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Questions and Answers on the Traditional Rite of Mass

Why is it the 'Traditional' Rite?

Because it goes back in its essentials to the earliest days of the Church. It was this Mass which was taken all over the world by countless European missionaries.
Why 'Tridentine'?
'Tridentine' means 'Of Trent'. After the Council of Trent in 1570 AD St. Pope Pius V eliminated from the Roman Missal a few items which the Council considered to be unnecessary. He did not introduce a new rite of Mass.

Why is the Mass said in Latin?

The Faith and the Mass were spread by the Apostles and the first missionaries throughout the Roman Empire in which the common language was Latin in the West and Greek in the East.

Why was it not changed as the languages of the different nations changed over the years?

Because vernacular languages continue to evolve and the meanings of the words alter. Although the present vernacular Mass is only 25 years old a new version is already being prepared, amongst great disagreement as to the words to be used. Only Latin is unchanging and it gives the standard to which all translations are referred. It therefore greatly helps to maintain unity of worship and prayer.

Is this Rite of the Mass permitted by the Pope?

Yes. When Pope Paul VI introduced his New Rite of Mass in 1969 he gave permission for the continuation of the Tridentine Rite in England and Wales; in 1984 Pope John Paul extended that to the whole world and in 1988 he asked the Bishops to be generous in the application of the permission.

Why does the priest not face the people?

Because he is offering the Mass in Christ's name and in His Person, in persona Christi, to God the Father and is leading his people in adoration and worship. He is facing east, the rising sun, which is symbolic of the 'New Jerusalem' and he is leading his flock as the Good Shepherd does. When he needs to address the congregation he turns to face the people and says "Dominus vobiscum" or "Orate fratres".

Why is much of this Mass celebrated quietly or in silence?

All the prayers are addressed to God, not to the people, and particularly from the end of the Sanctus and during the Canon, this solemn silence is the most effective expression of the adoration and reverence due to God Who comes to us in the Mystery of the Mass.

Does that mean that the people do not participate in the Rite of Mass?

No, it does not mean that! They should have a sincere, intense, interior participation in the Mass, raising their minds and hearts to God, uniting themselves with the priest offering the Divine Victim at the altar and offering themselves in unison with Him. Following the words and actions in a missal greatly helps in understanding and appreciating the beauty of the Rite.

Why is the Sacred Host received kneeling and on the tongue?

Although the practice of receiving in the hand was common in the first centuries many abuses crept in. These and increasing reverence and respect for the Blessed Sacrament led to reception kneeling and on tongue.

Does this Mass fulfil the Sunday obligation?

Of course! - as it has for nearly twenty centuries.

What did the Second Vatican Council say about this Mass?

It stated that "... the use of the Latin language is to be preserved ..." and that all lawfully recognised rites should be preserved and fostered in every way. It decreed that the people should be taught to say in Latin, or sing in Gregorian Chant, those parts of the Mass appertaining to them.

What is Gregorian Chant?

It is traditional church music of western Christendom with origins pre- dating Pope Gregory the Great whose name it bears. It grew out of Latin texts and its essential worth lies in profound spirituality.

How can I help to preserve this Rite of Mass?

By attending whenever possible the Masses which are arranged.

If the truths of the faith are forever new (as they most definitely are), then we should keep them well nested within a language that has already been lifted above this linguistic mortuary we inhabit, invested with some share in the unchanging status of eternity, and thus made dead to this world and alive to another.