This page is for those who
wish to learn about our
Latin Rite Vicariate
Commitment to the Traditional Rite
Our Synod is committed to the venerable Rite of the traditional Latin Liturgy in its reverence, its beauty and its richly symbolic reflection of two millennia of Christian experience. It continues to have much to offer to the church and to the world today.
Accordingly, we hold to these tenets:
1. To uphold the
teachings and practices of the Church as defined by the Ecumenical Councils and so upheld throughout the centuries.
2. To promote the
regular and frequent public celebration of Holy Liturgy, whether as High Mass
or Low Mass in accordance with the Latin Rite, either in the Latin or English
3. To encourage the study, appreciation and use of the traditional music in divine worship: Oriental and Byzantine music, Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony, organ and hymns.
4. To promote the regular and frequent prayer of the Holy Breviary (Liturgy of the Hours), the Eastern Horologion, whether privately or in community, either in a liturgical language (such as Greek, Latin) or in the vernacular language.
1.1 In the Latin Rite tradition, we follow the Western Calendar
1.2 Observance of Fasting Days according to the traditional Calendar.
1.3 Vestment color according to the Calendar.
1.4 Color for Requiem Mass and Funeral is either black or purple
1.5 Color for Marian Feasts is blue.
Approved Liturgical Books
Appropriate adjustments for individual situations may be granted by the bishop.
The sanctuary or temple should be arranged according to these minimum rules: The church proper is the area within the building, separated into the Bema where the Altar is and where the clergy serve liturgy, and the nave where the congregation gathers. The altar is situated in the Bema in the Eastern quarter of the church, either freestanding or against the eastern wall, so that, in either case, the celebrant at the altar is facing east, with the congregation behind. The clergy’s chairs are arranged to either side of the altar, with the chair of the bishop, flanked by his attendants’ chairs, to the left (north) side and the other clergy’s chairs to the right (south) side, west of the Credence. In the case of a freestanding altar, the chairs may be arranged along the eastern wall. The bishop, for ordinations and similar occasions, may sit on a chair on the Ambo (the area between the Altar and the nave, sometimes raised a step or two). A pulpit may be used, but preaching normally is done from the Ambo (using a lectern on the Ambo is allowed). The reader, the deacon, and the priest may read or chant from the Ambo. The credence table is placed close to the right (south) side of the altar. The sacred images (icons, holy pictures, and statuary) may be arranged in accordance with traditional usages. There may be seating and aisles provided, as necessary. If there is a fixed baptismal font, it should be outside or just inside the western entrance to the nave. The congregation stands, kneels or sits in the nave during divine services.
The altar is a stone or wooden cube or rectangular table, at least one yard high (more often 39 to 44 inches high). The altar is covered with at least one white linen cloth, and has two lights (candles or lamps) and a cross or crucifix, either on it or next to it. Holy liturgy and other sacred services are celebrated at the altar, therefore, the altar table itself may be consecrated. If an unconsecrated table is used, a consecrated altar stone may be placed under the altar linens and/or a consecrated Antimension cloth may also be placed under the altar linens. A white linen Corporal is placed over the altar stone, before the linen is placed over the entire altar. Generally, only the sacred vessels with the Holy Gifts may be on the open Corporal. The white or red linen purificator is placed on the altar to the right of the Corporal; optionally, so may a little bell for the Sanctus-Benedictus be placed there (in case there is no acolyte or in private Masses). To the left or right side on the altar is the Missal on a bookstand or pillow. The book with the Holy Gospels or the lectionary is placed on the pulpit or reader stand facing the congregation. For private Mass, it may be placed on either side of the altar.
The Credence Table
The credence is a rectangular table, placed close to the right side of the altar; it should be covered with at least one cloth. Since the origins in the Holy Mass i.e., of the bread consecrated as the holy Eucharist, the credence may have on it, or above it on the wall, a sacred image of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The prepared Chalice and Paten are set up in the front center of the credence. The Lavabo ewer (i.e., pitcher or cruet of water) and the Lavabo bowl and the Lavabo towel, as well as the tray with the filled cruet of water for the ablutions, are set on the front right side. Towards the rear right side of the credence, the Paschal Candle may be placed. It is lit throughout Holy Mass during the Paschal season and at Holy Baptism throughout the year. It may also be lit during Requiem Liturgies. On the rear left side, the censer is hanging from a bracket, the incense boat with spoon and the charcoal tongs are on a small table or wall shelf. Alternatively, a censer stand may be used. On the front left side is a handled Communion Paten, if one is to be used in communing the people.
The Latin Rite rubrics for colors may be used as guidance. The Eastern Rite rule of lighter colors for joyous occasions and darker colors for more solemn or penitential occasions may be used as guidance. Neither is considered a binding rule. The practice of regulating liturgical colors for certain days or feasts dates only from the 13th century in the Western Church. White and the colors which substitute for white, i.e. gold, silver, flax, etc., are always and everywhere correct. A parish church should maintain one set of vestments in white, or gold, silver, and flax. A violet stole may be used for certain services, such as Confession, etc. – Maintenance of a complete set of vestments in other colors is advised. All altar linens should be white.
The traditional Western rules for liturgical colors:
The symbolism attached to these liturgical colors:
The celebrant may exercise discretion in
providing for hymns, psalms and chants to be sung or chanted at the entrance of
the ministers at the Holy Mass at their recession; and during other parts of
the Liturgy, such as the Gloria, Gradual, Offertory, Sanctus, Agnus Dei,
Communion. Seasonal hymns (such as Christmas hymns) may be sung, but should not
be allowed to unduly delay the service. The singing of hymns during the
distribution of Communion to both, the clergy and the people, and during the
post-Communion ablutions is desirable.
The use of bells in the Western Church began no later than the 8th century. Therefore, while the use of bells is not required, it is permissible. The rubrics provide particularly for the use of a sacristy bell to signal the entrance and the recession of ministers; the use of a small single bell on the Altar by the celebrant to signal the beginning of Offertory, Sanctus-Benedictus, the Epiclesis (after “Te igitur”, the elevation of the host and chalice, and before the priest’s communion; and the use of chimes (multiple small bells, usually four) or a gong by the Altar Server or acolyte during Holy Mass to signal certain solemn moments (e.g., Words of Institution, Epiclesis, Domine non sum dignus, etc.). Generally, metal bells are to be used, but crystal and glass bells are not prohibited.
The people are required to stand or kneel (to
the degree they are capable of doing so) only throughout the
Anaphora of the Liturgy. In general, the people should stand, kneel and sit
according to traditional usage.
In ancient times, sitting during the Liturgy was permitted, as evidenced by the earliest liturgical records, which detail how the deacons should seat the people, and how and when they should be called to stand up. Anyone who cannot stand certainly is excused; those who have difficulty standing should try, if possible, to stand at least for the Gospel and during the Preface. Whenever any minister within or outside the Sanctuary crosses over the center line of the Sanctuary, that is, a line drawn from the center of the altar through the center of the Nave, he should turn towards the altar and make a reverence, i.e. either a deep bow, a prostration or genuflection. The faithful should be taught to do the same. The consecrated Altar (or altar stone/Antimension) represents Christ. As such, the altar itself richly deserves our reverence. Additionally, if the Gospel Book is “enthroned” on the altar, Christ is present as the Word of God. More so, yet, when the Holy Eucharist is reserved, Christ Himself is truly present in the Tabernacle on the Altar. No other place deserves such reverence as the altar of the Holy Temple of God. Let no one be careless in this regard.
To make the Sign of the Cross in the western tradition, the flat hand touches first to the forehead, then to the chest, and then to the right shoulder and to the left shoulder.
In the Eastern tradition, joining the thumb and two fingers to make the Sign symbolizes the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit – indicates our belief in the triune God. The two fingers that are bent downward into the palm signify the two natures united within our Lord Jesus Christ, His human and His divine natures, and thus signify our true belief in the descent of the Son of God to earth. The two fingers indicate His heavenly and earthly existences – as true God and as mortal man. The forehead is touched to make our minds and thoughts holy; the breast is touched to make our hearts pure and kind; the shoulders are touched to give our arms and hands the power to do good works.
By the Sign of the Cross we give our minds, our hearts and our strength to the service of God. The Sign of the Cross is one of the most ancient devotional actions of the Christian people. It is a sign to live by, a sign to die for, the sign of our salvation. When we bless ourselves with the Sign of the Cross, we show our true belief that the most Holy Trinity has sanctified our thoughts, feelings, desires and acts. We express our belief that Jesus Christ sanctified our souls and saved us by His sufferings on the cross. Proper attention to this simple but profound devotion is essential to acting and living as members of the Body of Christ, His Holy Church.
Duplication (celebrating two Liturgies in one day) is only permitted if pastorally so warranted. The celebration of a private Mass is also traditional, that is, when no congregation is physically present.
Please note that our traditional Latin pronunciation guide is the Classical Augustinian Church Latin ; i. e., Church Latin as it was spoken originally, throughout the centuries, but not the modern Italian “more Romano” as used by the Roman Church in some countries.
A = always as in father
E = (when closed in by a consonant) as in met
E = (at the end of a syllable) as in met
I = always as in machine
O = as in dog
Y = is the same as in German ü (Umlaut)
2. Consonants before ae – e – oe – I - y:
C = as in its or pizza
CC = kts
SC = sts
G = always hard, as in go
3. Consonants in other cases:
C = k as in cot
CC = kk as in accord
SC = sk as in tabasco
G = again hard, as in go
Remarks on the Epiklesis
The Roman Canon contains already an Epiclesis, right before the words of institution in the “Hanc igitur” and following. Hence, it is nonsensical and utterly superfluous to add a Byzantine Epiclesis into the Western Canon. Furthermore, there is no teaching that the Epiclesis has to be after the words of institution (anamnesis); it is only an Eastern tradition or usage to do so. Thus, before the split in 1054, the West had the Roman Canon basically as it is today. Furthermore, the Epiclesis is not a magic ritual using Byzantine semantics. It is the intention of the church, celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, to call down the Holy Spirit (Epiclesis) to change the elements.
Liturgy is Proclaiming Christ’s Presence
There are many accounts, Scriptural references and readings of the Fathers to bring us all to the reality of the real, Holy and Divine Presence within the Holy Eucharist.
This Holy and Divine Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ within the Holy Eucharist is the core of Eucharistic theology. It will be that basic belief in the Holy and Divine real presence, that will eventually and hopefully bring all of us together in one way or another – especially since some appear to drift into the thinking and belief that the Eucharist is only a memorial. Yet, it is universal (catholic) doctrine and faith that bread and wine actually are changed into the Body and Blood through the power and glory of God. After this moment, our earthly eyes still see bread and wine on the Holy Altar, in their appearance. Invisibly to our eyes, however, this is the true Body and the true Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in essence, yet under the forms or species of bread and wine. The sanctified Gifts of bread and wine in the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist are changed or transubstantiated into the true Body and true Blood of Christ. This is confirmed in the Gospel of St. John, “For My flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed” (John 6:55).
Is this not our very reason for celebration of the Divine Presence within our joint and mutual Apostolic heritage?
The Traditional Mass
The Western Mass or Liturgy is often called the
Tridentine Mass, a reference to the fact that it was codified by Pope St. Pius
V shortly after the Council of Trent (1545-1563), from which is derived the
term “Tridentine”. Contrary to what some people may believe, Pope St. Pius V
did not issue a new Mass, but simply unified the already existing liturgy. The
Latin Mass itself can rightly be called the Mass of the West, since it dates
back to the time of the early church in Rome and was then unified by Pope
Gregory I in the 6th century. Thus, remnants of early liturgies parallel the
Tridentine Latin Mass in its essential details. The Mass was originally
said in Aramaic or Hebrew since these were the languages, which Christ and the
Apostles spoke. Words like amen, alleluia, hosanna and Sabbath are Aramaic
words, which were retained and are still found in the Latin Mass today. When
the Church had spread to the Gentile world, about the year 100 A.D., it adopted
the Greek tongue for the liturgy, because it was the common language (Koiné) in
the Roman Empire. Use of the Greek language continued throughout the second and
into part of the third centuries. The Kyrie eleison is a remnant of Greek which
survived in the Latin Mass. The liturgical symbol IHS (though Latinized) is a
derivative of the first three letters of the Greek word for Jesus. The
beginnings of the Roman Mass are found in the writings of St. Justin (150 AD)
and St. Hippolyt (215 AD). Latin finally replaced Greek as the official
language of the Empire. By the year 250 A.D., the Mass was held in Latin
throughout most of the Western Roman empire. This included the cities in North
Africa and northern Italy, such as Milan. The Church in the Western empire
adopted Latin for the Mass by 380 A.D. – The Latin Canon as we know
it was finished by 399 A.D.; Latin ceased to be the vernacular language between
the 7th and 9th centuries as the regional and what we call know Romance languages
developed (Spanish, Italian, French, Rumanian, etc.). However, the Mass
continued to be offered in Latin, because much of the liturgy had already been
established in that language. The Fathers of the Church, both of East and West,
at that time saw no reason to adopt to the new vernacular languages. This was a
fortunate situation, since a language, although no longer spoken, served as a
common bond of communication throughout the Church and the centuries. One may
ask whether this may be part of God’s plan to preserve the Church until the end
of time as He promised?
The Mass is traditionally offered in Latin,
because it is no longer spoken as vernacular language in any country today.
Latin words do not change in meaning. The English language we speak may be
easier to understand, but because of slang, colloquialisms and various local
influences, the words we use vary in their meaning from place to place and
often year to year. As for the difficulty of not understanding Latin, most
Missals display the English translation side-by-side with the Latin text. Even
children learn to use them with ease and soon know by heart even many of the
Latin prayers. Although the Latin Mass dates back to 150 A.D., the advent
of the revised Mass (such as the Vatican II Novus Ordo or the Eucharist in the
Anglican Book of Common Prayer) has caused the Tridentine Mass to be offered by
fewer priests. Our Vicariate has always favored this option. This is not,
because our clergy are old-fashioned and prefer the reverent atmosphere of the
ancient liturgy to that of the more casual Services, which have become the norm
today. Rather, our clergy act in obedience to historic worship. They have kept
the traditional Mass, because it is clearly recognized as Old Catholic.
Many church fathers have taught that sacred liturgy is intimately bound up with
the truths of the ancient faith, and therefore must conform to and reflect
these truths – so much so that the liturgy actually serves as a safeguard of
the integrity of our faith. For this reason, the Church has always carefully
protected the text of its liturgies, in order to prevent doctrinal errors from
creeping into the Church. The traditional liturgies are thus a perfect
expression of the unchanging truths of the catholic faith.
The Mass is the supreme act of worship of God,
who is above time, language and culture. The focus and aim of the Mass is to
give to God the honor and reverence due to Him. For centuries, anyone in the
West could attend the Roman Liturgy in any country or culture and always find
it the same. Were it possible to travel in time, the same would still hold
true: a Liturgy offered by a priest living in Rome in the 5th century would be
nearly the same as that in 1570. Moreover, the Mass offered in 1570 would
be the same as the one celebrated in modern times.
This fact reflects clearly two of the four marks
of the Church – her unity and her catholicity, both in regard to location and
time. We recall the four marks of the Church are those clear signs, by which we
can recognize the Church: She alone is one, holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic.
Some people object that they do not get much out of the traditional liturgies, that it is monotonous, because they do not understand Greek or Latin, that the priest doesn’t make the Service interesting by getting the people involved – that he even has his back turned to them most of the time, etc. However, Liturgy is not for them but for God. Worship is not a social gathering intended to give us a warm, fuzzy, neighborly feeling inside. It is rather an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty and his infinite perfection, and an expression of our humility towards him as creatures within the economy and function of this planet and in the cosmos.
As the catechism teaches, the purpose for which Holy Mass is offered:
(a) To adore God as our creator and lord
(b) To thank God for his many favors
(c) To ask God to bestow his blessings on all humankind
(d) To satisfy the justice of God for the sins committed against him.
Additionally, the Holy Mass, whether celebrated privately or in community, is the public worship offered by the entire church to God through Jesus Christ, who as the Eternal High Priest offers himself anew to his eternal Father as he did on the cross. He is the Lamb of God, the spotless victim, whose sacrifice takes away the sins of the world, “standing as it were slain” (Apoc. 5,6) – that is, offering to his Heavenly Father again the sacrifice of his life on the cross. The Mass, then, is the fulfillment of the prophecy: From the rising of the sun even to the going down ... in every place there is sacrifice and there is offered to my name a clean oblation (Mal. 1:11).