Saturday, 22 February 2014

Never been to a Latin Mass?

You are in for a disappointment.

I mean, I do believe that sometimes those of us who adhere to the EF Mass really ramp it up too much.

We rave and rant about how mystical, reverent and inspirational it is and then - for the first time visitor it's so-ooo quiet.

And the priest has his back to the congregation so you feel just a little

You came expecting the Latin, of course, but you have no idea when to stand, kneel or genuflect...and you just know that everyone is looking at you, waiting to see you make some fundamental mistake like sitting down when the rest of the congregation stand.

You come away bewildered and asking yourself what all the fuss was about.

 Next week it'll be back to the jolly old Ordinary Form, so much easier, and it's all in English (unless you happen to go to a Tagalog/Polish/Chinese/Urdu/Swahili Mass).

So let's dispel some myths.

First, don't feel unwanted just because there are no greeters on hand to give you a leery smile and an even leerier hug before you enter the church.

"I'm the parish greeter, but they won't have me at the Latin Masses!"

We at the traditional end of the Faith just happen to believe that you are grown up and should be treated like one, we are confident that you can find a pew in the church without some creep good soul guiding you to your seat.

Next, don't worry about everyone watching you - we are all so intently devout (ahem) that we would not notice if Noddy and Big Ears marched in to Mass.

And as for sitting, kneeling and nothing until you feel that you know what is what - and that may take quite a few visits.

Just sit and watch and pray.
You don't even have to follow the prayers of the Mass, you may pray to yourself or just meditate and soak up all that is taking place.

But, if you feel that the above advice is just a bit too laid back, here are a few key essentials that you may like to observe:-

1. Genuflect before entering your pew and, again on leaving when Mass has finished (not when you go up to receive Holy Communion or return).

2. Wear a mantilla, hat or scarf (if you are a woman) and if you wish to do so - it's a personal choice and no one will condemn you for going bareheaded.

3. Receive Holy Communion kneeling (if you are able, by all means stand if you are infirm) and by mouth. If you have not done this before just close your eyes and open your mouth reasonably wide with your tongue resting on your lower lip. The priest is adept at placing the Host gently on your tongue.

And that's just about it, really.

But don't expect to love the old Mass immediately. It takes time to establish itself in the hearts, minds and souls of those who have not experienced reverence, piety and peace in church before.

But there is one other effect from attending a Latin Mass that our old priest always emphasized when he sat round the dining table after a meal.

"The Latin Mass" he would say: "Brings special graces to those who attend"

And he was right.


  1. May I add, as I have commented on elsewhere?

    Go to Communion, by all means if you are properly disposed. If not, don’t, and rest assured that that no one will look at you judgementally. It is the Sacrifice of the Mass, and in no way a mandatory Protestant communion service.

    One further thing which has become apparent to me recently, in attending the ancient Mass as and when I can. Now I know that we now, in the Novus Ordo have a wider range of psalms, albeit some rather obscure and some highly curtailed.

    But the psalms in the Vetus Ordo Mass, chosen by the the Church over the ages, are so outstanding for their wisdom and beauty. The Introit of last Sunday, Septuagesima, “Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis”, sung in full, and not curtailed, is of such profound beauty and wisdom, as is “Adorate Deum omnes Angeli ejus”. I could go on!

    We have lost so much in the New Mass.

  2. I went to Mass for the Chair of St. Peter today, for we had a Missa Cantata at the local parish for the feast (they are St. Peter's parish). The sisters who usually go to 8 AM on Saturday morning got a lovely experience, and I am positive many people in the congregation were in the same situation. It was their first TLM. And honestly, I've lost count of the number I've been privileged to assist at, and it felt just as beautiful both in its essence as the Sacrifice and in its exteriors (the music, the layered liturgy, the serving, all the smells and bells). So I hope it was the same, and I am happy so many people experienced it for the first or maybe second time.

  3. heheh - Dame Parish Greeter.

    p.s. I agree people do feel intimidated, especially if they have been brought up in the new one (perhaps they look forward to Dame PG - all part of the show), but the old Mass is far less of a fuss. And plus its in the memes - so it's just good science to go to the old Mass, if you can.

  4. There are no rubrics for the postures of the laity in the EF. The Low Mass custom of kneeling for most of the time reflects the practice of making private devotions during Mass. A lot of people carry this over to the Solemn/Sung Mass, and they shouldn't. The congregation should stand for those parts of the Liturgy that concern them and require a sung response. This means that they should stand for the Introit, Kyrie and Gloria since these are "their" parts, even when sung by the schola or choir (although in more elaborate choir-only settings of the last two it makes sense to sit). But when the priest intones Dominus vobiscum they should be on their feet. They should stand for the whole of the Credo if it is a chant setting, not genuflecting with the priest or sitting when he and the ministers sit. They should stand from the Preface dialogue until the end of the Sanctus, and again after the elevation of the Chalice, remaining standing until the conclusion of the Agnus Dei. The Dominus vobiscum which precedes the Postcommunion is again an invitation to stand, although it is customary to kneel for the blessing.

    I know that even in pre-Conciliar times the Low Mass was allowed to influence the High; but liturgically speaking it should be the other way round

  5. when the thing about this mass or that mass comes up, for new mass what-else-is-there you can sense the threat to the familiar way of worship even though it differs from parish to parish and priest to priest and there are usually two or three diffrent language masses for one church. When I consider the wrench that must have capsized the faith of people and the universal, known and trusted worhip forty odd years ago, it's hard to imagine.

    1. We used to poke fun at the Anglicans who picked a church which catered for their liturgical preferences: "We go to St X's because St Y's is a bit too high". As a ten-year-old circa 1961 I was taught about the Reformation and couldn't imagine people going to their parish church and finding that the familiar Latin Mass had been replaced by a new English service. Then along came Vatican II ...

      (A remarkably similar timescale for a liturgical revolution imposed from above; 1548-1552 in the first instance, 1965-1969 in the second).

  6. Thanks for posting this. I have the same problem when trying to bring people to the Latin Mass. This is true specially when it comes to people in my own family. I try to express the Latin Mass as stated above, in the most reverent and eloquent manner, but I will try the suggestions given above.

    By any chance do you think I could post this article on my website if you don't mind? I have a website I am working on but I need more contributors. My website is

    It is a Catholic website, and I am trying to make from a traditional perspective. I am trying to make it more publication like, such as a magazine, but I am often adding new stuff to make it more interesting.

    God Bless

  7. Do you mean to say that you actually have people telling you where to sit in your parish? What a horrible thing! Ever tried to give them a tip? Might just work.