Guest post: Understanding When to Kneel, Sit, and Stand at the Traditional Latin Mass (revised 2nd edition)

Since the publication of the first edition of this essay online by California Latin Mass in 2013, and subsequent postings by other blogs such as the Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco, Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, and most recently Rorate-Caeli, readers have expressed to me not only their appreciation for what they’ve learned, but also to point out unintended typos and errors in the text and in the order of postures in the tables. I have corrected those typos and errors in this revised edition.

I have also added a new section discussing the posture at Orate Fratres, which I believe deserves more than just a passing mention and a footnote. The impetus for this was the change in the mandated posture at Orate Fratres in the Novus Ordo.

Up until 2010, the common posture for all Roman rite Catholics, whether assisting in the Novus Ordo or in the Traditional Latin Mass, was to remain seated while the priest says Orate, fratres, recite the response while seated, and then only rise afterwards. The English text of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Novus Ordo, of course), revised and approved for U.S. and Canadian dioceses in 2012, now instructs the faithful assisting in the Novus Ordo to rise for this prayer and recite the response standing. The word fratres could now also be properly rendered as “Brothers and sisters” in lieu of “brethren.” I would advise anyone inclined to think that this is just more evidence of the propensity in the Novus Ordo to innovate unnecessarily and that it has nothing to do with the Traditional Latin Mass to withhold your judgment and read section VI first. There is more to this than you think.

My advice to all those who want to effect changes in the order of postures in their communities is to talk to your priest about it. Getting him to read this essay in full (admittedly a challenging request) is a crucial first step towards understanding why you want those changes. If you can convince your priest and also persuade him to take the time to catechize the faithful on Mass postures, you will have greater chances of bringing about a change. Be forewarned, however, that you will be up against entrenched Latin Mass “old-timers” who cannot be persuaded to change for whatever reason and who somehow exercise a veto power over any deviation from the postures indicated in the red booklet. Given a choice between following what a mere layman wrote in an essay and avoiding a potentially serious division by just following what is clearly indicated in the ubiquitous red booklet, the decision is rather simple for the harried priest who has not read this essay or doesn’t have the time or energy to take on the task.

This is not a reason to be discouraged, however. There is so much ignorance even among folks who religiously follow the erroneous red booklet postures for Low and Sung Masses. I have witnessed many instances of people assuming the red booklet Low Mass postures for Sung Masses, even among long-time parishioners of a TLM-only personal parish who are used to following the red booklet distinctions in postures between Low and Sung Masses. This occasional confusion seems to be a common occurrence in many TLM communities (and hardly ever in the Novus Ordo).

These embarrassing lapses belie an ignorance that engenders an unhealthy herd mentality and retards the development of a proper understanding of the nature of the liturgy. If you’ve read this far into the essay, you’ve taken the first step to educating yourself and your friends and help tear down this seemingly invincible wall of liturgical illiteracy.

Finally, I want to thank all those readers who took the time to read my previously “short” essay and email me their pithy comments.[1] Please don’t forget to include the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem in your prayers, especially their founder, the Very Rev. Dom Daniel Oppenheimer, CRNJ, who for many years was the sole voice in the Latin Mass landscape to talk about a matter that affects everybody but about which nobody was talking.

Richard Friend

[1] Readers can email me at

Download PDF (2nd edition)

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