Can someone please explain all the masses?


Hi all! This thread is NOT about what mass or form or Vatican council is correct. I’ve been Roman Catholic now for over a decade and attend mass. I am in full communion with the Church and believe in Papal authority. However, so many folks on here throw around terms and abbreviations and to be honest, up until now, I never really had any interest in it. But I was looking to buy some books and came across one called “Confessions of a Traditional Catholic”. I honestly have no idea if I want to buy it, but it started me thinking, I have NO IDEA what all these forms and masses and etcetera.

What is the TLM (Traditional Latin Mass), the Ovus Nordo, the Extraordinary Form, Tridentine mass, Latin mass. Who is part of the RCC in alignment with the Pope? What do each one believe? Which are valid, invalid, licit, illicit? Which is the now, and what was the pre-Vatican II. And anything else I missed that is of importance to this topic. Can someone break this all down for me? Every time I search for each of the topics, I get a whole bunch of opinions, not facts, and there isn’t one place to break them all down to see how they compare.




The TLM is the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, aka the Tridentine Rite Mass. It was the form of the Mass that was the “Ordinary Form” before about 1970. It was standardized around 1570, to make a universal Rite in the Roman Catholic Church (before this the Mass varied around different areas). Most of the Mass is spoken in Latin with the Priest (usually) facing ‘ad orientum’, or towards the Tabernacle and away from the laity. The music is also of a more ancient type.

Most Latin Masses are in Communion with Rome. They are often in more conservative, traditional Parishes. Many Dioceses in the US have at least one Parish with the Latin Mass.

One major exception is the SSPX, or Society of St. Pius X, who are in a “canonically irregular” situation and should be avoided.

The Novus Ordo is a term used to describe the current Ordinary Form, often in a negative way. It is the Mass you most probably go to. Most of this Mass is in the vernacular, with the Priest facing the parishoners.



So when people refer to the OF now it’s the mass I likely go to?

And Norvus Ordo is almost an insult?



The TLM is the Mass that was in use in the Western (Latin/Roman) Church until 1970, with a period during the 60s of experimentation when there were many modifications. The “Extraordinary Form” simply describes the use of this Mass under the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI. The Tridentine Mass is simply another name for this Mass which was promulgated (or rather made normative) at the Council of Trent. It is only celebrated in Latin.

The “Novus Ordo” Mass is also more appropriately known as the Ordinary Form. It is the Mass promulgated by Paul VI in 1970 and is the Mass most often celebrated today and can be celebrated in the vernacular, or in Latin.

The “Latin Mass” is used by many to describe the Tridentine/TLM/EF Mass, but is a misnomer, because the Novus Ordo (which should more appropriately be called the Ordinary Form) can and is offered in Latin in many places.

The TLM/Tridentine/EF Mass is licit and in union with the Holy Father when celebrated by a diocesan priest in good standing, a religious community in good standing, or the FSSP or ICK, societies of Apostolic Life which are in good standing with the Church.

When offered by the SSPX, which is not in good standing with the Church at the moment but is still technically part of the Church, it is a valid but illicit Mass. When offered by a sedevacantist group, it is neither valid nor licit.

Hope that helps.

Yes and no. It was, at the beginning referred officially as such, Novus Ordo meaning “New Order of the Mass” to describe what was then, well, new.

But eventually some have come to use it in a pejorative manner. So it really depends on the intent of the person using it. It is abbreviated NO, to which some attach a negative connotation. The Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI (I think it was 2007), refers to it as the Ordinary Form (as in ordinal, not as “bland”), that is the common form. The Extraordinary Form refers to the pre-Vatican II Mass, and again in the sense of “outside normal use” and not as in “superlative”. However, many aficionados of that Mass most certainly do think it’s superlative! I am not among those, I just think it’s a licit option, and “superlative” comes more from the manner in which a Mass is celebrated than what form it is.



It can be used as a pejorative. I refer to it as such outside of CAF since people here don’t like that term, never as an insult against it.



Yes. If the Mass you go to has the Priest facing you and is spoken mainly in English, it is an Ordinary Form Mass. (however it is said in many languages, not just English, depending on where you go. For example, in my Parish, there are several Masses said in Spanish, for Latino members of the Parish. In France, it is said in French or perhaps in a different language for immigrants there…etc)



^ This is an excellent explanation

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Wow. This is good information. Thank you.
One more question. What’s SSPX and FSSP?



SSPX = Society of St. Pius X (avoid)
FSSP = Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (full Communion with the Holy See)
ICKSP = Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (full Communion)



So would what I go to be part of the RCC? Sorry for what might seem obvious to all but I never thought the Catholic Church had so many “catholic” schisms.



Sorry for my childish sense of humor but I couldn’t help but snicker at a society nicknamed ICK!

Thank you for the very clear descriptions of the terms and meanings. This was very helpful for me as well!



The FSSP and ICKSP are NOT in schism. They are part of the RCC, like the Jesuits, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Redemptorists…etc. There are MANY different orders and congregations in the RCC.

Pope Francis is a Jesuit, for example. The first Jesuit to ever be Pope. The Jesuits are formally known as the Society of Jesus, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. That is why a Jesuit would have the title Rev. John Smith S.J. instead of just Rev. John Smith.

A Dominican would be Rev. John Smith O.P. (Order of Preachers). A Franciscan would be Rev. John Smith O.F.M. (Order of Friars Minor)

There are two basic types of Priests, Religious and Diocesan. Religious means member of an Order, Society, Congregation etc. Diocesan are Priests that serve a particular Diocese. Religious Orders have Parishes in Dioceses, though, under the Bishop and their Superior.



Some would argue that Mass as celebrated at your Abbey is closer to the “spirit” of the EF than it is to that of the OF as celebrated in the average suburban parish ;).
For the record, that is also my preference - a well celebrated OF with “traditional trappings”.



Or one could say a priest is a priest… but both secular and religious men are ordained to the priesthood. A religious priest has two vocations: first to religious life and then to the priesthood. Many have a vocation only to the religious life. Many have a vocation only to the priesthood.

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Of course. I am not saying one is superior to the other. They just have different callings and missions. To many in the laity, it really doesn’t make a difference if their Parish has Religious or Diocesan Priests. Both Celebrate Mass, both hear Confessions and Baptize.



It sounds like you are considering joining the Catholic Church; if so, welcome, and God bless you on your journey. While we are here, we might as well stir the pot a bit more.

Note: I said the Catholic Church. In the West (meaning, generally, Europe and North and South America) the most predominant rite of the Catholic Church is the Roman rite. There are several smaller (as in, people who attend) rites, such as the Ambrosian rite (pretty much restricted to Milan, Italy), the Mozarabic rite (Spain), the Bragga rite (Portugal), and the Anglican Use (from communities which have “crossed over the Tiber” from Anglican/Episcopalian to Catholic.

There are also numerous Eastern Catholic Church rites (for example, the Ruthenian Byzantine rite and the Maronite rite) which are all in union with Rome (meaning they all accept the authority of the Pope, a point among others which separates the Catholic Church from the Orthodox Churches). And while you will likely be able to find the Roman rite being the form of the Mass in other than Western countries, elsewhere you are likely to find Eastern rite parishes in greater number than in the West. Population wise, the Roman rite has by far the greatest percentage of attendees.

There are handbooks for laity which set out the parts of the Mass, and if you were to obtain one both for the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary form, you would find they track parallel to each other. Some of the prayers which are in the EF were eliminated (for example, Prayers at the Foot of the Altar) from the OF. and likewise, some prayers, etc were added to the OF (for example, the Confiteor [I confess to Almighty God] has 3 other alternatives which may be said instead, near the beginning of Mass] and the addition of an Old Testament reading prior to the Gospel reading). The OF may be said in Latin, or other approved language such as Spanish, French, etc. In the US, about 97% of the 17,200+/- parishes in the US offer only the OF, so attending the EF can sometimes be problematic depending on where you live.

Or as some wag once said: “The Catholic Church. Here comes everyone!”. Hope that helps.

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I’ve been Catholic for over a decade. :grin:
I figure myself a good apologist but with less instruction in the missal and more ecclesiastical issues like in my OP.



Actually OP, the only traditionals you should really avoid are groups such as SSPV and the Most Holy Family Monastery, for they’re sedevacantists and as far as I know all their rituals are invalid and illicit.



I don’t think it’s correct to say their Sacraments are invalid. Why would the SSPV and CMRI have invalid Sacraments?

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Can they prove apostolic succession?


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