| FATHER KOSTER
EXPLANATION OF THE TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS
August 11, 2019 Bulletin - September 22, 2019 Bulletin
this for print here (PDF file) >
For many who have grown up in the years since the liturgical changes that followed the Second Vatican Council, the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), otherwise known as the Extraordinary Form, can seem confusing, uncomfortable, and even off-putting to some. What I hope to do in a series of columns in the bulletin is to explain the mass, step by step, so that if nothing else, our knowledge of the other half of the Roman Rite of which we are all a part, will increase. Also, it must be stated clearly that I, in no way, place the Extraordinary Form above the Ordinary or vice versa. Both forms of the Roman Rite are valid, beautiful celebrations of the liturgy and as such deserve the support and understanding of all who practice the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
Before I begin with the actual parts of the mass, there are a few overarching details to cover. The reason the priest faces the same direction as the people when offering the mass is because he is offering the sacrifice on behalf of the congregation. He, as the shepherd, standing in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) leads the congregation towards God and towards heaven. Also,
it's important to note that a vast majority of what is said by the priest is directed towards God, not
toward us. When the priest does address us, he turns around to face us. Another thing to point out is that the responses are always done by the server. If there is no server, the priest will say the responses himself. This is not to say that the congregation
can't make the responses that the server would normally make, but it is not required. All that is required of the faithful who attend mass is to pray.
"full, active, and conscious participation" has taken on a life of its own. We associate it with doing something physical or verbal as opposed to internal. We are called to full, active, and conscious participation with our hearts and souls, not our bodies. The person who spends the entire mass kneeling in the back of church and saying a rosary could still be fully, actively, and consciously participating. Their prayer is adding to the mass. The person who makes all of the responses and sits, stands, and kneels at the right times might be thinking about whether they want to eat at McDonalds or Taco Bell after mass and is simply on autopilot. The point is that our participation must first be internal and we must not make judgments on the participation of others based solely on what we can see or hear.
The last thing I want to touch on before getting into the mass itself is silence, or at least perceived silence. The Ordinary Form (OF) is loud by comparison. Apart from a few prayers said by the priest during the offertory of the mass and before and after the Gospel, the mass is spoken aloud. Thus, the silence that occurs during the OF often accompanies nothing going on. In the TLM, many things spoken by the priest are spoken in a whisper. So therefore, just because you
can't hear anything does not mean nothing is going on. It's also important to note that with the exception of one prayer, nothing that is spoken softly by the priest ever changes, nor are there options for him to change them. The TLM does not nor are there options for him to change them. The TLM does not allow the many different options the OF does, and thus even though the language might not be understood by all, if you know
what's going on in the mass, you know inherently what the priest is saying and
The Entrance Rites:
The server and priest process to the altar together with the priest carrying the chalice, which is veiled. The two genuflect together and the priest proceeds to the altar, placing the chalice down. He then removes the corporal (square, white cloth upon which the host will be placed, and since that is the Body of Christ, the corporal is named because of the body, or corpus in Latin, placed upon it). The corporal is spread out in the center of the altar and then the chalice, still veiled, is placed upon it. The priest then moves to the missal (book), and opens it to the Introit (entrance antiphon). The priest then moves back to the center of the altar, bows, and proceeds back down the stairs, angling himself slightly so as not to directly turn his back on the tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament resides.
When he reaches the foot of the altar, the server kneels. The priest starts with the sign of the cross and then the antiphon for Psalm 42 (or 43 in the non-Vulgate numbering):
"I will go in unto the altar of God", with the server responding,
"to God who gives joy to my youth." The two then alternate, speaking the entirety of the psalm. The psalm is concluded by a Glory Be and then the antiphon again. Then the priest and server sign themselves with the cross as the priest says,
"Our help is in the name of the Lord," with the server
responding, "who made heaven and earth."
The priest then bows profoundly and begins his confiteor. In this longer form of the confiteor, the priest confesses to God, the blessed Virgin Mary, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, and saints Peter and Paul by name, all the saints, and then to the brethren, that he has sinned in exceedingly in thought, word, and deed. There are the three mea culpas, then he beseeches the same people again in the same order to pray to the Lord our God for him. The server then bows and leans towards the priest, saying,
"may almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, and bring you to everlasting
life." The priest responds, "amen" and then stands upright again. The server then bows profoundly while kneeling and speaks the same confiteor for himself and the congregation. When
he's finished, the priest responds the same as the server, except speaking in the plural, and then the two sign themselves with the cross as the priest says,
"May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our
sins". This forgives all venial sins of all present.
The priest and server then bow their heads as the priest says,
"O God, you will turn and restore us to life," and the server responds,
"and your people will rejoice in you". The priest then says,
"show us, O Lord, your mercy," with the server responding,
"and grant us your salvation". These are verses seven and eight of Psalm 85. The priest says,
"O Lord, hear my prayer," the server responds,
"and let my cry come before you". This is from verse one of Psalm 102. The priest says,
"the Lord be with you," the server responds, "and
with your spirit," and then the priest says, "Let us
pray" before ascending the altar again. When the priest ascends the altar, he says two prayers. The first is asking God to remove the
priest's iniquities so that he's worthy to enter into the holy of holies. The second
asks God to forgive the priest's sins by the merits of the saint or saints whose relics are in the altar stone. While he says this prayer, after he says,
"whose relics are here", he kisses the altar to reverence those saints.
After the priest kisses the altar, he goes to the missal and reads the Introit (entrance antiphon). After he finishes,
he goes back to the center of the altar and says the Kyrie. The TLM has a nine-fold Kyrie as opposed to the six-fold that we're used to in the OF. So instead of saying
"Lord, have mercy" two times before saying
"Christ, have mercy", each is said three times for a total of nine. The priest and server simply alternate with the priest then saying the first and last Kyrie. Then, if there is a Gloria, the priest says it.
After the Gloria (if there is one), the priest will kiss the altar and turn around to face the people. Every time the priest turns his back to the altar, he will reverence it with a kiss. The priest extends his hands as he says,
"the Lord be with you" and the server responds,
"and with your spirit." Then he goes back to the missal and says,
"Let us pray," bowing his head toward the tabernacle and extending
his hands again as he does. He then reads the Collect (opening prayer). If there are multiple saints being commemorated on the same day, there might be more than one Collect. This is indicated because the priest will say
"Let us pray" again after finishing the first Collect.
Liturgy of the Word:
After the Collect is finished, the priest will begin the reading, otherwise called the Lesson. This can be from either the Old or New Testament depending on the day. He places his hands on the sides of the missal, mimicking slightly the position one would have if he or she was holding the missal if there was no missal stand. The congregation may sit at this point as they normally would in the OF. The server will remain kneeling. When he finishes the lesson, he places his left hand on the altar, indicating to the server that the lesson is finished. The server then responds,
"thanks be to God".
The priest will then read the Gradual which is taken from the Book of Psalms. While he does this, the server will stand and make his way to the side of the altar that the priest is standing on. The alleluia verse is included in the Gradual. When the priest is finished, he goes to the center of the altar and bows to say two prayers before he proclaims the Gospel. These prayers ask God to cleanse his heart and lips so that he may worthily announce the holy Gospel. He then asks the
Lord's blessing. While he does this, the server transfers the missal from
what's called the Epistle side (because that's where the Epistle is read, otherwise known as the right side) to the Gospel side (the left side).
When the priest finishes his prayers and the missal is placed on the Gospel side, the priest says
"the Lord be with you" with the server responding. Then, unless
it's the beginning or end of the Gospel, the priest says,
"a continuation of the Holy Gospel according to..." with the server responding normally. The server stands on the Gospel side of the altar as the priest begins the Gospel. When priest says the name of Jesus for the first time, often near the beginning of the passage, the server bows his head and moves to the opposite side of the altar. Every time the name of Jesus is read, the priest bows his head towards the missal. When the Gospel is finished, the priest kisses the missal while saying,
"by the words of the Gospel may our sins be wiped
away." The server responds, "praise to you, Lord Jesus
Christ." After the Gospel, the priest will move the missal from the far left corner of the altar closer to the center. If there is a homily, the priest will remove the maniple (the vestment worn on the left forearm), place it over the missal, and proceed to the ambo. After the homily, the priest returns to the altar, puts the maniple back on, and begins the creed (if there is one). During the creed, at the words
"and by the holy spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became
man," the priest and everyone present genuflect as opposed to bowing profoundly which is the practice in the OF. After the creed, the priest kisses the altar, turns to face the people, and says
"the Lord be with you" with the server responding. He then bows to the tabernacle and says,
"Let us pray". He then reads the Offertory Antiphon.
The priest unveils the chalice and places the veil on the right side of the altar. The server will either remove it or leave it, depending on the preference of the priest. The chalice is moved off the corporal, the pall (square, white, sturdy piece that is placed directly on top of the chalice) is also removed and leaned against the main altar card. The paten (round, gold plate upon which the host sits) is taken into both hands by the priest who looks up at the altar crucifix first before reading the prayer. The prayer asks God to accept the unspotted host which the unworthy servant (the priest) is offering for his sins, offenses, negligences, and all present, as well as all faithful Christians, living and dead, that it avails them for salvation. He then makes the sign of the cross over the corporal with the paten and host upon it before allowing the host to slide off and rest directly upon the corporal. The paten is then slid partially under the bottom right side of the corporal.
The priest then takes the chalice and purificator (white cloth that is draped over the chalice) and moves to the right side of the altar where the server is waiting with the water and wine. The priest pours some wine into the chalice and hands the cruet back to the server. He then blesses the water in the cruet while the server is holding it, and says the prayer asking God, who created and dignified human nature, and then restored it, that by the mystery of the water and wine, we may be made partakers of his divine nature who had Jesus Christ be a partaker of our human nature. This prayer is printed on the altar card on the right side of the altar. He pours a little water into the chalice while saying the prayer, and then moves the chalice closer to the center, taking the purificator back with him to the center and placing it over the exposed portion of the paten. He then looks up at the crucifix first before saying the prayer which offers the Lord the chalice of salvation, beseeching his clemency, that it may ascend before his divine majesty for our salvation and for the salvation of the whole world. He then makes the sign of the cross with the chalice over the corporal before placing the pall upon it.
After the priest offers the bread and the chalice, he then bows, placing his folded hands upon the edge of the altar, praying that the Lord accepts us in the spirit of humility and contrition of heart, and grants that the sacrifice which we offer this day in his sight may be pleasing to him. The priest then straightens up and moves his hands in a small circle as he asks the almighty and eternal God, the sanctifier, the bless the sacrifice prepared for the glory of his holy name. The priest makes the sign of the cross over the gifts as he says this.
Then the priest moves back to the right side of the altar where the server is waiting with the water and lavabo
("I wash") dish. The priest then reads verses 6-12 of Psalm 26 which are also printed on the altar card as the server pours a little water over the
priest's hands. The priest will stand there and finish the psalm, bowing his head toward the tabernacle when he reaches the
"Glory be". As he finishes the "Glory be", he walks back to the center of the altar.
The priest then bows again, placing his folded hands on the edge of the altar, and says a prayer that asks the Holy Trinity to receive the oblation which we make, in memory of the passion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, in honor of the Blessed Mary, blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, that it may avail unto their honor and our salvation, and that they may intercede for us in heaven, whose memory we celebrate on earth.
The priest then kisses the altar, turns to face the people and says
"pray brethren" audibly, extending his hands as he does, then turns back
toward the altar, making a full circle, while saying quietly that his sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father almighty. The server then responds,
"may the Lord accept the sacrifice from your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy
Church". The priest responds quietly, "Amen".
The priest extends his hands and says the Secret, which would be the equivalent of the Offertory Prayer in the OF. This is the only proper (meaning specific to the mass of the day) part of the mass that is not said loudly. At the conclusion of the prayer, the priest says,
"...who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one
God..." quietly as he turns the page to the Preface. He then says aloud,
"forever and ever," with the server responding,
The priest begins the Preface dialogue with the server aloud, saying the Lord be with you, lift up your hearts, etc. He then reads the Preface aloud which is followed by the Sanctus. The priest recites the Sanctus aloud and the server rings the bells three times, one for each
"Sanctus". The bells and the words don't necessarily match up. The bells are the signal for the congregation to kneel. After the Sanctus is finished, the priest begins the Roman Canon, or the Eucharistic Prayer.
In the OF, there are multiple Eucharistic Prayers that the priest may read depending upon his preference or the occasion.
In the TLM, there is only one: the Roman Canon. In the OF, this is known as Eucharistic Prayer I and is the one that I use for every mass (except funerals). Before the priest begins to read it, which is done entirely in a whisper apart from a few words, he makes a circle with his hands, looking up at the altar crucifix and then bows, placing his folded hands on the edge of the altar. After he has done this he begins to read the Canon. The corrected translation of the missal which was released in 2011 and is now used in the OF is a very faithful translation to the Latin Canon. Therefore, what I say at mass in the OF is basically the same as the
TLM. There are
only differences in the actions and the words of the consecration.
The priest begins the Canon while still bowed and with his hands folded on the edge of the altar, he then kisses the altar and makes the sign of the cross three times over the gifts as he says,
"bless these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished
sacrifices". The Canon continues the same as the OF, with a pause as the priest joins his hands silently to pray for any specific intentions for the
living. The priest then extends both hands over the gifts as he says,
"Therefore, Lord, we pray, graciously accept this oblation of our service, that of your whole
family..." The bells are rung as he does so. This is different than the OF. In the OF, the priest simply says this part with his hands extended as normal. The next part, when the priest says,
"be pleased O God we pray, to bless, acknowledge,
etc." is when the bells are rung in the OF.
In the TLM, after the bells are rung, the server moves to just behind the priest on the top step, bringing the bells with him. Meanwhile, the priest says,
"be pleased O God we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every
respect," making three signs of the cross over the gifts as he does, before making individual signs of the cross over the host and chalice separately as he continues,
"that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved son, our Lord Jesus
The priest then wipes his index fingers and thumbs on the corporal so as to remove any excess things before picking up the host. He picks it up as he says,
"took bread in his holy and venerable hands," then lifts his eyes upward as he says,
"and with eyes raised to heaven". The priest bows his head slightly as he continues,
"giving you thanks," and then makes the sign of the cross over the host as he says,
"he said the blessing". The actual words of consecration in the TLM are as follows: HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM, or
"for this is my body". Those are the only words and they were expanded in the liturgical reforms. As a side note, the phrase
"Hocus pocus" was invented as an insult to Catholics. They mimicked the words of consecration and turned them into
"magic words". Also, the hokey pokey dance was invented by the Presbyterian Church of Scotland to make fun of what the priest did at mass.
The priest genuflects after the words and the server rings the bell. He then elevates the host as the server rings the bell and lifts the chasuble of the priest. The priest then places the host back on the corporal and genuflects again with another ring of the bell.
The priest then removes the pall from the chalice and begins the consecration of the wine.
The priest picks up the chalice as he says, "he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable
hands". The priest bows his head again at the words,
"and once more giving you thanks," and he makes the sign of the cross over the chalice as he says,
"he said the blessing". The words of consecration for the Precious Blood in the TLM are translated as follows,
"for this is the chalice of my blood, the new and eternal covenant, the mystery of faith, which shall be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of
sins." The priest places the chalice down and genuflects as he says,
"do this in memory of me". The bells are rung at the genuflection, the elevation, and the second genuflection as
After the consecration, the Canon then continues as the server returns to his original position. As the priest continues,
he makes the sign of the cross three times over the chalice and host together as he says,
"this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless
victim," and then once over the host and chalice individually as he says,
"the holy bread of eternal life and the chalice of everlasting
salvation." The priest bows in the TLM at the same time as in the OF when he says,
"in humble prayer we ask you almighty God...", but in the
TLM, when he says, "who through this participation at the
altar," he kisses the altar and then makes the sign of the cross individually
over the host and chalice as he continues, "receive the most holy Body and Blood of your
Son," before signing himself with the cross, like in the OF, saying
"may be filled with every grace and heavenly
There then follows a pause as the priest joins his hands to pray for any specific intentions for the dead. Then, when the priest says,
"to us also your servants, who though sinners," he says this part audibly as he strikes his breast. Then the Canon continues in a whisper. After the priest finishes the list of saints, he makes the sign of the cross three times over the host and chalice as he says,
"you sanctify them, fill them with life, bless them".
The priest then removes the pall, genuflects, and picks up the host. He makes the sign of the cross with the host over the chalice three times as he says,
"through him, and with him, and in him," then he makes the sign of the cross twice with the host from the bottom edge of the cup of the chalice to the bottom edge of the corporal and side to side on the corporal as he continues,
"O God almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy
Spirit". He then puts the host back over the chalice and elevates them slightly together as he says,
"all glory and honor is yours". The server rings the bell at this time which is called the Minor Elevation. The priest puts the host back on the corporal and the pall back on the chalice and genuflects.
Preparation for Communion:
The priest then says aloud, "forever and ever" with the server responding,
"amen". The priest says "let us pray. Instructed by your saving precepts and following your divine institution, we dare to
say," and then he says the Our Father, keeping his eyes fixed on the host before on the corporal. He says the entire prayer until the end when the server finished by
saying, "but deliver us from evil."
The priest then says quietly,
"deliver us, Lord, we pray, from all evils, past, present, and to come, and by the intercession of the Blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and of the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, and of Andrew, and of all the saints, mercifully grant peace in our days, that through the assistance of your mercy we may be always free from sin and safe from all
distress." As he says this, he takes the paten out from under the corporal and purificator and when he says,
"mercifully grant peace in our days," he signs himself with the paten and then kisses it. When he finishes the prayer, he slides the paten underneath the host.
After the priest slides the paten underneath the host following the Our Father and subsequent prayer,
he uncovers the chalice, genuflects, and fractures the host over the chalice saying quietly,
"through the same Jesus Christ, your son, our Lord," and then,
placing one half back on the paten and breaking off a small piece from the other half to put in the chalice, he continues,
"who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one
God," and then finishes aloud, "forever and
ever," and the server responds, "amen". Holding the small piece over the chalice, the priest makes the sign of the cross with
the small piece of the host over the chalice three times while saying aloud,
"the peace of the Lord be with you always," and the server responds,
"and with your spirit". The priest then puts the small piece
of the host into the chalice while saying, "may this mingling and consecration of the Body and Blood of
our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive
it." He then covers the chalice with the pall and genuflects.
The priest then bows with his hands together and says the Agnus Dei. Each time he says,
"have mercy on us" and "grant us peace", he strikes his breast with his right hand. He then places his folded hands
on the edge of the altar, bowed, and says three prayers quietly in preparation for receiving
communion. The first prayer is similar to the one the priest says in the OF before the sign peace,
"Lord Jesus Christ, who said to Your apostles peace I leave you, my peace I give you,
etc.". In the second prayer, the priest asks our Lord Jesus Christ to deliver him from all of his iniquities and from all evils by
the sacred Body and Blood. The third prayer asks that the partaking of
Christ's body, of which the priest is unworthy, will not lead the priest to
condemnation but rather through God's mercy will be a healing remedy for his body and soul. The priest says all three of these prayers back to back to back.
He then genuflects as he says, "I will take the Bread of heaven, and will call upon the Name of the
Picking up the host in his left hand and holding the paten underneath with his left hand as well, the
priest, still bowed, strikes his breast three times, saying each time,
"Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and
my soul shall be healed". The words, "Lord I am not
worthy", are spoken aloud while the rest of the phrase is spoken quietly. The
server rings the bell at the beginning of each time the priest says this. He then transfers the host to his right hand and
makes the sign of the cross with the host over the paten saying,
"the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul unto life everlasting,
amen." He then consumes the host. The priest uncovers the chalice, genuflects, and uses his right hand to wipe any particles off of the paten into
the chalice. He will then scrape the paten over the corporal where the host was lying in order to get any particles that
may have stayed on the corporal. He then wipes those into the chalice as well. While he is doing this, he
says, "what return shall I make to the Lord for all He has given
me?" He then picks up the chalice and says, "I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the Name of the Lord.
Praising I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from my
enemies." Then he makes the sign of the cross with the chalice as
he says, "the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul unto life everlasting,
amen." He consumes the Precious Blood and covers the chalice with the pall.
The priest opens the tabernacle, genuflects, and removes the ciborium for communion for the faithful.
He removes a host from the ciborium, turns around, and holds the host above the ciborium. He says,
"behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the
world". The priest leads those present in saying three times,
"Lord I am not worthy...". He then gives communion to the server. In the
TLM, communion is received by all in the universal fashion: kneeling and on the tongue. Exceptions to stand
and receive in the hand were made later and do not affect the rubrics of the
TLM. The priest says the
formula, while making the sign of the cross over the ciborium with the host,
"the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ safeguard your soul unto life everlasting,
amen". The priest says amen for the faithful, so they don't need to say it. They just need to stick out their tongue to receive the host.
After communion, the priest reposes the Blessed Sacrament. He then uncovers the chalice and tilts it to the side, indicating to the server that he is ready for the first ablution. The server brings up just the wine and pours it into the chalice until the priest tells him to stop. The priest then says the first ablution prayer,
"what has passed our lips as food, o Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for
eternity," as he swirls the wine around the chalice to get any remaining Precious Blood.
He consumes the wine and remaining sacrament and then goes to the side of the altar. The server pours just a bit of wine over the
priest's fingers and then water until the priest tells him to stop. The priest then dries his fingers and swirls this around the chalice as he says the second ablution prayer,
"may Your Body, o Lord, which I have received, and Your Blood which I have drunk, cleave to my insides; and grant that no stain of sin may remain in me, who have been fed with this pure and holy
Sacrament". The priest consumes what is in the chalice, dries it with the purificator, and reassembles the chalice with the veil. The server, meanwhile, transfers the missal back to the Epistle (right) side of the altar.
The priest reads the communion antiphon from the missal, goes back to the center, kisses the altar, turns around, and says,
"the Lord be with you" with the server responding. The priest goes to the missal and reads the post-communion prayer. When
he's finished, he closes the missal, goes back to the center, kisses the altar, turns around, and says,
"the Lord be with you" with the server responding, and then says,
"Go, the mass is ended" with the server responding,
"thanks be to God."
The priest turns back around and places his folded hands on the altar as he prays quietly,
"may the performance of my homage be pleasing to You, o holy Trinity, and grant that the sacrifice which I, though unworthy, have offered up in the sight of Your majesty, may be acceptable to You, and through Your mercy, be a propitiation for me, and for all those for whom I have offered it, through Christ our Lord,
amen." The priest straightens up and makes a circle with his hands while looking up at the crucifix and says,
"may almighty God bless you," and then turns around and finishes,
"the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit."
The priest goes to the Gospel (left) side of the altar and says
"the Lord be with you," with the server responding, and then makes the sign of the cross with his thumb on the altar saying,
"the beginning of the holy Gospel according to John," with the server responding,
"glory to You, o Lord." The priest then reads the first 14 verses of the Gospel of John. At the words,
"and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," the priest and all present genuflect.
When the last gospel is finished, the priest meets the server at the foot of the altar and they say the Leonine Prayers together in English, which are 3 hail
Mary's, a Hail Holy Queen, a presider's prayer, the St. Michael Prayer, and an appeal to the Sacred Heart three times. Then the priest gets the chalice from the altar, he and the server genuflect, and they return to the sacristy.
I hope this was informative and interesting for you to learn about the other form of our beautiful Latin Rite. I also hope that you will be able to experience the mass we have on Monday mornings at 8:15 and possibly any other TLM masses we have here at St. Columban.