The Traditional Latin Mass developed organically under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost from the earliest rites of the Apostles and the early Church and remained unaltered for many centuries. The Latin Mass was used exclusively (with some slight variations) in the west until the New Order of Mass or ‘Novus Ordo’ was introduced as part of the effect of the Second Vatican Council.
So what can you expect?
In the same way that Jesus spoke Aramaic in the street and Hebrew for the worship of God, the Church has her own sacred language that does not develop like the vernacular- Latin. This was adopted very early on in the life of the Church and continues to be the official language which is used in praying to God in the liturgy. Do I need to understand Latin? No! Booklets are available with the translation of the prayers so we can follow what the priest is saying to God. Many people find that praying along interiorly is a very profound and spiritually active participation in the Mass.
In the Traditional Mass, there are many prayers which the priest offers to God silently or in a very low voice. We join our hearts with the priest by uniting our prayers to those of the Mass that we follow in the booklet. This silence allows us to concentrate on our prayer and on what is happening in the ceremony. In a Missa Cantata (A Sung Latin Mass) or a Solemn High Mass, the texts of the Mass are sung to the ancient chants of the church by a group of singers called the Schola Cantorum. Once again, the congregation contemplate the text and are caught up in the the beauty of the Mass.
Communion kneeling and on the tongue
For most of the Church’s 2017 year history, Catholics have shown reverence when receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament by kneeling at the altar rail rather than standing. The Sacred Host is also received directly onto the tongue. At his ordination, the hands of a priest are anointed with holy oil by the bishop and are consecrated in order to be able to touch the Body of Christ. Lay people (non-priests) should never touch the Blessed Sacrament. (Receiving communion in the hand has never been a licit practice in the Church but is a tolerated abuse. It has led to profound disrespect for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and has caused many to loose the faith that the Host is Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.)
Get used to it.
You may not be able to follow every single word of the Mass- but that is not a problem at all. You may want to focus your prayer on one text of the Mass or simply watch what is going on and spot all of the ancient traditions and postures which signify so many of our Catholic beliefs. There are many ways to participate- don’t worry about ‘getting it right!’
Is the Traditional Latin Mass allowed?
There were rumours that the Second Vatican Council abolished the Mass that had been offered for nearly 2000 years. This is not true. Pope St Pius V, in a document called ‘Quo Primum’ guaranteed the right of every priest for all time to say the Traditional Latin Mass and even forbade that anything be added or taken away from the Mass. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued a document called ‘Summorum Pontificum’ which re-states that any priest may offer the Traditional Latin Mass and dos not require special permission.
This is the ancient Mass of the Catholic Church, the Mass which the great saints attended- it is available to all here at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish.
For information about what to expect when attending the Latin Mass visit our ‘What to expect’ page.
To learn more about the prayers of the Latin Mass, visit our ‘Prayers of the Latin Mass’ page.