Yet another Latin Mass Question (or 2, OK so it’s 3) from a “don’t-know-nothin’-‘bout-T-L-M” person

I am curious about TLM and have found a Church that offers it and am making plans to attend, sometime here soon. I have found the Mass on line and have read through it, once.

Since I don’t know Latin, how do I respond when I am supposed to? If I try to read it I am pretty sure I will say the responses incorrectly making me yet another Mass distracter.

For those people here on CAF that maybe found themselves in a similar situation, did you feel like a bit of an outsider when you first attended because of the language barrier?

Since I don’t know Latin and will hardly know what’s what my first time attending does this fulfill my Sunday obligation? (Oh how I really dislike this last question! Please be kind :slight_smile: )

You aren’t required to respond (in some churches they may also not encourage dialogue low Masses where the people respond)

Since I don’t know Latin and will hardly know what’s what my first time attending does this fulfill my Sunday obligation? (Oh how I really dislike this last question! Please be kind :slight_smile: )

Yes. You can participate with devotion even without knowing the prayers. Saying responses aloud is only one manifestation of our interior dispositions. Say the rosary :wink:

  1. You dont need to respond. In a Low Mass the server makes the responses, while in a Sung Mass the choir chants the them. Some Low Masses are so-called “Dialogue Masses” (Missa Recitata) where the congregation is encouraged to make some of the basic responses along with the server, but even then you are not required to do so. Most Low Masses are not audible anyway (unlike the Novus Ordo, the priest does not wear a clip-on microphone in the TLM).

  2. This certainly does fullfill your Sunday obligation, just as it fullfilled the Sunday obligation of uncountable numbers of Catholics for almost 1500 years. Whether you know the prayers of the Mass or not has no bearing on this.

If you want to actively participate in the Mass, you could buy yourself a Missal or get one of those red Ecclesia Dei books with the Ordinary of the Mass (many churches will have these for the congregation to use, and some will have the Proper prayers out as well for you to take). Or, as AJV said, you could pray the Rosary during Mass.

Yeah, dont worry about responding the first few times.

I hope you find a place that encourages the dialogue mass, as silent low masses with the server responding…were a later decadence and part of the problems that led to the Novus Ordo in the first place.

Get a missal, ideally. But the Ordinary (ie, same at every mass) responses and songs…will be in the little red booklet or available online easily, like here:

Try to become familiar with them. They aren’t that hard. Mostly just responding “Et cum spiritu tuo” to “Dominus Vobiscum” and “Deo Gratias” to things. And some of the longer things, like the confiteor, the domine non sum dignus, or the prayers at the foot of the altar (if the people make those in your local version of the dialogue mass)…you can pick up on pretty easily. You’d be surprised. They have a good rhythm, a good flow, they were written so on purpose (unlike clumsy translations…)

But, there certainly isnt as much pressure to respond at a TLM as if your response makes or breaks the essential validity of the Mass (a feeling I sometimes get at novus ordos). Still, an inaudible mass, with people praying the rosary throughout, and perhaps the choir singing elaborate harmonies with the actual words incomprehensible…is not ideal. More tolerable than the protestants would have you believe (because participation is not the essence of the Mass), but certainly not ideal, and part of the rot under the surface that led to the new mass in the first place.

Especially if it is your first time…I would encourage trying to find a dialogue mass. My first TLM was a disjointed, confusing, silent affair…and i was very disappointed. I loved the text itself, had seen it online…and the actual preformance seemed so…out of touch with everything. I was pleasantly surprised when I finally saw a TLM where the people participated actively, but according to their proper role in tradition, and where everything was very engaged and holistically coordinated.

For a first timer especially…walking into a church where the priest is doing one thing up front, the people are praying rosaries or in line for confession, the choir is singing over the priest’s prayers and he isn’t waiting, the people sort of wander up to the front at communion without any sort of orderly procession…can seem very confusing. It certainly disappointed me, everyone seemed in a sort of do-your-own-thing sort of haze.

When I later found the dialogue TLM, even though the people’s responses are few and far apart and not that complex…it was just enough to add a sense of coherence to the whole thing, to make it clear that everyone’s thoughts were on the altar. And being able to hear those parts that are supposed to be heard, really helps too.

Like others said, don’t worry about the responses at first. Listen to the others pronouncing the words.

You may wish to learn some Latin prayers like Pope Benedict XVI asked for in his recent encyclical :thumbsup: Here are audio pronunciations of some common prayers.

I beg to differ.

A Low Mass should be inaudible to the congregation (unless its a Frenc organ Mass) as it enhances the atmosphere of prayer and contemplation. While Low Masses are not to be desired all of the time (Sundays should have a nice Missa Cantata or Missa Solemnis with schola for the Gregorian chant, or, on more solemn feasts, a classical or baroque setting for orchestra and choir), they should be celebrated in such a way that enhances their simplicity.

The congregation need not make any responses. That is the job of the server. The congregation must spiritually prepare to recieve Holy Communion (or, if not recieving, to make a spiritual Communion) through prayer and confession (ideally, confessions should be heard until the Sanctus).

I very strongly second the suggestion of the person who advised you to get a Latin/English missal. Generally speaking, if the translations are good, the English will be stately and very worshipful. If you attend the TLM often, you will find that eventually you will remember the Latin prayers. More than that, you will eventually get a sense of the shades of meaning in the Latin that can’t quite be translated. All translations are like that to a degree. They’re never exactly right, and can’t be. I have been fascinated by those little differences. After awhile, you start getting familiar with the Latin, even though you don’t “really know” Latin, and you begin seeing things you did not see before in the English.

I say all of that and I still love the Novus Ordo. But I also love the TLM. It’s not just a matter of this one being in English and that one being in Latin. They are different experiences; different kinds of prayer, really. But in either case, there needs to be active participation. In the one, the participation is aloud. In the other, it rarely is.

The server’s job is to serve and get in the way as little as possible. The server himself is an extraordinary position (there should ideally be real acolytes and such) and making him the major dialogue-partner is a strange development akin to turning a minor role in a movie into the main supporting actor.

Low Masses are not ideal ever. The ideal foreseen by the rubrics is always Solemn High. This isn’t always possible, but low mass itself is an abbreviation and an exception to the ordinary. Best for the private or individual masses of priests.

The congregation doesn’t “need” to do anything, we know that. The sacraments work ex opere operato.

But it was a much later development, a decadence of the liturgy, that the priest muttered the mass at the front while getting the responses parroted to him by some 8 year old.

There are silent parts and times for silence, but the model you describe is the same one that led to the novus ordo in the first place. A strange nostalgia for the Baroque, the Victorian, and the 1950’s that seems to be just reactionary against the whole Liturgical Movement and true intentions of Vatican II…which, though they went terribly wrong, were truly in some sense trying to restore the Medieval ideals away from the Rennaisance decay that the liturgy suffered.

Cardinal Ratzinger said in his “Spirit of the Liturgy”…if the old rite is to be revivified, it cannot be based on a “refridgerator model”…it cannot be preserved like a lacy state park for a strange breed of endangered animal. The mass is not an opera, not an orchestra concert either. Those models are innappropriate for liturgy too, and can distract from the solemnity, not add to it.

Well, since you seem to have a good grasp of English, you already have a Little Dipper on Latin, as much of English is rooted in Latin.
Don’t concern yourself with being an expert on the TLM. Just observe FIRST, then dip in to your comfort level. Repetition will play its part. From repetition with contemplation comes Appreciation. After about 8 Masses, you’ll be swimming in the deep like all the others.

Concerning the purchase of a TLM missal, I highly recommend the Angelus Press version. Baronius Press also has one. I bought an Angelus Press version from the following site; it is a great missal at a great price.

Were there dialog masses before Vatican II? If so exactly how far do they date back?


May I point something out? I grew up with the Latin Mass. I made my First Communion in 1958. I still have my “little” St. Joseph Missal. I made my First Communion at the end of second grade. By then I was reading fluently and I had no problem following the Latin on the left side of the page and the English on the right.

Countless generations have gone before us and Latin was the norm for Mass. Probably the biggest things you will notice on Sunday is first, the Asperges before Mass begins. Sprinkling of holy water - Cleanse me of sin with hyssop, O Lord. Remember to genuflect as the priest comes by.

There are a good many prayers before you hit the Kyrie and Gloria which is unlike the NO. One of which is the Confiteor. We used to say this prayer alot in school just as a prayer. Used to be said in the NO way back in the 70s, but it has been years since I’ve heard it recited in English.

The Kyrie is longer. Each acclaimation is repeated three times instead of once.

There’s just one reading, the Epistle and then the Gospel. No responsorial psalm.


And then the recitation of the Nicene Creed. I have not heard the Creed recited at an NO Mass again since the 70s.

After that Mass is Mass. If you’ve heard Eucharistic Rite I at a NO, that’s what you’re hearing in the TLM.

The ending of Mass is a bit different. There is the last Gospel and various prayers before Mass is over.

It’s not something mysterious that you need to be afraid of. It was the only Mass I knew until 1966 when everything started to change.

I thought that we are not supposed to pray the rosary during Mass.

I guess one could make a case of it in 19th century or even before but I’ve usually heard it associated with the monks of Maria-Laach since 1918 (and in 1922, the Congregation of Rites gave a very cautious reception to it making it more common in Europe.In that same year, one was celebrated by Benedict XV which made it even more so)

Dialogue masses date back to the medieval times, but stopped during the Renaissance, and came back starting in the late 19th and early 20th century as part of the Liturgical Movement.

You know, this question really gets to me. Yes, there were elderly Italian ladies in my parish who did say the rosary during Mass. My mother, Irish, knelt at my side when I was able to read and pointed out word for word the Latin and the English. Dominus - Lord. Oremus - let us pray, etc.

We got our first Missal’s as I pointed out when we made our First Communion. We got our adult Missal’s when were were confirmed in sixth grade. We followed along in our missals. The elderly Italian ladies were following their own acts of personal piety and prayer. Everyone else was following along in their Missals. Ay, yi, yi!

AMEN to that! Shall I quietly confess that I do that also when I need to shut out the talking, the “altar girls”, the rest of the distractions? Shhh, don’t tell anyone! :smiley:

Regarding the rosary during Mass:

To brotherhrolf:
I made my First Communion is '57 and began serving Mass in ‘60. I served right through high school and today I serve regularly at NO Masses where there are only adults, and I train the young servers for our parish. In TLM there are other readings besides the Epistle and the Gospel: the Introit, Collect, and Secret. Your statement that “after that the Mass is the Mass” is a bit misleading, since the Offertory and Consecration were both much more elaborate and (in my opinion) more uplifting. (You might note the complete absence of the very word “Offertory” today.) The omission of the Nicene Creed that you report is quite sad and typical of the liturgical chaos that reigns in much of the US and quite rightly alarms the Holy Father and others. Folks our age who long for the Catholicism that we were raised with are not just nostaligic dinasours who refuse to grow with the times. On the contrary, we know what has been lost. When I look around at all the gray heads at a KofC meeting and calculate how many of my brothers’ children and grandchildren are practicing Catholics I feel a stabbing pain in my chest! No, it not just the use of the vernacular or the insipid pseudo folk music, but those are a part of the dreadful state in which we have allowed Holy Mother Church to fall. ( Recently I heard priest preach on the “stupidity” of the very concept of Holy Mother Chruch, repeatedly misspeaking, saying “Holy Mother THE Church”!!) I encourage my fellow Catholics to take off their rose tinted glasses and see the state that the Church is in. Although the wider availability to TLM is not the entire solution, I believe it will inspire some to wake up and realize that Our Lord did not found His Church to enable people to find excuses for supporting pro-abortion politicians and to feel comfortable with their sins.

Our parish celebrates a TLM every Sunday, so I included a copy of the Ordinary of the Mass when I did the website for them. The link is here

Please note that the page is not Printer Friendly, but you could select and copy to a Word document if you want to print them out.

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