The Latin Mass/First Masses?


In the old Latin Mass and the way it was done, preists having his back to the people, speaking in Latin, etc. No Pope ever proclaimed infalliable that the Church Mass must and always be done that way or is accursed? Right? Otherwise there couldn’t have been a change as there was in Vatican II.

A friend of mine is getting into the Latin Mass and seems to be becoming a “traditionalist” and claims the mass should never have been changed. But I can find no infaliable statement saying the must must ALWAYS remain the same as it was in the Latin.

What were the first masses like? How were they set up and did the preists have his back to the people?


Pax tecum!

No, the Mass was never defined ex cathedra that it must be only the Tridentine Mass. That Mass was codified as the Mass for the Western Church at the Council of Trent, but other rites that had existed for 200 years or more at that time were allowed to be continued to be said (for example, the Dominican Rite). The Mass did need a reform, which is why VII called for one.
Listen to the show on Friday, September 1 with Fr. James Farfaglia called “The Liturgy: Rite or Wrong”. He talks a little bit about this change to the Mass.

In Christ,



Here’s a personal favorate of Father Ambrose which dates from before the 7th Century:

The Liturgy from the Lorrha Monastery
The rest comes across as a 187 k pdf

This gives a lot of liturgical directions, and it predates a lot of what you’ll see by 300-400 years.

Naturally, I’ll see what else I can find.

You Brother in Christ, Michael


Having found myself leaning toward Traditionalist tendencies, I find that one has to be careful to maintain balance on the matter. Unfortunately, the current situation in the Church today is very “unbalanced” because of general misunderstandings and a lack of total liberty on the celebration of the Tridentine mass. Currently, local bishops must approve the celebration of a Tridentine mass before a diocean priest has the right to celebrate one. Some bishops in the USA have outright forbiddon the Tridentine mass in their diocese, and this lends to the confusion and further promotes the unbalanced state of the Church today.

In such an unbalanced state of affairs, it’s very easy for Catholics to get unbalanced themselves when leaning toward traditional Catholicism. The unbalanced state of affairs tends to lead to an “us” verses “them” mentatity among some Traditionalists, and the same could be said for some Contemporary Catholics too. Nowhere is this more evident than in a diocese where the Tridentine is forbiddon and semi-schismatic organizations like the SSPX have moved in against the will of the local bishop.

Right now the indult to celebrate the Tridentine is limited, in the sense that the local bishop must approve. If that indult were expanded to override the local bishop’s permission, than that would change the whole face of the Church worldwide, and especially in places like the USA, Canada, and other English-speaking nations. Almost instantaneously, Tridentine parishes would pop up all over the landscape. Some parishes might mix celebrations, in which the Tridentine might be an earlier morning mass, while the Novus Ordo would be done afterward. Once this happens, semi-schismatic organizations like SSPX would begin to sputter out. The wind would be taken out of their sails entirely. As a result, this “us” verses “them” mentality would diminish as well too, and people like your friend would be less likely to be confused about the legitimacy of the Novus Ordo mass.

Make no mistake about it; in recent years I’ve become highly critical of the way in which the Novus Ordo is celebrated here in the USA. And I rejoice in the liturgical reforms that are coming down in the near future. However, in spite of all the Novus Ordo’s problems, it still is a legitimate rite, and in many ways an evolving extension of the old Tridentine rite.


Rand & TC:

Here are three other Liturgies:

Divine Liturgy of St. James

Liturgy of Sts. Adaeus and Maris

Divine Liturgy of St. Mark

Under all is written

Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 7
Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson
American Edition, 1886
Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight

These are very old liturgies.


*11. Concerning those who have transgressed without necessity or the confiscation of their property or without danger or anything of this nature, as happened under the tyranny of Licinius, this holy synod decrees that, though they do not deserve leniency, nevertheless they should be treated mercifully. Those therefore among the faithful who genuinely repent shall spend three years among the hearers, for seven years they shall be prostrators, and for two years they shall take part with the people in the prayers, though not in the offering.

  1. Those who have been called by grace, have given evidence of first fervour and have cast off their [military] belts, and afterwards have run back like dogs to their own vomit, so that some have even paid money and recovered their military status by bribes – such persons shall spend ten years as prostrators after a period of three years as hearers.

  2. Since there are some who kneel on Sunday and during the season of Pentecost, this holy synod decrees that, so that the same observances may be maintained in every diocese, one should offer one’s prayers to the Lord standing.*

As the Eastern Churches all still do, the Early Church generally stood on Sunday (symbolyzed being resurrected together with Christ) and knelt on the rest of the days of the week (partly to differentiate them from Sunday).

The Early Church EAGERLY awaited our Lord’s Coming “from the East”, so the entire congregation faced the East in the hopes of being the first to see Our Lord coming in the clouds.

See this article for more:

The Mass of Vatican II
Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.

I hope this helps.

Your Brother in Christ, Michael


It’s possibile to celebrate back to people now too, using novus ordo.


Infallibility only applies to immutable truths revealed by God. The liturgy surrounding the God-given Eucharist is a product of the Church and thereby changeable by the Church. Popes are not bound by previous popes or councils in matters like this.


But…the substance of liturgy is always the same, and cant change, only the substance. :slight_smile:


preists having his back to the people

Or might we say “turned toward the Lord.”


Pax tecum!

Or also, facing the same way as the people.

In Christ,


In the old Latin Mass and the way it was done, preists having his back to the people

As one of them; I thought that the idea was for integration of the cleric and people. Why then do you put the cleric on the other side of the altar, and facing in his own unique direction?

, speaking in Latin

To whom does he speak? It is to God, all-understanding. The liturgy is of and for the benefit of the people, but not towards them. Sacred languages link to the past and the Church’s ancient traditions (each tradition having it’s own). To reduce all the prayer into a colloquial modern tongue is to isolate them (at least symbolically) from the greater part of ecclesiastical history, thus setting a stage for modernistic innovations.

No Pope ever proclaimed infalliable that the Church Mass must and always be done that way or is accursed? Right? Otherwise there couldn’t have been a change as there was in Vatican II.

The Pope cannot do this, as disciplinary changes (such as the order of the Mass) are neither matters of faith nor matters of morality and therefore unable to be proclaimed ex cathedra.

A friend of mine is getting into the Latin Mass and seems to be becoming a “traditionalist” and claims the mass should never have been changed. But I can find no infaliable statement saying the must must ALWAYS remain the same as it was in the Latin.

The Mass is the one sacrifice, together with Calvary and the Last Supper. Therefore, at least symbolic unity of form and action, language being a part, serves to augment this doctrine of unity; Mass is the same everywhere, but also in all times. It is the sacrifice of the Cross re-presented. The altar is the gateway to eternity.

What were the first masses like? How were they set up and did the preists have his back to the people?

The first Mass happened at a Passover table, where the Victim offered Himself by His own hand to His disciples. The second occured on a Cross, and the Victim was immolated for our sins.


While I have never attended a Latin Mass myself I don’t think that we should be too critical of those who are attached to it, for after all it is a valid form of Mass, so long as they do not seperate themselves from the church, and disregard VII. The important thing isn’t what language the mass is in, if it has incense, or which way the priest is facing, but that you attend a mass. Didn’t the language change before? Remember Greek -> Latin.

And also there is nothing wrong with being a “Traditionalist Catholic”. It is, IMHO, far better than being a “Liberal Catholic”. The thing to watch out for are the “Schismatic “Traditionalist” Catholics”. :slight_smile:



Very good post, I agree.

The NO liturgy is choppy !!! We sound like trained seals or worse at times. No flow like the TLM or Divine Liturgy. Just my uninfallible opinion. :smiley:


Thanks everyone for responding. But do not misunderstand me, I was not speaking against the Latin Mass, I was asking if the Tridentine Mass was supposed to be done EXACTLY the way it’s done. Anotherwords is the Norvus Ordo mass sinful? This is my point. Someone close to me is basicly saying this. The english mass is different and not as better. Vatican II changed so many things for the worse. Masons sat in on Vatican II. The prayers changed (what prayers? Are you telling me the prayers we say in the english Mass are wrong or sinful? I don’t understand), etc.

And I meant no disrespect when I said the preist has his back toward the people. I understand the symbolism, he’s representing God to the people. But I’m now told that it’s wrong for the preist to face the people.I am not so familuar with this so I am asking seriously.

Protestants are seperated from the Church and now Catholics are fighting Catholics with each side saying they’re wrong. This is too much confusion it frustrates the heck out of me.


Uninfallible? :hmmm: congratulations, you’ve coined a new word there … the correct answer for 100 points is fallible :yup:


Sounds like your friend has been hanging around with too many traditionalist, schismatic conspiracy theorists.

While many people do see the TLM as being a more complete and aesthetically and theologically pleasing liturgy, the NO is still perfectly and equally valid and most certainly not sinful.

The form of the Mass is NOT set in stone for all time on pain of sin, and there never were Masons involved with Vatican 2 - has your friend forgotten that involvement Freemasonry has always been and still is a grave sin for a Catholic?

Indeed there never HAS been one single ‘Catholic’ mass. Our Eastern Catholic brothers especially use and always have used a myriad of languages and forms, all perfectly valid and fit for any of us to attend.

I myself today am planning to attend my first ever Maronite Catholic liturgy. While it may well not look or sound either like the NO which I am used to or like the TLM, it will nonetheless be valid and I am perfectly entitled to receive the Precious Body and Blood, Confession if it is offered while I am there or any of the other sacraments.


Thanks. Your post helped alot. But what prayers changed from the Tridentine mass to the Novus Ordo? My friend believes these “changes” were not right. And she thinks Masons sat in on VII because we are living in the final days and the “true” church of the Catholics will soon have to go underground. These “traditionalists” who believe like this don’t make sense to me.


Refer to for the Mass texts of both the TLM and the Novus Ordo.

And who’s to judge that the "changes’ were not right. The Encyclical ‘Missale Romanum’ that promulgated the Novus Ordo is a valid document signed by the Pope. As the Supreme Legislator, he is the ultimate authority to judge what is valid and what is not as well as to interpret Church Law. The faithful do not have the charism to pass such kind of judgements.

That being said however, engaging in an academic discussion regarding the intended effects of the reforms and the reality of what is happening is a fully valid sphere. Interesting points may be raised but it is anything but definitive.

The Mason conspiracies concerning before the 2nd Vatican Council, VCII itself and the immediate post period are numerous. Yet one must always remember that it is the prophecy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ himself that the Church built upon the Rock (St Peter) will not have the gates of Hell prevail against it. The mentioning of a hidden ‘true’ Church bespeaks of terminology from the heretical period called the Protestant Deformation. Regardless of what happens the Church will always be the Light of the World.


On the Masons, it was speculated very widely at the time in the Italian Newspapers, that Bugnini was a Mason. Ofcourse, its all rumours, nothing can concretly be proven


Pax vobiscum!

The only people that believe the Mason conspiracy theories are the ones who made them up–the sedevacantists. They had to come up with a story that would make VII invalid, so they decided on Blessed John XXIII being a Mason.

Back to the Mass question, here is another site that you might find helpful and interesting. It compares three different rites side by side: the Dominican, Tridentine, and Novus Ordo.

In Christ,

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