What was the traditional Latin Mass like?

What was the traditional Latin Mass like? I know it was latin but can somebody give me a relatively detailed overview of the latin mass??

I’m sure many will disagree with me. But the Tridentine Mass was pretty much the same as the current Mass using only the First Eucharistic Prayer (that’s the only one it had), and said in Latin.

In addition, before the beginning of the Mass, there were some “prayers at the foot of the altar,” recited by the priest and altar boys. And at the end of the Mass, just before the final blessing, there was a second Gospel reading–always the same one–from the beginning of the Gospel of John (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…”)

(The current Mass, by the way, is NOT called the “Novus Ordo.”)

Haha, I’ll disagree. For one thing, the priest doesn’t face the people. Everyone faces the same way. The wording of the Mass has a much different tone in my opinion. Here’s a link with the traditional Latin Mass. You can read the whole thing.sacred-texts.com/chr/lmass/ord.htm

Also, communion is received kneeling and on the tongue. The music is Gregorian Chant too. In the High Mass, almost the whole thing is sung. The Low Mass has no music or singing (at least where I go).

I thought the Pauline Mass was also called the Novus Ordo Missae?

You can watch a couple of videos that are available online.


The part one is an explantaion and part II is an actual mass. The file sizes are a bit big.

I haven’t seen part I so I can’t vouch for it, but I have seen part II which is of the Mass and it is done well.

I suppose one could post a question in the Ask An Apologist forum to be sure, but I don’t think it’s ever been an official title for the new Mass. Personally, I just call it “the Mass,” and the old one the “Tridentine Mass.”

Daily Mass in Latin only took about 20 Min. There was no short homily or reflection. Mass was at 6AM to give folks a chance to go to work or school after Mass. There was even an early Mass on Sunday, but no Saturday evening Mass. I enjoyed attending Latin Mass and carefully followed with the Latin to English missal. However, some did not want to follow along and just said their rosary. I would have loved to have been an altar server, but this job was reserved for the Catholic school kids and I attended public school.

God bless
Deacon Tony

The people kept totally quiet and prayed, while the priest said the mass and the altar boys alone made the responses for everyone.

There was no long readings (or short responses for that matter) for the people to vocalize, no creed to read , no our father to read, no gloria to read. Those parts of the mass were said, but only by the priest and servers.

Deacon Tony: Wow! I didn’t know non-Catholic school kids couldn’t be altar boys. Wow! You’re absolutely right! I never knew any kids not admitted to being an altar boy, but all of us that were altar boys attended our local parochial school or other Catholic highs schools. (I quit being an altar boy in 1968, junior year in HS when I got to be taller than Father).

I didn’t know non-Catholic school kids couldn’t be altar boys.

I think it was pretty much impractical for public school kids.

It took a lot of practice to get the latin responses and movements down right, and of course rookie altar boys served daily masses and getting the boys from church after 8 a.m. mass to their public school for their school day is a logistical problem.

Sorry, I didn’t answer the question. I can only respond from my own expieriences. I was extremely conscious of serving God. I took my duties seriously. I knew I was representing the congregation. As the opening of the Mass said “Introibo ad altare Dei” to which I replied “Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam”. I will go unto the altar of God. To God who gives joy to my youth." Quite fitting for an altar boy.

They’re right. The priest could zip through the Mass in Latin and in record time. Serving 6:00 AM (yep that’s right) Mass on a weekday morning meant that my Daddy would have me home by 6:40 and would be able to go to work. Daddy wasn’t Catholic BTW.

I really like the changes made to the Mass so that the regular folks participate. On the other hand, I really liked the sense of entering into the sacred. Too bad it was restricted to the altar boys.

The best way to understand what the Tridentine Mass IS, it still exists, is to attend one. I’d go for the high mass though. I really is beautiful and uplifting. I attend St. John Cantius from time to time, but usually attend our own Byzantine Catholic Church.

Dan L

Christ is Among Us!

Back in the day (50’s and 60’s are my recollection) an awful lot of people found the Mass to be boring. That’s why the rosary beads were out, prayerbooks too.

It was considered enough to be in the presence of the ‘event’, but it was not a participatory experience, except for the actual reception of the Eucharist at the rail.

I can still recall being admonished by my mother for looking up when the Sanctus bells were rung. I was sooo curious!! The kind of piety practiced was such that one did not even dare look at the host when the priest would elevate it. I wonder if anyone else remembers being taught that.

This is odd because the host was elevated to be adored! but that’s how far out of sync personal piety had gone.

Twenty years ago the people who wanted to bring back the old Mass were still mostly very nostalgic about it, who could blame them? Today there is a high percentage of individuals involved who were not raised with it, and appreciate the type of worship for it’s own sake.

I think that the Tridentine Mass as it is now celebrated is much improved over the garden variety Mass we had years ago, also the people that attend are just not your average Catholic, they are more committed as a group and better educated in the Faith than your average. That’s because the people who want the traditional Latin Tridentine Mass are a self-selected highly motivated type of Catholic. That type is also more likely to visit and/or join an Eastern Catholic church.

  1. Singing the mass is considered appropriate and preferable in the current mass. The Easter Vigil I went to was almost entirely sung/chanted.
  2. Communion posture has little to do with the type of mass. I received on the tongue on an altar rail just yesterday at a novus ordo weekday mass (just after the announcement of the pope!)… Also, he used intinction (dipped the Host into the Blood) before placing it on my tongue. Unfortunately, this isn’t my regular parish, but rather, an old parish in downtown… almost makes me want to go there for every mass. What a gorgeous place… none of that modern community-center looking waste of the faithful’s money junk that keeps popping up everywhere. IMO, every Catholic church should look like a gothic cathedral… scale should vary depending on needs of the parish.
  3. the current mass can be quite beautiful… Obviously, as shown by the masses we’ve seen on TV recently. It’s all about how poorly so many of our parishes are doing them :frowning:


I think that the Tridentine Mass as it is now celebrated is much improved over the garden variety Mass we had years ago, also the people that attend are just not your average Catholic, they are more committed as a group and better educated in the Faith than your average.

That is absolutely true, and the exact reason why I don’t particularly care for the indult Latin mass of today.

Those who assisted at old latin masses of pre-1965 were the whole of the Catholic people. Not just an elite few as in the current era, the entire idea of attending a latin mass today in a modern latin mass community just seems elitist and exclusionary.

I remember the latin mass nostalgicly , but I remember all the people being there, they ain’t there today, they are at the vernacular masses. The English mass just seems a lot more in tuned with the church at this point in time.

I finally found the link I had hidden deep.

Here is a TLM you can actually watch. It’s long, about an hour, but you can see what it’s like.


A relative of mine says that at St. John Cansius they actually don’t do everything like it used to be done back in the day. Further, the experience of the old Mass in contemporary times isn’t qute the same thing as having experienced it as a norm. I don’t necessarily agree, then, that the best way to understand what the experience was is to see what it is like at present.

the current mass can be quite beautiful… Obviously, as shown by the masses we’ve seen on TV recently. It’s all about how poorly so many of our parishes are doing them :frowning:


Oh Michael, I do so agree and it does my heart good to see every one of the people here in different parts of the country who get an “EWTN” mass.
My parish (God Bless Father Ben) sings Latin, kneels for communion, has May Crowning, Corpus Christi and some of the ladies wear chapel caps to pray (including myself).
One day I’ll got to the TLM, but I love the mass here.

No dancing girls, no holding hands, no orans “Gettin’ mo’ God on me.” by the people, holy water, kneeling, genuflecting…OH I love it!!!

Thanks for the suggestion Jim. Peggy said it is more proper to refer to both as the Mass, but Novus Ordo is the name for the current Mass as promulgated by Paul VI. Just as the Tridentine is the name for the Mass promulgated by Pius V.

The Roman-rite Mass of Pope Paul VI, promulgated by the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, is called the Novus Ordo Missae (New Order of Mass). It’s often shortened to Novus Ordo. Because the Mass is a Holy Sacrifice, it should be referred to as The Holy Sacrifice, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Holy Mass, or the Mass. (CCC 1330).

For me, the traditional Latin Mass is entirely focused on the worship of God. The priest and congregation all faced the Tabernacle with the liturgy directed to the living presence of Christ.

Today’s Mass is more centered on the congregation. Many thought that the TLM left the laity as just observers and a new Mass would involve the people more. By more active participation they would have a greater appreciation of their Faith.

I suppose the argument today is between the thought of what the Mass is supposed to be. Is it the Sacrifice of our Lord that should leave us in awe, or is it more of a gathering of the faithful for education and fellowship?