By Latin mass you mean Novus Ordo mass in Latin (the Ordinary Form) or Traditional Latin Mass/Tridentine Mass (Extraordinary Form)?
If it’s the first then the mass is basically the same, only that it’s in Latin. Of course on average these masses tend to be more traditional but otherwise it’s still NO.
You however probably mean the Extraordinary Form. If you want to prepare yourself and avoind any cultural shock, you can watch the beautiful Extraordinary Mass FSSP celebrated on EWTN in celebration of the recent Summorum Pontificum. You can find it HERE (requires RealTime Player). Also check out this booklet. You can follow it while watching the mass so you know what is being said and done (with english translations :)). Also this might be helpful.
Basically Novus Ordo (NO) is the way masses are normally celebrated after the Second Vatican Council. Before that all masses were all in Latin and…well, you will be able to see the differences if you watch the video. The older rite is often referred to as Traditional Latin Mass or Tridentine Mass. In the recent Motu Propio the Holy Father called the new mass Ordinary and the old traditional one Extraordinary.
Hopefully they will have a Latin/English missal to help you follow along. Where I attend, they have one that also shows the actions of the priest, and that makes it easier yet. If it’s a TLM, you might not be able to hear much because the priest will be facing the altar, and the one I attend doesn’t use microphones. Just do what everyone else does as far as kneeling and standing, etc. You might want to wear a head covering if you are a woman. Be prepared for more kneeling than you are used to – if you are older and/or have bad knees, it helps to take an Advil first! Hope this helps!
You will undoubtedly find it difficult to follow along without getting lost. Playing “catch up” once you notice something you recognize is a part of becoming acquainted with the Mass. On the way into the Church, look for a bookshelf or an usher handing out little red missalettes. These will contain the Ordinary parts of the Mass. These are the parts that are the same from day to day and include everything except the Propers: that is, the Epistle, the Gospel and a few other prayers specific to the day. The Epistle and Gospels will be read in English after the Latin, so you will still hear them.
If you’d like to be able to follow every single item (which I recommend), you can find yourself a daily missal (1962 or earlier). If you plan on attending the traditional Mass frequently, it might be a good idea at some point.
Also, many women at the traditional Latin Mass choose to respect the old custom of covering their heads with a hat or mantilla while in church. Nobody would require you to, but you will notice that most women choose to.
Please report back here after your first Latin Mass and share your experience.
I recently-- two Sundays ago-- attended my first extraordinary rite mass.
It was a very pleasant experience, and I’m going to try to go weekly.
My experience was this-- it’s pretty much impossible to follow along perfectly the first time. Don’t worry. Be attentive and be prayerful. Throw yourself into the wonderful sense of silence which the extraordinary rite, in my opinion, is so good at doing. If you miss prayers, it’s no big deal. It’s a mass, and it’s objectively fruitful regardless of what you do. As long as you are being attentive and not day-dreaming, you’re fine.
You’ll learn that some things are different. The priest has many more silent prayers than in the ordinary rite. This will throw you off. It’s possible that you’ll miss the entire consecration, until he elevates the host or bells start ringing. I did. Incidentally, that’s why those things exist-- to clue you in to it.
The best way to gauge what the priest is doing-- since you won’t hear him most of the time, is by his actions. For instance, the prayers have specific actions which the priest will do-- combinations of varying types of bows, genuflections, signs of the cross and hand movements. This is totally impracticable to learn at first, or even at second. But missals tend to show these along with the prayers.
So, again, I recommend this-- relax (in other words don’t fret or be anxious), attempt to follow along, but don’t kill yourself when you get lost. If you do get lost, maybe find a vocal prayer or motion which you can latch on to, which should be coming up, and be prayerful in the interim.
Of course, it will probably prepare you to peruse the order of the mass once or twice before going so that you can identify prayers (when you hear the latin words), and other things like that. But the best method of learning is doing it. God bless, and best of luck.
hey thanks everyone for your suggestions… i was thinking about wearing a mantilla…but at this time feel uncomfortable doing so right now… i dont know exactly which type of mass i will be attending so i will ask my pastor first.
hmmm… what else?
i will give an update once I attend the mass… sort of excited… trying to recruit a friend to go with me…
just to let you know… i’m not planning to go tomorrow to the mass… i still have to find out where to go and what time, etc… all of which i will ask my pastor at OLOP here in Santa Clara, Ca tomorrow…
If anything else comes to mind… don’t hesitate to post…
You will find that a good portion of the Mass is silent…such as the Canon. The Consecration is in silence and if you start to get a little lost…the priest says in a somewhat elevated tone**.Nobis quoque peccatóribus:** and that will help you find out where you are. It might take awhile, i was in your shoes last spring and have been going pretty much daily since then and it comes to you. Maybe studying or looking over a red missallette might help.
As for the mantilla…if you feel unconfortable there are ladies where i go that do not wear them for whatever reason. Just go…be at peace and enjoy the beauty and magnificence.