(Originally written on May 15, 2001)
For those who have been to the Mass according to our current rituals (Novus Ordo, aka "Missa Normativa", Roman Missal of 1970) and have never been to a traditional Mass (Tridentine, Roman Missal of 1962), here is a primer of what to expect when attending Mass for the first time in the old rites:
- Tridentine: Latin, the official language of the Church
- Normativa: In the vernacular (the native language of the community) or in Latin, STILL the official language of the Church! Note that Latin still holds pride of place, even in the most current "General Instruction of the Roman Missal".
Position of the Celebrant
- Tridentine: Ad Orientem (to the East, where the Holy Land is located, not necessarily the actual compass point, but facing the High Altar of Sacrifice). Note the progressives prefer to take this negatively by saying "the priest has his back turned on the people."
- Normativa: Facing the congregation, thus creating the "Dialogue Mass" between celebrant and congregation.
Tone of Celebrant's Voice
- Tridentine: In most cases, whispering tone, communicating solely with God. Very little audible tones, with the exception of the Homily and intoning Mass chants.
- Normativa: Almost always audible
First half of the Mass is known as...
- Tridentine: Mass of the Catecheumens
- Normativa: Liturgy of the Word
How Mass Begins
*Asperges Me (or Vidi Aquam during Easter Season) at High Mass only. At this point the celebrant sprinkles the congregation with Holy Water.
*Prayers at the Foot of the Altar (includes a dialogue between celebrant and servers of Psalm 43 (42) and their respective Confiteors).
*Introit (said by celebrant/chanted by choir)
*Gloria (except during Advent and Lent)
*Entrance Hymn / Antiphon (antiphon used usually when no music is used at all or in solemn Masses)
*Rite of Sprinkling OR Penitential Rite (Note 1: In the Penitential Rite, there are three forms, one of which incorporates the sixfold Kyrie as part of a dialogue, another is one communal Confiteor followed by the sixfold Kyrie, and yet another which uses part of Psalm 85 (84). / Note 2: in the Rite of Sprinkling, "Asperges Me" and "Vidi Aquam" and translations thereof are just two of the options available.)
*Gloria (except during Advent and Lent)
After the Gloria
- Tridentine: The Collect
- Normativa: The Opening Prayer
Formation of Readings
*Epistle (or Lesson) (recited or chanted by celebrant)
*Gradual (recited by celebrant / chanted by choir / replaced by another Alleluia from Low Sunday to Pentecost)
*Alleluia (recited by celebrant / chanted by choir / replaced by Tract from Septuagsima through Lent)*
Gospel (recited or chanted by celebrant)
*First Reading (usually from the Old Testament, or Acts during Easter Season) (recited by lay reader/lector)
*Responsorial Psalm (sung in dialogue between cantor and congregation) (In solemn Masses, the Gradual from the Graduale Romanum may be chanted)
*Second Reading (always from the New Testament) (recited by lay reader/lector)
*Alleluia (sung in dialogue between cantor and congregation / replaced by an alternate Gospel Acclamation during Lent / omitted if not sung) (Note: the Alleluia verse may be that of the Graduale Romanum. Further, during Lent, the Tract from the Graduale Romanum may be used.)
*Gospel (read by celebrant or deacon / can also be sung)
After the Gospel
*It is customary (but not required) to offer the Hail Mary, Our Father, and Glory Be to repose the soul of the person to whom the Mass is offered.
*It is also customary (but not required) to re-read the Epistle and Gospel in the Vernacular, especially if a Homily is delivered.
*Homily (not mandatory, but customary)
*Credo (sung at High Mass)
*Right to the Homily
*Creed (more often said than sung, even if most of the Mass is sung)
*General Intercessions (Prayer of the Faithful)
Second half of the Mass is known as...
- Tridentine: Mass of the Faithful
- Normativa: Liturgy of the Eucharist
At the Offertory
- Tridentine: The Offertory Proper is recited by celebrant / sung by choir. Any additional music may follow as time permits.
- Normativa: Hymn sung by congregation and/or instrumental music or an anthem by the choir. The Offertory Proper, according to the Roman Gradual, may be used in solemn Masses.
The Prayer at the Offertory
- Tridentine: The Secret (said quietly)
- Normativa: The Prayer over the Gifts (said aloud)
- Tridentine: There is only one Canon, read straight through with no intervening acclamations whatsoever. It is read quietly with the exception of the three words "Nobis quoque peccatoribus".
- Normativa: The celebrant may choose one of several Eucharistic Prayers. After the consecration and elevations, a Memorial Acclamation is sung. All is done aloud.
The Lord's Prayer
- Tridentine: Sung/said only by the celebrant / choir sings/says only the last line "Sed libera nos a malo" ("But deliver us from evil").
- Normativa: Sung/said in its entirely by ALL
Rite of Peace
- Tridentine: Huh??? What's that?
- Normativa: An exchange of peace amongst the members of the congregation is performed just before the Agnus Dei
- Tridentine: "Domine, non sum dignus..." said three times by the celebrant (the first words "Domine, non sum dignus" at a slightly raised tone), then three times by the congregation.
- Normativa: "Lord, I am not worthy..." (or "Domine, non sum dignus...") said aloud once by ALL
Receiving the Sacrament
- Tridentine: One form only - on the tongue, kneeling at the altar rail. The communicant does not say "Amen".
- Normativa: Usually standing, can be received on the tongue or in the hand. The communicant says "Amen".
- Tridentine: Choir sings / celebrant says proper. Additional music may follow as time permits
- Normativa: Communion song / antiphon (antiphon if no music is used or in solemn Masses)
Mass ends with...
- Tridentine: "Ite, Missa Est/Deo Gracias", followed by the Last Gospel (John 1:1-14; "In Principio erat Verbum"/"In the beginning was the Word")
- Normativa: "The Mass is ended, go in peace/Thanks be to God" - that's it!
(Note: in neither case is the so-called "Recessional hymn" part of the Mass. It's merely an add-on that became the fad in North America since Vatican II.)
- Tridentine: Mandatory at Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and Funeral Masses / sung after the Alleluia.
- Normativa: Mandatory at Easter and Pentecost, Optional at Corpus Christi, Dropped from the Funeral Mass / sung before the Alleluia. However, there has been talk of reverting the sequence to after the Alleluia.
- Tridentine: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Post-Epiphany, Septuagesima, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Post-Pentecost
- Normativa: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Ordinary Time, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Ordinary Time
Differences in Certain Dates
- Tridentine: Circumcision of the Lord
- Normativa: Mary, Mother of God (or the Votive "World Day of Prayer for Peace")
Sequence of Sundays/Feasts after January 1
*Sunday from January 2 to January 5 - Holy Name of Jesus
*January 6 - Epiphany
*Sunday after January 6 - Holy Family
*Sunday around January 6 - Epiphany
*Sunday after Epiphany - Baptism of the Lord (sometimes it even simply skips to the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time)
- Tridentine: The Purification of Mary
- Normativa: The Presentation of the Lord
(Note: in both cases, the liturgy starts similarly, with procession of candles)
Last three Sundays before Ash Wednesday
- Tridentine: (respectively) - Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima (Note: Liturgically it's treated just like it's already Lent - Gloria omitted, Tract replaces Alleluia)
- Normativa: just Sundays of Ordinary Time (Gloria and Alleluia are intact)
Two Sundays after Lent IV (in order)
- Tridentine: First and Second Sundays of the Passion
- Normativa: Fifth Sunday of Lent and Palm Sunday
Wednesday in Holy Week
- Tridentine: Spy Wednesday
- Normativa: Wednesday in Holy Week
Sunday after Easter
- Tridentine: Low Sunday, or Quasimodo Sunday (the latter named after the first word of the Introit of the day)
- Normativa: Second Sunday of Easter (now also declared by Pope John Paul II as Divine Mercy Sunday)
Good Shepherd Sunday
- Tridentine: The Sunday after Low Sunday (that is, the "Second Sunday AFTER Easter")
- Normativa: The Fourth Sunday OF Easter (Note: in the Tridentine Calendar, the "Fourth Sunday OF Easter" is known as the "Third Sunday AFTER Easter")
Sunday after Ascension
- Tridentine: Sunday in the Octave of Ascension
- Normativa: Depends on which Diocese you're in. If your Diocese celebrates Ascension on the Thursday following the Sixth Sunday of Easter (where it really belongs), then the following Sunday is the Seventh Sunday of Easter. If your Diocese celebrates the Ascension on the Seventh Sunday of Easter, then the following Sunday is Pentecost Sunday.
- Tridentine: Thursday after Trinity
- Normativa: Sunday after Trinity (Note: the name of the feast was dumbed down to "Body and Blood of Christ")
- Tridentine: Precious Blood
- Normativa: Just a weekday in Ordinary Time
Last Sunday of October
- Tridentine: Christ the King
- Normativa: Just a Sunday in Ordinary Time, usually the 30th or 31st Sunday
Last Sunday before Advent begins
- Tridentine: Last Sunday after Pentecost
- Normativa: Christ the King
Sunday after Christmas (if not Jan. 1)
- Tridentine: Sunday in the Octave of Christmas
- Normativa: Holy Family
Note further: the Tridentine Mass does not call for an entrance hymn (though the recited/chanted Introit is required). Again, this is often added by custom during the procession to the foot of the altar. Also note, that a new English translation of the Missa Normativa is still in the works. Hopefully soon, ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy) will come up with something that the Vatican will agree on.
+ In Christ,