Radio Show

Attending Latin Mass


A radio listener calls in to the Busted Halo Show with a question for Father Dave regarding an upcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land she’ll be making with a group: “All of the Masses that we are attending [will be] in the ‘Extraordinary Form,’ [and] I converted to Catholicism in 2013, and I’ve only gone to Masses in the United States, and they’ve all been in English … I’m not sure how to participate [in the Mass] if I don’t understand Latin. How should I do it?”

Father Dave says: “I would very squarely place [the responsibility of helping the pilgrims participate] on the shoulders of whoever is organizing this [pilgrimage] and who is making everybody experience Mass in Latin and in the Extraordinary Form … The way that the Extraordinary Form works — the way that Pope Benedict made it more available to the faithful — is that those who really like it and prefer it and would like greater access to it are allowed to have it. And yet, it’s still called the Extraordinary Form because the Ordinary/Normative Form is still predominantly what most people celebrate … It is not a competing form to the way that most of us will celebrate the Mass, [therefore] for somebody that is very unfamiliar with [the Extraordinary Form] I would say that the onus is on the folks [leading your pilgrimage] to help you experience the Mass in that way.”

Father Dave wonders, “Now, when they said … either on the website or in some communication with you that all of the Masses will take place in the Extraordinary Form … they didn’t say [that translation materials] will be provided for you [to help you follow along]?” The caller says that they didn’t say that explicitly, but she is hopeful that they will do just that. If not, though, she asks, “Can I just relax and not participate?”

“Well, no,” Father Dave clarifies, “I wouldn’t say that you shouldn’t participate because when we celebrate the Mass, it really is all of our actions … We’re never really spectators when we’re at Mass … I imagine [you’d at least] kneel when everybody else is kneeling, and stand up — so, participating is not limited to being able to speak the language … Plus, I wouldn’t want you to come home and say, ‘I had this great, life-changing experience in the Holy Land, but I didn’t really participate in the Masses … You’d want to say, ‘I celebrated Mass at the tomb of Our Lord.’ So, participate to the degree that you can.” (Original Air 04-05-17)

Photo credit: A priest celebrates Mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill) (March 31, 2014)