Today, at my friend house, we were talking about Churches, and the topic of Latin Mass came up. She said that it was very conservative.
I have never been to one and don’t know much about it, and I want to attend a Latin Mass somewhere in my town, and I was wondering if I need to know anything before going. Besides the language difference, is there anything else I need to know so that I don’t get lost during the Mass? also, about dressing - Do I need to wear suits?
Even with a Latin-English missal handy, it’s gonna take going a few times before you get used to all the kneeling and standing, as there is a lot more of it in the TLM than in the N.O.
Most of the older men at the TLM I attend are in suits and the younger men are usually in a polo and slacks. What you said is fine, and even then, no one is going to go after you for wearing something less conservative. Also, unless it’s a missa cantata, only the choir will make all the responses, and if its a low mass, only the altar servers will make the responses (not the choir). Also if you’re taking along your wife or mother or something, then its customary for them to wear a head covering. Most women wear veils while others wear hats.
You need to sit during the Epistle and sermon, stand for the Gospel, and kneel the rest of the time. Communion is kneeling at the rail, you receive on the tongue, and you do not say “Amen” (you don’t say anything when you receive.). Otherwise, nothing unusual in terms of posture at the Mass.
The main reason for rules is to make people feel comfortable, not to make them uncomfortable. For instance if we allowed people to call out prayers any time the Spirit moved them, everyonme would be worried about whether they were perceived as really inspired or not. If the prayers are prescribed, you don’t have this problem.
I’d guess that in hotter countries than Britain the dress code at a Latin Mass might be a bit more conservative than you are used to. In Britain there is no noticeable difference from NO Masses - you very seldom see girls in skimpy tops at any type of Mass because it is too cold.
Something else you might find different is that for a lot of the Mass (particularly the second half) the priest speaks silently not aloud. Usually you can follow by the gestures (the genuflections, bell ringing…the missal is helpful here)
You will be familiar will the parts of the Mass as you follow along in the missal. The words will be different for quite a bit of it, however.
After the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy…) the Canon begins and the priest speaks silently to himself. If you are new at the TLM, it will be hard to follow along at this point. I suggest reading the prayers at your own pace until the consecration, then just watch the priest. After you adore the Body and Blood, I suggest reading along again until the Pater Noster and then just watch and pray. (What I mean by that is don’t try and read “what he is doing right now.” Just read and take in everything at once, even if you get ahead.) That way you will be familiar with both parts (actions and prayers) without freaking out and thinking “Geez, where is he?”
Just my two cents. Once you become familiar with the actions, it will be easy to unite your prayers with the priests at the correct time.
And thanks to lak611 for this post, though it seems a little too easy if it’s just sit twice, stand once, and kneel at all other times. Not that I would complain if it is so…
I’ve just found out that there is a TLM within 30 miles of my house, so I suppose it’s just a matter of time for me to go and experience this for the first time. A few months ago I bought the Baronious Press 1962 missal (nice!), and now I think I need to work my way through it once or twice.
I did not know that you do not “Amen” when receiving communion (I was born in '63 but have no memory of anything other than the N.O.). I am showing my ignorance here, but just how much participation is there from the congregation?
There is zero verbal participation from the congregation. Other than making the sign of the cross, striking your breast during the Confiteor and Domine non sum dignus, and signing your forehead, lips and heart before the Gospel, all you need to do is make sure that you are kneeling, sitting or standing. You won’t say a word during the Mass.
This reminds me back in my country (Vietnam). Some really old folks, prior to Vatican II, used this term “Go to watch Mass”. It was obviously that they could not understand Latin, and they seem to come there to see the Mass.
I don’t have the TLM available where I live, but in the event it is ever available here:
I grew up with the Latin Masses of the pre-Vatican II time – is the current TLM just like those Masses? Would I be able to use my old missal (which I still have) – it’s a St. Joseph Continuous Sunday Missal from 1957.
For people who can’t kneel (medical reasons), what do they do when they approach the Communion rail – do they just stand in front of it?
Thanks again, lak611. I had suspected no verbal participation, but was not sure. That will indeed take some getting used to, but I look forward to it.
Two other possibly silly questions: what should I expect in the way of singing/music? And which do you think a novice such as myself would find easier in following along with the Mass, the missals provided (I am only assuming the Church will have some) or the 1962 missal I bought some months ago?
Yesterday, I asked her to go to the TLM, but she didn’t have neither a veil nor a hat. She likes to wear a hat. We probably go buy a hat for her sometime this Saturday, and then we go to a TLM together.