DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NOVUS ORDO AND TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS
By: Augustine Mario
For the last forty years, most Catholics are already familiar with the Novus Ordo, also known as the New Order.
It was introduced in 1969 during the Papacy of Pope Paul VI, after the Second Vatican Council.
This version of the mass is the successor of its more traditional method of worshipping. Simply known as the Latin Mass, Tridentine Latin Mass is a method that has been practiced since July 14, 1570. Pope St. Pius V through the apostolic constitution Quo Primum, any mass celebrated in Latin is coined as “Latin Mass”.
Most Catholics today are familiar with the Novus Ordo Mass. Yet in recent years, interest in the Traditional Latin Mass, celebrated in essentially the same form for the previous 1,400 years, has never been higher, largely because of Pope Benedict XVI’s release of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum on July 7, 2007, restoring the Traditional Latin Mass as one of two approved forms of the Mass.
There are many small differences between the two Masses, but what are the most obvious differences?
One of the most obvious difference of the Novus Ordo and Latin Mass is the language used to celebrate the mass. The Novus Ordo is most commonly celebrated in the vernacular – that is, the common language of the country where it is celebrated (or the common language of those who attend the particular Mass). The Traditional Latin Mass, as the name indicates, is celebrated in Latin.
What few people realize, however, is that the normative language of the Novus Ordo is Latin as well. While Pope Paul VI made provisions for the celebration of the Mass in the vernacular for pastoral reasons, his missal assumes that the Mass would continue to be celebrated in Latin, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI urged the reintroduction of Latin into the Novus Ordo.
••The Altar’s Position/ Direction
The position of the altar is also something to take note of. In Traditional Latin Mass, the congregation and the priest faces the same direction, with the “high altar” raised up three steps from the floor, attached to the east (back) wall of the church, it was called “the high altar.”
Traditionally, everyone faces ad orientem—that is, facing the East, since this is where the Scriptures tell about the direction of Christ.
The Novus Ordo allowed, for pastoral reasons, the priest and the celebration of the Mass versus populum—that is, facing the people.
This practice is commonly seen in our Diocese/Archdiocese and Churches since Novus Ordo method is used to celebrate mass.
•• Types of Altar Servers
Altar servers are only comprised of males, since this is attached to priesthood that are only associated with men, in Latin Masses. (This is still the case in the Eastern Rites of the Church, both Catholic and Orthodox.).
Technically, each altar server is considered for priesthood. The Traditional Latin Mass maintains this understanding, but Pope John Paul II, for pastoral reasons, allowed the use of female altar servers at celebrations of Novus Ordo. The final decision, however, was left to the bishop, though most have chosen to allow altar girls.
•• The Role of the Laity
In the Traditional Latin Mass, the reading of Scripture and the distribution of Communion are reserved to the priest. The same rules are normative for the Novus Ordo, but again, exceptions that were made for pastoral reasons have now become the most common practice.
And so, in the celebration of the Novus Ordo, the laity have increasingly taken on a greater role, especially as lectors (readers) and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist (distributors of Communion).
•• Hymns and Silence/ Nature of Active Participation
Traditionally, congregation will only sing entrance and exit hymns, at times communion hymns, and will stay silent the rest of the mass. Novus Ordo encourages active participation through responses that used to be for deacons or altar servers only.
Many different musical styles have been integrated into the celebration of the Novus Ordo. Interestingly, as Pope Benedict has pointed out, the normative musical form for the Novus Ordo, as for the Traditional Latin Mass, remains Gregorian chant, though it is rarely used in the Novus Ordo today.
•• Rails/ Reception of Communion
Altar rails are used to separate the altar that represents heaven, to the rest of the church that represents Earth. With the Novus Ordo, most of these rails are taken down (not in all churches). This is also one of the reasons why reception of communion has also varied.
It is common for the communicants to receive communion using their tongue or hands, and they say “Amen” afterwards. Before, the communicants generally kneel and receive communion on their tongues from the priest, saying “Amen” is omitted in the Latin Mass.
•• How the Mass Ends/ Last Reading of the Gospel
In the Novus Ordo, the Mass ends with a blessing and then the dismissal, when the priest says, “The Mass is ended; go in peace” and the people respond, “Thanks be to God.” In the Traditional Latin Mass, the dismissal precedes the blessing, which is followed by the reading of the Last Gospel—the beginning of the Gospel according to Saint John (John 1:1-14).
The Last Gospel stresses the Incarnation of Christ, which is what we celebrate in both the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo.
Note: The two forms of the mass are valid and approved forms of the mass at least for now.
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