It is important that Catholics know everything they can about their faith. This includes (for Roman Catholics) the Mass and its various forms. Even though people may not prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (also known as the "Tridentine Mass"), they should at least be knowledgeable about it. To aid in the catechesis on the Mass, this article is the first of several articles I hope to write about giving some explanation of parts of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This first article deals with the prayers at the foot of the altar, the event which starts the Mass, both with or without the Asperges (the sprinkling rite) first. If you haven't heard of them before, the prayers of the foot of the altar were taken out of the Mass when the ordinary form was conceived.
The prayers at the foot of the altar start with a "mini Divine Office session". The psalm used for this session is Psalm 42, Judica me, Deus (or in English, Judge me, O God) with the antiphon "Introibo ad Altare Dei. Ad Deum, qui laetificat juventutem meam". Like the psalms used in the hours of the Divine Office, the psalm used in this "session" is split into parts. If you have never participated in the recitation of one of the hours of the Divine Office with a group before, the people are divided into 2 groups (a left side and a right side) and each of the psalms in the hour is divided into "paragraphs", with each side alternating paragraphs of the psalm. The same happens here with the priest taking one side and the other ministers taking the other. The psalm ends (like it does in hours of the Divine Office) with the Gloria Patri (Glory Be) and then repetition of the antiphon for the psalm again.
The only time that this "mini Divine Office session" is not done is in Masses for the Dead and any Masses said between Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) until the start of the Mass for Holy Thursday. After that, the priest adds "Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini." ("Our help is in the name of the Lord"), which the other ministers reply with "Qui fecit coelum et terram." ("Who made heaven and earth.").
After that, the priest says his Confiteor. The Confiteor in the extraordinary form is separated into the priest's and the people's Confiteor unlike in the ordinary form where there is no separation. Another thing you might notice is that compared to the Confiteor in the ordinary form, there is a bigger list of saints which you are confessing to. In the ordinary form, the Confiteor omits the extra saints in the first part and shortens it in the second part to "omnes Angelorum et Sanctos" ("all the angels and saints"). After the priest is done with his Confiteor, the other ministers will say "Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam aeternum", and the priest responds with "Amen". Here is a table showing the changes to the Confiteor (in the Latin):
The other ministers then begin the people's Confiteor. The wording is similar to the priest's Confiteor, but the words "et vobis, fratres", "et vos, fratres" ("and you, brethren") with "et tibi, pater" and "et te, pater" ("and you, Father"). When the other ministers are finished with the people's Confiteor, the priest says "Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, dimissis peccatis vestris, perducat vos ad vitam aeternum", and the other ministers respond with "Amen".
The priest then says "Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum, tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.". These words that the priest says are not present in the ordinary form. While the priest says the words "Indulgentiam, absolutionem, ...", the other ministers make the sign of the cross. If you have ever wondered why many people (in the ordinary form) incorrectly make the sign of the cross as the priest is saying "May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to life everlasting", it is because it was done during the "Indulgentiam, absolutionem, ..." in the older form of the Mass. The correct posture in the ordinary form when the priest says the "May Almighty God..." is to continue to keep your hands folded as in prayer.
After this, there is a series of exchanges between the priest and the other ministers. After this series of exchanges is complete, the priest says "Oremus" ("Let us pray"), and ascends to the altar where he says in a low voice the "Aufer a nobis" prayer. Once he has said the "Aufer a nobis", the priest then proceeds to reverence the altar with a kiss saying before the kiss, "Oramus te, Domine, per merita Sanctorum tuorum", and then after the kiss, "quorum reliquiae hic sunt, et omnium Sanctorum: ut indulgere digneris Omnia peccata mea. Amen.".
At this point then, the prayers at the foot of the altar are finished and Mass starts to look just like it does in the ordinary form at this point with the start of the Introit (usually done by the choir unless it is a Low Mass). After the introit, the priest starts the Kyrie. However, unlike the 2-part call and response method of the Kyrie with each part of the Kyrie being said once by both priest and people, starting with the priest, in the ordinary form, the Kyrie in the extraordinary form is done with each part of the Kyrie being said 3 times (altogether), alternating between the priest and the other ministers starting with the priest. My point is made here:
With the fact that the prayers at the foot of the altar were done by (only) the priest and the other ministers in the sanctuary (along with the prevalence of the Low Mass), I can see how many people would not "pay attention and pray the rosary" at Mass. I would encourage you to attend an extraordinary form Mass in your area. If you don't "get it" the first time, go back again the next time it is offered. Eventually, you will have an appreciation for the older form of the Mass even though you may like the ordinary form much more.
So, have you gained anything from this article? If so, please share it in the comment box below. I realize I can't cover every little detail in a single blog post, but I try to cover as much as I can. I will also be writing an article covering active participation by the laity in the extraordinary form in the future as well.
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now, I don't have any updates for you in the way of app updates for my
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