My First TLM - A Few Questions

So I convinced a friend to go with me to a TLM about an hour away on Sunday, and now that I’ve had some time to think about it I’d like to ask a few questions.

It was a ‘Low Mass’ and the only parts that we responded to were where, in the missal I borrowed from my Grandparents, the ‘S’ was marked by a ‘1’. Would this change depending on which mass you attended? Does a High vs. Low mass change this? I noticed that many more things were marked with a ‘3’ and it seemed (from what I understood in the missal) that these would be more responses in a different sort of mass. Which way would be different? How common would that ‘highly involved’ mass be?

There were long periods of time when I couldn’t hear what was going on at the altar - sometimes it was silent. (But I only lost my place once! :stuck_out_tongue: ) is that normal? Was it just because there were no microphones? (well, they might have had mikes, I couldn’t tell).

If I attended more often I imagine I’d start to understand more…right?

All in all I think I liked it. I definitally preferred the general atmosphere of hightened reverrence I felt (the women were almost 100% veiled) and I liked that everyone recieved on the tongue. In all blunt honesty, however, I did feel a little bored sometimes because I didn’t understand what was going on (but I bet if I learned more Latin and attended more often that’d change) and as I left I thought that if they had directly translated that into English, the Mass would be amazing. I also think that the chapel it was held it played a part, because it wasn’t what I expected - a stone ‘table like’ altar and multicolored lights on the side (bright green, reds, and blues) shining on saints enclosed in plexi-glass.

Just as a side note for everyone - there was a young seminarian there training, and many families of young children (with young girls veiled) and quite a few other guys my age.

That’s just practice for the habit. :smiley:


I am a Charismatic who roams around a little, and at present I‘m in a traditional Catholic Church with Latin Masses. The old Mass with its Gregorian Chants is pretty good on the Spiritual side, but for sure, it’s for those who are called by God to separate themselves from the modern way of doing things. For the past few years the medieval stuff has been in the movies and in the History Channel programs, so the old Latin Mass should be up to speed for the young folks.

Yeah, cause I’m sure the history channel makes the Catholic Church out to be so good - especially during the so called “Dark Ages”.


This is different instructions for the dialogue Mass.

At High Mass, the choir will be singing and the congregation may join in the chanting of the Ordinary (the unchangeable parts like the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus) and responses .

Traditionally at low Mass, the sever made all the responses. The dialogue Mass means that the Congregation can join the server. There were 4 levels, which were regulated by the Ordinary depending on his views and what might cause “excitement” (astonishment, surpise, confusion) of the faithful. These 4 levels are based on what was described in the 1958 instruction De Musica Sacra

Level 1: the simple responses. “Amen”, responses whenever the preist says Dominus Vobiscum “Et cum spiritu tuo”, responses to the reading of the Epistle and Gospel (Deo gratias, Gloria tibi Domine, Laus tibi, Christe). Also the appropriate parts of the introductory dialogue that precedes the preface ( Habemus ad Dominum; Dignum et justum est) and the reponse to the Our Father, “Sed libera nos a malo”.

Level 2: in addition to the above, the congregation says other prayer said by the server like the Domine non sum dignus, and the Confiteor.

Level 3 - the congregation says the Ordinary parts which the choir chanted at High Mass. Glooria, Credo, Sanctus (+Benedictus) and the Agnus Dei. Previously, the priest only would say these parts.

Level 4: the congregation recites the rest of the parts that are chanted by the choir at High Mass i.e. Introit, Gradual, Offertory(antiphon), Communion (antiphon). Again, previously, the priest only would say these parts.

The document treated the Pater Noster later, though it is variously put in levels 3 or 4.


If you want to go to a real High Mass in a real Church all you have to do is drive up here to Saint Margaret Mary here in Oakland on Sunday morning. It’s only about 170 miles from Visalia, and what the heck, I drive that far to go skiing or trout fishing and return the same day. High Mass is at 12:30 and I try to get there a half hour early to listen to the choir practice.

The church is located in a good neighborhood on the Oakland Hills side off of the 580 Freeway. From the Church parking lot I can look over the top of downtown Oakland across the Bay to downtown San Francisco. After church, sometimes my wife and I cross the Bay Bridge and go for a walk along Fisherman’s Warf and Pier 39. If you are trying to save money, walk out to the end of Pier 39 to North Beach Pizza. It’s all you can eat, salad, spaghetti, soup, bread, and pizza for $11.00. However, the Bay Bridge is closed for maintenance this Labor Day Weekend.

If you are interested in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, then the Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque shrine is located on the right side of the alter up at the front. It is a highly personal devotional to the “Heart” of Jesus and I usually kneel there for a few seconds. The indwelling really brings out the beauty of the Gregorian Chants.

Here is the link:


Thanks to everyone who responded!

AJV - How common would a High Mass be? Or a Low Mass with increased responses? Is it just up to the priest? (I missed saying responses to the priest)

And I may just make that drive, holy_roamer. I would like to see a high mass and I have friends near there too, I bet I could get them to agree to go with me.

Thanks again everybody!

I think someone with more experience will be able to answer that better than me. :slight_smile:

At Saint Margaret Mary here in Oakland they have been doing the Traditional Lain Mass continuously for the past 18 years, so the congregation is well versed in Latin. During the Sunday High Masses the congregation responds to the priest in Latin at the places designated in the 1962 Missal. It is especially evident during the beginning after the priest changes his garments. However, knowing the Gregorian Chants will be required to respond and participate vocally during other portions of the mass. And, the congregation also knows how to sing along with the Gregorian Chants.

During the Monday through Friday 6:00 PM Low Masses it is pretty quiet until after communion. Watch for the priest to kneel before the alter and facing the alter. That is when the congregation responds in English. You will have to turn to a special page in the Latin Missal. We do 3 Hail Mary’s with the priest in English, then the Hail Holy Queen prayer in English all together with the priest, then the priest prays alone for intercession, then we all pray the Saint Michael the Archangel prayer in English.

Please remember, this church has been at it for 18 year, so we can’t expect churches just getting started with Latin to measure up to Saint Margaret Mary. After you attend a few masses with us you will probably know more than your parish priest, that’s if your priest was in seminary after 1962.

God Bless, and I look forward to seeing you in Oakland one of these days.


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