The Traditional Mass
The Mass is the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, really present on the altar under the appearances of bread and wine, and offered to God for the living and the dead. When we say the “Traditional Mass”, we refer to the Sacrifice of the Mass as it is celebrated using the Missal which was codified by the Council of Trent (1570). This Mass is celebrated using the language of the Church, i.e. Latin, and facing toward the East, or what we might call the ‘liturgical East’. The Catechism of the Council of Trent says the following about the Mass: “This Sacrifice is celebrated with many solemn rites and ceremonies, none of which should be deemed useless or superfluous. On the contrary, all of them tend to display the majesty of this august Sacrifice, and to excite the faithful when beholding these saving mysteries, to contemplate the divine things which lie concealed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.”
The Traditional Mass as celebrated today uses the Missale Romanum which was in force in 1962. Although most Catholics are accustomed to the Novus Ordo Missae instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1969, the Traditional Mass was celebrated worldwide, and its liturgy can be traced as far back as the fourth century. In response to the attacks on the Church during the Protestant Reformation, the Council of Trent (1570) codified and extended the Mass to the Universal Church, and as a result, it is sometimes called the Tridentine Mass. Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2007 motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum termed the Traditional Mass the “Extraordinary Form of the liturgy of the Church” and expressed his desire for its wider use. The Novus Ordo Missae is the “Ordinary Form of the liturgy.”
The Traditional Rite clearly expresses the Sacrifice of the Cross made present on the altar. The priest and the faithful both face toward liturgical east since both are moving toward God Who is truly present in the tabernacle. The prayers of the Mass focus on the four finalities of the Holy Sacrifice – adoration, thanksgiving, propitiation, and petition. The actions of the priest and servers, the incense rising to Heaven, and the use of Gregorian chant elevate the soul toward God and the Real Presence. Silence too is an important part of the Mass, as it is the highest expression of our adoration of God Who descends upon our altars in the mystery of the Holy Sacrifice.
The faithful who regularly attend the Traditional Mass and follow the prayers and readings receive a thorough instruction on the essentials of their Catholic Faith.