TLM

I’m considering attending a Traditional Latin Mass and I’m wondering what to expect. I watched a TLM on youtube the other day and found it very beautiful and fascinating. So I kind of know what to expect of the Mass itself. What I’m wondering about is the parishioners in the pews. I noticed from the video there was no participation from the people except to receive communion. Being that I don’t speak latin I’ll have no idea what is being said. So basically my question is do I just sit back, observe and worship silently? I’m just really nervous about going because I’ve never been to one. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Peace, Mat.

I agree the TLM IS beautiful…don’t be put off by not feeling as though you are not ‘participating’ you can follow along in the missal, I suggest that you sit up front and follow along …the Liturgy is written in Englis and Latin…listen carefully because things go really fast…reverent but quckly…I am old enough to have served Mass as an Altar Boy before V-2…so the Latin comes easy for me…there is no doubt that it is in fact the Priest offereing the sacrafice of the Mass but try to immerse yourself…in the moment soaking up what’s taking place…Pax

They will usually have a missal with the Latin and English side by side so that you can follow along.

The first time I went to a Latin mass I was totally lost, and I thought the mass was no big deal. The second time was a little better for following the mass, but I still wondered why my mother always said how great it was in Latin. The last time I went was this past Pentecost, and it was a high mass, and it was the most beautiful mass that I have ever participated in. This time I was starting to follow better and everything just fell in place. Also there was chanting and I am a sucker for chant. My next goal is to attend a mass that is entirely chanted.

Yes, the “TLM” or rather the Extraordinary Form can be very beautiful, it tends to point everyone’s heart towards God; so the congregation is more “active” - they are supposed to be more active - than what meets the eye of a visitor.

The only thing I would add is to seek out a Latin Mass approved by your local diocese, or a neighboring diocese in reach of you. For centuries, the TLM was never intended to be separated from the larger context - i. e. the full range of your Catholic Diocese ministry, your bishop, and the Holy Father. Some people take a chunk of Catholicism in isolation from the other parts. The elements of the Extraordinary Form, like the Ordinary Form, are meant to lead to Catholic devotion, Catholic action and doctrine, in unity with the Magisterium. It’s not just a 2 hour experience, as good as that experience is.

Just take it in for now. It may take several times before you get “acclimated,” but once you do it will come naturally.

The first three times I went to TLM I was super lost. I kind of felt like I didn’t even attend mass, but I still loved it. After that it started to get easier for me. Reading the book “Know Your Mass” was really helpful. It’s been some work to learn and get accustomed, but it’s been so worth it. I figured if God can die for me, I can take some time and learn the mass. I’d actually suggest going regularly for a couple months before making a final assessment. Anyhow, I really love the worship and my mouth may be less active, but my heart and mind is more active than ever.

I’m sure TLMs vary from parish to parish, but at mine it’s very quiet before and after mass (people arrive early and stay after). Most women wear veils. People tend to a dress a little more modestly and definitely more formally. The mass is reverent and quiet. Our priest is amazing and gives outstanding homilies. There’s confession available right before and through half of mass (done in English and Latin). Communion is received kneeling and on the tongue. Oh, and the kneeling, standing, sitting are at different times so you might want to pay attention for that. So, that’s about all I could say as a heads-up. Don’t be too nervous. My Baptist friend attended (first mass she’s ever been to) and she loved it and was fine. You’ll be fine. I’ll say a prayer for you.

  1. Be aware that there is Low Mass and High Mass. Know which one you’re going to so you know what to expect.

  2. They may have the little red book. If they don’t and you don’t bring your own or a missal, you will be lost.

  3. Even with a little red book or a missal, you will be lost your first time. Much of the Mass is silent so it’s not so easy to tell what’s going on.

  4. Probably a good idea to sit a little further back so you can copy the other people when they sit, stand, kneel, genuflect, etc.

  5. “Dominus vobiscum.” “Et cum spiritu tuo.” That’s half your responses. Add “Amen,” and you’re most of the way there. “Domine non sum dignus…” and you’re, more or less, there.

  6. Know how to receive Communion kneeling on the tongue. Mouth wide, tongue slightly out, keep open until the priest’s hands are out of the way. You don’t say, “Amen.”

I was born in 1951 so for the first 16 or 16 years of my life, the Latin Mass was the ONLY mass. Our parish offers the Latin Mass now once a month and I still love it. There are things the people answer to in Larin Mases, For instance where in an english Mass, the priest says “May the Lord be with you.” and you answer “And with your spirit”, in the Latin Mass the priest says “Dominus vobiscum” and the response from the congregation is “Etcum spritu tuo” There are other things --like the “Lamb of God” prayer–which in Latin is “Agnus Dei”. It’s not all that hard, but you might see if you could ferret out an old “St. Joseph” or “Marian Missal”, as it would make it even easier for you to follow along if you;re totally unfamiliar with Latin. Enjoy–I think you’ll love it!

The participation at the TLM is interior rather than exterior so it is not obvious to an observer. Here is how St. Pope Pius X described it:

The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. Is is the Sacrifice dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the Altar. If you wish to hear the Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart, and mouth all that happens at the Altar.

Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens on the Altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass.

Don’t pray at Mass, but pray the Mass.

The Sancta Missa site is full of useful information about the Extraordinary Form. I suggest you look at their FAQ, especially their answer for newcomers at:sanctamissa.org/en/faq/newcomers-to-the-traditional-latin-mass.html#R1

[quote=floresco] The participation at the TLM is interior rather than exterior so it is not obvious to an observer. Here is how St. Pope Pius X described it:

Quote:

The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. Is is the Sacrifice dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the Altar. If you wish to hear the Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart, and mouth all that happens at the Altar.

Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens on the Altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass.

Don’t pray at Mass, but pray the Mass.

The Sancta Missa site is full of useful information about the Extraordinary Form. I suggest you look at their FAQ, especially their answer for newcomers at: sanctamissa.org/en/faq/ne…n-mass.html#R1
[/quote]

Excellent advice. Prayer is participation. We all have our roles.

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Thank you all for the wonderful advice. I really appreciate it.

The TLM I am planning on going to is approved by the diocese. The Mass is at Annunciation Catholic Church in Houston TX. It is the oldest Catholic Church in Houston. I am so looking forward to Sunday morning.

Peace, Mat

I’ve been going to the TLM for a little over two months now, and prefer it! I was lost my first time. They should have missals in the pews (don’t buy your own without asking the priest).

Also, attend a parish belonging to FSSP, avoid SSPX if you can (they’re not exactly schismatics per se, but they’re on thin ice.)

If I were you, I’d find someone friendly to give me tips as you go through the service. Many parts of the service has kneeling during some prayers that you’re not used to at the NO (most I know don’t even bow their heads at the “born of the Virgin Mary” part of the creed).

Remember…
-DO NOT say “amen” after Holy Communion.
-DO NOT put out your hands to receive the Eucharist, it’s done on the right
-Don’t worry about singing along with Latin hymns. Concentrate more on the mass itself. If you get stick, pray through it, Lectio Divina style. :slight_smile:
-If you’re a woman, it’s highly preferred that you cover your head - they should have little mantillas at the Church somewhere.

Pro Tip: many parishes offer confession right before mass. Take advantage! :slight_smile: This was most surprising to me - I thought that all Catholics went once per year (even those who frequently communed). Unless you’re a saint, you should confess often!

I noticed from the video there was no participation from the people except to receive communion.

The Latin Mass is very meditative. As far as participation, you will want to focus intently on the actions of the priest, and follow along with the Missal and readings. If you do so, you will find the Latin Mass to be very participatory.

The advice given above regarding saying the prayers with the priest is excellent advice. If you do so, you will - over time - become engrossed in the Mass, and your level of spiritual meditation will be greatly enhanced. Yes, some prayers that the priest says are silent, but you will be reading from the Missal alongside the priest.

I also agree that sitting towards the middle of the pews might help when you get started so you can take in visual cues from the other parishioners as to when to sit, kneel, etc. As you become more familiar with the Mass, you may want to move up towards the front pews so that you are not distracted by others and can really see what takes place at the altar. (Now that I have attended Latin Mass for several years, I generally like to sit in the front row as I am not distracted then by other parishioners and can really focus on the actions of the priest up close.)

As others have mentioned, your first few times attending can be confusing, so be prepared that it will take attending a few times to get acclimated. It can take several weeks, even months, to really understand the structure of the liturgy. Don’t be discouraged, but just relax and enjoy the peace and beauty of the Latin Mass.

Low Mass is offered typically during the week, with Sundays and certain feast days reserved for solemn High Mass complete with Gregorian Chant, etc. The Low Mass and the solemn High Mass are slightly different.

If you have the option to attend the Latin Mass daily, that would be the ideal as you will become accustomed to the Latin Mass rather quickly. I hope you enjoy your first Latin Mass.

I’m also a newbie Catholic who has intermittently attended the TLM in the past year. I attended both Solemn High Mass and Low Mass before. I’d like to put in my two cents worth.

There are English-Latin Missals provided at the parish. In addition to locals, some Portuguese and Irish families also attend the Mass here. There’s a French brother assisting as an altar server as well.

My first time of TLM was preceded by thorough preparation from watching numerous TLM videos on Youtube, reading about meanings of Mass parts and rubrics on Sancta Missa, as well as some memorization of common responses like ‘Et cum Spiritu tuo’ and that follow the Asperges (‘et salutare tuum da nobis’; ‘et clamor meus adveniat’)

So, my first TLM didn’t sound as odd as I expected. I didn’t follow along the Missal in the Mass of the Faithful; I simply observed what was happening on the Altar, meditating on the Propers of the Mass and contemplating on the Holy Sacrifice.

It’s not as difficult as what we thought to ‘actively participate’ in a TLM. One need not be fully acquainted with every word of the priest’s prayers (esp. in the Roman Canon) or have erudite knowledge on TLM’s theology in order to achieve interior participation. Simply indulge yourself in the SACRED SILENCE of the TLM. CHERISH the TLM.

My OF parish is not irreverent, I have to make it clear. Yet, however reverent the music is, I often find a lack of time for personal meditation. Only Gregorian Chants and polyphonic motets provide an environment of ‘innate silence’ conducive to my spirituality.

TLM is always too fast. Every time I step out of the church, there’s a down-to-the-earth feeling.

Unfortunately I did not attend the TLM as I had hoped to. I had to go out of town yesterday and got back rather late and was exhausted. I overslept and barely made it to the regular Mass I normally attend. So I plan on going next Sunday. Again, thanks everyone for the great advice. :slight_smile:

Peace, Mat

Just as a reminder, the OF is also supposed to allow times for personal meditation. Many priests and laity simply are out of the habit of this. This may be partly because the priest has to say 3 Masses that day, laypeople are focused on their plans for the day, etc. You also might pray in church before and after Mass, but too many times people use the church for socializing, so it can be distracting.

I think the EF is fine, but just want to point out laity and priests can make things better for the OF, too.

In the years before Vatican II, when the TLM was a routine thing, it was sometimes rushed through also, not always reverent. Again, I think it’s great that it is available now, and I sometimes attend it.

Thanks for the reminder.

By the way, does the GIRM allow the Eucharistic Prayer in the OF Mass to be said at a subdued voice just like the EF? I like the practice very much, which gives the faithful Sacred Silence.

I very much agree with the above advice. Hopefully the Mass in question will have a little red booklet, published by Ecclesia Dei, which not only has a simplified Mass, but also shows when to stand and kneel, etc. But as is mentioned in the post above, it might be best to sit in the back and just copy what everyone else is doing. Just plan on being kind of lost for the first few months or so.

Everyone who was not raised with the TLM have been in the same boat. And it’s likely that no one at the TLM will judge you for not knowing what’s going on. After you’ve attended for a few weeks, you’ll start to recognize and connect what’s happening at the altar with what the booklet says. It just takes time - but it’s well worth it.

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