water is not blessed in Requiem Masses to show that the Church has no authority over the souls in Purgatory (68-69, The Holy Mass).
  • During the ``Offremus`` prayer,  `the Holy church is thinking of that which this Chalice is to become: Christ`s blood. Only the accidents, the species or appearances, will remain [that is, what it physically looks like, and its molecular constitution of atoms in chemistry], but its Substance [what the thing IS] will give place to the Blood of the Lord. (70, The Holy Mass)
  • The next prayer "in spiritu humilitas" has its Biblical origins in the words of the children in the furnace in the Book of Daniel Chapter 3 verse 39 and 40. 
  • The final prayer, a benediction, starting with "Veni Sanctificator`` requests the Holy Spirit to operate in the sacrifice to be offered to the Lord. This is fitting to invoke the Holy Spirit who was involved in the production of our Lord, Jesus in the Virgin Mary`s womb. (73, The Holy Mass). 

15. The Incensing of the Altar in the Solemn Mass

Is this in the Novus Ordo? Rarely. Funerals, only the most solemn vernacular Novus Ordo Masses (of which the degree of solemnity depends on the pastor of the parish), and Latin Novus Ordo Masses. 

Cues for the Laity: You will remain seated until the altar server comes towards you after descending from the altar. You will stand up when he approaches, and bow with him before and after being incensed. This is only done in the Solemn level of the Mass.

General Gist: After the subdeacon has moved the missal, the thurifer and boat bearer will approach the side of the altar. Incense will be placed into the thurible from the boat that is handed to the deacon by the server. The celebrant will put this incense in. The celebrant will then take the thurible/censer and incense the altar in an orderly manner, including the following items while saying specific prayers: The bread and wine, the Crucifix and the altar itself (reciting psalm 140). If a bishop is present, He is incensed first to respect the hierarchy of the Church of which Jesus Christ is the head (where the Pope down to its Bishops are its Magisterial wielders). The priest will be incensed by the deacon with 3 double swings, the deacon with two double swings, the master of ceremonies with one double swing, and a single swing for each acolyte OR if groups of acolytes are together (e.g. a group of torch bearers), they will receive the same swings as the people: One swing to the center, one swing to the Epistle side (right) and one to the Gospel side (left).


Like in the first incensing of the Mass and before the Gospel:

  • 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. (73-74, The Holy Mass)
  • 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 blesses the incense, it raises the incensing action to the supernatural order. (13, The Holy Mass)

In this specific instance of incensing:

  • What is offered unto the living God: the bread and wine, and ourselves - This threefold gift unto God is incensed. We are incensed because all the faithful, through this offertorial act, have become holy unto God (25, Latin-English Booklet Missal... ; 927, The Daily Missal and Liturgical Missal ...)
  • The Holy Church incenses the bread and wine as these gifts are now elevated above the order of common things. To show her reverence for them, Holy Church shed on them the perfume of her incense, as if she were doing so to Christ himself. (74, The Holy Mass). 

16. The Washing of the Hands/The Lavabo

Is this in the Novus Ordo? Yes. In the N.O. this is done after the water and wine, and some prayers of the priest at the altar. The Lavabo is when the priest says "Lord wash away my iniquities, and cleanse me of my sins."

Cues for the laity: Everyone still remains seated.

General Gist: The acolytes take the water cruet and bowl with a finger towel up to the priest on the altar. The Celebrant washes his fingers with the water and dries them off with a finger towel. 

  • The Priest washes his fingers to symbolize the great purity and inner cleanliness of those who offer or participate in this great Sacrifice. (928, The Daily Missal and Liturgical Missal ...)
  • It also is out of a spiritual necessity: the priest must purify himself yet more and more, as he advances in the Holy Sacrifice. One might also think of when the Disciples' feet were washed before institution of the Holy Eucharist that Passover night (78, The Holy Mass). 
  • Appropriately chosen for this liturgical point/action is Psalm 25:6-12, beginning with Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas: et circumdabo altare tuum, Domine." This means I will wash my hands among the innocent: and I will encompass Thine altar, O Lord. This first word in Latin, is what gives this part of the mass its name, the Lavabo. 

17. The Prayer to the Most Holy Trinity

Is this in the Novus Ordo? Yes. This prayer is not sectioned and not obvious, but in every version of the Eucharistic Prayer (1-4) the last two major paragraphs are a Novus Ordo version of this prayer. It starts with "Grant also to us, when our earthly pilgrimage is done ..." and ends with "... all glory and honour is yours, for ever and ever, Amen."

Cues for the Laity: You are still sitting at all levels of the EF Mass.

General Gist: The priest bows down before the middle of the altar and says this prayer. "This majestic prayer of offering to the Most Holy Trinity states in detail the particular purpose for which the holy Sacrifice is offered." (27, Latin-English Booklet Missal ...)

  • When the priest says ... hanc oblationem ... this is referring to a oblation. The oblation is presented to the Divine Majesty. He is presenting the Offering of the Great Sacrifice which is soon to be accomplished. 
  • The Oblation is presented to the Holy Trinity in memory of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord. (81, The Holy Mass). 
  • In that memory of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension the priest is noting in saying this in prayer, without which he wouldn't be complete:
    • Jesus suffered. This wasn't enough alone so, 
    • Jesus died. His suffering and death constitute the Passion. In it he conquered the Devil's triumph over man in Adam's Fall. However, it would have been a true defeat for Christ, had he not:
    • Resurrected. our Lord could not have remained on earth: until He opened Heaven and went there, there was no salvation for us. In doing everything, He attained for us our salvation. (81, The Holy Mass). 
  • The Virgin Mary is mentioned in the prayer. This is because every mass brings glory to Our Blessed Lady, who is, herself, a whole World apart. She is raised even above the Angels because, she is the Masterpiece of God Himself. (82, The Holy Mass). She is rightfully given her due as the theotokos, the "God-bearer" in Greek, whom herself ascended into Heaven free of Original Sin. 
  • John the Baptist is mentioned as he is the precursor to the Lord, and so our Church venerates him (83, The Holy Mass), the one who baptised (with water) and pronounced the coming of the Lord, before He came himself to be baptised. 
  • The saints are also mentioned here, in reference to those Saints' relics who are part of the altar stone by which is placed into the altar, as well as all those who are part of the Holy Mass. (84, The Holy Mass)
  • The rest of the words of the prayer, ``Ut illis ... In terris. Per eundem ...`` acknowledge that 
    • The Mass gives glory to the Holy Trinity, The Blessed Virgin, and the Saints
    • That the Mass is profitable to us in our salvation
    • Acknowledges the memorial of the Saint whose day of commemoration it is, and all the Saints` intercession for us of our prayers in Heaven. 

18. The Orate Fratres

Is this is the Novus Ordo? Yes. This is the "Pray brethen, that my Sacrifice and yours ..." prayer. Thanks to the 3rd translation of the Roman Missal, it's almost a verbatim translation from the Latin. 

General Gist: The priest will kiss the altar, and turn towards the people, saying "Orate, Fratres" out loud, and turn around and say the rest silently. "Feeling his unworthiness, the priest turns to the people and asks for their prayers." (27, Latin-English Booklet Missal ...). You do not do the response as in the Novus Ordo, as that is left to the servers and the fellow clergy at the altar.

Cues for the Laity: In all levels of the EF Mass, you are still sitting.


  • At this point of the Mass, it can be considered that the priest is now, after the Orate Fratres, entering the most solemn part of the Mass, like the priests of old entering the Holy of Holies in the Temple (125, The Latin Mass Explained). 
  • This is in a sense a "farewell" as the priest is turning to the congregation for the last time in the Holy Mass, until the Sacrifice is consumed (125, The Latin Mass Explained; 85-86, The Holy Mass)
  • The priest also mentions (though in silent tone) meum ac vestrum sacrificium "My sacrifice and yours." This denotes one sacrifice for both parties (Priest and Laity), with only the actions separate:
    • Together: The Laity also have a role in the Priesthood, as says St. Peter, calling the Faithful a kingly Priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). (85, The Holy Mass) This has also been reaffirmed in Vatican II: "These faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ: and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world. ("Lumen Gentium" #31)"
      • In addition, The priest is the direct agent of the Sacrifice, but the people will also inherit the Sacrifice that belongs to them, as Jesus Christ instituted it for their profit (85, The Holy Mass). 
    • Separate (in action only): The priest will be doing the actual consecrations and the like and acting in alter Christus while doing so. He speaks as if Jesus was there during the consecrations. The Laity do not share in doing this specific act on the altar, though they share in the actual Sacrifice as mentioned above. How they share in the Sacrifice (their sacrifice) is in the reply to the priest's urging, (86, The Holy Mass), uttered by the other clergy and the altar servers at the Altar
      • [Novus Ordo sidenote: while this is not allowed in anything but a Missa Lecta form of the EF Low Mass, when partaking in the Novus Ordo, you get to actively respond, aloud, to the Priest's desire to partake in the sacrifice as Christians, via the response. Keep this in mind if you choose to partake in both forms of the Roman Rite to make this part more meaningful to you.] 

19. The Secret

Is this in the Novus Ordo? No.

Cues for the Laity: You will sit while the priest says the prayer in silent tone. When he does audible prayers and replies, after the servers'/clergy's first reply of "Amen", and before the priest says "Dominus Vobiscum," you will stand during a Missa Cantata and Higher Level EF Masses. Otherwise at the Low mass you remain sitting

General Gist: The Priest will say the "secret" prayer silently with outstretched hands. He will then conclude the prayer aloud with sentence and response between himself and the servers'/fellow clergy. He will not turn around to the people  for the Dominus Vobiscum this time around.

Cues for the Laity: Continue to do what you are doing from the Orate Fratres: Standing at Missa Cantata or Higher, sitting if Low Mass.


  • The secret is not really a "secret" prayer, inasmuch as it refers to the fact that "oremus" is not preceding the rest of the words. (87, The Holy Mass)
  • Secrets always correspond to the Collects of the Mass. They are the same in number, and refer to the same subject: the commemoration of the same solemnity or the intercession of the Saints mentioned in the collect (126, The Latin Mass Explained). 
  • The conclusion of the last secret "Per omnia saecula saeculorum" is always said or sung aloud, forming the introduction of the Preface. (126, The Latin Mass Explained)


Works Cited:
1. Moorman, Msgr. George J. The Latin Mass Explained. Tan Publishing: Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A. 2010.

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

3. 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.

4. The Ordinary of the MassThe 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. 

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