The Old Mass, the New Sales

San Secondo d’Asti Catholic Church in Guasti, California, is one of the few churches to celebrate the old Tridentine Latin Mass. Not only is this extraordinary form still celebrated at San Secondo d’Asti, it’s celebrated every week. Following the Tridentine Mass is difficult for those of us used to the modern Mass, especially as a good deal less is said aloud by the priest in the Tridentine Mass than in the modern form. So, I’ve had to keep a sharp eye on the missal to follow along with the events of the Mass, reading more Latin in a couple of hours than I have in the last few years. Tiring and difficult? Yes, but so rewarding. I’ve found that it’s best to arrive at San Secondo d’Asti early—the flagstones outside are painful to kneel on when there’s no space left inside the church. This form of Mass is so popular that the church is regularly packed to capacity!

unchurch mikehayes post6Thankfully, the homily is in English, so when my girlfriend and I visited the church one Sunday morning to attend the Tridentine Latin Mass, we were able to follow the priest’s instruction and explanation of the faith. We left very glad we had come. On the drive back, we passed a Toyota dealership appealing to the Spanish-speaking community with the phrase Su familia es nuestra familia on a roadside board. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s interesting to note the similarity between Latin and Spanish. The Latin Hail Mary is Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. It’s a very small step from the nostrae and other Latin in the Tridentine Mass, made uniform in 1570 following the Council of Trent, to the nuestra of the Toyota dealership, made to catch the eye of Spanish speakers in 2011. In a few miles of road, we’d traveled several hundred years, yet the language followed us all the way back.

Learn more about Mike Hayes’s adventures in language learning.

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  • MaryAnn

    So, does Rosetta Stone’s Latin instruction enable one to better understand the Latin Mass? Do they use classical or ecclesiatical pronounciation?

    • Rosetta Stone

      Hi Mary Ann, the Classical Latin dialect and a reconstructed Classical Latin accent are used in the Rosetta Stone Latin product. However, learning Classical Latin will still be useful to understand ecclesiastical Latin.

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