Symbolism in the TLM Mass

The TLM has richness in both in prayers and symbolism.

One symbolic action is when the Gospel is chanted.

The deacons chant the Gospel and serves hold lighted candles all while facing north with the Priest (representing Christ) standing by the Alter watching over them.

In ancient Rome, the north represented the pagan barbarians ( the un-churched – if you will ) who lived with out the light of Christ.

Thus we are to preach the Gospel to them bringing the light of the Gospel to the darkness while Christ watches over us.

( BTW: does any one know the symbolism – if any—of the Humeral Veil??)

Except in ancient Rome they faced the south :wink:

Well one thing concerning the Humeral Veil is that the priest must wear it and hold the monstrance through it at Benedition because it is Jesus Himself who blesses you at that moment and not the priest.

Also, the sub-deacon holds the paten through it- I believe because he is not allowed to touch the sacred vessels yet.


Yes, that is correct- only those who have been ordained into Holy Orders may touch the Sacred Vessals. Even the Subdeacon does not have the privilege to touch the objects which hold the Body and Blood of Our Lord at Mass.

Of course, that is the traditional practice. Today it is much, much differant :frowning:

I saw some woman go to open the tabernacle after Mass this morning at the local parish. I thought my head was going to explode.

Saying “today is much different” is a major understatement. For one of our CCD classes, we went to the church and passed the chalice around to “get a good look.” I dislike the modern church most because of the disrespect (or even denial for some people I know) of the most holy Eucharist.:frowning:

Sometimes I must ask: Was there ANYTHING good that came out of the mid 60’s-late 70’s…be it religious, secular, morals, music, politics, dress (men’s bell bottoms), even interior decoration, like OLIVE green kitchens and “shag” carpets with shag “rakes”?

Hmm. Let me think. Hmm. Still thinking… Actually, can I get back to you?

Our FSSP Priest explained a couple of symbols to us about the Traditional Mass.

The extending and re-joining of the hands over the altar is to siignify the sacrifice taking place. I guess it is a refined gesture of aJewish sacrificial ritual, but I am not exactly sure. Anyway, each time I see him make the gesture I am reminded with my eyes what the Church teaches about the Mass.

The changing of the Missal from the Epistle side to the Gospel side is to remind us of the revelation of the Word of God being taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles. Again, a visual reminder of what the Church teaches.

Fr said it was the great wisdom of the Church that sees fit to engage all 5 senses we have to reinforce spiritual realities that are ordinarily imperceivable to the senses, such as incense, candles, liturgy and ritual, vestments, architecture etc.

He is right, and snice he explained just a few of the symbols of Mass, I have not forgotten them. When my children ask me one day why does he do this and that, I will have another opportunity to teach them the faith, which might not have come my way if the Church, like Protestants, despised and discouraged external signs, because they were not necessary. If only Protestants knew how much depth of the faith their ancestors threw out when they started their own religion!

Long live the Traditional Mass.

Have you noticed the small vestment worn on the priest’s left arm? That is the maniple. My missal says it “signifies the fruit of good works, the reward for painful exertion and struggle: it is a Priest’s duty to fear neither suffering nor labor.” The symbology of the TLM is deep and wide.

While I love the symbolism attached to so many elements of the TLM, I think it also important to remember that symbolism is/was not always intended in the creation of our rites and instruments. We Catholics have a beautiful genius for investing even the minutiae of our worship with meaning. For instance, priestly vestments were not created to show forth spiritual realities but began as standard everyday dress. Once the rest of the world moved on and the vestments began to be distinctive we came up with meanings specific to them. You can see that our meanings are contrived (but still rich and real) from the many variants floating around out there and especially those that change with country or culture.

It was avocado green and NO…


Fascinating. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Everywhere you look in the Traditional Mass there is a rich symbolism that instructs in the faith, but also is another avenue to foster devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

One of the FSSP Priests, from time to time, gives an evening class on the symbols of the Mass (i.e. the TLM) over a few weeks. Next time he holds it I will go along!

Oh, I don’t know…disco was kinda fun. :wink:

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