Lift Up Your Hearts: 10 Tips for Newcomers to the Latin Mass

June 10, 2016

I’ve shared before on this blog my love for the ancient Roman Rite, also known as the Latin Mass, the Tridentine Mass, or the Extraordinary Form. But whenever I write about this topic, I inevitably get emails from readers who were inspired to visit a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, only to be confused and disoriented the entire time. The messages usually go something like, “It was very beautiful, and I loved the music, but I didn’t get much out of it because I had no idea what the priest was doing.”

The truth is, the Extraordinary Form can be intimidating the first time you visit, because it is so, well, different than the form of the Mass most Catholics are used to. It has an ethos all its own, and its rhythms and patterns can take time to absorb.

But, while there is a learning curve, the Latin Mass is by no means impossible to learn. Only a few decades ago, your typical Catholic grade schooler had a solid understanding of what was happening at the altar, even if he couldn’t understand every word the priest was saying. While it might take some time, I would argue that it is worth the effort as it will enrich your spiritual life and form you, just as it did for countless saints.

Here, then, are ten tips for newcomers to the Latin Mass.

1. Embrace the Mystery

img_2794The first point I’d like to emphasize is that there’s nothing wrong with a little mystery. In our post-Enlightenment, science-obsessed society, we place a premium on understanding everything. We don’t like feeling ignorant or left in the dark. We moderns mistakenly believe that knowing how something works is that same as knowing what it means. I believe this is one reason poetry has grown less popular–by nature, it is metaphorically dense, and the modern mind, which likes to deal in linear, empirical data, is often frustrated by this.

Yet, the human soul needs mystery to thrive. Deep down, sometimes very deep down, we crave an experience that is disorienting in its wonder, something so marvelous we forget ourselves in the face of it. We want something that is at once knowable and unknowable, within our grasp and beyond our reach.

Good and true liturgy is like that. It draws us upward and out of ourselves. It is disorienting and uncomfortable in a healthy and joyful way. Holiness, if it is real, should feel disorienting. So give yourself permission to not know and understand everything that is going on in the Mass. Some priestly gestures and prayers are meant to be beyond your reach, and you aren’t meant to grasp their every meaning. That is just how it is. Embrace it. Let the mystery wash over you and transform you.

2. Get a Missal

Alright, even with that very important point being made, you probably still want to know at least some of what’s going on! Fair enough, and to help in that regard, I recommend getting a missal to help.

img_20120915_2029171Missals are helpful because they provide at minimum the Ordinary of the Mass (the parts that don’t change) and the Propers (the changeable readings and prayers) for Sundays, and many also include readings for daily Masses and special feasts. Every one I’ve seen also includes helpful catechesis on the Mass, instructions on how to pray along, and prayers and devotions for before and after Mass. They are usually treasure troves of Catholic devotion and incredibly helpful in understanding the Mass in a deeper way.

You can find used Latin Mass missals in many places: Antique shops, Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, grandma’s bookshelf, etc. I like used ones personally because there is a sense of history to them. It’s cool finding old holy cards tucked inside them or seeing a name of a Catholic forebear written inside the cover, and many of them have gorgeous illustrations and ornate pages.

If you aren’t into vintage stuff, though, don’t worry. There are many beautiful modern missals being made, including the Edmund Campion Missal and Hymnal, the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, and the Baronius Press Missal. I personally recommend the Edmund Campion Missal. While its dimensions are larger than most, it has some of the most beautifully illuminated pages, photography, and illustrations of any missal I’ve found. It is a work of art.

3. Go to a Low Mass First

Mass for donors Cn SteinIf you’re new to the Latin Mass, I highly recommend starting with a Low Mass. If you aren’t familiar with the distinction between a High and Low Mass, low Masses usually have minimal or no music and are not sung. They are much simpler in their form and do not include things like incense, the sprinkling rite (the Asperges), or a choir.

I recommend the low Mass because less is happening. In a high Mass, the priest is often praying one thing while the choir is singing another, meaning it can be hard to follow along. The simplicity of the low Mass is conducive to learning what’s happening when.

While it’s true that High Masses are much more beautiful and rich for the senses, the Low Mass is beautiful in its own way, with the silence drawing one’s heart to prayer. It is an oasis of quiet in a world that is filled with noise.

4. Learn the Parts

When I first went to a Latin Mass, I was confused. It seemed much more complex than the Novus Ordo, with many new prayers and actions to learn. But while it is true there are extra prayers and actions, the basic structure is always the same, and similar to that of the Novus Ordo: The Mass of the Catechumens (the beginning of Mass to the Creed) and the Mass of the Faithful (from the Offertory to the end of Mass). Learning the visual cues of the priest and a few words of the prayers is immensely helpful in following along.

5. Watch Videos

13319800_1051316954936994_6134688627833759502_nWhile it is highly unlikely that anyone is paying attention, we can sometimes feel self-conscious in a new environment. Am I doing the right thing? Did I miss something? If you are nervous about looking silly, I recommend watching videos of the Mass on YouTube to learn the parts. There are many awesomely beautiful videos out there, many of them narrated so you know what’s happening. For example, here’s an Easter Sunday Mass from 1941 narrated by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Another cool video is this reenactment of a Medieval Mass from the 15th century. Of course, it looks laregly identical to a Tridentine Mass you would attend now, showing the continuty of tradition. A medival peasant could attend my parish and feel at home, and vice versa. Cool, huh?

6. Learn Some Latin

Believe it or not, while it is no longer part of the piety of most Catholics, Latin is still the official language of the Church. Normatively, Church documents are issued in Latin and then translated into other languages. That includes the vernacular Mass.

When approaching the Latin Mass, it is really helpful to learn a few words or prayers in Latin. You don’t have to become an expert in the language, but historically, Catholics were familiar with at least a few basic Latin prayers, like the Our Father (Pater Noster) or the Hail Mary (Ave Maria). It couldn’t hurt to learn some key words. Knowing that “Dominus vobiscum” means “the Lord be with you,” can be helpful, or that “Sursum corda” means “Lift up your hearts,” means that the canon is coming soon.

7. Adjust Your Thinking

The traditional Mass can be disorienting. Yet, I would argue that this disorientation is a healthy thing. It helps draw us up and out of ourselves. And in a sense, holiness should be disorienting, for it means cut off from the ordinary, something Other. When Peter, James, and John were on Mount Tabor with Jesus, they didn’t feel comfortable, welcomed, and at ease. They were confused and afraid in the presence of Jesus’ Divinity. Likewise with Moses and all other men who encountered God’s presence.

Old churches would sometime have this inscription above the door: “Terribilis est locus iste: hic domus Dei est, et porta caeli:” Translated, it means, “This place is terrible, it is the house of God, and the gate of heaven.” In other words, the house of God should be awe inspiring. It should feel out of the ordinary, a place set apart for the worship of the Almighty.

Yet, our worship is too often not awesome, it is banal and commonplace. And so one of the easiest traps to fall into is thinking that the Mass is for and about us. We begin to think that we are the audience and judge the Mass accordingly. What did I get out of it? Could I see and understand? Was the music to my taste? Really, though, the Mass isn’t for you. It’s for God—he is the audience. All of the prayers and actions are oriented toward offering a sacrifice of praise to him. We have the privilege of participating in this great worship, and we assist the priest in his offering. But the Mass is not for us and our entertainment. Keep that in mind and I believe you will find Mass much more profitable.

8. Get a Good Instructional Book

Missals can be helpful in understanding the Mass, but sometimes you need even more instruction. Not to worry—many beautiful books have been written about the significance of the Mass, complete with pictures, charts, and explanatory texts. If you can find a vintage copy of Archbishop Sheen’s “This is the Mass”, I recommend you do so.

But the one book I recommend more than any other is the gorgeous book “Treasure and Tradition: The ultimate guide to the Latin Mass.” This book is stunning. If you read it, you will appreciate the Mass more. It has many beautiful incredible illustrations, historical notes, explanations of vestments, sacred objects, and much, much more. Even if you never attend a Latin Mass, get this book. It will change the way you see the Mass and enrich your worship. Here is a review.

9. Be Patient

It is tempting to want to understand the ancient Mass immediately. Yet, this isn’t really possible. It will take time and a little bit of effort, so give it a chance and be patient.

I would recommend going to at least four to six Masses. For the first few, just take everything in. Don’t bother trying to follow along or figure out what’s happening. Just pray quietly, watch what’s happening at the altar, and imitate what you see others doing. Then, after you’ve oriented yourself, get a Missal and begin try to listen for key words and gestures (many missals have pictures of what the priest does at different parts). The longer you attend, the more you will adjust to its unique ethos.

10. Pray with the Priest

IMG_1093The most profitable way to pray at Mass is to pray the Mass. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to pray each and every prayer at the exact moment that the priest does (though this couldn’t hurt!). But it does mean that you recognize that the Mass is a sacrifice of petition, adoration, reparation, and thanksgiving, and pray accordingly.

I have an old prayer book that doesn’t contain any of the actual Mass prayers. Yet, for each part of the Mass (from the beginning to the Gospel, etc.) has prayers specifically for one of the four ends of Mass. Praying the Mass in this way is perfectly legitimate. Some Sundays, I bring my Missal and follow along with what the priest is praying. Other Sundays, I pray the four intentions of Mass either in my own words or using the prayer book I mentioned. And still other Sundays, I do both. There is a beautiful freedom to pray in your own way at the Latin Mass, to spend time in God’s presence and speak to him from your heart.


This post has been rather long, but I hope it has given you a better understanding of how to approach the ancient Mass. As I said at the beginning, it will take some effort to learn, and yet I sincerely believe nothing is more profitable or enriching to your faith. This is the Mass of the saints and martyrs, the Mass that can be traced all the way back to the catacombs of ancient Rome. When you hear the words of the priest and pray them yourself, you are hearing the exact same words that centuries of Catholics before you have heard and prayed.

Immersing yourself in the traditional Mass is not about nostalgia or pining for the past. It is about being transformed by the beauty of holiness. Far from being dead and archaic, you will find that this ancient way of praying is very much alive and powerful, a way of encountering God that is vital in its freshness.

So go to a Tridentine Mass if there is one near you. Experience it, pray it, and let its timeless rhythms transform your heart and soul.

PS: Check out my video chat with Matt Fradd about the Extraordinary Form, and why men are drawn to it.

Sam Guzman


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Reader Interactions


  1. Andrea says

    Thank you for this post. The Latin Mass can be so intimidating for newcomers, but these tips are so helpful and practical. I’m new to your blog…really enjoying all your posts. 🙂

  2. Nancy says

    Thanks so much for this article. We have a Latin parish in our diocese now but it is intimidating. And for confession the priests seem kinda harsh compared to what I’m accustomed to.

    Re: the old missals, I hear about the 1962 edition, is there a certain edition to look for if I find an older missal?

    • Christopher Schaefer says

      Pre-1962 missals for the most part will differ only in very slight details, e.g. they’ll have the “congregation’s” Confiteor before Communion and a few feasts will be different. A pre-1950s missal will have significant differences in the Holy Week Triduum. Otherwise we’re dealing with a tradition that changed minimally after 1570 and only in rather small increments during the centuries preceding that.

      • Edward Deppert says

        I love the Latin Mass as I’m a “cradle” (1939) Catholic who was brought up attending the Latin Mass. As with some of my 5 brothers, we served as Altar Boys and needed to study the Mass responses (Latin) and be tested by the Pastor before being allowed to served, I still have a St. Joseph Daily Missal that my girlfriend (now wife) gave me in 1957.

  3. Kimberly says

    Sam, any ideas about how to get a TLM in one’s area? I’ve reached out to the diocese a few times and people at the local parishes but have had no luck. My husband and I have prayed for it and the closest one is still an hour and a half away. Thanks.

    • Andrew Markich says

      You can try they are an organization that promotes the TLM and they can help you with this. Also you can contact the FFSP ( Fraternity of St Peter and St Paul ) at and through there contact the North American Superior General Father Saguto to help you .

      • Chris Hiatt says

        While yes you could petition the FSSP, I don’t think that would be the best course of action. One cannot serve two masters. We have a FSSP church about a 5-10 minute drive from us but we do not attend as they offer both the Novus Ordo and the Tridentine. As any good Catholic should know, these are two very distinctly different Masses (it is not simply a matter of language). Instead, we attend a SSPX church which is 25 minutes away and only offers the Tridentine.

  4. William VanRiper says

    You make it harder than it is. We have new people at our Tridentine Mass regularly and staying with us using just the Latin-English Sunday Missals that are put in the pews. As children years ago we each bought Our Sunday Missal for $1 and learned to follow the Mass and become altar boys.

  5. Andrew Markich says

    Sam another great post. All good thoughts and ideas. I use the 1962 Missal by Father Lasance. It has many great prayers and describes the Mass in detail

  6. Jamie Banuski says

    Thank you, Sam! Your writing reminds me of the beauty and power of The Rite. Latin is clearly not a ‘dead’ language as some modern cultures may understand it. To me, celebrating The Mass in Latin opens a portal in the hearts of us all, and I gladly welcome the disorientation and mystery that “surpasses all understanding”.

    Pax Christi

  7. Bel says

    Very nice article. But I think the more accurate translation of “terribilis” is ‘fearsome’ or ‘awesome’. God Bless!

  8. Maria says

    Our family will attend our very first Latin Rite mass on Sunday so this article is so perfectly timed! I love what you said about mass not being about me and my entertainment. It’s so easy to slip into that thought pattern when I forget the extreme sacredness of what’s happening in front of me. I think we all need a good spiritual shake-up from time to time to make us more attentive. I’m looking forward to holy disorientation.

  9. Christopher Schaefer says

    [I posted the following on the “Latin Mass” group page of the exclusively-Catholic social network “Awestruck”:]

    “With all that page turning and confusing activities taking place at the altar, how am I supposed to pray and participate at a Latin Mass?”

    First, it is important to realize that most of the prayers of the traditional Latin Mass NEVER were intended to be followed by the congregation. For example, the Mass begins with the “Prayers at the Foot of the Altar”. This is the personal preparation and declaration of unworthiness by the priest and servers; they are NOT prayers of the congregation. So here you can quietly read along—or recite your own prayers to prepare yourself for Mass. This also is true of the lengthy but very beautiful Offertory prayers which the priest silently recites. You can silently read these prayers yourself—or compose your own meditation on the great mystery that is about to take place.

    According to very ancient practice, the Canon (“Eucharistic Prayer I” in the modern Mass) is recited silently to emphasize the awesome mystery in which Christ’s once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross becomes present (not “repeated”) upon the altar. This corresponds to practices in most of the ancient Eastern liturgies, e.g. closing the doors of the iconostasis at a Byzantine Divine Liturgy or drawing the curtain closed and removal of priest’s shoes during the Armenian Batarak. Because the traditional Latin Mass has only one Eucharistic Prayer—the Roman Canon—after a few weeks of reading along, you will have the prayer memorized and no longer will need to read along. The priest’s gestures throughout the Canon reveal which part of the prayer he is reciting.

    At a High Mass, the Propers sung by the choir (Introit, Chants between Epistle and Gospel, Offertory, Communion) are the personal prayers of the choir members. So again, you can choose to follow the texts which the choir sings—or you can pray your own meditation at these times. In fact, the Introit, Offertory and Communion chants always belonged to the choir alone. Singing congregational hymns at these times is a “modern” innovation, with the exception of some countries which long had the custom of singing vernacular hymns at Low Mass.

    Particularly at a High or Solemn High Mass, the chanting of the Epistle and Gospel is not meant to be a “Bible instruction”. Rather, it primarily is meant to proclaim and symbolize that the Word became incarnate and that the entire history of salvation has been revealed to us in God’s holy Word. This is why it often was the custom for the sermon to have virtually nothing to do with the day’s Scripture but instead might be an instruction on a particular aspect of the Catholic faith. This often is the practice today at my own parish, as the priests try to address current issues that Catholics face.
    This also is a significant contrast to the modern Mass which is much more “didactic” and much less “liturgical” in the sense that “liturgy” was understood for nearly 2,000 years–and still is understood by all Eastern Churches.

    It’s also important to note that bilingual hand missals for the congregation did not exist until the 20th century. Until the 1960s it always was understood that the Mass was offered BY the priest FOR the people.
    So if you are attending the traditional Latin Mass [TLM] for the first time, pretend that you have been transported back in time to a pre-20th century era—and simply let yourself be drawn into the quiet, awesome mystery that is unfolding before you.

    When I was a young boy and the Latin Mass was the ONLY Mass, we were taught to “prepare” for Mass ahead of time by reading and meditating upon the Propers, including the Epistle and Gospel. By doing this, it was not necessary to follow the text during Mass—because I already knew what was being read or sung.
    I still do this today and I highly recommend this practice.
    [originally posted here:
    You can join Awestruck by creating an account or by logging in via Facebook.]

  10. Brock says


    Thanks so much will share this with friends and family who don’t understand our conversion into Catholicism four years ago let alone attending the Latin Mass every Sunday and Holy day of obligation

    We find the reverence so compelling and after the Protestant mega churches with guitar playing and rock bands etc we weren’t converting for What we experienced in the no us ordo services as we found them too similar to the Protestant services in tone with the difference being the Eucharist of course

    We pray the novus ordo services become more reverent over the coming generations as the church recovers from the far left pendulum swing hopefully to a healthy balance.

    I compare it to the difference between Bach and the Beatles at least this is how we experience it

    Seems God deserves Bach?

    • Kristi says

      As recent converts from Protestantism, we had the same reaction to the NO services at nearby churches we visited: too Protestant-y. What a shame that the beauty of the Tridentine mass was gutted. Fortunately there is an FSSP parish within driving distance. We love our Latin Mass parish!

  11. Gabriel says

    Sometimes you find articles that feel like they were written just for you. This is one of those. I’ve been attending Latin Mass for a few weeks and just taking it in. Now i’m ready to learn more about it. Thank you so much for all of these resources.

  12. Mark says

    I find it a little strange that the article recommends going to a Low Mass first. I’ve been told that the people coming from the OF will have an easier time going to a High Mass first because the congregation can get into the signing long with the choir while having a mass with no interaction like what we have in the OF with the priest would disorient people a lot more.

    Still a good article

    • Kristi says

      I agree and had the same reaction to that one point. We (as new converts) went to our church’s low mass first, for a month or so, until someone told us the high mass would be more accessible (easier to follow what is happening, as well as the beauty of the singing). We love the high mass!

      • Christopher Schaefer says

        The high Mass (actually, the Solemn High Mass with deacon & subdeadon) is THE original form of the Roman Rite. The low Mass developed due, in part, to abuse of the stipend system and gradual dominance of private Masses. So the low Mass is really something of a historical aberration, although it was the ONLY form of Mass most Catholics knew before Vatican II. There is no counterpart to the low Mass in any of the ancient Eastern liturgical traditions. See my June 29 comment beginning with “@ STEPHEN…”

  13. Michael Kozaki says

    We alternate between NO and TLM (kids serve at both).

    What I love about TLM? The priest orientation, the music (chant), the big families (we are still the largest, but feel normal there), and the people are genuine believers.

    What I dislike about TLM? The lacking Scripture (poor translation, no ABC liturgical cycle, sparse readings), Latin.

    On balance, I prefer the NO. I think the NO would be perfect if it had more chant and the priest were to orient himself properly.

    I used to go Eastern Divine Liturgy as well, and liked that the least, but it’s still pretty good (priest orientation and English are both good, but again poor Scripture).

  14. Edward says

    Excellent post. My only thought is that for some people a Low Mass is actually less accessible than a Sung Mass or High Mass, because there’s much less for people to actively do than at a Novus Ordo. At a Sung Mass you can sing along with the choir and come away feeling as if you’ve “joined in” just as much as at a Novus Ordo, albeit in a slightly different way, whereas a Low Mass can make you feel a nit left out.

    My wife came with me to Low Masses a few times and started to get the hang of them, but it was her first Sung Mass which really flicked the switch for her.

  15. Petra says

    I remember the first time I attended a Latin Mass, and although I knew the general order of Mass was generally the same as the Novus Ordo Mass, I was lost!! I had a missal with me, and I tried to follow along, but I was so confused I could not understand where the heck the priest was in terms of the text I was following. I was surprised I could not follow along, because I knew the structure was basically the same: Opening prayers, Penitential Rite (Confiteor), Kyrie, First Reading (Epistle), Gospel (Gospel), Creed, Offertory, Eucharistic Prayer (Canon), Consecration, Our Father, Holy Communion, Blessing. This I knew. But it seemed like I couldn’t find the parts that matched.

    Anyway, it did take about five or six Masses to begin to see where the priest was compared to the text. You are so right that what it takes is having a missal or provided order of Mass, and just try to follow the main parts.

    Now I’m an old hand :-), and love both forms of the Mass very much. Thanks for the helps.

  16. Stephen says

    I confess Im often frustrated by things I sometimes see at mass. The music itself can drive me crazy. Everything is so “sing songy” like it was written for second graders. Unfortunately, the text of many songs can often be shallow or even errant in their theology as well. I’m fortunate enough to be in a diocese where liturgical abuses don’t seem to get too much worse than that, though I know that there are some pretty terrible ones out there. A sad state of affairs indeed.

    All that said, when the Novus Ordo is done as it aught to be, it can be beautiful and respectful and devout. The way I see it, there must have been some reason for the reforms intended with the Novus Ordo. I confess I’m not knowledge of what they were, but I think I saw a glimmer during one of the two traditional liturgies I have attended.

    While the (stunningly beautiful) liturgy I was being sung, I was momentarily distracted noticing an older woman praying the rosary. She wasn’t just holding rosary beads ( something I often do myself ) she was really praying the rosary while mass was going on. I thought, “Why is she doing that during the prayer of all prayers?” I concluded that it was because she didn’t have any idea of what was being said in the liturgy so she was praying prayers she understood. It gave me pause and I wondered how common that phenomenon may have been among her generation.

    This is a slight thing compared to the abuses of the present, but it made me realize that the past was not a liturgical Camelot either. As a result I’m reticent about discussions encouraging the traditional mass without some factual look at what reforms were called for and why. This is something I have not done myself, but I’m hedging my bets and trusting the wisdom of the Church that there were indeed some good ones.

  17. Stephen says

    Yikes. Sorry for the typos. Didn’t catch those before I posted. Looks like I’d better work on mastering english before I jump into Latin!
    Pax Cristi!

  18. Christopher Schaefer says

    @STEPHEN You are quite correct: “the past was not a liturgical Camelot”. The move to reform of the Roman Rite, aka the Liturgical Movement, really began with the 19th century Cecilian Movement in Germany. You can read about that here:
    The next phase of the Liturgical Movement was Pius X’s 1903 motu proprio ‘Tra le sollecitudini’, which formally recognized the work of the Solesme monks to restore Gregorian Chant and called for the congregation to join in on the simple responses at Mass.
    However, these efforts bore very little fruit in most parishes. This was largely due to the fact that priests in seminary were trained to treat the Mass as a string of obligatory texts and rituals to be ‘gotten through’, in order to ‘confect the Eucharist’. There was very little sense of liturgy as prayer or ‘ars celebrandi’. I recall as a young boy (when the traditional Latin Mass was the ONLY Mass) the only form of Mass most Catholics knew was the Low Mass, which essentially is a “private” Mass between priest and server with no music; the congregation made no responses whatsoever—and if someone dared to do so, people stared as if the individual was being disruptive.
    So a different approach that gained some popularity in the 1950s, particularly in Catholic schools and universities, was the “dialogue Mass”. This was a Low Mass in which the congregation made ALL of the responses—even responses that NEVER were intended to be recited by the congregation, e.g. during the “Prayers at the Foot of the Altar”.
    So the 1969 New Order of Mass [“Novus Ordo missae”] ultimately was modelled after this Low “dialogue” Mass—along with innumerable innovations, many “inspired by” Eastern liturgical traditions, which the reformers (led by Msgr. Annibale Bugnini) considered more “authentic” than our own tradition. One of the more unfortunate innovations, inspired by the 1950s practice, is the “Penitential Rite” at the beginning of Mass: utterly unprecedented—despite Vatican II’s warnings against “innovations”. I blame this bizarre, innovative way of beginning Mass—greeting; ‘introduce’ the day’s ‘theme’ or whatever; segue into penitential rite—as laying the groundwork for the casual, non-liturgical approach to all that follows. The Low Mass influence also survives in the fact the most priests rarely if ever sing their own parts of the Mass. And the utter failure of the original Liturgical Movement to change the WAY in which Mass was celebrated, led to the mistaken conclusion that the only way to fix this was to discard the whole thing and invent a completely new Order of Mass.
    When I was c. 10 years old and “the changes” (as we called them) began, I thought it rather strange that the first things they insisted on doing in the vernacular were the parts that everyone actually understood: Kyrie eleison; Sanctus, Sanctus; Agnus Dei, etc. Meanwhile, the priest’s parts often continued to be recited in Latin into the late 1960s. I thought it backwards then—and still think so today.
    However, the most onerous part of all this was the absolute insistence that all must conform to the “new ways” and anyone who expressed a fondness for Latin, chant, communion on the tongue, etc. was publicly scorned. I still occasionally encounter older priests from those days who raise their eyebrows and roll their eyes if I mention that I attend the traditional Latin Mass/TLM.
    Yet, after all is said and done, I feel it was necessary that we lose absolutely everything, in order for the original goals of the Liturgical Movement to be reborn and slowly realized. And, little by little, that is precisely what is happening. My own parish (St. Mary’s, Norwalk, Connecticut) is a remarkable example of this. Younger Catholics were not part of the 1960s ‘liturgical wars’, so share none of the hang-ups of Boomer-generation priests and laity. Perhaps this explains why a large percentage of those who attend the Solemn High TLM at my own parish are young adults; I’ve read that this actually is rather typical of congregations attending the TLM.

    • johnnyvoxx says

      That is actually a whitewashed and deceptive explanation. Everyone who studies this seriously knows the Annibale Bugnini and his cohorts were trying to de-sacralize the Mass for their own Masonic purposes. It is foolish to go on denying the awful truth of the attack on the Church. Vatican II is chock full of heresy and the “new Mass” is a hybrid of the Mass of Luther and a Masonic ritual. Whether or not it is “valid” is another matter. It should be gotten rid of immediately and the heresies of Vatican II renounced by the Church hierarchy.

  19. Jeanne Hall says


  20. Christopher Schaefer says

    @ Jeanne Hall: Fortunately for you, you’ll ALWAYS be able to attend the 1969 Novus Ordo aka Ordinary Form Mass. Unlike the traditional Roman Rite, with its 1,500+ year history and ‘organic development’ over the centuries, it’s quite unlikely that a future pope or Vatican “committee” will do everything possible, include the use of massive deceit, to suppress and wipe out every trace of the 1969 committee-fabricated, theologically-diluted Mass. Everyone seems quite content with our rapidly-diminishing parishes, dying religious orders, total ignorance of–and lack of belief in–basic Church teachings by most Catholics and the fact that 80% of our youth leave the Church by age 18. So you can relax: no need for that all-caps “digital shouting”. Your 1969 Mass is safe and universally available–well, as long as there still is a priest available.

  21. Richard A . Wozniak says

    I agree with everything said here except for one point: Attend the High Mass. The Low Mass is disappointing compared to the splendor of the High Mass. The High Mass was supposed to be normative. The Low Mass was supposed to be the exception to the rule, it was tolerated when it was not possible to have the deacon, subdeacon, acolytes, schola cantorum, etc. present. Unfortunately, in practice, the reverse turned out to be the case prior to V2. Maybe it’s because of my love for the music, but please give the High Mass a try. You won’t be sorry.

    • Chris Schaefer says

      The Low Mass–which actually is a form of “private” Mass between priest and server–eventually become THE predominant form of the public Mass. You can read the complex history of how this came about in Josef Jungmann’s “The Mass of the Roman Rite…”
      The original goal of the 20th century Liturgical Movement was not to change the Mass–but to change how it was celebrated, e.g. return the primacy of the sung Mass and have the congregation join in the simple responses. However, efforts to make such changes were met with great resistance. So those who gained the upper hand after Vatican II felt the only way to change this was to reinvent the Mass itself.
      Unfortunately, the 1969 Mass is inspired, in part, after the 1950s Low “dialogue” Mass, in which the congregation recited parts that never belonged to the congregation, such as the “prayers at the foot of the altar”. This explains the unprecedented “penitential rite” at the beginning of the 1969 Order of Mass. It also explains the fact that most priests never sing their parts in the 1969 form of Mass, except perhaps “Through Him, With Him…”.
      Today I attend a parish which has a Solemn High Latin Mass every Sunday–even during the summer ( ) . The congregation sings “their” parts with gusto and the schola sings the propers, motets and usually a polyphonic Ordinary. I once mentioned to my pastor that we never could have achieved this–the original goal of the Liturgical Movement–if we had not first lost everything, so that a new generation could rediscover what should have been.
      He concurred.

  22. Nicholas says

    I hope this comments doesn’t offend anyone. Can someone please explain why Latin Mass/traditionalist priests ALWAYS seem to wear the Roman or fiddle back chasuble when saying Mass, instead of the Gothic? The Gothic is the older style. In the 1500’s, chasubles worn by prelates became so heavy with ornamentation that they couldn’t move easily in them. The “solution” was to have the sides cut away, a practice that St. Charles Borromeo decried, as did others. Since everyone loves to be “in style”, ordinary priests had theirs cut down too of course, with an added benefit: now, that which had previously been hidden beneath the ample Gothic chasuble – could be made showy, dripping with lace and other gee gaws. Clearly, the Roman or fiddle back is an INNOVATION, a departure FROM tradition. For goodness sakes fathers, set this baroque “sandwich board” thing aside – and go back to the stately and dignified Gothic!

  23. Mike McCarthy says

    I love this .
    Deep down, we crave an experience that is disorienting in its wonder, churches would sometime have this inscription above the door: “Terribilis est locus iste: hic domus Dei est, et porta caeli:” Translated, it means, “This place is terrible, it is the house of God, and the gate of heaven.” In other words, the house of God should be awe inspiring. It should feel out of the ordinary, a place set apart for the worship of the Almighty.

  24. Diane says

    I just watched the two Latin Masses you have posted here, the first, narrated by Venerable Fulton Sheen, and the re-enactment of the Mass in medieval times and I was nearly brought to tears at the beauty of it all! Thank you for this post as I journey back to the Latin Mass.

  25. Jonathan Taylor says

    There are prayers that the priest says (In the Novus Ordo) that the people are not suppose to say. I imagine this is similar in the Triditine Mass. Which would mean that no, you cannot pray every single prayer that the priest prays. Awesome blog post though.

  26. Lina Kruger says

    God bless you for your kind generosity in sharing this invaluable advice!! Today I will be going to my first Latin Mass and you have contributed so greatly to this journey I will begin! I will come back once and again to your wonderful post. 🙂

  27. Gregory Horwitz says

    Because of this article, I searched and found a Traditional Latin Mass. With the advise on the, I was armed with the courage to face something “foreign” to me and, also armed with the resources to enter the most meaningful liturgy I’ve ever experienced. Thank you, Sam and Co.

    Gregory Horwitz

  28. shelley says

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