History of the Latin Mass

Is it true that before Vatican II there was no such thing as a mass in English, or any other language? Or no catholic church had extraordinary ministers of the eucharist before Vatican II? Furthermore, in the beginning years of our church, mass wouldn’t of been said in Latin, am i not correct?

I am 27 years old and didn’t know what a traditional catholic was until last year. I find myself drawn to traditional catholicism, but i could never consider ridiculing the novus ordo mass like i hear alot of traditional catholics do. Thanks to everyone for your comments.

I am a post Vatican ll Catholic convert. I have a great need to understand the mass. If it had been in Latin, I question whether I would have converted. Now I am participating in and learning the Latin Mass and I am shocked by the difference in reverence for Christ I experience now.

A Traditional Catholic should never , but never , ridicule the Novus Ordo , though some adherents to schismatic groups think that they can reject the authority of the Pope & so give ALL who like the Tridentine Mass a bad name . There is a number of rites within the Church & many , prior to Vatican 11 , had their liturgies in the vernacular - the Coptics as an example .EMs werent part of the Church because there were lots of priests to fulfill the needs of the Church . Latin was the language of the Roman Rite so it would depend on where in the world you were . It is worth bearing in mind too that under The Roman occupation of the " world " Latin ( Roman ) was the Lingua Franca ( forgive the pun ) . The real point however is that the Mass is the Mass ! You are free to choose the Rite that suites you .
[SIGN]Pax et Bonum[/SIGN]

Actually there was the Slavonic Mass in the Dalmation area. It was the traditional ‘Latin’ rite Mass, but with Slavonic as the liturgical language. After the switch to the vernacular, these people used Croatian and Slovenian in their Mass.

As stated above, the Mass at Rome was in Greek, not Latin, for the first three hundred years (or therabouts). The switch to Latin was the driving force behind the need for Jerome’s new Latin translation of the Bible (the ‘Vulgata’, or common language Bible). That switch to Latin was precisely because it had become the language of most Christians in the church of the city of Rome by that time.

So the Romans understood the prayers and scripture readings better in the vernacular (vulgar) tongue.

It is true that there was no *vernacular * in the Traditional Mass. There were a very few exceptions of it being translated into Church Slavonic, but that is still a liturgical language. And there is technically a very very very small amount of Greek in the Latin Mass during the “Kyrie”.

There were never extraordinary ministers during Mass. I’m not sure but I think people still might have done what EMHC are really supposed to do, namely, bringing the Eucharist to the sick and infirm.

During the Early Church the liturgy was almost in Greek. For a while, the liturgy was relatively the same throughout the Church and then each area developed its own apostolic liturgical tradition. Thus we have the Antiochene, Byzantine, Latin, Alexandrian, Syrian, Armenian liturgical families. So during the early years, even in the West the liturgy was in Greek. It later developed into its own tradition including Latin around the 4th-5th century.

I would never ridicule the Novus Ordo Mass because it is valid. However, I definitely have some reservations and consider the Novus Ordo to be inferior. Since people love to jump on traditionalists for this one, I make it clear that the Sacrifice is not inferior, but rather the particular edition of the Mass. It is so separated from the preceding editions that it is necessary for the first time to have an Ordinary and Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The revisions are usually so similar to each other that the difference is negligible. Even the original vernacular translation after Vatican II was this way. Not the Novus Ordo. Liturgies that are accepted by the Church have always been apostolic in origin and organic, and never a drastic cut from the previous revision. The Novus Ordo is, ironically, a complete cut from the past in a well-intended attempt to institute “ressourcement” theology and false ecumenism. God bless.

It is most certainly NOT true that the Extraordinary Form was only offered in Latin prior to Vatican II. If you look at the history of missionary activity in places like Africa and India, the Mass was almost always translated into the vernacular. Sadly, this was done in order to replace already existing Liturgies that had been in use in those countries from the earliest years of the Church. I believe also that St. Francis Xavier translated the Mass into Japanese in order to be more effective in his missionary activity there. I could be wrong about this last point, however, and I’m open to correction.

There was also a growing experimentation with the vernacular in Germany and, I believe, France in the days leading up to Vatican II. I believe this experimentation began sometime in the 19th Century. This was also a time of experimentation with the “Dialogue Mass” where the people would do the responses instead of the choir/altar boys. This is all pre-Vatican II and was looked upon favorably by Rome. Trent itself had toyed with the idea of replacing Latin with the vernacular languages, but decided against it in order to protect the Mass from the radical changes taking place at that time.

Originally Mass was indeed held in Greek. Ultimately I think we must all bear in mind that no language can contain the unfathomable mysteries of God. Mass, whether in Greek, Latin, Church Slavonic, Coptic, or a vernacular language is meant to be a place of intimate encounter with God and an entry-way into His kingdom. To focus on language is to miss the point. (This idea does not rule out the possibility of bad translations and poor expressions that need to be refined to more accurately represent our understanding of Divine Revelation, however.)

To state things a little more simply. My girlfriend is SSPX, and her views are that she is unsure whether transubstantiation really takes place during the novus ordo mass, “we don’t know” is how she puts it. She doesn’t blame “novus ordo” catholics because they don’t know any better. It is Vatican II that is responsible for “weaking” the church. She uses the statistics of the decline of priests and nuns since Vatican II to support her beliefs. She comes to mass with me at my Novus Ordo church, but doesn’t recieve communion because of the EMHC, and because she says she simply feels so awkward during mass. “People don’t dress appropriately, singing during mass (gregorian chants is what she believes is appropriate for church), women don’t wear head coverings, and people talk in church after the mass is over.” To sum it all up she recognizes the Holy See as SSPX does, but believes JPII and the Vatican II council made bad decisions by renewing the catholic church. Off the subject a little, but she also doesn’t believe JPII concecrated Russia to the Immaculate heart of Mary, even though i explained to her the Sr. Lucia achknowledged the consecration!

Is my girlfriend problematic by feeling the way she does? Or am i the one causing problems by being stubborn? I feel it will cause conflict if we were to get married, because it doesn’t seem she will EVER come closer to the Novus Ordo mass…and i will certainly never be swayed from the church i know and love.( Although i will say that i love the latin mass, i just don’t agree with alot of the SSPX beliefs)

Thank you so much for the help…your comments mean more to me than you think.
God Bless


no it is not true, Mass has been offered at various times in other languages and some of those ancient languages are preserved in the Eastern rites to this day, and there are older western rites, now for the most part supressed, in other languages. Throughout the late 19th & 20th centuries the liturgy in general was in a gradual process of renewal under the guidance of several popes, and some vernacular translations of some parts of the Mass were in use especially in some mission fields, by 1962 (the year the last version of the Roman Missal with what my generation thinks of as the Latin Mass was published) the readings were proclaimed in the vernacular, as was the sermon. It is a long and complex history, and parallels the history of vernacular translations of sacred writ, and cannot be dismissed with “V2 changed everything”.

I am still laboring under the wistful assumption that we are discussing OP’s question about language, and valiantly resist the let’s-trash-the-NO trend but will certainly report if it becomes worse. OPs gf and those who follow her line of thought are misinformed, badly taught, and in danger of entering into material schism if they persist in following those false teachers. There are other threads on that topic so a search will greatly assist your research and give you ammunition to counter specific claims. We tend to have a very narrow focus on how Mass was celebrated in Europe in the last 500 years without looking at the broader picture when this topic arises. Even more narrow, many of us recall “the way Mass was celebrated when I made my first communion” as the first and only guide to what was the norm.

the Mass is the gift of the Church who has been given authority to mediate Christ’s grace and gifts on earth and to establish the manner of his worship. No Church, no Mass. To reject the authority of the Church to establish the form of worship is to reject the Mass in its entirety, since we reject Christ whose sacrifice it is, and reject his authority.

Since you say you also like the EF, it might be better to try a “compromise” of sorts rather than attempt to bring her “closer” to the OF. Is there no parish around that offers the EF? If so, you could both attend. She gets the EF and you don’t have to deal with the baggage of the SSPX.

QUOTE=blaiselfd5;6423901]Is it true that before Vatican II there was no such thing as a mass in English, or any other language? Or no catholic church had extraordinary ministers of the eucharist before Vatican II? Furthermore, in the beginning years of our church, mass wouldn’t of been said in Latin, am i not correct?

You’re correct in your claim that before Vatican II all Masses in the Roman Catholic Church were said in Latin-----which through the centuries became the official language of the Church. You’re also right about the absence of EM’s. In fact, the only members of the laity allowed in the Sanctuary during Mass were the Altar boys. I attended this Mass until, when I was 24, it was suppressed to “make room” for the Novus Ordo Mass.

Before Vatican II, Catholics were much more pious & protective about the Eucharist. It was not to be passed around by the laity, the fewer organs that touched the Body of Christ…the better. Also, before the council we had, at least, 3 priests in almost every parish, more in some. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians fell from 49,999 to 4,700, a decline of over 90 percent. Since 1965 **two thirds of seminaries opened have closed their doors. ** (A look at the reasons for the steep decline of priests will come later in this article.) The number of Catholic nuns, 180,000 in 1965, has fallen by 60 percent. Since the close of Vatican II **the number of teaching nuns has fallen 94 percent. **

I am 27 years old and didn’t know what a traditional catholic was until last year. I find myself drawn to traditional catholicism, but i could never consider ridiculing the novus ordo mass like i hear alot of traditional catholics do. Thanks to everyone for your comments.

I am a Traditional Catholic & I would never ridicule the Novus Ordo Mass. I believe that it is a valid Mass. However, I will say that it does not embrace the whole of Catholicism in the same way that the TLM. does. I think it lacks in the promotion of reverence & piety. I believe that we have lost the sense of the sacred & the Novus Ordo Mass is part of the reason for that.

This is a very broad topic. A little googling would go a long way.

Just wanted to add a link to the site that gave me these stats. I meant to in my first post & I just plain forgot to do it:


Actually when Mass was celebrated in the early Church there is a story about a boy who was carrying the Eucharist to some person or persons who were not at Mass. A young boy, not a priest, was doing this. He was accosted by non-believers and in protecting the Eucharist was killed. I no longer remember his name, but when I was in school he was called a saint.

In Augustine’s time lay people took the Eucharist home for family members who could not be at Mass(Sunday in pagan society was not a day of rest.). Would these be considered early examples of lay distributors? I don’t know, but the fact is that only the priest being able to handle the Eucharist is a later innovation.

Let me ask you; do YOU think that your girlfriend’s attitude could be problematic, especially if you get married? It will, in most probability, only get worse as time goes on and you don’t bend to her way of thinking.

I agree with Hesychios; the answer to your question is “yes.”

It has already been pointed out that there was the Slavonic Mass in Europe (this is not the Byzantine-Slavonic Divine Liturgy, but the Tridentine Catholic Mass in Slavonic).

Your statement would most likely be true for the USA, which I suppose is your experience.

I believe these statistics are for the USA, am I correct?

In that time the Catholic population increased by about 50% as well.

However, I am not convinced that this was entirely a result of the changes in the liturgy. There are a lot of other possible (even likely) contributors to this problem, including a general skepticism and secularization of the entire culture which has affected most church communities.

Then there is the general materialism that infects modern Christians as much as anybody.

The seminarians of the 1950’s were the children of the 1920’s and 1930’s. It was a high point in spirituality born of hard times. The church is out of the ghetto now, and most children seem to be able to get through college (except for the very poorest, who might be immigrant families), they want to enjoy themselves.

Everyone seems to want ‘other families’ son’s to be priests, they don’t make much of an effort to encourage vocations in their own homes, as in years gone by.

I strongly suspect that these problems would exist in the church to a great extent even if the liturgy had not been monkeyed around with. :shrug:

Thank you everyone for your extremely helpful comments.
I don’t know if we will be able to completely compromise this issue, but it
certainly needs to be addressed asap.

I agree.

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