UPDATE 18 Feb 17:58 GMT:
I received this from the person whose question sparked this entry:
I’m the guy who left a question about what to expect a few days back.
Turns out, I did go to the Extraordinary Form this morning. As people suggested, the thing most different was the level of silence as the priest silently prayed. I didn’t really follow along with the book that closely, instead reminding myself that the priest was praying for all of us present, and tried just to pay attention to the actions of the priest.
Another thing I enjoyed was how much more apparent the sacrificial nature of the Mass was in this form and the extended period of private prayer while the priest washed the vessels. Certainly, both forms complement each other well in various ways and have their own purposes in the Church. I am glad to be more familiar with this way of prayer, used by countless previous generations.
I just thought you would like to know.
A reader asked:
I am thinking about attending my first EF Mass this Sunday at a church near my home. I was wondering what I can expect to be really different from OF (besides the language, of course). What can I “expect” to be surprised by? Are there any resources to prepare me for the experience?
I hope you do go.
I have several entries here already which might be helpful
- QUAERITUR: What to wear for my first TLM?
- QUAERITUR: 1st TLM… what to wear?
- A reader shares first experience of Mass in the Extraordinary Form
- A reader’s experience of the Extraordinary Form
- Account of participation for the first time at Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form
Let the New Evangelization begin!
Anyone want to chime in?
What can our friend expect? Have some personal experiences?
I ask that this NOT be a discussion thread.
Do NOT therefore engage each other’s comments. Let people comment freely without fearing that others will tear them apart.
USE the social media tags, above.
I would say… unless it is a High Mass or Missa Cantata, in which case there is comparatively little difference to a sung Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form, be prepared for a lot more silence. I think that is the one thing that many people find difficult to get used to.
Most important piece of advice: “Be Not Afraid”.
Dress nicely if you’re a visitor (that’s really true for ANY church). Not party clothes but decent church clothes. If you are a lady and have a cute hat that matches one of your suits or dresses, wear that and avoid the entire veiling-or-not-veiling question. If you don’t, and the parish is strict about veiling, they’ll have a bunch of veils hanging on a coat rack in the narthex. Ask.
Sit in the back where you can see what others do and copy them. If you’re concerned about appearing clueless, also sit off to one side so if you do kneel or sit at the wrong time it won’t be conspicuous to anybody.
The FSSP parishes I have attended have nice little booklets in the narthex explaining the Mass in detail, and English-Latin missals if you don’t have one. If you don’t see them, ask the usher if there are any. Ushers tend to be friendly people, or they wouldn’t have that job!
And remember: you’re there to see Jesus, not to be seen. And He loves you. :-D
One of the things that I didn’t know at my first EF mass was that if it’s a high mass, the choir will not always be at the same place the priest is. That’s very different from the OF and it confused me until I figured it out. For example they start the Kyrie before he does but he is finished the Gloria and sits down (same with the Creed) before they are finished. Our EF masses here are usually high masses so I try and explain that to anyone new who comes with us.
I hope it is a High Mass. The music and singing of the schola is so much more rewarding and uplifting. You should also notice the quiet of the congregation as they participate in the Mass with the Priest. And on a minor note, one does not say Amen prior to receiving Holy Communion. :-) I hope you find the Mass reverential and noble. Amen.
I would recommend some resources:
For the Visitor at Mass
Fr. Richard Ginder
The Latin Mass Explained
Msgr. George Moorman
I would recommend not trying to follow word for word during Mass. Find a good resource that walks through the Mass section by section, read it ahead of time (it’s the same structure as the Novus Ordo with a couple extra sections) and then just pray your way through Mass. Check out sanctamissa[dot]org, especially the link on “Spirituality of the Tridentine Mass”.
I wrote about my experience at my first Latin Mass on my blog (at St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis) http://www.almostnotcatholic.com/2011/06/4-reflections-on-my-first-traditional.html
For starters, I finally realized what “participation” really could entail. I absolutely felt like I was praying WITH the priest.
Through the Immaculate Conception,
I’ve been attending the EF Mass for the past 2 years. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but I couldn’t stay away. The sung Mass is beautiful, but so is the quietness of the low Mass. What ever you do… give it a real chance to seep into your soul, but beware! once it does, nothing else is quite good enough ;)
The best advice is to just relax, don’t worry, and smile.
Go early. Enjoy the quiet reverence before Mass, a time for prayer and reflection. At each EF mass I have attended as an adult, the reverence before and during the Mass is palpable, a great contrast to my experience with the NO. If you do not have a Latin Missal, perhaps the parish provides Missalettes. Either will serve, but if you attend on a regular basis, you will want a Latin Missal of your own. Observe all the ways that the EF is different from your previous experience. If possible, make time afterward, with the experience still fresh, to reflect on it, and then enjoy how it affects the rest of your day.
Whether high or low, the thing that will surprise you most is the silences–the long, distilled, beautiful silences.
Irregardless of your experience attending the EF, or your learning curve, (which you should not be anxious about), I think the one outstanding thing that you can expect is …. peace.
I will remember you in my prayers.
You never forget your first time. I know I haven’t. My wife (fiancee at the time) and I attended our first EF Mass 4 or 5 years ago. I remember having a very difficult time keeping up with little red missals they had available, so after the Gospel I just watched the priest and prayed. After two or three more times, I had a MUCH better understanding of the ebb and flow of the EF Low Mass. My (growing) family now attends the EF about 75% of the time.
The most striking and memorable aspect of the first EF Mass I attended was how absolutely focused the entire Liturgy seemed to be upon the Eucharist. Everything from the fact that the readings were read at the altar within a few steps of the tabernacle, to all the bowing and genuflecting, to the fact the priest’s thumb/finger never separated, to the patens, to the kneeling at the altar rail, to the reception on the tongue, to the time spent purifying the vessels, etc. etc. etc.
I remember thinking to myself: “You know if a space alien visited this Mass, he might not know what was going on, but there would be NO QUESTION what was the most precious and important thing in the room…the Eucharistic species on the altar!
If it’s a Low Mass and the church is a large one, even those parts which the priest says aloud won’t be that audible unless he is miked, which is not a good idea since the microphone amplifies the celebrant while not picking up the server’s responses, giving a lopsided effect. Don’t try to follow everything – there will probably be a booklet containing the Mass Ordinary at least, and it’s usual to provide a sheet containing the Propers. Look for the points of similarity between the EF and OF – both forms have the same basic shape.
Sung or High Mass will not seem foreign if you are familiar with the sung Latin OF as the chants and rubrics aren’t that different. However, the sung OF is probably more of a rara avis than the TLM, and there is little if any chant in your average parish. You may well find that the congregation sing the Kyrie, Gloria and Credo in alternation with the schola, and join in the Sanctus and Agnus Dei, as well as the sung responses. The Proper chants (Introit, Gradual, Alleluia/Tract, Communio) sung by the schola are actually meditations on the texts; listening to them is full, conscious and active participation.
If your entire experience of worship is post-1965 it is worth remembering that the EF, TLM, Usus Antiquior, call it what you will, is quite simply “the Mass” as understood by Catholics for well over 1000 years.
Expect to understand what it means to “pray the Mass”.
I would advise not following the Epistle and Gospel in English while they’re being chanted, especially since they will be proclaimed in the vernacular anyway. Just listen and enjoy hearing the beauty of the Latin. I would also advise not trying to follow the Missal, at least not until the Canon of the Mass. Then you will be able to take in the beauty of the gestures, such as the MC kissing the hand of the priest as well as whatever object he gives to or takes from him. You will also be able to appreciate the reverence the priest and the servers accord the Holy Trinity at the mention of any of Their Names. Don’t expect to be able to grasp everything after just one Mass. There is so much richness it’s impossible to catch everything the first time.
What I find most profound is that which is missing from too many OF Masses – the absolute stillness and silence during the consecration.
God bless you!
Dear questioner, expect to be surprised by…silence. These are moments when we can truly appreciate Our Lord’s Sacrifice, and truly participate by prayer, and not just emotionalism.
Be surprised by the emphasis on Sacrifice and not meal.
Be surprised by liturgical Chants, some dating 1,500 years, that put you in-tune with fellow Catholics and Saints worshiping the same rite for over 1,500 years (with many of the prayers dating to Apostolic times)!
Be surprised by the fact that you can mystically escape the world in profound prayer and not still be part of it as in the Novus Ordo; an assembly-line manufactured mass, in the then words of Cardinal Ratzinger, now, of course, our Pope.
Here is what Evelyn Waugh wrote to Bill Buckley:
The nature of the Mass is so profoundly mysterious that the most acute and holy men are continually discovering further nuances of significance. It is not a peculiarity of the Roman Church that much which happens at the altar is in varying degrees obscure to most of the worshipers. It is in fact the mark of all the historic, apostolic Churches. I think it highly doubtful whether the average churchgoer either needs or desires to have complete intellectual, verbal comprehension of all that is said. He has come to worship.
Good luck with your introduction! Don’t be crestfallen if you don’t “get it” at first; I certainly didn’t! Go to pray, the rubrics and better understanding will follow!
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t ‘get it’ the first time. The EF is so different it can take a few times to get a sense of what is happening. At first, I tried to follow along in the missal, but only became distracted. Then I decided to just observe and that’s when it really began to sink in. The silence, the reverence and the recognition of the fact that we are there to worship God, not each other.
But most importantly– don’t get discouraged if you don’t ‘get it’ at first. I know I said that already, but I think its really important, because not everyone instantly falls in love with the EF the first time they attend, and that’s ok.
Allow yourself to be human, not omniscient. It isn’t necessary to know everything the first time.
In some ways, my first Traditional Latin Mass was not unlike my first major league baseball game. I was drawn in by the game, but I didn’t understand the infield fly rule. Nor did I understand why a slugger was bunting??? You can hit it out of the park, but you’re only going to tap it ten feet? Next batter, and off in a new direction. Unlike many other sports, in baseball there is no clock running, and it not played on a rectangle. If you arrive at a baseball game only having experienced basketball or hockey, for instance, much will be unfamliar. Different moments (plays) contracted and expanded by some inner force or logic that I didn’t quite understand. The game unfolds. So, too, the TLM. Let it. Be dazzled. Be perplexed. Stay with it. Pray.
Especially if it’s a High Mass, you just won’t be able to follow what’s going on in the missal—don’t even try. Just drink it in! It’s a real experience!
Kiss of Peace
In the Tridentine Mass, the 1962 version of which is now an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the sign of peace is exchanged only among the sacred ministers and clergy. The sign of peace is given by the celebrant to the deacon, who in turn gives it to the subdeacon, who gives the sign to any other clergy present in choir dress. In this context, the sign of peace is given by extending both arms in a slight embrace with the words “Pax tecum’ (Peace be with you).
The above text suggests that you will be able to pay attention to God, instead of noting which people you must pretend not to see at the Sign of Peace, because you have already seen them putting their fingers where they do not belong, and their intention to shake hands with you, right before you receive Holy Communion in the hand, which, thankfully, you will not be doing.
It is human nature to fear the unknown, but the most common directive in the gospels is, “Fear not.” I would suggest sitting closer to the front so you have a good view of the sacristy so you can watch the movements, and reverence, of the priest and altar boys, but with enough people in front of you so you know when to stand, sit, and kneel. At times the congregation, along with the altar boys, will respond to the priest. Just listen. No one expects you to know anything the first time (but I bet my the end of the Mass you’ll be joining in some “Et cum spiritutuo’s”). Definitely ask about the paperback Latin-English booklet most EF churches have. As advised above, read the English during the canon of the Mass while the priest is praying silently at the altar. Be impressed by the beauty of the prayers, see what sounds like the OF and what has been omitted or condensed. Follow the people in your pew up for Holy Communion. Watch how they know when to kneel at the altar railing and do the same. When you see the altar boy and priest moving toward you from the previous communicant, just tilt your head back and stick out your tongue – don’t just open your mouth and expect the priect to lob in the Eucharist — really stick out your tongue while keeping your mouth open. Fear not, i.e., be not afraid — you will love it and after six Sundays you’ll never want to leave. God bless you.
Expect simplicity and the opportunity to be still and know that God is doing something marvelous upon the altar without jarring your tranquility by having to make distracting vocal utterances.
It will be harder to follow along than you think. After a lifetime of going to the NO, you’ll be used to knowing exactly where you are in the Mass. When you first switch to an EF, you won’t be able to figure that out easily. Don’t stress out over it, and if you get lost, it’s OK. After a few weeks you’ll 1) be able to follow along excellently and 2) won’t feel as anxious about having to anyways.
From experience and from hearing others’ experience, your first EF can be a disappointment. We like what we know. We like familiarity. If the EF isn’t familiar we tend to want to go back to what we know well. That being the case, I would advise, don’t just try “a” Mass, but go to several, regardless of your initial experience. Get to know the EF Mass, then decide what you think.
IT MAY SURPRISE YOU.
It may surprise you how many bumperstickers you see in the parking lot when you arrive at the church. It may surprise you how many men–even young men–will be wearing jackets and ties. It may therefore also surprise you that some guys will be wearing jeans, hoodies, and sneakers. It may surprise you that a number of female worshippers will wear hats, scarves, or lace mantillas…or it may surprise you that a number of them do not. It may surprise you that some of the congregation will look like 1955 whereas some of the congregation look will like 2012, and that some of the congregation look like they just rolled out of bed (they did). It may surprise you how many people show up exactly on time, or late, and then sit in back…just like at a Novus Ordo Mass.
It may surprise you that the vestments will be purple already, instead of green. It may surprise you that the purple, not green, vestments will look different from the sort of vestments you’re used to seeing. It may surprise you that there’s an extra vestment hanging from the celebrant’s arm. It may surprise you that he removes it when he preaches. It may surprise you that the chalice gets to wear vestments, too. It may surprise you that there is a veil hanging in front of the tabernacle.
It may surprise you that many people will genuflect in their pews when they are being sprinkled with holy water before the beginning of Mass. It may surprise you that people are being sprinkled with holy water before the beginning of Mass. It may surprise you that the sanctuary is closed off after everyone gets sprinkled. It may surprise you that the celebrant changes into a different vestment after everyone gets sprinkled. It may surprise you that the celebrant begins Mass in front of the altar, and not off to one side, at a chair.
It may surprise you that you will hear very little of what the celebrant says, since he says most of the Mass inaudibly, and since the choir (if there is a choir) sings while he is speaking. It may surprise you that there will be only one reading before the Gospel instead of two. It may surprise you that it will not be read by a lector, but by the celebrant, inaudibly, facing the altar. It may surprise you that the reading will be over and done with without you ever realizing that it even happened; suddenly everyone will rise and cross their foreheads, lips, and heart: you’re at the Gospel. It may surprise you that the Gospel will be read by the celebrant at the altar, facing left. It may surprise you that both the Epistle (the first reading that you missed) and the Gospel will be read, again, in English, this time from the pulpit. It may surprise you that the Gospel will be completely different from the Gospel you would have heard had you gone to church at your own parish.
It may surprise you how active the altar servers are. It may surprise you how many times the congregation go up and down. It may surprise you that many worshippers will be following along with a book (it’s a personal-sized Missal). It may surprise you that some will be praying their rosary, instead. It may surprise you that the celebrant, and the altar service may sit during the singing of the Nicene Creed. It may surprise you that the Nicene Creed is sung. It may surprise you that the celebrant may wear a square black hat with a pom-pom on top of it whenever he sits down. It may surprise you that an altar server lifts the back of the celebrant’s chasuble over the back of his chair before he sits down.
It may surprise you that although there is a collection, there is no offertory table and no offertory procession. It may surprise you that the collection is not brought to the altar, but just disappears. It may surprise you that no worshippers go into the sanctuary for any reason, at all. It may surprise you that, despite an introduction to the general intercessions before the Offertory, there are no general intercessions.
It may surprise you how many times the bells are rung. It may surprise you that the altar servers lift the celebrant’s chasuble when he elevates the Host and the Chalice. It may surprise you that the congregation may not stand (depending upon the rubrics of the church you’re going to) at the Our Father. It may surprise you that the congregation do not share with one another the sign of peace. It may surprise you that the congregation never say anything at all during the entire liturgy.
It may surprise you that the faithful approach a Communion rail, quite randomly (not row by row in an orderly fashion) where they kneel to receive Holy Communion. It may surprise you that the priest does not say “The Body of Christ” to you, but something much longer, in Latin. It may surprise you that he says “Amen” instead of you. It may surprise you that, despite the fact that there were no Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, the Communion of the Faithful didn’t take very long at all.
It may surprise you that when the congregation is dismissed, everyone kneels…for the final blessing, which occurs only after the dismissal. It may surprise you that even after the dismissal and the final blessing, we’re not done yet. Surprise! There’s another Gospel! And more genuflecting.
It may surprise you that this, according to the Pope, is the very same rite as the Mass you’re used to, just another form of it. It may surprise you that the form that you’re used to is supposed to look, sound, and feel alot more like the Extraordinary form than it does. It may surprise you that everything you find beautiful about the Extraordinary Form…the Latin, the chant, the solemnity, the reverence, the incense, the ceremony…is supposed to be found in the Ordinary Form, too.
If it is a Low Mass, be prepared to kneel. A lot.
Don’t try to figure it all out your first couple times. Don’t be busy with the book, trying to keep track of the Mass. You will be much too distracted and will come away unsatisfied. Just drink it all in and enjoy. Over time, try to follow what’s happening. An earlier post noted how often the choir and priest have overlapping parts or otherwise don’t seem to be in the same place. With time you will learn how this works. Deo Gratias and be not afraid!
Don’t try to follow along in the missal too much, just chill out the first time. Put your mind in Adoration Mode: imagine that you’re spending time in an Adoration chapel (which in fact you are).
My first TLM was a Low Mass. It was in a smelly little high school chapel staffed by the FSSP. The chapel was old, drafty and uncomfortable, but it was like heaven on earth. I was a convert. Just in the Church officially for about 6 months. It was the first time that the Mass truly transcended time and space for me. It was really like I wasn’t in that little chapel. I’d thought that I had been worshipping God all my life, but this was truly the first time that I think that I did with any semblance of what He deserves.
I’d give almost anything to go back.
I’m a convert and all I know is the EF. To learn, I’d start with the High mass. The low is even more subtle and confusing for the uninitiated. Learn to spot clues, landmarks in the Liturgy. Where is the celebrant standing? What is he doing? What side of the altar and what movements is he making. Get to know each of the the places where he will turn for ‘Dominus Vobiscum’ – they are indeed a ‘blessing’ for finding your place in the missal.
I was pretty lost, and really did not like the EF, the first 3 or 4 times I attended. A few years back, everything changed when I experienced only what I can call a deep interior grace. I was moved deeply and now I love the Extraordinary Form. Just go and don’t be concerned with trying to follow everything. Sit near someone who has attended before so you will know when to stand, sit and kneel. As for the rest, just watch and let the Mass with all of Her beautiful signs and gestures touch you. Just enjoy! Next time, try to follow the book.
The first couple of times I went I just sat quietly in the back and didn’t really try to follow exactly what happened. It was confusing, not radically so but familiar yet not. The schola at the high Mass was terrific so the beautiful music helped. Mostly I tried to see what other folks did so I could ape their conduct, and I prayed, in those long, loving silences that seem awful strange at first.
Definitely don’t worry about keeping up in the little red missals for your first few times. Just sit towards the back and enjoy the sound of Latin. (I especially look forward to the Preface each Sunday. Alas, our new (permanent) priests aren’t as skilled at singing it as the fill-in priests were.)
The silence that others have mentioned is wonderful – if it lasts. At the EF Mass we attend, the families tend towards the big size and it can be a challenge to keep them all quiet. (We have 4 under age seven and we’re among the smaller families at our parish.) They’ll probably won’t be running in the aisles or playing iPads, but there will be wiggling going on and that will seem much louder during the Canon.
Don’t be put off if afterwards you aren’t glad-handed by everyone. Our parish hosts the only Sunday EF Mass in our entire diocese, so afterwards most everyone is busy catching up with friends who are otherwise scattered over several counties. It took me some time not to feel left out. Best to just go up to the first smiling face you see and tell them that this was your first EF Mass. You might be surprised how friendly they really are and you will probably be introduced to their friends.
I would expect to get lost a few times. Don’t get discouraged though! Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Expect to be confused, perhaps “mystified” would be a more apt description. You can expect to know to sense quite exactly what it is that is happening overall, you’ll just be confused as to exactly how it is happening. And that is a good thing. We take “understanding” very much for granted in the Roman Rite, especially in its “reformed” version. You’ve been told that with clarity of enunciation, with volume of voice level, and with good plain sermonizing and vernacular liturgical language, that everything that happens in the mass is perfectly understandable and comprehensible (that’s why it’s been presented to you at a three-year-old level). Well…it’s not; it’s a mystery, and in many respects, from the trans-substantiation of the sacred species, to the mystery of the Holy Trinity (which even St. Augustine could not fathom), to just exactly how we all conform ourselves through the liturgy into the Mystical Body of Christ and participate in his sacrificial and redemptive sacrifice…it is, in fact, all very mysterious when you get right down to it, and far from clear cut, and that is what separates it from the every day comprehensible realities. What you will clearly perceive, however, is that you are being sanctified by your participation in this sacred action, and your emotional understanding will carry you to contemplation far more quickly than any attempt at intellectual rationalization. So go with it, let your ability to “sense” the truth lead your spiritual ascent, and once you get above the clouds, you will see your intellect on the lower slopes struggling to keep up. Eventually it will develop the strength to run to the summit, but the balloon of emotional understanding will drop you on the summit more rapidly and just as surely. That’s not something that you are used to hearing from the more protestant, preachy, “listen to me while I talk at you” kind of ministry we get in the Catholic Church these days, but happens to be an equally valid, and far more Catholic approach. Relax, and give it a try. Good luck!
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Go with the flow, don’t try to follow everything, relax and pray.
(Keep watching the altar and don’t worry, there’s no danger of you missing the Consecration!)
It might also help to remember that–despite all the differences that have been cited–the Mass is still the Mass, the various parts of the EF are essentially the same as the various parts of the OF, and occur in the same order. So familiarity with the OF can help guide you through the EF if you know how these various parts correspond. Which is summarized in this one-page Latin Mass newcomers guide:
If there is coffee after Mass, don’t be surprised if a significant minority of the people there like to complain about things (almost anything it sometimes seems) in or out of the Church. For some reason EF Masses attracts some people like that, especially if it is not a every week thing at that parish. Do not be put off by those people! We are not all like that. (On the other hand, my experience may not be the norm.)
As with others here, I would encourage people to go to three or four regardless of how they feel about their first one.
(I wonder if the one asking the question is from the Trenton, NJ area, as I am. There will be a high EF Mass tomorrow at 2pm at St. Anthony’s in Hamilton, NJ.)
1. Expect a different flow through the order of the Mass than in the Ordinary Form. Things may seem to flow from one thing to the next without much of a pause or demarcation; things may even appear to overlap.
2. You may find it hard to participate vocally with regularity, either because you are unfamiliar with the Latin or because you are unfamiliar with the melody being used. Do not be discouraged by this. Just listen and pray if you can’t keep up.
3. If there is a Mass booklet, get one and try to follow along. Even if you get lost, there will be key moments in the Mass that you should be able to recognize and orient yourself by.
4. Put yourself in a meditative and contemplative frame of mind (and soul).
I don’t think anybody has mentioned that there are place finders during the long periods of silent prayer. One when the priest audibly says Orate Fratres (Pray Bretheran) before the Secret prayer and in the period after the consecration when he say audibly Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus (To us also, Thy sinful servants).
If you were fortunate enough to be formed by the Usus Antiquior (this really applies to the over-sixties) you were brought up to be aware that the Mass you were attending was not greatly different from that celebrated by St Gregory the Great. The fact that this perception has changed absolutely since the mid-1960s might give you cause for concern, given the fact that the Church thinks in centuries. Traditional Anglicans go for 1662; the fact that traditional Catholics cite 1962 as a point of departure says quite a lot.
I think a lot of people have said it already, but one thing you can expect is a lot of silence, especially during the offertory (if the organ isn’t playing and after the offertory chant) and most of all during the Eucharistic Prayer. It can be a bit daunting but remember that the silence is there to help you contemplate the great Mystery that is taking place before you; when the silence is broken by the ringing of the consecration bells and the elevation of the Host and of the Chalice, it can be really sublime. St John Bosco and St Leonard of Port Maurice used to recommend that from the offertory up to the consecration, we meditate on the Passion of Christ, from the consecration to Communion, on our sins (which are the cause of the Passion and Death, and also because contrition helps us receive our Lord more worthily), and from Communion to the end we of course make our thanksgiving, etc. You don’t have to be rigid about it but it might be a useful suggestion.
If there are missals/missalettes with sheets containing the Mass Propers, don’t be too overwhelmed by the flipping you might have to do from time to time. You’ll get used to it. Also you may find that while trying to follow some of the prayers the priest is saying in silence he might have gone much further ahead before you know it. You don’t have to follow all the priest’s prayers word for word, even the Eucharistic Prayer (though it can be useful to refer to it from time to time to unite our prayers with the priest’s). Most important is your interior disposition, which should be focused on Christ and the Holy Sacrifice taking place before you. So don’t be too worried about having difficulties following the missal/missalette. At times you might just want to put it aside and enjoy the silence, the music, the incense, or whatever it is that strikes you and helps you pray better.
If you’re attending a Missa Cantata (Sung Mass) you might also find it a bit strange that the priest may have finished saying the Gloria/Credo with the servers while the choir is still singing, and the congregation sits in the middle of the Gloria/Credo. Just follow who’s around you and don’t be too surprised. The priest also may read the the Epistle and/or the Gospel in English at the start of his homily, having chanted/recited them in Latin first. Some people, especially first-timers, find that a bit funny, or even silly. But to me, I take it as extra opportunity to reflect on the Word of God. So it’s all about the disposition, I guess!
There are other small things like not having to say ‘Amen’ before receiving Communion (the priest says the ‘Amen’ for you), or not standing for the Alleluia, only for the Gospel, or the genuflections in the middle of the Credo and at the Last Gospel (yes there is always a Gospel — the Prologue of St John’s Gospel — at the end of Mass), but I’m sure you’ll get used to those. Hope you have a good Mass (: God bless!
If it is a High Mass: Expect to kneel with little notice for short periods of time, and during a longer Mass than the Novus Ordo. Also, expect appropriate music, so rare in the OF.
If it is a Low Mass: Expect to kneel with little notice for a long period of time, and during a shorter Mass than the Novus Ordo. Also, expect silence, so rare in the OF.
relax. watch what everyone else is doing and do what they do. And just unite your heart with Christ and His Immaculate Mother’s Heart.
For me, once I went to EF mass, the OF felt so much less reverant.
Good that you are going to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite! This form of the Mass is simply beautiful. I did not start going regularly until about 4 years ago. I had been to three EF Masses years ago and found it confusing… no talking, people kneeling at the start of Mass the sitting and strange responses. It will be helpful to you if you do a little research before you go. Look on YouTube for examples of the TLM and read through the Mass in a missal or online. There are many helpful aids out there. Most EF parishes will have a missal type of book and print separately the variable parts: Itoit, Collect, Epistle, Gradual, Gospel, Offertory, Secret, Communion and Post Communion as well as the Preface that will be used. This will be the easiest way for you to learn the Mass right out of the gate. Use this for a while until you get the hang of it and then go and invest in a good Missal. I use the Baronius Press 1962 Missal and like it very much (although the ribbons are second rate). I found that trying to learn the Mass, when to sit, stand, keel, what I can and cannot say out loud coupled with learning to use the Missal made it difficult. Make it easy on yourself – besides Missals are a relatively expensive proposition. My best advice is to try your best to pray the Mass along in English (silently) while the priest is praying the Mass in Latin. Responses to the priest are made for the congregation by the altar servers – including the Pater Noster. Follow the lead of the people around you as to when to kneel, sit or stand. At Communion time in some places there is a Second Confieor said – voiced aloud only by the altar servers just after the priest receives communion. The priest will offer a blessing after it is said. Going to communion is a lovely experience as each person actually receives a small degree of individual attention from the priest at the time of reception as you are kneeling as he utters the communion verse to each person making the Sign of the Cross with the Blessed Sacrament. All you need do is close your eyes, slightly tilt your head back, extend your tounge about the same time the priest gets to you and you do not respond with, “Amen.” The priest will place the host on your tongue and that is all. Return to your pew for a communion prayer of thanksgiving. After Mass if it is a Low Mass the Prayers Ordered by the Pope are said. If it is a High Mass there are no prayers after the Final Blessing.
My thoughts were from the time I started attending this beautiful form of the Mass is that its reverence cannot be matched by the Novus Ordo. It is so wonderfully beautiful and is so often said with such care and reverence. I love the quiet during Mass as I can pray so much more easily. I particularly love daily Mass which is almost always a Low Mass unless there is some special occasion. Low Masses daily Masses are often not very full as are most daily Masses in most parishes. I would encourage you to attend both High Masses (or Missa Cantata if not a regular High Mass) and Low Masses. They are both beautiful. I recall the first time I went to a High Mass. I was so struck by its utter beauty that dates back 1000 years. I was brought nearly to tears listening to the music and watching all that was going on around me. I don’t know if it is right to say I enjoyed it, but I really did! I can’t imagine life now without the TLM. This form of the Mass is beautiful beyond words for me and I hope that you too will find it so!
@Henry Edwards: …the Mass is still the Mass, the various parts of the EF are essentially the same as the various parts of the OF, and occur in the same order…
With all respect, but even the Offeratory?
I grew up with the EF/TLM and found much spiritual advancement.
Totally and quietly focused on Christ and the Holy Sacrifice, we were to be ready to receive Him in Holy Communion.
We learned Christ was in us at Holy Communion and for no reason were we to be distracted or distract others from our conversing intimately with Our Lord.
After Mass I felt a “oneness” with my fellow Catholics knowing WHO we had received and acknowledging in our hearts that HE was in each of us.
Sorry to say that with the OF/NO(Novus ordo) I no longer feel this way. I have to battle distractions (handshaking, people who try to hold my hand at the Our Father, altar girls prancing around shaking their pony tails or pulling their hair away from their faces, ladies in pant suits doing the readings (and sometimes serving at daily Mass), people talking, waving, saying hello when they are in line for Holy Communion instead of kneeling at the altar rail as we wait for Our Lord.
As soon as the priest leaves the altar or has processed outside the Church, the blabber begins. It sounds like party time and no time left to focus and offer thanksgiving to Our Lord, all this while Our Lord is ignored in His Tabernacle. It has become a celebration of “we the people”and that “oneness” I once experienced is a “social oneness” no longer a Spiritual Oneness.
It breaks my heart and my spiritual life has suffered because of it.
Our nearest EF Mass is over 60 miles away 130 round trip. With the cost of gas and health problems we can only go on occasion. You who have the opportunity are so blessed. Please say a prayer for us and that our bishops heart may change for he is SO opposed to the EF Mass. Social issues are his forte while we live in a spiritual wasteland.
Sorry, I should have read the title of this thread more carefully and went off the wrong track on my post above.
Responses to QUAERITUR: What to expect for first Extraordinary Form Mass?
Since I grew up with the EF, I can’t comment for myself, but when I took my children to their first EF Mass they said they got nothing out of it. They couldn’t follow it. I should not have given up on them so quickly. They were still elementary and High School age. I took them to a few but it was after they went to college that they remembered and started going to EF Masses. They then learned to appreciate it. One said to himself “If ever I become a priest THAT is the Mass I want to say.”
I believe that attending the EF at this time in their life (college) helped them gleem a better understanding of their Faith and now live exemplary lives.
May God Bless you and draw you ever closer to HIM in this beautiful Mass of the ages.
If the person concerned did go then I hope that you had a good experience, bearing in mind what some of the commentors have correctly identified about feeling ‘out of place’ on the first few occasions.
I can only speak for myself but I know that both forms of the Mass offer the same sacrifice and are equally valid. However the EF form helps me to understand the reverence due to the Lord and to approach him as a penetent. It helps me understand the ‘catholicity’ of the Mass and the nature of the sacrifice on the Altar. The Novus Ordso, on the other hand, helps me understand my part in the ‘body of Christ’ that is the church and emphasises how his church now comes together to receive him.
I think that you will be able to take something from both and that attending an EF Mass frequently will actually enhance your experience of the Novus Ordo mass. Personally I prefer the EF, but that is a personal preference not a statement on it being ‘better’ etc.
It was also a first for me this morning – I served my first solo ‘Low Mass’ without another server to make sure I didn’t do anything that would get me excommunicated. My Parish Priest is still talking to me so I guess it went ok.
I received this from the person who originally asked the question that sparked this entry: