QUAERITUR: Putting the Church back into my life – Differences between a Novus Ordo Latin and TLM?

When I got home to the Sabine Farm, I found that the birdfeeders had been absolutely picked clean – chickadees can be greedy little things – and I had 1241 e-mails waiting for me.

I get lots of news and lots of questions. Most of them… well… I cannot even think of answering.

Especially when they are like this:

I am asking for your help in ascertaining the differences between a Novus Ordo Latin and an Extraordinary Form Latin Mass.  I fell away from the church over forty years ago and have finally decided that it’s about time that I put the church back in my life.  I used to be familiar with the High Mass and a regular Latin Mass, is it the same difference? 

This is job for WDTPERers!

The question is both really involved (it would take a year to answer) but really good, especially in light of this fellows desire to return to the Church.

Help him out with useful comments.

I will first add this.

The major differences can be found in the attitude and content of the actual texts of prayers for Masses, especially on Sundays.  After that, the greater room given to silence and the greater emphasis on the "vertical" dimension of Mass.

Now I think you readers can take over.

Really think about this for a while.  The stakes are rather high.   Don’t be disrespectul of him or either form of Mass. 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Volpius says:

    What are “the differences between a Novus Ordo Latin and an Extraordinary Form Latin Mass?”

    The language at the EF is Latin the languae in the NO is whatever happens to be the popular language of your location
    The Canon is silent in the EF but spoken at the NO
    The Priest faces towards God at the EF while he faces away from God towards the people at the NO
    The Priest prays before ascending to God’s Altar at the EF while anyone and everyone seems to ascend to the altar at the NO.
    Music tends to be Gregorian chant at the EF while at the NO it is often modern hymns sung in the vernacular.
    At the EF you receive communion on the tongue and on your knees while at the NO the norm is to stand and take hold of God with your own hands before placing Him in your mouth.
    At the EF Christs sacrifice is emphasised while at the NO the meal aspect is emphasised
    At the EF the foucs is more on God while at the NO the focus is more on the Priest.
    Also at the NO just before communion people exchange “the sign of peace” with each other, this can be different depending on where you are, it is most commonly a hand shake were I am though some people hug and others kiss. In Malta it seems to be a bow.

    “I used to be familiar with the High Mass and a regular Latin Mass, is it the same difference?”

    The EF will be very much like what you are familiar with, the NO is very very different, at least to your external perception.

  2. David says:

    Get a missalette and read through the ordinary of the Mass for the Novus Ordo.

    Then go and find a 1962 missal (Baronius Press or Angelus Press) of the Traditional Latin Mass and read through the ordinary of the Mass in English.

    You will have just read the ordinary of the Novus Ordo Mass.

    But I guarantee that somewhere in the middle of reading the ordinary of the Traditional Latin Mass you will, quite unconsciously, begin to pray it.

    That’s all the explanation you will need.

  3. Matt Q says:

    Dear Returning Guy:

    In the Tridentine Mass you will find the Sacred Tradition and Theology of the Church being played out in the Mass. As Father Z mentioned, its form, content, prayers in Latin, and the attitude and posture of the celebrating priest and those who attend him are precise and true to form. The beauty of it and the music are all in concert to lift one’s spirit and be made more aware of the presence of God and the desire to be with Him.

    This Mass you were used to is the same. :) So, in a sense, you can pick up where you left off. Unfortunately, you will not find it readily available depending on where you live.

    The Novus Ordo ( New Order ) Mass is very much different. It’s celebrated in the vernacular ( common language of the parishoners ) and its form is very different. Because of the misinterpretations of this Mass over the past forty years, it will be different from parish to the next. Its form is the same but its manner and style is different.

    This Mass is pretty straightforward and can be said in about 15-20 minutes depending on how many receive Communion. The Novus Ordo can be said with a great deal of reverence and the Church is encouraging the use of Latin in these Masses. A weekday Novus Ordo Mass is nice. It’s spoken, no fuss, no chaos, so there is a sort of quietness about such a Mass which is very appealing–at my parish anyway.

    There are some critical issues with the Novus Ordo but too much to get into in this post. Depending on your spirituality and your love of the Church’s Sacred Tradition and cultural patrimony will affect which form of Mass you attach yourself to. Both are valid, both will help you save your soul. Let’s put it this way, a fresh brewed cup of tea or… **instant** **coffee**?

  4. Maureen says:

    Either Mass is just fine. What’s most important is to come!

    Welcome home.

  5. Deo volente says:

    Fr. Zuhsldorf,

    I posted this on my blog a few weeks ago when I began to receive questions somewhat similar to this one. It is a marvelous “precis” of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    Treasure of the Mass

    Laus Deo!

  6. Habemus Papam says:

    A Latin Novus Ordo said ad orientum would appear quite similar to a TLM. The major differences are more visible involement by the laity in such a LNO; giving some of the readings, making the intercessory Prayers of the Faithful and giving the Sign of Peace.

  7. Michael says:

    If you consider that the four fold purpose of the Mass is adoration, thanksgiving, ,atonement (or reparation) and petition, I think there is a noticable difference in which of these is emphasized.

    The primary focus of a Novus Ordo Mass is on petition whereas the primary focus in a Traditional Mass is on adoration.

    Keeping in mind that I am speaking in gross generalities, those who attend a Tradional Mass do so mostly because it is Gods due; Novus Ordo Mass attendees, on the other hand, do so primarily because of the Graces received.

  8. Habemus Papam says:

    All the above said by laity in the vernacular of course. At Holy Communion, wheter on the tounge or in the hand, the priest says “Corpus Christi” to which you are required to reply “Amen”.

  9. Rob F. says:

    The title of the post asks what is the difference between the Novus Ordo LATIN, and the EF (also in Latin, mostly).

    Let me give you keen-eyed readers a hint. The Novus Ordo LATIN is not in the vernacular, nor is it in “whatever happens to be the popular language of your location”. It is in LATIN.
    The Novus Ordo LATIN does not have modern hymns sung in the vernacular. It has chant or polyphony. The EF usually does not have music, but when it does, it is usually chant or polyphony.
    One real difference between the Novus Ordo Latin and the EF is that the EF is much easier to follow in your bilingual EF missal. In the Novus Ordo Latin, it is almost impossible to follow along with the celebrant since most days he can randomly choose his preface and anaphora.

  10. Attend both and your reason will cite the differences for you.

    If you are able to find a Novus Order Mass in Latin done ad orientum, there will be little difference in appearances. The substance of the prayers are different, but you will need to a side-by-side translations (NO Latin vs. Tridentine) to note the differences in detail. The differences between the traditional Novus Order (non-Latin, non-ad orientum) and the Tridentine Mass will be striking. I suggest that you attend both and decipher which is calling your heart. (I will add that the Tridentine Mass, if new to you, is more difficult to initially comprehend. Stick with it. It takes time to understand the priest’s movement and what is transpiring at certain points. I suggest “Know Your Mass” available from Angelus Press here: http://www.angeluspress.org/oscatalog/default.php?quicklist=0&searchcat%5b1%5d%5b0%5d=1&searchcat%5b2%5d%5b1%5d=38 It is actually a comic book, written for kids, but I have never found a book so rich in describing the Mass nor the significance of the actions that are taking place.)

  11. Tina in Ashburn says:

    A few more here. [For a succinct review of the New Mass, refer to the Ottaviani Intervention.]

    The priest faces the Tabernacle, demonstrating that the Mass is a conversation between priest and God, offering sacrifice on our behalf. The congregation “assists” in prayer.

    Although both forms are susceptible to irreverence, the Old Mass is “hard-wired” with reverence demonstrated by the priest in many signs of the cross, bows, genuflections [16?], hand gestures such as the orans position, and keeping the forefinger and thumb pressed together after touching the Eucharist.

    The prayers of the Old Mass are very specific and complete. In the NO, many of these prayers are removed, truncated or are optional.

    The Rubrics in the Old Mass are very strict, while the N.O.[Novus Ordo] allows for many options [such as Penitential Rite choices, 13 or 14 possible Eucharistic prayers].

    In the Old Mass, women do not enter the sanctuary during Mass, nor function as altar servers. In the New Mass, there’s the option for women in the sanctuary and as extraordinary ministers.

    In the Old Mass, the Altar of Sacrifice is also throne for Tabernacle; in the N.O. these two are separated.

    The Old Mass begins with prayers at the Foot of the Altar where prayers express joy, gratitude, and repentance.
    The altar boys, after the priest says it, say the “Confiteor” [the I confess] bowing towards him at the words “and you Father”. They beat their chest at “mea culpa” [my fault].
    In the New Mass, the priest doesn’t begin at the foot of the altar, these prayers are truncated and congregation joins in, with the option for “penitential rite” to exclude the Confiteor.

    In the Old Mass, the “propers” differ most in the Scriptural readings. There’s three main differences between the two lectionaries.
    First, the Old Mass generally has two readings, one from a New Testament epistle and the other from one of the Gospels,
    Second, like other historic apostolic rites, the old rite uses a one-year cycle of readings. Third, the readings of the old rite are chosen primarily for relevance to the liturgical calendar, they can also be chosen because of a nearby Saint’s Day or Station Day. These Old Masses typically illuminate the time of year and connect Christian worship to the history of the Church.
    Adding heft to the amount of Scripture, the Old Mass normally has 6 readings from Scripture:
    1. Introit
    2. Epistle.
    3. Gradual.
    4. Gospel.
    5. Offertory
    6. Communion
    Whereas in the New Mass:
    First, generally adds a third reading from the Old Testament.
    Occasional allowance of a non-Scriptural text to act as a third reading
    Second, uses a three-year cycle for Sunday readings and a two-year cycle for weekday readings allowing greater exposure to the Scriptures
    Third, the primary emphasis is on good coverage of the Bible in the three-year cycle, often irrespective of points in the church calendar. Unifying themes are less important and connections to Christian history or saints rarely occur.

    The Old Mass prayers emphasize the “Victim”. In the N.O., the words Victim, host are eliminated or rare; the word “hostia” means “victim.” In the N.O. there is emphasis on “supper” and “food.”

    In the Old Mass, the invocation of Holy Ghost to come down and descend upon the offering occurs in the Offertory [Epiklesis], whereas in the New Mass, this direct invocation is removed from the Offertory and moved into the Eucharistic Prayers. In the N.O., this direct invocation does not occur at all when saying the Eucharistic Prayer no.1 [the old Roman Canon].

    In the Old Mass, the priest says the Our Father, in the N.O. the congregation joins in.

    After receiving Communion, you don’t say “Amen” in the Old Mass, but you do at the New Mass.

    At the end of the Old Mass, there is the “last Gospel” — the beginning of the Gospel of St. John. The New Mass omits this.

    As posts before me say, reading the two Masses side by side, along with comparing the rubrics, is the most enlightening.

  12. I would find this a difficult question to answer. Not so much for the answer itself, but for the difference between the reformed missal as it is properly celebrated, in Latin, and with the priest “facing East” — this, as opposed to how it is celebrated in the popular sense. A few of the answers here do not take this distinction into account. But if a real comparison is to be made, it must be made on the basis of what is actually there, as opposed to how one or the other is used or misused.

    As far as comparing the texts of the respective forms of the Mass, and the instructions (or rubrics) for the priest and his ministers, the Traditional liturgy leaves very little to the imagination, as to what is to be said and done, and when, and how. The reformed liturgy (the “Novus Ordo”) is less precise in most of its instructions, which leaves the door open to innovation, however prohibited.

    The prayers of the traditional liturgy make numerous references to the communion of saints. This is evident in the Confession of Sin (the “Confiteor”), the prayer after the Our Father (“Libera nos”), and in the Eucharistic Prayer (the Roman Canon in the old, which is one of numerous options in the new). This underscores our belief in the communion of saints, as made manifest in their invisible presence at Mass. The relative absence of this in the reformed liturgy, while not showing disbelief, is at risk of theological imprecision.

    The reformed liturgy attempts to implement the directives of the Second Vatican Council, particularly with respect to the active participation (“actuosa participatio”) of the people. There are those who suggest that the outward aspects of said participation were taken too far, and that changes overall went way beyond what the Council envisioned. Among those voices of concern is that of the man who is now our Holy Father. The traditional liturgy allowed for more outward participation of the faithful, as called for by most popes of the first half of the 20th century, but the effort was slow in catching one, and there continues to be debate as to the merits of certain rubrical changes in 1960 to 1962 which enabled this effort.

    Both forms of the liturgy are valid and licit in and of themselves. Both require the highest of reverence. The lack of “wiggle room” in the traditional form, however, make the quest for reverence an easier one. I agree with Habemus Papam about the prospect of what is termed a “reverent Novus Ordo,” as I have witnessed it myself. Sadly, it is more the exception than the rule.

    I don’t know how much help this would be. But a side-by-side comparison — and there are websites that offer this which I will attempt to find — might provide some insight for the inquirer.

  13. Kathleen says:

    If you have been away for over 40 years, you already know what the EF is: it’s
    what you were used to (but with better sermons). If you are interested in the NO
    of the Latin RITE, (not Latin language), that will be very different.
    I was gone for 40 years and came home a few years ago. I wish I
    had seen an overview of the NO first, and that someone would have come with
    me — I felt lost! I suggest you sit near the back, try to use the missalette
    provided, and observe what others do. At Communion, bow, say “Amen” after the
    priest or extraordinary minister says “The Body of Christ,” and receive either o
    on the tongue (my preference and I urge you to do so) or in the hand.
    Also, be prepared to endure sloppy attire and chatter; it will shock you at
    first. I was also taken aback by the tranlation — it seemed thin and dumbed
    down, not the beautiful, prayerful language I remembered. And I missed the
    Last Gospel.

  14. mpk says:

    I too was a lapsed Catholic and believe I had the Rip van Winkle effect upon going to Mass in the Ordinary Form and wondering what on earth happened to the Mass. In the years since the Holy Spirit almost yanked me back into the Church I’ve struggled with the differences between the NO and Traditional Latin Mass and long for the reverence of ancient Mass. Though my memories of the Traditional Mass are those of a young child, I remember a solemnity that is very rare these days. As Kathleen said, you’ll find a great deal of chatting during the NO, especialy the Offertory which is somehow viewed as ‘down time’ and time to strike up a conversation.

    You asked about the difference between Latin NO and MEF but there are so few Latin NO Masses around I have never been to one, but have read they can be quite reverent. But I think the same priest that does the Latin NO reverently most likely says the NO with no Latin reverently as well.

    It was mentioned how you should receive Communion and this is the real reason for my response. Please don’t receive Communion before finding a priest or deacon who can help you and then of course make a good Confession. I received spiritual Communion for some time before it came time to actually receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord and can tell you, preparation is exceedingly important. Seeing almost the entire congregation go to Communion is probably the saddest thing for me about being Catholic. It just breaks my heart to see how casually Our Lord is received. I just pray that the Church begins to teach about Confession again and that alone will have an effect on reception of the Eucharist that would be most beneficial.

    Sorry for the length, obviously your question struck a chord.

    God Bless You,

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