The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is the form of the Mass that was celebrated
The Traditional Latin Mass, often called the Tridentine Rite, is now know as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. For nearly 1,400 years, the Traditional Latin Mass was the most celebrated Liturgy of the Catholic world. It was the Mass at which practically every Pope, Saint and Christian of the West worshipped from about the year 600 to 1970, with the introduction of the New Order of Mass.
The first difference that one will notice is the use of Latin at the traditional Mass. Over the centuries, Latin has helped unify Catholics from different countries and backgrounds. All major religions have a unique, sacred language. The Jews worship in Hebrew, Muslims in Arabic, Hindus use Sanskrit, and for Roman Catholics, Latin is our sacred language. Latin is considered a sacred language, because the language of worship should not be the same as the profane. We talk to God in a language that is elevated, and not as we talk to the person pumping our gas.
The second major obvious difference is that, the priest offers Mass “ad orientem” (toward the east). He is not as many people misconstrue, offering Mass with his back toward the people. But, the priest is, with the people facing the living God. The sun rise in the east is symbolic of the Risen Christ, who will come back to us as He left. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “We go to Christ, who is coming to us.”
Finally, in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, there is much more silence. The Priest prays in three tones: a loud tone, which should be heard by all who are not at a great distance from the altar; the medium tone, which should be heard by the server and those near the altar; and the low tone should be heard by the priest himself, but not by anyone beyond the steps of the altar. The silence reminds us that something very sacred is taking place and the words are so sacred that they are spoken to God alone. Our modern world needs silence more than anything. Only in silence can we look into the depths of our beings and there find our true self and God, hidden within our souls. The silence of the Traditional Latin Mass forces one to encounter the great mystery of God, who desires to speak in the hidden recesses of our souls.
If you have never attended the Traditional Latin Mass, don’t worry about following every word, just let your heart encounter the living Lord Jesus Christ!