Mass 101? Please 'splain


(And I don’t even know if this is the right forum)

Extraordinary form? Ordinary form?

Latin Mass, Ordus Novo, I’m trying to get these terms and their meanings straight. Is there a thread (or could someone kindly explain) the differences in the Masses for the regular RC Church?

What prompted this is the Mass I’m watching now on EWTN. It’s LONG. And beautiful, and mostly sung in Latin. I’m wondering about it. They mentioned Extraordinary Form??



The “Novus Ordo” and the “Ordinary Form” of the Mass are essentially referring to the same thing. This is the form of the Mass most people today are most familiar with. It was promulgated (originated, put forth?) by Pope Paul VI around 1969 or 1970. It permitted (did not require) that parts of the Mass may be celebrated in the vernacular (the language of the people, in our case English). But it can also be celebrated fully or partly in Latin, the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.

The “Extraordinary Form” of the Mass is the same as the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), which was celebrated prior to the reforms of Vatican II set forth by Pope Paul VI. That is what you were witnessing today.

There are other differences between the two forms of the Mass besides the option of using the vernacular. The wording of some of the prayers is different. The cycle of readings is different. The Ordinary Form has three readings on Sunday, where the Extraordinary Form has only two. The Ordinary Form has a three-year cycle of readings, allowing for a greater variety of Scripture readings than the Extraordinary Form which has a one-year cycle.

If you attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, you would receive Communion kneeling and on the tongue, and there would be no Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, nor would there be any female altar servers. Any hymns sung DURING the Mass (Offertory and Communion hymns) would be sung in Latin. In some churches English hymns are permitted for the processional and recessional (technically outside the Mass), although some people prefer Latin even for these.

Some people prefer the Ordinary Form because they are unfamiliar with Latin and prefer to pray in their own language. Others prefer the Extraordinary Form because of the sense of reverence and awe and mystery, and are comfortable with using a language that is reserved for holy things.

Both forms are the very same re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary.


Thanks! I was confused too. :slight_smile: how about Low Mass and High Mass?


Catholic rites:


Thanks! Just what I needed. I will be saving the info from this thread.

I really love hearing the prayers and hymns in Latin, though my understanding is poor.

I would like to someday attend the TLM, and hope there’s a Communion rail or a crane to get me back on my feet again. :slight_smile:


*]Low Mass: No prayers of the Mass are sung or chanted. A choir may sing hymns (processional, offertory, Communion, and/or recessional), but these are optional and not “part” of the Mass.

*]High Mass (sung Mass, Missa Cantata): Priest chants various parts of the Mass. Priest intones first part of Gloria and Creed; choir sings the rest. Priest chants Gospel (and perhaps Epistle), Preface, Pater Noster (Our Father). Choir sings Proper parts of the Mass: Introit, Gradual/Alleluia/Tract, Offertory, Communion. Choir sings Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) and Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). Choir may sing hymns as at Low Mass, but these are optional.

*]Solemn High Mass: Similar to High Mass, but more formal. Priest is assisted by Deacon and Subdeacon. Likely to use incense.[/LIST]
There are variations in how this terminology is used. Some would not use “High Mass” to describe #2 above, but only the term “Missa Cantata” (sung Mass). But in common usage I think the descriptions above are fairly accurate.


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