Constantly I hear from people that they do not go to the Latin Mass because they do not understand Latin. (Some even think that the homily is in Latin.) So please, just for now, let us put aside the argument of the language; Latin or English and go to the prayers and actions that are part of the rubrics of the two masses. Let us also look at who is the center of focus and the way the people participate, dress and receive God in Holy Communion at the two masses.
As a priest, I want to re-clarify what are the differences on how Jesus is treated in the two masses. This will be from my own stand point as a priest who has for years celebrated the New Mass in English and Spanish, and now, for the last 7 years offered the Ancient Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Most Catholics judge the two masses from their own subjective perspective and preferences. They are not priests. They are not offering the two masses and have no idea what it is like from the experience of the priest who offers the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass.
From my view up on the altar, the difference between the Ancient Mass and the New Mass is like day and night. Archbishop Sample, from Portland Oregon, put it well when he said at the Sacra Liturgia Conference in Rome, that he wants all of his priests to learn and offer the Latin Mass because of the effect it has on them understanding their role as priests. He said that offering the Holy Latin Mass has changed him completely and now he finally understands the sacrificial aspect of his priesthood.
I know, for the average Catholic who has had very little to no experience with the Latin Mass, the New Mass is just fine because it is all they have ever known or at which they feel comfortable and “at home with”. All over the world, the New Mass is all any Catholic is able to go to. That is all they know and that is all the knowledge they have to judge with.
The orthodox Neo-Cats who are not traditional Catholics, are constantly complaining about the grave liturgical abuses by priests who do not follow the essential rubrics found in the New Roman Missal. Like when the celebrant changes the words of consecration, does not say the Creed at Sunday Mass, will not genuflect when required, gives communion to everyone, including non Catholics, who comes up at funerals or wedding, and all the other grave abuses they experience at the New Mass.
But in essence, and for the most part, they are satisfied with the New Mass. Some Neo-Cats would prefer the New Mass in Latin or maybe said “ad orientam”.
The whole focus of the Holy Latin Mass is on;
- adoring God,
- being at Calvary at the real un-bloody Sacrifice of Jesus being re-made present on the Cross,
- the priest asking Jesus to intercede to God His Father for the forgiveness of our sins,
- humbly praying that at this Sacrifice we may receive His salvation and graces.
At the Sacrifice of the Holy Latin Mass, it is obvious that;
- God the Father is acting through Jesus His Son,
- Jesus is acting through the priest, in Persona Christi,
- There is hierarchy in Latin Mass, bishop, priest, religious, altar boys, lay people, like what is found in God’s Kingdom and the Catholic Church.
- The priest has the special role in praying to God.
- The priest prays in secret and in a low voice the sacred part of the Canon and the words of consecration.
- People accompany Mary and the Apostle St. John in contemplation at the foot of the cross, while Jesus is offering His life in sacrifice to the Father for our salvation.
- The people are assisting at Jesus’ Sacrifice on the cross for them.
- People humbly and passively receive God’s graces through interior prayer.
- People humbly receive Jesus in Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue.
- People pray and absorb the effects the Divine Mystery of the Holy Mass in silence.
- The Choir is up in the Choir loft accompanying the people in sacred songs.
- The choir sings anonymously for the glory of God and not to show off for the crowd.
- The Choir sings acapella or are accompanied by organ music.
- Gregorian Chant is sung to lift up people’s souls to God.
- There is only one way to offer the Holy Latin Mass and the rubrics must be obeyed.
- There are way more genuflections, bows and blessing to God done by the priest.
- No one, except the priest, can touch the Holy Chalice or Paten because they are consecrated to be only used to hold God’s Body and Blood.
- Once the priest has said the words of consecration, he never separates the thumbs and index fingers so that if by any chance there are tiny fragments of the Body of Jesus, they do not fall on the Altar or floor.
- The priest only drinks the Precious Blood of Jesus from one side of the Chalice so that when he will purify it, he can be sure he purifies where the Blood ran.
- When receiving the Body of Christ, the priest puts the paten under his chin incase any particles may fall on the altar.
- He scrapes the corporal with the paten to be sure if at any time a particle of the Body of Christ ended on the corporal, he can put it into the chalice and be consumed with the Blood of Christ.
- Every time after the consecration, when the priest uncovers the chalice, he puts his fingers on the chalice so that it may never fall over and spill the Precious Blood of Jesus.
- The Body of Christ is only given with the assistance of the altar boy holding the paten so that no crumbs of Jesus may fall on the floor.
- No one ever touches God in Holy Communion, other than the priest.
- All people are obliged to kneel and receive Jesus on the tongue.
- After Holy Communion, the priest purifies the Chalice twice, once with wine and again with wine and water to be sure that he gets every drop of Jesus Precious Blood purified.
- The priest purifies the thumbs and index fingers with water and wine into the chalice to get any tiny particle of host into the chalice and consumed.
- People kneel in adoration and thanksgiving after Holy Communion.
- People pray and do not speak inside the church.
- Women cover their heads with veils.
- People dress in there Sunday best, very respectfully and modestly.
- Instead of the focus of the Celebrant being in Persona Christi, his focus is on representing and presiding in the name of the congregation.
- The Celebrant faces the people, not God.
- In all reality, the Celebrant is the center of the “show”. Often he will make jokes.
- Little in the words of the New Mass are there much about the Sacrificial aspect of the mass.
- The new mass is centered much more on the “Remembering at the Last Supper”.
- There is no altar for a priestly sacrifice, just a wooden table.
- The presider always prays out loud so that people can hear him.
- The focus is on the people being very active by responding, hugging, standing, sitting, kneeling, singing and walking in procession to receive Holy Communion.
- There are many people envolved in the New Mass, like the Lectors and Extraordinary Eucharistic ministers.
- Many people are in or walk around the Sanctuary, like the Rock Band or other Choir members.
- Every kind of music and singing is allowed.
- The choir and musicians perform for the people and face them.
- The music played and sung are to make people feel happy, good, warm, and excited.
- Clapping is encouraged to congratulate people or while singing songs.
- Children and other people are often invited up around the altar to pray with the presider.
- Everyone loves it because the focus is on the cute children and the people.
- The celebrant sits at the presiders chair facing the people, not God.
- Everything is very external and not contemplative.
- Very little silence.
- Very little kneeling in adoration of God.
- The New Roman Missal has so many “pastoral” options in how to celebrate the mass.
- Many women come to mass dressed in sexy clothes, low necks, tight pants and shorts.
- Men come dressed in shorts.
- Lectors and Extraordinary ministers sometimes go up on the altar in sexy or inappropriate clothing.
- Before and after mass, people and priests talk and visit loudly in church.
- Most people receive Holy Communion.
- They receive standing.
- They receive Jesus in the hand.
- Everyone has to stand until everyone has gone up together in procession to receive Holy Communion.
- There is very little time allowed after Holy Communion to meditate and thank God for coming into their souls.
- People usually sit and do not kneel after receiving Holy Communion.
- Large host are used to show that we are all one body, and when they are broken, large particles shoot all over the corporal, altar and floor. It has happened to me.
- Very rarely are patens used to catch the falling Body of Christ or crumbs.
- The floors of Catholic churches are full of particles of the Body of Christ that fall on the ground from the hands of people who receive in the hand and are being walked on by all the people.
- Everyone takes hold of the chalice given to them by the minister to receive the Blood of Christ.
- Many times the Precious Blood of Christ is spilled on people or the floor.
- Only priests are to purify the sacred vessels at mass, but often they are left for others to purify.
- The purification of the chalice is with water only.
- It is impossible for the priest to purify where all the people received from the upper most parts of the chalice that is rotated while administrating the Precious Blood by the Extraordinary Ministers.
The final question (and the answer should make everyone who reads this article want to only go to the Holy Latin Mass) is: Do we truly believe that God/Jesus is in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar? If so God deserves adoration, respect and protection.
As a priest who says the New Mass and the Latin Mass, the Latin Mass has by far more rubrics built right into the Latin Mass to protect the Body and Blood of Jesus from being desecrated in any manner. It clearly has the strong sacrificial component of the Holy Mass and priesthood. It does not have the protestant emphasis on the Last Supper and “doing this in remembrance of Me” like the Luther advocated. It also has prayers and gestures that facilitate more easily the adoration that Jesus deserves from us His creatures. And because of this, the Latin Mass pleases God way more than the New Mass.