Thursday, May 28, 2020 –
Today we are going to define some of the things happening during the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). A basic outline, if you will. This is a bit much to take in, so it is going to be a two-day affair. Today we will cover the Mass of the Catechumens.
Side note: the (first half of the) Mass of Pius V falls on Part V of our basic primer. It is like I timed it or something!
BEFORE the Mass of the Catechumens begins, the Asperges Me is done at High Mass. If you are at a Low Mass, skip on down to the Mass of the Catechumens because that is where you will begin. Otherwise, stick tight here: Asperges is a Latin word derived from “aspergere,” which means to “wash” or “sprinkle.” The Asperges is the sprinkling rite where the Priest sprinkles you with Holy Water while the choir sings the line from Psalm 50:9:
Asperges me, Domini, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem delababor.
Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Though shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow.
There is one minor change if you are between Easter to Pentecost. In place of the Asperges, the Vidi Aquam is sung, which is taken from Ezekiel 47.
The Mass of the Catechumens
While not an “official” division within the Mass of the Catechumens, some find it helpful to distinguish the preparatory part of the Mass from the instruction part of the Mass. Strictly speaking, all of this is a preparation for the Mass of the Faithful, but I have added the “extra” subdivisions below for those who need a little “extra” sorting in their minds.
The procession to the foot of the altar – the Priest walks in and goes to the foot of the altar.
The prayers at the foot of the altar –The Priest prays the words of David (Psalm 42, Judica Me) and the Confiteor (I confess). He stands in humble awe of the Majesty of our Lord and prepares himself to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass by acknowledging his own sin.
The Priest ascends the altar – The priest literally ascends, walks up a set of stairs, to the altar and kisses it.
The Introit – This is the first prayer the Priest reads from the Missal (currently on the Epistle, AKA right, side). It is derived from the Latin word introitus, which means “entrance.”
The Kyrie – This prayer is a cry for mercy. It is the only part of the Mass recited in Greek.
The Gloria – also called the “Angelic Hymn,” this prayer is an exultation (celebration, show great joy) of praise.
The Collect(s) – These are the prayers specific to the day. There can be more than one. They are called “collects” because they contain all of the substance of the favors and prayers the Priest asks of himself and the congregation.
The Epistle – the lesson. Epistle means “letter,” and they are primarily taken from the Letters of Saint Paul. Unlike the Novus Ordo, there is only one reading (aside from the Gospel), and they repeat annually.
The Gradual – Gradual comes from the word “gradus,” which means “step.” The ancient tradition was to chant this prayer (taken from the Psalms) on the steps of the ambo. On certain days, the Priest will read one of five poems, called a sequence. After the Gradual, the Missal is moved to the Gospel side (left) of the altar.
The Gospel – before the Gospel, the Priest prays the Munda Cor Meum (Cleanse my heart) in the center of the altar. The Gospel is then read in Latin; it comes from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.
The Homily – The congregation sits and listens to the Priest tell us and teach us about the readings. Sometimes a Priest may simply re-read the Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular (your native language).
The Credo – this is a recitation of our faith; what we believe!
And there you have it: an extremely basic outline of the Mass of the Catechumens for the TLM. Tomorrow we will go into the Mass of the Faithful.
Saint Pius V, pray for us!