Latin or Silent Mass?


So I’ve only been to a couple of Latin Masses, both at the same FSSP church and I was kind of surprised. Growing up, I’d always heard how beautiful they are and I was really looking forward to it. I knew the language would be in Latin (obviously) and that I would have to follow along on the missal, and was good with that. What I wasn’t ready for, was how quiet it was.

The priest didn’t have any kind of microphone so you couldn’t hear anything he said at all. He just kind of stood up at the altar, talking under his breath. Kind of hard to follow along if you have no idea where the priest is. Occasionally, he would say something a little louder and the altar boys would respond, but that was it. I was told later that the priest didn’t like the way the people at the church would respond in Latin so he doesn’t have anyone say any responses, just the altar boys.

Is this typical? I pretty much just knelt there and read the prayers in the missal. I ended up way ahead because I had no idea what the pace was. It just kind of seemed like a letdown. If all I do is read from a prayer book / missal, I can do that at home, it seems. Other than receiving the Eucharist and sermon (which was very good), the rest of it just seemed drab. It was holy, obviously, but I don’t get where people claim how beautiful it is, unless they just like silence.


What you witnessed is called a Low Mass and everything you describe is completely normal. Look it up online ( has a very good breakdown) and you will see exactly why the the priest does what he does and raises his voice at certain points. What you were no doubt expecting though was a High Mass, which is where you will hear chanting and a bit more audible prayers from the priest. Look at the schedule of the chapel you attended. They almost certainly specify which type of Mass will he said at what time. Check out a High Mass and pay attention to the differences.


Also the lack of responses from the people has little to do with the preferences of the priest. It is extremely common for the servers to provide all responses in a Low Mass, except for in so-called Dialogue Masses which are pretty rare in the US.


That’s a sweeping and unfair generalisation, in my opinion. There are no liturgical abuses in my parish, for one.


It is typical of the thousands of Latin Masses I have attended , but if Catholics choose to attend Mass in this way it is their right which should be respected .

I can see that this is going to be another one of those futile threads where hoary old chestnuts are on display .

These threads are not good for the unity of the Catholic Church which some need to be reminded is the desire of Christ .


I had the same reaction to my first TLM. I love liturgy and was expecting to be blown away, but I just wasn’t. Then I was told I needed to go to a High Mass, so I did. I was still lost. Then I was told I needed to go a lot more often - like 20 or 30 times- and it would grow on me. So now I’ve been 20 and 30 times (or more) and I understand what is going on better, but I still have a hard time focusing and I definitely don’t prefer it to a Byzantine Divine Liturgy (my own heritage) or a well-done Ordinary Form Mass. I still go occasionally for First Communions, homeschool events, etc. I went to Mass last Friday evening at an FSSP parish, in fact. I’ve gotten used to it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to choose it. I do love the priests for Confession and I love the community at the FSSP parish.


I’m glad when I went to a Latin Mass, I was simply expecting a Mass said in Latin, with the priest using more incense and facing away from the congregation. I wasn’t expecting some sort of beautiful earth-shattering life-changing experience. I’m also not keeping score on “liturgical abuses”. I’m not there as the referee or the Mass critic for the Inquirer.

All Masses are life-changing experiences because you get to see and (if in state of grace and having fasted etc) receive Our Lord. This includes the ordinary form Masses that one attends at 6:30 am half asleep and the huge concelebrated Masses in Latin or English at the Cathedral with a fancy choir and televised on EWTN.

A Mass is a Mass.


For the record, I’m not trying to start any conflicts or bad mouth anything. I was just curious if my experience was the norm and if so, how other people understand/interpret/participate with it.


Remember that there can be beauty in silence also. This was well known to the Fathers of the Church, and many (most?) saints, but can be very elusive to us moderns, with our addictions to noise and activity.


Unfortunately it’s this type of attitude and indifference to said abuses which has led to the widespread implementation of them.


You are presuming that Masses, or at least OF Masses, are rife with abuses.
This is a sweeping, unsupported, and unfair generalization, as paperwight already said above.

Once again, Mass is Mass. It is just as holy regardless of whether it’s in Latin or English, regardless of whether the priest is facing ad orientem, etc.

My “attitude” is not somehow promoting liturgical abuses, and at your average OF Mass, no liturgical abuses are going on.


To be fair, at Mass, the priest isn’t talking to us in the pews for the most part–when he does, he turns around to face us. He is praying to God.

I get your issues. My first experiences of Low Mass were in a pretty intimate, small chapel, so it was less jarring. Low Mass is definitely less of an experience when the priest is a mile away in a large sanctuary in a large church.

That being said, silence can be hard for us in the modern world, but it can also be good for us. Once you get more in tune with the rhythm of the traditional Mass and the signs, gestures, and symbols that accompany each part–which often say more than the brief, simplified prayers we hear out loud at most modern Masses–I think you’ll appreciate it more. It’s definitely a culture change.


That’s a typical Low Mass. if you’re not an experienced TLM goer, you should probably follow along in a hand Missal to understand what is going on. Even so, you don’t need to hear everything the priest says or know exactly what he’s doing to participate at Mass. If you get lost, just contemplate the sacrificial reality of the Mass and listen for the next audio cue.


It is a shame that you didn’t have some one who has some knowledge on Latin Mass to be with you on your first attendance. There are some really good books available too to help with following and keeping up with the Traditional Latin Mass otherwise known as Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

These videos may also help you.

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