THE TRADITIONAL MASS
The Traditional Latin Mass has been celebrated in a relatively unchanged form throughout nearly all of the Church’s history and it is this Mass which Father Frederick Faber once described as “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven”. Although the Mass has, at various times, incurred minor modifications to its liturgy, notably in 1570 and 1962, Pope Paul VI promulgated a new missal in 1969, which came into effect in 1970. This new rite of Mass was radically different from the traditional Latin Mass which preceded it. Between 1970 and 1984 the Vatican restricted the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. In October 1984, following the issue of the indult Quattuor Abhinc Annos from Pope John Paul II, permission to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass became at the discretion of the local bishop. In July 1988 Pope John Paul II issued the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta which, among other things, required that respect be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition. The status of the Traditional Latin Mass changed again on 14 September 2007 as a result of Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.
From the Catechism of Saint Robert Bellarmine:-
The Mass is a compendium of the whole life of Christ!
- The Introit of the Mass signifies the desire which the Holy Fathers had for the coming of Christ.
- The Kyrie eleison signifies the words of these Patriarchs and Prophets who sought from God the desired coming of the Messiah at such a time.
- The Gloria in excelsis means the Lord’s Birth.
- The subsequent Oratio or Collect signifies His presentation and offering in the Temple.
- The Epistle, customarily said at the left side of the altar (right to us) signifies the preaching of St. John the Baptist, inviting men to Christ.
- The Gradual, or response to the Epistle, signifies the Life arising from the preaching of St. John.
- The Gospel, customarily read at the right side of the altar (our left), signifies the preaching of Our Lord whereby we move from the left to the right, ie. from temporal things to eternal ones, and from sin to grace, where the Lights are carried and the incense is enkindled and the Holy Gospel illumines the whole world, and it was filled with the sweet odour of Divine glory.
- The Creed signifies the conversion of the Holy Apostles and of the other disciples of Christ.
- The Secret, which immediately follows the Creed, signifies the secret plots of the Jews against Christ.
- The Preface, sung in a high voice, customarily ends with the Hosanna in excelsis, and it signifies the solemn entry of Christ into Jerusalem which He made on Palm Sunday. The Canon which comes after the Preface, represents the Passion of our Lord.
- The Elevation of the host teaches that Christ was Lifted up on the Cross.
- The Paternoster, the prayer of Christ hanging on the cross.
- The fraction of the Host shows the wound that was made upon Him by the lance.
- The Angus Dei signifies the weeping of Mary when Christ was taken down from the cross.
- The Communion of the priest signifies the burial of Christ.
- The chant which follows with great joy shows the Lord’s Resurrection.
- The Ite Missa est, signifies the Ascension.
- The Final Blessing of the priest relates the coming of the Holy Spirit.
- The Last Gospel that is read at the end of Mass, signifies the preaching of the Holy Apostles when, filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to preach the Gospel through the whole world, and began the conversion of the nations.