The Novus Ordo is the name given to the post-Vatican II Mass of the Roman Catholic Church. In actuality, all modern (post-Renaissance) liturgies can be called Missale Romanum, the Roman Missal. The structure of the Novus Ordo differs from the Tridentine Mass (see also: Tridentine Mass) in these respects:

The liturgy is predominately in the vernacular. Moreover, it is a simplified vernacular with very guarded use of polysyllabic words (read, above trisyllabic) and complex sentences. Contemporary pronoun use is observed for the most part (thy = your, etc.) Latin, the traditional Catholic liturgical language, is permitted but is generally not favored.

The priest faces the people at a altar, which is free standing. Prior to the reform of the Mass, the priest had his back to the people, facing an altar that resembled a ledge (i.e. it could not be walked around, and frequently was attached to a niche or wall.) The priest only turned away from the altar to face the people when the liturgy called for the priest to dialogue with the congregation.)

There are limited roles for laity (distribution of Communion/Eucharist, readings from the Bible during the Mass.)

The Tridentine Introit (opening verse) has been moved to the very beginning, during the procession of the priest and ministers. Previously, it was sandwiched between the closing Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Kyrie. The Introit is rarely said now, since any hymn can be substituted, frequently one unrelated to the Introit. Likewise, the Gradual has also been modified. A sequence from the Psalms previously recited only by the priest between the Epistle and Gospel, is recited by priest and congregation in a verse-response format. Note that the Gradual has not been moved from its original position. This new Gradual format is called the Responsorial Psalm.

The priest does not read the Bible readings in Latin first and then English. Masses said in Latin (in most cases) have English-only readings, though every word of the Mass can still be said in Latin, if the priest desires.

Priests now have a much greater choice of Eucharistic Prayers, previously known as the Canon. Priests are also permitted to improvise a bit during the Mass, a brief sermon in the beginning as well as in the middle may be interjected to "tie together" today's message.

Girls/women may serve as altar servers (previously called "altar boys")

The liturgies of some major holidays such as Holy Week, the solemn week before Easter, have been simplified and time-shifted for greater access.

Many have debated the relative merits of these reforms, as no clear standard for liturgy exists in Catholicism anymore. The reforms were designed to bring more creativity to the Mass, but now some Catholics yearn for more rules.

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