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. 101 Comments.

  1. Jean Borchelt

    Oh please! I am not sure if the writer of this article was joking?! I was born in 1951. As a child I went to church every Sunday because my parents brought me. I remember as a child what I like most was the music because that was my talent born in me. The mass was always very mysterious and you couldn’t move or talk or you were I serious trouble. As time moved on I was old enough to sing in the Catholic School Choir so I still liked going to church plus I didn’t want a mortal sin on my soul! So was I going out of habit, fear or the music?! Who knows. All I know is that when the 1960’s came I finally felt a part of the Mass because they introduced English and I could finally understand it! The Latin was on one side of my book and English on the other! I am sure people were looking at the English not the Latin. I even knew altar Boys who just muttered the Latin words and did not know what they were saying! At last we could see the priest and he seemed friendly instead of scary! All I know is a lot of friends left the church and made of Catholics because they were afraid of the nuns and the priests. Jump ahead to 2019! I now have 8 grandkids and they are raised Catholic! But thank Jesus for the church changing and becoming more open and friendly to all people! They still have a ways to go but in spite of the abuse by priests. My daughter was able to become an altar server. I have been a lector and a cantor. We receive Jesus in our hands and it makes it more real. One day hopefully woman can become priests just as there are women ministers in other faiths! Jesus preached one thing! Love one another as I have loved you❤️

    • Josh Johnson

      I’m confused why you think the author is joking, you literally do not have the things listed above at the Latin Mass, thanks be to God for that. I’m wondering you are joking…//one day hopefully women can become priests// This is not a matter of subjectivity or opinion, it is not a ‘fad’ that will pass if the church would simply become more “woke”. And ‘other faiths’? is the Catholic Church another flavor of ice cream at Baskin Robins? With respect, the depth of your ignorance and deception is damning and irrelevance is beyond disheartening. The items listed above are the many reasons why I go to the Latin Mass. I understand many people, probably including yourself may disagree with the Catholic faith, but trying to make it something it is not meant to be is a despicable act. The Mass is one of the greatest gifts given to us by Christ himself, that is a true act of love, we abuse that love by deforming it, attempting to deform it, and by advocating for its deformation. I do hope you are able to come back to the foundations of the faith and a better understanding of its truth. There are many great works out to help, The Baltimore Catechism, Foundations of Catholic Dogma by Ott, and Apologetics and Catholic doctrine by Cardinal Sheehan.

    • You belong in the Protestant faith. None of the changes have brought people to the Catholic faith. Quite the contrary as I’m sure you know. What do you think is responsible for clerical abuse? …..trying to make the Church about our comfort rather than the Eucharist.

  2. I was born in 1952, and even as a child I loved the reverence. Almost every child at that time had a St. Joseph’s Missal (still have mine 🙂 ) and yes the English was on one side and the Latin on the other. We learned the Latin. I also sang in the Choir and I especially loved singing the Requiem Mass for our deceased parishioners. This was so beautifully imprinted in my mind that I can still remember and sing parts of Requiem Aeternum, Dies Irae, Lux Aeterna and the In Paradisum. I treasure all 12 years of my Catholic school education, and if I could turn back the hands of time, I would go through it all over again. In high school we learned Latin as well, and as we see today how it helps students decipher words they are unfamiliar with by looking at the Latin root. I was taught by Dominicans, Josephites, and Sisters of Mercy, I loved all the sisters. They were models for young women and I kept in touch with many of them. Sisters in habits reminded us of Almighty God just by seeing them. Once they went to a modified habit, they became worldly. I remember many of the sisters coloring the front of their hair, and even as a 15 year old, I was aware that we were about to lose something we treasured. My preference for Mass will always be a Latin Mass. I pulled my son out of Catholic school in the 4th grade because he was not being taught what I was. I did not send him to CCD even though he was then in public school. I used the Baltimore Catechism with him and it was time to make Confirmation, they wanted him to do CCD. I asked them to test him, and of course he passed with flying colors, I am fairly certain at this point that we have come full circle and that tradition is coming back!

  3. Gina Edwards

    I read the replies above and am so thankful that I can attend a Latin Mass each Sunday. Deo Gratias.

  4. I have not attended mass with one exception in a number of years as I feel very uncomfortable in the PROTESTANTIZED services in my church. I’m too old to be driving over 100 miles to a Latin Mass. Very distressing. I hope God will understand.

    • Carol, don’t be dismayed. Many people are in your situation. But just like in the early Church, a priest wasn’t always available for Sunday Mass, or Masses are said in rented rooms just the first Mass as said by Jesus was held in “the upper room”. There are things you can do at home to make up for it. Here is a link to find a Traditional Tridentine Mass location. Find one closest to you that is a true Traditional Mass, said by validly ordained priests, and not an “Extraordinary” mass, also known as an “Indult” mass because it is “allowed” by a Novus Ordo bishop who is loyal to the Novus Ordo and is only allowing the Latin mass to be said to appease “Oldtimers”, fooling them into thinking they are attending a valid mass. The problem is that this type of Latin mass is usually said on the same altar/table as the Novus Ordo mass and the hosts usually come from them and are not even validly consecrated.

      Read the explanation of how to find a true Traditional Mass. There is also an explanation of what to do for people in your situation. If a phone number is available on the Mass location you find, give the priest a call and explain your situation. And if at all possible, have someone drive you to that location at least once. It will make you feel better about your efforts to save your soul.

      Good Luck and God Bless,

      Gary

      http://www.traditio.com/nat.htm

  5. As I have lived through all the changes – Bergoglio the 7th Pope in my time – I can clearly remember the terrible discomfort when tradition was ousted and the mat pulled from under our feet. The worst of those changes was taking Holy Eucharist in our hands – from other hands – and then the confusion of folk older than I when their beloved St.Philomena’s statue ‘disappeared’ from the church. One of those Protestant types who had infiltrated the Church with their broom sticks swept her out along with a list of other saints and of course the altar rails where we could kneel to receive the Body of Christ with private devotional concentration. Then we no longer had an Altar – just a ‘table’, the vestments became polyester ugly, the priests were confused and uncomfortable and Fr. Nolan became Fr. Joe or even just Joe. More and more ugliness, less reverence and beauty spread through as the feminists sneaked in to insert their gender neutral or even She in place of He (Christ) in certain passages of the Altar Missal. By then priests had lost their priestly confidence and many became ‘wet noodles’. From then on the congregations began to shrink. Now the Church is a ghost of what it was. I could write much more but this is the Feast of Christ the King here in Australia, I am recuperating from illness and cannot handle the long drive to Traditional Latin Mass with our beloved FSSP priest so I will read the Propers of the Mass from my 1950’s Latin/English Missal. God Bless the ‘liturgyguy’ and God protect the growing numbers of faithful who follow the Mass of All Time.

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