Differences between the OF and EF

This might be a silly question, but I was just wondering what are all the differences between the OF and EF Masses?
I’ve never been to an EF Mass. So for all of you who have been to both, what are certain things you like about each?

Off the top of my head:

  1. The EF will be entirely in Latin, except the sermon. (The readings will be in Latin, but are often re-read in the vernacular). The OF is usually in the vernacular, but may be offered in part or entirely in Latin as well.
  2. In the EF, the priest faces the same direction as the congregation, i.e., toward the altar, so as to be seen leading the congregation in prayer. The priest faces the people in the OF
  3. In the EF, Communion is received kneeling at an altar rail, and people receive the consecrated bread only. In the OF, people may receive kneeling or standing (although standing seems to be most common now), and they may receive both the consecrated bread and wine.
  4. Far fewer readings are included in the lectionary of the EF, so that only the most important passages are emphasized. A much larger portion of the Bible will be read over the course of three years in the OF.
  5. In the EF, much the the Mass is inaudible, and the congregants have very few speaking parts. In the OF, there are more opportunities for the congregants to respond.
  6. In general, lay people may not participate on the altar during the EF form, with the exception of altar boys. In the OF, lay people may read, serve, and act as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

If it is a sung Mass, the choir may also “sing over” the priest. Different, but cool.

Not a silly question at all, but I have another question. After coming here and being very new with this, I’ve been wondering what OF and EF stand for?
Sorry, this may be the true silly question here.

While Rolltide’s answer is mostly right, some of the stuff he mentions are not inherent to the Ordinary Form but are permitted options. Off the top of my head, I would say;

*]Both Masses are both Latin but vernacular translations are allowed for the Ordinary Form.
*]Both Masses have the priest facing the same direction as the congregation but Mass facing the people is permitted for the Ordinary Form.
*]The Extraordinary form uses a one-year cycle of readings for Sunday Masses. The Ordinary form uses a three-year cycle for Sunday Mass readings.
*]The Extraordinary Form does not have a weekday cycle of readings. The Ordinary Form does.
*]The Extraordinary Form uses a gradual exclusively after the reading. The Ordinary form allows for a gradual or a responsorial psalm, the latter most commonly used.
*]The Ordinary Form has two readings before the Gospel on Sundays and Solemnities. The Extraordinary Form has only one in all Masses.
*]The Ordinary Form does not have the following parts present in the Extraordinary Form:
*]Psalm 42 (43) with its antiphon at the foot of the altar;
*]The three prayers before Communion of the priest are reduced in the Ordinary Form.
*]The Last Gospel.

*]There is only one Domine non sum dignus (“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter…”) in the Ordinary Form; there are six total in the Extraordinary.
*]The Eucharistic Prayer is silent in the Extraordinary Form, audible in the Ordinary.
*]There are four standard Eucharistic Prayers in the Ordinary Form. The Extraordinary uses only the Roman Canon.
*]There is no Memorial Acclamation by the people after the Consecration in the Extraordinary Form.
*]In the Extraordinary Form, the Our Father is said or sung by the priest alone, except for the “sed libera nos a malo”. In the Ordinary Form, it is said or sung by all.
*]Communion is administered in the EF exclusively kneeling and on the tongue and only under the species of bread. The priest’s invocation is “The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto everlasting life. Amen.” The communicant says nothing.
*]For the Ordinary parts of the EF like the Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, the priest says his parts silently while the choir sings them. There is therefore some overlap.

OF = Ordinaria Forma or the 1970 Missal of Pope Paul VI or current edition

EF = Extraordinaria Forma or the 1962 Missal of Pope John XXIII.

OF = “Ordinary Form”. The Mass as promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 after the Second Vatican Council. The most widely-celebrated form of the Roman Mass in the world today.

EF = “Extraordinary Form”. The Roman Missal as first codified by Pope Pius V in 1570 and revised and promulgated by Pope John XXIII in 1962.

Thank you!!! I’ve been meaning to ask this question for some time now.

Thanks for all the replies! :slight_smile:

Very interesting! Thanks! What’s a gradual?

Truth be told, as far as the laity in the pews are concerned, the differences usually come down to “accepted practice.” That is, an OF Mass can look strikingly similar to an EF Mass from our perspective. But usually it looks extremely different for a variety of reasons.

Very similar to the responsorial psalm. For example, these would be today’s readings in the EF.


A little historical note. The EF Mass is celebrated per the 1962 Missale Romano and thus in Latin. The EF had been celebrated in the vernacular well before 1962 – all the way back to the 1930’s licitly in Germany.

That’s right. In short, it is a brief verse from a Psalm or other selection from Scripture. However, if sung to its authentic tones, it can take as long or even longer than a sung Responsorial Psalm in the Ordinary Form.

That’s why I listed what’s inherent, rather than what’s practiced.

A very melismatic (ornate) musical setting for a couple of psalm verses, in Gregorian chant. Many of them in, but not always, the 5th mode. They are among the most complex pieces to sing in Gregorian chant (along with the offertory antiphon). Typically the cantor would intone the first word or two, the choir would pick up the first verse, and then the schola (small group of very experienced cantors and perhaps their best students) only would do the second and most complex verse (often with a change of key, quite tricky).

Mostly they are beyond the reach of amateur choirs although some of the 5th mode ones have enough repetitive patterns in them that they can be learned with practice.

The OF Mass I normally attend, at a Benedictine abbey, always uses the gradual instead of the responsorial psalm with one exception: in Eastertide, the gradual is replaced by a second “Alleluia” and verse as per the 1974 Graduale Romanum (official OF book of the chants of the Mass). The Graduale Simplex for smaller churches and less experienced choirs uses simple antiphons for the responsorial psalm, instead of the gradual.

Do you have the texts? I’d like to see them.

Thanks! That’s really interesting!
For those of you who have attended both the OF and EF, which do you prefer and why? Just curious :slight_smile:

I personally hold both in high esteem and would equally prefer both. However, the Ordinary Form is almost universally poorly celebrated at least where I am with little regard for what the Second Vatican Council and the Holy See have said. It’s for this reason that I originally sought out the Extraordinary Form at St. Anthony’s. However, the Extraordinary Form has grown on me and I now simply attend it for its own merits and not as a reaction against the poor celebrations of the Ordinary Form.

With St. John the Evangelist parish now Catholic here in Calgary, I also alternate between the Extraordinary Form of 1962 at St. Anthony and the Anglican Use Mass at St. John.

Very cool :slight_smile:

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