Pre-Vatican II Daily Mass

Anybody have a link or can explain what daily mass looked like prior to Vatican II. I may have grown up during that time, but my dad never brought me to daily mass. I started “being Catholic” in the mid-70s.

Daily masses in that time were almost always Low Masses, without music, very quiet, no singing, etc. At the end were the Leonine Prayers.

This video shows a Low Mass (regardless of what day it was celebrated on, it would look the same):

Beautiful voices & accents such as these, not included. :smiley:

Many more Masses for the Dead.

Masses at our church were 6:30am, 7am, 7:30am, and 8am, occasional sermon at the 8am.

That’s an awesome video. I just love their accents!

I used to serve at one weekday Mass every week in the 1950s. I could then go on to school and eat my breakfast in class - making me the envy of all the other 10 year olds.

Modern altars are shaped like a table and the priest stands behind it. Before Vatican II, altars were shaped like a piano and were at the top of a flight of (usually 4) steps. The altar server knelt on the bottom step. Since the steps were regarded as part of the altar, you were said to serve on the altar. Now you serve at the altar or on the sanctuary.

Much [most?] of the time they were memorial masses for the dead [black vestments]. The parish near my college [1950’s] had a lot of solemn high masses for the Dead. It was the only time I ever saw a solemn high mass until my wedding.

If it was a low mass it was usually quick. I have often attended masses that lasted less than 10 minutes. :rolleyes:

You know. I know far too many priests that would never make it to the top of those stairs without risking their safety. As much as I love the symolisms involved in it, I’m glad the Church takes these things more into consideration these days. Could you imagine OSHA getting involved in a mass for safety? Interesting thought. Does the “O” in OSHA stand for Obama by any chance, retroactively?:wink:

The altar boy had to find his way down and up those steps twice while carrying the book and stand. The book was big enough to obscure the view of the stairs; so you were flying blind, and you usually had a cassock that was a couple of inches too long and kept catching your heels. Strangely enough I never heard of anyone falling.

The credence table where the glass cruets of wine and water were located could be a noisy distraction if we weren’t careful.

I’m thinking of just one guy I served with. He pretty much was graceless by our standards and he was quite noisy and distracting.

One Sunday at a late morning Mass, I saw him raid the little cabinet where all the Mass cruets were stored. He drank all the left over wine from the preceding 4 Masses.

There must have been more than a cup of wine that he drank. I would be tipsy today from all that he drank. I don’t know how he made it through the Mass. I was too petrified to turn him in for doing that.

A piano-shaped altar??? :eek: Please explain.

Picture something shaped like an upright piano but generally quite a bit larger. The keyboard area corresponds to the table on which the sacrifice is offered. The upright part is usually rather ornate with carvings and niches for candles, relics, etc. The whole thing is typically marble. But wait . . . you’ve certainly seen these, pictures at least?


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is what you are talking about:

The high altar of St. John Cantius

Is that right, BlackRobe?

Ah, St. John Cantius.

Yes, that’s a high altar.

Yes, an exceptionally large and ornate example.


For low mass one lights the two small candles adjacent to the tabernacle. However, for high mass the three tall ones on each side [AKA the six high] are lit. If you are a young altar boy on the short side, you do it get the longest lighter you can find and stand on tiptoes. You can’t see the wick; so you just wave the flame around and hope to run into it. :wink:

Normally I would be vehemently opposed to an altarpiece made of wood, but that one was done superbly well.

It’s even better in real life. I was able to serve there with one of the brothers 2 years ago when some friends of mine went on a pilgrimage to there and to the other big church down there. It was amazing.

There’s also a really interesting history behind the altar.

Today the ascent of truth in the church is represented by the documents of the second vatican council (

Anything prior is of interest only for historical review.

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