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Exploring the Latin Mass

Why So Many Catholics Are Passionate About Latin Mass - The Popes on Ecclesial Latin - What to Expect at a Latin Mass -

Summorum Pontificum - Latin Outlawed?  -  The Popes on Latin - Learn Latin - Sanctus Bells -   One Family's Journey

Resources - Missals

Updated January 2011

Why So Many Catholics Are  Passionate About The Latin Mass*


Before you read another word about the Latin Mass, please take a moment to contemplate the image to the left.  Although we cannot see it, this is what truly occurs during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Church teaches us that the Mass is the same Sacrifice as the one that occurred on Calvary, but in an unbloody manner. 


Just imagine if you could see this wondrous Mystery of God's Love for us.


If you received an advance invitation to this Event, would you go wearing jeans or cut-off shorts?


Would you try to help your children understand the awesome nature of what was happening in the sanctuary, or would you give them snacks and toys to amuse them while it happened?


If you truly believed that you received the Body and Blood of the Divine Victim would you want to be united in gratitude with Him, or would you immediately joke and chat with your neighbors right after they received Him?


Do you understand why the Priest celebrating the Tridentine Mass  faces the Altar of Sacrifice rather than the people?


One of the most exciting and emotionally charged topics in the Liturgy of the Catholic Church in the last decade was the Holy Father's Motu Proprio which allows the wider, more liberal use of the Latin Mass of 1962.

"Traditional Catholics" were, for the most part, thrilled with the new development. Many, including myself, naively believed that the rite would truly become more widespread and embraced by a wider group of the faithful.

Many "liberal" Catholics, particularly those in modern religious communities, felt that the wide-spread use of this rite represented a step back into the dark ages. They were somewhat fearful that the change would usher in a new era of restrictions.

Both groups were wrong. At least for the most part.

In most regions of the United States, it is still necessary to spend some time traveling to this celebration of the Holy Mass. In our large diocese, there are three locations. We are fortunate.

As for the fears of more "liberal" Catholics, we have hardly returned to the pre-Vatican II era. There was no jump into the time machine. A new translation of the Novus Ordo Missae has been prepared with some relatively minor changes. The Vatican commenced visitations of religious communities to investigate fealty.

We can only wait in hope for the day when we can do away with the labels and just say, "I'm Catholic."

*Now called the Extraordinary Rite.

The Heresy of Formlessness by Martin Mosebach

Before the advent of the Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI, I did a lot of reading about the why's and wherefores of the Latin Mass. This book was the single-most compelling for me, personally. Written by a layman who is also an accomplished German novelist, it is almost like reading a love letter. On balance I did not care for the brief epilogue which I thought veered off course. Nonetheless, if there is a single book I would recommend on the topic, it is The Heresy of Formlessness. Foreword by Fr. Joseph Fesio, S.J. of the Adoremus Society. Available at Ignatius.com in paperback and electronic book download


What to Expect at a Latin Mass

Beyond "Bells and Smells"

Getting Ready to Attend Your First Latin Mass


Isn't it the same Mass, just in Latin?


How will be able to understand it?


Does this Mass fulfill my Sunday Mass obligation?


Here is a simple explanation of the Latin Mass, what you can expect, how to participate, tips to help you understand the culture of the Latin Mass community and how you should prepare before you go to your first Latin Mass.


Read More

Summorum Pontificum

Unofficial translation in English

Provides only a segment of the document

Official translation in Latin



In Letter to Bishops

Holy Father Acknowledges Liturgical Innovations

Have Caused Suffering

"Vatican II outlawed Latin!"

- Sister of Saint Dominic, MA Theology

The quote above is, unfortunately, typical of many women religious who wield great influence over educational institutions, parishes and ministries throughout the United States. Sadly, this attitude is the product of unfounded fear and they need our prayers.

The almost complete disappearance of the once universal Latin from the world's Catholic churches since the Second Vatican Council was not - as some Catholics imagine - called for by the Council. Its intention was for Latin and the vernacular to exist side by side in the liturgy of the Church.

In Catholic high schools throughout the country, Latin is still offered as a language choice. The same holds true for Catholic universities, although classes are generally quite empty. Sadly, the study of this language is not paired with religion classes that explore the history of the church by including a visit to a Latin Mass.

In parishes across the nation where bi-lingual and tri-lingual Masses in English, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese have turned into a cacophony that no one understands fully, perhaps it's time to turn back to a little bit of Latin.

In the Papal Address for July 28, 1999, Pope John Paul II spoke on the Catholic doctrine of Hell. The pilgrims gathered were from many nations and the Pope greeted the crowds in many languages: French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Czech, Hungarian, Lithuanian, and Italian. There was also a group of international students gathered for a summer Latin program present, so the Holy Father greeted them in the official language of the Church: Latin.

"We strongly encourage you all that by diligently studying and effectively teaching (Latin) you may pass on like a torch the understanding, love, and use of this same immortal language in your own countries."

So what happened?  That's a big question.


The Vatican II Popes on Latin

“The Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic and non-vernacular.”

Pope John XXIII, Veterum Sapientia, 1962


“The Latin language is assuredly worthy of being defended with great care instead of being scorned; for the Latin Church it is the most abundant source of Christian civilization and the richest treasury of piety... we must not hold in low esteem these traditions of your fathers which were your glory for centuries.”

Pope Paul VI, Sacrificium Laudis, 1966

Modern Popes on Latin

"To all those Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition I wish to manifest my will to facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the necessary measures to guarantee respect for their rightful aspirations. In this matter I ask for the support of the bishops and of all those engaged in the pastoral ministry in the Church."

Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia Dei, 1988

Pope Benedict XVI has collided with novelties in the post-Conciliar Church. He has had harsh words for the transformation of the mass and liturgies “into spectacles that require directors of genius and talented actors.” He has said similar things about the dismantling of sacred music. “How often we celebrate only ourselves, without even taking Him into account,” he commented in his meditations for the Stations of the Cross last Good Friday. Here, “Him” refers to Jesus Christ, the one forgotten by liturgies changed into convivial gatherings. (Chiesa, April 20, 2005)

Learning Latin

As a former music director at a modern parish, I can't begin to count the times I've heard, "We can't have a liturgy in a language no one understands". These are the same folks who, in the name of unity, don't think twice about imposing liturgies that are 85% Spanish on English-speaking congregations. To them I say, "Let's all learn Latin and once again celebrate the single language of the Church!" Una Voce!


Latin was the language of ancient Rome. It was the ancestor of the modern Romance languages (Portuguese, French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, Catalan, and others). Students who learn Latin traditionally do better in all of their other studies - from language studies to science and math.


Those of us who are older will find that exploring a new -- but ancient -- language will keep the brain sharp and agile. After all ...


Tamdiu discendum est, quamdiu vivas!

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Sanctus Bells

Half of the "bells and smells" equation of the pre-Vatican II Church, the Sanctus bells are alive and well in the Church today.

A wonderful monograph on the use and history of Sanctus Bells and how the can be a powerful sacramental for Catholics today.

Download here as a PDF document that can be folded into a booklet.


One Family's Long Journey to the Latin Mass

Over ten years ago a young boy asked a question that would set a family on a spiritual journey. 

"Why do the Jewish and Hindu people have special languages to pray in and we Catholics don't?" 

Funny thing you should ask, son. In fact, we DO have our own language. Read More


Resources for the Tridentine Rite

If this is your first time attending the Latin Mass, you will find that most of the faithful bring their own missals to Mass. This is something that I personally missed at the new mass, if only because of the wonderful tradition of keeping holy cards to remember the dead, special occasions and intentions. While most parishes offering the Latin Mass do offer missals for you to borrow, you might want to call ahead to check on their availability. You will greatly benefit from owning one of your own. Not only will it provide an opportunity to become familiar with the rite, but these missals are generally full of beautiful prayers and devotions. The Latin Mass Prayer Book

The complete Order of the Mass in Latin (the extraordinary form), much like a traditional Missal, with Latin and English text, along with rubrics and responses. Also features a guide to the Mass and its history, along with prayers before and after Mass.



The Order of Mass

This booklet-style missal, is not only a guide for those acquainting themselves with the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, but also a resource for those already familiar with this rich liturgy. Beautifully typeset and illustrated, The Order of Mass also contains an introduction to the Extraordinary Form, giving a brief history of the development of the liturgy.

Available from Ignatius.com

My See and Pray Missal

Based on the traditional Missal, this is a book to help young Catholics pray the Holy Mass in an easy yet excellent manner. A gem of doctrinal accuracy which presents the Mass as a sacrifice and emphasizes the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Only $2!

Leather Bound Daily Missal

A most exceptional leather bound reprint of the 1962 Missal. Available in black, burgundy and white. 2,248 pages in red and black, 115 engravings, readings for the entire year with Holy Week and the office of Tenebrae. Many more features!

Latin-English Sunday Missal - Soft Cover

Twenty full-color, full-page illustrations by great masters. Includes the ordinary of the Mass for Sunday and the full Nuptial and Requiem Masses does not contain the full set of Sunday readings.  Over 180 pages.


Marian Children's Missal

A beautiful reprint of the classic by Sister Mary Theola. Includes: The Ordinary of the Mass in large print English (with 35 color photos), readings for Sundays and major holy days (with 13 color illustrations) Instructions on when to sit, stand, and kneel, Prayers for before and after Holy Communion, indulgenced prayer before a crucifix, child s preparation for Confession, prayers of the priest and responses of the laity for the Missa Recitiva (in Latin and English)

My Mass Book

Originally published in 1929 by the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, this beautiful little book has been reprinted on heavy cream paper. It is perfect for children in the first three grades. Magnificently illustrated, it elicits children's natural sympathetic attention to the Mass.

Saint Andrew Missals

This edition of the missal is extremely popular with traditional Catholics because of its rich commentary and beautiful engravings. You can find them at bargain prices on eBay. Click the title above to see what's available.

Saint Joseph Missals

Saint Joseph Daily and Sunday Missals are also very popular and easy to use. The are full of beautiful illustrations and aids to devotion. Be sure the one you buy is 1962 or earlier.

Click the title above to find bargains on eBay

The Latin Mass Explained

Everything needed to understand and appreciate the Traditional Latin Mass. Extremely informative, but very easy to read! Catholics are waiting for this book! It explains what happens at the Latin Mass and why it happens, prayer by prayer. Why Latin, silence, bells, specific colors, etc.---and how we participate

How to Serve

The ever increasing interest in the Liturgical Traditions of the Church gives rise to the need for adequately trained altar servers and this classic handbook is an invaluable resource for all altar boys from beginning to advanced. Though written for Instructors, this manual can also be used for home study, schools and sacristies.

The Old Mass and The New: Explaining the Motu Propio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI

A work that is both easy to understand and deeply rich, The Old Mass and the New gives an overview of the history and theology of the liturgy. At the same time, Bishop Aillet beckons us to look ahead to move beyond the crisis in the liturgy to a reconciliation of these two forms of the Latin rite. An excellent introduction for those interested in the theological foundations of the liturgy. Available in paperback, electronic book and audio book at Ignatius.com


The Incredible Mass

No doubt fewer than ten percent of lay Catholics, before reading this book, would be aware of even ten percent of what it teaches. Filled with fabulously interesting true stories about the Mass and many Eucharistic miracles, the book reads extremely fast and easily, keeping the reader's attention riveted on first one absorbing point and then another, all of which are melded into a symphony of insight

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