Latin Mass Explained

The Traditional Latin Mass

The Extraordinary Form of Mass is celebrated according to the Missale Romanum of Pope Pius V (revised by 
Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1962).
The phrase the Traditional Latin Mass refers to the Mass of the Traditional Roman Rite and is also often referred to by the following titles….

Traditional Latin Mass
Traditional Roman Rite Mass
Extraordinary Form
Tridentine Mass
Vetus Ordo
Usus antiquior

Words, Gestures, and Details
(An extract from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest Website)

"The moment of Consecration, where the mystery of Transubstantiation takes place, is like a peak of a majestic mountain from which the streams of Paradise flow down into our daily life. Our relationship with God is profoundly linked to the presence of our Savior in the Holy Eucharist, made possible through the Holy Mass and received with awe during Communion. In a human relationship, every word, every gesture, and every detail is important — how much more in our relationship with God! Therefore, to secure this relationship, on which our life and salvation is depending, the Church has always taken the greatest care with the words, gestures, and details of the Sacred Liturgy." 

It is often stated by detractors that the Latin Mass concentrates too much on ritual, but this is far from the truth. Every aspect of the Latin Mass has meaning....

  • The amice is placed over the head upon vesting. This symbolises the Helmet of Salvation in Ephesians 6. It reminds the priest of his role in salvation history.
  • The cincture reminds the priest of the purity which he is called to maintain.
  • The maniple is placed over the priest's left arm to remind him of the need for his labour.
  • The stole is like a yoke and reminds him of his duty.

Every aspect of the Traditional Latin Mass has meaning and there is always something new to learn. In short, all aspects remind either the priest, or the congregation, of the gravity of what is about to take place in the divine sacrifice of the altar.

Orientation of the Priest and People

At the Traditional Mass, the priest and people face east, towards the Lord and the direction from which Christ will return. This orientation was used at the Last Supper and by the early Christians, and it continues to be used at the Traditional Mass. This common direction of prayer should not be viewed as the priest having his "back to the people"; rather, this eastward orientation fully expresses the meaning of the Mass—the priest leads the faithful towards the eternal goal of the Heavenly City, and he offers the Sacrifice that is Christ, to God, facing God. For Catholic tradition sees Christ as coming from the East, the direction of the rising sun.

This orientation also makes the priests' personality fade away. He becomes a servant to the sacred act that he performs.

There are three types of Latin Mass

High Solemn Mass
Sung Mass with full Ceremonial 
i.e. the highest form of Mass
Six lighted candles on the altar
One Priest assisted by deacon and subdeacon
Master of Ceremonies and at least three servers
All prayers and parts are intoned or chanted 
by priest and scola.

Missa Cantata
Six lighted candles on altar
One priest who chants various parts of the Mass
Priest intones the Gloria and Creed, chants Gospel, Preface & Our Father, 
Schola chants the Proper Prayers.

Low Mass
Two lighted candles on the altar
One priest who does not sing
No prayers of the Mass are Sung or chanted.
There may be chant at the Offertory and Communion.
A may be a recessional hymn, or there may be no singing. 
Normally this Mass is celebrated silently.

The Latin Language and Catholic Identity

The Pope celebrates the Mass in Latin every day because Latin is the maternal language of the Roman Catholic Church. Most important documents are issued in Latin. The Latin language was introduced into the Mass very early. For a brief period before that, Greek was used, and this Greek is preserved in the Kyrie. Through Latin the unity of prayer and faith has been preserved over all national differences for centuries. Latin has also inspired literature and Gregorian chant, and is the language of the Second Vatican Council. As part of the New Liturgical Movement where Catholics are reclaiming their Catholic identity, Latin is becoming more and more central to this.

Below is probably the best example to be found on
Youtube of a High Solemn Mass

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