What Is a High Mass in the Catholic Church?

For Catholics, the Mass is celebrated at church each Sunday.

In Catholicism, the Mass is the traditional service worshipers attend. Masses are celebrated most often on Sundays, although churches can celebrate shorter Masses during the week. Churches also celebrate additional Masses on Catholic holidays. The Mass is composed of prayers, psalms and ceremonies in the language most common to the region where the Catholic Church is located.

1 Mass

In the Catholic Church, Mass is the main religion service. It celebrates the Sacrament of Eucharist, and is often referred to as the Eucharist. The Mass is composed of two parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Liturgy of the Word contains two Scripture readings, a Gospel reading, psalms and prayers. During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the priest prepares the altar and gifts, says the prayers of the Eucharist, breaks the bread and administers communion. After the Eucharist, he concludes Mass with psalms and prayers, according to the Believe Religious Information Source.

2 Types of Mass

There are two types of Mass in the Catholic Church, High Mass, Missa solemnis, and Low Mass, Missa privata. High Mass is longer and consists of more singing and of rituals such as the use of incens. During High Mass the priest, deacon and sub-deacon sing many prayers and psalms. In Low Mass, the priest speaks most of the prayers rather than singing them. In this Mass, only the priest and an altar server participate.

3 High Mass Significance

The High Mass is fancier and longer than a Low Mass. Most of the parts in a High Mass are sung, therefore everyone can participate. People celebrate High Mass on holidays such as Christmas or Easter, and on Sundays, when they can devote more time to worship. For everyday, the Low Mass is celebrated, in which one priest reads most of the parts. In the Low Mass, there is no singing, therefore there is less participation from the worshipers. It is a shorter, simpler Mass, which can be celebrated daily when people have less time.

4 Characteristics

During a High Mass, the priest and the worshipers recite some of the prayers, but the priest and chorus sing most of the parts. Often, organs accompany the singing parts of a High Mass. A High Mass lasts about an hour, but can be even longer, about one-and-a-half to two hours. The same rituals and prayers take place as during any other Mass, but the Mass is additionally beautified with chants, psalms and melodies, in which the whole church can participate.

Aleksandra Ozimek has been writing professionally since 2007 for a fashion blog, various online media and the "Queens Courier," in addition to interning at "Cosmopolitan" magazine. She completed her Bachelor of Science in journalism and photography from St. John's University, where she is completing her master's degree.