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What is the Latin Mass?

The Latin Mass (or Tridentine Massis the form of the Roman Rite Mass contained in the Roman Missals that were published from 1570 to 1962. It was the most widely celebrated Mass liturgy in the world until the introduction of the Mass of Paul VI in December 1969. 

The term “Tridentine” is derived from the Latin word Tridentinus, which means “related to the city of Tridentum”, or the modern-day city of Trent, Italy. It was in response to a decision of the Council of Trent that Pope Pius V promulgated the 1570 Roman Missal, making it mandatory throughout the Western Church, excepting those regions and religious orders whose existing missals dated from before 1370.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued a motu proprio entitled Summorum Pontificum. Within it,  the Pope stated that the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal is to be considered as an “extraordinary form” (forma extraordinaria) of the Roman Rite and that the Missal as revised by Pope Paul VI in 1970 is the “ordinary, normal or standard” form.

Since that is the only authorized extraordinary form, some refer to the 1962 Tridentine Mass as “the extraordinary form” of the Mass.  Other names used include Traditional Mass and Latin Mass. +

What Is Different About The Extraordinary Form & The Ordinary Form of the Mass?

The Language Used

As its name implies, the majority of the Mass is said in the Church’s universal language of Latin. The only exceptions of this are the readings & Gospel (though they are also said in Latin & sometimes the local language is not used, generally if there is a time constraint), and the homily.  If you don’t know Latin, that’s okay! Most churches supply red or white Latin to English Missals with very easy to follow instructions (text and illustration) in the columns to help guide you through.

What are High Mass & Low Mass?

There are two types of Extraordinary Form Masses – the Low Mass and the High Mass. The Low Mass is very quiet and solemn, with little to no singing, and the priest offering the Mass speaks most of the prayers inaudibly. It is customary that after a Low Mass, the priest and congregation pray a series of prayers for the Universal Church (known as the Leonine Prayers, as they were commissioned by Pope Leo XIII).

High Mass is also called Sung Mass, and as it’s name implies, there is a lot of singing by the choir, the congregation & the priest. The prayers said by the priest during the Sacrifice of the Mass are generally a bit more audible than during Low Mass.

There are also different times to stand, sit and kneel between the two types of Mass. If you’re using one of the red booklets, there will be indicators in bold (STAND, KNEEL, SIT) in the column to indicate when to do what.

Don’t know when to sing? Take cues from your choir. As a general rule, if you hear only one singer in the choir chanting, it is meant to be a solo. If the rest of the choir is singing, it’s a cue for the congregation to join in.

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Reception of Holy Communion

Receiving Holy Communion in the Latin Mass is done kneeling, with the communicant receiving on the tongue only. The communicant does not say “Amen” after receiving & blesses one’s self upon departure from the Communion rail. Please note that only baptized Catholics in the state of grace (you are free of mortal sins) may receive Holy Communion.