The first thing people need to understand about the Traditional Latin Mass (or Tridentine) is that its emphasis is silent prayer and quiet reflection. This means that from the moment you walk into the church, you change all your actions from social to prayerful.
Movements should be reverent and slow. No talking please. Treat the Mass as if you were at the foot of Calvary, silently watching Jesus offer himself up to the Father as sacrifice for your sins. Because that is what the Mass is. Treat the Tabernacle as if you were being presented face-to-face with the Triune God in Heaven for the first time, because that is who is inside the Tabernacle. Christ said to Saint Gertrude: “One idle word in church is worth a hundred years in Purgatory.”
1. Dress as if you just died and were about to meet God face-to-face for the first time.
2. Men should never go to Mass in shorts or sleeveless shirts.
3. Women should dress modestly and feminine, and not in sleeveless, tank shirts, or minis.
4. Women should use veils as is traditional but not mandatory. To God, what is sacred must be veiled out of respect. A woman is a tabernacle of God’s creation. Ask one of the volunteers where you can purchase one if you wish.
5. The Gregorian chant is the traditional music for Latin texts in the worship of the Roman Catholic Church. The choir is well trained and is taught to sing to God and not to the people. The music should sound like heavenly background to prayer, not something that beats up the ears and distracts prayer.
6. Follow along with the mass in the Missal or a Latin-English booklet provided. The Propers of the Mass in Latin-English are in the insert also provided. In the Traditional Latin Mass, the greater part of the mass is said in Latin. The Kyrie Eleison is Greek and the Hebrew words are found in the words Alleluia, Amen and Hosanna.
7. The faithful can and should sing the liturgical responses found in the Latin-English Mass booklet provided. These are: Amen; Et cum spiritu tuo; Gloria tibi, Domine; Habemus ad Dominum; Dignum et justum est; Sed libera nos a malo; Deo gratias.
8. The faithful should learn to sing the Ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie, eleison; Gloria in excelsis Deo; Credo; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei., particularly according to the simpler Gregorian melodies.
9. In most parts of the Traditional Latin Mass, the priest, who acts in persona Christi, prays to God facing the altar (facing the East towards Jerusalem) and only when he turns and faces the people does he speak to the people. This is the high priest (Christ) praying to the Father for the people. It is Christ offering His sacrifice for us, and we are there praying and thanking God.
10. Remember that people are there to pray, so do not fidget with your rosary or make sounds or movements that would distract others from prayer. Just use common Church etiquette, which means keeping silent.
11. When going to communion stay in line and go to the next space at the altar rail and kneel down and wait for the priest to come to you. If there is a communion cloth over the altar rail, put your hands under it. The priest will say, “Corpus Dómini nostri Jesu Christi custódiat ánimam tuam in vitam ætérnam. Amen” [“May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto everlasting life. Amen”]. There is no need to answer with “Amen.” Receive communion on the tongue, bow your head a moment and get up and go back to your pew. Remain kneeling until the priest starts the final prayers of the Mass.
12. After Mass, leave the church without talking because some people may remain inside praying and you would not want to interrupt God. After some distance from the front door, it is time to socialize and share your faith with others. If coffee or snack is available in the social hall, join the other parishioners and inquire how you could volunteer or donate. In the past everything was done at the church. Faith was shared and taught at the church. Socialization builds a parish but prayer builds faith.