Latin Mass
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Frequently Asked Questions

ACTIVE PARTICIPATION OF THE FAITHFUL IN THE TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS

1.  In the Traditional Latin Mass, do the people sing or say the prayers with the priest?

Just as in the celebration of the Mass in the Ordinary Form (post-Vatican II Mass), the priest alone will recite many of the prayers of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (1962 Missale Romanum). At a High Mass where the choir sings the Ordinary (unchanging) and Proper (changing) chants, the people are encouraged to sing the responses (i.e. Amen, Et cum spiritu tuo, Dignum et justum est, etc.), and if possible, the Ordinary (i.e. Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei). At a Low Mass the people can sing hymns along with the choir. At a special form of the Low Mass called the Dialogue Mass, which is celebrated in some places, the people may also recite some of the responses with the altar boys.

A newcomer to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass will notice that at a High Mass, the choir often sings while the priest is quietly praying at the altar. Because it typically takes the choir a longer time to sing its part than it takes for the priest to say his part, the two will overlap.

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2.  In the Extraordinary Form, why does the priest pray in a quiet voice?

In the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass (Usus Antiquor), the priest uses three tones of voice (low, medium, and high). The low voice is used, for example, during the prayers surrounding the Consecration and the Consecration itself, as the priest quietly prays the words of consecration, in which the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. The medium voice is used by the priest at the altar to be heard the sacred ministers and servers who are near the altar and the high voice is employed to give the texts of the Mass that are heard by all.

It is, therefore, well to follow along in the hand-missal so that one might meditate upon the prayers of the Mass. The silence experienced during the Canons of the Mass is a hushed awe in which the faithful render thanksgiving unto the Father for the mystery of Christ’s supreme sacrifice made present again on the altar. When a newcomer attends the Usus Antiquor according to the 1962 Missale Romanum for the first time, they are, moreover, surprised that the most important part of the Mass is accomplished in silence. Through the silence of Mass, we enter into a contemplative and sacred silence, over which the Holy Ghost is hovering. This anointed silence in the Traditional Latin Mass is a timeless silence pointing to eternity.

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