Give the Latin Mass a Try!

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This post is dedicated to anyone and everyone who has even remotely considered attending the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Yes, the Latin Mass. The Roman Catholic Church still allows for those and whether it’s a strong desire pulling you towards all things traditional or just a faint curiosity about what the heck it actually is, I’m extending an invitation to YOU! There’s been a lot of talk around the web about Traditionalists lately. Who are these people?? Well, me and many of my friends for starters. (Thanks for the quotes guys! I was serious when I said I would post them.)

We’d all like to welcome you to your local Latin Mass. We’re not a bunch of crazies. I don’t think any parish or denomination can claim a monopoly on angry, holier-than-thou, uptight, or conspiracy theory believing members. And I challenge you to discover this for yourself. 

1. Find a local Latin Mass at the Ecclesia Dei website and learn about the Latin Mass movement in your community by visiting Una Voca. Mass times are always subject to change so it doesn’t hurt to call before hand.

2. Dress in your Sunday best. The majority of Latin Mass attendees dress up for Mass. Men sport business casual at the very least, with dress shirts and ties the norm. Ladies, dress slacks are perfectly acceptable as are modest skirts and dresses. Plunging necklines, spaghetti straps, short shorts, socks with sandals; you won’t typically see these at a Latin Mass. Note: At daily Mass it is more common to see people in more casual attire as they are coming to and from work.

“…real trad men are bearded.” -David S. (It’s cause we were hipsters before hipsters were hipsters!!)

3. Ladies, a veil is never mandatory, so if you’re really uncomfortable doing so, don’t worry about it. If you like to try but don’t have a veil, there are usually some extra in the back of the church somewhere you can borrow. Read here if you’d like to veil and need some ideas

4. Children are expected to be well-behaved. You typically won’t see children at the Latin Mass holding iPods, Nintendo DSs or cell phones. Sippy cups or bottles, maybe some dry Cheerios; yes. Oreos and two liters of soda; no. If you’re child is screaming or wants to run, many churches have a cry room or lobby where they can let off steam.

We all have Sundays when our kids are wild hellians, and unfortunately, the nasty comments you sometimes get aren’t limited to the Latin Mass crowd. I actually have gotten the most positive comments from the members of my parish (You have such beautiful children! They did good today!), usually on the most horrible Sundays when I needed it the most.

“All should observe holy silence and holy dourness when in the nave of the church.” – David S. (See, we have a sense of humor!) 

5. Be prepared to receive Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue, and you don’t say ‘Amen’ before receiving.

6. Don’t try to follow along. For the first three to four visits, just sit and take it in. You will pick up what is going on and once you’re familiar with the liturgy, you’ll have an easier time following along with a Missal. Many Latin communities have proper sheets available so you can read the Epistle, Gospel, etc in English, and hymnal numbers are usually posted in plain view. And if you’re juggling multiple children, following along in a children’s Missal with them will probably be enough for you all.

“…it is possible to find familiar markers of the Mass and find the rhythm that way. In a blog post, I would point out exactly what those are (Kyrie, Gloria, Homily, Lavabo [Washing of Hands], Sanctus, Orate fratres, Consecration, Pater Noster [Our Father], Agnus Dei [Lamb of God], Ite Missa Est [Dismissal] are the ones that come to mind off hand).” -Kori R.

7. Be prepared to give it a second chance. Years ago, our parish consisted of many older families who were not always the most receptive to new, young families with children (DAGGER EYES!), however, today we are bursting at the seams with young people. If you tried a Latin Mass before and something rubbed you the wrong way, I humbly suggest you try again. And trust me, no one is going to notice that this is your first Latin Mass, except maybe to offer you a missal.

“If you have preconceptions, pack them away. If you’ve only heard negative things, you’ll be looking out for them the whole time and miss the point. .. I didn’t LOVE it the first time (in fact, I think my exact words were, “It was really nice, but it’s not for me.”), but by the 3rd or 4th mass I had experienced, I was hooked for life.” -Danielle H.

“…accept the experience for what it is. Just like the N.O. Mass [you] would probably be familiar with, Mass is not a spectator sport and isn’t there to be analyzed. It’s also not there for your personal “feelings.” It’s Mass and you should go into it fully prepared and expect to be as prayerful, fulfilled or distracted as you would be at any Mass. More than that is a bonus. And again…, it might take a few times for it to sink in.” -Kori R.

“…go for the Liturgy and keep focus on the Liturgy, not on the inevitable shortcomings of some people. [Our church] and places like it exist because of the [Traditional Latin Mass]; the social is secondary, but very rewarding once you’ve found your niche. Actual results may vary.” -John R.

Convinced? Great! Let me know how it goes! Any remaining questions? Ask away!


    1. Thanks Angela! That was a great article. I would encourage all my readers to check it out.

  1. Appreciate this post. Our Church actually does have the Trad mass, but I never go because it is during nap time. I probably should give this liturgy another chance, the first time I went to a Trad mass (not at my current parish, but at another one in another city) I was so turned off. Ladies saying Rosaries with out paying attention and the homily was very Holier than thou. I also missed the participation. Again, I am sure that is not the norm, but it definitely turned me off. Our Parish has a beautiful and reverent N. O. mass with gorgeous Latin Hymns etc. but I bet the Trad mass is beautiful too. The nice thing is all our Parish priests say Mass at all the liturgies. Anyway, I think I’d give it another go.

  2. I don’t think any parish or denomination can claim a monopoly on angry, holier-than-thou, uptight, or conspiracy theory believing members.

    Clearly, you’ve never met Rite I Episcopalians. πŸ™‚

    We watched a video of a Latin Mass (taken from the 60’s) in my Ministry of Worship class in (Lutheran) seminary and I was the only one who could follow along. Given that my professor and I didn’t get along, it was a great source of amusement for my classmates to listen to my professor attempt to tell us where we were and have me say, “Actually, that’s not right. We’re at the _______. Notice that the priest just recited the _____ and did _______?”

    (I’m still memorable among my seminary professors for that reason. My father-in-law will run into them at conferences and the first question they ask is, “How’s Jen?”)

  3. I will wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion that you don’t try to follow along the first time – especially with kids. My husband and I thought the Latin Mass was a bit stressful when we would go with kids and then try to figure out where we were in the book too. I gave up and just tried to enjoy it and drink in the experience (allowing me the freedom to also intercept child misbehavior early) and we all found it to be beautiful and meaningful.

  4. Thanks for the post. I was a bit disturbed by a particular post on a well respected blog last week. I have to say, I immediately thought of YOU and knew that most people who are Traditionalists just can’t be that way. While there aren’t any Trad masses within two hours of me, I will keep my eyes and ears open. Again, thank you for this post. It’s a relief!

  5. Well, you’ve obviously been stalking me or have bugged my minivan or something to know that I have been considering going to the closest Tridentine Mass (about 35 minutes away). I wouldn’t describe the NO Mass at that same parish as welcoming, so I have been hesitant to try the Latin one (fearing it might be even worse, I guess). You have almost convinced me to give it a go. If it wasn’t for my children, I’d go next week, but they are in a reallyreallyreally loud phase (Lucy shouts “Jeeee-zus!” at the top of her lungs every time she sees a likeness of him). I’m kind of afraid we will be thrown out for not being holy enough.

    1. If they threw out everyone who walked in that wasn’t ‘holy enough’ the place would be empty. πŸ˜‰ Seriously though, your kids would fit in great next to my kids; Lucy’s chorus of “Jeeee-zus!” would sound great next to Fulton’s always welcoming “Who’s that guy? Is that Father? Who’s that guy?” and Teddy’s blood curdling screams of joy every time the Knights of Columbus process in full regalia for a special Mass. “AAAA! KNIGHTS! SWORDS!” Just go when there’s lots of organ music.

  6. Such a cool post! When I lived in Silver Spring, MD, our pastor offered Mass in the Extraordinary Form (I noticed you don’t call it that – I hope its ok that I did, its how I’ve heard it termed most often…) on several occasions and we made it to one – I loved the experience. I had been a sometimes-daily-Mass-goer for years and had been to a couple Latin Novus Ordo Masses, but this was exceptional (no pun intended). What I found was as a Catholic born in 1980 to parents who were children of the 50s & 60s, it filled a HUGE mental gap for me! I’d mostly been catechized with the “Vatican II brought us out of the dark ages” mentality (at CCD more than at home, plus pop culture, etc.), but had some beautiful images from my parents’ Catholic school memories, but by and large thought we were better off. I could never understand the “rad trads” (a very small but visible group) at my undergrad institution who seemed to want to go “backwards”. (At that point in time though I admired their faith and shared with them a huge love for the Blessed Mother, the Pope and the Eucharist I found them arrogant and annoying, and perhaps ironically “out of step” with the Church in my prideful opinion, lol.) Though my parameters had changed in terms of understanding by the time I attended this particular liturgy, and I had a broader and more integrated framework for viewing the Church, I hadn’t realized how experientially/emotionally/spiritually I lacked the insight into the beauty and depth of what was present in the Traditional Latin Mass, and how – of course! – someone would feel the loss of such mystical, contemplative, beautiful worship so deeply when all was changed/implemented so quickly. The sweetness of the Latin, the silence, etc captivated me. (As is pointed out, the weekly/daily Mass experience could never be like that all the time – I just consider it a huge gift of insight that the Holy Spirit allowed me at that time.) That was about 3+ years ago now and I haven’t had the chance to get back – but needless to say the experience has stayed with me. I am so happy to be so much more emotionally able to accept and connect with my brothers and sisters who are enthusiastic devotees of this mode of worship, and even those who feel that too much was lost in the changes of the last century.

  7. I am intrigued by the latin mass but here in my corner of Mexico what we have is the N.O. mass in spanish. I love it, and actually can’t imagine my Mexican faith community in a latin mass. I wonder if the latin mass is particularly relevant in the US because the culture (both secular and Catholic) veered so far away from a response of awe to God’s presence. That seems not to be so much the case in Mexico.

  8. Thanks to you (and your collaborators) for sharing your experience of the Extraordinary Form – the how-to advice is super helpful!

  9. I will have to give it a try when we get back to California. I am so glad to hear your perspective on it, because, to be honest, I’ve sort of had the (mis)conception that people who appreciate Latin Mass would be… Uptight? You blew that one right out of the water, now didn’t you? πŸ™‚

    1. The whole blog is a farce. I’m actually the most anal, uptight person you’ll ever meet.

  10. Thanks on your experience, while I think I would like to experience the traditional form, it would be very different.

    I only dress up for court/funerals.

    I wear jeans to Mass and I’m good about wearing cap sleeves. My nice ones though.

    But my children wear black slacks/shoes while altar serving.

  11. Good post. I love the reverence at the TLM, but definitely can be stressed out by my kids, particularly since the nearest church offering this has almost no other children there, so we don’t do it often. This weekend my husband and I are going away for the night alone (before baby!) and we’ll try it in Allentown without the kiddies to distract us. I am looking forward to it.

    1. If you make it to Allentown, tell Father Seifert (pastor at St. Stephen’s) that the Mantoans say hello! He’s an old friend and Fulton’s godfather.

  12. we attended the first “official” Latin Mass in our diocese a few years ago. I really enjoyed the timelessness of it.

  13. Thank you for this. I really needed and appreciated it. I think I am going to go to a daily Mass by myself, so I won’t need to worry about the kids the first time.

    1. That is a great idea! I know I really enjoy going to our parish’s Wednesday evening Mass alone. Daily Mass, when it’s usually quiet, less crowded and typically a ‘Low Mass’ (less music/chanting) can be a great introduction to the Extraordinary Form.

  14. a question from a Byantine Catholic where we sing just about everything- we (when papa was travelling) attended an Extraordinary form Roman-rite Mass. it was a ‘dialogue’ Mass, so I felt comfortable trying to say what pewmates were saying. It was clear that the people in the pews don’t sing along to the more ‘solo’ type things sung by the schola of men-only. What about the mixed-sex choir stuff- can people in the pews sing along or shoud they be silent? I knew the Byrd Sanctus, etc, but I wasn’t sure if the pews weren’t singing because they don’t know it or because they are not supposed to

    1. Hi Byzcathwife, everyone is allowed to sing the responses and the ordinary (kyrie, gloria, credo, sanctus, agnus dei) but if the music is more complicated, like any form of polyphony, or even one of the more difficult gregorian settings, then usually just the schola sings it.

  15. Great post. Ironically, my oldest son has taught me to love the EF. Reverse homeschooling! I let him study what he wanted and he spent the next 4 years pouring himself into the liturgy. He insisted that I had to hear all the amazing stuff he was learning… And… Mind blown. It’s not about being a certain “type” of Catholic at all. Just more Jesus. Thanks so much for taking the time to share.

  16. It isn’t offered in our diocese. I’ve asked our sweet priest about it and his answer was that under this bishop, we will not see that happen. I was so saddened by that.

  17. YAY for Latin Mass!
    long story short I was raised not really believing. I met practicing catholic when I was a young adult and it changed my life. As a mom I met more traditionalists and realized their way of living their faith was closer to what I was hoping for my children than the more common form of catholicism.
    I started looking into it.
    I read a very interesting document on Easter 2012 (the ottaviani intervention).I truly believe a Novus Ordo Mass can be beautiful and liturgically right, but I live in France and most often it’s just whatever the priest and animators feel like doing.
    it took me about 3 years to find a parish with latin mass where I felt comfortable (and still in communion with Roma) and accept the fact that I was not comfortable in my local parish despite trying really hard (I’m a big fan of “bloom where you are planted”). I don’t think I’ll be going back. It’s better for me and my family.

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