Traditional Latin Mass in a small parish

This may be a dumb question (it wouldn’t be my first), but how many priests are required for a TLM? I haven’t experienced a TLM, but what I have seen on videos is a team of priests.

We have a fairly small parish with one priest. He has added a lot of Latin to our Mass, started wearing more traditional vestments (appears to me…again, I have a lack of familiarity), etc. If the universal indult does in fact come into being, would it be feasible for a single priest to celebrate a TLM?



How about altar servers? We usually have 6-8, so I’m guessing we are okay there as well?

For a public low Mass, only one server is required (a private Mass doesn’t require a server at all).

Thank you both for your answers…told you they were dumb questions. :stuck_out_tongue:

I will talk to our priest and see if there is a chance he is headed in that direction. Now, I won’t have to ask him the dumb questions.

God bless,


Only one priest is needed. There is no concelebration in the traditional Mass- such a thing only came into being in 1969 with the Novus Ordo. Although in the Solemn form of the Tridentine Mass, a Deacon and Subdeacon assist the Celebrant.

At a Low Mass no servers are necessary, but there can be as many as two. At a Sung Mass (with just the priest) there can be a minimum of two, but many more can be used. At Solemn Mass there can be servers assisting with the Deacon and Subdeacon.

I can give more detailed explanation for the servers and their roles if you wish :slight_smile:

OP, you are welcome and they aren’t dumb questions :smiley:

I would be interested, if you have the time. I am a woman who made her First Communion before the Vatican 2 was promulgated (the year before if memory serves me) so for me, it would just be informational.

Brenda V.

Actually, I do wish. :slight_smile:

How can there be no servers? I thought someone needs to be there with a paten when receiving the Eucharist.

Also, can you elaborate on “Deacon and Subdeacon?” I know there are Deacons (who are becoming priests) and Permanent Deacons (who are not), but that is the limit of my knowledge. We don’t have either at our parish, but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be available from a neighboring parish for a Solemn Mass.

If you have some decent resources on the different Masses (Low, Solemn, etc), I could use that too…are they only done on certain occasions, for example?

Most Masses were celebrated by a single priest under the Trent rubrics. It would be an extravagant use of resources to insist on several priests for every parish.

The order of the ministers was/is:

Subdeacon *
Exorcist *
Porter *
(Tonsure- not an order but you received it first)*

  • only surviving in Traditional seminaries. Removed for the NO in 1972 (Ministeria Quaedam).

Most of these were/are at the parish level non-existent because there was no concept of it being permanent. You received them on the path to ordination and eventually you became a priest.

Thus before the permanent diaconate was restored, the diaconate and subdiaconate were merely transitional roles that you would only find in, say, seminaries. So, for parishes, most often, other priests were vested as, and fulfilled the roles of deacon and subdeacon at Mass. This is still allowed at a Traditional Mass so you can have a Solemn High Mass by borrowing two priests.

You can still have a Solemn Mass with anyone who has received the tonsure (what was the lowest level of the minor orders- the first received on the path to ordination) taking the role of the subdeacon. Except he cannot do certain things that the subdeacon would. Since the tonsure has also been removed along with the subdiaconate (except for Traditional seminairans) , I would guess that if your looking among NO people, any seminarian who is an insituted lector would do.

Thanks AJV…that must be why it looked like a number of priests to me on the videos I’ve seen - probably a Solemn High Mass. Are those only done on certain holidays or feasts? IOW…why and when do you have a Low Mass and a High Mass?

BTW…I don’t care what people say it is, “tonsure” sounds like some sort of medieval punishment to me. :wink:

Oh…and one follow-up question…would a Permanent Deacon be able to fill the role of Deacon/Subdeacon at a Solemn High Mass, or are they out of that equation?

Could have just been a lot of adult Altar Server. I serve at a Traditional Mass, and just about all the servers are adults. Based on what we wear, we could certainly be mistaken for Priest.

Just to note: even thoguh they are priests, they do not wear chausbles. They were dalmatics (the vestment of the deaon) and tunicles (the vestment of the subdeacon) just like a proper deacon or subdeacon would. For most purposes, they are treated as if they were deacons and subdeacons.

You can have High Mass whenever you want. The only thing is that it is not like the NO, where there is latitude on whether the priest can chant/not chant, use incense or no incense, etc., etc. Adn another thing is that the Propers (Introit, Offertory, etc.) have to be sung. No singing hymns instead.

High Mass- priest, deacon, subdeacon , chanted propers, incense.
Low Mass- priest, server(s) no chanting and no incense.
Sung Mass- which is a compromise- priest, servers, chanted propers, incense is optional.

BTW…I don’t care what people say it is, “tonsure” sounds like some sort of medieval punishment to me. :wink:

Ahem When I first heard of it, I thought it sounded a bit like the punishments they dole out over here if they catch you eating during Ramadan- pop you in jail and shave your head. :wink:

But one of the mystical interpretations is that it represents the crown of thorns. This is taken from one of the prayers used in conferring it.

In the old rite, you could fulfill the role of any order you possessed, so since all priests had been made subdeacons and deacons on the path to the presbyterate, they could have functioned as any three of those orders at a Mass. Permanent deacons have the exact same abilities as transitional deacons, so yes, a permanent deacon can serve as a deacon or as a subdeacon at a Solemn Mass.

In the present rite, this fluidity of function is no longer as possible because clerics are no longer allowed to vest below their station - a priest cannot, in the NO, vest and act as the deacon of the Mass, for instance.

Are you certain of this? I think I’ve seen Mass said a couple of different ways when more than one priest is present. I’ve seen a concelebration - both priests saying the prayers and elevating the species; and I’ve seen one priest take a minor role, basically assisting the Celebrant. The latter sounds similar to the descriptions you are giving of vesting and acting as a deacon.

He may be taking some of the roles of the deacon, like reading the Gospel, or assisting at the Offertory but there are a few things that distinguish him from the deacon- he can recite the Eucharistic Prayer, he must receive under both species and may do this by himself, and he wears the priestly vestments (e.g.a chasuble instead of a dalmatic, with his stole over both, instead of only one, shoulder.)

(I’m speaking with reference to the NO)


Thanks - I think I understand. So, the GIRM requires that he, as a priest, still receive under both species, even if he is performing some of the roles of a deacon. I don’t recall, but he probably did.

Regarding vestments. They did wear different vestments (the Celebrant’s was more ornate IIRC), but they did both wear chausables.

Thanks for all the responses, so far.

I should have called this thread “TLM 101” or “TLM for Newbs.” (The latter would be the current favorite lingo 16yo :wink: , who btw is also interested in the TLM, as I have described it thusfar to him.)

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