Traditional Latin Mass

Tridentine Mass in Philadelphia

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This page is about the Traditional Latin Mass or "Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite" (sometimes shortened to "Extraordinary Rite"), often referred to as the "Tridentine" Mass, where it is said in union with the Church, with the bishops.

Tridentine Mass in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania – which used to be in Norristown (Archdiocese of Philadelphia)

» Chant at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church, Montgomery County (near Norristown), 2006-2007

» Polyphony and Chant at St. Francis Church, Norristown (1997-2001)

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Mass I have done an interlinear Latin Mass translation, in which the translation of each word is written directly under the word. It is intended for studying the Latin Mass. Illustrated!

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neume A Guide to Reading Gregorian Chant Notation

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Pronunciation guide (audio files)

for the Latin altar boys' responses at the Tridentine Mass.

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Mass video Video of a whole Tridentine Mass (except for the Epistle & Gospel in English and the Sermon, and the distribution of Communion) on the Internet Archive.

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Mass Pictures and Video clips from the FSSP Ordinations & First Masses 2009.

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The St. Anthony of Padua Chapter International Ecclesia Dei Association promoted implementation of the Ecclesia Dei indult in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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Avoid Schismatic groups promoting the Latin Mass in rebellion against the Pope and the Hierarchy of the Church which Christ established (until such time as they are reunited with the Catholic Church, as we pray will happen). There are severe problems in the Church today, as can be seen in the drop in religious vocations, falling Mass attendance, Extraordinary Ministers (so-called "Eucharistic Ministers") being used as ordinary ministers of the Eucharist, ugly churches, Catholics who think it's all right to vote for pro-abortion politicians, lack of respect for the Eucharist, graduates from Catholic schools who know nothing of the Catholic faith (or what's even worse, teachers in Catholic schools who don't know the Catholic faith), disregard for Magisterial teachings and the rubrics of the Mass, etc. I believe many problems in the Church could be resolved by restoring the Tridentine Mass. But I do not believe that more disobedience is the solution to the situation. Especially now with the new motu proprio Summorum Pontificum there should no longer be any reason for people who just want the Traditional Mass to have to go outside the Church to get it — but there will probably continue to be people who really do not want to be in union with the Church.

Outside the Church there is no salvation. Therefore, leaving the Catholic Church (by rejecting the authority of the pope) is not the answer.

From St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica:

"Wherefore schismatics are those who refuse to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to hold communion with those members of the Church who acknowledge his supremacy." [II-II, 39, 1]

"...It is written (Num. 16:26): 'Depart from the tents of these wicked men,' those, to wit, who had caused the schism, 'and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be involved in their sins.'...

"Now a schismatic, as shown above, commits a twofold sin: first by separating himself from communion with the members of the Church, ... Secondly, they refuse submission to the head of the Church" [II-II, 39, 4]

The complete text from the Summa dealing with schism may be found starting here.

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"If there is no Traditional Mass anywhere around," some people wonder, "What is a person to do?"

On very rare occasions, I have had to attend a Novus Ordo Mass on a Sunday (there was one time in 2006 that the snow was so bad, I was forced to attend Mass at the local parish). And there's only the Novus Ordo for daily Mass.

There are a few things I do to get through it.

The first trick is simply keeping your eyes closed. There are a lot of infuriating things that go on at the Novus Ordo that you completely miss simply by not looking. Even if you can't physically be at a Tridentine Mass, you can always use your imagination and imagine being at the traditional Mass, with its atmosphere more conducive to prayer.

Another thing I have done, when having to be there on a Sunday, has been to bring my old missal along with me, and read the prayers for the traditional Mass instead of reading along with what the priest or deacon would be saying. That's another thing that makes praying a lot easier at the Novus Ordo Mass!

One of the most aggravating things I find at the Novus Ordo is the so-called "Sign of Peace". I say "so called" because there are so many people who really believe it's not supposed to be a "sign of peace" but a "sign of conviviality". You see people waving to each other or having a quick chat and a laugh while that's going on – not to mention all the couples who like to use that as a time to 'make out'.
What I usually do, besides simply not watching all that going on, is to keep my hands in my pockets. There is, after all, only one proper thing to do with the hands during Mass – keep them folded – and if you're not going to do that, then keeping your hands in your pockets is just as proper as anything else. One time I was not near anybody else in the pew and had my eyes closed during the "sign of peace", and somebody walked over to where I was and grabbed my hand to shake it. Ever since that happened, I've kept my hands in my pockets; nobody can shake your hand when it's in your pocket! This is also why I'm always careful to make sure I'm on the end of the pew. If the pew fills up, I can usually find a way to slip out the end of the pew and put some distance between myself and the overly-social types who seem to just be passing the time during the Mass until they get to the fun part where the sign of peace starts.

At Communion time, I like to keep my eyes down at the feet of the person in front of me while walking up. That way I don't get infuriated watching the awful way most people receive Communion at a Novus Ordo Mass. I also find that being in the back of the church makes it easier to cross Communion lines if necessary to avoid receiving Communion from an extraordinary minister.

That's what I do to put up with the Novus Ordo Mass when I can't get to a traditional Mass. Probably other people have their own techniques for keeping what's going on from distracting them from prayer. Whatever one does, it's certainly better than attending an Orthodox Liturgy or a Tridentine Mass at a church or chapel not in union with Rome just to avoid the Novus Ordo.

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I'm not a priest, but a layman.
Be cautious when you see a web site saying that it is run by a priest.
There is at least one popular web site that is run by a person who claims to be a Catholic priest, but is not! There are also sites which are really run by good Catholic priests. The moral is not to be too quick to trust someone you don't know: even if a person running a web site claims to be a priest but his site contains material which is hostile toward the Pope or any doctrines of the Church, don't assume that anything you find there is going to be true. If everything there is faithful to the Church and its teachings, then the person running it who says he is a priest is probably not out to deceive people, but is most likely a real priest.

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Directory of Traditional Latin Masses

I do not maintain this list. It is on the web site of the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei:

You can purchase Missals from the FSSP:

Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter
P.O. Box 196, Elmhurst, PA 18416 U.S.A.
717-842-4000; 717-842-4001 (fax)
Home page:


The web site from the Mass in the Harrisburg diocese is the Information Piety Society of Orthodoxy, IPSO, at

New Catholic game from IPSO: IPSO FACT OH

Jeff Ostrowski at the St. John Mary Vianney Choir in Kansas is selling a CD of Gregorian Chant music on his web site at

The Liber Usualis (which contains the chants for the Office & Mass) can be purchased from St. Bonaventure Publications.

There is a Latin Vulgate Bible available on-line, if you want to be able to look up readings.

Summorum Pontificum Contact Database

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Some reasons I prefer to attend the Tridentine Mass

The Tridentine Mass expresses best the catholicity of the Catholic Church.
The way in which the Tridentine Mass developed in a steady manner from the earliest days gives it a perfectly clearer connection to the Mystical Body throughout the centuries.
The Tridentine Mass is also said basically the same way in every Latin Rite diocese in every country of the world. There may be insignificant differences in customs from one place to another (like whether the priest wears a biretta or not, or whether it's a dialog Mass or not), but going to a Tridentine Mass anywhere in the world, you know exactly what to expect and everything is quite familiar.
The use of the Latin language and Chant also form an intimate connection between Roman Rite Catholics of every era and every nation.

Another way the Tridentine Mass is good is that everything is significant.
A person could spend a lifetime learning the meaning of every tiny detail of the Tridentine Mass. And it is an interesting thing to learn about.
There are several adv0antages to this in the Tridentine Mass. For one thing, there is a lot of instruction that can be gained from watching and listening, when a person knows the meaning behind what is going on. This was the same adv0antage to the symbolism of stained-glass windows and statues (quite a bit of that was tossed out along with many items of symbolism in the Mass). With symbolism, much more significance and meaning can be squeezed into a much smaller space or much shorter amount of time. But it must be learned first.
When it is less necessary to learn about what is there because things are more blatant and obvious, people feel less need to study the Mass at all. Then what can happen is that people do not understand even the basics of what happens at Mass.

There are few distractions at the Tridentine Mass.
There is no place in the Tridentine Mass for socializing, which is easy for things like the "Sign of Peace" to be corrupted into.
There's also no distraction that comes from wondering what strange thing the priest is going to do next as happens sometimes. The actions of the priest during the Tridentine Mass seem to be laid out more precisely and in greater detail and with fewer options, which leaves little room for surprises.

One more reason for my personal preference is that the Tridentine Mass is its beauty.
There is a grandeur and awesomeness in the prayers and rituals of the Tridentine Mass. The way things are expressed in the Tridentine Mass finds the perfect balance between being trite and being obscure. And the actions performed are unmatched in their precision and grace and expressiveness.

I do go to a Novus Ordo Mass when I cannot go to the Tridentine Mass (that Mass is only on Sundays around here, so I go to the Novus Ordo Mass on the other 6 days of the week). I wish I could attend the Tridentine Mass all the time -- but I am grateful that there is a daily Mass of some kind that I can attend every day. I've heard there are parts of the country where people are deprived of a daily Mass altogether, and the most important thing about the Mass is the glorious Sacrifice that takes place at every valid Mass, regardless of the Rite. I hope one day to live someplace where I'll be able to attend the traditional Mass every day!

March 1998
Serving Mass (on the right in the picture) at St. Francis Church, Norristown

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You can write to me at  .

I moderate the Mailing List concerning the Tridentine Mass that was on CIN: cingreg
and can now be found at

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