The Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), also referred to as the Tridentine Mass and the Extraordinary Form of Mass has existed, largely in its present form, for more than 500 years. Many parts of it are more ancient and can be traced back more than a thousand years. This was the Mass of the Church before the present Novus Ordo Mass, also referred to as the Ordinary Form of Mass, that came into existence during the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965). While the two Mass forms are different in liturgical form, they are in Pope Benedict’s words, “two usages of the one Roman Rite.” They do not compete against each other.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued the Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum, allowing for more widespread use of the TLM. As a result, the popularity of this Mass has grown worldwide and, today, an increasing number of priests and faithful, young and old, find spiritual richness in this ancient liturgy.
The TLM has a different spirituality and orientation than what many modern Catholics are used to experiencing. The role of the priest as an ‘Alter Christus’ leads the laity in attendance to contemplate the mysteries of God. It’s about being receptive to God; therefore, the laity does not answer as many prayers as in the new mass. The acolytes (altar boys) answer on their behalf. The laity prays and follows silently — either reading in Latin or in their native tongue while meditating on the particular liturgical action(s) taking place at the altar.
There are 2 forms of the TLM: Low Mass and High Mass. Typically at the Shrine, we celebrate Low Mass with hymns (mass parts are not sung). A High Mass can be a Solemn High Mass (full ceremonial form with priest, deacon, and subdeacon) or a Missa Cantata (sung mass). High Masses have a sacredness, beauty, and solemnity about them that is transcendent and lifts one’s heart, mind, and soul to God. High Masses are only occasionally celebrated at the Shrine because they require a small schola to sing Gregorian chants and/or a choir to sing mass parts and hymns.
In the 19th century Fr. Frederick Faber famously wrote that the Catholic Mass was the “most beautiful thing this side of heaven.” As every Mass is a re-presentation of Calvary, and the altar itself the place where heaven and earth meet, one can understand why St. Peter Julian Eymard called the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass “the holiest act of religion.” And, St. Therese of Lisieux said in her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, that, as a very young girl, while she loved both Low and High Masses, she was more spiritually affected by God’s presence at the High Mass.
We invite you to attend one of the Latin Masses at the Shrine to experience the Mass the way it was celebrated for centuries. It’s not just for older generations. In fact, the ‘big secret’ about the Latin Mass is the large number of young Catholics who attend (and young priests celebrating it).
Note: All Czestochowa Shrine masses are celebrated with permission of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Presently, the TLM is held the second Sunday of each month and fulfills your Sunday Mass obligation.
When: 2 Sunday of Each Month
Location: Our Lady’s Chapel or St. Anne’s Chapel