“Ego conjùngo vos in matrimònium”
Our wedding has been celebrated in Latin according to the ancient rite of the Tridentine Mass.
The Latin Mass has been for us a way to unite, during the ceremony, all the participants even if they speak different languages. None of us, or perhaps very few, are fluent in Latin, but for centuries it has been the universal language of the Church, and the only one in which it was possible to celebrate Mass until about 50 years ago. The ancient rite is also particularly appreciated by our families as tied to tradition.
The ceremony had the form of the sung Mass in which the celebration by the priest is accompanied by the choir. It is a particular and very impressive formula, although different from what we are used to.
Other important differences are the orientation of the priest, who celebrates facing the altar, so normally with his back towards the people, and the sacrament of communion, which is received on the knees at the railing near the altar.
The rite of the sacrament of marriage takes place at the beginning of the ceremony.
After the union of the couple in marriage, which happens more or less the same way as in the modern Mass (in Latin, though!) , the real Mass, “pro sponso et sponsa“, can begin. It ends with the final Solemn Blessing of the Spouses.
What is the Tridentine Mass?
The Tridentine Mass was from 1570 until 1969 the ordinary form – meaning normally celebrated – of the Mass in the Catholic Church. It’s also called Mass according to the ancient rite (Vetus Ordo Mass), Mass of St. Pius V, traditional Mass.
In 1969, Pope Paul VI, after the Second Vatican Council, introduced a number of changes to the rite of the Mass, including the possibility of using national languages (“vulgar” languages) in the liturgical celebrations. Before 1969 Mass was always celebrated in Latin. From then the “ordinary” or “normal” form of the rite is the one given to the Mass by Pope Paul VI, in the current language and according to the liturgy that many of us more or less know. This reform actually made increasingly rare the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, although in many cities you can still find a church where Mass is celebrated in this form.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI, in order to favor again the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, authorized all the priests of Roman rite to celebrate the ancient rite freely, without requiring the granting of the bishop needed until then. The traditional Mass in Latin was defined by Benedict XVI as “extraordinary” form of the unique Roman rite. Benedict XVI said in fact that the two versions of the Roman Missal does not represent “two distinct Rites”, but, rather, of a twofold use of the same rite.
Language is one of the most obvious differences, but it is not correct to indicate the Tridentine Mass as “Latin Mass” because Latin is in theory also used in the modern form of the Mass. The Tridentine Mass, however, is celebrated entirely in Latin, except for a few words and phrases. It includes long periods of silence and prayer. The homily is pronounced in the current language, which can also be used for some prayers and readings. Mass can be easily followed using a bilingual booklet that brings, alongside the Latin text, the translation in the national language.
ORIENTATION OF THE PRIEST
In ancient rite the priest celebrates Mass “ad Deum“, ie towards the altar and then – except in a few cases – with his back towards the people. During the Mass he turns towards the people various times, to invite them to pray, to bless, to preach the homily.
Communion is generally received on knees at the railing near the altar. The minister holds a saucer under the chin of communicants to prevent the host from falling or a fragment to be lost; the priest track, of all the peole who receive communion, a cross with the host praying “Corpus Christi Jesu our custodiat animam tuam in vitam æternam. Amen.”.
Liturgy and prayers
The Mass begins with the entrance procession of the celebrant and the minister who go to the base of the altar. After the sign of the cross are pronounced the prayers at the base of the altar, where the priest and minister in alternating voices recite Salm 42 (expressing the desire and joy to go up to the altar to get closer to God), and the Confiteor first the celebrant and then the minister. Then there are the blessing for the indulgence and the absolution of venial sins. The Confiteor (ie the penitential rite) is pronounced by the priest first and then by the people.
The priest ascends the altar and reads the Introit, the opening prayer, then the Kyrie eleison (Lord pity) alternating with the minister, followed by the Gloria in excelsis Deo. In addition to the Gospel there is only one reading (in the new missal there are two), made by the celebrant. In between the priest reads the Graduale, based on one or more salms. The Eucharistic liturgy, which precedes communion includes a single prayer, asking the intercession of many saints. During the consecration the priest kneels six times and kisses the altar twice.
The mass ends with the blessing, which is after the ‘”Ite missa est”. Before leaving the church, the celebrant reads “Last Gospel” (usually taken from the Gospel of St. John) and can recite the “leonine prayers” (so named as introduced by Leo XIII).
There are different types of celebration in the ancient rite: the sung mass and that through dialogue, for example, have been added in the course of time for the people to participate more actively. The Last edition of the Tridentine Missal, promulgated by John XXIII, distinguished rituals in Low Mass (read) and Sung Mass.