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Tridentine Mass

A surviving Pre-Vatican II altar and reredos, with High Mass candles
This altar was not radically re-ordered because of its historical importance. Note the steps up to the altar. Different parts of a Tridentine Mass were performed on different steps, with the consecration taking place in front of the tabernacle. A modern wooden altar (out of shot) which is now used in the celebration of Mass, stands between the old altar and the altar rails, which remain intact also.

The Tridentine Mass is the name given to the Latin-language Mass celebrated in accordance with the Roman Missal published following the Council of Trent (Tridentine is the adjectival form of Trent). The Tridentine Mass was abolished following the Second Vatican Council, which decreed a general revision of the order of Mass and encouraged, in its "Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy", the adoption of translations of that liturgy into vernacular languages. With the publication and promulgation of the new Roman Missal Pope Paul VI fulfilled that decree giving the celebration of the Latin Mass a new form (the Novus Ordo Missae).

In the Tridentine Mass, the priest celebrated Mass with his back to the congregation, facing the tabernacle that was on the altar in front of a reredos[?] (or retable). In the modern Mass, the altar is separate from the reredos (many of which, though spectacularly carved, were removed from churches), with the priest facing the congregation across the Altar.

Many other changes occurred. The large-scale removal of altar rails that had originally marked the boundary between the sanctuary and the faithful. The vestments were substantially altered, while an increased use of native language music, often involving, traditional, folk, rock and sometimes secular music has replaced Latin hymns and Gregorian chant.

Tridentine Masses were divided into Low Masses (which were less ceremonial, generally without music or chant), and High Masses, which were more ceremonial. In a High Mass, the high candles on the reredos were lit. For a Low Mass, merely the lower level of candles were lit. A High (or Solemn) Mass celebrated by a bishop was known as a Pontifical High Mass.

The introduction of the new Missal proved to be one of the most controversial changes produced by Vatican II. While the majority of Roman Catholics accepted the changes (some reluctantly, many with enthusiasm), many conservative Catholics condemned its introduction and claimed it led to "invalid Masses", asserting that its changes breached papal bulls and encyclicals dating back half a millennium. According to conservatives, the validity of the Tridentine Mass and the invalidity of the use of a vernacular translation was stressed as recently as Pope Pius XII (r:1939-1958).

Many also criticised the re-ordering of church sanctuaries to facilitate the celebration of the reformed Liturgy, in particular the removal of the reredos and altar-rails from many sanctuaries, and the removal of the tabernacle from its previously central position on top of the old altar to side chapels. Conservative critics have blamed the decline in the use of traditional religious ceremonies such as Benediction[?], and the disappearance of traditional church music, on the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae.

A priest celebrating a Tridentine Mass
Some Sedevacantist groups claimed the actions of Pope Paul VI and his successors made them antipopes. Organisations such as the true Catholic Church even elected their own 'popes' to authorise the continuing use of the Tridentine Mass. Others, like the Society of St. Pius X, though not formally electing their own 'popes', insisted on celebrating Tridentine Masses even when debarred from doing so by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II.

While the Vatican does allow the use of Latin Masses, it insists that the latin version of the new Missal be used rather than the older Tridentine Mass, which only can be celebrated with a special dispense. Such dispensations have been increasingly granted. In 1999 Cardinal John O'Connor allowed the celebration of a full Pontifical High Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, by a visiting retired cardinal. In 2001 it was revealed that the Vatican now routinely allows the celebration of Tridentine Masses in St. Peter's Basilica (though not on the main altar). It was further revealed that Pope John Paul II himself now regularly celebrates Mass according to the Tridentine Rite in his private papal chapel in the Papal Apartments in the Vatican.


External link

text of the Tridentine Mass in latin with an english translation (http://www.truecatholic.org/masstrad.htm)

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