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I would think it's a natural transition for Catholics who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) to go to the Novus Ordo mass celebrated under General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) rubric in the Latin language while preserving as much non-GIRM-prescribed elements from TLM as much as possible, so they can be part of the post Vatican II church fully along with the vernacular Novus Ordo faithfuls.

Yes, there will be differences from TLM, but I would think it's a much smaller price to pay for both the faithfuls and the Vatican committed to implement Vatican II.

Does it even make sense? And if so, are there parishes who do this? It would also be helpful for the answer to include a brief listing of the differences.

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  • Yes, this occurs, e.g. at this parish.
    – Geremia
    Feb 19, 2023 at 21:55
  • It might be kind at least to spell out once the "Traditional Latin Mass" and the "General Instruction of the Roman Missal" rubric for readers who do not use these acronyms
    – Henry
    Feb 22, 2023 at 1:00
  • 1
    @Henry Thanks. I edited the question. Feb 22, 2023 at 12:00

2 Answers 2

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Are there parishes that celebrates Novus Ordo mass in Latin?

Yes there are parishes that celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass in Latin and in the best of the priest’s ability to be somewhat close to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Movements and Posture

  1. The gestures and posture of the priest, the deacon, and the ministers, as well as those of the people, ought to contribute to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, so that the true and full meaning of the different parts of the celebration is evident and that the participation of all is fostered. Therefore, attention should be paid to what is determined by this General Instruction and the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice. - General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani)

Cardinal Ratzinger once said something along the lines that when the New Mass is celebrated reverently in Latin and when a priest employs the rubrics to more closely resemble the Tridentine Mass, the not so well instructed faithful would have a hard time distinguishing between the two Masses. Of course a Traditional Catholic would spot the difference anyway. (Will add the source if I can find it.)

Many Catholics are surprised to learn that the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal allows for certain traditional options that are now seldom seen in the U.S. But the ordinary form Mass, as celebrated with these options at St. Mary of Victories, is actually very close to the style of worship contemplated by the Fathers of Vatican II when they promulgated the Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC) in 1963. They decreed, for instance, that Latin was to continue as our main liturgical language (SC #36), and did not call for priests to change their location on the sanctuary. (The celebrant traditionally stood in front of the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer, facing the same way as the people.) It was not the Fathers of Vatican II, but Pope Paul VI some years after the Council, who decided to legitimize the reception of Communion standing and in the hand as well as kneeling and on the tongue (the traditional manner that Benedict XVI, as pope, asked from those receiving Holy Communion personally from him). Nor did SC ask for new Eucharistic Prayers in addition to the First – i.e., the ancient ‘Roman Canon’, the centerpiece of the Roman-Rite Mass. It did, however, insist strongly that the Church’s great treasury of sacred music, especially Gregorian chant, should be not only retained but given “pride of place” (SC #116). - Celebrating the ‘New’ Mass – in Latin

Here follows a few points, which may be gleaned from Sacrosanctum Concilium:

  1. Gregorian chant is supposed to be given ‘pride of place’ in the Liturgy, especially at Mass. There are entire liturgical chant books for the Novus Ordo, almost never used. (A distinct question is how chant fits into the ‘modular’ nature of the new Mass, a question we may address at some point, drawn from difficulties in my own personal experience in trying to do so).

  2. The pipe organ is to be held in ‘great esteem’ as the primary instrument at Mass, with any other music or instruments admitted only if they be ‘apt for sacred use’.

  3. Latin is to continue as the primary language of the Liturgy, with some allowance for the vernacular, a prescription that is also found with the highest authority in the apostolic constitution Veterum Sapientia, of Pope Saint John XXIII, promulgated on the very eve of the Council in 1962. How often does one hear any Latin at all?

  4. There is no prescription in the Council, nor in anything following, to say Mass ‘facing the people’.

  5. The priest may not ‘add or subtract’ anything from the text of the Liturgy.

  6. The Council said nothing about saying all the prayers of the Mass out loud and audible, nor of the congregation’s equally audible responses. It did call for ‘active participation’, a phrase that has been widely misunderstood and applied. The original Latin is ‘participatio actuosa’, which means more ‘actualized participation’. This harkens back to Pius XII’s 1947 encyclical on the liturgy, Mediator Dei, wherein he taught that our participation at Mass is primarily interior, by prayer, meditation and offering up one’s own sacrifices with those of the Mass. We need not be always ‘saying something’, far less ‘doing something’ externally.

The Pope, the TLM and the Novus Ordo: Who’s Really Following Vatican II?

I have participated often at Novus Ordo Masses in Latin with the priest facing east, his back to the people. Gregorian Chant was sung. The Canon of the Mass was said in a low voice, just like in the Tridentine Mass. The sign of peace was omitted as it is only optional in the New Mass. Communion was distributed on the tongue. These are all permitted in the New Mass rubrics. Such Masses are few and far between, but can still be found, especially in Poland.

Most Catholics today are familiar with the Novus Ordo Mass. Yet in recent years, interest in the Traditional Latin Mass, celebrated in essentially the same form for the previous 1,400 years, has never been higher, largely because of Pope Benedict XVI’s release of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum on July 7, 2007, restoring the Traditional Latin Mass as one of two approved forms of the Mass.

There are many small differences between the two Masses, but what are the most obvious differences?

Language

One of the most obvious difference of the Novus Ordo and Latin Mass is the language used to celebrate the mass. The Novus Ordo is most commonly celebrated in the vernacular – that is, the common language of the country where it is celebrated (or the common language of those who attend the particular Mass). The Traditional Latin Mass, as the name indicates, is celebrated in Latin.

What few people realize, however, is that the normative language of the Novus Ordo is Latin as well. While Pope Paul VI made provisions for the celebration of the Mass in the vernacular for pastoral reasons, his missal assumes that the Mass would continue to be celebrated in Latin, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI urged the reintroduction of Latin into the Novus Ordo.

The Altar’s Position/ Direction

The position of the altar is also something to take note of. In Traditional Latin Mass, the congregation and the priest faces the same direction, with the “high altar” raised up three steps from the floor, attached to the east (back) wall of the church, it was called “the high altar.”

Traditionally, everyone faces ad orientem - that is, facing the East, since this is where the Scriptures tell about the direction of Christ.

The Novus Ordo allowed, for pastoral reasons, the priest and the celebration of the Mass versus populum - that is, facing the people.

Types of Altar Servers

Altar servers are only comprised of males, since this is attached to priesthood that are only associated with men, in Latin Masses. (This is still the case in the Eastern Rites of the Church, both Catholic and Orthodox.).

Technically, each altar server is considered for priesthood. The Traditional Latin Mass maintains this understanding, but Pope John Paul II, for pastoral reasons, allowed the use of female altar servers at celebrations of Novus Ordo. The final decision, however, was left to the bishop, though most have chosen to allow altar girls.

The Role of the Laity

In the Traditional Latin Mass, the reading of Scripture and the distribution of Communion are reserved to the priest. The same rules are normative for the Novus Ordo, but again, exceptions that were made for pastoral reasons have now become the most common practice.

And so, in the celebration of the Novus Ordo, the laity have increasingly taken on a greater role, especially as lectors (readers) and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist (distributors of Communion).

Hymns and Silence/ Nature of Active Participation

Traditionally, congregation will only sing entrance and exit hymns, at times communion hymns, and will stay silent the rest of the mass. Novus Ordo encourages active participation through responses that used to be for deacons or altar servers only.

Many different musical styles have been integrated into the celebration of the Novus Ordo. Interestingly, as Pope Benedict has pointed out, the normative musical form for the Novus Ordo, as for the Traditional Latin Mass, remains Gregorian chant, though it is rarely used in the Novus Ordo today.

Rails/ Reception of Communion

Altar rails are used to separate the altar that represents heaven, to the rest of the church that represents Earth. With the Novus Ordo, most of these rails are taken down (not in all churches). This is also one of the reasons why reception of communion has also varied.

It is common for the communicants to receive communion using their tongue or hands, and they say “Amen” afterwards. Before, the communicants generally kneel and receive communion on their tongues from the priest, saying “Amen” is omitted in the Latin Mass.

How the Mass Ends/ Last Reading of the Gospel

In the Novus Ordo, the Mass ends with a blessing and then the dismissal, when the priest says, “The Mass is ended; go in peace” and the people respond, “Thanks be to God.” In the Traditional Latin Mass, the dismissal precedes the blessing, which is followed by the reading of the Last Gospel—the beginning of the Gospel according to Saint John (John 1:1-14).

Difference Between Novus Ordo and Traditional Latin Mass

The following articles may be of interest to some:

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  • Maybe it would be good to add (if it is indeed the case) that this answer remains valid even after Pope Francis's 2021 Motu Proprio and other Vatican communications. Then Novus Ordo in Latin customized with nearly all the practices of TLM (within the allowed parameters set by SC and GIRM), can be reasonably proposed as implementing the best of both worlds. Feb 22, 2023 at 13:51
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There are a few parishes that celebrate the Novus Ordo in Latin. One such service was at my local parish.

The notion that a Novus Ordo in Latin is a good compromise assumes that Catholics who want the Traditional Latin Mass care only about the externals, and the most superficial ones at that.

While this is unfortunately true of most who are still in the Novus Ordo religion, actual traditional Catholics are more concerned about the doctrinal purity of the Mass.

For example, cardinal Ottaviani, prefect of the Holy Office, 2nd only to the Pope, sent a letter to Paul VI titled A Brief Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae popularly called the Ottaviani Intervention.

It was actually written by Bishop Guerard des Lauriers, confessor to Pope Pius XII, advisor for the pronouncement of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary and one of the most prominent Catholics to denounce John XXIII, Paul VI and their successors as antipopes.

The study is summarized in the introduction as follows:

“the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent. The “canons” of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery.“

The most obvious novelties the Novus Ordo introduces are:

  • a table instead of an altar,
  • the celebrant faces the people with his back towards the Holy of Holies,
  • the tabernacle is moved from the deservedly central position out of sight,
  • almost all opportunity for prayer removed,
  • almost all reverence for the Eucharist, including most genuflections and blessings removed,
  • communion in the hand
  • profane music is frequently played

While some of these are not required in theory by Sacrosanctum Concilium, in practice, almost all priests may not depart from these changes. On the other hand, the following quote from the monumental work by Br. Peter Dimond on the The Truth about What Really Happened to the Catholic Church after Vatican II describes the reforms that are present in the very text of the New Missal:

A study of the propers and orations of the Traditional Mass versus the New Mass reveals a massacre of the Traditional Faith. The traditional Missal contains 1182 orations. About 760 of those were dropped entirely from the New Mass. Of the approximately 36% which remained, the revisers altered over half of them before introducing them into the new Missal. Thus, only some 17% of the orations from the Traditional Mass made it untouched into the New Mass. What’s also striking is the content of the revisions that were made to the orations. The Traditional Orations which described the following concepts were specifically abolished from the New Missal: the depravity of sin; the snares of wickedness; the grave offense of sin; the way to perdition; terror in the face of God’s fury; God’s indignation; the blows of His wrath; the burden of evil; temptations; wicked thoughts; dangers to the soul; enemies of soul and body. Also eliminated were orations which described: the hour of death; the loss of heaven; everlasting death; eternal punishment; the pains of Hell and its fire. Special emphasis was made to abolish from the New Mass the orations which described detachment from the world; prayers for the departed; the true Faith and the existence of heresy; the references to the Church militant, the merits of the saints, miracles and Hell. One can see the results of this massacre of the Traditional Faith from the propers of the New Mass.

I could list many more similar changes that bear a striking resemblance to the devastation the Protestants made to the Mass, as Jean Guitton (an intimate friend of Paul VI) admits:

“The intention of Pope Paul VI with regard to what is commonly called the [New] Mass, was to reform the Catholic liturgy in such a way that it should almost coincide with the Protestant liturgy. There was with Pope Paul VI an ecumenical intention to remove, or, at least to correct, or, at least to relax, what was too Catholic in the traditional sense in the Mass and, I repeat, to get the Catholic Mass closer to the Calvinist Mass.

If you wish to read a succinct analysis of the changes to the Mass see the above-mentioned Ottaviani Intervention, for a more thorough analysis see Work of Human Hands by Fr. Anthony Cekada. However, for a general understanding of the present crisis the book The Truth about What Really Happened to the Catholic Church after Vatican II is indispensable.

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    The notion that it is table instead of an altar might be extrapolated from some cheesy Dan Schute lyrics, but isn't reality. Bishops are restoring the position of the tabernacle. Genuflections and blessings have to be taught to the congregation. All these things have absolutely nothing to do with Vatican II, for all you or I know they could have been going on prior to it and our assumptions that everything was peachy prior to 1962 is based purely on wishful thinking.
    – Peter Turner
    Feb 20, 2023 at 13:37
  • @PeterTurner As I wrote, I am aware some of these changes weren't demanded by SC, however, I have described the typical NO which is the only option for most. I am under no illusion that V2 caused the mess, it was not the foundation, it was the capstone of the already thorough infiltration of the Church by modernists. But to pretend that V2 wasn't instrumental in bringing about the changes we have today and that it is even somehow opposed to them is preposterous and far removed from reality. The typical NO is perfectly in line with the spirit of the liturgical revolution and will of the "popes"
    – Glorius
    Feb 20, 2023 at 14:16
  • @PeterTurner Some contradictory statements in V2 are to be expected according to the maxim that heretics always contradict themselves so as to push their heresy while also having plausible deniability. Bugnini admitted that this is precisely the modus operandi he used to spark the liturgical revolution.
    – Glorius
    Feb 20, 2023 at 14:18
  • But while it is true that Communion in the hand certainly happened in the early Church, it is unclear exactly when this practice started and how universal it was. There are quotes from Church Fathers supporting both practices.
    – Ken Graham
    Feb 20, 2023 at 16:41
  • @KenGraham Re communion in the hand. I have studied the issue a year or so ago and concluded there was never such a practice. I would like to see your strongest citation that indicates communion was distributed in the hand: 1) without a covering over the hands 2) at Mass 3) in ordinary circumstances (i.e. not to carry it home). Even if there was such a practice in some places, which I doubt, the universal tradition is clearly established for good reason and to recede from it is to reject the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
    – Glorius
    Feb 20, 2023 at 16:46

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