FR. SCHRADER — “How do I participate in Mass in the extraordinary form?”


Father Dylan Schrader, pastor of St. Brendan parish in Mexico, will offer Mass in the extraordinary form at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, in St. Peter Church, 216 Broadway St. in Jefferson City.

The Mass will be sung in Latin, using the ritual form of 1962.

All are welcome to take part in this celebration. Worship aids will be provided.

Fr. Schrader is Bishop W. Shawn McKnight’s delegate for Mass in the extraordinary form.

To help the diocese prepare for this celebration, Fr. Schrader has written a series of three articles on the extraordinary liturgical form.

The first, published in the Aug. 10 print edition of The Catholic Missourian and HERE, explained the harmony of the ordinary and extraordinary expressions of the Roman Liturgy.

The second, published Aug. 24 in print and HERE, familiarized readers with several aspects of Mass in the extraordinary form.

This installment offers guidance on how to participate actively in the Mass in the extraordinary form.


The Second Vatican Council stressed that “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 14).

The Council went on to explain that this participation is both internal and external.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explained this harmony between internal and external participation more fully in his letter on the Eucharist:

“Active participation in the Eucharistic Liturgy can hardly be expected if one approaches it superficially, without an examination of his or her life. This inner disposition can be fostered, for example, by recollection and silence for at least a few moments before the beginning of the Liturgy, by fasting and, when necessary, by sacramental confession. A heart reconciled to God makes genuine participation possible.

“The faithful need to be reminded that there can be no actuosa participatio (active participation) in the sacred mysteries without an accompanying effort to participate actively in the life of the Church as a whole, including a missionary commitment to bring Christ’s love into the life of society” (Sacramentum caritatis, n. 55).

All this applies no matter which form of the Mass we take part in, but it can be especially helpful when learning how to approach the extraordinary form for the first time, since the question that hits us right away is: “What am I supposed to do?”

It’s a good question. After all, much of the Mass is in Latin, some of the prayers are said silently, some of the chants are sung only by the choir and not by the congregation, and it can be hard to follow along if we’re not used to it.

So, how can we participate actively in the extraordinary form?

The first and most important thing is to recognize that we’re present at something bigger than ourselves, and that we’re not the ones who are the primary doers or agents in the Mass.

The Mass is first and foremost the action of Jesus Christ. It is something our Lord does, not just something we do.

The Liturgy remains beyond us, not of our own making, a reality that surrounds and elevates us.

Like the disciples invited up the mountain, who saw the Lord gloriously transfigured, we may be overwhelmed or struggle to understand.

The Liturgy remains always a “bright cloud” (Matthew 17:5), both luminous and mysterious. We must become like little children (Matthew 18:3) and try patiently to accept that not everything is within our grasp.

So, practically speaking, when we approach the extraordinary form, we should give ourselves permission to be caught up in the Mass. If it becomes too hard to follow along in the worship aid with every single word or gesture, there’s nothing wrong with choosing quiet prayer instead or just letting the experience wash over us.

We can always take the worship aid home to read and reflect on it a little at a time.

Next, we can always make an internal offering of our lives to God through Jesus Christ. No matter what form the Mass is celebrated in, it is Christ’s self-offering to the Father, and we are members of His Body.

Our baptism empowers us to offer our own lives as a sacrifice through Christ (Romans 12:1). So, we can bring all of our joys, hopes, fears and sorrows to the altar to be made holy in union with Jesus.

We can do this in our own hearts whenever we come to Mass.

Further, there are parts of the extraordinary form Mass that the congregation is invited to engage with externally. Some of these vary, based on local custom.

The faithful are generally invited to sing the Order of Mass (such as the “Gloria,” the Creed, and the “Sanctus” with the choir).

The congregation is also invited to make the responses to the priest (e.g., “Et cum spiritu tuo,” — “and with your spirit”), as they would in the ordinary form.

Moreover, the worship aids provide the translation of the readings and prayers as well as instructions about posture, which sometimes differs from the ordinary form.

When it comes time for Holy Communion, the same canon law about who may receive Communion applies as in the ordinary form, including the requirement of fasting for one hour prior (except for water and medicine).

In the extraordinary form, Communion is usually received kneeling (unless someone is unable to kneel) and on the tongue. The priest prays a short prayer (“May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ guard your soul for eternal life. Amen.”) for the communicant. The communicant does not say, “Amen,” as in the ordinary form.

While the experience of Mass in the extraordinary form may be different, even challenging, the Mass remains the same at its core — Christ’s self-offering to the Father, made present to us here and now.

All of our fully conscious and active participation is meant to help us live out that mystery more fully in our own lives, by greater union with God and greater service to our neighbor.