Question for traditionalists

When I watch the TLM- what’s the deal with the priest during the prayers before the Mass bowing and pivoting his body back and forth horizontally?

Just curious. . . .

Which prayers before the Mass? Are you referring to the prayers the priest recites while vesting? Or could you possibly be talking about the prayers at the foot of the altar (which is actually part of the Mass)?

If the latter, the priest is making a profound bow while saying the Confiteor, which is a confession of him being a sinful man. While making this confession, he is bowing profoundly to God and asking forgiveness before being so bold as to ascend the altar where he will soon call down God from Heaven when he recites the words of consecration. “The deal,” in a nutshell, is humility and reverence before God.


Well I know what a bow is- yes the priest is bowing but at the same time as he is bowing he moves his body back and forth horizontally- what is the significance of this pivoting of the body? I saw this specifically on the Easter Mass from 1941 featuring Bishop Sheen.

The Deacon and Subdeacon when bowing, turn to the Priest when they say the words (et te/tibi Pater - And you Father). Im not sure of the latin when the Priest says it, but its the same thing - i.e. he is Adressing those who he turns to.

I confess to Almighty God…and you Father…


That tape is a Solemn High Mass where the deacon and subdeacon act as the servers. During the confiteors (one said by the celebrant and one by the servers), there is an “et vobis fratres,” an “et vos frates,” an “et tibi pater,” and an “et te pater,” ( “and you, brethren” and “and you, father”) at which points the celebrant bows toward the servers and the servers acknowledge that bow or the servers bow toward the priest and the priest acknowledges that bow.

It actually takes a little practice to get it right.

Ah! very informative!

I thought maybe they were making a sort of cross with their bodies or something. . . Very interesting and thanks!

Feanor, et al., I serve weekly as a grown-up altar boy here in St. Louis, I have found that there are really no wasted movements by the clergy or the servers/deacon/subdeacon.

It flows so nicely in almost a militaristic way (I am thinking something like the USMC Silent Drill Team). Each man/boy has his own responsibilities and when executed properly is beautiful to watch. It’s all focused on God and service to the priest to the smallest detail.

Saint Louis, MO

The flowing-ness of the Old Mass is the largest thing I realised when I attended for the first time. More-so than anything else. There really are no pauses, no artificial pauses, like in the NO after Communion, or after the homily, or after the readings and the like.

When the priest is doing one thing, the congregation is doing another - for example when the priest is incensing the Altar, the Kyrie is sung, during the gradual and the tract/A-word, things are happening etc etc. One notices chant in its propper environment at the Old Mass.

The NO that I go to, has Gregorian chant every Sunday, but it just pro-longs the Mass for no reason whatsoever, when the Kyrie is chanted… nothing happens, everyone just stands there and chants it and AFTER the priest reads the collect, or whatever its called in the NO (Opening prayer I think). Whereas in the Old Rite, lots of things would have happened before that.

I think this really shows, when one thinks about all the extra ‘needless ceremony’ (as some would say on this forum), in the Old Mass, when it has the same duration as a ‘high’ NO. No pauses. Just flowing.

Hello again,

I can certainly appreciate the TLM, especially when I read the translations from the Latin- very powerful and clear in terms of doctrine, although I believe I prefer a reverent NO (don’t some theologians and liturgists say that the term Novus Ordo is kind of a negative/unclear/incorrect term for todays mass?)
In any case it is my, very possibly misunderstood notion, that the Tridentine Mass is really more of a product of the Rennessaince and not the Middle Ages (1000-1300) and even less so the period 300-1000AD). I’m not sure if any of us can say what mass looked like before 300AD. I am very interested in the middle ages and this relates to a hobby of mine. I guess my question is in a nutshell- isn’t the Tridentine Mass very much of the Rennessaince style- didn’t it get a bit “cluttered” in some ways?

I really am not trying to be derogatory- I am curious. I have a profound respect of the mass in all it’s forms whether Latin, Maronite, Greek, Geez, even Orthodox.

When I first saw a High Mass I wondered the same thing.

It looks funny, but the symbolism is beautiful: an acknowledgement of the vertical and horizontal effects of sin.

Good questions. I’m not intending to provide a snappy answer to your question, but I would look at the TLM as a product from God, since there is much Catholic Theology built into it. That’s what makes it beautiful. That it comes from this or that period only adds superficial element to the ageless rite but they were all done for the greater glory of God. Every rubric has a purpose and it is either to help us pray better or focus on God better.

now THAT is my idea of liturgical dance

Your theory on the Old Rite Mass’ history is not correct at all.

I suggest reading this to start with. The reality is, very little has changed since Pope St.Gregory the Great codified and promulgated the Missal. Minor changes, yes, the Canon however, is virtually identical.

Tridentine is an inaccurate term for the Old Mass, it implies it was fabricated at Trent, much like the Novus Ordo was fabricated in the 60’s. The ‘Tridentine’ Mass has organically developed right from the early Church, and has its roots firmly in the early Church, not the renaissance.

Also, Novus Ordo is a perfectly legitimate term for the New Mass, as Archbishop Bugnini referred to the Mass as that when he stamped Novus Ordo Missae on the front of the Missal in the late 60’s I believe.

From my own experience, all priests have a different style. Some stay completely rigid and tense looking. Some tend to be loose, and sort of “sway.” It’s just a form of comfort.

If you look at some parishes, the priest sways. The same holds true for Hasidic prayer services. Often times, the person leading sways.

Catholic Nick,

I have read the link you provide yet I do not trust it as it is decidedly slanted and voices opposition to the changes of Vatican II. I would like to read of or hear unbiased accounts of the development of the Liturgy.

The way I read it was that Bugnini was assigned to make changes to the then-existing rite according to the principles issued at Vatican II. When it came back for the Pope to sign into law (wishing and hoping and all that stuff) Bugnini wanted it to be just another revision (to prevent going back to a previous version), to which Pope Paul answered, no, it was a Novus Ordo liturgy.

Good thing, it kept the Old Rite intact!!

Although there was already a thread on use of the term “Novus Ordo,” I would point not to Abp. Bugnini but to the current secretary of the CDW, Abp. Ranjith, who as recently as this month referred to the two rites as “Tridentine” and "Novus Ordo."

You can argue that his terms are inaccurate, but if Novus Ordo is meant to be derogatory than we can at least be comforted that the newly-appointed #2 at CDW means to be derogatory toward the new rite.:rolleyes:

I did not mean to strongly suggest that I believe the term Novus Ordo to be derogatory- I was simply ignorant of the matter. I remember reading a book called “Catholic Answers” by a priest who stated that the term NO was a negative term. So O.K. NO is a fine term. And knowing is half the battle.

The only question is when does the New become the Old. :slight_smile:

Why not Bugnini? Was he not a primary architect of the New Order Mass?

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