Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A 'How To' for Priests re: the Extraordinary Form

I've been a priest for seven years, now.  Throughout that time, I have wanted to learn to say the Tridentine Mass, aka, Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

As you can see, this Friday, I am ascending to the Altar of God for the first time in a public setting to do so, at a Solemn High Mass.  How can others, who have as little spare time as I do, also make it?  I offer a step by step guide:

1) On days off, if you do not have a 'public Mass,' but for legitimate reasons have a 'Private Mass,' ie: alone or with just a server, say Mass in the NO in Latin.  The prayers are all there in the appendix of the current Missal.  Use the English Presidential Prayers and Readings; everything else in Latin, or as much as you can.  Start w/ just the Eucharisitic Prayer and the acclamations; anything to get the Latin in the brain and on the tongue.  Even without much Latin training, you can do it.

2) Slowly expand.  If at first you have to say the Latin parts silently, so be it.  Start working on pronouncing the parts out loud and getting smoother from word to word, phrase to phrase.  If possible, and you will know the parish, introduce parts to your parish, I would suggest a weekday Mass first, ;)

3) Once you have these parts down, attend a TLM in choir, if at all possible.  You already know where it is happening in your diocese/city, I'm guessing.  They are more than willing to have you take part, even if just sitting there in choir.  WHAT I HEAR FROM PRIEST FRIENDS: 'I wouldn't know what to do!'  My response: You don't have anything TO DO!  (well, besides praying along)  Remember, there is no con-celebration; you literally sit back and get the best show in the house, enjoy it for once!

4) Buy the Big Book, if you don't have it already.  Yep, time to get the 1962 Missal, I would suggest two other things: get the English/Latin Hand Missal, as it is easier to use for the prayers at the foot of the Altar for the start of Mass and has the translations of all the prayers right there on the page, very nice!  2) If you have an ipad, get the iMass app from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.  Same thing: Latin/English on both sides of the page, plus a video up top so that you can follow along w/ the priest as he says the Mass.  I have foung this extremely valuable!  As an added benefit, it loads up the current Mass for the Day, so you can find it in the Big Book, too.  (very helpful!!!)

In your spare time (I know, right), page through the book and get somewhat familiar with it.

5) Next time you are at the EF, stop the MC after Mass (or the presider) and ask: 'Can you help me?'  Anyone worth their salt: Absolutely!  I had the local MC for Una Voce walk me through the Missal and the rubrics for Mass.  At this point, it is helpful to get your own set of Altar Cards, which one can find online and print off.

6) Switch your private Mass from Latin NO to the EF and keep praciticing.

7) Offer to assist as a Deacon or Sub-Deacon at the Solemn High Mass

8) Step to the Center and DO IT!

For me, this was a four to six month process, some days I put in more time (when I had it), some days/weeks, I didn't get any progress made; but I tried to keep an upward trajectory.

This is worth it for your priesthood!!!!! It has helped me to celebrate the NO better, with more reverence.  It has made me appreciate the Mass all the more.  This will also help in appreciating the new texts we will be using this Advent.

As a priest, we get many demands, and this seems like a huge burden to learn and make progress.  Break it down into the steps and timeline that works for you and DO IT!!!


Anonymous said...

Dear Father, so thankful that you are doing this! It is such a blessing to see so much reverence returning! God bless!

Matt W said...

Thanks for the post, Father. I sent it to one of your Church Fathers blogging brothers in Akron! I will remember you in my prayers on Friday.

DM Reed said...

Excellent step-by-step guide, Father. Many prayers for you and your first public mass in the usus antiquior.

Anonymous said...

Advice-stand at the altar and let your deacon and sub deacon guide you. God bless. Fr. Gjl

Eugenie Roth said...

I linked your (translated) post on my blog. MERCI.

Stefan Ahrens said...

Dear Fr. Schnippel, many greetings from Germany and thank you for your wonderful step-by-step guide! I´m working for the YOUCAT and belong to the socalled "Neuer Schuelerkries Joseph Ratzinger/Papst Benedikt XVI." becuase i´m writing my ph.d thesis about him (in political sciences).

Best wishes,

Stefan Ahrens

Anonymous said...

god bless you, father. we need priest like you, we need Holy Mass