My first Latin mass

For some time there has been a Latin mass celebrated in my diocese, but it was in a part of town that’s hard for me as a non-driver to access. Recently, though, they moved the mass to the cathedral downtown, which though an hour one-way by bus, is still do-able for me. This mass, I should add, has the approval of the Bishop.

I was very excited about going, as I’d never been to a Latin mass before, though I have seen them on TV and DVDs. They use the red paperback “Latin-English Booklet Missal For Praying The Traditional Mass,” which is put out by the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei. I have two copies of this at home, so I was able to prepare myself somewhat.

I’m a little hard of hearing, so I sat fairly close to the front, though not so far up that I couldn’t watch others for cues of when to do what. A half-hour before the mass, a group of people began praying the rosary. Unfortunately they were whipping through the prayers a lot faster than I am used to saying them. I worried that maybe my rosary “didn’t count” since I wasn’t getting to say all the words.

An elderly priest arrived and headed to the sacristy. I’d never seen one in a biretta before.

A layman got up to explain how we were to line up for communion. I was unable to hear most of what he was saying, either because of his manner of speaking or his refusal to use the microphone at the pulpit. It all came out garbled.

There was so much I enjoyed about the mass, but I won’t go into specifics, for fear some people on this site might rush to the defense of all of the opposite practices–the ones I don’t care for (like hippie Jesus praise music, for example).

Now this missal was very helpful–it includes drawings in the margins that show what the priest should be doing at any given time. It tells most of the times you should stand, sit, or kneel–though not all. I had to play some of that by ear.

I had forgotten that much of the mass is spoken silently by the priest. I also had forgotten how much is sung. Since I cannot read music I had trouble with the parts where the congregation had to sing along. I got totally lost during the Asperges and the Kyrie Eleison, as there seemed to be a lot of repetition that wasn’t in the missal. Also it took me awhile to figure out that the Scriptural lessons were in the hand-out and not the missal. And I couldn’t hear the homily very well either.

My main problem was I wasn’t sure what I should be doing while I was trying to keep track of the priest. He seemed to be going through everything pretty quickly–quicker than I could read it in the missal in either Latin or in the English translation on the opposite page. For most of the time I was flipping forward and backward amongst the pages to see where we were.

There was a lot more kneeling than I expected. I am fat, so I wasn’t able to support my weight very well on my knees for that long, so I often had to rest my posterior on the front edge of my pew.

These may sound like complaints, but they are merely the comments of a somewhat confused first-timer. I suppose my confusion will abate the more often I attend–and I definitely intend to go again and again. I really loved that mass.

But if anyone has any suggestions as to how I can do better at my next Latin masses, I’d appreciate them.

Hi, this is my first “official” post on the forum. As one who attends only the TLM, I would say that you just need to keep going and it will get easier for you. You attended a High Mass, which is more difficult to follow, but if you’re going to jump in you may as well jump in with both feet! If a Low Mass is offered at this church, you should try to go to it, too. You may wish to invest in a missal soon, so you can have the readings without having to worry about getting the handout for that day. Mind, learning to use the missal can take some time, but it is worth it!

As for the Asperges, if you keep going you’ll soon have it down. I think the repetition is because the Asperges part is an antiphon, then there’s a verse, Miserere mei Deus…, then the antiphon again. The repetition in the Kyrie though is pretty interesting: apparently the NO Kyrie is addressed only to Christ, whereas the older one goes like this:

Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison

Christe eleison
Christe eleison
Christe eleison

Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison

The first three verses then are addressed to God the Father, the next to Christ, the last three to the Holy Spirit. The triple repetition of each is a Trinitarian thing.

Dear laudamus te,

So the full missal is hard to get the hang of, you say? I pray an abbreviated version of the Daily Office, out of a book called “Shorter Christian Prayer,” and even that is hard to follow sometimes.

According to the schedule, they’re going to be having High Masses for a few more weeks, so it’ll definitely be a learning experience.

In the NO it’s ‘Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison’. That’s trinitarian too :shrug:

True, the same as the Church of England service.

The missal is hard to get used to in the sense that there is a lot of flipping back and forth from the Ordinary of the Mass and the Proper for that day. It’s pretty straightforward on Sundays usually, but on weekdays it gets more complicated. You’ll see why when you get a missal. I would suggest picking one up and studying it. Is there a weekday Mass offered at this church?

Yes, the Office can be confusing, too!

The daily masses are English/N.O. There’s only this one Latin mass in the whole diocese, and that’s Sunday afternoon.

In a perfect world I’d go to daily mass, but I don’t drive and I don’t live too close to even the church I’m a member of. The one with the Latin mass is the cathedral downtown–which is a one-hour trip by bus one way. So I’ve rarely made it to weekday masses.

I’ve got a variety of missals, but not the 1962 one, I don’t think…

Okay, you made me get up and check. Let’s see:

+1960 Missal (plus almost two identical copies from 1955)
+Parish Mass Book and Hymnal 1965
+St. Joseph Continuous Sunday Missal 1957
+New American Sunday Missal 1975
+The Maryknoll Daily Missal 1966

None are in Latin.

Well what happens (in a Sung Mass or High Mass) is the choir sing the Introit whilst the priest is saying the prayers at the foot of the altar. This may trail on into where the priest ascends to the altar. But as soon as the introit has finished, the choir sing the Kyrie.

The priest’s Kyrie is often not at the same time as that of the choir. If the choir are singing a long polyphonic Kyrie, the priest (and deacon and subdeacon if it’s High Mass) may sit down. But as soon as that’s finished, the priest goes back to the altar and intones the Gloria (if it’s a glorious day).

So the choir and priest do things seperately, so it may be confusing at first; but you soon get used to it.

The Kyrie eleison in the NO is entirely addressed to Christ.

It harkens back to Luke 2:11 where the angel says to the shepherds, “…for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” It’s the fullness of Messianic titles: the messiah (annointed one, or “Christ”) and “Lord”.

Hmm I wonder. I think it’s more that 2 is less bother than 3. Why do something that isn’t “necessary”?

If any priest or deacon is properly trained, he knows to address Christ alone in the Kyrie.

“Lord Jesus, you call us to repentance, Lord have mercy”
“Christ Jesus, you came to forgive sinners, Christ have mercy.”
“Lord Jesus, you call us to lives of holiness, Lord have mercy.”

Another form of the Kyrie in the NO is:

Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison

Christe eleison
Christe eleison

Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison

If I may ask a question that the OP might need to know too. I have started going to the TLM for about 3 weeks using the red missal that she is using which doesn’t have the Proper readings for the specific day and I got a Roman Missal 1962 yesterday and found my way pretty good through this morning’s Mass, but what is one to do when there is a day like June 2 or 3 I believe that do not have any readings assigned?

Hipster Doofus, I too love the Latin Mass and enjoy going and it is really getting easier as time goes by.:slight_smile:

God Bless…


The priest is given some leeway on this. He may celebrate a Votive Mass or Mass of the Dead or some other Mass for special occasions.

Some priests follow a specific formula for Votive Masses:

Monday - Mass for the Holy Trinity
Tuesday - Mass for the Holy Angels
Wednesday - Mass for St Joseph or for Sts Peter/Paul
Thursday - Mass for the Holy Spirit
Friday - Mass for the Holy Cross/Passion of our Lord
Saturday - Mass for the Blessed Virgin.

I know it’s always fun for me (NOT) to try to figure out which Mass the priest is celebrating. After a while you’ll start seeing a pattern, that is, if the priest doesn’t announce ahead of time which Mass he will be saying, which is always appreciated by those with Missals. :slight_smile:

That is true. He also may celebrate the Mass (including the readings) from the previous Sunday. Such ‘blank’ days are called ‘ferias’.

Thank you BobP123…I do remember hearing him mention something at the start of one Mass…but he was talking so fast, I couldn’t understand him.

I appreciate the response.:thumbsup:


Thank you too Resurrexit…I may get the “hang” of this before too long.:slight_smile:


Yes, as BobP said, you will find the listing of Votive Masses in the Table of Contents which you may wish to mark with a holy card for quick reference. (You won’t need to worry about June 3 this year, as that’s a Sunday :slight_smile: )

Likewise on a Sunday the priest may say an additional Prayer, Secret, and Postcommunion from a major feast occuring during that week.

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