The Ultimate Simple Guide to Catholic Mass

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September 14, 2020 - 7:19am

The Ultimate Simple Guide to Catholic Mass

Praying at Mass: Ordinary or Extraordinary Form


New to the Traditional Latin Mass or Novus Ordo? This short and simple guide to Catholic Mass will give you an easy method of praying at Mass.


The sudden tap on my shoulder startled me and as I turned around to see who it was, I was blinded by the early morning sun.  After my eyes adjusted, I saw that it was a young lady who looked very nervous and out of place.


"Can I ask you a question?" She asked

"Of course." I said.

"I thought this was a regular Mass in English.  Do I have to wear a chapel veil?  I don’t want to do anything wrong."

I remember feeling the same exact way when I went to my first Traditional Latin Mass. 

Well, not about the chapel veil.

I had so many questions.
What were the altar boys doing? What's the difference between the left and right side of the altar? Can everyone tell I don't know when to kneel, stand, or sit?

We have all been there and I can tell you that you have nothing to worry about.

Bonus: Download a free Mass guide for both the Traditional Latin Mass or Ordinary Form. {Printable}

A Quick Rundown

If you have been away from the Catholic Church for a while or are new to either Mass in Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo) or are making the leap to attend the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass/TLM) it can be a little intimidating.  The Catholic Mass for beginners is easy and wonderful. If this describes you, I assure you that you have nothing to worry about.  I want to give you a couple of tips before you start perusing the Simple Guide to Catholic Mass. 

1. Arrive Early and Pray


It is really important to arrive early and pray before the Mass. When you arrive right on time or late, focusing becomes more difficult. 

Many times my prayer brefore Mass is, "Lord, please bless my family, help me grow closer to you, and did I leave the water bill on the hot stove before we left the house?"

Arriving at least 15 minutes early allows you some time to enter into a prayerful state where you can talk to God and prepare for Mass.

In general, a good way to structure your prayer is as follows:

  • Give praise and glory to God.
  • Read the Epistles and Gospel and reflect on them.
  • Think about the times you have fallen and ask for pardon and mercy for your sins.
  • Pray for yourself, the Church, your family, friends, and any other petitions
  • Give thanks to God for all of His blessings.

2. Attend with Attention, Reverence, and Devotion – Pray the Mass with the Priest.


If you are new to attending Mass in general or are starting to go to the Extraordinary Form/Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), the best method is to just watch, and take it in.  Don't worry about knowing or saying the responses.  Remember, the Mass is the source and summit of the Christian life.  Do not get intimidated or overwhelmed.  Just prayerfully reflect on what you see and hear, even if you do not understand everything.  Both forms of the Mass are more similar than some people let on.

If you have been attending Mass for a while, no matter the form, you will eventually have a good grasp on the order.   Whether you attend the Extraordinary Form, Ordinary Form, Ordinariate, or an Eastern Rite, you should be praying the Mass with the priest.

Eventually you will need to pick up a missal.  The missal, or missalette, is an in depth Guide to Catholic Mass. When you open the missal, start by finding the Mass date you are on, and read the Epistles and Gospel, reflecting on them.  Then, following along with the priest, slowly pray at Mass some of the prayers from The Ordinary (The parts of the Mass that do not change from day to day), you will be fully engaged in the worship of the Mass, even if you are unable to understand or know what part you are on at any given time.  It will be a challenge to keep up with any of the Masses if you are new.  Just be patient and it will come with time.


When there are responses, try to focus on what you are saying.  Do not just say them.  Pray them. 

3. Simple Guide to Catholic Mass - Traditional Latin Mass or Novus Ordo

Bonus: Download a free Mass guide for both the Traditional Latin Mass or Ordinary Form. {Printable}

Mateus Campos Felipe Wp4ibavl5pk Unsplash

I. The Mass of the Catechumens

Greeting/The Sign of the Cross

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form

Place yourself in the presence of God and silence your mind as Holy Mass begins.


II. Penitential Act/Confiteor

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form


Think About:  A certain sin or sins that you have been struggling with and admit in your heart to falling short. Ask for prayers and help.


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: Take away from us our iniquities, we beseech Thee, O Lord; that, being made pure in heart, we may be worthy to enter into the Holy of Holies. Amen


III. Kyrie Eleison

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form


Think About: How good and merciful our Lord Jesus Christ is for giving Himself to us through His crucifixion, despite our failings and constant turning away from Him. 


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: Lord, have mercy on us.


IV. Gloria in Excelsis

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form


Think About: The creator of the universe, who has every hair on our heads counted, loves us with an unfathomable depth.  He is the good king who came to earth and showed us how to live.  He has suffered as we suffer, and He has wept as we weep.  Our God knows what it is like to be us and He wants to take away our sins and to forgive us.  He is a true King.


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: Glory be to God on high.  We praise Thee. We bless Thee. We adore Thee. We glorify Thee. For Thou alone art holy. Thou alone, O Jesus Christ, together with the Holy Ghost, art the most high in the glory of God the Father.


V. Liturgy of the Word/The Collects, The Epistle, The Gradual, and The Gospel

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form


Think About: We are people of the Good News.  Our God loves us and proved it through His suffering on the cross.  Have a heart filled with joy as you hear the readings and the Gospel.  The way of trust and love is Good News.


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: Cleanse my heart and my ears, O almighty God, and in Thy loving kindness so to purify me that I may be enabled worthily to hear Thy holy Gospel. Glory be to Thee, O Lord.


Father James Cwkowgcxb2k Unsplash


VI. The Credo

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form


Think About: Do you believe everything in the Nicene Creed?  Then be joyful, have hope, trust, and don’t worry so much. 


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: For us men and for our salvation, He came down from Heaven.  He suffered and was buried. And the third day rose again…and will come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end.


VII. Liturgy of the Eucharist/The Mass of the Faithful

Prayers of the Faithful/The Offertory/The Orate Frates

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form


Think About: Pray for the souls of yourself, your family, your friends and the dead. Pray for the Church and any petitions you may have at this time.


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: We offer unto Thee O Lord, the chalice of salvation. May it ascend as sweet odor before Thy divine majesty, for our own salvation...May the Lord receive the sacrifice for the praise and glory of His name, for our welfare and that of all His Holy Church.


VIII. The Sanctus

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form


Think About: Our Lord Jesus Christ will be physically present soon, just like when he came to Jerusalem. 


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts.  Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.  Blessed is He who Cometh in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest.


IX. Eucharistic Prayer/The Canon of the Mass
The Consecration

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form


Think About: “On the cross our Blessed Lord was looking forward to you, hoping that one day you would be giving yourself to Him at the moment of Consecration.  Today in the Mass, that hope our Blessed Lord entertained for you is fulfilled.  When you assist at the Mass He expects you now actually to give Him yourself…He passed through His consecration on the Cross that we might now pass through ours in the Mass.” (Sheen, 43-44)


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: My Lord and My God.  (Christ is truly present)


Josh Applegate Akkrbn1khl4 Unsplash

X. The Our Father/The Pater Noster

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form

Think About: Our Lord, Jesus Christ, present in the Eucharist taught us how to pray.


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: Pray the Our Father and think about what you are saying.  He is your Father. His name is holy. Let His will be done, not yours. Ask Him to give you what you need today. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and give you the grace to overcome temptation.


XI. Lamb of God/Agnus Dei

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form


Think About: Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God fulfills the Old Testament by allowing Himself to be slain for the forgiveness of sins.  The power of true, pure, selfless, and courageous love is demonstrated by the fact that He rose again, and conquered the consequence of our sin, which is death.


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: Let not the partaking of Thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, all unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgment and condemnation; but through Thy loving kindness may it be a safeguard and remedy for my soul and body.


XII. The Communion

Ordinary Form/Extraordinary Form


Think About: During the crucifixion of our Lord he cried out, “I thirst.“

“Men may hunger for God, but God thirsts for men…He had already expressed it in the parable of the Lost Sheep, when He said He was not satisfied with the ninety-nine; only the lost sheep could give Him perfect joy…He comes to us, so that we cease to be men and begin to be children of God” (Sheen, 47-48, 52)


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: Into a pure heart, O Lord, may we receive the Heavenly food which has passed our lips; bestowed upon us in time, may it be the healing of our souls for eternity.

Mateus Campos Felipe 0jzptrrewce Unsplash


XIII. The Conclusion
The Last Gospel

Extraordinary Form only


Think About: The light of love and truth shines in the darkness of a fallen world. 


Short Meditation for Praying at Mass: Hail holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness, and our hope!   To thee do we cry poor banished children of Eve, to thee do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.  Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

That we made be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Bonus: Download a free Mass guide for both the Traditional Latin Mass or Ordinary Form. {Printable}

4. Prayer After Mass Concludes

It is encouraged that you pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the opportunity to be close to our Lord in the Holy Eucharist and for His grace to help you through the week.  You can also pray for anything else on your heart.


Download the "Guide to the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form Mass" Booklet


We hope this helps!  Let us know how your first TLM or Reverent Novus Ordo Mass goes!



Tony and Kendra




Prayers are excerpts from 1962 The New Roman Missal by Father Lasance

Sheen, Fulton J. Calvary and the Mass. Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, Ltd., 1996.



We are Tony and Kendra.

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