Ten Things You Miss by Going to the Traditional Latin Mass

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In the 1999 comedy Office Space, lead character Peter Gibbons (played by actor Ron Livingston) is interviewed by a pair of consultants hired by his employer to assess personnel. In one of the film’s more famous scenes, the consultants ask Peter about recent absences from work:

Bob Porter: Looks like you’ve been missing a lot of work lately, Peter.

Peter Gibbons: Well, I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve been “missing” it, Bob.

It is in that same vein that I present this list of ten things you will “miss” by going to the Traditional Latin Mass.

  1. Altar girls. Look all you want, you won’t find them. As the justification for this modern innovation comes from the 1983 Code of Canon Law and a 1994 clarification from Rome, the traditional Rite (using the 1962 liturgical books & norms) does not permit for them.
  2. Lay readers. Only the priest (at a Low Mass), or deacon and subdeacon (at a High Mass) can read the Lesson & Gospel, as this function is, of course, a liturgical function. In fact, prior to their elimination by Pope Paul VI in 1972, minor orders included that of lector for this very purpose.
  3. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Or as they are sometimes erroneously called, Eucharistic ministers. Nowhere in the traditional Roman Rite will you find armies of laity (often female) storming the sanctuary in secular clothing to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion. When you assist (i.e. attend) at the traditional Mass you will only receive Our Eucharistic Lord from the consecrated hands of a priest.
  4. Communion in the hand. At the Latin Mass the faithful receive as all western Catholics have since the first millennium: kneeling and on the tongue. This is, of course, a means by which the Church demonstrates her reverence for the Eucharist and our very belief in the Real Presence. It’s also a way to guard against profanation of the Sacrament.
  5. Mass offered facing the people (versus populum). Not happening at the Latin Mass. Much like the pilot of a plane or driver of a car, the priest faces the same direction as we do during Mass, ad orientem (toward the east). Remember: the Holy Sacrifice is an action directed to God, and not simply a service or a conversation among friends.
  6. Bad music. Oregon Catholic Press (O.C.P.), Marty Haugen and David Haas music, those banal folk hymns from the 1970’s and 1980’s, Protestant  Praise and Worship songs…all are missing from the Traditional Latin Mass. In the ancient Rite you will have to either “settle” for the sacred silence of the Low Mass, or the sung Propers, Gregorian Chant, or even (if so blessed) Palestrina, Mozart, and Bach of a High Mass.
  7. Standing. While you will still stand for portions of the Mass, there are three distinct occasions in which you kneel, instead of standing, at the Traditional Mass: during the Creed (at the profession of the incarnation…“And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit…”), for receiving Holy Communion (as stated previously), and for the final blessing at the end of Mass (following the Ita Missa est).
  8. Improvisation. At the Traditional Mass you will not be subjected to the celebrant’s personality, attempts at humor, or personal preferences. The rubrics of the old Rite are precise (some might say rigid), and for good reason. The Rite demands obedience and fidelity. It’s been given to us, to priest and faithful alike, and forms us rather than being formed by us.
  9. The Sign of Peace. In the old Rite there is no interruption in the Mass for a meet and greet with the guy and his family in the pew behind you. Nothing at this moment will pull your attention away from the altar. We are all (together) proceeding forward in the liturgy, singularly focused on Our Eucharistic Lord.
  10. The Vernacular. Maybe this one should be obvious, but it still requires mention. The liturgical language of the Roman Rite will indeed be heard at Mass offered in the Traditional form of the Rite, as has been the case since the third century. Of course, the homily (or sermon) will be delivered to the faithful in their language. Many Catholics unfamiliar with the Traditional Rite do not know this and assume otherwise.

It is my hope that more of the faithful will seek out a Latin Mass nearest to them and see just what they’ve been missing.

Photo credit: Patrick Craig 

Posted on August 31, 2017, in liturgy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. You will miss your beloved neighbor speaking responses three syllables ahead of the rest of the congregation, at four times their average volume. You will wonder why he can sing in synchrony with others, but must finish first when speaking.

    You will feel especially deprived when you can no longer hear beloved neighbor shout out his homemade translation of the Our Father, which you are now regrettably able to recall from memory in its totality. From time to time, you will try to find the original of this translation, but Google is unaware of it.

    No longer will you agonize over shaking the hand of someone who has spent much of the mass depleting her supply of tissues. You marvel at how she always wipes her nose with one hand and gives her husband a back rub during the sign of peace. You wonder if it be sinful to hope that the “flu season” will be serious enough for the local bishop to mercifully suspend the sign of peace for its duration.

  2. Timothée Ambroise Pierre Hayes

    Amen!!! The only thing in the list above that doesn’t annoy me about the N.O. is lay readers. But I would prefer it be a priest, deacon or religious.

  3. My family and I began attending the TLM on July 16 of this year to avoid every point you just brought up. I can’t tell you how frustrated I’ve been recently with the NO and all of the points above. It seems like the abuses are just getting worse and worse. I have found a new peace that I never had before. I’m very grateful for Summorum Pontificum.

  4. 11. Congregational singing.

  5. Recently, I attended a wedding in Latin here in California. Although a handbook in English translation of the mass were handed out to the attendees, I can only count a few looking down and reading the handbook. A cousin of the bride was seated in our few. He had quit going to mass for about 2 yrs. I thought if only he had understood what was said during mass, because they were so wholesome, holy and meaningful, perhaps it would have made a difference on this young fellow’s life who has been lost in the faith. For me Latin mass is good for those who can understand the language and those who have good eyesight to and dont mind reading the translation the whole time during mass.

  6. I will not find myself missing anything on this list

  7. Not only the Sign of Peace, but pre-Mass “Introductions” and holding hands for the Our Father. Supposedly they banned holding hands, but it still goes on.on

    And its not the congregational singing that’s so bad, it’s the kind of music. Even in English, can’t we please have Bach and Handel rather than all this “gathering garbage? Please?

    It’s fine and well to talk about finding a Latin Mass, but I don’t drive and can’t even make it to the local parish all the time.

  8. I’ll throw one in: you won’t see the pulpit used for the purpose of establishing the priest’s “relevance” by referring to pop culture, politics, or the latest amusing, heartwarming utterances by the Pope and otherwise used to warm the crowd up or break the ice with hardy-har-har knee slappers etc. In the two Trad chapels in this region (one SSPX, the other FSSP), the priest homilists are very careful to not waste literally a single word on ANYTHING other than laying out the high stakes of life on earth; supporting, encouraging, and not infrequently challenging the faithful to strive for holiness, and encouraging all of us to do our part to build the Kingdom of God.

    When I went to college I left the mainstream novus ordo faith and went Protestant for around a decade. In that time I heard lots of good “preaching”. I subsequently returned to novus ordo Catholicism and then discovered the “old” Mass when Pope Benedict released Summorum Pontificum. When I started attending these two chapels what I found was that the priests there preached as well as any Protestant and yet, they had the Mass too, and the Mass in the fullness of its majesty, truly worthy of the significance of what it going on.

    Keep up the good work Brian – – it is simply a matter of time before enough (especially, young) novus ordo Catholics discover what they’re missing or what (as Fr. Z was remarking on in the past few days) they’ve been robbed of.

  9. No applause at any time!!!

  10. Fr. Chris Daigle

    It is my experience that I love the Mass approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops since Vatican II. I am bound by sacred promises to celebrate the Mass approved by our United States conference of bishops. It truly celebrates the joyful nature of the New Covenant given to us by Our Sacred Lord.

    • I’m sorry that you feel that way, Fr., but for very many of us who realize what was stripped from us, and in its place was given the banal, fabricated Bugnini product through lies and manipulation, we will forever lament this vile substitution, valid or otherwise.

    • You joke, right?

      As a convert from Protestantism, I deliberately chose the Byzantine Catholic Church over the Roman Church specifically because of the Liturgy, or I should say, the lack thereof in the Roman Church.

      Sadly, I had to leave the Ruthenians because they fell into the same feminist language and nonsense that the Romans have in some places embraced. I guess the next stop for me is Holy Orthodoxy. At least they haven’t changed.

    • Actually, Father, you are not bound exclusively to the NO, because Summorium Pontificum is still in effect due to the failure of the pontiff to rescind it so far. Of course, he won’t do that while Pope Benedict still lives, but you can bet Francis will do so within weeks after his passing.

  11. Fr Daigle is another.

  12. Michael Sean McArdle

    When you have been taught how to attend Mass from a very early age, usually by Nuns and family in my case, and you attend it regularly in the Latin Tradition, and even serve at Mass as an Altar Boy as I did, and then one day you’re told that the old way is wrong and we will now celebrate Mass a new way. WHY? The Father Son and Holy Ghost, oh I mean, Holy Spirit haven’t changed, why are we? In every Sunday Missal one page was in Latin and the facing page was in English… So I don’t buy the excuse… “So everyone will understand what is being said at Mass”. I know of 2 Priests, personally, that are VERY much against saying the Mass in Latin. I think the politics of the catholic Church had much to with the changing to English. It was also said to gain more converts… I’m pretty sure they could read the English pages in the Sunday Missal to follow along so that’s another excuse I don’t buy into… Just MY OPINION… At my church we didn’t even have a Crucifix on the altar until I complained about it enough times I think the Priest but one there just to shut me up !

  13. “You will miss your beloved neighbor speaking responses three syllables ahead of the rest of the congregation …”

    It depends. The norms for spoken responses at the Traditional Mass (the so-called “dialogue Mass,” if you will) are governed by a 1958 decree, and at one time, the discretion of the local bishop, as opposed to however tightly wound are either the priest of the faithful in the pews. And that in turn depends (at least in North America) on from what part of Europe the immigrants came and brought the Faith with them. In the Midwest, the descendants of German Catholics respond freely to the priest, and everybody lives. In some parts of the East Coast, the descendants of the Irish are tuned to their inner “bogtrotter” and you won’t hear a peep from out of the pews.

    “11. Congregational singing.”

    On the contrary, the faithful are permitted to sing the parts that belong to them, which would include the chanted responses to the priest, and the Ordinary of the Mass when using Gregorian chant (the Kyrie, Gloria, etc).

    • Thanks for your interesting observations.

      Perhaps I find the parishioner my cousin calls “The Nemesis” particularly irritating because my grandparents were of mostly Irish descent.

  14. “It is my experience that I love the Mass approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops since Vatican II.”

    Except that it’s not what happened.

    The Novus Ordo Missae was approved by the Apostolic See, which would be in Rome, not Washington. The current translation was also approved by the Apostolic See, after submission by all English-speaking conferences of bishops, of which that of the United States was only one.

  15. This past year I was watching an Episcopalian Christmas midnight service from their Cathedral in New York. I was shocked that the ritual was almost word for word identical with the Novus Ordo Mass of Vatican II. Now I can totally justify my continuing to embrace the Latin Mass of my youth. The Consul’s hope for heightened Ecumenicism seems to have been based on becoming bootlickingly protestant.

  16. One of my pet peeves that I don’t like about going to the current mass is how people dress. I’ve seen people dress in shorts and those sleeveless t-shirts that are appropriate for home and the beach. I’m not saying you have to dress in a suit or tuxedo, but for goodness sakes, people, you are visiting The Lord. Whatever happened to dressing in your Sunday’s best?

  17. I know that church, and that priest! Immaculate Conception in El Paso, what a wonderful community and a beautiful church! God bless you and grant you increase, and may the love of Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar take root and grow in the hearts of all around the world until the end of time. Ave Maria!

  18. Richard Ammerman

    But I love my ministry as a Lector.

    • Michael Sean McArdle

      Richard, not to discredit you or what you do but is it only your being a Lector that you love?

      • What insufferable innuendo, Michael. I also love being a lector, and related loves are a love of getting more deeply into Scripture than I ordinarily would, and also of being service to our Lord in reading the Scripture to the congregation, in other words, of being His instrument in those moments.

        There is also the added benefit of having more contact with the priests of the parish than I ordinarily would, and of frequently being pressed into the serving of Mass. Moreover, I love having gotten much, much better at reading the Scripture over the course of the past twenty years.

        Also, I love the fact of having frequently, manifestly experienced Our Lord’s help in doing a good job with the readings, particularly early on when assigned to read for the Easter Vigil or at Christmas. For what it is worth I, and I am sure many other readers, take this ministry extremely seriously and pray that it contributes to the glory of God and the salvation of His people.

        And this, contributing to the salvation of his people is emphatically a real possibility, for if “salvation comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God,” is it not altogether possible that when the word is clearly and well articulated and heard, that it may deepen someone’s understanding, even to the point of bringing him to conversion? That is why I became a lector, for our parish had a succession of priests from India, Nigeria, Poland whose English was strangled at best. Did not the congregation deserve at least a few moments of clear English in the course of the Mass? I stepped up, as have many other people in the Church.

        Of course, there are many others who love to critique, but is that all that they love?

        I can’t tell you how completely off-putting it is to find in comments such as yours the suggestion that all this is about self-love or loving to hear the sound of our own voice or love of prominence in the parish. it is not the first time I have encountered this sort of thing in the traditional community and it is the very opposite of winsome. If you are trying to build up a base of support to ask for the suppression of the TLM, I can hardly think of a better strategy.

      • Michael Sean McArdle

        Imgilbert….I did not mean to offend you… I apologize if I did. It wasn’t my intention. I am FAR rom belittling or degrading the TLM. As a matter of fact , I have an appointment next week to talk to a Deacon and Priest about why they believe that the people that would rather have the TLM are considered evil. Again I apologize if I came of as insinuating that all you loved was being a lector. I’m ashamed that I didn’t properly express myself and write what I was thinking… I wanted to know what and why you loved by being a lector and I didn’t… I’m glad you took the time to answer what I should have wrote. Again… I beg your forgiveness. God Bless.

      • Michael, Well obviously I was guilty of rash judgment based on my misinterpretation of your one only sentence. Talk about jjumping to conclusions! Please forgive me.

      • Michael Sean McArdle

        It was my fault… I was caught up in reading other posts and did not express my self the way I should have. No hard feelings from me. You taught me a lesson though… A good one. Thank you.

  19. I suffered an illness early this year that lasted for several months which made it impossible for me to speak for any length of time or at a particular volume or to sing or tolerate a high volume of sound without collapsing in exhaustion. As a faithful Catholic, attending Sunday Mass became unbearable due to all “the noise” which never bothered me before. I sought out the only Traditional Latin Mass offered in my city which wasn’t particularly far from my home. The silence of the Mass (in contrast to the volume of my regular parish Mass) was heavenly and, I believe, healing. Not long after attending the Latin Mass I began to recover. Now I love it! I was perhaps only 4 years old when Mass in the vernacular was introduced, so I really have no recollection of the Latin Mass. I do remember my mother stating that she felt strange experiencing the new Mass, and that it was so very different. In fact, she wore her veil to Mass even into the 70’s–as did I. It was a struggle for her to go to Mass unveiled, but eventually she did because none of the other women wore one any longer. My choice to attend the Latin Mass this year revealed subtle distractions in my experience of the Liturgy which I hadn’t realized were impeding my worship and my approach to the Sacrifice of the Mass and to Christ in the Holy Eucharist. I had already begun wearing a veil to Mass for some time so perhaps Our Lord had been preparing me for this experience all along??? I can’t say, really, but I do know that although any Mass for me is a gift, the regular Mass–particularly the Sunday Mass–leaves me sad and disoriented. I now realize that the new liturgy is quite me-centered and I don’t feel called to that experience any more. It seems quite selfish in contrast to the posture of self-forgetfulness that is required by the Latin Mass.

  20. You should have stopped after nine. The first nine are entirely appropriate, the last one….not so much. St. Paul speaks about this in 1st Corinthians, where he makes it clear that the speaking in an unknown tongue is not edifying to those who hear.

    The fact is that Latin is a dead language. Nobody knows it. Therefore, the beautiful prayers of the priest during the Liturgy are not heard by the congregation, nor do they receive a blessing from hearing them

    Are you afraid that you are somehow offending God by offering prayers in the vernacular of the country you are in?

    • That makes no sense. The congregation isn’t blessed because they know what the priest is saying. The priest’s prayers aren’t for the congregation. They’re addressed to God. So it wouldn’t matter if people understood it cus it isn’t for them. Participating in the Mass doesn’t requiring knowing every word that is being said. First, most people use a missal that have the English translation and the Latin to follow. Although, I personally don’t follow because there is no reason for me to be staring at a book when I all ready know what is going on without having to know every word. And I don’t have to worry about the priest putting his own spin on things.

  21. Latin as a “dead” language means it can not change. That is why it is used. The meaning of the words will not change as it does in vernacular languages. Latin is still the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. The Latin language, classical and vulgar, is taught throughout the world in schools even in this day. It is not “dead” in your sense of the word “dead.” Which reinforces what I stated above.

  22. For over 48 years I have only been to a Roman Rite Mass (NO). For the past year or so I have had the opportunity to participate in the traditional Mass (LTM) and I must confess that I enjoy it very much, but I wouldn’t choose one over the other and neither will I ridicule the NO and try to stay away from those who go to these Masses. Each of these 2 forms of Mass have its own significance and come from the same source, the Catholic Church, and so I would never ridicule or find fault with either of these Masses. It is unfortunate that lay Catholics (as can be seen from the comments above) and even some Priests find fault with the NO and consider it below them to attend this form of Mass. It is this rigidness that has to be put away. What if (hypothetically) the LTM is banned by the Holy See, will all those who consider the NO as lesser, leave the Catholic Church, or start their own Church, or rebel against Rome? We have already been divided once due to the Protestant Reformation, let us not divide from within ever again. Let us not give rise in our hearts to any form of hatred to the NO but work with the Church on how we can make the NO as beautiful as the LTM.

    • Most of these things are actually abuses introduced aside from Holy Mother Church and came along due to the “false spirit of Vatican II. If you read the documents and observe how Pope Emeritus celebrates the mass, it can be seen just how much people have gone off on their own aside from what the Council has prescribed. It should be of concern when a Catholic mass is closer to a heretical protestant service (Anglican etc.) than the traditional form. I mean… just look at the diocese of Lincoln Nebraska. The majority of faithful are content with assisting Norvus Ordo because of the lack of abuse, and have no problem with the 1962 rite. Such is not the case in other places where there is even poor sentiment(bitterness) towards the mass pre Vatican ii, when they really should not be so different.

      • Well said, Amber!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I have always loved the mass in English and all that goes with it. The negative attitude and harsh criticism of most people on these blogs regarding the beautiful NO is deplorable. SHAME ABUNDANTLY ON THEM!!!!!!!!

    • I am linred, two responses below. I intended my response to be directed at Adolf, my kindred spirit above. Sorry about the misplacement, Amber

  23. I miss the birthdays and anniversaries (complete with musical accompaniment) celebrated at the end of Mass as well as the introduction of newcomers at the beginning. Oh, and did I mention the inclusion of bongo drums?

  24. The comments about Latin being a dead language very much misses the point of having a sacred language for the liturgy which is universal and precise because it doesn’t follow the whims of a particular age. I have been going to the traditional Mass for about three years and, given the amount of Latin I have picked up so far, I may have been fluent if I’d gone since childhood. Moreover, I recall vividly the cacophony of different languages at the shrine of Fatima when praying the rosary before the procession. I started to pray the second part of the Ave Maria in latin as it was closer to some Spanishand Italian prayers around me than the English version.It put me in mind of Babel. Completely discordant and distracting. What a difference is would have made if we all – from every conceivable part of the world – prayed in the same tongue as used to be the case. The confusion of languages at Babel was a punishment from God not a blessing.

  25. Sometimes even a drop of H2O is too much for some.

  26. With the exception of point #10, i.e., “The Vernacular”, the Ordinariate Mass (Divine Worship) conforms to the list. DW is the third (and worthy) form of the Mass of the Roman Rite. The language of DW is hieratic English (—yes, English can be beautiful!), and most Sundays we have Latin polyphony and chant in addition to sublime English chant and polyphony.

    Divine Worship, the Ordinariate Mass: all the reverence; none of the rancour and liturgical ridiculousness.

  27. How about the visiting before and after Mass instead of praying? And the applauding to the choir or singers? Or applauding for people in general? How about the casual clothes, shorts, short skirts, jeans? Jokes told by the Priest? The Priest saying homily in the isle by lay people? Should I go on?

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