When it comes to Catholic weddings, two distinct forms of the Mass often come into consideration: the Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass. Each form has its unique characteristics and traditions, creating vastly different experiences for couples and their guests. In this article, we will explore the differences between a Latin Mass and a Novus Ordo Catholic wedding, providing insights into the planning process, the liturgy, and the overall atmosphere of these revered celebrations.
(There are many more rites celebrated even in the United States, but we are focusing on these most popular two).
Understanding the Latin Mass
The Latin Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass or the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, is celebrated in Latin and follows the liturgical rubrics outlined by the Council of Trent (1563).
The Latin Mass holds a profound history and significance within the Catholic Church, steeped in centuries-old traditions that continue to resonate with believers today. This form of worship, conducted predominantly in Latin, carries with it a sense of reverence and time-honored devotion.
Until recently, all priests were trained in seminary to perform the Extraordinary Form. If you have a desired priest and parish in mind to celebrate your wedding Mass, be sure to communicate your desire well in advance to have your ceremony celebrated in the Extraordinary Form.
- Rich Traditions: The Latin Mass is rooted in ancient liturgical practices that have been preserved and passed down through generations. Its rituals and prayers reflect the deep reverence and solemnity of the Catholic faith, connecting present-day worshippers with the legacy of their spiritual ancestors. Many young Catholic couples are embracing these traditions now and the Church is seeing a huge revival in the Latin Mass.
- Gregorian Chant: One of the distinguishing features of the Latin Mass is the use of Gregorian chant, a form of monophonic plainchant characterized by its melodic purity and sacred beauty. Gregorian chant, with its haunting melodies, creates a transcendent atmosphere, lifting the hearts and minds of the faithful to a higher plane of worship. Wedding guests might not understand the Latin or be familiar with chanting Mass parts. Keep this in mind as you plan your wedding and consider adding Mass guidance and parts in your wedding program.
- The Role of the Priest: As in the Novus Ordo, in the Latin Mass, the priest assumes a central role as the mediator between the congregation and the divine. Through his ordained authority, he leads the faithful in the prayers and rituals of the Mass, and celebrates toward the high altar.
Embracing the Novus Ordo Mass
In contrast, the Novus Ordo Mass, also known as the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, was introduced after the Second Vatican Council (1965). This form of the Mass is celebrated in the vernacular language and incorporates more contemporary elements while retaining the core structure of the liturgy.
Emphasizing Reverence in a Novus Ordo Wedding
A hot point in the debate between the two most common forms of the Mass in the US is reverence. Which Mass is more reverent in worshipping Our Lord?
The truth is, both forms of the Mass are completely valid and able to be celebrated in a way that glorifies God.
While the Novus Ordo Mass allows for more flexibility and personalization in the wedding ceremony, it is essential to maintain a reverent and sacred atmosphere. This can be accomplished by:
- Choosing appropriate hymns: Instead of singing modern praise and worship style music that might have nonsensical lyrics and banal melodies, opt for Gregorian chant Mass settings and traditional hymns (a great breakdown of choosing Catholic wedding music found here).
- Engaging in meaningful gestures: Don’t add too much to the liturgy in terms of congregation and wedding party participation. Ask your priest to celebrate facing the altar to lead the worshipers toward God instead of the ‘round-table’ feeling of celebrating toward the people.
- Maintaining traditional altar serving roles: Ask your wedding coordinator or priest if the parish has volunteers to serve at your wedding Mass. This could include a crucifer and a thurifer for incense!
Whether couples opt for the solemnity and grandeur of the Latin Mass or the flexibility and personalization offered by the Novus Ordo Mass, both forms of the Catholic wedding ceremony hold deep meaning. By understanding the contrasts between the Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass and considering factors such as personal preference, family traditions, and the spiritual ambiance desired, couples can make an informed choice that aligns with their vision for their special day. Ultimately, both forms of the Mass provide an opportunity for couples to profess their love and commitment in the presence of God and their loved ones, creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime.