TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS INFORMATION
Welcome to the Traditional Latin Mass at St Mary's
If this is your first Latin Mass, or your first one in many years - Welcome!
Here are a few things that might help:
1. Latin Mass is like sipping a fine wine or perfect steak, it takes time to gain an appreciation. Don't expect to understand much the first visit.
2. Let yourself be an observer. Watch the priest, servers, and those around you. Listen to the choir. Don't focus on trying to follow along at first.
3. Don't be afraid of making a "mistake", we all have. Sit behind someone else and follow their gestures and movement to know when to sit, kneel, and stand.
4. Low Mass and High Mass - a Low Mass will only have two candles lit on the altar and the congregation kneels for the majority of the Mass. A High Mass will have six candles lit, and will include singing and incense.
5. The priest is facing towards God (in the Tabernacle) when praying and reciting the readings, and only turns to the congregation when he is addressing us. He is leading us to God and faces in the same direction to lead us in prayer.
6. Communion is received on the tongue whilst kneeling. If you have trouble kneeling, you may stand at the altar rail to receive Our Lord.
7. There are many great resources on the Internet to help you understand the Latin Mass but don't hesitate to seek out our celebrant or one of the ushers for assistance.
Most importantly - we are grateful that you have joined us in worship of our Lord and hope that you will come back again! Pax Christi!
A Short Guide to the Extraordinary Form Mass:
In the Extraordinary Form, the priest says most of the Mass in Latin (which is still the official language of the Roman Catholic Church). A booklet missal will be provided that contains the prayers of the Mass in both Latin (on one page) and English (on the facing page) to assist you as you pray the Mass. In addition, there will be a worship aid with the changeable parts of the Mass for that particular day, including the Scripture readings of the day and the Proper prayers (i.e. the prayers specific to that particular day) of the Mass. The priest will always preach the homily in English.
Direction of Prayer
The priest faces the tabernacle and the altar (symbolising the "liturgical east", in watchfulness of Christ's return) as he prays during the Mass. The reason for this bears a quick explanation. In facing the "liturgical east", the priest leads the congregation in prayer and, together, he and the congregation face the Lord in worship. This is known as celebrating Mass ad Deum (Latin for "towards God") or ad orientem ("towards east"), and it is not only an ancient tradition, but it is even the direction of prayer presumed by the rubrics of our current Roman Missal.
Periods of Silence
Silence allows us to pray and to reflect upon our relationship with God. It also allows us to listen as He speaks to us. People are quiet as they enter and leave the Church before and after Mass, to show reverence for the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle and out of a respect to others who are praying. There are also periods of silence during the Canon of the Mass (i.e. the Eucharist Prayer) while the priest prays very quietly at the altar.
WHAT TO DO
Standing, Kneeling, Sitting
The booklet missal and worship guide that will be available will make it possible for you to follow along with the text of most of the Mass. If you are unsure when to stand, kneel, or sit, simply follow the instructions in the booklet missal. When all else fails, simply follow those around you and don't worry - most people attending the Mass are in the same boat you're in and no one is judging!
Responses and Participation
The most important form of participation for the congregation is interior participation - paying attention to the Mass while lifting our hearts and mind in silent prayer and uniting them to the prayers of the priest. However, if you are familiar with the pronunciation of Latin and want to join in on making certain responses, you may certainly do so wherever indicated in the booklet missal.
In the Extraordinary Form, those who are receiving Holy Communion normally do so on the tongue while kneeling at an altar rail. This posture symbolises the upmost respect for our Lord in the Eucharist. Those who are unable to kneel due to medical condition or age are certainly not required to do so, however all who are receiving Holy Communion do so on the tongue, not in the hands. Also in Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the person receiving Communion does not respond "Amen" or make any response to the priest when receiving the Eucharist.
As in the newer form of the Mass, a person who wishes to receive Holy Communion must be a baptised Catholic who is not "conscious of grave sin" and who "should have fasted for one hour" before receiving Communion. "A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession".
What to Wear
We ask men and women to dress as they should for any Mass: with modesty and in a manner that is fitting to the occasion and that honours the real presence of Jesus Christ.
While it is not required, some women choose to wear a head covering or chapel veil during Mass. Doing so is a traditional and personal sign of humility and purity in prayer but it is, again, a completely optional devotion.
Traditional Latin Masses