Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Traditional Latin Mass

This coming Sunday, Oct. 25th, St Paul Church at 10th and Christian Streets in Philadelphia will begin offering Mass in the Extraordinary Form every Sunday at Noon. This Sunday marks the Feast of Christ the King according to the Traditional Calendar and the Mass will be a high sung solemn Mass. At one time, permission was required from the bishop of the diocese for Mass to be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form, but Pope Benedict has relaxed this restriction much to the joy of those who either grew up with Mass or came to love it out of a desire for a more reverent and solemn form of worship. Mass in the Extraordinary Form is also known as the Traditional Latin Mass because the readings, responses and propers are chanted in Latin. The homily is given in English.

While it takes a little while to become familiar with this form of the Mass, it's not complicated. At the few TLM's I've been fortunate enough to have assisted at, there was adequate instruction given beforehand to prepare the congregation for what to expect. Unlike the Novus Ordo (the Ordinary Form of the Mass) the people receive Holy Communion kneeling at the altar and reception in the hand is not permitted. Also, the Communicant does not respond "Amen" - instead, the priest says this before placing the Sacred Host on the person's tongue. I have noticed a greater sense of reverence in the manner in which people dress and in their silence and prayer before and after Mass. It is not required that women cover their heads but those who long to do so will feel quite comfortable wearing a mantilla or other head covering to the TLM.

When referring to the TLM, many people mistakenly say that the priest celebrates Mass with his back to the congregation. On the contrary; with the congregation, Father offers prayers facing the Cross and the Tabernacle. This is known as ad orientem posture and if you think about it, would we really want Father to turn his back on Our Lord?

While everything but the homily is chanted in Latin, those who are not familiar with the language need not worry. I was able to pick up a very inexpensive but helpful booklet that has the prayers for the TLM in both English and Latin for less then $10 at the Carmelite Monastery. At the few TLM's I've assisted at, books were printed and given out that contained all of the prayers and readings as well.

The TLM has been referred to by some as the closest we can get to Heaven while on Earth. Come see for yourself.


  1. I have been to one of the extraordinary form-Masses at St. Paul's and have to say (it was my first one) that it was absolutely beautiful.

  2. Great Kelly, I hope you will come again and we can say hi to each other in person. God Bless you!


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