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Catholic Liturgics

First Year

General Liturgics
The Holy Sacrifice of the
The Novus Ordo Missæ
prepared from various sources
for the use of the First year
at the

Holy Cross Seminary,

Goulburn Australia

Introduction........................................................................................................... ............... 1
Liturgics as a Science............................................................................. .............................. 1
Division of Liturgics............................................................................................................. .. 1

Chapter One........................................................................................................ ................. 2

Survey of the History of Liturgics.................................................................. ........................ 2
Ancient Period 2
Beginning of Systematic Presentations.................................................... ............................. 2
Western Liturgy in the Early Middle Ages..................................................... ......................... 2
From the Time of St. Gregory VII to the End of the Middle Ages............................................. 2
Modern Period 3

Chapter Two......................................................................................................................... . 4
Catholic Liturgy in General.............................................................................................. ...... 4
Duty and Species of Divine Worship............................................................................ .......... 4

Chapter Three....................................................................................................................... 5
The Subject of Liturgy............................................................................................... ............ 5
The Priesthood of Jesus Christ................................................................................... ............ 5
The Church 6

Chapter Four....................................................................................................................... .. 7
The Nature of Liturgy............................................................................................... ............. 7
The application of the subject............................................................................... ................ 7
Mediation of Christ in Liturgical Texts.................................................................. .................. 8

Chapter Five.................................................................................................. ....................... 8

Purposes of Liturgy............................................................................................ ................... 8
Glorification of God.................................................................................................. ............. 8
Sanctification of Men................................................................................. .......................... 10

Chapter Six.................................................................................................................... ...... 10

The Manner the Liturgy................................................................................................... ..... 10
Symbolism 10
Liturgical Art 11
Liturgical Language................................................................................... .......................... 12
Reasons for the use of Latin......................................................................................... ........ 14
Ecclesiastical Chant and Music......................................................................................... .... 14
Musical Accompaniment.................................................................................. .................... 16
Action as a Liturgical Expression.......................................................................... ................ 17

Section II................................................................................................ ............................. 20

The Liturgy of the Mass or the

Sacrifice of the Church.................................................................................... .......................... 20

Chapter Seven........................................................................................................... .......... 20

The Concept of Sacrifice................................................................................ ...................... 20

Chapter Eight........................................................................................ .............................. 21

The Sacrifice of the Cross
and the Institution of the Holy Eucharist..................................................................... ............... 21
The Sacrifice of the Cross.................................................................... ................................ 21
The Institution of the Holy Eucharist....................................................... ............................. 21

Chapter Nine............................................................................................. .......................... 22

Mass in the First Three Centuries................................................................. ........................ 22
Apostolic Age 22
Later Development................................................................................................ .............. 22

Chapter Ten..................................................................................................... .................... 24

The Roman Mass from the Fourth to the Seventh Century............................................... ..... 24

Chapter Eleven..................................................................................................... ............... 25

The Roman Mass from the Seventh Century to 1962..................................................... ....... 25
The Leonine Sacramentary............................................................................ ...................... 25
The Gelasian Sacramentary.................................................................................. ............... 25
The Gregorian Sacramentary............................................................................... ................ 26
Development of the Missal................................................................................................. .. 26
Roman Missal 26

Chapter Twelve..................................................................................................... ............... 27

Names and Species of the Mass.................................................................................... ....... 27
Sacrificial Character....................................................................................................... ...... 27
Mode of Operation............................................................................................... ................ 28

Chapter Thirteen.................................................................................. ............................... 29

Preparation of the Celebrant for Mass............................................................... ................... 29
Preparation for the Valid and Licit Celebration of Mass....................................... .................. 29
Preparation for the Worthy celebration of Mass....................................................... ............. 30

Chapter Fourteen............................................................................................................. .... 31

The Parts of the Mass....................................................................................................... .... 31
Beginning of the Mass......................................................................... ................................ 31
Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.................................................................. .......................... 32
Incensation 33
The Introit 33
Kyrie eleison 33
Gloria 33
The Greeting 34
Oration 34
Scriptural Lessons and Intervening Chants....................................................................... .... 34
The Epistle. 35
The Gradual 35
The Alleluiatic verse........................................................................................................... .. 35
The Tract 35
The Sequences................................................................................................. ................... 36
The Gospel 36
Credo 37
The Offertory 38
Incensation and Washing of the Hands................................................................................ . 39
Expression of the Purpose of the Sacrifice.................................................................... ........ 39
Secret 40
The Consecration.......................................................................................................... ....... 40
Preface 40
Sanctus 40
Canon 41
Te igitur 41
Memento 41
Communicantes.................................................................................................................. . 41
Hanc igitur 42
Quam oblationem................................................................................................. ............... 42
Qui pridie 42
Elevation 43
Conclusion of the Canon.................................................................................. .................... 44
The Communion........................................................................................... ....................... 44
Agnus Dei 45
Reception of Holy Communion............................................................................... .............. 45
Communion Chant and Postcommunion.............................................................................. . 46
The Postcommunion................................................................................... ......................... 46
Conclusion of the Mass................................................................................. ....................... 46
Last Gospel 47
Thanksgiving of the Celebrant.................................................................... ......................... 47

Section III............................................................................................................................. 48

A Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missæ.................................................. .......................... 48

Chapter Fifteen.................................................................................................... ................ 48

An Historical Preponderation........................................................................................ ........ 48
The Liturgical Movement...................................................................................................... 48
The C.P.L. or Centre de Pastoral Liturgique.......................................................... ................. 49
Who was Father Annibale Bugnini?...................................................................................... . 50

Chapter Sixteen.......................................................................................................... ......... 51

Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Missæ................................................................... ................ 51
The document: Sacrosanctum Concilium (a few extracts):................................................... 51
What did the Liberals think of this document?................................................................... ... 52
Why was the Novus Ordo Missae Instituted?....................................................... ................. 52

Chapter Seventeen.................................................................................................. ............ 54

A Critical study of the Novus Missæ in Specie............................................... ....................... 54
The Mass, Sacrifice or Supper........................................................................... ................... 54
The Purpose of the Mass........................................................................................ .............. 54

The Whole Purpose of the Sacrifice........................................................................................ .... 55

The realisation of the Sacrifice............................................................................... .............. 57
The New Canons........................................................................................................ .......... 59
The Borrowing from eastern Rites?......................................................... ............................. 59
Reasons of Unity........................................................................................ .......................... 59

Chapter Eighteen............................................................................................ .......................... 60

A Look at the Change in Orations................................................................................ ......... 60
Catholic Liturgics

Liturgics as a Science
Division of Liturgics

Liturgics, or the science of liturgy, is the systematically arranged and scientifically substanti-
ated presentation of that activity of the Church known as liturgy. Liturgy, however, as will be
explained later, is according to its internal nature nothing else than the continuation of the
priesthood of Jesus Christ. It receives its external character from the official rites which are
regulated by the laws of the Church.
As a descriptive science liturgics must not content itself with an explanation of religious rites
according to their structure and historical development. It must seek also to establish the
meaning and import of each act of worship in its relation to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. As a
positive science, liturgics, like all theological sciences, recognises as primary sources Sacred
Scripture, tradition and the teaching office of the Church; as secondary sources, the history of
religion, experience and reason.
The name liturgics (scientia, theologia liturgica) has come into use in modern times. In the
latter half of the sixteenth century the writings of George Cassander († 1566) and James Pamelius
(† 1587) prepared the way for its use. But it was not until the Benedictine Martin Gerbert, later
Prince Abbot of St. Blaise in the Black Forest († 1793), had published his work Principia theologiae
liturgicae (1759), that the term received general acceptance. Soon afterward, the name was
given to the corresponding branch of theology - at that time a part of pastoral theology, which
had just become independent. It is the purpose of the latter to present the entire activity of the
Church, by which she perpetuates the threefold office of Jesus Christ: the teaching office of the
Church is treated in catechetics and homiletics, the pastoral office in pastoral theology in the
strict sense, and the priestly office in liturgics and subsidiary branches.
As subsidiary branches liturgical history and the science of rubrics have done good service.
Through numerous monographs the former contributed toward the scientific upbuilding of li-
turgics; the latter directly aids the ministry in a practical manner, inasmuch as it leads to the
correct execution of all religious rites by means of the so-called rubrics. The rubrics are brief
regulations originally written in red (rubrica) in liturgical books. Already by the 1930s frequent
attempts were made to separate the practical element from the science of liturgy and to give the
latter an independent position. The presentation of that which pertains to the pastoral office in
liturgical acts was called "pastoral liturgics". Great dangers lie in this. The Liturgy, as we will
show, pertains firstly and foremostly to divine adoration. Reducing it to a merely pastoral tool
will, and did, cause it to become man-centred and loose its reason of being.
Since preaching is the most important element of divine service among Protestants, they give
the first place among the subjects of practical theology to homiletics. Their liturgics deals merely
with the purely formal "elements of the Christian cult" which still remain, in so far as they "are
determined by and for the worshiping community." cƒ. G. Rietschel, Lehrbuch der Liturgik I
(Berlin, 1900).
Liturgy embraces the entire public worship of the Church, her service of prayer, sacrifice and
sacraments. Naturally this worship finds expression in sacred rites that have a relation to place
and time.
We will divide our studies in the next three years as follows:

Liturgy I: a. The Principles of Catholic liturgy.

b. The liturgy of the Mass or the sacrifice of the Church.
c. The problems and errors of the Novus Ordo Missae.
Liturgy II: a. Liturgical prayer or Breviary of the Church.
b. Liturgical time and seasons.
Liturgy III: The Ritual or liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals.

This order is most in keeping with the practical needs of candidates for the priesthood in
today's modern world. Before minor orders, they require a knowledge of liturgy in general and an
Catholic Liturgics
overview of the Mass and the evilness of the Novus ordo Missae. This is of capital importance
because of the present crises in the Church. After this they must be instructed in the liturgy of
the Divine Office, the official prayer of the Church. After this they need to see the liturgy of the
sacraments and sacramentals. Besides, the particular parts of liturgy are so closely connected
that there are certain things which liturgics can present only in their organic relation to one
another; otherwise it would have to anticipate what is essential or engage in needless repetition.
For instance, though the Mass prayers properly belong to the prayer of the Church, they are
better treated together with the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Chapter One
Survey of the History of Liturgics

Ancient Period. Because of the great persecutions, the first four centuries of the Christian
era offer no systematic treatment of all the elements of divine service. Still there are not wanting
occasional remarks of great value on particular liturgical practices, such as are found in the
Didache, in the first epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, in the first Apology of the
martyr and philosopher St. Justin, and in the works of the apologist Tertullian and of St. Cyprian,
Bishop of Carthage. Valuable testimony concerning the ancient liturgy is also preserved in the so-
called Church Ordinances, which are in great measure ascribed to the Apostles or even to Christ
Himself. Such is the writing formerly called the Egyptian Church Ordinance, and now regarded as
identical with the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolyte of Rome; such also are the so-called
Apostolic Constitutions and the Syriac Testament of the Lord. Of very great value also is the diary
of the Western pilgrim Etheria concerning the religious practices in vogue in the Holy Land
toward the end of the fourth century
Beginning of Systematic Presentations. At about the end of the fourth century, a
systematic presentation of liturgy had its rise, though at first it served merely practical purposes.
It was the purpose of the catechumenate to teach the neophytes the sacraments and the
Sacrifice of the Mass. Such catechetical discourses of St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem († 386, PGr,
33, 1065-1128), and of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan († 397, PL, 16, 389-410), have been
preserved to posterity. Soon afterward liturgy rose to a certain degree of perfection at the
imperial court of Byzantium. This fact led the ecclesiastical writers of the Orient to describe the
entire liturgical service in a systematic manner for the other faithful as well as for the newly
converted. Since the allegorical method of interpreting Scripture was so much in vogue at the
time, it is not strange that the allegorico-mystical interpretations should also have been preferred
in the explanation of the liturgy. Thus, for instance, about the year 500 the Pseudo-Areopagite
Dionysius conceived the priestly office of the Church on earth as imitating the worship of the
heavenly choirs and as having for its purpose the union of man with God (PGr, 3, 121-584). He
was followed by St. Sophronius of Jerusalem († 638), St. Maximus Confessor († 663, PGr, 91, 658)
and Nicholas Bulgaris († 1718), St. Germanus of Constantinople († 740), St. Theodore of Studium
(† 826) and many others. In the Church of Syria the great attention given to worship also
occasioned a series of commentaries of an allegorical nature; such are, among the West Syrians,
the works of James of Edessa († 708) and Dionysius bar Salibi († 1171), and among the East
Syrians, those of Narsai († 506) and Ps.-Georgius of Arbela (tenth century). The allegorico-
mystical method prevailed in the Orient down to Modern times and even rose to a certain
prominence there through Nicholas Kabasilas († 1371), Symeon of Tessalonica († 1429) and
Nicholas Bulgaris († 1684?).
Western Liturgy in the Early Middle Ages. Allegorico-mystical explanations also arose in
the West, but in the beginning at least they kept within moderate bounds. Thus Ps.-Germanus of
Paris († after 576, PL, 72, 89 s.) wrote a short and simple exposition of the Gailican liturgy.
Similarly, it is the intention of St. Isidore of Seville († 636, PL, 83, 737 ss.) in his two books De
ecclesiasticis officiis to give an explanation of liturgy in general, and Spanish liturgy in particular,
as a help in the necessary instruction of the clergy; his explanation is for the most part historical.
Both still adhere to the traditional explanations. A different course, however, is followed by
Amalarius of Metz († about 850). In his four books De ecclesiasticis officiis, which he presented to
the Emperor Louis the Pious in 823, he gives a free allegorical interpretation of the principal
elements of the liturgy; in the dedication of his work to the emperor he states that he did not
follow previous authors, but wrote down his own thoughts. He makes his own the words of St.
Paul: "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit" (I Cor. 12; 7). Being asked
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at the Synod of Quierzy in regard to the authorities to which he could appeal, he answered that
"he had read everything in his own mind." His many arbitrary explanations were vehemently
attacked for a time, for instance, by the deacon Florus in his writing De divina psalmodia (PL,
104, 335 ss.) and by Bishop Agobard of Lyons in two characteristic treatises (PL, 104 and 119, 71
ss.). Among later liturgists, however, they met with approval and were imitated. From about the
same time two other important works have been preserved: one is a short treatise on liturgical
matters, composed by Rabanus Maurus, lector at the monastic school in Fulda and later Arch-
bishop of Mayence († 856); the other is a history of liturgical practices, written by Walafrid Strabo,
Abbot of Reichenau († 849), and entitled: De exordiis et incrementis quarundam in
observationibus ecclesiasticis rerum (PL, 114, 919 ss.). The latter is a totally independent and
very remarkable work for that period.
From the Time of St. Gregory VII to the End of the Middle Ages. The pontificate of St.
Gregory VII (1073-1085) was very important for the liturgy of the West. Before this time German
influence was exerted upon the liturgy of Italy, but now efforts were made to rid the Church of it.
Pope Gregory VII turned against the distortions of the ancient Roman liturgy by the Germans. The
Pope thought that they had unduly shortened the venerable night Office, and had likewise made
unwarranted additions. He eliminated the supposed additions and abridgements, and urged the
acceptance of his reforms throughout Italy, France and Spain. Soon afterward a German, very
probably the Benedictine Bernold of Constance († 1100), wrote a short but excellent and very
influential work, the Micrologus, entirely along the lines of Gregory's efforts at reform. In this
work he advocated the closest possible adherence to the Roman rite and also the acceptance of
the Gregorian reforms in Germany.
The great Scholastics dealt with liturgical questions principally from the viewpoint of the
dogmatic foundation of divine worship; thus, for instance, Alexander of Hates († 1245) and St.
Thomas of Aquin († 1274). In comparison with his contemporaries, St. Albert the Great († 1280) is
very moderate in the use of allegorical interpretations; in his Opus de mysterio Missae he states
that he prefers to leave these things to others who understand them better ("alia sublimia
melioribus linquendo"). Among the advocates of the allegorical and moralising method of
explaining the liturgy were the Abbot Rupert of Deutz († 1135), the Parisian professor of theology
John Beleth (wrote about 1160), Bishop Sicard of Cremona († 1215), Cardinal Hugh of St. Cher (†
1263), the erstwhile professor of jurisprudence at Bologna and Bishop of Mende, William
Durandus († 1296). The work of the last mentioned, Rationale divinorum officiorum, contains al-
most all the symbolic-mystical significations of the liturgy and in this respect is still of value. It
was of much greater value in his own day, for the reason that it provided the numerous canons of
the time with the most varied incentives to a devout execution of the Canonical Hours. Numerous
editions of this work have appeared since the invention of the art of printing.
Besides the aforementioned work of Albert the Great, the treatise of Pope Innocent III, De
altaris mysterio (PL, 217, 763 ss.), the Expositio Missae of the renowned Carthusian, Denis Ryckel
(† 1471), and an exposition of the prayers of the Canon by the professor of Tuebingen, Gabriel
Biel († 1495), contributed to a better understanding of the Mass. It was still during the pontificate
of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) that the Office "according to the custom of the Roman Curia"
was adopted by the newly founded Franciscan Order, and was diffused throughout the Church.
This circumstance resulted in the temporary revival of Gregorian chant. But in the late middle
ages the ancient Roman practices again gave way more and more to new customs. Ralph of
Tongres († 1403), the last important liturgist of the middle ages, particularly warned against this
tendency, but it was all in vain (De canonum observantia, ed. K. Mohlberg, Muenster, 1915).
Modern Period. Attacks by Luther and Zwingli on the apostolic origin of Catholic worship
were the occasion of a revival of liturgical studies from new points of view. The expansion of the
art of printing, Humanism, and later the general zeal for Church reform which was aroused by the
Council of Trent, likewise exerted a favorable influence.
Special chapters of the new catechisms were devoted to liturgy, and an exposition of the
Sacrifice of the Mass (Rational teutsch ueber das Amt der heiligen Mess) was published in 1535
by Bishop Berthold of Chiemsee (†1542). The publication of the translation of some liturgical
texts from the Latin also had for their purpose to increase the interest of the faithful in the
Sacrifice of the Mass.
In opposition to the attacks of the Protestants, scientific research rightly followed the
historical path and acquired new weapons by the collection and republication of the most ancient
liturgical documents. Though the first attempts were still imperfect and frequently brought forth
untrustworthy material, more recent times witnessed the production of important and often truly
monumental works. Of this nature are the liturgical collections of Melchior Hittorp of Cologne,
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Edmond Martene of the Benedictine Congregation of St. Maurus, the erudite librarian Louis
Muratori, Cardinal Thomasius and Abbot Gerbert of St. Blaise; the editions of Oriental liturgies by
the Dominican Goar, the Orientalist Renaudot and J. S. and J. A. Assemani; the commentaries on
liturgical books by Gavanti, Quarti, Catalani and Cardinal Bona; finally, the critical presentations
or researches of de Vert, Lebrun, Georgi, Zaccaria and Krazer. Though rationalism for a time
diverted the attention of liturgists to the didactic element of Christian worship, the historical
element was far from being forgotten, thanks to the rise of historical studies at the beginning of
the nineteenth century. For instance, the important work of Father Binterim, Die vorzueglichsten
Denkwuerdigkeiten der christkatholischen Kirche (17 vols., Mainz, 1825-41), contains abundant
material of an archeological nature.
Liturgical studies were popularised in the nineteenth century in no small degree by such
works as Gueranger's L'annee liturgique (twenty-sixth edition, Tours, 1919; English translation,
15 vols.) This Benedictine Abbot of Solesmes (1875), likewise aroused interest in the scientific
research of liturgy.

Chapter Two
Catholic Liturgy in General

Duty and Species of Divine Worship

Duty of Divine Worship. Everyone who has come to the knowledge of God realises that the
Creator is the ultimate reason for the existence of all creatures, and that He must be glorified by
all in some manner. Irrational creatures attain this purpose by the very fact that they are in the
world in accordance with the will of God, and develop their natural powers; they thereby reflect
the power and the greatness of God and contribute their share toward His glory, in the manner
that is proper to them.
The case is different with rational and free creatures. As the noblest creature on earth, man
has, according to his nature and the intention of the Creator, the (natural) duty to direct to the
glory of God not only the powers of his body, but also the faculties of his soul. He does this, in the
first place, by mediately referring to God all the activities that primarily serve his own welfare or
that of his fellow-men; then also, by exercising these in conscious subordination to the will of
God, or by offering them up for the glory of God by a so-called good intention. But this is not all.
He must also glorify God directly by special acts and, since he is by nature a social being, he
must unite himself with others in performing acts of immediate divine worship. Furthermore, on
account of the serious defection of man from God, and his redemption through the divine mercy
and goodness, the obligation of giving immediate and public worship to God has become much
more urgent. It is clearly defined in the revelation of both the Old and the New Testament. It is
sufficient to recall here the first three of the Ten Commandments of God, the perfectly developed
Jewish cult which was prescribed by God Himself, the warnings of the Psalmist (cƒ. Ps. 21; 23 _.)
and of the prophets (e.g. Is. 66; 21 _.), the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Apostles (Matt. 6; 5 _.
: 7; 7 _. : Rom. 1; 21).
It is a serious error, therefore, to reject such divine worship. Kant and David Hume refused to
recognise the special worship of God as obligatory. Recent Theosophists have thought that they
could substitute devout intuition or emotion. Modernists must logically deny the duty of
worshiping God on account of their denial of the existence of a true and objective God.
Species of Divine Worship. Divine worship is that cult which directly and by its very nature
seeks the glorification of God and directly dedicates our faculties to God, for instance, the words
of a prayer or the symbolical acts of a sacrifice. Cult (from colere sc. Deum) signifies the act of
religion, through which man recognises God as his sovereign Lord, gives Him due honour and
seeks to become pleasing to Him. Every man must come to understand that he is dependent on
God. From the understanding of this dependence arise acts of adoration, praise, thanksgiving,
petition and atonement. The goal of all acts of worship is to approach nearer to God and to be
united more intimately with Him. In as much as man by acts of worship dedicates himself and his
faculties to God, he honours God as his Creator, gives homage to Him and at the same time
draws upon himself divine favour and grace.
The continual effort to serve God by special acts of worship constitutes the virtue of religion
Catholic Liturgics
(virtus religionis) in the strict sense.
Acts of worship must above all be internal, that is, they must spring from knowledge and free
will. Only as human acts (actus humani) are they of any meritorious value before God. This truth
is repeatedly expressed in the Old Testament through the prophets (cƒ. 1 Kings 15; 22 : Is. 58; 6),
but especially in the New Testament through Christ and the Apostles (cƒ. John 4; 23 : Matt. 15; 7
If these acts are to correspond still more perfectly with the mind of the Creator, and the
obligation of man, who is composed of body and soul, they must also be external. The Son of
God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, has made the divine will clear in this regard. He Himself appeared
on earth in human flesh, not as a pure spirit, and offered up to His heavenly Father an external
and visible sacrifice for the redemption of mankind; furthermore, He instituted a visible Church
and visible means of sanctification.
External cult is nothing but a natural unfolding or perfecting of internal worship. The latter is
intensified by reason of its natural connection with the former (cƒ. St. Thom. IIa IIae, q.81, art.7).
External cult, therefore, in no wise restrains or debases internal worship; it rather reacts upon the
soul in a manner that is at once enlivening, stimulating and strengthening.
Finally, the cult which most perfectly corresponds with the duty of man is public worship; in
other words, it must unite worshipers in common and public expressions of divine worship. This is
not only based on human nature, which requires the united action of society in all important
matters, but is likewise shown by Christ Himself to express the will of God. Indeed, it was
particularly for the purpose of giving public worship to God that Christ founded the Church and
entrusted to it the continuance of His priesthood. Every public worship presupposes three things:
a particular place for carrying out the liturgy, the appointment of certain times for divine service
and the designation of an official mediator, of a priest. In regard to the last, our Lord Himself
assumed the office of representing His Church and, as the mediator of all the faithful of the entire
world, exercised His priesthood upon the cross. But since His ascension into heaven, He permits
His priesthood to be continued by human beings, to whom He has communicated a certain
resemblance with Himself. These are also priests, and they act in the name of Christ as His
vicars. (cƒ. Conc. Trid. sess. XXII c.1 s.; St. Thom. IIa IIae q 81, 100, 180-189; likewise J. M.
Hanssens, S.J., De Natura liturgiae ad mentem S. Thomae (Periodica de re morale, canonica,
liturgica, XXIV, 127 _.))

Chapter Three
The Subject of Liturgy

The Priesthood of Jesus Christ, the primary subject of liturgy. The Jews of the Old
Testament had a public worship at which priests officiated; these were recognised, and even
appointed, as in the case of Aaron and his sons, by God Himself. But all divine worship of the Old
Law, even that performed by the kings and patriarchs, was of value only by reason of its relation
to the future Saviour (Hebr. 10). The priest who by nature was pleasing and acceptable to God
could be no other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God, after He had assumed human nature in the
fullness of time. To Him naturally belong the vocation and the authority to represent mankind as
principal Mediator before God, to give due homage to God and thereby to reconcile God with
mankind and apply supernatural graces to men. Christ in human form did not merely bestow di-
vine favours upon individuals on various occasions during His early life, nor did He merely offer to
God for Himself and others acts of homage by prayers and works of love. He was a true priest
and exercised His office by priestly acts. By a vicarious act of homage, the Sacrifice of the Cross,
Christ voluntarily offered to God for all mankind His own flesh and blood and His very life. Thus
He brought redemption in an objective sense to the entire world. Jesus Christ is, therefore, called
a Priest in Sacred Scripture; "a Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech" (Hebr. 5; 6),
and the High priest Who gave up His life "that He might be a propitiation for the sins of the
people" (Hebr. 2; 17). He Himself declared: "The Son of Man is not come to be ministered unto,
but to minister and to give His life a redemption for many" (Matt. 20; 28); and: "Therefore doth
the Father love Me, because I lay down My life .... No man taketh it away from Me, but I lay it
down of Myself" (John 10; 17 f.). St. Paul, however, admonishes us: "Walk in love, as Christ also
hath loved us and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of
sweetness" (Eph. 5; 2).
Since perfect worship, as stated above, must be both internal and external, the priestly
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function of Jesus Christ does not merely consist in the internal act of freely submitting His will and
giving obedience to His heavenly Father, however important and meritorious this act really is
(Hebr. 10). Essentially connected with it is the Passion of the God-man on the cross. This external
act of supreme love, was determined by the will of God, by the "commandment" which Christ
"received of the Father" (John 10; 18).
The Priesthood of Christ in His Church. The redemption is concluded as a historical event
and an objectively meritorious act. Christ "dieth now no more" (Rom. 6; 9), as St. Paul says, and
still, according to the words of the same Apostle, He "hath an everlasting priesthood, whereby He
is able also to save forever them that come to God by Him" (Hebr. 7; 24 f.). For the subjective
application of the merits of the redemption He arranged that His priesthood be continued by per-
sons whom He specially calls to intercede for the faithful. These persons, who have acquired a
certain resemblance with Christ by definite consecratory acts, are empowered to offer to God
anew and repeatedly and in a sacramental manner, as a pleasing sacrifice, the substance of
Christ's human nature, His body and blood, and in truth the very Sacrifice of Christ upon the
cross. He has, therefore, not only redeemed all men in an objective manner, but as High priest
He also applies the fruits of His redemption through the instrumentality of human ministers;
furthermore, He stands out as the principal minister of all official worship in His Church, the only
cult that is of any value.
Jesus Christ in His human nature is, accordingly, the primary subject of that worship which we
call liturgy, not indeed in His natural condition, as on Calvary, but in a sacramental state, as in
the cenacle of Jerusalem, where He anticipated the Sacrifice of the Cross in an unbloody manner.
Thus He cooperates as High priest in every Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated in His Church, in
order to apply to all generations the fruits of the Sacrifice of the Cross. St. Thomas (S.Th.III q.83,
art.1 ad 2 et 3) says that, as human priests bear in themselves the sacramental image of Christ,
they also pronounce the words of consecration "in the person and by the power of Christ" - "And
thus in a certain respect the priest and victim are identical." And the Council of Trent (sess. XXII
c.2) declares: "It is one and the same victim (that is, Christ in the Sacrifice of the Mass), the same
Who now offers Himself through the ministry of priests, but then offered Himself on the cross, for
only the manner of offering is different." Similarly it is Christ Who "baptises" (1 Cor. 1 and 3; 5 :
Eph. 5; 26) and administers the other sacraments through the instrumentality of human priests
(Catech. Roman.11; 1,23); furthermore, He offers to His heavenly Father in union with His
redeeming sacrifice all the prayers and sacrifices of His Church (Hebr. 7; 24 ƒ. : 9; 24 : 1 John 2; 1
: Rom. 8; 34 : Apoc. 5).
It is important to note that this priestly activity of Christ in the Church on earth is not merely
to be regarded as a continuous and eternal act, which was performed but once by the glorified
Christ. It is rather a sacramental act continually renewing the act of redemption. In performing it,
the eternal High priest does not merely act through representatives (remote agens), like a rich
man who distributes alms through his servants; but He Himself (actu et proxime agens)
determines the essential action which both honours God and sanctifies men. As the true "Minister
of all the faithful" (Hebr. 8; 2). He is active, as it were, in the midst of the Church and is therefore
rightly styled the principal priest or the primary subject of liturgy.
The Church, the secondary subject of liturgy. She is the Mystical body, having as her
members all those for whose salvation Christ assumed the priesthood. At Baptism, through
sanctifying grace, which confers upon the soul a permanent, supernatural habitus or state, and
through the increase or restoration of sanctifying grace at the reception of the other sacraments,
He unites most intimately with Himself the individual members of the Church. It is this mystical
union of the soul of the Christian with Christ by grace which is meant in the Gospel of St. John,
when the Lord admonishes His disciples to remain always united with Him, as the branches must
remain joined to the vine if they are to bear fruit (John 15, 4). It is the basis of the doctrine of the
Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. The members of the Church are called by St. Paul
members of Christ's Body: Christ is their "Head," He is the "corner-stone" upon which they are to
be framed together in the Holy Ghost and grow up with Christ "into a holy temple of God" (Eph.
1; 22 : 2; 5 f. : 2; 21 f. : 4; 11 & 16). According to the Apostle, Christ is "the Head of the body of
the Church"; "it hath well pleased the Father ... through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself,
... both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in heaven" (Col. 1; 19 ƒ. : Rom.
12; 5). The members of the Church "are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3; 8), Who "is able to save
forever them that come to God by Him" ' (Hebr. 7; 25). "As in Adam [that is, in consequence of
natural generation from Adam who sinned) all die, so also in Christ [that is, through the
supernatural, mystical union with Him all shall be made alive" (1 Cor. 12; 22 : cƒ. 12, 12 ƒ.). In
line with this idea, St. Augustine addresses the faithful in these words: "Be ye filled with
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admiration: rejoice. We are of Christ. For if He is the Head, we are the members.... What is the
Head and the members? Christ and the Church" (Tract. 21 in Joann. 8).
All Christians who are mystically united with Christ through sanctifying grace, resemble Him
by reason of the baptismal character and are already in a certain respect images of Christ.
Hence, every Christian can and should in a certain manner participate in the liturgy. The prayers
of the Church mention them as attendants ("circumstantes") at the sacrifice, but also as
cooperators in offering it (cƒ. "Offerimus" and "suscipiamur a te," at the Offertory of the Mass;
"Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostrae sed et cunctae familiae tuae .... Unde et memores,
Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta" in the Canon of the Mass), and urge them through
the Oremus to join in prayer, and through the Amen to affirm and corroborate the liturgical acts.
Moreover, the laws of the Church assign to inferior clerics certain duties about the altar, and
frequently requires lay members of religious societies to recite the Divine Office.
Christ, however, also instituted in His Church a special priesthood, which resembles His own
by reason of the indelible character conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders (ordination of
deacons, priests and bishops). To this special priesthood are entrusted the most important
liturgical acts, especially the celebration of Holy Mass. It belongs to the Church to regulate the
manner of carrying out these acts. Those persons, however, who possess priestly power by
reason of ordination, perform the essential acts of the liturgy in the name of Christ, with Whom
they are intimately united, and in the name of the Church, which has commissioned them for this
purpose. The non-essential acts, that is, the numerous ceremonies which accompany the
essential acts, were later added by the Church in virtue of a divinely constituted authority. They
are performed only in the name of the Church, by priests who are mystically united with Christ
and resemble Him on account of the character of Holy Orders. The teaching of the Church
regards the priests as instrumental causes, not as material instruments in the hands of Christ or
of the Church, but as intellectual and free agents carrying out the externals of the liturgy
according to the will of Christ and of the Church, just as the Sacrifice of Christ on the cross had its
external element, so also for the continuance of the priesthood of Christ on earth an external
element, perceptible to the senses, is required. This is provided by the human priests as
instruments of Christ and of the Church. This is particularly their, function, their ministry, their
priestly office.
Testimony of Tradition. St. Augustine writes of Christ's priesthood in the Church: "One and
the same Saviour prays for us and prays in us.... He prays for us as our Priest, He prays in us as
our Head" (Enarr. in Ps. 85). Elsewhere he states: "It is He (Christ) Who baptises, nor has He, as
Petilian says, ceased to baptise, but He still does this, not through the ministry of His corporeal
nature, but by an invisible act of authority" (Contra litt. Pet. 3; 49, 59). In ancient and modern
liturgical texts there are frequent references to the priesthood of Christ. Thus on ordinary
Sundays after the Sanctus, according to the Missale Gothicum (Thomasius 386), the celebrant of
the ancient Gallican Mass continued: "Truly holy and blessed is our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son,
Who came from heaven that He might live on earth, became man that He might dwell among us,
and became a victim that He might make us priests." The Preface for the Tuesday after Easter
contains the following: "... through Christ our Lord, Who abolished the sacrifice of carnal victims,
and appeared as Priest and sacred Lamb in offering Himself for our salvation... ." The hymn Ad
regias Agni dapes, dating from the sixth century and recited at Vespers and Matins during Easter-
tide, is especially significant in this connection; the second stanza represents Him as personified
love sacrificing His body and giving His sacred blood to drink in the Eucharist, while the eleventh
refers to Him as the eternal Shepherd cleansing His flock from sin in the water of Baptism.
Catholic Liturgics

Chapter Four
The Nature of Liturgy

The application of the subject. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to
Myself" (John 12; 32). By these words, according to the explanation given in Sacred Scripture
(John 12; 33), Christ indicated the character of His death. But according to Pope Leo the Great
these words imply much more. They express the fact that the cult of the New Testament is visible
and perfect (Plenum et apertum sacramentum), in contradistinction to the obscure and typical
cult of the Old Law; that it unites the faithful of all the nations of the world and leads them to
heavenly glory by admitting them to a share in the great work of redemption, the bloody
Sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Serm 8, 12, 32). It has already been pointed out that the Christian cult or
liturgy is nothing else than a most extensive application of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. This
priesthood is the same which Christ exercised in shedding His blood upon the cross and
continues according to fixed rites through human representatives, the priests of His Church, for
the glory of God and the salvation of the faithful united with Christ. We may therefore, define
liturgy as:

The public worship of the Church, through which the priesthood of Jesus Christ is
continued, the work of redemption is renewed, the greatest glory is given to
God through Christ, and the grace of redemption is communicated to the
faithful who unite themselves with Christ.

Etymologically liturgy signifies either a duty or a service for the welfare of the community,
that is, a service in the interest of the public. In the Septuagint the word is already used for the
sacrifices of the Jewish cult (cƒ. Exod. 28; 39; 29 : 30; 39, 13 : Joel 1; 3 : 1 Par. 23; 28); in the New
Testament for the priestly activity of Jesus Christ (Hebr. 8; 6; cƒ. 5, 1). Accordingly, Christian
antiquity made use of the same expression for the sacrificial ministry of Christian priests at the
altar (Clement of Rome, Ad Cor. 44; 3). Down to the present day, the Eastern Church has
preserved it to designate only the Sacrifice of the Mass; in the West, however, since the middle of
the sixteenth century the Latin word liturgia has been accepted in a broader sense and signifies
all acts of public worship of the Church.
Union with Christ is the essence of liturgy. Christ is its primary subject, the Church its
secondary subject. Individual Christians who perform liturgical acts or participate in them are by
reason of sanctifying grace the mystical members of the Body of Christ; by reason of the
character of Baptism and Confirmation - they are in greater or lesser degree likenesses of Christ.
By reason however of Holy Orders, the individual does not compare in degree to those Baptised
or confirmed, but has a special relation with Christ, which theology speaks of as an "alter
Christus". Furthermore, Christ's presence is brought about:
a) Through the most important liturgical act, the Sacrifice of the Mass, Christ becomes
substantially present in His human nature, though concealed under the sacramental species.
Thus He not only assumes a permanent character, but also takes part in an act of greatest
value. The Council of Trent (sess. XIII c. I de Euch.) expresses the same idea by the words
"truly, really and substantially" (vere, realiter et substantialiter). The words of the
Consecration of the Mass cause the body and blood of Christ to become present upon the
altar in a sacramental manner under separate species; the act of consecration at the same
time represents the work of redemption, the Passion and death of Christ. More concerning
this matter will be considered in treating the Sacrifice of the Mass.
b) In all sacraments Christ is truly active in the production of grace, that is, in imparting or
increasing sanctifying grace, through which a vital union with Himself is established. Thus
every time a sacrament is conferred, He becomes, as it were, actually present inasmuch as
He imparts the grace by means of the sacramental sign (in virtute gratiae et in signo
c) Christ also distributes His grace to the recipients or participants of the sacramentals and
other liturgical acts, especially in those who take part in the Divine Office. He gives His grace
on account of the ecclesiastical institution of these liturgical acts. Here, too, we can speak of
Christ being present in signo, since the efficacy is dependent upon the observance of certain
external rites. In the work De Sacramentis (11, 5, 14) we read: "There the eternal Word is
present, where He operates." Frequently the sacred minister is regarded as symbolising
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Christ, or even certain objects (the Gospel-book, bread and Wine, the altar, the crucifix) can
symbolize Him. At least the external element of the liturgical act is a sign symbolising the
human nature of Christ. According to the teaching of the Church, however, grace is not
always imparted (ex opere operato), but it is conferred in accordance with the internal
cooperation of the recipient (ex opere operantis) and is increased on account of the dignity
and meritoriousness of the act as an action of the Church (quasi ex opere operato).
d) Finally, both liturgical places and seasons are sanctified by the presence of Christ: the former
by His substantial presence perpetuated in the tabernacle, as well as by His actual presence
in the production of grace; the latter by the repeated commemoration of all the important
events connected with our salvation, as well as by the frequent repetition of those acts
through which grace is imparted.
It is evident, then, that a regulation of the liturgy by the Church is essential. At the Last
Supper Christ said to the Apostles and their successors: "Do this in commemoration of Me." They,
therefore, had to observe the rites which Christ had determined. Without being empowered by
Christ Himself, no one has the right to perform, alter or add to the rites of the Church. The Church
alone has the right to make additions. Her laws alone can establish a liturgy which is productive
of grace and unites the faithful, with Christ and thus perpetuating His priesthood. A cult not
regulated by the Church is merely a private cult.
Besides, as will be stressed again later, exterior signs (signa externa) are characteristic of
Catholic liturgy. Their visible elements are signs of the internal workings of grace. We usually
speak of such productions of grace on the part of God by means of symbolical rites as mystical or
mysteries. In this broad sense of the term, Catholic liturgy itself is frequently and quite properly
called Mysterium.
Mediation of Christ in Liturgical Texts. The central position of the mediation of Christ in
the liturgy is evident from the fact that every prayer of the Roman rite concludes with a reference
to Him "per Christum Dominum nostrum" (or a similar expression). The sign of the cross at the
beginning and end of prayers and in the various blessings of the Church is an expression of
confidence, even without the utterance of a word, in the mediation of the crucified Saviour. The
doxologies or the praises of God in use in the Old Testament, as for instance, "Blessed be the
Lord God of Israel" (Ps. 105; 48), were transformed by the Church in the apostolic age to a form
like: "Glory be to the Father through the Son together with the Holy Spirit" (cƒ. Rom. 11; 36 : 16;
27 : Gal. 1; 5 : 2 Cor. 13; 13). The greater doxology, the Gloria of the Mass, is a notable example
of such a development; originally it was an ancient hymn to the Messias (J.Brinktrine, Roem.
Quartalschr. 35, 303-315), then it was changed into a hymn for Matins in the Eastern Church
(Const. Apost. 7; 47), and finally it developed in its second part into a solemn invocation of Jesus
Christ as the only-begotten Son of God, Who takes away our sins and graciously hears our prayer.
This doxology appears in the East before the Communion in a shorter form, symbolising in union
with the cries of "Holy" and "Hosanna" a rebirth or new manifestation of Christ. At the end of the
consecratory prayer the bishop refers to holy Communion in the words: "Holy thing's to the holy."
The faithful then continue as follows; "One Holy, one Lord, Jesus Christ, in the glory of God the
Father, blessed art Thou forever. Amen. Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will
among men; Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He Who cometh in the name of the Lord,
Lord and God, and He appeared among us; Hosanna in the highest."
The Roman rite recalls the birth of Christ at the beginning of the Mass. In Masses of feasts,
the Gloria in excelsis Deo immediately follows the Kyrie, while the cries of "Holy" and "Hosanna"
come after the Preface. Moreover, the Canon, the principal prayer of the Mass, begins and closes
in the Roman rite with a solemn reference to the mediation of Christ: "Therefore, O most merciful
Father, we humbly pray and beseech Thee through Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord ... through
Christ our Lord. Through Whom, O Lord, Thou dost create, sanctify, quicken, bless and bestow all
these gifts upon us. By Him and with Him and in Him is to Thee, God the Father almighty, in the
unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory, for ever and ever. Amen."

Chapter Five
Purposes of Liturgy

Glorification of God, the first purpose of liturgy. The first and most excellent purpose of
liturgy is to give honour to God, to glorify God in a manner which best corresponds to the
obligation resting upon the entire human race. Christ could say of Himself that He came upon
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earth to glorify His Father ("I honour My Father," John 8; 49). In like manner did He make it
possible for His Church to give glory to God "through Him, in Him and with Him" (Canon of the
Mass) in a truly efficacious manner. The Church can therefore give to the Creator offended by the
disobedience of Adam all the honour which He Himself can demand. In the first place she gives
God adoration (latria) in her liturgy by word and deed, by prayer and sacrifice. By adoration the
soul surrenders itself completely to God, acknowledging Him as its Sovereign Lord and
recognising its entire dependence upon Him. Other acts by which the Church honours God are
acts of praise, gratitude, atonement and petition. All these acts constitute the absolute cult of
adoration by which the Church gives glory to God; the undivided Divinity, the most Holy Trinity,
as well as the individual Divine Persons (material object); on account of His infinite perfection
(format object). Particularly does the Church give absolute adoration (cultus latriae) to the entire
Second Person of the Godhead, to the human as well as to the divine nature of Jesus Christ; the
reason being that the human nature of Christ is hypostatically united with the Son of God.
The Church, therefore, celebrates various festivals which have reference to particular events
in the human life of Christ, or even to particular parts of His human nature. Such festivals are
Christmas, commemorating the birth of Christ, Easter, commemorating His resurrection, the
feast of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the feast of Corpus Christi, the feast of the most Precious
Blood, etc.
In giving absolute worship to the humanity of Christ, the Church glorifies the Divine Person
with Whom it is united, and in Him she praises the infinite goodness, love and wisdom of God. On
the other hand, she gives to images of Christ crucified and to relics of the Passion an inferior kind
of adoration, the so called relative cult, on account of their relation to Christ.
Intimately connected with the primary purposes of the liturgy is the honour which the Church,
from the earliest centuries of the Christian era, has rendered to the angels and the saints. These
creatures of God have been favoured by God Himself and are distinguished above the rest by a
special supernatural excellence and, therefore, are deserving of special honour. By this
subordinate cult of saints (dulia) the Church indirectly glorifies God, Whose perfection becomes
manifest in the graces He has bestowed upon His chosen creatures. Especially does the liturgy of
the Church single out the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ, and honour her by a special
cult (hyperdulia); in this respect the liturgy is but imitating the example of the angel Gabriel, who
in the name of God greeted Mary as "blessed among women" and "full of grace."
Catholics usually recite the Angelic Salutation, or, Hail Mary immediately after the Lord's
Prayer for the purpose of honoring and invoking Mary. This prayer is of scriptural origin only in
regard to its most excellent portion, which is made up of the greetings of the Angel and Elizabeth
(Luke 1; 28 and 42). These inspired greetings in praise of the Mother of God first appear united
with each other in the so-called "Liturgy of St. James"; later also in the Antiphonary of St. Gregory
the Great as the Offertory of the Mass for the fourth Sunday of Advent. Since the eleventh
century they have also existed in translations as a favorite prayer of the faithful. The practice of
uniting the Hail Mary with the Our Father seems to owe its spread particularly to the Order of
Preachers. The usual conclusion up to that time, directly following "blessed is the fruit of thy
womb," was "Jesus Christ. Amen," or simply "Amen." In view of the contention that a prayer
should always contain a petition, the words, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,"
were added. The last phrase, "now and at the hour of our death" which contains a prayer for a
happy death, was probably appended during the fifteenth century through the influenced of the
Franciscans. On account of the epidemics raging in the West about this time, many penitential
sermons were delivered, and the Hail Mary in an extended form was recited aloud.
In regard to its matter, the Angelic Salutation appears as a prayer of praise and petition. Mary
is praised because of the fullness of grace she received, because of her sublime vocation,
because of her virginity and divine Maternity. United with this praise is a popular and confident
prayer for aid in all our needs, especially for the grace of a happy death. In regard to form, the
prayer reflects in the first part the characteristics of the language of Sacred Scripture, in the
second part the fervour of the popular prayers of the middle ages.
Next in order after the Blessed Virgin the Church gives honour to the Apostles, the martyrs,
the confessors, the virgins and the other holy women. According to the teaching of the Church,
God has accorded to all of them on account of the merits of Jesus Christ, even while they were
still on earth, an abundance of supernatural privileges. For this reason the Church also considers
it fitting to give them due honour in their proper order in the divine liturgy (cƒ. Litany of the
Saints). In the course of centuries, in order to prevent abuses, the Holy See reserved to itself the
right to beatify a deceased Christian, that is, to declare him blessed or worthy of honour, and also
to canonize him, or command that liturgical honours be extended to him. Though most days of
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the Church's calendar are observed as festivals of saints, the essential element of the liturgy,
namely, the Sacrifice of the Mass, the sacramental rites and the Divine Office, is devoted to the
honour of God Himself. The saints are remembered on their feasts in such parts as are accidental
to the Mass and Office, that is, in certain prayers or lessons. In the prayers the Church beseeches
God to bestow His grace upon us, as He granted favours to the saints, or to show mercy to
sinners on account of the merits of saints, etc. In the lessons she places the count of the merits
and virtues of the saints before us for our imitation. In the Orations of the Mass according to the
Roman rite no saint is ever directly invoked to intercede for us with God. just as the petition ad-
dressed to God involves a recognition of the power of God, so the invocation of the saints means
that we beseech God to grant to them through the merits of Christ the power to aid us. Thus the
veneration of the saints in the liturgy is indirectly a worship of God.
Finally, in connection with the primary purpose of liturgy may be mentioned the honour that
is extended during divine service to certain persons who represent Christ in the performance of
liturgical functions. Such honour, which has the nature of a relative cult (dulia relativa), is
bestowed by inclinations of the head, kissing of the hand and incensations. Similarly, certain
liturgical objects (the chalice and paten), as also images and relics of saints, receive liturgical
honour of a subordinate character: the former because of their use at divine service, the latter
because of their relation to the respective saints.
Sanctification of Men, the secondary purpose of liturgy. The secondary purpose of
liturgy, correlative to the primary, is the sanctification of men, which is effected by graces of
different kinds through the application of the merits of Jesus Christ. Every act by which God is
glorified elevates the soul to God by its very nature, brings it closer to God and renders it in a
certain manner susceptible to the operations of grace. It is particularly in the liturgy and through
the liturgy that the God-man desires to apply to the individual faithful the graces of redemption.
Union with Christ is so intimately bound up with the very nature of liturgy, that the grace of Christ
operates in every act. In carrying out the liturgy the Church aims to direct to the faithful the
fullest measure of this grace. Christ as man, to Whom the office of mediator has been entrusted,
communicates His grace through the liturgy in different ways. According to the distinction made
in dogmatic theology, grace results either from the proper performance of the external rite (ex
opere operato), or on account of the internal disposition of the recipient (ex opere operantis), or
in virtue of the meritoriousness of the act as an action of the Church (quasi ex opere operato).
Moreover, various subordinate effects of the liturgy aid in the attainment of the secondary
purpose, by disposing the soul for grace, and therefore they are also expressly intended by the
Church. The liturgy edifies and instructs the faithful by means of lessons, strengthens faith and
unity through a dignified execution of all the ceremonies, and elevates the heart through
impressive Church music, various styles of Christian art, etc.
Protestants and Modernists teach that divine service merely serves the purpose of instructing
and edifying. In more recent times it has also been regarded as serving the purpose of giving
expression to the "faith of the congregation" by "descriptive action." By means of such action
"there is no attempt to effect anything," especially anything theurgical, which would be capable
of forcing God to bestow His grace. It should rather express an actual condition of the community
(Rietschel, Liturgik 1; 47), in order to give the faithful an opportunity of becoming conscious of
the certainty of redemption in Christ; of resting in God "in the intervals which interrupt the
occupations of daily life," namely, on Sundays; of thanking God for the promise of grace after
having heard His word.
Such views make the worship of God entirely dependent upon subjective feelings and dis-
positions in hearing the word of God, etc.; they also make the honour given to God dependent
upon the ability of the representative of the congregation to describe his own feelings as well as
those of the congregation in a rhetorical, musical, artistic, aesthetic or symbolic manner. A liturgy
with this for its purpose has no objective value. Catholic liturgy, on the other hand, judges its
rites according to their ability to unite us with Christ on the basis of objective religious truths;
primarily they must serve the purpose of glorifying God and only secondarily other subordinate
purposes, namely, the sanctification of souls, edification, strengthening of religious belief, the
repose of the soul in God, aesthetic delight, etc.
The various purposes of liturgy are expressed in many different ways in liturgical prayers. In-
stances of prayers which express the primary purpose of liturgy, the glorification of God, are as
follows: the psalm (94) for the Invitatorium at the beginning of Matins, Venite, exultemus Domino
("Come, let us praise the Lord with joy.... Come, let us adore and fall down, and weep before the
Lord that made us") ; the minor doxology, Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui sancto, etc. ("Glory be to
the Father," etc.), at the beginning of each canonical hour and at the end of each psalm; the
Catholic Liturgics
Benedicamus Domino ("Let us praise the Lord") at the end of each canonical hour. Both the
primary and secondary purposes find expression in the prayers of the Canon and Offertory.
Prayers which are intended particularly to give honour to the saints are the Ave Maria at the
beginning of each canonical hour, the final antiphons of the Blessed Virgin and the short prayer
of Prime, Sancta Maria et omnes Sancti ("May Holy Mary and all the Saints intercede with the
Lord for us, that we may deserve to be aided and saved by Him, Who liveth and reigneth for ever
and ever. Amen").

Chapter Six
The Manner the Liturgy

Symbolism. Because of the intimate connection of liturgical rites with the operations of
grace and with the High-priest Jesus Christ Himself, the Author of grace, they are endowed with a
more or less accurately defined symbolism.
Symbolism is a characteristic of external rites, according to which they ordinarily inspire
thoughts of a moral or religious nature by reason of some spiritual relationship. In all the
sacraments, the essential signs or rites must signify the grace which they confer. As St. Thomas
of Aquin teaches, they are commemorative rites (signa rememorativa), which recall the Passion
of Christ as the meritorious cause of grace; demonstrative rites (signa demonstrative), which
manifest and give assurance of their efficacy; prognostic rites (signa prognostica), which
announce the consummation of grace in the future life. Furthermore, all liturgical rites point in
some manner, by reason of their visible character, to the human nature of our Lord, Who is
continually represented anew through words, actions or objects. They also show forth the
visibility of the Church. The spiritual relationship which is essential to symbolism is always
present, for Christ, the principal Minister, directs all liturgical acts and makes them productive of
A Sign may be either natural or conventional. The Church prefers the natural
symbolism, which is usually understood without much difficulty. Actions possessing such signs
are the natural and spontaneous expressions of internal acts of worship, as for instance, the
bending of the knee as a sign of a humble disposition and the bowing of the head as a sign of
reverence; or they are an external representation of that which occurs in the spiritual and
supernatural order, as for instance, the imposition of hands, which represents the conferring of
grace. There are also liturgical objects with a natural sign. Thus the candle which burns at Mass
and is consumed by the flame, naturally suggests the love of the Saviour in sacrificing Himself for
mankind; burning incense sending forth its sweet odours heavenward is a natural symbol of
prayer ascending to God.
At times, however, the symbolism is conventional and not easily perceived; the symbolical
meaning is given to actions and objects simply on account of some internal likeness or
convention. This symbolism is a free choice of the Church, and generally must be explained by
the Church in accompanying prayers. Thus, in the Western Church, the mixing of water with wine
at Mass is regarded as symbolising the union of the faithful with Christ; in the Orient, as
symbolising the two natures in Christ or His Humanity alone as constituted of body and soul (cƒ.
the Offertory prayers and the Council of Trent, sess. XXII, c. 7).
Liturgical Art. It is the function of the fine arts to give pleasing expression to the true, the
good and the beautiful. Poetry and rhetoric please the ear, painting and sculpture please the eye.
In accordance with the nature of the ideas which are expressed, art is profane or religious. As
history shows, religious art belongs to the earliest activities of the human soul.
Judaism of the Old Testament was unable to dispense with art. In the construction of the
temple, artistic architecture was of the greatest importance, while music and the art of poetry
were employed at every divine service. The Christian Church at first was careful in her use of
music, painting and sculpture, because of the many recent converts from paganism. But when
paganism was overcome for the most part, the Church blossomed forth true art.
Christian art became a central feature of the liturgy. The liturgy aims to present in as vivid a
manner as possible, through the medium of symbolical expression, the most sublime doctrines of
Christianity, namely, the work of redemption and the efficacy of the sacraments in producing
As ecclesiastical architecture, it should not merely provide for the practical requirements of
the liturgy, but rather suggest thoughts of a moral or a religious nature. With the help of painting
Catholic Liturgics
and sculpture, as those of the goldsmith and the manufacturers of vestments, liturgical art
adorns the places of worship with representations of truly Christian virtue and vivid scenes from
the life of Christ. True liturgical art must always seek the manner of expressing the unchangeable
doctrines of Christian worship.
Colours. The symbolism of the sacred vestments is enhanced by the use of liturgical colours.
These different colours indicate the dispositions with which the Church desires the faithful to
observe the festivals and seasons of the ecclesiastical year.
Until the middle ages, the white colour was, if not exclusively, yet constantly used for
religious feasts and as a symbol of joy. Thus it is prescribed by the Apostolic Constitutions (8; 12),
the Canones Hippolyti, the Canones Athanasiani, the Canones S. Basilii and other ancient Church
ordinances. Nevertheless the Western Church has made use of vestments of other colours at
least since the time of the Emperor Constantine. From the ninth century on, certain colours
gradually came into use on certain days; red, green and black in addition to white were the first
colours to be used. Innocent III (1198 - 1216 : De sacro altaris mysterio, 1; 65) was the first to
determine more accurately the use of these four colours and to explain their symbolism. He
mentions violet as a substitute for black only on Laetare Sunday and the feast of the Holy
Innocents. Durandus (3; 18, 9), however, already states that the Roman practice of using violet
instead of black vestments from Septuagesima Sunday to Easter, and from the first Sunday of
Advent to Christmas, is 'not unbecoming" ("non inconveniens"). But he also regards the
aforementioned four colours as the principal colours (colores principales). The use of the five
liturgical colours which are in vogue at present was regulated by the Missal of Pius V.
White, the colour of light, gives expression to the joy of the Church on the great festivals,
and is also a symbol of perfect purity (cƒ. Apoc. 3; 4 : Osee 14; 6). It is used in the observance of
the feasts of our Lord, our Lady and the saints, provided they are not kept in memory of a bloody
death or are not days of grief. On Christmas, for example, the white vestments manifest the joy
of the Church at the birth of the Son of God. Holy Thursday and also at processions and
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the white of the vestments suggests the Real Presence of
the glorified Christ in the Holy Eucharist and is in keeping with the colour of the consecrated
bread. Furthermore, white as the colour of joy, is used in the administration of the sacraments, at
the funerals of infants, and also for all the sacramentals which are not joined with an exorcism. It
is not however used for the sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction.
Red, the natural colour of blood and fire, symbolises love (cƒ. Cant. 8; 6). It is, therefore, the
colour of the vestments on the feasts which commemorate the Passion of Christ (the festivals of
the Cross); also on the feasts of all the martyrs, who shed their blood for Christ's sake. Moreover,
it is prescribed for the vestments on Pentecost, because the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of divine Love,
descended upon the Apostles on that day in the form of fiery tongues.
Green is regarded by Pope Innocent III as a "middle colour," and as proper on those days
which have neither a festal nor a sorrowful and penitential character. It is used, therefore, outside
of Advent, the pre-lenten and Lenten period and Eastertide, on all Sundays and weekdays on
which no feast is observed. In more recent times, green, as the colour of the sprouting seed, has
been commonly explained as the colour of hope. In accordance with this symbolism, green is
suitably chosen for those same Sundays and weekdays; in Catholic liturgy every Sunday is
considered as a modified observance of the paschal mystery and serves to arouse in the faithful
the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection.
Violet as a liturgical colour was originally subordinate to black. It signifies penance and is in
keeping with a sorrow which is tempered by hope. It is used on all days of penance (Advent, from
Septuagesima Sunday to the end of Lent, Embertides and vigils), for penitential processions, for
the first part of the rite of Baptism, in administering the sacraments of Penance and Extreme
Unction and for all exorcisms. It was also used on the feast of the Holy Innocents as an
expression of sympathy for the bereaved mothers of Bethlehem. Red is now prescribed for this
feast. On the third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent, the colour of the vestments,
according to the Caeremoniale episcoporum (2; 13), should be pale rose (color rosaceus)
wherever that is possible; this lighter colour is an expression of an increase in our hope of
salvation (cƒ. the Mass-formularies for Gaudete and Laetare Sundays).
Black, the colour of total darkness, is a symbol of death and expresses great sorrow. It is
used on Good Friday, at Requiem Masses and the funerals of adults. If there is Forty Hours'
devotion or perpetual adoration in any church on All Souls' Day, violet vestments are worn for
Requiem Masses; the festive joy which is intimately connected with the adoration of the Blessed
Sacrament requires that the external expression of sadness be modified in this way (Decret.
Urbis et Orbis S.R.C. 27 June 1868 : cƒ. Rubr. Gen: 130d).
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Gold vestements may be used where the custom exists, by reason of their greater value
(ratione pretiositatis), may take the place of white, red and green vestments; vestments of silver
texture may be substituted for those of white colour (Decr. auth, 3145, 3191, 3646). Blue and
yellow vestments are expressly forbidden (Decr. auth. 2704). Though various colours may appear
on the same vestments, one liturgical colour must always be predominant (Decr, auth. 2769, V,
2), for its purpose is to arouse in the assisting faithful the dispositions proper to the particular
feast or occasion. The ornamentation of the vestments, which should be artistic, is not subject to
the rules concerning liturgical colours.
The Altar. The church interior receives its life particularly from the high altar; it is here that
the sacrifice of Christ is offered.
The most ancient altars were manifestly wooden tables; these were set up whenever the
Mass was to be celebrated, and in the catacombs they were generally placed as close as possible
to the tombs of the martyrs. From the latter practice the ancient custom of erecting the high altar
of a basilica over the tomb of a martyr developed. Later the relics of martyrs were placed in the
altars themselves or in a shrine in the reredos of the altar.
According to the Liber Pontificalis, Pope Felix I (269-274) had already ordered the celebration
of Mass over the tombs of martyrs ("Constituit supra memorias martyrum Missas celebrare").
Such stone altars, which had the twofold character of a table of sacrifice and a martyr's tomb,
became more numerous after the time of Constantine the Great, when the bodies of the martyrs
who were most venerated were transferred to the ancient Christian basilicas. In order to stress
the importance of the altar and increase reverence for it, it was covered with a baldachin, the
so-called ciborium (that is, "a cup"), from which curtains (tetravela) were frequently suspended
on all sides. The enclosed altar was regarded as a symbol of heaven into which the eternal
High-priest has entered, and where He dwells forever to make intercession for us (cƒ. Hebr. 6; 19
f. : 7; 15). The table of the altar was surrounded with costly marble slabs, at times also with
panels ornamented with figures in relief or with enamel and precious stones.
The great importance of the Christian altar is evident from the fact that it is regarded, both in
the rite of the ordination of subdeacons and in the Breviary lessons of November 9, as a symbol
of Christ, through Whom our sacrificial gifts are presented to our heavenly Father (cƒ. Hebr. 13;
10). For this reason the priest frequently kisses it with reverence during the celebration of Mass.
According to the rite of consecration, the altar, like the Holy of Holies in the Old Law, should
become a sacred place. God is invoked to accept graciously in this place all the gifts offered to
Him and to reward them with a blessing that is profitable to the present and future life. Since the
Sacrifice of the Cross is renewed on the altar in an unbloody manner, it may also be compared to
Mount Calvary, to the cross or to a throne for the crucified Saviour (cƒ. St. Thom. 3 q.83 a.1 ad.2).
Liturgical Language. The spoken word is especially a suitable means of giving expression
to Christian worship. Jesus Christ made use of words for this purpose at the Last Supper. At the
Sacrifice of the Mass the Church makes use of words as the essential form of consecration. Thus
also in the liturgy of every sacrament, words constitute the essential form which gives efficacy to
the matter (cƒ. St. Augustine, In Joann. tr. 80, 3: "Accedit verbum ad elementum et fit
Words turn our attention by reason of their origin to Christ Himself. More frequently the words
are intended by their content to recall vividly to mind the Person of Jesus Christ, His teaching (as
at the Gospel) or His work of redemption or sanctification (as in the hymns, orations and
The Church has laid down very precise regulations in regard to the tone of voice to be used in
various liturgical texts. Certain texts should not be heard even by the bystanders, and are
therefore spoken in a whisper (submissa voce or secrete). Others should be heard only by those
in close proximity, and must be spoken, therefore, in a moderate tone of voice (media voce,
mediocre voce). Still others should be intelligible at a greater distance, and therefore are to be
spoken in a loud tone of voice (alta voce, clara voce). The different vocal pitches indicate
whether the particular texts are intended only for the celebrant or whether they apply also to the
assisting clergy or even to all the faithful.
Preaching in Palestine, Jesus Christ undoubtedly spoke in Aramaic, the language of the
people, a dialect of the ancient Hebrew tongue. In the same language He must have taught His
disciples the Our Father, recited the psalms (cƒ. Matt. 27; 46) and celebrated the Last Supper.
The Apostles simply followed His example. Very soon, however, Hellenic Greek also became a
liturgical language. Even in the time of Christ it was used quite extensively at the Jewish prayer
service on account of the great number of Jews who came from other countries; in Jerusalem
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itself there were Hellenic synagogues (Acts 6; 9). It is very probable therefore that with the
admission of heathens and Hellenic Jews into her fold, the Church made use of Greek as well as
Aramaic in the liturgy. Particularly in Antioch, the principal city of Syria, Greek was the primitive
language of the liturgy.
In their missionary activity the Apostles certainly applied the principle of employing the
language of the people, not only in their preaching (cƒ. Acts 21; 40 : 22; 2), but also in the liturgy
(cƒ. Cor. 14; 16). Only a few expressions, which were especially familiar to the converts from
Judaism and had been adopted into the primitive liturgy (as Amen, Alleluja, Sabaoth, Hosanna),
remained untranslated. Thus in time the liturgy was celebrated in both the East and the West in
several languages.
Liturgical Languages of the East. Among the liturgical languages of the East, Greek was
used most widely at first. Until the end of the second century it was the prevailing tongue in the
Roman Empire, and facilitated in no small degree the spread of Christianity. In Rome itself it was
still the language of the liturgy about the middle of the third century. In Constantinople, Greek as
a liturgical language soon underwent a special development. The Byzantine liturgy composed in
this type of Greek gradually supplanted almost all other Eastern liturgies. Other languages, still
retained in the liturgy in certain places, are Syriac (Western Aramaic), Armenian, Coptic and
About the middle of the ninth century, the Holy See expressly approved the liturgy translated
by the Apostles of the Slavs, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, in the Slavonic language. A little later the
Greek Byzantine liturgy was translated into Slavonian by the Bulgarians and Russians and thus
became the most widely used liturgy in Eastern Europe. The Russians, Ruthenians, Serbians and
Bulgarians now use the Cyrillian characters (called thus after St. Cyril) for the ancient Slavonic
language of the liturgy. The Croatians and Dalmatians follow the Roman rite as translated into
ancient Slavonian, and make use of the Glagolitic characters.
Finally, when various groups from the east were reunited with the Roman Church in modern
times, the Popes permitted the use of other languages in the celebration of the liturgy, namely,
Georgic (Caucasian), Ruthenic-Rumanian, Arabic-Greek, Albanian-Greek, Syriac-Arabic and
In regard to the language used in the liturgy, the aforementioned Oriental rites are divided as
follows: For the celebration of the Byzantine rite, Greek is employed in Greece, Turkey, Hungary,
southern Italy and North America; Arabic-Greek (by the so-called Melchites) in Syria, Palestine
and Egypt; Slavonic in Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Jugoslavia and North America;
Ruthenic-Rumanian in Rumania; Albanian-Greek in Albania; Georgic in Georgia. The Armenian rite
is celebrated in Armenian, the Syrian rite in Syriac-Arabic; the Chaldean rite in Chaldaic, the
Maronite rite in Syriac-Arabic, the Coptic rite partly in Coptic-Arabic and partly in Abyssinian.
Liturgical Languages of the West. In the West, the rural communities of Italy and the
churches of northern Africa and Spain were the first to use Latin as a liturgical language. Greek,
however, still continued to be the language of the liturgy for a long time after the year 200 in
Rome and the larger cities of Italy, as well as in the commercial towns of Gaul and the region of
the Rhine and the Danube; these towns were still frequently visited by merchants from Asia
After these places had also adopted Latin, Greek was still retained or was introduced at a late
period for a few short prayers, as Kyrie eleison, Hagios o theos, etc. It also continued in use for a
time for certain parts of the solemn Papal Mass, namely, the Gloria, Epistle and Gospel, which
were chanted in both Latin and Greek.
The Latin of the liturgy originated from the simple language of the country districts (lingua
rustica). Many Hebrew and Greek idioms had already found their way into the Latin of the liturgy
through the ancient translations of the Bible. The ecclesiastical writers of Africa, Tertullian, St.
Cyprian and especially St. Augustine, then gave Church Latin its particular character. From the
sixth to the ninth century, active communication of ecclesiastics with Constantinople brought
about a further enrichment of Church Latin by the adoption of such words as hebdomada,
synaxis and litania. Soon after this period the Romance languages developed, and Latin ceased
to be the language of the people; it was still retained, however, as the liturgical language of the
Roman as well as the Ambrosian and Mozarabic rites. Since almost all Catholic missionaries have
been of the Roman rite, they have introduced the Latin liturgy in North and South America,
Central and South Africa, Asia and Australia.
Reasons for the use of Latin. In the greater part of the world the Catholic Church now
makes use of Latin, a dead language, in her liturgy. As a general principle, she forbids the use of
living languages, at least for the celebration of Mass (cƒ. Council of Trent, sess. XXll, c.8). The
Catholic Liturgics
chief reasons for adhering to this principle are as follows:
a) Latin is the symbol and bond of Unity. It is the language which the Head of the Church
employs in official communications with every part of the world. It is also the language of the
authentic version of the Bible, the Vulgate, and of the most important decrees and dogmatic
definitions of the Church. These facts cannot but impress Catholics everywhere with the Unity
of the Church.
b) The use of Latin accords with the Holiness of the Church. As a highly cultured
language, it gives worthy expression to the sacred mysteries which are celebrated.
Furthermore, it renders unnecessary frequent textual changes, which may easily have the
appearance of irreverence, and prevents venerable practices from being profaned by the
commonplace expressions of the vernacular.
c) It is also in accord with the Catholicity (universality) of the Church. Through the
missionary activity of the Western Church, the use of Latin has spread to every part of the
world and facilitates the work of new missionaries.
d) As a dead language, Latin is best suited to preserve the Apostolic character of the doctrine
of the Church and to protect it against heretical misrepresentation. The use of Latin also
makes it easier to preserve the purity and correctness of liturgical texts. If the vernacular
were used in the liturgy, repeated revisions of the liturgical books would be necessary on
account of the changeableness of living languages.
As for the rest, the use of a dead language stresses the objective character of the liturgy.
Liturgy does not belong to this or that nation, but is the expression of the worship of the entire
Church, a society consisting of peoples of every tongue. It is true that an ignorance of the
language hinders the instruction of the faithful. The fact is that liturgy is one thing, instruction
another. The liturgy is the act by which the Church praises God in the most sacred and solemn
manner there is (cƒ Archbishop Lefebvre; They have Uncrowned Him c. 31). In any case there
may be some doubt whether instruction could be attained by the use of the vernacular, for it
would still be necessary to explain the liturgy to the faithful. According to the Council of Trent
(sess. XXII c.8 and sess. XXIII c.7) the essential elements of the liturgy should be made intelligible
to the people in sermons and instructions. The faithful should be strongly urged to follow the
Mass with the priest from the Missals which have been published in the vernacular. In many
churches several portions of the Mass are publicly recited, as is possible at low Masses. In his
sermons on Sundays and holydays the priest should keep his people constantly imbued with the
spirit of each season and each important festival of the ecclesiastical year. He ought give special
attention to the members of the choir, and explain to them the meaning of the liturgical texts
which they are called upon to sing. He might include an explanation of the nuptial blessing in
instructing those who are about to be married. A brief exposition of the rite of Baptism or -
Extreme Unction might be given in conferring these Sacraments.
Ecclesiastical Chant and Music. Chant had a place in Catholic liturgy from the very
beginning (cƒ. Acts 2; 46_. : 1 Cor. 14; 15 _. : Eph. 5; 19 : Col. 3; 16). It is significant that St. Paul
exhorts the Christians to sing hymns and canticles "In their hearts". The Apostle evidently
regarded singing as a becoming means of giving honor to God, but only in as far as it is an
expression of the dispositions of the heart. Accurate information concerning the character of the
most ancient ecclesiastical chant comes to us from the age of the apostolic Fathers. The practice
of the Jewish synagogues was followed in regard to the manner of singing. Psalms and canticles,
which resembled psalms, were rendered by soloists; at certain intervals the people intervened
with a refrain (responsorial chant). Soon the Greek practice of alternate or antiphonal singing was
introduced in the communities of Gentile Christians and developed in accordance with the spirit
of the Church.
The recitative chant among all peoples is derived from the usual tone of conversation. A
characteristic of the ancient Jews in chanting psalms was the change of the dominant in both
sections of the verse, in order to express ecstasy and other vehement emotions of the soul. Thus
before the eating of the paschal lamb the Jews sang Psalm 113, In exitu Israel. For the chanting
of the same psalm at Sunday Vespers the Church adopted a similar practice, and still uses the
irregular tone, the so-called tonus peregrinus. Originally, it seems, there were only four tones for
the chanting of psalms. Development in the chanting of antiphons led to greater variety in
chanting psalms, so that the number of tones was increased to eight. The ancient Christian chant
seems to have derived its richness of modulation and particularly its change of tones from the
ancient Greek music, which abounded in choral and antiphonal singing.
In the Western Church St. Ambrose and St. Gregory the Great were very influential in the
development of ecclesiastical chant. The former introduced antiphonal psalmody in Milan; the
Catholic Liturgics
latter determined the texts of the chant to be used at a solemn Papal Mass. St. Gregory's reform,
the Gregorian choral, spread through England in the seventh century and through France,
Germany and the other countries of the West in the eighth and ninth centuries. The choral is
based upon the diatonic, that is, upon the common scale with seven intervals, of which five are
whole tones and two are semitones. The effect, therefore, is that of peace and quiet. In its
melodies there is a sacred earnestness and sublimity, which elevate the soul and inspire it with
piety. Out of plainchant (cantus firmus) with its simple accompaniment, polyphonic singing
(cantus contrapuncticus) gradually evolved. By the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it had
reached its highest stage of development. Many decrees of the Church have been directed
against the degeneration of polyphonic singing, though polyphony in itself it is expressly
permitted. Two composers have especially promoted the ideal of ecclesiastical polyphony in all
its classical purity: Palestrina († 1594 in Rome) composed more than ninety Masses, while
Orlando di Lasso († 1594 in Munich) was the composer of about twelve hundred motets, fifty
Masses, the Penitential Psalms, the Lamentations, the Magnificat and several hymns. The
secularisation of polyphonic singing manifested itself in the compositions of Mozart, Beethoven,
Schubert and K. M. von Weber, and especially in Italian concert music.
According to the example of the Old Testament, the chant of the ancient Christian Church was
originally executed in one voice. At least the responses of the people, the psalms and the
trisagion intended to imitate the cry of the Cherubim and Seraphim in heaven were chanted in
the synagogues in this way. The early Christians also called upon one another to chant the
Sanctus "in one voice" (cƒ. Preface of the Trinity: "una voce dicentes").
The philosophers and ecclesiastical writers of Alexandria regarded this type of liturgical chant
as most in accord with the unity of the Divine Essence and the union of the faithful with one
another; likewise as directly opposed to the discord among the pagan deities and to the
blustering polyphony of the music in the Greek temples. For this reason the Christian Church
zealously adhered to the employment of plainchant in the liturgy. According to St. Basil, it was a
means of promoting fraternal charity: "Who can regard him as an enemy with whom he has sung
in one voice for the glory of God? Therefore the chanting of psalms also engenders charity, the
most precious blessing..." (Hom. in ps. 1, 2). In a letter of the year 561 from Constantinople, it is
stated that the priests and the faithful of that city, in chanting the Gloria in excelsis, "grasped
one another's hands in token of their unity and harmony" (Kirchengesch des Zackarias Rhetor
V.II, ed. Ahrens-Krueger, Leipzig, 1899, 83). The union of their voices and their bodies in singing
was intended to strengthen the union of their hearts. The most ancient document of
ecclesiastical music dates from the third century. It was found on a piece of papyrus at
Oxyrhynchos and was published in 1922. It contains the text and Greek plainchant notation.
Purpose and Use of Ecclesiastical chant. By its melody and rendition, chant must serve
the twofold purpose of liturgy, the glorification of God and the sanctification and edification of the
faithful. It must, therefore, keep aloof from melodies which seek merely to arouse sensual
delight, border on the profane or aspire after the theatrical. It should render the liturgical texts in
a complete, intelligible and edifying manner, since that is the only reason for the existence of the
melody (Motu proprio of Pius X, November 22, 1903).
Plainchant is characterised by its sacredness, by its astonishing richness of themes and its
great artistic value. It is the ecclesiastical chant in the strict sense of the term (cantos proprie
ecclesiasticus), for Pius X declared it the norm of liturgical music. The clergy, therefore, should be
zealous and diligent in promoting it. Only an intelligent rendition of it can produce the sublime
effects which flow from its very nature.
At first the neums served as musical notes. In respects they correspond to the motions of the
choir director and by means of points, bars and crotchets indicate the rising or falling of the tone,
though not the exact length of the intervals. By simplifying the already existing linear system,
Guido of Arezzo († about 1650) finally made it possible for everyone to recognise the exact
intervals. Plainchant has retained Guido's system of four lines down to the present day. In the
twelfth century the so-called square note (nota quadrata) developed in France. At that time the
square form, as used today, was also adopted for the signs of entire groups of notes.
Classical polyphonic chant is closely related to plainchant, and therefore also merits a place
in the liturgy of the more important festive occasions in order to contribute toward their
splendour. The so-called Palestrina style especially betrays its origin from plainchant; from it
"there streams forth a quiet and calm disposition which transcends the individual, a transfigured,
celestial, frequently seraphic devotion" (Wagner, Einfuebrung, 119).
The Congregation of Rites has frequently declared that only Latin chant is permitted at strictly
liturgical functions. Such functions are as follows: every high Mass, even when it is celebrated
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without the assistance of a deacon and subdeacon; any part of the Divine Office; the Asperges;
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (Decr. auth. nn 3496 ad 1, 3830 art. 7, 3113 ad 1, 3230,
3994, 3827, 3975 ad 5, etc.).
At other times, however, devotional singing in the vernacular is frequently permitted in
connection with divine service. Such singing lacks the universal character of plainchant and is
distinguished instead by its national characteristics. When the official language of the liturgy
ceased to be the language of the people, their part in rendering liturgical chant was necessarily
restricted. In countries where the people did not speak a Romance tongue, they merely sang in
simple fashion the Ordinary of the Mass and the acclamations. Hence, they sought some
compensation by giving expression to their piety in the singing of devotional hymns outside of
liturgical functions. In some sections of Germany, hymns in the vernacular were even substituted
for parts of high Mass, but during the last century they were again forbidden in great part by the
Provided vernacular hymns are in accord with the spirit of the Church as to both text and
melody, they are permitted as accessory to the liturgy; they may, therefore, be sung during low
Mass, before and after high Mass, before and after the sermon, at processions and pilgrimages
and at all popular devotions, and likewise when the Blessed Sacrament is publicly exposed.
In an Apostolic Constitution of December 20, 1928, Pius XI again inculcates the principles that
should regulate church music, church choirs and congregational singing, and also adds some
valuable and practical suggestions.
Musical Accompaniment. In the beginning the Church opposed the use of musical
instruments at divine service, though they were extensively employed in the old dispensation
(cƒ. Num. 10; 8-10 : Par. 2; 24-28).
Instrumental music was intimately associated with pagan worship and was regarded, during
Christian antiquity, as being at variance with the spirit of piety. Novatian complains that the holy
instruments came to be prohibited "through the trickery of the devil" (De. spect. 3, Migne, PL, 4;
811). They were used as a magical means of warding off demons and appeasing the gods.
Especially were the playing of flutes and the accompaniment of drums and zithers regarded as
an expression of pagan worship; the former took place at all sacrifices in the temples of the
Greeks and Romans, while the latter was used in the ancient mystery cults to inspire religious
ecstasy. Clement of Alexandria is opposed to the use of the flute, because it recalls the cult of
Dionysos and Cybele and results in an ecstatic condition, with which wild outbursts of passion
were associated. St. Athanasius directs his attention against that instrumental music which is
used at dances; St. Augustine, against instruments which recall the music of theatres. St. Jerome
did not like to have Christian virgins even know the purpose of the lyre and the flute, for those
instruments were used at that time by roving Syrian women as an accompaniment to their
songs, which were in great part of an obscene character. Many Greek philosophers were also
opposed to the noisy music of sacrifices, on the ground that it was unsuitable to an internal
worship of God (Philo De special. leg. 11; 193).
It seems that the Christians at first permitted only the zither for the purpose of accompanying
the chanting of psalms and hymns. The Apocalypse refers to the saints in heaven as having
zithers in their hands in chanting the "new canticle" to the Lamb, Christ (cƒ. Apoc. 5; 8 f.).
Clement of Alexandria wrote that no one was to be blamed for singing to the playing of the
zither or the lyre, because he merely followed the example of David, the king of the Hebrews (cƒ.
Paedag. 11; 4). But about the year 400 stringed instruments were probably forbidden at divine
service both in the Orient and in northern Africa (cƒ. Canones of St. Basil).
Later, when the organ was invented, it was adopted first in monastery churches, and then in
cathedrals and other churches. Its sustained, uniform and full tone made it easier for choirs to
hold the dominant in solemn chanting. The organ gradually became in the strict sense the
musical instrument of the Church. It was not until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that
other instruments also came into use.
In regard to instrumental music, it is important to note that it is permitted for the sole
purpose of sustaining and accentuating the liturgical chant. It has no independent character. The
liturgical texts which are recited or sung must always remain the principal element of Catholic
The one musical instrument which is specially ecclesiastical is the organ. Definite rules
concerning its use at liturgical functions are found in the Caeremoniale episcoporum (I c.28).
They are supplemented by the Motu proprio of Pius X of November 22, 1903, and the Apostolic
Constitution of Pius XI of December 20, 1928.
a) The organ should accompany only the singing of the choir or congregation, but not that of the
Catholic Liturgics
celebrant or his assistants, the deacon and subdeacon. The playing of the organ should be
serious and dignified and, wherever possible, also artistic.
b) If parts of the Kyrie, Gloria (not of the Credo), Sanctus and Agnus Dei, or of the hymns, psalms
and canticles are supplied by the organ for the purpose of relieving the chanters, it is
necessary for the sake of completeness to recite the respective texts aloud ("intelligibili
c) Since the organ imparts a solemn and joyful character to liturgical functions, its use is strictly
forbidden on Sundays and ferials of Advent (except the third Sunday) and Lent (except the
fourth Sunday).
d) For the same reason preludes, postludes or interludes are also prohibited at high Masses of
In regard to other musical instruments the Church prescribes that they may be used to
accentuate the chant, but may not stifle it. Expressly forbidden are the rather noisy instruments,
such as drums, cymbals, castanets and the like; the Piano and the phonograph as well as the
playing of bands in the church are also proscribed. By such laws the Church evidently desires to
remove from Catholic liturgy whatever is worldly, profane and strongly subjective.
In the aforementioned Motu proprio, Pius X declares in words similar to those of Clement of
Alexandria, St. Athanasius, St. Augustine and St. Jerome that instrumental music is not
ecclesiastical, if it savours of the profane, theatrical or pagan. Furthermore, Pius XI in his
Apostolic Constitution recommends the organisation of boys' choirs, even in the smaller parishes.
These choirs should be trained not only in Gregorian chant, but also in sacred polyphony.
Orchestral accompaniment should always be kept within moderate bounds.
Action as a Liturgical Expression. Actions (actio, gestus) are no less important in the
liturgy than the spoken word. The latter acquires additional force by the action or
gesture which accompanies it. Especially is this true of the Mass, which Christ
offers repeatedly through human priests acting in His name (in persona Christi). In
performing those actions which are essential to the sacraments, priests also
generally act as representatives and instruments of Christ; the accompanying
symbolism frequently conveys this idea. In the performance of other liturgical acts
they represent the Church directly, and Christ indirectly through the Church. In this
respect every action and gesture of the sacred minister at divine service serves to
recall the presence of Christ, the principal Minister. The faithful who participate
accordingly pay Him liturgical homage, and show by their actions that they subject
themselves to Christ and recognise the universal and objective character of His
liturgy; furthermore, they give evidence of their hope in the merits of Christ and
seek every grace from Him for the entire Church. This is the proper internal,
liturgical disposition which receives visible expression by both bodily positions and sacred signs.
Bodily postures. Among these, that of standing at liturgical functions is the first to be
considered. As in Judaism, so also in the primitive Christian Church, it was customary to stand in
praying (cƒ. Mark 11; 25 : Matt. 5; 6). It signifies internal attention in the doing of a particular
thing, as well as respect for a person, a doctrine or an object. Later the standing posture was
likewise regarded as expressing joy, namely, joyful confidence in God and joyful hope in the
future resurrection. For this reason it appeared to be most becoming for Paschaltide and Sundays
which serve to remind us of the Resurrection of Christ. Finally, the standing position of the sacred
minister signifies that he acts as the representative of Christ and mediator between God and
The sitting posture was permitted only as a relief for the body. As far back as ancient times,
the faithful sat during the sermon; in the middle ages the clergy also took this posture during the
Canonical Hours. In particular cases the sitting posture is prescribed for symbolical reasons, as in
hearing confessions and at pontifical functions.
The genuflection is the natural expression of humility and piety awakened by the presence
of an infinitely perfect God compared to one's own miserableness. Sacred Scripture frequently
mentions it, as for instance, in the narrative of the adoration of the Magi (Matt. 2; 11), and that of
the agony of Christ in the garden (Luke 22; 41).
It serves therefore:
a) As an expression of penitential sorrow (Origen, De oral., c.31); for this reason it is prescribed
that certain prayers of petition on days of penance must be recited in a kneeling position at
public functions (cƒ. Flectamus genua);
b) As an expression of urgent petition, as for instance: at the verse, Te ergo quaesumus, in the
Te Deum, at the words, Adjuva nos, in ferial Masses of Lent, at the petition, Veni, sancte
Catholic Liturgics
Spiritus, etc., in the Masses of Pentecost week, and at the first stanza of the Veni,
c) As an expression of adoration, as for instance: at the words Et incarnatus est in the
Credo; at the verse Et verbum
caro factum est, in the Gospel
of St. John; at the mention of the
adoration of Christ in some other
Gospels; and especially in the
presence of the incarnate Son of
God in the Blessed

minimarum minimarum
minima media mediocr
Sacrament. For this reason,
genuflections are to be made before and after any act which has any
reference to the Blessed Sacrament, and between the Consecration and
Communion they are to be made with greater reverence (cƒ. Rit. celebr. Miss.). At the
Consecration, during the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and at Benediction all should
genuflect on both knees (double geneflection).
Prostration is an accentuated form of genuflection and intensifies the first two significations
of the bending of the knee, namely, penitential sorrow and urgent petition (cƒ. the beginning of
the liturgy of Good Friday, the Litany of the Saints at ordinations).
The inclination is universally accepted as the natural expression of reverence. It is already
mentioned in the Apostolic Constitutions (VIII, 6).
There are basically three kinds of inclinations:
a) The profound inclination of the body (inclinatio corporis profunda) expresses not only
reverence, but also the feeling of unworthiness (Confiteor, Munda cor, Te igitur, Supplices, at
times before the crucifix and to salute the Celebrant in certain cases, eg: when he is being
b) The moderate inclination of the body (inclinatio corporis mediocris) expresses, besides
reverence, also childlike confidence (from the Deus tu conversus to the Oremus, from the
Oramus te Domine to reliquiae, at the In spiritu humilitatis, Suscipe Sancta Trinitas, Sanctus,
prayers before Communion, Domine non sum dignus, and to salute persons of higher rank).
c) The three inclinations of the head (inclinatio capitis simplex), as a general rule,
express respectively the adoration which is given to God, minimarum
maxima, (humiliate capita vestra Deo) and the honour which is given to Mary
(minimarum media) and the other saints (minimarum minima).


The liturgical kiss is likewise a sign but in addition it signifies the

supernatural fraternal charity which should exist among Christians. In the
latter sense it already appears in apostolic times as the kiss of peace
(osculum pacis) (I Cor. 16; 20 : 1 Peter 5; 14), but during the course of the Inclinatio
middle ages it developed into the present practice of a mutual embrace of profunda
the clergy. In the former sense, as a sign of respect (osculum reverentiae), it
still appears very frequently in the liturgy; the altar and the texts of the
Catholic Liturgics
Gospel are kissed, because they are symbols of Christ; many other objects receive a kiss,
because they either have been constituted sacred by the consecration or blessing of the Church
(chalice and paten, certain sacred vestments, the hand of the sacred minister) or come into
actual use at divine service (thurible, cruets).
The head covering for women during liturgical service has existed from the very beginning
(cƒ. 1 Cor. 11; 5 & 13). Later the covering of the head was also introduced for the sacred
ministers. While seated, they carry out the practice in order to express more forcibly the state of
perfect rest; at certain official acts (at processions, in going to the altar, etc.) it supplements what
is lacking for the completeness of the sacred vesture.
The position and movement of the hands. The early Christians, like the Jews and most
pagans, prayed with hands raised and outstretched, the palms turned upward. Soon, however, it
became a distinguishing mark of the Christians to pray with their hands stretched out toward the
right and left; many of the Fathers, as Minucius Felix and Tertullian, interpreted this practice as an
imitation of the crucified Christ. The Fathers themselves admonished the faithful to be moderate
in extending the hands. In the course of time it became customary in the West to join the hands
(junctio manuum), in the East to cross the arms (cancellatio). The joining of the hands in such a
way that the thumbs are crossed signifies resignation to God's will, earnestness in prayer and the
desire to participate in the merits of Christ crucified. The raising of the hands represents the
raising of the heart to God (Sursum corda). A moderate extension of the hands is still prescribed
at several parts of the Mass; during the most important parts (Oration, Preface, Canon, Pater
noster) it is continuous, at others (Oremus, Dominus vobiscum, Orate fratres, beginning of the
Gloria and Credo, Te igitur, Benedicat vos) it is a mere passing gesture.
As solemn gesture, the raising and extension of the hands, a profound inclination and the
kissing of the altar, takes place at the beginning of the Canon. The Dominicans still have the
practice, immediately after Consecration, of extending their arms and hands on either side for a
time in imitation of Christ crucified.
The striking of the breast (tunsio pectoris) is an acknowledgment of sinfulness and a symbol
of sorrow and the desire of forgiveness (at the words Mea culpa, Nobis quoque peccatoribus,
Agnus Dei, Domine non sum dignus).
The sign of the cross. In general it signifies that the faithful seek every blessing from the
merits of Christ crucified. The blessing of oneself with the sign of the cross has for its purpose to
dedicate oneself to Christ, to place oneself under the protection of Christ and to become a
partaker of the graces which Christ merited for us. In blessing other persons, or in blessing
objects, the priest seeks to accomplish the same purpose for them.
As early as the second century, the Christians were accustomed to make the sign of the cross
at the beginning of any important occupation. They did this for the purpose of placing
themselves under the protection of Christ and sharing in the merits of His death. But the help of
God is necessary also at the beginning of prayer. The practice of signing oneself with the cross at
the beginning and the end of prayers, especially the Creed, dates from the early centuries (cƒ. St.
Augustine, Tract. in Joann., 11, 3). At first the Christians probably desired merely to imitate in
private the signing with the cross which took place in the rite of Baptism, and thus to revive the
grace of this sacrament. Soon the sign of the cross was accompanied for the most part by a
Trinitarian formula fashioned according to the form of Baptism. Therefore the words, "In the name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen," may be understood as follows! "May
the Triune God, in Whose name I have been baptised, take me under His protection and apply to
me the graces merited for me by the death of Christ on the cross"; or more briefly. "May the
power and grace of the Triune God assist me." In joining these words with the sign of the cross,
we also profess our faith in the truth that Christ's death upon the cross is the meritorious cause
of grace.
The so-called "large" sign of the cross may be explained as follows: In raising the hand to the
forehead at the mention of "Father," we recognize God the Father as the source or origin of the
Son, for the forehead is regarded as the source of thought (the Son, or the Word, is the spoken
thought of the Father); the movement of the hand to the chest at the word "Son" signifies the
sending of the Son to earth by the Father at the Incarnation; the movement of the hand from the
left to the right shoulder points to the love of the Holy Ghost, which strengthens by grace (the
seat and symbol of strength are the shoulders), transforms from the state of sin (left side) to the
state of justice (right side) and unites the Father and the Son.
The so called "small" Sign of the Cross is formed upon the forehead, the lips and the chest.
The cross upon the lips in mentioning the Son reminds us that the Son is the consubstantial Word
of the Father; at the mention of the Holy Ghost the sign of the cross is made upon the chest near
Catholic Liturgics
the heart, the symbol of love, in order to signify that the Holy Ghost is substantial love. According
to Sicard of Cremona (Mitrale, 3, 4) the touching of the forehead should remind us that we ought
not to be ashamed of our faith in Christ crucified; the touching of the lips, that we ought to
profess our faith openly; the touching of the chest, that we must preserve the faith in our hearts.
Other formulas accompanying the sign of the cross either have the nature of an invocation of
divine protection ("Deus, in adjutorium meum intende"; "Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini")
or give praise to the most Holy Trinity ("Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto") or express the
application of God's blessing ("Benedictio Dei omnipotentis Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti," etc.).
Practically from apostolic times the sign of the cross was made upon the forehead of the
catechumens, when they made application for instruction in the Christian faith; this practice was
frequently repeated during the course of the catechumenate. This sign of the cross was regarded
as the mystical Tau (ancient Hebrew, Greek T) which, according to Ezechiel (9; 4), preserved the
Israelites from the judgment of God; or also that which St. John, according to the Apocalypse (7; 2
_.), beheld upon the foreheads of the servants of God. In Tertullian's time it was customary for the
Christians to begin every important work by signing themselves upon the forehead. For special
reasons the sign of the cross was also made upon other parts of the body, for instance, diseased
members, on the breast at the solemn announcement of the Gospel, upon the lips, or even upon
three or five different places on account of the symbolism of these members. The large sign of
the cross extending from the forehead to the breast came into use later, in order, as far is
possible, "to shelter as with a salutary shield" (Ephrem the Syrian) the entire body. Until the
thirteenth century it was the practice in many places of the West, in signing oneself with the
cross, to move the hand from the right to the left shoulder, as is still done by the Greeks.
Liturgical actions are also called ceremonies. The derivation of the word caerimonia
(caeremonia) is doubtful. According to W.Walde (Lateinisches etymologisches Woerterbuch,
Heidelburg, 1906), it signifies "sacred worship" and is derived from an Indo-Germanic root, which
originally meant "to give attention to, to treat with respect." According to other derivations the
word comes from the root car: "to do," caerus: "holy," cura: "care," carere: "to refrain from,"
Caere a city of the ancient Etruscans, her "venerable" (root of Old High German signifying literally
"gray with age").
The Liturgy of the Mass

Section II
The Liturgy of the Mass or the
Sacrifice of the Church

Chapter Seven
The Concept of Sacrifice

The offering of sacrifice to God is an obligation laid on man by the natural law. Reason
requires that man show signs of submission to God, as well as signs of honour paid to God. Now,
man is a bodily being in a bodily world; it is reasonable that he should make the necessary signs
of religion in a bodily way, using bodily things. This is done by offering sacrifice. The whole
history of mankind shows that the offering of sacrifice is a universal practice. This fact confirms
that sacrifice to God is required of man by the natural law.
Sacrifice is the highest and most solemn and impressive of the acts of latria. As an official act
of religion and external divine worship, it is defined as follows: sacrifice is the offering of a bodily
thing (called victim), by a qualified person (called priest), in a suitable place (called altar), and
the destruction or change of the victim (this is immolation or mactation) to express the supreme
and unique dominion of God over all his creatures, and the absolute dependence of all creatures
upon God.
Sacrifice is a special act done out of reverence for God; it therefore belongs to the virtue of
religion. Sometimes acts of the other virtues are called by the name of sacrifices; thus we say
that a person makes a sacrifice of time or money, or that he is a self-sacrificing person, or that he
sacrifices the use of certain foods or pleasures as penance, and so on; and we say that a soldier
who dies in battle makes the supreme sacrifice. Now, such things are not actually or formally
sacrifices, but they are called so because they are a sort of offering that is, or should be, made to
God; they have a resemblance, either striking or distant, to sacrifice, and thus they are given its
Using the name sacrifice in this extended meaning, we are all bound to offer to God the
inward sacrifice of a devout mind, and to perform requisite acts of virtue in the spirit of sacrifice,
that is, out of high reverence for God (St. Thom. IIa IIae q.85).
Sacrifice before Christ. In their desire to give expression to the entire surrender of self by
the offering of gifts, ancient peoples frequently effected unusual changes in the gifts. Most
expressive was the sacrifice of animals, when the flesh of the animals was consumed by fire and
the blood, supposedly the seat of the soul, was poured out before an idol upon the ground or
upon an altar; thus the life of animals was sacrificed in place of one's own life.
Under the old Covenant, among the people of Israel, the idea of sacrifice was more and more
accurately determined, even in its character as a type (prefiguration) of the vicarious Sacrifice of
Christ. The narration of Sacred Scripture concerning Melchisedech (Gen 14; 18-20) already
indicates that the action of this royal priest over the bread and wine, united with the blessing
imputed to Abraham, was to be understood as an offering of gifts to God. Later, the Mosaic law
regulated every detail of sacrifice among the Jews. Bloody and unbloody sacrifices were generally
connected with each other. The bloody sacrifices particularly expressed the idea of adoration and
vicarious atonement, the unbloody sacrifices that of thanksgiving and merciful reconciliation.
Usually the entire gift was first set apart for God and dedicated to Him by a symbolical action
(imposition of hands); then occurred the slaying of the animals and at least the partial dissolution
of all gifts by destroying, burning, spilling or placing them in the sanctuary, in order to offer them
in this way to God. Finally, a definite portion of the edible gifts was given as a sacrificial banquet
for the participants in the sacrifice, a return gift of God to those who celebrated their prefigurated
reconciliation with Him.
At the sacrifice of the Covenant on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 24; 8), the blood of the animals represented
the Jewish people, the sprinkling of the blood upon the people signified that they gave
themselves up entirely to God. The offering of a lamb, which took place twice daily in the temple
(the so-called Tamid; Ex. 29; 38-42), constituted a continuance of the sacrifice of the Covenant; it
served as a sacrifice of the entire nation of Israel. Joined with it were the offering of incense as a
The Liturgy of the Mass
symbol of prayer, and the chanting of psalms by the Levites. Belonging to it as a perpetual
oblation were also the twelve loaves of proposition which were placed in the Holy of Holies and
renewed weekly; these symbolised the continual offering which the twelve tribes of Israel
gratefully made of themselves to God. Still more significant, also as a type of the Sacrifice of
Christ, was the annual sacrifice of the pasch (Ex. 12 - 13) and the eating of the paschal lamb.

Chapter Eight
The Sacrifice of the Cross
and the
Institution of the Holy Eucharist

The Sacrifice of the Cross. The sacrifices of the Old Testament brought many graces from
heaven to earth, but only on account of their relation to the future Saviour. Of themselves they
could not satisfy the justice of God for the guilt of Adam. A second Adam had to come, the God-
man Jesus Christ; as the new representative of all mankind, as the protoparent of a people united
with Him in a supernatural manner, namely, by grace. He offered to God the great Sacrifice of
redemption. According to the eternal decree of God, He did this by freely giving up His life upon
the cross. The perfect and unreserved submission of the divine Son to the will of His heavenly
Father made atonement for the disobedience and pride of the first man. Jesus Christ frequently
showed this disposition. He, Who had stated that He came to do the will of His Father (Heb. 10; 9
: John 4; 34 : 8; 29), prayed in the garden just before His Passion; "Father, ... not My will, but
Thine be done" (Luke 22; 42 : Matt. 26; 39). In this disposition to offer Himself as a victim to God,
He also included His followers, all the members of His Mystical Body, the Church, as St. Peter has
stated: "Christ died once for our sins ... that He might offer us to God" (1 Pet. 3; 18 : cƒ. Eph. 5;
The external action, was in keeping with the internal disposition. The victim was the God-
man, the separation of His blood from His flesh upon the cross. What is more important, it
appeared thus in virtue of a sacrificial act of Christ Himself, for He could not have suffered death
upon the cross except by His own free consent. He prepared His disciples for it when He said:
"Therefore doth the Father love Me, because I lay down My life .... I have power to lay it down,
and I have power to take it up again" (John 10; 17 ƒ.). The disciples must have recognised the
sacrificial meaning of His death, for they had heard Him say: "The Son of Man is not come to be
ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a redemption for many" (Matt. 20; 28). They
were also acquainted with the prophecy of Isaias (53; 7): "He was offered, because it was His own
will, and He opened not His mouth: He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter..." St. Paul gave
expression to his joyful conviction in these words: "Christ our pasch (our paschal lamb) is
sacrificed" (I Cor. 5; 7).
On the cross, Jesus Christ professed His perfect submissiveness to His heavenly Father, when
He said, "It is consummated" (John 19; 3), and then cried out with a loud voice, "Father, into Thy
hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23; 46). Thus He expressed His internal disposition of
obedience and love. When He bowed His head and died, He completed the Sacrifice of His flesh
and blood for the sins of all men, in as far as they were or would be willing to make satisfaction or
pay homage to the Father together with Him. His vicarious sacrificial death gave to God the
greatest possible honour, for it was the act of a Divine Person Who offered, by the choice of His
own human will, that which belonged to Him, namely, His own body and His own blood.
For this reason the death of Christ was infinitely efficacious. As a sacrifice of propitiation, it
brought about the reconciliation of God and man and the restoration of the supernatural relations
disturbed by the sin of Adam (cƒ. St. Paul, Rom. 3; 10: "We were reconciled to God by the death
of His Son"; and Heb. 10; 10: "We are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ").
The Institution of the Holy Eucharist. The individual Christian can be justified only by the
application of the fruits of the redemption, for "no one can be just unless the merits of the
Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated to him" (Council of Trent, sess. VI, c. 7). For
this purpose Christ, on the night before His Passion, instituted the Holy Eucharist as a sacrament
(means of sanctification), through which His Sacrifice upon the cross could be continually
renewed in every age and in every place.
The first part of the Last Supper which Jesus Christ observed with His Apostles in the upper
room at Jerusalem, was undoubtedly the ritual paschal supper. "Now on the first day of the
unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the pasch" (Mark 14; 12), as is stated in Sacred
The Liturgy of the Mass
Scripture, the Lord sent the two disciples, Peter and John, to make all the preparations for the
eating of the pasch (Matt. 26; 17-30 : Mark 14; 12-26 : Luke 22; 7-20). A wealthy citizen of
Jerusalem provided them with everything necessary for the celebration, including evidently the
meat of the lamb which had been previously slain in the temple as a sacrifice of all Israel. The
Lord presided and at the first cup of wine spoke the usual blessing, which gave expression to the
joy of the festival; the words recorded by St. Luke (22; 15 _), "With desire I have desired to eat
this pasch with you, before I suffer," seem to imply it. Then the paschal lamb was eaten and the
ceremonial law of the Old Testament came to an end. The Evangelists do not mention any details
of the Jewish rite, for the Christians of that time were evidently not interested in them any longer.
What interested them was rather that which occurred after the eating of the paschal supper, and
is recorded in the three Synoptic Gospels and in the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (11;
25). The Master now turned their attention away from the sacrifice of the covenant and the
sacrificial blood of the lamb of the Old Testament, to the Sacrifice of redemption which on the
following day was to atone for the sins of men. He offered this Sacrifice by anticipation, not only
typically, but in reality. "Jesus took bread," that is, some of the unleavened bread which lay upon
the table, "blessed it" (Matt. 26; 26 : Mark 14; 22), or more accurately "praised God and gave
thanks" (Luke 22; 19 : I Cor. 11; 24); in other words, He pronounced a blessing, which included
praise and thanksgiving. Then He "broke and said: Take ye and eat, This is My body, which shall
be delivered for you do this for a commemoration of Me" (I Cor. 11; 24 : cƒ. Luke 22; 19). "And
taking the chalice, He gave thanks (as before) and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this, for
this is My blood [the blood] of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission
of sins" (Matt. 26; 27 ƒ.). "This do ye, as often as you shall drink it, for the commemoration of Me"
(I Cor. 11; 25).
What a moment before was unleavened bread and a chalice containing wine, though
appearing to be the same, was now in reality, in accordance with our Lord's words, His flesh and
blood under the separate species; thus, the Son of God became present and became a sacrificial
victim according to His human nature, which was to be offered vicariously "for many unto
remission of sins" in consequence of a "new covenant." This thought is expressed by the Church
in the hymn for Vespers of Eastertide in the following manner:

Jam Pascha nostrum Christus est,

Paschalis idem victima,
Et pura puris mentibus
Sinceritatis azyma.

Chapter Nine
Mass in the First Three Centuries

Apostolic Age. The doctrine and practice of the Apostles prove that they henceforth
celebrated the Eucharist as the Sacrifice of the Christian religion:
a) It is of the Christian altar, upon which the Sacrifice of the Eucharist is offered to God and
from which this heavenly sacrificial food is given to the faithful for actual participation, that the
following words, which St. Paul addressed to the Hebrews, are often understood: "We have an
altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle," (Heb. 13; 10) that is, the
Jews; for in order to have the right and privilege to participate by means of Holy Communion in
the Eucharistic Sacrifice, they had to cease "to serve the tabernacle," that is, to renounce the
Mosaic religion and enter into the Church of the Crucified.
b) The same Apostle "distinctly alludes to the Eucharistic Banquet (non obscure innuit), when
he says that they who are defiled by partaking of the table of devils, must not partake of the
table of the Lord, for by table he each time means the altar" (Council of Trent Sess. 22 c. 1). In
the aforesaid passage (I Cor. 10; 20 - 21) the heathen sacrificial table and banquet are contrasted
with the Eucharistic table and banquet, to show the Christians that it is by no means allowed
them "to partake of the table of the Lord and the table of devils; to drink of the chalice of the
Lord and the chalice of devils." The contrast between the Eucharistic table and the sacrificial
banquets of the heathens is only then completely established, when the Eucharist is considered
as a sacrifice of food and as a sacrificial banquet.
c) Finally, when it is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, that the clergy (prophets and
doctors) of the Church of Antioch "were ministering to the Lord," (Acts 13; 2) the celebration of
The Liturgy of the Mass
the Sacrifice of the Mass is thereby unmistakably meant; sacrifice being the most, worthy service
(oblatio servitutis) that may and must be rendered to God alone. Therefore, it is evident that the
Eucharistic celebration, which is frequently called in Holy Scripture the breaking of bread (fractio
panis), (Acts 2; 42 : 20; 7, 11 : I Cor. 10; 16) was in the Apostolic times and Church always
regarded and performed as a true sacrificial celebration.
Later Development. When the Fathers speak of the celebration of the Eucharist, they often
use the expressions sacrifice (sacrificium, oblatio, hostia, victima) and to offer (sacrificare,
immolare, offerre), priest (sacerdos) and altar (altare, ara); they, therefore, acknowledge in the
Eucharistic celebration a sacrificing priest, a sacrificial gift, a sacrificial action and a place of
sacrifice. But it unquestionably follows from these words, that they are not to be taken in a wide
sense, but in their strict and literal meaning:
a) They designate the celebration of the Eucharist often as a sacrifice of atonement
(sacrificium propitiationis), as a complete and true sacrifice (sacrificium plenum et verum), as the
most sublime and the most true sacrifice (summum et verissimum sacrificium), and as a
tremendous sacrifice (sacrificium horrendum, tremendum, terribile).
b) The Eucharistic Sacrifice, which can be celebrated only by a duly ordained priest, they
expressly distinguish from the improperly so called, that is, from the interior and spiritual
sacrifice, which each of the faithful may and should offer.
c) They distingtush the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, which is accomplished by
the spiritual sword of the words of consecration, from participation by Holy Comunion in the
completed Sacrifice, as well as from the prayers and ceremonies with which the sacrificial action
is accompanied and celebrated.
d) Very often they teach that the perpetual Sacrifice of the New Covenant has replaced the
figurative sacrifices of the Old Law. They discover in the Sacrifice of the Altar the fulfilment of the
figurative sacrifice of Melchisedech; they behold in the Eucharist the clean oblation predicted by
Malachias. "For, from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the
Gentiles: and in every place there is sacrifice and there is offered to my name a clean oblation"
(Mal. 1; 11).
e) When they consider more closely the relation of the Sacrifice of the Mass to that of the
Cross, they say that upon the Altar, as upon the Cross, there is one and the same sacrificing
Priest, one and the same Sacrificial Victim, but a different mode or action of offering; for in the
unbloody Sacrifice of the Altar the Lamb of God is mystically and sacramentally immolated, in
order always to keep alive the remembrance of the bloody Sacrifice of the Cross.
f) They teach that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is offered not only for the living, but also for the
dead, and that it procures for all atonment and forgiveness of sins.
g) From those who assist at this Sacrifice, they require the utmost devotion and the most
profound reverence; from the celebrating priest, virginity and angelic purity of heart.
For these and similar proofs, we have "a cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12; 1), but we shall here
confine ourselves to a few passages from the Fathers.
Among these proofs we may also reckon the beautiful words said to have been addressed by
St. Andrew, Apostle, to the proconsul who ordered him to offer sacrifice to the heathen gods. The
Acts of the Martyrdom of this Apostle give them as follows: " Every day I present to God Almighty
a living sacrifice. ... daily I offer to God the Immaculate Lamb upon the Altar of the Cross (that is,
upon what takes the place of the Cross). After the faithful have eaten the Flesh of this
Immaculate Lamb and drunk of His Blood, He remains whole and living.... Although He has been
sacrificed and eaten, this Lamb remains uninjured and lives immaculate in His kingdom."
St. Irenaeus († 202) distinctly calls the Eucharist the clean oblation predicted by the Prophet
Malachias. "Christ," he writes, "acknowledged (at the Last Supper) the chalice as His Blood and
taught the new Sacrifice of the New Covenant, which the Church has received from the Apostles
and offers to God throughout the entire world (et novi Testamenti novam docuit oblationem,
quam Ecclesia ab Apostolis accipiens in universo mundo offert Deo)." "The Jews have not
received the Word (Verbum), which is sacrificed." This Sacrifice, which Our Lord commanded to
be offered, is accepted by God as a "clean oblation and well pleasing to Him" (sacrificium purum
et acceptum).
St. Ephrem († 379), the greatest and most learned Father of the Syrian Church filled with
enthusiasm, extols the inconceivable dignity of the priesthood of the New Law. "O astounding
miracle, O unspeakable power, O dread mystery of the priesthood! Spiritual and holy, sublime
and immeasurable office, which Christ, after His coming into this world, gave to us without our
meriting it! On bended knees, with tears and sighs, I beg to consider this treasure of the
priesthood; I repeat, a treasure for those who preserve it worthily and holily. Yet, shall I attempt to
The Liturgy of the Mass
extol the dignity of the priesthood? It exceeds all comprehension and all conception. It was, I
believe, in consideration of the priesthood that St. Paul exclaimed : "O the depth of the riches, of
the wisdom and the knowledge of God!" With respect to the Eucharist, we find in his writings the
following passage: "Fire once fell upon the sacrifices of Elias and consumed them. For us the fire
of mercy became the sacrifice of life. Fire at one time consumed the sacrifice; but Thy fire, O
Lord, we eat at Thy Sacrifice."
Pope St. Clement of Rome, in his (first) epistle to the Corinthians, about the year 96,
makes mention of a sacrificial rite, which is performed by bishops or priests (c. 44; 4). He also
records what appear to be fragments of the primitive liturgy, among other things, formulas of
thanksgiving for the works of God, and the Trisagion (c. 30, 33, 34, 57, 59).
The Didache from about the same period contains a very short formula of thanksgiving (c.
10); some doubt whether it was intended for the celebration of the Eucharist. Still it is a clear
expression of gratitude for the gifts which God has bestowed upon us "through His Son Jesus,"
also for "the spiritual food and the spiritual drink." In another place (c. 14; 1), it refers to the
Eucharist in the following manner: "When you assemble on the day of the Lord, break bread and
observe the repast with prayers of thanksgiving, having confessed your sins beforehand, that
your Sacrifice may be pure."
St. Justin, about the middle of the second century, in his the first Apology (c. 65 - 67) gives a
complete description of the Sacrifice of the Mass. "On Sunday" all the Christians assembled from
"the city and country." Passages from the Old and New Testament, "as much as was deemed
sufficient," were read by a lector. After the person presiding, that is, the bishop or priest, had
given an edifying address on what had been read, all stood and recited prayers for the faithful,
the newly baptised and "all other people of the whole world." After the general intercession, they
all gave the kiss of peace to one another. At this point, bread and wine mixed with water were
brought as sacrificial gifts to the person presiding, who then recited over them the prayers of
thanksgiving: he sent "aloft praise and glory to the Father of all things through the name of His
Son and the Holy Spirit," and gave thanks "at length" for the gifts of God; "he sends aloft, as
much as he is able, prayers of petition and thanksgiving" (c. 67). All present responded with
"Amen." The distribution of the consecrated food began immediately afterward; as St. Justin (c.
66) states, it is the true "flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus," for Jesus had commanded the
Apostles to do this. (Then follows the narrative of the institution.) Deacons carried this salutary
food also to the absent faithful.
The description of St. Justin indicates that the prayers of thanksgiving were being lengthened
at that time, and that the Mass embraced at least the following elements: a) a didactic part
consisting of reading from the Old and New Testaments and a sermon; b) a service of prayer and
sacrifice, consisting of the general intercession, the kiss of peace, the offering of bread and wine,
the eucharistic prayer of praise, thanksgiving and petition, by which the consecration was
effected, the "Amen" of the faithful, and holy Communion.
St. Hippolyte of Rome gives a description of the Mass of a newly consecrated bishop, in his
work on the Apostolic Tradition (written before 235; an English edition by Easton, Cambridge,
appeared in 1934), which takes us into the beginning of the third century; it is erroneously called
the "Egyptian Church Ordinance," because it first became known in a Coptic version. It is
unfortunate that the work of the renowned Roman martyr and antipope, which is so important for
the history of liturgy, has been preserved only in fragments; among them is the section on the
Mass of the bishop in a Latin translation. It treats of the Orders, the catechumenate, Baptism, the
agape, the Eucharist, the oblations, burials and the times of prayer. It states that, when the
bishop has received the oblation from the deacons, he extends his hands over it, and together
with the entire presbytery, says in thanksgiving: "Dominus vobiscum, Sursum corda, Gratias
agamus Domino." He should then continue: "We give Thee thanks, O God, through Thy beloved
Son Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent us in recent times as Saviour and Redeemer and
Messenger of Thy will .... Who took bread, thanked Thee and said: Take ye, eat. This is My body,
which shall be broken (confringetur) for you. In a similar manner (He took) also the chalice and
said: This is My blood, which shall be shed for you. When you do this, commemorate Me. Mindful
also of His Passion and His Resurrection, we offer Thee this bread and this chalice and also thank
Thee, that Thou hast found us worthy to stand before Thee and do Thee this [priestly] service.
And we pray Thee that Thou send Thy Holy Spirit upon the oblation of the holy Church; deign to
unite all the faithful who receive of it, and grant them (the grace) that they may be filled with the
Holy Spirit for the strengthening of their faith in the truth, that they may praise and extol Thee
through Thy Son Jesus Christ. Through Him may honour and glory be to Thee in Thy holy Church,
to Thee, the Father and to the Son together with the Holy Ghost, now and for all eternity. Amen."
The Liturgy of the Mass
The Communion Epiclesis (the invocation of the Holy Ghost upon the oblation, that the faithful
may receive of the fruits of holy Communion), the concluding doxology and the "Amen" of the
people should especially be noted.
Tertullian and St. Cyprian also furnish us with important references concerning the
primitive liturgy of the Mass and its meaning. The latter particularly points out that the Sacrifice
of Christ upon the cross is renewed under the separate species of bread and wine ("Passio est
enim Domini sacrificium"), and for that reason both species must always be consecrated ("unde
apparet sanguinem Christi non offerri, si desit vinum calici," Epist. 63; 9). The Mass is a "true"
Sacrifice only inasmuch as it "represents the Passion of Christ" by means of the two separate
species. Only thus does the Mass become what the Lord Himself did, and applies the fruits of the
Sacrifice of the Cross. In this sense St. Ambrose also writes at a later period: "As often as we
receive the Sacrament which is changed by the mystery of holy prayer into flesh and blood, we
announce the death of the Lord" (De fide, 4; 10).

Chapter Ten
The Roman Mass from the Fourth to the Seventh Century

In the third century Latin had already been adopted in the West, in addition to Greek, for the
celebration of Mass. The liturgy of the Mass, however, still agreed for the most part in the fourth
century with that of the East. By the end of this century, accordingly as relations with the East
were close or distant, differences arose in regard to the arrangement and formation of the
various parts of the Mass. These differences also coincided with the further development of the
ecclesiastical year and the cessation of the catechumenate.
Even before the end of the great persecutions, it was customary in Rome for the Pope to go to
certain churches on specified days for the celebration of Mass. A great number of the clergy and
the faithful of the entire city attended the Mass. After the period of the persecutions, the
procession of the Pope to these churches (called "stations") was marked with great solemnity.
Prayers, of the nature of litanies, were chanted on the way, in order to inspire the faithful with a
fraternal spirit and unite them in thought with the saints in heaven. This development was
undoubtedly influenced by the processions in Jerusalem, with which the people of Rome had
become acquainted through the reports of pilgrims to the Holy Land. Some of the station
churches in Rome were named after the holy places of Jerusalem and Bethlehem (S. Maria Major
ad praesepe, Ad S. Crucem in Jerusalem). These solemn observances gradually influenced the
chants of the Mass. The practice of having a choir (schola cantorum) chant a psalm (later the
psalm for the Introit), while the clergy proceeded to the altar, had probably been introduced
already under Pope Celestine I († 432). When the clergy had taken their place in front of the altar,
they recited silent prayers, professing their unworthiness and asking God for forgiveness. A
general intercession, called the diaconal litany, followed immediately, and the people answered
with "Kyrie eleison." From the time of St. Gregory the Great († 604), the supplications of the
deacon were omitted on ordinary days, because they held up the divine service too long; on
those days only the Kyrie eleison and Christe eleison, frequently repeated, were retained. The
celebrant then greeted the congregation in the name of the Lord with the words, "Dominus
vobiscum," and recited the Oration. Originally there were three lessons from Sacred Scripture,
one from the Old Testament, another from the Epistles of the New Testament and a third from the
Gospels. From the sixth century onward, only one Epistle and Gospel were usually read. Between
the lessons, highly artistic Graduals developed from earlier chants of considerable length. On
Sundays and festivals a sermon by the Pope or a priest representing him followed the Gospel.
The first part of the Mass, the Missa catechumenorum, then closed with the blessing of the
catechumens and penitents.
The Mass of the Faithful began with another greeting followed by a general intercession. By
the end of the fourth century, the general intercession had been removed from this position and
a part of it inserted in the Canon. In the offering of the elements, the bread and wine, all the
faithful were accustomed to participate. Even the members of the choir, who chanted a psalm
during the Offertory procession, had to approach at the end and offer the water which was to be
mixed with the wine. The priest then requested the participants to pray in silence as a
manifestation of their internal disposition. A deacon wrote down the names of all who presented
gifts, that they might be especially remembered at the Mass. The names of these benefactors
were read during the Canon of the Mass in very early times, as Pope Innocent I testifies in 416 in
The Liturgy of the Mass
a letter to Decentius, Bishop of Gubbio (Migne, PL, 20, 551 _.). The celebrant of the Mass included
the offering of all the participants in the secreta (called also oratio super oblata). Now began the
eucharistic prayer, also called prex. This retained its original character as a prayer of
thanksgiving only in the parts which preceded the Sanctus. Those parts preceding the Sanctus
developed into the Preface, which varied in its wording, according to the festival or season. The
prayers following the Sanctus, however, were lengthened and arranged symmetrically into an
unchangeable norm, a fixed Canon (canon actionis, actio). The Canon as we know it, seems not
to have been definitely arranged until the time of Pope Symmachus († 514), for it was during his
pontificate that the prayers Communicantes and Nobis quoque received their present form.
Moreover, since that time the prayers of the Canon have been recited in silence. After the Pater
noster, which was sung aloud, came the kiss of peace and the breaking of bread; in the
meantime, at least since the time of Pope Sergius († 701), the choir sang the Agnus Dei. After the
mixture of the sacred species the distribution of holy Communion began. The Sacrifice, in which
the faithful had united themselves with Christ, was concluded by a repast in which Christ gave
them Himself as food. Communion was administered to all under both species, and in the
meantime the choir chanted another psalm. The entire Mass ended with prayers of thanksgiving
and another prayer invoking a blessing upon the people.

Chapter Eleven
The Roman Mass from the Seventh Century
to 1962

The further development of the Roman Mass during the middle ages should be considered
together with the development of the liturgical books. As the custom developed of changing the
prayers of the Mass according to the feasts and seasons of the ecclesiastical year, the liturgical
texts were drawn up for the use of the celebrant in larger volumes, which were called
Sacramentaries (sacramentaria libri sacramentorum). These books, however, contained only the
parts which belonged to the celebrant, namely the Collect, Secret, Postcommunion and Canon,
and not those portions which the choir or assisting clergy chanted or recited. Three of these
Sacramentaries are among the most important sources of the medieval Roman liturgy of the
The Leonine Sacramentary (sacramentarium Leonianum) has been preserved in only one
manuscript of the seventh century in the Chapter Library at Verona. It contains as a rule several
Masses for each day with proper Prefaces. It was first published by Bianchini in 1735 as the work
of Leo I, and still bears his name. At present it is regarded as an unofficial collection of various
Mass-formularies which were used in Rome at different periods. The author is considered to have
been a private individual, not a Roman, who compiled his work in the year 538 or later.
A prayer in one of the Masses suggests this date. In this prayer thanks are rendered to God
"Who hath granted us to receive the pascal Sacrament with a peaceful heart, after having been
delivered from the fierce enemies." It was just before Easter, 538, that the Gothic king, Witiges,
suddenly withdrew with his troops from the city of Rome.
The Gelasian Sacramentary (sacramentarium Gelasianum, liber sacramentorum Romanae
ecclesiae per anni circulum) is simply designated in the manuscripts a Sacramentary of "the
Roman Church" without any mention of the author. It is only since the Carolingian period that it
has been ascribed to Pope Gelasius († 496). It has been preserved in two forms. Even the more
ancient seems to have originated in Gaul, for there are Gallican interpolations in the Roman
prayers which belong to a period before Gregory. It is divided into three books containing Mass-
formularies for feasts and Sundays (one for each day), Prefaces (which are no longer so
numerous) and, lastly, the Canon actionis, which agrees in every respect with the present
Gregorian Canon.
The later form has been called the Gregorianized Gelasian Sacramentary (A. Ebner). It is
thought to have originated about 750-760 in Frankish Gaul, when Pepin was striving to bring
about greater conformity to the Roman liturgy as reformed by Gregory I (cƒ. K. Mohlberg, Das
fraenkische "Sacramentarium Gelasianum" in alemannischer Ueberlieferung, Einleitung, XXIX _.).
It contains Gelasian Mass prayers with Gregorian interpolations.
The Gregorian Sacramentary (sacramentorium Gregorianum, liber sacramentorum de
circulo anni a sancto Gregorio papa Romano editus) was adopted by Charlemagne as the Mass-
book of the Carolingian empire. In a letter written between 784 and 794 by Hadrian I to
The Liturgy of the Mass
Charlemagne, the Pope states that he has sent the emperor at his own request a Sacramentary
as "arranged by his holy predecessor, the divinely inspired Pope Gregory." The Roman copy was
placed in the imperial library at Aix-la-Chapelle, so that it might be copied and circulated
throughout the country. A distinct group of manuscripts which appear from this time on in the
Frankish kingdom, owe their origin more or less directly to the copy of the Sacramentary in the
imperial library.
The Gregorian Sacramentary sent by Pope Hadrian I, also called the Sacramentary of Hadrian,
must have been the Mass-book which was in use at papal functions toward the end of the eighth
century; it actually contained many additions which were evidently made after the time of Pope
Gregory. After a brief instruction concerning the celebration of Mass, there follow the daily
Preface and the Canon, the rite of ordaining bishops, priests and deacons, the Masses for the
entire year from the vigil of Christmas (the year began with Christmas at that time) to the fourth
Sunday of Advent and, finally, Orations for special occasions.
Development of the Missal. Since the Gregorian Sacramentary did not satisfy the needs of
the Frankish Church, a supplement was drawn up at the imperial court, probably by Alcuin. This
supplement, which was optional, contained favourite Orations, Sunday and votive Masses from
the Gelasian Sacramentary, Gallican Prefaces and blessings. Therefore, the manuscripts of the
Sacramentaries from the following centuries generally present a heterogeneous mixture of
Gregorian and other elements. Mass was now celebrated according to this type in the entire
Frankish kingdom as well as in Italy and Germany. Frankish bishops and monks even sought to
imitate papal functions as accurately as possible. For this reason many copies of the Ordo
Romanus I and the Liber antiphonarius were made at that time: the former, the rite of the papal
Mass, was presumably the work of Pope Gregory, though it afterward received many additions,
while the latter, ascribed to the same Pope, is the chant-book which was used at Mass in Rome.
The lessons, which were read from Lectionaria (respectively Evangeliaria and Epistolaria), were
also arranged according to the Roman model.
The Ordinis Romani containing descriptions of papal functions should not be confused with
the books which contained the Ordo Missae and were used by bishops at a pontifical Mass. In the
tenth century the latter received many additions in the form of private prayers which the
celebrant could recite while the choir was engaged in chanting the Gloria, Credo etc. Many
Ordines Romani have been published, but the best known and most frequently cited are the
fifteen of Mabillon (Migne, PL,78), which date from various periods between the seventh and
fifteenth centuries.
Since Masses at side altars had become more and more frequent, the custom arose in the
tenth century of including in the Sacramentory, the Mass-book of the celebrant, those portions of
the Mass which were chanted by the choir, and also the Epistle and Gospel, so that they might at
least be read by the priest at the altar (missa lecta seu Privata). Thus the Sacramentary
developed into a Mass-book, which was called Missale plenum because it embraced all the texts
requisite for Mass. As in the case of the Breviary of the Roman curia, there also existed a Missale
secundum consuetudinem Romanae curiae. From the thirteenth century onward this Missal
became the model for the Missals of all the dioceses of the Western Church.
The only additions to be noted during the late middle ages were numerous Sequences before
the Gospel, rubrics and short prayers at the Offertory, and also several Mass-formularies for the
new festivals. At the close of the middle ages, therefore, the structure of the Roman Mass was
substantially the same as at the time of Pope Gregory the Great, though the number of
Mass-formularies, the prayers of the ordo Missae and the rubrics were considerably increased.
Roman Missal. At the instance of the Council of Trent, Pope St. Pius V published an official
edition of the Roman Missal in 1570. This Missal is based upon the Gregorian Sacramentary, but
it also followed the later development of the Mass-book, the Missal of the Roman curia. For
practical reasons the Canon was placed in the middle of the volume after the Mass of Holy
Saturday. The calendar, the general rubrics and the like were placed at the beginning, followed
by the Proprium de tempore from the first Sunday of Advent to the last Sunday after Pentecost,
the Proprium and Commune sanctorum and, finally, votive Masses and Orations for special
occasions. This arrangement of the Missal is still kept at the present time. Even the designation
of the station churches of Rome in the titles of several Masses has passed into the present Missal
from the Gregorian Sacramentary. Later Popes, in recent times St. Pius X and Benedict XV, have
published revised editions which altered practically nothing.
The Memoriale rituum may be regarded as a supplement of the Roman Missal. It was first
published by Benedict XIII in 1725 for the smaller parish churches of Rome, and describes the
functions of the Missal in simplified form for churches which are served by only a small number of
The Liturgy of the Mass
the clergy. In 1821 it was generally prescribed for all those parish churches in which the sacred
ministers required by the Missal are not available (latest Editio typica, Regensburg, 1920).
The melodies for the Mass-chants are contained in the Graduale Romanum. In 1908 St. Pius X
published the official Vatican edition, which restored the unabridged traditional choral. The
Ordinary of the Mass is also published separately under the title, Kyriale.
Particularly on account of the faulty manner in which the melodies were handed down, the
mediaeval chant-books, the Graduals and Antiphonals, offered considerable difficulty to the
Tridentine commission entrusted with their revision. In spite of the initial cooperation of the
master of Church music, Palestrina, private editions, which were not entirely satisfactory, made
their appearance. Foremost among them was the so-called Medicaea edition of 1614-1615, in
which the ancient melodies were considerably shortened; it was repeatedly recommended by the
Popes, especially by Pius IX and Leo XIII. Pustet in Regensburg obtained the right to print this
edition for thirty years; at the expiration of this period, in 1903, St. Pius X pronounced himself in
favor of the more ancient traditional choral, and provided for the publication of a typical edition
of the unabridged melodies in 1908 - the present Editio Vaticana. But even this edition is not to
be regarded as final.

Chapter Twelve
Names and Species of the Mass

Since the Council of Trent, which treated of the Sacrifice of the Mass in session XXII, the
liturgical conception of the Mass may be considered as well-nigh completely clarified. The word
"Mass" derived from the late Latin Missa, which means the same as Missio (cƒ. collecta -
collectio, ascensa - ascensio, etc.); originally it signified the solemn dismissal of the
catechumens and penitents after the Gospel, and of all the faithful after Communion. The form
"Ite, missa est," by which the deacon announced the dismissal in the Latin rite, was probably
used at one time for the dismissal of any assembly (for instance, at court sessions, audiences). In
the beginning the term Missa was applied in a more general sense to any religious service at
which a dismissal took place (cƒ. St. Ambrose, Epist. 20; 4). From the sixth century on, however,
it was applied exclusively to the Mass (for the first time in can. 4 of the Synod of Arles, 524); this
development seems to have been due to a desire to characterize the Sacrifice of the Eucharist as
a holy action, a sacred mystery, which more than any other divine service was closed to the
A solemn Mass (Missa solemnis) is one at which the celebrant, deacon, subdeacon and a
choir chant certain parts. If the celebrant is a bishop, it is called a pontifical Mass. At an ordinary
high Mass (Missa cantata), the celebrant is not assisted by a deacon and subdeacon. The low
Mass (Missa lecta) takes place without the chanting of the celebrant or choir. The expression
private Mass (Missa privata) is employed in two senses; sometimes it is used for all low Masses,
at other times for all Masses which have no public character, such as conventual or parochial
On certain days specified by the rubrics, the celebrant of the Mass may use a different
Mass-formulary than that which corresponds to the Divine Office of the day. He thus gives
expression to his own devotion or the special intention of an individual or group of persons. Such
a Mass is called votive (from votum - "desire," "intention"). The votive Mass may be solemn or
private. The former must be prescribed or permitted by the Ordinary for a public reason; the
latter is prompted by the private devotion or the intention of the celebrant or of those who
request the Mass. Besides the Mass-formularies for the feasts celebrated during the year, which
for the most part may be used as votive Masses, there are twenty-six formularies in the Roman
Missal which serve this purpose exclusively. Requiem Masses are also considered as votive
Masses. Tertullian (De coron. mil., 3) already speaks of the practice of offering the holy Sacrifice
on the anniversary of the deceased. According to the Roman Missal, not only the anniversary but
also the third, seventh and thirtieth days after death or burial are especially observed in memory
of the deceased.
It is customary to distinguish in every Mass between the Mass of the Catechumens (Missa
catechumemorum) and the Mass of the Faithful (Missa fidelium). The former is intended merely
to prepare the participants for the Sacrifice by instilling in their hearts the proper internal
disposition. The latter consists of three principal acts; the Offertory, or the immediate preparation
for the Sacrifice; the Consecration, at which the actual Sacrifice is offered; and the Communion.
The Liturgy of the Mass
Sacrificial Character. The Mass is a true and proper Sacrifice, (Council of Trent, sess. XXII,
can. 1: "Verum et proprium sacrificium"), that is, a sacred act by which Jesus Christ - a Priest Who
is pleasing to God - offers a visible gift (His own flesh and blood) under sacramental species, in a
manner acceptable to God (unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross). The Council of Trent
states: "The same Who offered Himself then upon the cross, offers Himself now through the
ministry of priests; only the manner of offering is different" (ibid. c. 2). The human priest,
therefore, acts at the Sacrifice of the Mass in the person of Christ (in persona Christi), a personal
instrument; like the faithful who participate in the Mass, he should unite his internal disposition to
the sacrificial intention of Christ, and thus derive abundant graces from the Mass for himself.
Each time the Sacrifice of the Mass is offered, Christ Himself renews in an unbloody manner,
under the separate species of bread and wine, the sacrificial act which was accomplished in a
bloody manner on Calvary. In consequence, there is no new work of redemption, but only a
renewal of that which was consummated once upon the cross. The renewal, however, is a
continual re-enactment of the sacrificial death of Christ; its purpose is to bring greater numbers
of men the merits of the Sacrifice of the Cross, to unite their individual dispositions with the
sacrificial intention of Christ.
By His bloody death upon the cross, our Lord offered the victim as requited for a sacrifice.
From the rubrics of the Mass (De defect. miss., III; 6 : IV; 5 : X; 3), it may be concluded that the
sacrificial act consists in the twofold consecration, in the consecration under separate species,
and that the Communion belongs to the integrity of the Sacrifice.
The Fathers teach that the sacrificial act takes place through the words of Consecration (St.
Irenaeus, Adv. haer., IV; 17; 5 : St. Gregory Nazianzen, Epist. 171 : St. Gregory of Nyssa, In resurr.
Christi or., 1 : St. John Chrysostom, De prodit. jud., 1; 6 and 2; 6). They use expressions which
point to a kind of slaying (immolare, occidere, mactare, immolatio, victima, etc.). Cyprian writes:
"The Sacrifice is not validly celebrated if our oblation does not accord with the Passion of Christ"
(Epist. 63; 9); St. Gregory the Great: "Let us reflect upon the greatness and the value of this
Sacrifice, which continually represents (imitatur) for our atonement the Passion of the
only-begotten Son" (Dialog. IV; 58). How the Fathers understood this representation of the
Passion of Christ at the consecration, St. Gregory Nazianzen shows very clearly when he writes:
"Remember me at the altar, when you separate the body and the blood of the Lord by an
unbloody immolation, using the word (the words of consecration) as a sword" (Epist. 171).
Similarly, St. Thomas Aquinas calls the Mass an "image representative of the Passion of Christ"
and a "representation of the Passion of the Lord," and writes: "Inasmuch as the Passion of Christ
is represented in this Sacrament, ... it has the nature of a sacrifice" (III q.79 a.7 : cƒ. III q.83 a.1 ad
2 : III q.80 a.12 ad 3 : IV sent. d.8 q.2 a.1).
This is more clearly understood from the admonition which continually recurs in expositions of
the Mass at that time, namely, that the consecration of the wine should never be omitted, even
though the blood of Christ already becomes present together with the body "by concomitance"
through the consecration of the bread ("sed non significatur nisi corpus"); there must also be a
signification of the blood of Christ upon the altar besides the signification of the body, in order to
present a complete image of the death of Christ, a "plenum sacramentum," a complete Sacrifice
of the Mass (cƒ. Hugh of St. Cher, Speculum ecclesiae, ad offert.). Therefore, theologians at
present regard the twofold consecration as a sign of the sacrificial act, inasmuch as Christ
becomes present under separate sacramental species and externally appears as immolated and
dead. When bread and wine are consecrated, Christ lies upon our altar as an immolated lamb (cƒ.
Apoc. 5; 6: "a Lamb standing as it were slain"). This mystical immolation, liturgy speaks at times
of a mystical oblation, expressing perfect submission, just as the bloody slaying of Christ upon
the cross.
Mode of Operation. The Mass is a public Sacrifice by which Christ renews the bloody
Sacrifice of the Cross in an unbloody manner and places it in the service of the Church. Thus the
Church, in offering this Sacrifice together with Christ, can apply its fruits to the individual faithful.
The Council of Trent gives the following explanation: "Though the fruits of that bloody Sacrifice
are applied most abundantly by this unbloody Sacrifice, in no respect is any injury done to the
former by the latter. Therefore, according to apostolic Tradition, (the Mass) is rightly offered not
only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions and other needs of the faithful who are living, but
also for those who have departed in Christ and are not yet fully cleansed" (sess. XXII c. 2).
The fruits which are derived from the Mass as the Sacrifice of Christ are of three kinds:
a) Special fruits (fructus speciales, medii, ministeriales) are those effects of which the celebrant
of the Mass as the represntative of Christ and the Church has a certain right to dispose,
according to the mind of the Church (cƒ. Denzinger-Bannwart, 1530), in favor of specified
The Liturgy of the Mass
persons or for special purposes.
b) General fruits (fructus generales) are the blessings which are poured out upon the Church and
through her upon the whole world. In this sense the priest prays in the name of the Church at the
offering of the bread "for all faithful Christians, living and deceased," at the offering of the chalice
"for the salvation of the whole world." In the Suscipiat, God is petitioned to receive the holy
Sacrifice "for our benefit and for that of all His holy Church."
c) Personal or very special fruits (fructus personales, specialissimi) are those effects of the Mass
in which the worthy celebrant and others who assist at Mass partake. At the offertory the priest
prays in a special manner for himself and "for all here present"; and again, in the Memento, that
God may be mindful of "all here present"; but particularly in the Suplices after the Consecration
"that those of us who partake of this altar and receive the most sacred body and blood of Thy
Son, may be filled with every heavenly blessing and every grace."
The greater their devotion, the more intimate their supernatural union with Christ, the more
abundant are the fruits which the faithful may expect from participating in the Mass. They
should, therefore, vividly arouse in their own hearts the sacrificial dispositions of Christ, unite
themselves with Christ in using the very prayers of the Church, join the sacrifice of their own wills
to the Sacrifice of Christ and, if possible, receive holy Communion whenever they assist at Mass.
The application of the special fruits of the Mass is usually called the application of the Mass
(applicatio Missae). It results from an explicit act of the will on the part of the celebrant. The act
of the will, known as the intention of the priest, must be at least habitual (intentio habitualis),
that is, it must have been explicit at one time and never revoked by a contrary act. The intention
must also be sufficiently determined (for instance, for certain deceased persons, for a definite
purpose), though the priest need not know the exact intention in the mind of the person who
requests the celebration of the Mass. For a valid application of the fruits of the Mass, the
celebrant must form his intention before the Consecration, at the latest before the consecration
of the wine. No mention of the intention is required in the Memento of the living or that of the
dead. From very ancient times the belief has prevailed that the celebrant, has a special right to
dispose of the fruits of the Sacrifice which he offers. For this reason the faithful have requested to
be remembered in a special manner at Mass. As long as only one Mass was regularly celebrated
every day in each parish (as in the Orient down to the present day), the special fruits were
applied to the entire parish though at times there was a special mention, in the Canon of the
Mass, of living and deceased benefactors. The lists of the names of the benefactors of each
church were frequently written on parchment, covered by tablets of ivory, the so-called diptychs,
and kept on the altar; at the Memento of the Mass they were read aloud. At an early period
however, Masses began to be offered in a very special manner for definite individuals, for
instance, for a deceased person (cƒ. St. Augustine, Conf., IX, c. 11; Tertullian, De cor. mil., c. 3, Ad
Scapul., c.). Moreover, besides the parochial Mass, votive Masses were celebrated for urgent
needs. The faithful who had such needs brought gifts in greater abundance to the priest; in the
beginning, these were natural products, but since the twelfth century they have generally been
pecuniary gifts (stipendia) or founded endowments presented to the church. In return, the
celebrant bound himself (titulo justitiae) to apply to the donors exclusively according to their
intention those fruits of the Mass of which he could dispose. These practices developed into the
present rules for the applicacton of the Mass; sometimes it is applied for the diocese or parish
(Missa pro populo), sometimes for the benefactors of a church (daily in collegiate churches),
again for individuals or their special intentions (on account of the stipend).

Chapter Thirteen
Preparation of the Celebrant for Mass

Preparation for the Valid and Licit Celebration of Mass. For the valid celebration, the
celebrant must be a validly ordained priest and must have at least the virtual intention "to do
what the Church does," that is, the intention to consecrate. The intention is actual if it directly
influences the celebration of Mass; for instance if the priest forms the intention or renews it just
before Mass, and is perfectly attentive in consecrating. It is virtual if it has been once formed and
still continues to influence the act, though the intention has been diverted from it; the
consecration, therefore really takes place in virtue of the intention previously formed (cƒ. MR, De
defect. miss., VII, 4).
The intention must also be sufficiently determined in regard to the object which is to be
The Liturgy of the Mass
consecrated; for instance, if the priest intends to consecrate the hosts and wine which are on the
For the licit celebration of Mass, the priest still needs at least the presumed permission of the
pastor or rector of the church in which he wishes to offer the holy Sacrifice. To celebrate Mass in
another diocese, a priest must as a rule present a Celebret, an official letter of recommendation.
For secular priests their own bishop issues this, for priests of religious Orders, their superiors, for
Oriental priests, the Congregatio pro Ecclesia Orientali. If he has no Celebret, the priest may be
permitted to say Mass, provided the rector of the church is otherwise satisfied that he is a worthy
priest. Special regulations of diocesan bishops in this regard must be conscientiously observed
(can. 804 §3).
Every priest should celebrate mass daily, unless he is prevented for some good reason. This
practice is prompted by the following considerations: the purpose of the Priesthood to serve the
public good by offering sacrifice and by prayer (Hebr. 5; 1); the command of Christ in instituting
the Eucharist, "Do this for a commemoration of Me" (Luke 22; 19); well-ordered self-love which
demands that a priest utilize for his own advantage the treasure entrusted to him. According to
the Code of Canon Law, every priest is strictly bound to say Mass "several times a year" as, for
instance, on the principle fesitivals (can. 805). The appointment to a benefice usually involves
the strict obligation of offering the holy Sacrifice several times a week.The Church also desires
bishops and religious superiors to oblige their subjects to the celebration of Mass on all Sundays
and holydays (Council of Trent, sess. XXII, c. 14 de ref.). On the other hand, according to
moralists, it is no sin for a priest to refrain from saying Mass for a reasonable cause on any
At one time zealous Priests said Mass several times on important festivals. It was also
considered permissible to add a votive Mass to the parochial Mass for any special reason. At
present, however, a priest is permitted to say three Masses only on Christmas and (since 1915)
on All Souls' Day; the latter practice is an extension of a custom which previously prevailed in
Spain and Portugal. Whoever desires to say Mass more than once on other days must have a
papal indult, or must receive the requisite faculty from the bishop of the diocese. Canon Law
(can. 806) allows bishops to give priests the faculty of saying two Masses (bination) on Sundays
and holydays, when they prudently judge that a notable portion of the faithful, on account of an
insufficient number of priests, would not be able to fulfill their obligation of hearing Mass.
Preparation for the Worthy celebration of Mass. A preparation of soul and body is
required for the worthy celebration of Mass. As fat as the preparation of the soul is concerned, a
priest must strive to be free from every sin, but at least from all mortal sin. If he is conscious of a
mortal sin, he may not be satisfied with an act of perfect contrition, but must confess his sin
before celebrating Mass. Canon Law repeats the obligation of confession, which was stressed by
the Council of Trent (sess. XIII, c. 7 de Euch.), and concludes with the somewhat clearer
statement: "But if he has celebrated Mass, after having made an act of perfect contrition, when
there is no confessor at hand and there is a pressing need, he should go to confession as soon as
possible" (can. 807; cƒ. MR, De defect. miss., VIII; 2 - 4).
The following paragraph is given according to the old law of 1917 so that by it the mind of the
Church can be more readily perceived and appreciated:
In regard to the preparation of the body, priests are strictly bound to a natural fast, that is, to
abstinence from all food and drink from midnight (can. 808). The practice of fasting before
the reception of the Eucharist dates from Christian antiquity. The ascetical reason for it is
evidently reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. Christians should prize no food more than the
Holy Eucharist, and should desire to partake of the Eucharist before tasting other food.
Since reverence for the Eucharist cannot be reconciled with the previous consumption of
natural food the precept prescribing a natural fast does not admit of light matter (parvitas
materiae). The general rubrics of the Missal expressly state that no one may say Mass, if he
has partaken of any food or drink after midnight "though it be taken as medicine and in
exceedingly small quantity" (De defect (1570)., IX; 1). It must be noted, however, that the
fast is violated only by digestible things which are taken from without (extrinsicus) after the
manner of food and drink, but not after the manner of saliva.
The obligation of the fast begins at midnight, but this may be computed according to any of
the ways of reckoning time. Therefore, the local true time or the mean time or legal time
(daylight saving time) may be followed, even when the particular manner of reckoning time is
not in use among the inhabitants of the place (can.33).
As a human law, the obligation of the Eucharistic fast must give way at times to the natural
law of avoiding serious scandal and preventing the loss of one's reputation. The rubrics of the
The Liturgy of the Mass
Missal also refer to cases in which the priest must complete his own or another's Mass even
though he is no longer fasting (De defect., III; 6 : IV; 5 : X; 3).
According to the liturgical law of Pope John XXIII, the priest is held to fast from solid food and
alcoholic drink for three hours before the start of Mass. Non alcoholic drink can be taken up to
one hour before the start of Mass. (De defect., IX; 1) If he is sick however, he may take necessary
and true medicines, solids or liquids (not however alcoholic drinks) at any time before Mass. (De
defect., IX, 2). Also it should be noted that according to the new canon law of 1983 it is stated
that: He who wishes to receive the Holy Eucahrist is bound to fast for only one hour before
communion from both solid and liquid foods, excepting water or medicine (can. 919 §1). The
same canon also states that priests who are to celebrate more than one Mass may eat between
the first and second or the second and third Mass, even if it be within the one hour prescribed
(§2). It is seen from this canon that there is no longer a distinction of; "before the start of Mass"
for priests, and; "before the receiving of communion" for the faithful.
It is proper for the priest to prepare himself proximately for of the celebration Mass by
devoting some time before the Mass to devout prayer; this may consist in a meditation joined
with vocal prayers. According to the Ritus celebrandi Missam 1, 1, there is an obligation of
reciting Matins and Lauds before Mass; at present, however, any reasonable cause is regarded as
excusing from this obligation outside of choir. Similarly, the prayers of the Missal entitled
Preparatio ad Missam pro opportunitate sacerdotis facienda are not considered obligatory, but
are certainly to be strongly recommended.
The prayers of preparation for Mass begin with the antiphon Ne reminiscaris, Domine, delicta
nostra etc. (cƒ. Tob. 3; 3). The antiphon as well as the psalms (83 - 85, 115 and 129), versicles
and prayers express an ardent desire for purification and an earnest petition for the grace of the
Holy Spirit. Thus the mind of the celebrant is diverted and his heart is prepared for perfect union
with Christ.
This same disposition the celebrant then manifests externally by the washing of the hands; as
the prayer accompanying the act states, he longs to "serve God free from every stain of soul and

Da Dómine, virtútem mánibus meis ad abstergéndam omnem máculam; ut sine

pollutióne mentis et córporis váleam tibi servíre.

After marking the Missal and preparing the chalice, the priest puts on the sacred vestments;
while vesting, he recites appropriate prayers which express the symbolism of the vestments and
remind him of the necessary priestly virtues. These prayers very probably owe their origin to
Abbot Ambrose Autpertus († about 780 in Italy):

Ad amictum Ad manipulum
Impone Domine, capiti meo galeam Merear Domine, portare manipulum fletus
salutis, ad expugnandos diabolicos incursus. et doloris; ut cum exaltatione recipiam
mercedem laboris.
Ad albam
Dealba me Domine, et munda cor meum, Ad stolam
ut in sanguine Agni dealbatus, gaudiis Rede mihi Domine, stolam immortalitatis
perfruar sempiternis. quam perdidi in praevaricatione primi
parentis: et quamvis indignus accedo ad
tuum sacrum mysterium merear tamen
gaudium sempiternum.
Ad cingulum
Pracinge me Domine, cingulo puritatis, et Ad casulam
extingue in lumbis meis humorem libidinis, ut Domine qui dixisti: Iugum meum suave
maneat in me virtus continentiae et est et onus meum leve: fac ut istud portare
castitatis. sic valeam, quod consequar tuam gratiam.

The ordinary priest has no right to an assistant priest in celebrating Mass "for the sole reason
of honor or solemnity" (can. 812). Another priest, however, is permitted to assist a sick priest for
the purpose of preventing mistakes and also, according to a decision of the Congregation of Rites
(Decr. auth. 3564), the newly ordained priest at his first solemn Mass.
It is not permitted to celebrate Mass without a server, except in casses of necessity or by
The Liturgy of the Mass
virtue of a papal indult. The female sex may not be employed for this purpose in place of the
male server, except "for a just cause, and on condition that the woman answer the prayers from
a distance and under no circumstances approach the altar" (can. 813).

Chapter Fourteen
The Parts of the Mass

In explaining the particular parts of the Mass, it is best to follow the course of the solemn
Mass, for it has preserved many elements which have disappeared from others.
Beginning of the Mass. The clergy proceed from the sacristy to the altar in the order
prescribed by the Church (censer-bearer, acolythes, subdeacon, deacon and celebrant). This
procession is a reminder of the solemn entry of the Pope into the station church, as described in
ancient Roman Ordines.
Of like solemnity is the entry of bishops for pontifical Masses. References to the station
churches of Rome are still retained at the head of eighty-seven Mass-formularies. The station
processions were discontinued in Rome at the time of the exile of the Pope at Avignon (1307).
As the celebrant approaches the altar, the choir chants the Introit. This chant is an outpouring
of joy and exultation, of sorrow and sadness, according to the character of the feast, the festal
season or the particular occasion. It is intended to acquaint the assembled congregation with the
special character of the Sacrifice which is being celebrated. It serves the purpose of bringing the
mystery of the day before the faithful in a general way, or of uniting them in spirit with the
particular saint whose feast is being celebrated, that they may be better disposed for assisting at
Mass. According to mediaeval liturgists, the Introit should recall the ardent longing of the just of
the Old Testament for the coming of the Messias, and arouse in the faithful a similar longing for
the second coming of the Saviour or the desire to be united with Him in the Mass.
The Mass-formulary, and often the Sunday for which it is intended, is named from the first
word of the Introit (e.g., Requiem Mass, Lætare Sunday). It was originally introduced as an
accompaniment of the clergy in proceeding from the sacristy to the altar; for this reason it is
usually richer in its melody than the simple chant of the psalms, but not as rich as the solo-chant
of the Gradual.
Originally an entire psalm was sung while the clergy betook themselves through the midst of
the chanters to their places in the choir; later the chant was interrupted as soon as the clergy
reached the altar. Since the eleventh or twelfth century, only a single verse of a psalm is chanted
in addition to the antiphon; the doxology then follows and the antiphon is repeated. In Eastertide
and on some festivals, two Alleluias are added to the antiphon. The doxology, as a prayer in
praise of God, always has a joyful character, and therefore is omitted in Passiontide and at
Requiem Masses. The vigils of Easter and Pentecost have no Introit, because on these days,
according to an ancient practice, the Litany of the Saints is chanted before the Mass. Later,
however, an Introit was introduced for private Masses on the vigil of Pentecost.
Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. In the meantime the celebrant, together with his
assistants, has recited the prayers at the foot of the altar. They are introduced by the sign of the
cross and consist of Psalm 42, Judica me, Deus, with the antiphon, Introibo, a general confession
of guilt (Confiteor), versicles and orations. The Missal of Paul III (1550) permited the recitation of
the Psalm Judica "aloud or in silence on the way to the altar."
The Psalm of David, is a prayer petitioning God (v. 1 - 3), followed by a holy resolution (v. 4),
and concluded with an act of resignation and confidence in God (v. 5). It depicts the situation and
sentiments of David, who had been driven from Jerusalem by the revolt of Absalom, and was
grievously harassed by his enemies. The separation from the holy tabernacle distresses him most
of all, and appears to him as a punishment of God; hence he sorrowfully longs after a return to
the sanctuary of the Lord. There he will glorify God by sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving; in
conclusion he encourages himself to a cheerful confidence in God, to a reliance on prompt
The principle reason for incorporating this psalm into the prayers recited at the foot of the
altar is, without doubt, contained in the fourth verse: Et introibo ad altare Dei ..., which serves at
the same time as an antiphon, that is, gives a pointer to the mystical and ascetical
comprehension of the holy hymn in its liturgical position and application. The sorrowful longing,
humble fear, touching plaint, joyful hope seek and find an affecting expression in this psalm. Its
prominent tone is one of joy and happiness in God; for the expectation of salvation, the fervour of
The Liturgy of the Mass
faith and hope triumph at last over every sorrow and sadness; and exalt joyously in the Gloria
Patri and in the repetition of the antiphon Introibo.
The Psalm, since it is an expression of joy, is omitted in Passiontide; an additional reason may
be the fact that on Passion Sunday the beginning of the psalm is recited as the Introit. It is also
omitted in Requiem Masses, for verse 5, "Quare tristis es, anima mea," etc. ("Why art thou sad, O
my soul"), would hardly be becoming on mournful occasions.
Joy however is tempered by the remembrance of numerous sins. At this point then, the priest
turns in humble submission, yet with a firm confidence in the infinite mercy of God, by accusing
himself of sin in the recitation of the Confiteor. This prayer is divided into two distinct parts. An
acknowledgment of sin and a petition to the blessed and the faithful to intercede in our behalf
with the Lord our God. In many parts of the Mass, the intercession of the saints is called upon.
St. Bonaventure says the following (Brevil. 5; 10):
"God has wished that we should pray to the saints and they should pray for us, in order
that the fainthearted may gain confidence to receive through worthy intercessors that
which they do not dare ask of themselves or could not obtain by their own prayers; and so
that humility may be preserved in those who pray, the dignity of the saints be made
manifest, and finally, that in all the members of the body of Christ, love and unity may be
revealed, so that the lower creatures may confidently look up to those higher placed and
implore their assistance, and these latter in return may in all love and kindness
condescend unto them."
The forgiveness of guilt is dependant upon the acknowledgment of sin. Those present accede
to his desires to be forgiven and they beg for him by the mouth of the server mercy and favour
(Misereatur). Then the server also in the name of the faithful recites the Confiteor, that they too,
by the intercession of the saints and of the priest may obtain favour and the remission of their
sins. Following his accusation, the priest pronounces the formula known as the absolution. In
latin, absolutio signifies both the freeing or acquittal, and also the conclusion or completion.
The prayers for forgiveness are followed by certain versicles which are recited in a slightly
bent posture (inclinatio corporis mediocris) as an expression of greater confidence. Just before he
ascends the steps to the altar, he pronounces for the first time the "Dóminus vobíscum." It is
important for us to note that this prayer, "may the Lord be with thee," is put in the plural
(vobiscum). Even were a priest to celebrate mass alone with one altar server, he would still
pronounce it in the plural. This is because the Holy Mass is not a private prayer or act. It is an act
of the Church and for the Church. It is then the whole of the Mystical body he is addressing.
Two other prayers for forgiveness are recited one in ascending the altar steps, the other upon
reaching the altar. In the latter (Oramus), the celebrant expresses the desire that God may grant
him forgiveness through the merits of the martyrs over whose relics he is about to offer the holy
Sacrifice; at the words, "quorum reliquiæ hic sunt" ("whose relics are here"), he bends over and
reverently kisses the altar, the symbol of Christ, and the relics enclosed in the sepulchre.

Aufer a nobis, quáesumus Dómine, iniquitátes

nostras: ut ad sáncta sanctórum puris mereámur
méntibus introíre. Per Chrístum Dóminum
nostrum. Amen.
Orámus te Dómine, per merita Sanctórum tuórum,
quorum relíquae hic sunt, et ómnium sanctórum:
ut indúlgere dignéris omnia peccáta mea. Amen.

Incensation. The celebrant then immediately begins to renew, as it were, the consecration
of the altar for this particular Sacrifice. While putting three scoops of incense in the censer, the
celebrant recites the prayer:

Ab illo benedicáris in cuius honóre cremáberis. Amen.

Then he blesses the incense tracing a single sign of the cross over it with his right hand (Rit.
celebr., IV; 4). At one time the bishop stood behind the altar in celebrating Mass and encircled
the entire altar in incensing it. The present ceremony of incensing the altar, as prescribed in the
Ritus celebrandi, IV, 4, is intelligible only in the light of the earlier practice. It ends with an
incensation of the celebrant, a sign of reverence to the visible representative of the invisible
High-priest, Jesus Christ. Then follows the private recitation of the Introit and Kyrie by the
celebrant, a practice which was borrowed from the low Mass at a comparatively late period.
The Liturgy of the Mass
In high Masses without assistants (Missæ cantatæ) the use of incense is forbidden (Decr.
auth. 3328). In many dioceses, however, by reason of a papal indult, the Ordinary may permit it
on certain days, namely, on first and second class feasts, on Sundays and when the Blessed
Sacrament is exposed on the altar. This indult allows the same incensations as at a solemn Mass
and renders a certain degree of solemnity possible at high Masses, even in smaller churches,
where assistants are not available.
The Introit. When the celebrant begins to read the Introit from the Missal, he blesses himself
according to an ancient Christian custom. St. Thomas Aquinas says that the Introit prepares the
people by encouraging them to a greater devotion. This is the reason why, he continues, the text
concerns the solemnity of the particular feast with which the people are united (4 Sent. dist. 8,
At Requiem Masses, the celebrant makes the sign of the cross over the Missal, "as if he were
blessing some one" (Rit. celebr. XIII, 1; "... quasi aliquem benedicens..."); by this ceremony he
signifies his intention of applying the fruits of the Mass particularly to the departed souls.
Kyrie eleison. Mindful of their unworthiness and weakness, the Church beseeches God in
the Kyrie to bestow upon her children the grace of a worthy and fruitful participation in the holy
The Kyrie is all that remains of a litany which at one time was chanted at the beginning of
Mass. At the end of the sixth century the Kyrie eleison and Christe eleison were sung alternately
by the choir, until the celebrant gave the signal to cease. The Second Council of Vaison (529)
says that at that time it was a universal custom to recite the Kyrie at Holy Mass frequentius cum
grandi affectu et compunctione. The custom of invoking the Divine Mercy nine consecutive times
in the Roman liturgy has been practised and prescribed since the eleventh century. The higher
and Mystical meaning in the Kyrie is found in the thrice-triple repeated invocation. Each group
referres to a distinct Divine Person of the Holy Trinity. Yet each being repeated three times shows
that at each time the other two Persons are also, at least virtually invoked (St. Fulgentius: Contra
Fabian. fragm. 31) This clearly points to the doctrinal teaching of the indwelling of the three
Persons (Circuminsessio).
As long as we, children of Eve, are constrained to remain in this vale of tears weeping and
mourning, in exile and misery, no prayer is so necessary, none so befitting our condition as the
Kyrie, this heartfelt appeal, this humble cry for mercy to the triune God.
Gloria. Begining, with the words of the angel at the moment of the birth of Our Lord in
Bethlehem, "Gloria in excelsis Deo," the Gloria is a joyful hymn in praise of the Triune God. It is
called the greater doxology in comparison to the lesser, the Gloria Patri, since it is an
amplification of the latter.
The compiler of this ancient hymn, that is, of the part added to the words of the angels,
cannot be historically ascertained. It is certain, however, that it is not of Latin but Greek origin.
The Latin text is somewhat a free translation. The original Greek text is ascribed to St. Hilary of
Poitiers (†366).
It also comprises various petitions for mercy, and therefore is suitably placed between the
Kyrie and the Oration. According to mediaeval liturgists, the celebrant represents the Angels who
announced the coming of the Saviour to the shepherds. As many hosts of Angels participated in
the joyful hymn in praise of God, the choir or even the entire congregation should now continue
the chant of the celebrant, rejoice with him and the heavenly hosts in the gracious coming of the
Saviour, and give praise to the Triune God for His unceasing compassion toward them.
The Gloria has been chanted at Mass since the sixth century. The Gregorian Sacramentary
mentions that it was sung only on Sundays and feasts, and that bishops alone had the right to
intone it; Easter was the only day on which this was allowed to priests. In the eleventh century
this distinction between bishops and priests no longer existed. Since the time of Pope St. Pius V,
the Gloria is recited at Mass only when the Te Deum is recited at Matins. The exception, however,
is for Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil. (For a beautiful commentary on the words of the Gloria,
cƒ. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Rev. Dr. Nicholas Gihr, pgs: 396 - 407)
The Greeting. A moment before the Oration, the priest venerates the altar with a kiss, then
turns to the faithful, standing in the middle, mutually greeting them (Dominus vobiscum) with
outstreched hands, and invites them to pray (Oremus). All these movements and words
gloriously depicts the celebrant as intercessor, adressing not only those present, but indeed the
whole mystical body. This is why it is said in the plural form.
The people reply; Et cum spiritu tuo. Consider the beautiful words of St. John Chrysostom (1st
hom. for the feast of Pentecost):
"If the Holy Ghost were not in this your common father and teacher, you would not recently,
The Liturgy of the Mass
when he ascended this holy chair and wished you all peace, have cried out with one accord;
And with thy spirit. Thus you cry out to him, not only when he ascends his throne, when he
speaks to you and prays for you, but also when he stands at this holy altar, to offer the dread
Sacrifice. ... By this cry you are reminded that he who stands at the altar does nothing, and
that the gifts, that repose thereon, are not the merits of a man, but that the grace of the Holy
Ghost is present, and, descending on all, accomplishes this mysterious Sacrifice. We see
indeed a man, but God it is who acts through him."
Oration. Next comes the Oration, also called the Collect, which expresses a petition in
keeping with the character of the feast or occasion. Since it also frequently recurs in the Divine
Office, it establishes a close bond between the Mass and the Canonical Hours. That this prayer is
made in common is indicated by the priest's speaking aloud. On the part of those who assist,
these prayers are recited either standing or kneeling. From ancient times it was customary on the
Sundays of the year and during the Eastertide to pray standing (cƒ. Tertullian; De corona militis
c.3). The standing up should remind us of Christ's glorious resurrection. During the seasons,
generally speaking, when the priest is vested in violet or black, when the spirit of penance should
be more prominent, it is befitting that we kneel to show a sorrow and humility of heart.
The Collects were originally and without exception and are now usually addressed to the
Father. Jesus Christ Himself offered His whole life, actions, sufferings and especially His prayers to
God the Father. Nevertheless, the Church remains mindfull of Christ Who said to His Apostles:
"Amen amen, I say unto thee, if you ask the Father anything in my name, He will give it to you"
(St. John 16; 23). This brings us to a better understanding of the five different forms of conclusion
of the Collects:
1) When the prayer is addressed exclusively to the Father, the intercession of the Son is sought
after during the conclusion, hence the words; Per Dominum nostrum Jesum ...
2) Should the prayer be addressed to the Son, the conclusion reflects back to Himself; Qui vivis
et regnas cum Deo Patre ...
3) When the prayer is addressed to the Father, but the Son is also mentioned, then the
conclusion requires once again the intercession of the Son, but the same as already been
mentioned, hence; Per eundem Dominum ...
4) If the prayer ends by mentioning the Son, (Christus, Verbum, Unigenitus, Salvator, etc.) the
conclusion continues; Qui tecum vivit et regnat ... (S.R.C. 11 March 1820).
5) If the Holy Ghost is directly and explicitly mentioned, the conclusion is; in unitatem ejusdem
Spiritus Sancti ...
It is not difficult to perceive that these conclusions demonstrate our belief in the Trinity; the
individuality of the Persons, their equality, their unity in the divinity, and the High Priesthood of
Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Most of the Collects found in our Missals date from antiquity, already mentioned or written by
Popes St. Leo the Great (461), Gelasius (496) Gregory the Great (604).
Each Mass really has but one Collect; frequently, however, other orations must or may be
added. These commemorations are called praescriptæ, if they are permanently prescribed by the
rubrics or general decrees; imperatæ, if they are ordered for a time by the Pope, bishop or
religious superior for some reason; votivæ, if the private devotion of the celebrant is the reason
for adding them. Further details concerning the number and order of the orations are contained
in the Rubricæ generales, XVI; also in Additiones et Variationes in Rubricis Missalis, V and VI.
Scriptural Lessons and Intervening Chants. The faithful must now be prepared by
instructive reading from the inspired writings for fruitful participation in the holy Sacrifice and
Communion. The purification through prayer is supplemented by enlightening instruction. Usually
there are two lessons at each Mass: the Epistle, which is taken from the Old Testament, the Acts
of the Apostles, the Pauline or Catholic Epistles or the Apocalypse; and the Gospel which is taken
from one of the four inspired Gospels. In the Epistle Christ speaks to us indirectly through His
prophets and Apostles; in the Gospel He addresses us directly in His own Person, instructing us
by words or deeds. The Gospel, therefore, is chanted after the Epistle, by a cleric of higher rank,
in a prominent position, in a more solemn manner and with greater ceremony.
Originally both lessons were read as a continuation of lessons read at the previous Mass, as
at present in the reading of the Scriptura occurrens of the Breviary; but since the fourth century,
special passages of Scripture for the lessons of each Mass have been chosen with reference to
the liturgical season, the feast or occasion, supplementing each other in the expression of a
uniform thought. At times the Epistle is a prophecy or type of that which the Gospel relates as
accomplished, at other times it is the reverse; again, one lesson may stress the application of
what is contained in the other. Many ferial Epistles of Lent relate events or miracles of the Old
The Liturgy of the Mass
Testament which are similar to those related in the Gospels. The lessons of the Commune
sanctorum draw attention to the particular state of the saints (martyr, virgin, etc.), while those of
the Proprium sanctorum recall certain virtues of the particular saint or certain events in his life. In
imitation of the Jewish practice, a chant unites both lessons; the instruction begun in the lessons
is continued in the sermon and in many cases ends with a profession of faith.
On ordinary Sundays, the Epistle is borrowed from one of the Epistles of the New Testament;
from the sixth Sunday after Pentecost it is taken from one of the Epistles of St. Paul. It is called a
lesson (lectio) in the Mass. If it is taken from an Epistle, the liturgical announcement is always
"Lectio epistolæ beati N."; otherwise, "Lectio actuum apostolorum," etc. The announcement,
"Lectio libri sapientiæ," is used for all the lessons which are taken from the sapiential books of
the Old Testament, namely, Wisdom, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiasticus and the Canticle of
Canticles. On days of fast and penance, lessons from the Old Testament are regularly found in the
Roman Missal; this is undoubtedly due to the fact that liturgy conceives the condition of penitents
as resembling that of the people of the Old Testament. When the words of an Apostle are read,
the Church loves to introduce them by the consoling word "Fratres" or "Carissimi" ("Brethren" or
"Dearly beloved"). If the lesson contains the words of a prophet, it frequently ends with the
admonition added by the Church, that it gives expression to the word of God ("Dicit Dominus
Deus omnipotens"). Furthermore, the Wednesdays of the Embertides and those after Lætare
Sunday and Palm Sunday have two lessons besides the Gospel; Ember Saturdays have five. This
practice was adopted from the Gallican rite. Others (as Eisenhofer) are of the opinion that the
additional lessons are a survival of an ancient Roman practice, of observing vigils on certain
The Epistle. Christ the Redeemer, is not only the source of grace and sanctification, but also
of enlightenment in all truth for mankind. In fact, the first office of the Redeemer consisted in
teaching the truth and the law of God. Only after the Lord had, as a teacher of truth, shown the
way to heaven, did He give His life for our redemption. Thus the Epistle and Gospel come before
the sacrificial action.
The Epistle is chanted on the Epistle side by the subdeacon; at a Missa cantata it may be
sung by a lector. In ancient churches, in the space between the sanctuary and the nave of the
church, there stood the Ambo, that is, an immovable tribune or oblong pulpit, which was
ascended by a few steps. The Epistle, in this case, would be sung from one of the lower steps of
the Ambo, while the Gospel from the highest. In the meantime, the celebrant sits down. At the
end of the Epistle, the celebrant returns to the epistle side of the altar. The subdeacon carries the
book of Epistles to the celebrant who places his hand upon it; this ceremony (cƒ. Rit. cel., VI, 4)
signifies the return of the book to him who gave the commission to read and the acceptance of
the book on the part of the celebrant. The celebrant then blesses the subdeacon.
While the clergy are making preparations for the chanting of the Gospel, the choir intervenes
with a chant which takes up or develops the thought expressed in the Introit and serves as a
transition from the Epistle to the Gospel; frequently it is an echo of the former and often a
prelude to the latter. The Missal distinguishes between four different chants, which may appear
at this part of the Mass either individually or joined with one another in various ways; these
chants are the Gradual, the Tract, the Alleluia with a verse and the Sequence.
The Gradual (responsorium graduale) was originally a psalm chanted by a soloist on the
steps (gradus) of the ambo; certain interruptions by the choir gave it the character of a respond.
The chants of the first part of the Mass reach their climax in the Gradual. It expresses the
character of the occasion in rich, stirring melodies. It exists in all Masses throughout the year,
except on Holy Saturday and from Easter Saturday to Pentecost Saturday. On ferials of Advent,
on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays of Lent and on vigils, it is the only intervening chant; at
other times it is followed by an Alleluiatic verse or a Tract, probably because a second Epistle,
formerly chanted in this position, has been dropped. In a few instances, a Sequence is also
The Alleluiatic verse, with the repetition of the Alleluia, clearly manifests its character as a
respond and usually expresses the reason for the festive joy of the Church. The so called "great
Alleluia" of Eastertide (beginning on the Saturday after Easter) consists of the Alleluiatic verse
and the addition of another verse with an Alleluia, as an expression of the greatest joy.
The Tract (tractus, a translation of the Greek musical expression, which signifies a
species of typical melody; cƒ. P. Wagner, Einfuehrung, 102) is certainly one of the oldest chants of
the Mass. It was adopted from the synagogue, and still consists of an entire psalm on the first
Sunday of Lent and the major portion of a psalm on Palm Sunday. Generally it has a mournful
character. The uniform measured way of chanting is, in contrast to the animated alternate
The Liturgy of the Mass
singing of the Gradual and the Alleluja Verse, evidently suited for the expression of holy sorrow
and penitential sentiments. What the sombre purple is to the eye on these days of earnest
sorrow, the touching chant of the Tract is to the ear. On the Ember Saturdays, however, it
expresses the joyful gratitude of the newly ordained for the grace of Holy Orders. On Good Friday,
the saddest day of the ecclesiastical year, it is the only intervening chant, and occurs twice.
The Sequences of Easter, Pentecost and Corpus Christi intensify the joy expressed by the
Alleluiatic verse; those on the two feasts of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin and in
Requiem Masses express grief. The Sequences originated about the same time in German and
French monasteries - toward the end of the ninth century. In many places, on the higher festivals,
the concluding syllable of the Alleluia was chanted with a very elaborate melody, which was an
expression of joy and was therefore called Jubilus. It is still undetermined whether this Jubilus of
the Alleluia is derived from Greek Byzantine music (P. Wagner) or from the pre-Gregorian, ancient
Roman or ancient Gallican liturgy (cƒ. Blume). In any case, the same groups of notes frequently
recurred a second time and were then chanted by a second choir, in order to give the first
chanters time to catch their breath; these groups of notes, frequently repeated, were called
sequentiæ. During the eighth century, words were composed for each part (versus ad
sequentias), probably in order to be able to distinguish more easily between the more difficult
modulations and impress them upon the memory. In the ninth century, texts were supplied for all
the modulations of the Jubilus, so that there were as many syllables as notes; they were called
prosæ (prosae ad sequentias) because they were written in prose. These very prose texts were
soon called "Sequences," from the melodies (sequentiæ) to which they were sung.
St. Notker Balbulus, a monk of St. Gall († 912), composed the first Sequences which were
in use in Germany. According to tradition, he was induced to write them by monks who had come
from the monastery of St. Jumièges in northern France after its destruction by the Normans.
About the same time, however similar chants originated at St. Martial in Limoges and in
other French monasteries. They soon became so popular that almost every Mass received a
special Sequence.
In the beginning, the Sequences still depended in great part upon the Jubilus of the
Alleluia for their melody. They consisted especially of parallel strophes of symmetrical
construction, which took into consideration only the repetitions in the melody of the Jubilus, not
the introductory and concluding modulations. Accordingly, the older Sequences regularly have a
musical introduction and conclusion, which are not repetitions of the melody (cƒ. Victimæ
paschali laudes); the principal part, however, is made up of strophes which are sung in pairs
according to the same melody.
After the twelfth century, Sequences became more and more like hymns. They adopted
rhythm, preferably the trochee, as well as rhyme, and divided each strophe into two rhythmically
symetrical semi-strophes. The musical introduction and conclusion disappeared.
The poetic composition of Sequences was brought to the zenith of perfection by Adam of
St. Victor († 1192), unquestionably among the greatest who "have ever mastered the Latin
tongue" (Dreves). Also worthy of mention among other mediaeval composers of Sequences are
Wipo of Burgundy (chaplain of Conrad II about 1035), author of the famous Sequence of Easter,
Victimæ paschali laudes, and St. Thomas Aquinas († 1274), author of the Sequence of Corpus
Christi, Lauda Sion. Jacopone da Todi († 1306) is regarded as the author of the Stabat mater; but
according to C. Blume, St. Bonaventure († 1274) more probably wrote it. Thomas of Celano (†
1255) has been frequently mentioned as the author of the Dies iræ; this Sequence has existed
almost in its present form from about the year 1200, and is probably much older (cƒ. Les
questions liturgiques et paroissiales, 1931, p. 260 ƒ.). Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury
(† 1228), is the author of the Veni sancte Spiritus, the only other Sequence still remaining in the
Roman Missal.
From the standpoint of music, the strains of the Sequences are of a stirring and striking
character. These hymns, therefore, are compared to "heralds" who "announce Christian truths to
the faithful with a courageous and energetic voice" (Wagner).
The liturgical reform after the Council of Trent left only four Sequences in the Roman
Missal, namely, those for Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi and Requiem Masses. The fifth, the
Stabat Mater, was again inserted later.
The Gospel constitutes the liturgical climax of the first part of the Mass. It is surrounded by a
wealth of ceremonies which center about the Gospel-book, the Gospel narration and the deacon.
These solemn rites can only mean that the Church beholds in the Gospels her divine Teacher,
Christ Himself.
While the celebrant waits at the center of the altar, the deacon lays the Gospel-book upon
the altar in front of him, in order to deliver it over, as it were, to Christ. After kneeling down and
The Liturgy of the Mass

Munda cor meum ac labia mea, omnipotens Deus, qui labia Isaiae prophetae calculo
mundasti ignito: ita me tua grata miseratione dignare mundare, ut sanctum
Evangelium tuum digne valeam nuntiare. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

... a prayer for the purification of his heart and lips, he again takes up the Gospel-book from the
altar, thus indicating that he receives it from the hands of Christ for the purpose of
authoritatively announcing the Gospel to the faithful. But since he is also the minister of the
Church, he kneels down again before the celebrant, the actual representative of the Church, and
asks him for his blessing.

Iube Domine, benedicere.

Dominus sit in corde tuo et in labiis tuis ut digne et competenter annunties Evangelium
suum: In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen

The celebrant imparts the blessing in the name of the Church, and then places his hand upon
the Gospel-book, as if he were handing it to the deacon. The deacon accompanied by all the
ministers of the Mass, with the exception of the celebrant, now goes in solemn procession to the
Gospel side for the chanting of the Gospel.
As the deacon chants the Gospel, two lighted candles are held by acolythes on either side as
an expression of joy and a symbol of Christ. The deacon turns toward the north to announce the
Gospel, for the north is the symbol of spiritual torpor. As soon as he begins to chant, the entire
congregation, clergy and laity, arise in order to manifest their reverence and docility toward the
message of the heavenly King. After greeting the faithful with "Dominus vobiscum," the deacon
immediately announces the Gospel narrative: "Initium" or "Sequentia S. evangelii secundum N.,"
and the choir answers in praise of Christ, the divine Teacher, with the joyful acclamation, "Gloria
tibi, Domine." As in the Gospel-book, so now in the chanted words of the Gospel, the Church
beholds a symbol of Christ or a pledge of His gracious presence. Meanwhile the deacon makes
the sign of the cross over the beginning of the Gospel narrative and then upon himself, to
transfer the blessing, as it were, from the book to his own forehead, lips and heart; by this act he
seeks to draw strength from the Gospel, that he may bear and preserve the teaching of the
crucified Saviour in his mind, upon his lips and in his heart, and also that he may be able to
profess it boldly by word and deed. For the same purpose all present bless themselves.
Immediately the deacon incenses the Gospel-book out of reverence for Christ, Whom it
represents. At the close, the celebrant kisses the beginning of the Gospel narrative as an
expression of reverence toward Christ, Who has spoken to us through the inspired words, and
prays that purification from sin may be the effect of the Gospel reading ("Per evangelica dicta,"
etc.). He himself is then incensed, as the representative of Christ.
The prayer, Munda cor meum, is first mentioned in the fourteenth century, though similar
prayers are used somewhat earlier. The greeting, announcement of the Gospel narrative and
Gloria tibi, Domine appear in Ordo Romanus II. At one time the Gospel-book was passed around
and kissed by all the clergy and people.
On Sundays and holydays, the sermon is properly preached after the Gospel. Since the
Gospel narrative usually expresses the character of the feast or occasion, it has been the practice
in the Church from very ancient times to explain it to the faithful in the form of a homily. This was
also particularly the intention of the Council of Trent, when it confirmed older canons and
prescribed that sermons on Sacred Scripture adapted to the intelligence of the faithful be
preached in parish churches on all Sundays and holydays (sess. XXIV, c. 4 de reform.).
Credo. The so-called Nicene Creed (Symbolum Nicaeno-Constantinopolitanum) concludes
the first part of the Mass. Full of gratitude for the instruction on the word of God which they have
received, priest and people now declare that they unreservedly adhere to all the doctrines of the
Church as briefly summed up in the Creed.
Originally the Credo was chanted by the people according to a very simple melody, intoned
by the priest, and served sometimes as a substitute for the sermon. Up until John XXIII it was
inserted in the Mass:
a) propter mysterium, that is, when a mystery is commemorated which is explicitly or implicitly
mentioned in the Credo, namely, on all feasts of our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary, on every
Sunday as the day of the Lord, on the feasts of St. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus Christ, on all
the feasts of Angels (cƒ. invisibilium in Nicene Creed), on the feasts of All Saints and the
The Liturgy of the Mass
Dedication of a church (cƒ. sanctam ... ecclesiam);
b) propter doctrinam, that is, on account of the eminent doctrine of certain saints, namely, on
the feasts of the Apostles, Evangelists and Doctors of the Church;
c) propter solemnitatem, that is, to enhance the festive celebration - therefore, on the feast of
the titular saint of a church and at every solemn votive Mass. On the feasts of saints, other than
those included under b), the general rule prevailed: "M. C. V. non credit," that is, the feasts of
martyrs, confessors and virgins have no Credo. An exception is the feast of St. Mary Magdalen
(apostolorum apostola) who was commissioned by the Saviour to announce to the Apostles the
glad tidings of the Resurrection. The Credo is also prescribed on the titular feasts of religious
Orders and Congregations, as well as on the feasts of their founders, but only in their own
Under the rubrics of John XXIII, this unfortunately changed and thus lost much of the
aforesaid significations. Now the Credo is recited at Holy Mass only when it is a first class feast,
or second class but then only for the feasts of Our Lord, our Lady, and the Apostles and
The Offertory. The offerings of the faithful (called oblatio, munera, dona, etc., or even
sacrificium) consists of bread and wine; the elements for the Sacrifice, though not yet changed
into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, they are already regarded as symbols of them. To the
wine a few drops of water are added as a symbol of the faithful.
At this part of the Mass in the early Church, after the dismissal of the catechumens and
penitents, the celebrant again greeted the faithful (fideles), the only persons still present, and
recited the general intercessions with them. Nothing remains of this long prayer but the Dominus
vobiscum and the Oremus, an invitation to pray (according to Brinktrine, Die Heil. Messe, p. 123,
originally joined with the Secret). The choir immediately begins the Offertory chant. Through the
medium of this variable chant, the entire Offertory act is permeated with the spirit of the feast,
season or occasion. In the early centuries, while the faithful were bringing their gifts in procession
to the sanctuary, an entire psalm together with an antiphon was usually sung. At present only
the antiphon is chanted.
At Requiem Masses, however, the Offertory chant still consists of an ancient respond,
evidently because an Offertory procession was retained much longer in such Masses than in
others; in dramatic form it accompanies the souls of the deceased as they approach the
judgment-seat of God. It was not a prayer merely for the day of death. According to the original
wording, the Church prays Christ not to permit the souls of all the faithful to perish eternally, but
to preserve them from the punishments of hell and to lead them by the hand of St. Michael, the
guide of souls, to the kingdom of happiness and life. In adopting this prayer into the liturgy of the
Mass, the Church desires the faithful to revert in thought to the moment immediately after the
departure of the soul. This is also true of other prayers of the Church, as, for instance, the Oration
of the Mass In die obitus, which is not recited as a rule until the third day after death. Some,
however, refer the words of the Offertory chant to purgatory, for the punishments of purgatory
are described as similar to those of hell, (therefore; os leonis, lacus profundus). Caesarius of
Heisterbach († about 1240) already refers to such opinions (A. Franz, Die Messe im deutschen
Mittelalter, 222). Others also explain the Offertory chant of Requiem Masses as a prayer for
deliverance from purgatory, but point out that the peculiar wording is intelligible only in the light
of the descriptions of the ancient Roman dungeon (carcer inferior; cƒ. F. X. Hecht, Ephemerides
Liturgicæ, 1936, p. 415 _.).
In Requiem Masses an Offertory procession of the faithful still exists in some places. During
Christian antiquity, everyone who desired to receive Communion, and thus share in the fruits of
the Mass, was required to make an offering according to his means (St. Cyprian, De opere et
eleem., 15, St. Augustine, Epist. III, 8). The intention of uniting oneself with the Sacrifice of Christ
and the Church is best expressed in a visible manner by material gifts (sacrifice in a wide sense).
The faithful should, however, at least unite themselves with the priest at the Offertory and make
an offering of their own hearts to God.
The offering of the elements includes the seperation, the dedication and the blessing of the
bread and wine for the exalted end to which they are destined. This preliminary sanctification of
the Eucharistic elements, if not essentially necessary, is yet in the highest degree just and
proper. This action has in its favour the example of Jesus Himself, who at the Last Supper, in His
character of High-priest, taking the bread and the chalice with the wine "in His holy and
venerable hands" and "raising His eyes to heaven, blessed as He gave thanks" to the Almighty
Father for the eathly gifts of bread and wine.
First, the celebrant lifts up (with both hands) the bread which is handed to him upon the
The Liturgy of the Mass
paten by the deacon. Raising his eyes for a moment, as if he were presenting the bread to God,
he prays in the Suscipe for a gracious acceptance of the "immaculate host." He then traces a
cross with the bread over the place where it is to lie, thus signifying the identity of the cross and
altar as well as the identity of the Sacrifice of the one and the other; in the middle of the cross
which has been traced, he lays down the bread, as if he were preparing the mystical victim for
the slaughter (Durandus, IV; 30, 17). The paten, as a sacred vessel, is now given to the
subdeacon, that he may hold it covered until it is needed again after the Pater noster. At all
Requiem Masses as well as at low and high Masses without sacred ministers, it is covered with
the corporal and purificator.
In the meantime, the deacon pours wine into the chalice. The celebrant then blesses the
water, and it is mixed with the wine in accordance with the example of Christ at the Last Supper.
This rite signifies that the faithful desire to be closely united with the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as
intimately as the water is united with the wine; furthermore, that they hope to become partakers
of the divine life of Christ through holy Communion, as He became partaker of our human nature
at the Incarnation. Since wine is a symbol of Christ, Who possesses a fullness of every blessing,
but water is a symbol of the faithful, the priest blesses only the water, except at Requiem
Masses, in which he prays particularly for the deceased. The whole requiem Mass rite aims at
giving to the departed souls the greatest possible assistence, hence much is omitted which refers
to that fruit which those present, namely, the living, generally derive from the Mass. This is also
why the celebrant at the introit makes the sign of the cross not over himself, but over the book,
which here in a certain way represents the suffering souls. At the mixture of the water with the
wine, the celebrant recites the prayer, Deus qui humanae substantiae, an ancient Collect for
Christmas with the insertion "per hujus aquæ et vini mysterium" (cƒ. Leonine Sacramentary). The
offering of the wine now occurs in the same manner as that of the bread, except that the
celebrant keeps his eyes directed upward during the prayer Offerimus. Moreover, the deacon,
who was occupied with the preparation of the chalice during the offering of bread, co-offers the
wine by supporting the chalice and reciting the Offerimus together with the celebrant (cƒ. Gen.
8; 21 and Eph. 5; 2 for expression "cum odore suavitatis").
Whoever desires to participate in the fullest measure in the fruits of the Sacrifice must
present himself, his will and his disposition, to God, together with the elements of the Sacrifice.
This offering of self is accomplished by the celebrant for all present in the prayer In spiritu
humilitatis; a slight inclination (inclinatio corporis mediocris) of the body expresses the feeling of
unworthiness. Underlying the text, which is borrowed from the prayer of the three young men in
the furnace of fire (Dan. 3; 39 _. : cƒ. Ps. 50; 18), is the reminder that God cannot accept the
sacrifice of sinful creatures unless it is accompanied by sincere penance (De Imit. Christ., IV; 7,
Just as all objects which are intended for divine service (as the chalice, vestments, etc.)
receive the blessing of the Church before they are used, so also should the elements of the
eucharistic Sacrifice be prepared by a blessing in view of their sublime destiny. The priest,
therefore, raises his eyes and hands heavenward, drops them again immediately, as if he were
drawing something down, and blesses the elements; meanwhile he beseeches the "Sanctifier" to
come down and bless the "sacrifice," that is, the elements of the Sacrifice. The "Sanctifier"
mentioned in this prayer is the Holy Ghost, as is clearly expressed in the mediaeval Ordinaries
and, even to the present day, in the Mozarabic liturgy ("Veni, Sancte Spiritus, Sanctificator," etc.).
In this prayer, which has been adopted from the Gallican liturgy, some expositors see a
Consecration Epiclesis. Since bread and wine are only imperfect elements, which receive their
perfection through the consecration, this prayer should in their opinion express the desire for a
"blessing" which shall effectively consecrate. The prayer might, however, rather be considered as
a Communion Epiclesis, expressing a desire to participate abundantly in the fruits of holy
Communion which God even now, as it were, is uniting with the elements of the Sacrifice for
those who are later to partake of them.
Incensation and Washing of the Hands. The incensation at the Offertory is carried out in
a more solemn manner than at the beginning of Mass; in the first censing it is a censing of the
altar and the celebrant, in the second a censing primarily of the elements of the Sacrifice and
then of the altar and all the participants. The form of blessing the incense Per intercessionem is
based upon the vision of the Angel in Apocalypse 8; 3 _.; it is an invocation of God through the
intercession of all the elect in heaven, and especially through that of St. Michael, the prince of
the angelic hosts and the protector of the Church (in mediaeval Missals, St. Gabriel; cƒ. Luke 1;
11: "standing at the right side of the altar of incense"). In incensing the elements and the altar,
the celebrant prays that the prayers of all participants in the Mass may rise heavenward like the
The Liturgy of the Mass
smoke of incense, together with the Sacrifice of Christ, and find gracious acceptance. The
ceremony closes with the censing of the celebrant, his assistants and all participants;
symbolically it signifies that the fruits of the Sacrifice flow in abundance from the altar upon all
who are present ("descendat super nos misericordia tua").
Originally the washing of the hands, which takes place at this point, was necessary on
account of the handling of the gifts of the faithful. This washing dates from the earliest antiquity,
and its origin is doubtless traceable not merely to natural reasons of necessity and propriety, but
also mainly to motives of higher consideration, since shortly he will touch the Most Blessed
Sacrament. The mystical sense of this rite is also easy to comprehend. The hand has ever been
considered as the principle instrument, as the priviledged member within which the power and
activity of man are concentrated and, therefore, by which, in a certain manner, the whole man is
represented. Consequently it symbolizes the interior purification and cleansing of the whole man
from all that sullies the soul and body. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says, that the washing of the hands
evidently "designates the purity and blamelessness of our actions." (Catech. mystae. V, n.2)
It is accompanied by the recitation of Psalm 25; 6 _. (Lavabo), which expresses the resolution
to offer the holy Sacrifice with the greatest possible purity and devotion. At a Pontifical Mass, in
accordance with an older practice, the bishop washes his hands twice, immediately after the
Oremus and after offering the bread and wine.
Expression of the Purpose of the Sacrifice. Having returned to the center of the altar,
the celebrant raises his eyes heavenward for a moment, supports himself on the altar and in an
inclined position recites the prayer Suscipe Sancta Trinitas. This additional prayer for a gracious
acceptance of the Sacrifice unfolds its purposes with special reference to the cult of Christ and
the saints. Besides the general purpose, the glorification the of the Triune God, it lays stress on
the particular purpose, the glorification of the God-man and those who have come to glory
through Him. Among the latter are mentioned particularly those listed in the Confiteor (except St.
Michael, previously invoked) and those whose relics are in the altar (istorum); we invoke their
intercession that we may partake of the fruits of the Mass in abundance. The celebrant also
expresses his reverence for the God-man in a symbolical manner by kissing the altar, and then
turns to his brethren, particularly those who minister at the altar, beseeching them to intercede
for him. In the Suscipiat, in which they pray for the celebrant that God may accept the Sacrifice
from his hands, they again briefly enumerate the purposes of the Mass.
In the Orate fratres the celebrant reminds his assistants that the Mass is also their Sarifice
("meum ac vestrum sacrificium"). The Orate fratres, practically in its present form, first appears
in the ninth centuary in the Sacramentary of Amiens. The Susipiat was introduced somewhat
later, and is still wanting in the Dominican rite. Because of the invitation to pray, there is no
reason for the Oremus before the Secret, and it is therefore omitted; it is still retained, however,
in this place in some mediaeval Missals.
Secret. The Offertory act ends with the Secret. The name Oratio secreta may be due to the
fact that the prayer has been recited in silence (secreto) from very ancient times. Others,
however, explain that secreta, that is, secretio or oratio ad secretionem, refers to the separation
of the catechumens from the faithful, which immediately preceded the Offertory, or to the
"separation" of the elements of the sacrifice from the other gifts offered by the faithful. Actually,
the Secret was the only Offertory prayer (Oratio super oblata) in ancient times. After the
elements of the Sacrifice were placed on the altar, and while the choir was still chanting the
Offertory psalm, the celebrant recited the Secret in a whisper in order to commend to God all the
gifts of the faithful together with the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The prayer is always based on the
thought that God may graciously accept the gifts which have actually come from Him ("tua de
tuis dona"), impart to them a supernatural power and dispense His graces to mankind in return.
Inasmuch as the faithful offer their earthly gifts, which are soon to be changed into the body and
blood of Jesus Christ, they hope to receive back abundant treasures of divine grace. It is a kind of
sacred barter ("sancta commercia," Secret of the third Wednesday of Lent), as these prayers
frequently suggest. In addition, they usually refer to the intercession of the saints on their
respective feasts, or to the leading thought of the feast or occasion.
The Secret is intended to obtain an abundance of the fruits of the Sacrifice and Communion
for all who have contributed toward the offerings or have participated in the Mass in any way. In
the very first Secret of the Missal, that of the first Sunday of Advent, we pray that the sacred
mysteries ("haec sacra," cƒ. "sacrificia" on the Monday of Holy Week) may cleanse us by their
power and bring us to the very Author of them, the Author of all gifts and graces. In the Secret of
the third Monday of Lent, we pray God that our gifts may become to us a salutary sacrament"
("salutare nobis sacramentum"). On the feast of the Epiphany, the Church prays that God may
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look down with favor upon her gifts, for they are not merely symbolical, as were the gifts of the
magi, but it is Jesus Christ Himself Who is offered and received ("immolatur et sumitur"); this
prayer, of course, anticipates what is soon to take place at the Consecration. On the Wednesday
of Holy Week, the Church also recalls "the mystery of the Passion of Christ." The more modern
Secrets frequently refer to the internal offering of self rather than to the external offering of gifts
(cƒ. the Secret on the feast of St. Peter Canisius, April 27).
The Consecration. Clergy and laity now direct their attention to the transformation of their
gifts into the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, their High-priest.
Preface. The Preface constitutes the beginning of the most important part of the Mass, in
which the consecration takes place; it developed out of the beginning of the eucharistic prayer of
Christian antiquity. Originally the name of the prayer, praefatio, probably signified only the
introductory versicles, Dominus vobiscum, Sursum corda, Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro; in
ancient times, however, even the longer dedicatory prayers which preceded a sacrificial act were
called praefationes. The very first sentence of the text, "Vere dignum et justum est," etc.,
contains an expression of praise and thanks. The solemn, elevated style recalls certain passages
in the Apocalypse (4,11; 5,9 and 12) and prayers of praise in the divine service of the synagogue.
In almost all Prefaces God is invoked under the three titles: "Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal
God" (perhaps originally punctuated: "Domine, sancte Pater, omnipotens, aeterne Deus". There
follows immediately a reference to certain works of God, for which special thanks or praise should
be accorded Him. The remaining parts of the ancient prayer of thanksgiving have been separated
from the Preface at a later date by the Trisagion (Sanctus).
The present Roman Missal contains fifteen Prefaces. The revised Missal of St. Pius V retained
only eleven of the more ancient Prefaces, namely, the Common Preface and those of Christmas,
Epiphany, Lent, Passiontide, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin and the
Apostles. All except the Preface of the Blessed Virgin, introduced by Pope Urban II (1095) date
from the time of St. Gregory the Great. In 1919 Pope Benedict XV added the Preface of Requiem
Masses and that of St. Joseph. Finally, Pope Pius XI added the Preface of Christ the King in 1925,
and another of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1929. The Common Preface states no specific reason
for giving thanks, but expresses in general the idea that our thanksgiving at Mass should receive
its efficacy through our Mediator Jesus Christ.
All Prefaces are solemn hymns of thanks. It is their purpose to introduce the important act of
consecration with words of profound gratitude to a beneficent God, and to produce in the faithful
the desired spiritual dispositions. In keeping with this purpose is the rich melody (tonus ferialis,
solemnis, solemnior) to which the Preface must be sung at a high Mass. Toward the end are
regularly mentioned the choirs of Angels with whom we should join in giving praise unceasingly
to God.
In the Sanctus the choir or the congregation actually carry out this concluding thought of the
Preface; even at present the melody of the Sanctus at Requiem Masses (and that of the
eighteenth Mass of the Kyriale) shows that it is merely a continuation of the Preface. The
Trisagion is a joyful expression of homage to the Triune God; it is accompanied, therefore, by
joyful music and the playing of the organ or at least (since the twelfth century) the ringing of the
bell. The text is based on the vision of the prophet Isaias (6; 1 _. : cƒ. Apoc. 4; 8); "Deus,"
however, has been inserted between "Dominus" and "Sabaoth," while "coeli et terra" takes the
place of "omnis terra." This hymn of adoration was already in use in the synagogue, before the
time of Christ.
The Benedictus, which continues this homage (sung after the Consecration, Decr. auth. 4243,
4364), is a joyful greeting of the Son of God Who comes down upon the altar. In the celebration
of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews greeted their expected King and Messias in a similar
manner; in the procession on the festival they sang Psalm 117; 26: "Hosanna [Hebrew "help us"]!
Blessed is He ["the King," Luke 19; 38] Who cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the
highest!" These same words, with which the people greeted Christ on Palm Sunday (Matt. 21; 9),
were probably used frequently by the Jews to express their longing for the coming of the Saviour.
All the ancient liturgies except the Egyptian (Liturgy of St. Mark, Anaphora of Serapion) add the
Benedictus to the Sanctus. The Church uses it to express her longing for the appearance of Christ
upon our altars; at a high Mass the choir chants it in the name of the Church after the
Consecration, to greet Christ the King Who has already made His appearance. The celebrant and
his assistants recite the Sanctus in an inclined position (inclinatio mediocris corporis). Full of
confidence, they stand erect at the Benedictus and bless themselves, thus petitioning for
themselves the grace of the Saviour.
Canon. In the course of time, various intercessory prayers were introduced into those
The Liturgy of the Mass
portions of the eucharistic prayer which follow the Sanctus. The Canon (canon, canon actionis,
actio) probably received its present fixed form between the end of the fourth century and the
time of Pope Gregory the Great, perhaps even before the death of Pope Symmachus († 514). A
picture of the crucifixion, which originated from the decorative letter T of the Te igitur in ancient
manuscripts, usually marks the beginning of the Canon in the Missal; it draws attention again to
the intimate relation between the Consecration and the Sacrifice of the Cross.
Especially on account of the symmetrical arrangement of its parts, the Canon appears to be
the work of a single individual; St. Gregory the Great calls him Scholasticus, that is, the scholar
(Epist. 9; 12). The symmetry appears clearly in the three crosses at the beginning and the three
at the end, and in the five immediately before and the five immediately after Consecration. Then
there is the Memento of the living before and the Memento of the dead after Consecration, and a
list of twelve Apostles and twelve martyrs before and another of seven male and seven female
saints after Consecration. Churches were not built in Rome in honor of some of these saints until
the time of Pope Symmachus.
According to some, the name actio instead of canon arose through the abreviation of
gratiarum actio. It is certain, however, that even in very early times it was not understood in this
sense any longer, but was referred to the sacrificial act, for which similar names were in use in
pagan cults.
The Te igitur, the first prayer of the Canon, commends the offerings to God; it contains the
petition that God may graciously accept the gifts which lie on the altar. At the mention of the gifts
("haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia") the celebrant makes three crosses over them
and thus intimates that he desires God's blessing to descend upon them. To this invocation of a
blessing upon the gifts, he joins intercessory prayers, first for the Church and then for the Pope,
the bishop and "all orthodox believers and promoters (cultores) of the Catholic and apostolic
faith." The last expression at one time signified eminent benefactors of the Church, especially the
Byzantine emperors. Roman inscriptions (for instance, that on the Church of Sts. John and Paul)
call the donors of churches "cultores fidei." The expression may now be regarded in a very
general sense as embracing all those persons who have contributed by word or deed, by writing
or preaching, toward the spread of the Catholic faith.
The following prayer, the Memento, was introduced at a late period; in the early middle ages
the names of living benefactors were read from the list of the diptychs at this point. In this prayer
the priest first mentions those whom he wishes to include in the Mass; he then recommends all
present ("circumstantes") who offer the Holy Sacrifice with him, not only as a sacrifice of praise
and adoration ("sacrificium laudis"), but also as a sacrifice of propitiation and petition, that is, for
the redemption of their souls as well as for their safety and well-being ("pro redemptione
animarum suarum, pro spe salutis et incolumitatis suae").
In ancient times the names of all those who contributed toward the sacrifice were written
down by the deacon and read at the Offertory, but since the fifth century, at the Memento of the
Canon, offerings were also made vicariously for the deceased, and a second list contained their
names. The reading of the names was first omitted in low Masses, and from the seventh century
on was gradually dropped altogether. For a long time, however, the lists of benefactors' names
were still kept on the altars. Since some of the faithful who assisted at Mass no longer brought
gifts to the altar, it became necessary to insert the clause "pro quibus tibi offerimus."
The prayer Communicantes is entitled "Infra actionem"; originally it varied more frequently
and had to be inserted at this position of the actio or Canon, though its actual place in the
Sacramentaries was after the Preface. The title was, therefore, at one time a rubric indicating the
position of the prayer. According to some, this prayer is grammatically connected with the
"offerimus," "offerunt sacrificium," "reddunt vota" of the preceding prayer. Historically it is
undoubtedly connected with the diptychs which were originally read at the Offertory and
contained a list of saints (cƒ. de Puniet, The Mass, Its Origin and History, 141).
Here "communicare" signifies "to be in communion with [the faithful]." In the
Communicantes, the participants of the Sacrifice of the Mass who have poured out their prayer
for the Church militant, now turn with confidence to the Church triumphant because of the
intimate relation between the two. In invoking the intercession of the saints ("quorum meritis
precibusque concedes," etc.) they mention by name the Blessed Virgin Mary before all others, St.
Joseph (added by John XXIII), then twelve Apostles and twelve other martyrs; in this list there is
no mention of confessors, (excepting St. Joseph), for their liturgical veneration began at a later
period. Among the Apostles, St. Paul is associated with St. Peter, as always in the liturgy, while
St. Matthias is not mentioned, evidently that the number of twelve might be preserved; the other
Apostles are mentioned in an order deviating slightly from that of the lists of Apostles in the New
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Testament (Matt. 10; 2 _.: Mark 3; 16 _. : Luke 6; 14 _. : Acts 1; 13). The twelve other martyrs
were evidently chosen on account of the special veneration given to them in Rome; five were
Popes, one a bishop, one a deacon, and five belonged to the laity (Xystus or Sixtus II, † 258;
Chrysogonus, tutor of St. Anastasia, † 304; John and Paul, Roman court officials, † 362; Cosmas
and Damian, Arabian physicians, † 297; all these are honored in Rome as special patrons of
The expression, "memoriam alicuius sancti venerari," dates from Christian antiquity, when
the faithful visited the tomb of a saint on the anniversary of martyrdom and celebrated Mass
there in order to call him to memory and beg his intercession.
In the prayer Hanc igitur, the priest in the name of the "whole family" of the faithful, that is,
the Church, continues the prayer for the gracious acceptance of the offerings. Certain phrases
are inserted at times (in the early centuries more frequently than now, perhaps regularly) to
express the special intentions for which the Church wishes to pray, namely on Easter and
Pentecost, for the newly baptized, at the consecration of a bishop, for him who has just been
consecrated, on Holy Thursday, in thanksgiving for the institution of the Eucharist. Pope Gregory I
is said to have inserted the invocation for peace, "diesque nostros in tua pace disponas," in time
of war; it is probable that this invocation took the place of other insertions, for peace is a general
need which is always desirable. The imposition of the hands at the Hanc igitur, or the extension
of the hands over the elements of the Sacrifice (dating from the late middle ages), may either be
a demonstrative gesture to accompany "Hanc" or a dedicative gesture joined with the
transference of guilt to the victim of the Sacrifice ("placatus accipias"). As a dedicative gesture,
therefore, it is a symbol of the atoning character of the Sacrifice of the Mass.
The following prayers of the Canon are the most ancient and most important; in them is
accomplished the sacrificial act of Jesus Christ Himself.
In the prayer Quam oblationem, the priest prays for an acceptance of the elements which is
perfect and complete in every respect. He expresses this idea by means of five adjectives which
are borrowed in part from the language of ancient Roman law: "in omnibus" "in every respect";
"benedictam" - "blessed"; "adscriptam" - "formally appropriated"; "ratam" - "of full value";
"rationabilem," corresponding with the idea and the will of God (cƒ. "rationale obsequium," Rom.
12; 1) ; "acceptabilem" - "pleasing." In reciting this prayer, the priest blesses the bread and wine
by tracing five crosses over them, the last two over the separate elements at the mention of the
body and blood of Jesus Christ. The prayer concludes with the petition that transubstantiation
may take place, and thus appears as a sort of Consecration Epiclesis. At the time of St. Ambrose
it had already assumed a position before the Consecration (Ps. Ambrosius, De sacramentis, IV; 5;
The Qui pridie, which contains the words of consecration, has adopted various expressions
not found in Sacred Scripture, namely, "gratias agens benedixit"; at the consecration of the
bread, "in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas," and "elevatis oculis in coelum ad te, Deum
Patrem suum omnipotentem," based on John 6; 5 and 11; at the consecration of the wine, "hunc
praeclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas," "(sanguis) novi et aeterni
testamenti, mysterium fidei." These insertions are evidently intended to give dramatic form to
the act of consecration, that the celebrant may represent the Person of Christ by his every word
and action. After the words of consecration have been spoken "in the Person of Christ," the
sacrificial Victim, truly pleasing to God in every respect and overflowing with most precious
blessings for us, rests upon the altar. Jesus Christ Himself is now substantially present. Through
the words and actions of the priest, His human representative, He has renewed the Sacrifice of
the Cross under the separate eucharistic species. The ceremonial accompanying the act of
consecration tends to stress the doctrine of the Real Presence; the priest himself genuflects in
adoration of Christ hidden under the newly consecrated bread and wine, and elevates the sacred
species for the adoration of the faithful.
According to Ps.-Germanus, the phrase "mysterium fidei" ("mystery of faith") also occurs in
the Gallican liturgy. It may first have been only an acclamation of the deacon, similar to Oriental
acclamations, and intended to inform the faithful of the completion of the sacrificial act, for at the
beginning of the Canon curtains were drawn which prevented them from seeing the altar. It may
also have been inserted to take the place of an earlier Epiclesis which endangered the teaching
that the power of consecration lies only in the words of Christ (J. Merk, Die hl. Messe, 137). In the
Apostolic Constitutions (VIII, 12,36), the consecration of the bread is preceded by the
acclamation: "This is the mystery of the New Covenant" (cƒ. 1 Tim. 3, 9).
The Elevation of the consecrated species for the purpose of adoration began respectively in
the eleventh and twelfth century (according to P. Browe, Die Verehrung der Eucharistie im
The Liturgy of the Mass
Mittelalter, 31 _., twelfth and thirteenth century). Before this time there was already an elevation
of the bread to the level of the chest at the words "accepit panem" ("He took bread"). This,
however, would easily lead to a misunderstanding concerning the moment of consecration;
hence the higher elevation and ringing of the bell after the consecration of the bread and wine
were prescribed, so that the faithful might know when they should adore the Eucharist (cƒ. V.
Beaujean, Les Origines de l'Elevation, in Les Quest. liturg. et parois., 1931, pp. 129 ff.). Since the
twelfth century there has also been an elevation of the chalice after the consecration of the wine.
The genuflections of the celebrant before and after each elevation are mentioned in the Ordo
Missae of Burchard of Strasburg (1502). Pope St. Pius X granted special indulgences in 1907 to
those who look reverently upon and adore the sacred host at the Elevation and recite the
ejaculation: "My Lord and my God." The incensation of the sacred species at a solemn Mass has
been practised since the fourteenth century.
After the heavenly High-priest has consummated His Sacrifice in the act of consecration, His
earthly representative recalls the command of Christ: "As often as you shall do these things, you
shall do them in memory of Me." Then in the name of all the faithful he recites the prayer Unde
et memores, the so-called Anamnesis or "memorial" of the Passion of Christ as well as of His
Resurrection and Ascension, the first fruits of the Passion. The five crosses traced over the sacred
species during this prayer correspond to the crosses during the prayer Quam oblationem before
the Consecration. According to mediaeval liturgists, the five crosses during the prayer Unde et
memores symbolize the five wounds of Christ. In some Orders (as the Dominicans), it is still
prescribed that the arms be extended during this prayer "in imitation of the Crucified."
By its very nature, the Sacrifice of the New Covenant is so pure, holy, immaculate, perfect
and acceptable to God, that it cannot be rejected. But the human hands which offer it to our
heavenly Father have been stained by sin. The priest, therefore, immediately adds another
prayer, Supra quae propitio, for the gracious acceptance of the holy Sacrifice; he appeals to
certain sacrifices of old, those of Abel, Abraham and Melchisedech (Gen. 4; 4 : 22; 12 : 14; 18),
which were of inferior value, but were most acceptable to God. These three examples are well
chosen, first of all, because the acceptance of them is expressly attested in Sacred Scripture, but
also because they have all been regarded from very ancient times as types of the Sacrifice of the
Mass. But our sinfulness may still stand in the way of a gracious acceptance of our Sacrifice, for
Abel, Abraham and Melchisedech were holy men. The priest, therefore, bending devoutly over
the altar and supporting himself upon it, continues with an urgent petition in the prayer,
Supplices te rogamus, that God may accept our offering through a worthier representative (cƒ.
Tertullian, De orat., c. 16 : Tob. 12; 12 : Apoc. 8; 7 _.; the Oriental liturgies mention the Angels
and Archangels in general). God will certainly accept it from the pure and holy hands of an Angel.
Since we now step into the background as offerers of the Sacrifice, and the Sacrifice has been
accepted from angelic hands, its fruits should now be applied to all of us. This beautiful prayer,
therefore, concludes with the petition that all who partake of the sacrificial Banquet may be filled
in abundance with every blessing and grace. The celebrant gives expression to his participation
in this heavenly food by kissing the altar. The two crosses over the sacred body and blood of
Christ at the mention of them are a purely demonstrative gesture. In blessing himself, however,
in referring to the "heavenly blessing and grace" desired from holy Communion, the priest seeks
to apply these divine favors to himself.
From comparisons with Oriental prayers, it appears that the two prayers, Supra quas propitio,
and Supplices te rogamus, had a different form at one time and very probably contain the
Communion Epiclesis of the Western Church (cƒ. A. Baumstark, Le liturgie orientali, etc., in Roma
e l'Oriente, 111, 5, Grottaferrata, 1913).
In the petition for an abundant share of the fruits of holy Communion, the celebrant has again
directed his attention to the recipients of the graces which flow from the Sacrifice. As he has
already prayed before the Consecration for the members of the Church militant, he now
intercedes, in another Memento, for the deceased who constitute the Church suffering. In ancient
times such a prayer immediately followed the commemoration of the living in the general
intercessory prayers, and for that reason it still begins with the words, "Memento etiam"
("Remember also"). The Church prays only for those who have received the character of Baptism
("signum fidei"), are in communion with her and rest in the hope of a glorious resurrection
("dormiunt in somno pacis, in Christo quiescentibus").
The inclination of the head at the conclusion, "Per eundem Christum," originated from the
mediaeval practice of giving a sign to the assisting clerics that they bow down and unite
themselves with the celebrant in reciting the prayer Nobis quoque peccatoribus. At present it is
explained in various ways, for instance, as a reminder that Christ bowed His head on the cross
The Liturgy of the Mass
and expired (cƒ. J. Merk 1. c. 148).
The first words of the Nobis quoque peccatoribus are spoken in a louder tone, to invite the
assisting clergy to internal participation. Symbolically this ceremony points to the exclamation of
the Roman centurion as he witnessed the death of Christ; the striking of the breast represents
the action of the Jewish people when they departed from Mt. Calvary.
In the Nobis quoque peccatoribus, the celebrant asks for himself what he has just sought for
the departed souls and what so many saints have already obtained. He becomes conscious again
of communion with the saints in heaven, for his union with Christ in the Sacrifice of the Mass has
increased his hope of a share in their happiness. Fifteen saints are mentioned by name in a list
modeled after that of the Communicantes; these, too, are martyrs who are held in high esteem in
Rome. In the Communicantes, Mary is mentioned first as the greatest saint of the New
Testament. In this list St. John the Baptist, the great saint of the Old Testament, is given the first
place; the other fourteen consist of seven male and seven female saints. The list includes the
Apostle St. Matthias, who is not mentioned in the list of Apostles in the Communicantes, and also
two disciples of Apostles, Sts. Barnabas and Ignatius of Antioch.
The name Alexander is that of Pope Alexander I who was beheaded about 119; his relics are
preserved at St. Sabina's in Rome. The priest Marcellinus and the exorcist Peter, both Romans,
were beheaded together about 304. Pope Gregory I is supposed to have arranged the list of
female martyrs in the present order: the two holy women of Carthage, Felicitas and Petpetua (†
202 or 203), the two Sicilian virgins, Agatha and Lucia († 251 and 304 respectively), the Roman
virgins, Agnes († 304 at the age of 13) and Cecilia († 177 or 203), and the Roman widow,
Anastasia (cƒ. concerning the order of the names, A. Manser, Le temoignage d'Aldheim de
Sherborne etc., in Revue Benedictine, 1911 p. 1-6).
Conclusion of the Canon. At one time the celebrant was accustomed, toward the close of
the Canon, to bless various offerings brought by the faithful, especially the first fruits of the
earth. The bishop still blesses the oleum infirmorum (holy oils which are used in conferring
Extreme Unction) on Holy Thursday at this point of the Mass. In the Supplices te rogamus (the
Memento and Nobis quoque are later interpolations), the priest has just expressed his ardent
longing for a heavenly blessing. Now by the words, "Per quem haec omnia," etc., he joyfully
recognizes in all the gifts of God the divine blessing obtained for us through Christ. The bread and
wine which God has created ("bona creas") have become means of sanctification through Christ
("sanctificas") and have been endowed with life-giving power and supernatural blessing for the
benefit of souls ("vivificas, benedicis et praestas nobis"). The three signs of the cross were
perhaps intended originally for the blessing of the first fruits.
Praise is then offered, through Christ, to the Triune God in the concluding prayer Per ipsum
(cƒ. Rom. 11,36; Didache, c. 9). To the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, honor and glory
should be given by us through the incarnate Son, in so far as He is our Mediator ("per ipsum")
and we unite our homage with His ("cum ipso") and are incorporated as members of the Church
in His mystical Body ("in ipso"). Joining actions with the words, the priest makes three signs of
the cross over the precious blood with the consecrated bread (which originally had been broken
before this point); this ceremony signifies that both the body and blood of Christ were offered for
mankind and are a source of blessing for us. At the words "Patri" and "Spiritus sancti," the priest
traces two more crosses over the corporal in order to signify that the Son of God, by His Sacrifice
of the Cross, gives to His heavenly Father, in unity with the Holy Ghost, the greatest possible
honor and glory. Finally, both species are raised up together for a moment as a symbolical
expression of the praise which ascends to heaven. This is called the "little Elevation," as opposed
to that which takes place at the Consecration; for a long time it was the only Elevation, and was
intended to present the sacred species to the view of the faithful for the purpose of adoration.
Until the fifteenth century this Elevation still took place in Rome, not as now at the words "omnis
honor et gloria," but during the concluding words of the Canon, "Per omnia saecula saeculorum.
In the Gallican and Mozarabic rites, and certainly also in the ancient Roman rite, the
acclamation, "Sancta Sanctis" ("Holy things to the holy"), accompanied the ceremony of
elevating the sacred species and showing them to the faithful.
The Communion. A sacrificial repast follows the sacrifice. The repast after the typical
sacrifices of the Old Law confirmed the reconciliation effected between God and man. That which
follows the true Sacrifice of the New Covenant strengthens the bond of love and really unites the
participants with the God-man.
As the Preface serves as an introduction to the Canon and Consecration, so the Pater noster
introduces the part of the Mass in which the Communion takes place. It is natural to refer the
The Liturgy of the Mass
petition for daily bread in the Pater noster to holy Communion. For this reason, the Lord's Prayer
is especially becoming at this part of the Mass. Tertullian and St. Cyprian already look upon it as a
prayer for the worthy reception of the Eucharist, the "supernatural bread." At this point the other
petition for the forgiveness of sin also has its special significance. The last petition, which is the
response of the faithful, is stressed and further developed by the priest in the so-called
"embolism," the prayer Libera nos. To the prayer for deliverance from evils, past, present and
future, is joined the petition for internal as well as external peace.
In the Gallican rite, as also originally in the Roman rite, the people sang the whole Pater
noster. In writing to Bishop John of Syracuse Pope Gregory the Great (Epist. 9,12) gives it the
place of honor immediately after the Canon. Before this time, it followed the important rite of the
"breaking of the bread," as it does in the Ambrosian rite even to the present day. To St. Gregory,
who was Abbot of St. Andrew's in Rome before his elevation to the Papacy, is also ascribed the
insertion of the petition for peace, "Da propitius pacem," etc., and the name of St. Andrew in the
embolism; at that time the Apostle St. Andrew was held in high esteem in Rome.
During the rest of the preparation there is naturally considerable action. During the embolism
the celebrant receives the paten from the deacon (originally, for the purpose of breaking over it
one or more consecrated hosts into several pieces, according to the number of communicants
expected). At the words, "Da propitius pacem," he blesses himself with the paten, the sacred
vessel upon which the body of Christ is soon to rest, and kisses it reverently; in blessing himself
he expresses his longing for the peace for which he prays. After genuflecting in adoration, the
celebrant breaks the large host (the only one broken at this point) over the chalice into three
parts. He then traces three crosses over the chalice with one of the parts and accompanies the
action with the greeting, Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum; he thus prays that all may receive the
peace for which he has just prayed in the embolism. He now drops into the chalice the one part
with which he made the crosses, and recites the prayer, Haec commixtio et consecratio, etc.
(more clearly expressed in the Ambrosian rite, Haec commixtio consecrati corporis et sanguines
Domini, etc.); he prays that the body and blood of Christ may be the source of eternal life for all
recipients. The ceremony of the breaking of bread is as old as the Mass (cƒ. 1 Cor. 10,16: "And
the bread which we break, ..."); in the middle ages it was regarded as a symbol of the sacrificial
death of Christ, while the mixing of the sacred species was considered a symbol of His
Moved by the prayer of the celebrant for peace, the congregation now chants the Agnus Dei
for the same intention. This chant is based on the words of St. John the Baptist which describe
Christ as the Lamb of God Who has come to take away the sins of the world, the cause of all
internal and external discord. The celebrant also recites the Agnus Dei together with his
assistants, and immediately proceeds with the prayer, Domine, Jesu Christe, for the peace of the
entire Church; in this prayer he recalls particularly the prophetic words of Christ: "Peace I leave
with you, My peace I give unto you" (John 14; 27). These prayers for peace are followed by the
kiss of peace which, since the fifth century, quite properly has come before the approach to the
altar of the Lord. But since true Christian peace can only proceed from Christ, the Lamb of God,
the celebrant receives it, as it were, from the altar; he kisses the altar (as does also the deacon
simultaneously) and transmits the kiss of peace by means of the Pax tecum to the deacon and
through him to the rest of the clergy.
The kiss of peace is omitted on the last three days of Holy Week and at Requiem Masses,
because these Masses have preserved more ancient practices. More recent liturgists, however,
explain that it is omitted on the last days of Holy Week because of the traitorous kiss of Judas; in
Requiem Masses, because mercy and peace as the fruits of such a Mass are sought primarily for
the poor souls: "Dona eis requiem."
The ceremonies of the breaking of bread and mixture of the sacred species were more
elaborate in ancient times. Often a particle consecrated on the previous day was mixed with the
precious blood at this part of the Mass; furthermore, particles of the sacred host were sent to
neighboring churches and used in the same manner as a symbol of unity. Especially, however,
was a particle of the sacred host dropped into the larger chalice intended for the laity; this
chalice contained unconsecrated wine, which received a sort of "consecration" through the
mixture with the consecrated host (hence, the word "consecratio" in the aforementioned prayer
at the mixture).
The Agnus Dei seems to have been adopted at first into the Gallican liturgy from the East
and then introduced into the Roman liturgy by the Syrian Pope Sergius († 701). In the beginning it
was chanted alternately by the clergy and laity during the entire ceremony of the fraction and
always ended with "Miserere nobis." Since the twelfth century it has been chanted three times,
The Liturgy of the Mass
ending the third time with the words "Dona nobis pacem." In the Lateran Basilica at Rome, the
"Miserere nobis" is still retained also after the third "Agnus Dei."
Reception of Holy Communion. While the congregation continues, in the Agnus Dei, to
beseech the Lamb of God for mercy and peace, the celebrant makes his last personal preparation
for Communion; in two silent prayers he addresses himself directly to Christ and prays privately
for himself (in the singular number). In the first prayer he asks, as a fruit of holy Communion, that
he be delivered from sin and remain faithful until death; in the second, that he be preserved from
an unworthy Communion ("non mihi proveniat in judicium"; cƒ. 1 Cor. 11,29) and receive
blessings of soul and body from a worthy Communion. After genuflecting in adoration, he takes
up the body of the Lord from the paten and joyfully exclaims: "Panem coelestem accipiam" (cƒ.
Ps. 115,4); he now bows over the altar and humbly strikes his breast, while he repeats thrice the
words of the centurion of Capharnaum, "Domine, non sum dignus" (Matt. 8,8), in order to give
expression to his disposition. Thereupon, he blesses himself with the sacred body of Christ,
recites the form, Corpus Domini, etc., and receives holy Communion. After a few moments of
meditation on the Blessed Sacrament ("quiescit aliquantulum in meditatione ss. sacramenti"),
and some versicles expressing gratitude and joy, he blesses himself with the chalice, recites the
form Sanguis Domini, etc., and consumes the precious blood. The Mozarabic and Dominican rites
have but one form for the reception of both species (Dominican form: "Corpus et sanguis Domini
nostri Jesu Christi custodiant me in vitam aeternam. Amen").
The most propitious moment of the Mass, one which is rich in grace, is now at hand for the
participating faithful. As the priest, so all the faithful who are worthy should, according to the
intention of the Church, receive holy Communion whenever they assist at Mass if they had not
already received that day; they, however, communicate only under one species. Taken
objectively, the act of consecration is certainly the culminating point of the Mass, inasmuch as it
brings the greatest glory to God; holy Communion, however, profits the individual recipient,
according to his subjective disposition, in perfecting his union with God. A spiritual Communion is
recommended to all who do not communicate actually.
In the Gallican rite a blessing was imparted at the end of the Pater noster to those who did
not receive Communion. They also received "blessed bread," the so-called Eulogia, which is still
distributed at the end of Mass in the East and in some parts of the West (cƒ. U. Seres, Le pain
benit in Les questions liturg. et parois., 1933, 284 ff.).
Communion Chant and Postcommunion. Immediately after the priest has consumed the
precious blood, the choir sings the Communion antiphon (antiphona ad communionem).
According to the ancient Ordines Romani, this chant accompanies the distribution of holy
Communion (cƒ. Ordo Romanos, I). The Communion antiphon now belongs to the variable portion
of the Mass. It is intended to recall the leading thought of the feast or occasion at the
Communion of the Mass, and to revive corresponding dispositions in the hearts of the faithful.
In ancient times the Communion chant during the Communion of the faithful was always the
same; it generally consisted of Psalm 33, Benedicam Dominum in omni tempore, and the
antiphon Gustate et videte, quoniam suavis est Dominus. Later, for the sake of variety, other
verses were chosen from those psalms of which only a part had been chanted at the Introit or
Offertory. Finally, when few of the faithful, or perhaps no one but the priest communicated, the
verses of the psalm were omitted entirely, and only the variable antiphon remained.
After Communion there is the twofold ablution of the chalice and the fingers of the priest.
The two prayers recited during this rite are addressed directly to Christ. The plural number in the
prayer Quod ore sumpsimus is due to the fact that it is derived from the prayer which is still
recited as the Postcommunion on the Thursday after Passion Sunday.
The Postcommunion. (oratio post communionem) The celebrant generally supposes that all
present at the Mass have received holy Communion and have been the recipients of plentiful
graces. Besides the reference to the effects of Communion, there is also usually some petition for
natural and supernatural blessings; this varies in accordance with the principal thought of the
day or occasion.
In ancient times the Postcommunions were also called orationes ad complendum or simply
complendae. Those which still retain the character of a prayer of thanksgiving are comparatively
rare (cƒ. feast of St. Sylvester). For the most part they allude to some aspect of the particular
feast or season of the ecclesiastical year, and accordingly contain appropriate petitions.
On the ferials of Lent, the Postcommunion is still followed by a prayer over the people (oratio
super Populum), introduced by the admonition to bow down before God ("Humiliate capita vestra
Deo") which indicates that the prayer is an ancient formula of blessing. The Gelasian
Sacramentary shows that such orations were also in use on the Sundays of the pre-Lenten and
The Liturgy of the Mass
Lenten period. It seems that they are an imitation of an Oriental practice; according to the
Apostolic Constitutions (VIII 15,6), the deacon addressed the faithful before the blessing of the
bishop in the following manner: "Bow down before God (honoring Him) through His Son Christ
and receive the blessing."
A similar practice existed in the Church of Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, as
Etheria testifies in her diary: "At the word of the deacon, let all stand and bend their heads; the
bishop standing within the choir will then bless them and depart" (Duchesne, Christian Worship
The introduction of the blessing after the Ite, missa est is evidently the reason why the
"prayer over the people" fell almost entirely into disuse.
Conclusion of the Mass. The concluding portion of the Mass is introduced by the kissing of
the altar and the greeting of the faithful. It consists of the dismissal, the blessing, the last Gospel
and the thanksgiving of the priest.

From the Rubrics.

507. At the end of Mass, Ite Missa est is said, to which Deo Gratias is replied. However:
a) In the evening Mass of Holy Thursday, in coena Domini, when the solemn reposition of the
most holy Sacrament is to follow, as also in other Masses when some procession follows,
Benedicamus Domino is said to which Deo Gratias is replied.

On days on which the Gloria is sung as an expression of joy, the deacon still makes use of the
time-honored formula of dismissal, Ite, missa est, that is, "Go, it is the dismissal," or in other
words, "Depart, the holy Sacrifice has come to a close." It is the only formula of dismissal until
the eleventh century. From that time, up until John XXIII, on days of grief and penance, on which
other prayers still followed the Mass even in later times, it was displaced by that of the Canonical
Hours, Benedicamus Domino. In both cases the faithful answered Deo Gratias, in thanksgiving to
God for the plentiful graces they have received by their participation in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
From 1962, Benedicamus Domino is only used when a procession is to follow immediately.
In Requiem Masses the formula, Ite, missa est, has been displaced (since the twelfth century)
by the prayer for the poor souls, Requiescant in pace. The reply then given is Amen. The reason
is that the Church desires to apply to the departed souls as much of the fruits of the Mass as
In the silent prayer, Placeat tibi sancta Trinitas, the celebrant now prays for the favorable
acceptance of the homage he has rendered and for a generous bestowal of the fruits of the Mass
upon himself and all those for whom he has offered it. He then kisses the altar and raises his
eyes and hands heavenward to the Triune God, as if he were receiving from above the blessing
which he is about to impart; in transmitting the blessing (except at Requiem Masses) to the
faithful he makes the sign of the cross over them and recites the formula, Benedicat vos, etc. It is
the blessing of the Father Who delivered up His only-begotten Son for us; it is the blessing of the
Son Who ascended the cross out of love for us; it is the blessing of the Holy Ghost Who has just
performed the miracle of consecration, the mystical Incarnation. The Church desires that this
blessing of the Triune God accompany the faithful as they proceed to take up their daily
The Placeat tibi sancta Trinitas was originally a private devotion of the priest and was not
considered a part of the Mass. Until the late middle ages it generally followed the blessing. The
latter is first mentioned in the Micrologus, and probably owes its origin to a practice mentioned in
Ordo Romanus I; there it is stated that the Pope imparted a blessing after Mass with the words
"Benedicat nos Dominus," as he proceeded to the sacristy.
Last Gospel. It was a favorite practice of the middle ages to associate the reading of the
opening passage of a Gospel with the bestowal of a blessing (cƒ. the processions on the feast of
Corpus Christi, blessing of the weather), as if the personal Word of God, the Logos, were being
called down to earth to manifest to mankind anew His power of blessing and working miracles.
The beginning of the Gospel of St. John, which is remarkable for its sublimity of content, was read
for this purpose in preference to the opening passages of the other Gospels.
Such considerations evidently gave rise to the practice of reading St. John's Gospel, 1, 1-14,
The Liturgy of the Mass
at the end of Mass. This original reason, however, gradually gave way to another, namely, that
the opening passage of St. John's Gospel explains the mystery of the Incarnation, which is
intimately related to the Sacrifice of the Mass. On this account the Church has prescribed it since
the time of St. Pius V (1570), even for Masses which have no concluding blessing. Before the
revised rubrics of 1962, it was frequently displaced by the Gospel of a Sunday, ferial (ferials of
Lent, Ember Days, first Rogation Day, vigils) or feast which had a proper Gospel ("Evangelium
stricte proprium"; cƒ. Addit. et Variat. in Rubr. Missalis, IX, Decr. auth. 4369 and 4372). From 1962
however, the following rubrics apply:

From the Rubrics.

510. The last Gospel is omitted:

a) in Masses ended with Benedicamus Domino cƒ. 507a.
b) in the third Mass of the Nativity of Our Lord.
c) in the Mass of the second Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday, which has followed the
blessing and procession of palms.
d) in the Mass of the Pascal Vigil.
e) in Requiem Masses when the absolution is to follow.
f) in certain Masses which are followed by certain consecrations according to the rubrics of
the Roman Pontifical

The Gospel of St. John provides the celebrant and the recipients of holy Communion with
appropriate thoughts for meditation, for in the Mass the Word has again become flesh and food
indeed for all of them. He has set up His tabernacle in their midst upon the altar, has chosen to
dwell in their very hearts, and has manifested Himself to them as the source of grace and truth.
For all this, the response Deo Gratias at the end of the Gospel is intended to give to God suitable
praise and thanks. While the organ is playing, all return to the sacristy in the same order in which
they had proceeded to the altar at the beginning of Mass.
Before the revision of the Missal under St. Pius V, the priest recited the prologue of St. John's
Gospel on the way to the sacristy. At a pontifical Mass the bishop still recites it as he proceeds
from the altar to the throne at the end of Mass.
Thanksgiving of the Celebrant. The liturgical thanksgiving of the priest consists of various
prayers entitled Gratiarum actio post Missam. It begins with the canticle of the three children in
the furnace (Dan. 3) and Psalm 150, which obtain the character of a hymn of praise and thanks
through the antiphon Trium puerorum. The Kyrie, Pater noster and a few versicles serve as a
transition to the three orations, which are derived from the private devotions of the Pope in the
chapel near the Lateran palace, called Sancta sanctorum and dedicated to St. Lawrence. First of
all, in view of the miracle wrought upon the fire in the furnace at Babylon, the priest prays that
God may quench every flame of vice in the hearts of men. In the second prayer he prays for
divine aid in his daily occupations. In the third prayer, as in the first, he asks for the extinction of
the flames of vice, but refers here to the constancy of St. Lawrence under the torture of fire.
Unlike the liturgical preparation for Mass, the liturgical thanksgiving is obligatory (up to
1962). The Rubric concerning the latter in the Roman Missal must certainly be regarded as
preceptive (Rit. cel. miss., XII,6: "redit ad Sacristiam, interim dicens Antiphonam, etc., dicit
Antiphonam Trium puerorum," etc.). The prayers of St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure and others,
which have been added to the liturgical thanksgiving and are entitled Pro opportunitate
sacerdotis dicendae in the Roman Missal, are merely recommended.
After low Masses, the celebrant must recite certain prayers "with the people," therefore,
usually in the vernacular. They were first prescribed on January 6, 1884, by Pope Leo XIII. Later
Pope St. Pius X added the threefold invocation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. According to the
original intention, these prayers were to be said for general needs, for the conversion of sinners,
for the spread and exaltation of the Church and for the protection of the Christian faith against its
enemies. On June 30, 1930, Pius XI ordered that the prayers be said henceforth for the Christians
of Russia, that they may be accorded freedom in the profession of their faith (Acta Apost. Sedis,
1930, p.300).
If a low Mass is celebrated "with a certain solemnity" (for instance, on the occasion of first
The Liturgy of the Mass
Communion), or followed immediately by another ecclesiastical function or public devotion
without the priest's leaving the altar (for instance, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament or the
act of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the first Friday), the usual prayers may be
omitted after the Mass (Decr. auth. 4271, 4305; SRC, June 2, 1916).

Section III
A Critical Study
of the
Novus Ordo Missæ
(This study will go beyond the formal object of Liturgics)

Chapter Fifteen
An Historical Preponderation

The Liturgical Movement

There is no doubt that the "Liturgical Movement" as initiated by Dom Gueranger and Pope St.
Pius X, was not only good, but excellent. In his letter of 22 November 1903, entitled "Tra le
sollecitudini" Pope St. Pius X expressed himself in the following way:
"Our greatest desire is to see the true Christian spirit blossom in every possible way and remain
such in all the faithful. The active participation at the most Holy Mysteries and the public and
solemn prayer of the Church are the indispensable sources of sanctity."
For Dom Gueranger, who had published his "Liturgical year" in 1841, the Liturgy was above
all a confession, prayer and praise of the Church to her spouse. The teaching nature of Liturgy
was for him really secondary.
Born thus from the confines of the benedictine monastery of Solesmes where Dom Gueranger
was abbot, the "Liturgical Movement" rapidly began to spread receiving a favourable response
from across Europe. One priest and monk who began to play a great role in this movement, and,
unfortunately was also the one who became one of the main instigators of its decadence, was
Dom Beauduin (1873 - 1960). Always considering the great problem of the apostolate, this priest
saw in the Liturgy a wonderful form of apostolate.
It was at the congress of Malines in 1909, supported by the Cardinal Mercier, that Dom
Beauduin announced his four objectives:
1) Translate the Roman Missal and make of it the primary devotional book of the faithful;
popularising at least the Mass and Sunday Vespers.
2) A special effort to make piety more liturgical with communion during the Mass.
3) Develop Gregorian Chant in accordance with the desire of the Pope.
4) Encourage the members of chorals to make a retreat in a centre of liturgical life; a benedictine
Dom Froger, a contempory already analysed the work of Dom Beauduin in the following way:
"The action of Dom Beauduin does not only have the effect of an impulsion to the work of Dom
Gueranger; it also causes the Liturgy to be seen in a completely new light ... he (Dom Beauduin)
puts the accent on the didactic ... more pastoral Liturgy than adorative liturgy."
It is true that St. Pius X spoke about the educative value of the Liturgy, but already one sees
the exaggeration of this in the mind and works of Dom Beauduin. Since Dom Beauduin was
operating from Belgium, soon the movement was spoken of as being the Belgian (or other)
movement. In the mean time Dom Beauduin continued with his "retreats", using these as a tool
to further his plan of using the liturgy as a pastoral tool.
Although informally, different groups began to form in France, Belgium and Germany already
as early as 1927. A few names would be of interest: Jacques Maritain; Dom Besse; Fr. Yves
Congar OP; Fr. Chenu and Fr. Maydieu OP. This last would celebrate a mass in new style (facing
the people) in Notre Dame (Paris), as early as August 1937.

The C.P.L. or Centre de Pastoral Liturgique.

After numerous publications from many different corners of France and other countries, most
The Liturgy of the Mass
of which were variably liberal, together with the motivating force of Dom Beauduin, the C.P.L.
developed and was established finally on the 20th of May 1943. The names of these publications
already cause the suspicion. To mention a few:
Fr. Maydieu and his "Temps Présent" (Present time);
Fr. Boisselot, director of the cerf editions, and his "Fêtes et saisons" (Feasts and seasons);
"La Clarté-Dieu" (the Clarity of God) which became the first organ of the C.P.L. in its beginning
The "La Maison de Dieu" (God's house) would be the first official periodical of the new C.P.L. It is
interesting once again to see what Dom Beauduin wrote in the editorial of the first issue:
January 1945, He entitles his editorial: "Practical Norms for the Liturgical Reform." His aim is to
"put in full value to whole of liturgy" as opposed to the old "mummified" liturgy. Also he calls for
the "dynamic liturgy of antiquity."
Fr. Roguet, published a few works in which for the first time the terms; "People of God" was used.
Dom Parsch and his "Parole de Dieu" (Word of God).
It is interesting to note that a certain monk at this time by the name of Dom Botte, who
himself wrote a book by the name of "Le Movement Liturgique", nevertheless held to the
absolute distinction between the sacerdotal character of the priest and that of the faithful. He
writes: "In 1943, I was invited to counsel a work for the "La Maison de Dieu". I was to write an
article on the priesthood of the faithful. Since I was asked, I gave my advice in all simplicity but
was immediately under the impression of being a heretic and blaspheming among orthodox
The main characteristics of this C.P.L. could be reduced to six:
Their main characteristics are:
1) Inversion of the ends of liturgy (cult-pastoral).
2) A certain scorn for the Rubrics.
3) Archeologism (we must return to the practice of the Apostles - reject tradition).
4) The "Word of God" takes precedence.
5) Participation by the faithful in an activist way.
6) Collectivity of liturgical assemblies (Mass without people is non-sensical).
What is to thought of a Catholic movement which is praised by the protestants? Such a
movement would be under serious suspicion. Yet both the "Liturgical Movement" and the "C.P.L."
were praised by the protestants. J.H. Srawley, an Englishman and Anglican D.D., wrote a book for
the Alcuin Club, under the title "The Liturgical Movement, Its Origin and growth", (Tract 27, A.R.
Mowbray & Co., London 1954). He writes (pg. 8): "It is that feature of revival which has especially
attracted the sympathetic notice of well disposed Roman Catholics abroad, as well as Lutherans
in Sweden and Germany..." Towards the end of this work he concludes that the "Liturgical
Movement" has much in common with the Anglican "renewal" and its "Book of Common Prayer".
But during all this time, what did the Bishops in these countries do? How did Rome react to
such innovations? In France, the bishops kept quiet. Rome was preoccupied with the war.
In Germany, already in August 1939, the "movement" formed groups around Mgr. Landesdorfer
O.S.B with his assistances: Fr. Jungmann and Romano Guardini. Many German bishops were
quickly won to their side. The exception however remained Mgr. Gröber, Archbishop of
Fribourg-en-Brisgau. In January 1943 he wrote a long letter to all his episcopal colleagues. (Pius
XII would use much of its contents in his encyclicals; Mediator Dei and Mystici Corporis).
Just to mention a few points from this letter:
#5 He complains of a radical criticism against tradition, under the excuse that we are to return to
primitive practices which tradition has obscured (ie; Archeologism).
#13 He points to the fact that the "movement" is putting an excessive accent upon the "general
priesthood" to the detriment of the "ministerial priesthood".
#14 The "Supper" thesis is particularly emphasised by them.
#15 The excessive insistence upon the liturgical element as a truly pastoral form; even
radicalising preceding forms of the Apostolate. Rubrics are at the same time considered to be of
small importance, easily to be supplanted by all kinds of excentricism.
#16 A great emphasis on the dialogue Mass. "... they see it as an expression of their conception
of the "general priesthood" - the right of the lay to co-operate in the Sacrifice of the Mass."
#17 They want the vernacular.
This letter seemed to have provoked a reaction. In April 1943, Cardinal Bertram, Archbishop
of Breslau, wrote a letter to Pope Pius XII, praising the "Liturgical Movement". It was also
supported by the then Secretary of State,
Cardinal Maglione, who addressed a similar letter to the Pope in December of the same year.
The Liturgy of the Mass
Many influential bishops and superiors were won over by Dom Beauduin and this movement.
To show the impetus of the movement, it suffices perhaps to remember that Mgr. Roncalli, the
future Pope John XXIII was a close friend of Dom Beaduin, from as early as 1924. Considering only
one among many meetings of the C.P.L. throws light on the same matter: At Thieulin (Chartres,
France), 40 superiors of seminaries met. Among them we find two very influential figures of the
future: Frs. Yves Congar and Annibale Bugnini.
Throughout this meeting, Fr. Bugnini kept his silence, but revealed afterwards to Fr. Duploye;
"I admire what you are doing, but the greatest service I can do you, is not to say a word in Rome
about what I have heard."
It is therefore not surprising that the C.P.L., or rather so many of its individual members
rejoiced at the death of Pope Pius XII, and rejoiced all the more at the news of the election of Mgr.
Roncalli, Pope John XXIII. But who was Fr. Annibale Bugnini?

Who was Father Annibale Bugnini?

Archbishop Bugnini was born in Civitella de Lego (Italy) in 1912. Studied under the
Congregation of the Missions (the Vincentians), he was ordained in 1936. Already as early as
1947, he began his active involvement in the field of specialised liturgical studies when he began
a twenty-year period as the director of Ephemerides liturgiae, one of Italy's best know liturgical
Fr. Bugnini was appointed secretary to Pope Pius XII's commission for Liturgical Reform in
1948. In 1949 he was made professor of Liturgy in the Pontifical Propaganda Fide University, and
in 1957 professor of Sacred Liturgy in the Lateran University.
In 1960 he was appointed Secretary to the Preparatory Commission for the Liturgy of the
Second Vatican Council. He was the moving force behind the drafting of the preparatory schema,
which is often named "the Bugnini draft." This was the only draft that was passed practically
unchanged by the council fathers. The president however, of this commission, was the aged
Cardinal Gaetano Cicognani who refused to sign to schema. He was forced to do so by Pope John
XXIII and died four days later.
Shortly after, Fr. Bugnini was dismissed from his chair at the Lateran University and from the
secretaryship of the Liturgical Preparatory commission. The reasons which caused Pope John XXIII
to take this step is not known.
On March 1964 L'Osservatore Romano announced the establishment of the Commission for
the implementation of the constitution on the Liturgy, which became known as the "Consilium".
Fr. Bugnini was appointed to the position of secretary on 29 February 1964.
In theory this "Consilium" was an advisory body to the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Fr.
Bugnini's influence greatly increased when he was appointed Under-Secretary to the Sacred
Congregation of Rites. With the constitution Sacra Rituum Congregatio, promulgated by Pope
Paul VI on the 8th of May 1969, which divided the Congregation for Rites into the Sacred
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacred Congregation for the causes of the Saints, the
"Consilium" was absorbed into the congregation for Divine Worship.
The journal "Notitiae", which had been the official journal of the "Consilium" up to this time,
became the official journal of this new congregation. Fr. Bugnini was appointed secretary of this
new congregation and became more powerful than ever before.
Elevated to the rank of Archbishop, he was able to boast by 1974 that his liturgical reform
had been a "major conquest of the Catholic Church."
In the April 1974 edition of Notitiae (#92), he explained how his reform had been divided into
four stages:
1) Transition from Latin to the vernacular;
2) the reform of the Liturgical books;
3) the translation of the Liturgical books;
4) the "adaptation" or "incarnation" of the Roman form of the liturgy into the usages and
mentality of each individual church.
On the 31st of July 1975, the Congregation was dissolved and merged with the Congregation
for the Sacraments. Archbishop Bugnini's name no longer appeared on the list of members.
It is interesting to note that in April 1976, Tito Casini, Italy's leading Catholic writer, publicly
accused Msgr. Bugnini of being a Freemason. Msgr. Bugnini denied it.
The Liturgy of the Mass

Chapter Sixteen
Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Missæ

It should not come to us therefore as a surprise, that the second Vatican Coucil was well
prepared for, at least in its Liturgical orientation. A quick look at a few points will show how, on
the one hand it was a typical fruit of the liberal "Liturgical Movement," and how, on the
otherhand, it opened the doors wide to the institution of the Novus Ordo Missæ.

The document: Sacrosanctum Concilium (a few extracts):

Chapter II. The Most Sacred Mystery of the Eucharist

47. At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the eucharistic
sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross
throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the
Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of
charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a
pledge of future glory is given to us (2nd Vespers, Corpus Christi).
48. The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ's faithful when present at this mystery of
faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators. On the contrary, through a good
understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action, conscious of
what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God's
word, and be nourished at the table of the Lord's Body. They should give thanks to God. Offering
the immaculate victim, not only through the hands of the priest but also together with him, they
should learn to offer themselves. Through the Mediator, they should be drawn day by day into
ever more perfect union with God and each other, so that finally God may be all in all.
49. For this reason the sacred Council having in mind those Masses which are celebrated with
the faithful assisting, especially on Sundays and holidays of obligation, has made the following
decrees so that the sacrifice of the Mass, even in the ritual forms (of its celebration) may have
full pastoral efficacy.

50. The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its
several parts, as well as the connection between them may be more clearly manifest and that
devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.
For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their
substance. Parts which with the passage of time came to be duplicated, or were added with little
advantage, are to be omitted. Other parts which suffered loss through accidents of history are to
be restored to the vigour they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or
51. The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be
provided for the faithful at the table of God's word. In this way a more representative part of the
sacred scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years.
52. By means of the homily the mysteries of the faith and the guiding principles of the Christian
life are expounded from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year. The homily,
therefore, is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself. In fact at those Masses which are
celebrated,on Sundays and holidays of obligation, with the people assisting, it should not be
omitted except for a serious reason.
53. The "common prayer" or "prayer of the faithful" is to be restored after the gospel and homily,
especially on Sundays and holidays of obligation. By this prayer in which the people are to take
part, intercession will be made for holy Church, for the civil authorities, for those oppressed by
various needs, for all mankind, and for the salvation of the entire world.
54. A suitable place may be allotted to the vernacular in Masses which are celebrated with the
people, especially in the readings and "the common prayer," and also, as local conditions may
warrant, in those parts which pertain to the people, according to the rules laid down in Article 36
of this Constitution.
Nevertheless care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing
together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.
Wherever a more extended use of the vernacular in the Mass seems desirable, the regulation
The Liturgy of the Mass
laid down in Article 40 of this Constitution is to be observed.
55. The more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest's
communion, receive the Lord's Body from the same sacrifice, is warmly recommended.
The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact,
communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and
religious but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See. For example;
To the newly ordained in the Mass of their ordination;
To the newly professed in the Mass of their religious profession;
To the newly baptised in the Mass which follows their baptism.
56. The two parts which in a sense make up the Mass, viz. the liturgy of the word and the
eucharistic liturgy, are so closely connected with each other that they form but one single act of
worship. Accordingly this sacred Synod strongly urges pastors of souls that, when instructing the
faithful, they insistently teach them to take their part in the entire Mass, especially on Sundays
and holidays of obligation.
57. (1) Concelebration whereby the unity of the priesthood is appropriately manifested has
remained in use to this day in the Church both in the East and in the West. For this reason it has
seemed good to the Council, to extend permission for celebration to the following cases:
1. (a) On the Thursday of the Lord's Supper, not only at the Mass of the Chrism but also at
the evening Mass. (b) At Masses during Councils, Bishops' Conferences and Synods.
(c) At the Mass for the Blessing of an abbot.
2. Also, with permission of the Ordinary, to whom it belongs to decide whether concelebration
is opportune:
(a) at conventual Mass, and at the principal Mass in churches, when the needs of the faithful
do not require that all the priests available should celebrate individually;
(b) at Mass celebrated at any kind of priests' meetings whether the priests be secular or
(2) 1. The regulation, however, of the discipline of concelebration in the diocese pertains to the
2. Each priest shall always retain his right to celebrate Mass individually, though not at the same
time in the same church as a concelebrated Mass nor on the Thursday of the Lord's Supper.
58. A new rite for concelebration is to be drawn up and inserted into the Pontifical and into the
Roman Missal.

What did the Liberals think of this document?

Lest one would be inclined to believe that we seek to criticise the document without
foundation, we will let a modernist speak his own mind upon it. The following is an extract from
the book "Vatican II: The Real Achievement" by E. Schillebeeckx O.P., Sheed and Ward 1967:
1. The fundamental gain of this constitution is that it broke the clergy's monopoly of the liturgy.
Whereas it was formerly the priest's affair, with the faithful no more than his clientele, the council
regards not only the priest but the entire Christian community, God's people, as the subject of
the liturgical celebration, in which each in his proper place is given his own particular,
hierarchically ordered function - a theological view with all kinds of practical repercussions.
2. Partly in the light of this basic vision, three renewals become intelligible: the vernacular in the
liturgy, the restoration of communion under two kinds, and concelebration. These are logical
consequences of the renewed communal conception of the liturgy as the celebration of the entire
Christian community in accordance with the taxis or hierarchical ordering of all the participants.
3. Moreover, the "theology of the word" was restored to its "quasi sacramental" importance. The
revival of the liturgy of the word in general and particularly in the eucharist is its logical
4. In connection with the eucharist, the council relinquished the old sacrificial concept common to
various religions and reached out direct to the biblical and ecclesial sacrificial concept, with the,
paschal mystery as its centre.
5. Finally, the rigid post-Tridentine uniformity was abandoned in favour of the principle of
pluralism, especially for groups of different cultures.

Why was the Novus Ordo Missae Instituted?

The production of an object is brought about in accordance with the end or purpose in view. If
the end is known, the reason for the object as well as its integral and potential parts become
quite easy to understand. The end or causa finalis is also the reason for which it is done. The
The Liturgy of the Mass
'why' seeks to answer this question and becomes therefore the most important question.
Why was the Novus Ordo Missae instituted? Let us closely investigate the answers given by Pope
Paul VI. According to his statements, the changes were made:
1) to bring the Church's liturgy into line with the modern mentality:
2) in obedience to the mandate of Vatican II;
3) to take cognisance of progress in liturgical studies;
4) to return to primitive practice; and
5) for "pastoral" reasons.

Explanation and consideration of these points.

The first reason: The principle of Aggiornamento (bringing up to date), was already
expressed and desired by Pope John XXIII. Paul VI said, "If the world changes, should not religion
also change? ... it is for this very reason that the Church has, especially after the Council [Vatican
Council II], undertaken so many reforms ..." (General Audience, July 2, 1969). (cƒ. A Look at the
Change in Orations, pg 60)
The second reason: We have seen some extracts of the document, Sacrosanctum
Concilium, as well as an interpretation of them by the Liberals. Some, indeed, have turned to the
council documents and sought out statements here and there to prove that the Novus Ordo is not
in accordance with the council. For example they will show the Vatican Council II's Constitution on
the Sacred Liturgy, recommends that the rite of the Mass be revised "in accord with sound
tradition." It also says that the liturgy was made up of "unchangeable elements divinely
instituted, and of elements subject to change." The Council Daybook, which states that the
Fathers "insisted that the Canon of the Mass especially should remain intact (Nov. 5, 1962).
Such arguments are used by those who seek to show that Vatican II was in reality good but
it's interpretation false. This is untenable. Paradoxically we interpret this document in the same
way as the Liberals do, the major difference being, that they say it is wonderful and we claim it to
be an evil. The council taken in general, postulates Liberalism and Modernism by means of its
continuous ambiguity.
The third reason. The name "progress" must not be understood in the traditional sense.
One is led to believe that the liturgical studies he refers to, are those promulgated by the
liturgical movement. Disorientating the liturgy to become a pastoral tool was a typical trait of this
The fourth reason. As is clear from the document on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican II, nos.
50-51, the return to "primitive practices" was requested. But why? Are we speaking here about
substantial things (practices), or accidental? At first one would think the council document is
refering to accidental things, especially through the words "due care to preserve substance" (no.
50). Such a phrase will have hardly any effect if all around it extensive renewal is sought for.
Considering the document as a whole, especially in the light of the years following the council,
one is obliged to conclude that it concerns substantial things.
Was it not Luther who wanted the same? Do we not perceive similarly a certain scorn for
tradition? If then, as it seems, it does concern substantial things or practices, then a serious
accusation is made against the divine assistance of the Church, or, in other words, tradition!
The fifth reason. Once again we see the Mass reduced to a simple instrument of the pastor.
This is hardly surprising after having considered the thrust of the Liturgical Mouvement in exactly
that direction. Once again Vatican II followed the same trend. Consider 51- 55. In the mind of
Vatican II, "pastoral reasons" is equivocal to eocumenism. (cƒ. "A Look at the Change in Orations,
pg 60).
Having been struck by the audacity and absurdity of the aim, we proceed to ask ourselves:
Was it really the Pope who wished it? Who was the instrument, where, when and how was it
Who composed the Novus Ordo Missae? Whereas Paul VI was formally and juridically
responsible, it was composed by a committee called the Concilium, which consisted of some 200
individuals, many of whom had functioned as Conciliar periti ("experts") during Vatican Council II.
At its head was Archbishop Annibale Bugnini. The Concilium was helped by six Protestant
observers, whom Paul VI publicly thanked for their assistance in "re-editing in a new manner
liturgical texts."
Paul VI promulgated the final form of this Mass as the Novus Ordo Missae in his Apostolic
Constitution Missale Romanum, April 3, 1969. Tied to his Apostolic Constitution was an
explanatory text entitled the Institutio Generalis. Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci wrote to Paul VI in
September, 1967, stating that the "New Mass" represented, "both as a whole, and in its details, a
The Liturgy of the Mass
striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of
the Council of Trent." Along with the letter, they presented to him the now famous Critical Study
of the Novus Ordo Missae, prepared by a group of Roman theologians. In an attempt to deflect
the criticisms this document made, a revised General Instruction was issued on March 26, 1970 -
but absolutely no change was made in the actual text of the Novus Ordo Missae itself. Since
then, some minor changes have been made in the New Mass; the current edition appeared in

Chapter Seventeen
A Critical study of the Novus Missæ
in Specie

The Mass, Sacrifice or Supper

Let us begin with the definition of the Novus Ordo Mass given in No 7 chapter 2 of the
"Institutio Generalis": "De structura Missae":

"Cena dominica sive Missa est sacra sanctae Ecclesiae locali congregatione
synaxis seu congregatio populi Dei in unum eminenter valet promissio Christi 'Ubi sunt
convenientis, sacerdote praeside, ad duo vel tres congregati in nomine meo, ibi
memorials Domini celebrandum. Quare de sum in medio eorum' (Mt. XVIII, 20)".

The definition of the Mass is thus limited to that of a "supper", and this term is found
constantly repeated (nos. 8, 48, 55d, 56). This "supper" is further characterised as an assembly
presided over by the priest and held as a memorial of the Lord, recalling what He did on the first
Maundy Thursday. None of this in the very least implies either the Real Presence, or the reality of
the sacrifice, or the Sacramental function of the consecrating priest, or the intrinsic value of the
Eucharistic Sacrifice independently of the people's presence. It does not, in a word, imply any of
the essential dogmatic values of the Mass which together provide its true definition. Here, the
deliberate omission of these dogmatic values amounts to their having been superseded and
therefore, at least in practice, to their denial.
The words, "Ubi sunt duo vel tres congregate in nomine meo; ibi sum in medio eorum" (Mt.
XVIII, 20) seriously aggravates this aforementioned equivocation, claiming the promise to hold
good, "eminenter", for such an assembly. This promise, which refers only to the spiritual presence
of Christ with His grace, is thus put on the same qualitative plane, save for the greater intensity,
as the substantial and physical reality of the Sacramental Eucharistic Presence.
In paragraph 8, the Mass is divided into the "liturgy of the word", and the "Eucharistic liturgy."
Then follows the affirmation is prepared by "the table of God's word" as of the "Body of Christ."
Thus the words may be "instituted" and the faithful "refreshed" (instituantur et reficiantur). This
is an unacceptable assimilation of the two parts, as if they were of equal symbolic value. More
will be said about this point later.
The Mass is designated by a great many different expressions, all acceptable relatively, all
unacceptable if employed, as they are, separately and in an absolute sense. We cite a few: Actio
Christi et populi Dei; Cena Dominica sive Missa; Convivium Paschale; Communis participatio
mensae Domini; Memoriale Domini; Precatio Eucharistica; Liturgia verbi et liturgia eucharistica;
As is only too evident, the emphasis is obsessively placed upon the supper and the memorial
instead of upon the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary. The formula "Memoriale
Passionis et Resurrectionis Domini" is, besides, inexact, the Mass being the memorial of the
Sacrifice alone, in itself redemptive, whilst the Resurrection is the consequent fruit of it.

The Purpose of the Mass

We already saw how the first purpose of the Liturgy is the glorification of the the Triune God.
(cƒ: chapter 5, pg 8). This end has disappeared: from the Offertory, with the disappearance of the
prayer "Suscipe, Sancta Trinitas", from the end of the Mass with the omission of the "Placet tibi
Sancta Trinitas", and from the Preface, which on Sunday will no longer be that of the Most Holy
Trinity, as this Preface will be reserved only to the Feast of the Trinity, and so in future will be
The Liturgy of the Mass
heard but once a year.
The secondary purpose of the Liturgy is the sanctification of man. (cƒ. chapter 5, pg 10) In the
case of the Mass, the sanctification of man is firstly brought about by the propitiatory Sacrifice.
Yet, it too has been deviated from; for instead of putting the stress on the remission of sins of the
living and the dead it lays emphasis on the nourishment and sanctification of those present (no.
54). Christ certainly instituted the Sacrament of the Last Supper putting Himself in the state of
Victim in order that we might be united to Him in this state but his self-immolation precedes the
eating of the Victim, and has an antecedent and full redemptive value (the application of the
bloody immolation). This is borne out by the fact that the faithful present are not bound to
communicate, sacramentally.
Lastly, we considered the subject of Liturgy. In our study we saw how this was Jesus Christ
Himself, or more precisely, the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. (cƒ. chapter 3 pg.5) Whatever the
nature of the Sacrifice, it is absolutely necessary that it be pleasing and acceptable to God. After
the Fall no sacrifice can claim to be acceptable in its own right other than the Sacrifice of Christ.
The Novus Ordo changes the nature of the offering turning it into a sort of exchange of gifts
between man and God: man brings the bread, and God turns it into the "bread of life"; man
brings the wine, and God turns it into a "spiritual drink".

"Benedictus es, Domine, Deus universe, quia et manum hominum, ex quo nobis fiet panis
de tua largitate accepimus panem (or vinum) vitae (or potus spiritualis)".
quem tibi offerimus, fructum terrae (or vitis)

There is no need to comment on the utter indeterminateness of the formulae "panis vitae"
and "potus spiritualis", which might mean anything. The same capital equivocation is repeated
here, as in the definition of the Mass: there, Christ is present only spiritually among His own:
here, bread and wine are only "spiritually" (not substantially) changed.
In the preparation of the offering, a similar equivocation results from the suppression of two
great prayers. The
"Deus qui humanae substantiae dignitatem mirabiliter condidisti et mirabilius reformasti" was a
reference to man's former condition of innocence and to his present one of being ransomed by
the Blood of Christ: a recapitulation by the whole economy of the Sacrifice, from Adam to the
present moment. The final propitiatory offering of the chalice, that it might ascend "cum odore
suavitatis", into the presence of the divine majesty, whose clemency was implored, admirably
reaffirmed this plan. By suppressing the continual reference of the Eucharistic prayers to God,
there is no longer any clear distinction between divine and human sacrifice.
Having removed the foundation, the reformers had to make a new purpose for the Mass:
Many gestures intending to stress the union of the priest and faithful, and the faithful among
themselves; offerings for the poor and for the church which takes the place of the offering of the
host to be immolated; these and many others, confusing the purpose and causing it to become
some kind of social meeting or charity banquet.
The Whole Purpose of the Sacrifice
The Subject of the Liturgy, as we have seen (cƒ. pg5) is the priesthood of Jesus Christ. In the
Holy sacrifice of the Mass, the very heart of the Liturgy, Jesus Christ voluntarily offered to God a
vicarious act of homage, the Sacrifice of His life upon the cross. Needless to insist any more upon
the fact that the Mass is that same Sacrifice continued upon the altar. Yet, in the Novus Ordo
Missae, the mystery of the Cross is no longer explicitly expressed. It is only there obscurely,
veiled and imperceptible for the people. This is seen:
1. The sense given in the Novus Ordo to the so-called "prex eucharistica" is:

"ut tota congregatio fidelium se cum Christo oblatione sacrificii" (no. 54, the end).
coniungat in confessione magnalium Dei et in

Which sacrifice is referred to? Who is the offerer? No answer is given to either of these
questions. The initial definition of the "prex eucharistica" is as follows:

"Nunc centrum et culmen totius celebrationis prex scilicet gratiarum actionis et

initium habet, ipsa nempe Prex eucharistica, sanctificationis" (no. 54, pr.).

The effects thus replace the causes, of which not one single word is said. The explicit mention
of the object of the offering, which was found in the "Suscipe"(cƒ. pg. 39), has not been replaced
The Liturgy of the Mass
by anything. The change in formulation reveals the change in doctrine.
2. The reason for this vagueness concerning the Sacrifice is quite simply that the Real Presence
has been removed from the central position which it occupied so resplendently in the former
Eucharistic liturgy. There is but a single reference to the Real Presence; a quotation - in a foot
note - from the Council of Trent, and again, the context is that of "nourishment" (no. 241, note
The Real and permanent Presence of Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the
transubstantiated Species is never alluded to. The very word transubstantiation is totally ignored.
The suppression of the invocation to the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity ("Veni
Sanctificator" cƒ. pg. 39) that He may descend upon the oblations, as once before into the womb
of the Most Blessed Virgin to accomplish the miracle of the divine Presence, is yet one more
instance of the systematic and tacit negation of the Real Presence. Note, too, the suppressions:
- of the genuflections (no more than three remain to the priest, and one, with certain exceptions,
to the people, at the Consecration);
- of the purification of the priest's fingers in the chalice;
- of the preservation from all profane contact of the priest's fingers after the Consecration;
- of the purification of the vessels, which need not be immediate, nor made on the corporal;
- of the pall protecting the chalice;
- of the internal gilding of sacred vessels;
- of the consecration of movable altars;
- of the sacred stone and relics in the movable altar or upon the "mensa" - "when celebration
does not occur in sacred precincts" (this distinction leads straight to "eucharistic suppers" in
private houses) ;
- of the three altar-cloths, reduced to one only;
- of thanksgiving kneeling (replaced by a thanksgiving, seated, on the part of priest and people, a
logical enough complement to Communion standing);
- of all the former prescriptions in the case of the consecrated Host falling, which are now
reduced to a single, casual direction: "reverenter accipiatur" (no. 239); all these things only serve
to emphasise how outrageously faith in the dogma of the Real Presence is implicitly repudiated.
3. The function assigned to the altar (no. 262). The altar is almost always called "mensa".
"Altare, seu mensa dominica quae centrum est totius liturgiae eucharisticae" (no. 49). It is laid
down that the altar must be detached from the walls so that it is possible to walk round it and
celebration may be facing the people (no. 262); also that the altar must be the centre of the
assembly of the faithful so that their attention is drawn spontaneously towards it (ibid.). But a
comparison of nos. 262 and 276 would seem to suggest that the reservation of the Blessed
Sacrament on this altar is excluded. This will mark an irreparable dichotomy between the
presence, in the celebrant, of the eternal High Priest and that same Presence brought about
sacramentally. Before, they were one and the same presence.
Now it is recommended that the Blessed Sacrament be kept in a place apart for the private
devotion of the people (almost as though it were a question of devotion to a relic of some kind)
so that, on going into a church, attention will no longer be focussed upon the Tabernacle but
upon a stripped, bare table. Once again the contrast is made between private piety and liturgical
piety: altar is set up against altar.
In the insistent recommendation to distribute in Communion the Species consecrated during
the same Mass, indeed to consecrate a loaf 1 for the priest to distribute to at least some of the
faithful, we find reasserted a disparaging attitude towards the Tabernacle, as towards every form
of Eucharistic piety outside of the Mass. This constitutes yet another violent blow to the faith in
the Real Presence as long as the consecrated Species remain.2

1 Rarely in the Novus Ordo is the word "hostia" used, a traditional one in liturgical books with its precise
significance of "victim". This needless to say is part of the reformers' plan to emphasise only the aspects
"supper" "food".

2 In accordance with the customary habit of the reformers of substituting and exchanging one thing for
another, the Real Presence is made equivalent to the Presence in the word (no. 7, 54). But this latter
presence is really of quite another nature, having no reality except in usu; whilst the former is, in a stable
manner, objective and independent of the communication that is made of it in the Sacrament, The formulae
"Deus populum suum alloquitur ... Christus per verbum suum in medio fidelium praesens adest" (no. 33, cf.
Sacros Conc. no. 33 and 7), are typically Protestant ones, which, strictly speaking, have no meaning, as the
presence of God in the word is mediated, bound to an act of the spirit, to the spiritual condition of the
The Liturgy of the Mass
4. The formulae of consecration. The ancient formula of consecration was properly a sacramental
not a narrative one. This was shown above all by three things:
a) The Scriptural text not taken up word for word: the Pauline insertion "mysterium fidei" was an
immediate confession of the priest's faith in the mystery realised by the Church through the
hierarchical priesthood.
b) The punctuation and typographical lay-out: the full stop and new paragraph marking the
passage from the narrative mode to the sacramental and affirmative one, the sacramental words
in larger characters at the centre of the page and often in a different colour, clearly detached
from the historical context. All combined to give the formula a proper and autonomous value.
c) The anamnesis ("Haec quotiescumque feceritis in mei memoriam facietis"), which in Greek is
"eis tén emòu anàmnesin" (directed to my memory). This referred to Christ operating and not to
the mere memory of him, or of the event: an invitation to recall what He did ("haec ... in mei
memoriam facietis") in the way He did it, not only His Person, or the Supper. The Pauline formula
("Hoc facite in meam commemorationem") which will now take the place of the old - proclaimed
as it will be daily in vernacular languages - will irremediably cause the hearers to concentrate on
the memory of Christ as the end of the Eucharistic action, whilst it is really the beginning. The
concluding idea of commemoration will certainly once again take the place of the idea of
sacramental action. The narrative mode is now emphasised by the formula "narratio institutionis"
(no. 55d) and repeated by the definition of the anamnesis, in which it is said that "Ecclesia
memoriam ipsius Christi agit." (no. 556). In short: the theory put forward by the epiclesis, the
modification of the words of Consecration and of the anamnesis, have the effect of modifying the
modus significandi of the words of Consecration. The consecratory formulae are here pronounced
by the priest as the constituents of a historical narrative and no longer enunciated as expressing
the categorical affirmation uttered by Him in whose Person the priest acts: "Hoc est Corpus
meum" (not, "Hoc est Corpus Christi"). Furthermore the acclamation assigned to the people
immediately after the Consecration: ("Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, etc. donec venias")
introduces yet again, under cover of eschatology, the same ambiguity concerning the Real
Presence. Without interval or distinction, the expectation of Christ's Second Coming at the end of
time is proclaimed just at the moment when He is substantially present on the altar, almost as
though the former, and not the latter, were the true Coming. This is brought out even more
strongly in the formula of optional acclamation n.2 (Appendix): "Quotiescumque manducamus
panem hunc, et calicem bibimus, mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, donec venias" where the
juxtaposition of the different realities of immolation and eating, of the Real Presence and of
Christ's Second Coming, reaches the height of ambiguity.

The realisation of the Sacrifice.

The four elements of which were: 1) Christ, 2) the priest, 3) the Church, 4) the faithful
The presence of the faithful. In the Novus Ordo, the position attributed to the faithful is
autonomous (absoluta), hence totally false - from the opening definition: "Missa est sacra synaxis
seu congregatio populi", to the priest's salutation to the people which is meant to convey to the
assembled community the "presence" of the Lord (no. 28). "Qua salutatione et populi
responsione manifestatur ecclesiae congregatae mysterium".
A true presence, certainly, of Christ but only a spiritual one, and a mystery of the Church, but
solely as an assembly manifesting and soliciting such a presence.
This interpretation is constantly underlined: by the obsessive references to the communal
character of the Mass (nos. 74-152); by the unheard of distinction between "missa cum populo"
and "missa sine populo" (nos. 203-231); by the definition of the "oratio universalis seu fidelium"
(no. 45) where once more we find stressed the "sacerdotal office" of the people ("populus sui
sacerdotii munus excercens") presented in an equivocal way because its subordination to that of
the priest is not mentioned, and all the more since the priest, as consecrated mediator, makes
himself the interpreter of all the intentions of the people in the Te igitur and the two Memento.
In "Prex eucharistica III" ("Vere sanctus", P. 123) the following words are addressed to the
Lord: "populum tibi congregare non desinis ut a solis ortu usque occasum oblatio munda
offeratur nomini tuo", the "in order" that making it appear that the people, rather than the priest,
are the indispensable element in the celebration; and since not even here is it made clear who
the offerer is, the people themselves appear to be invested with autonomous priestly powers.

individual and limited in time. This error has the most serious consequences: the affirmation (or insinuation)
that the Real Presence is bound to the usus, and ends together with it.
The Liturgy of the Mass
From this step it would not be surprising if, before long, the people were authorised to join the
priest in pronouncing the consecrating formulae, (which actually seems here and there to have
already occurred).
The priest's position is minimised, changed and falsified:
1) In relation to the people for whom he is, for the most part, a mere president, or brother,
instead of the consecrated minister celebrating in persona Christi (cƒ. §7).
2) In relation to the Church, as a "quidam de populo". In the definition of the epiclesis (no. 55),
the invocations are attributed anonymously to the Church: the part of the priest has vanished.
3) In the Confiteor which has now become collective, he is no longer judge, witness and
intercessor with God; so it is logical that he is no longer empowered to give the absolution, which
has been suppressed. He is integrated with the fratres. Even the server addresses him as such in
the Confiteor of the "Missa sine populo".
4) Already, prior to this latest reform, the significant distinction between the Communion of the
priest - the moment in which the Eternal High Priest and the one acting in His Person were
brought together in closest union - and the Communion of the faithful had been suppressed.
5) Not a word do we now find as to the priest's power to sacrifice, or about his act of
consecration, the bringing about through him of the Eucharistic Presence. He now appears as
nothing more than a Protestant minister.
6) The disappearance, or optional use, of many sacred vestments (in certain cases the alb and
stole are sufficient - n. 298) obliterate even more the original conformity with Christ: the priest is
no more clothed with all His virtues, becoming merely a "non-commissioned officer" whom one or
two signs may distinguish from the mass of people: "a little more a man than the rest", to quote
the involuntarily humorous definition of a modern preacher. Again, as with the "table" and the
Altar, there is separated what God has united: the sole Priesthood of the World of God.
Christ, the Church's position in relation to Him. In one case only, namely the "Missa sine
populo", is the Mass acknowledged to be "Actio Christi et Ecclesiae" (no. 4, cƒ. Presb. Ord. no.
13), whereas in the case of the "missa cum populo" this is not referred to except for the purpose
of "remembering Christ" and sanctifying those present. The words used are: "Presbyter celebrans
... populum ... sibi sociat in offerendo sacrificio per Christum in Spiritu Sancto Deo Patri" (no. 60)
instead of ones which would associate the people with Christ Who offers Himself "per Spiritum
Sanctum Deo Patri".
In this context the following are to be noted:
1) the all-pervading "paschalism", almost as though there were no other, quite different and
equally important, aspects of the communication of grace;
2) the very strange and dubious eschatologism whereby the communication of supernatural
grace, a reality which is permanent and eternal, is brought down to the dimensions of time: we
hear of a people on the march, a pilgrim Church - no longer militant against the Potestas
tenebrarum - looking towards a future which having lost its link with eternity is conceived in
purely temporal terms.
The Church.
1) One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic - is diminished as such in the formula that, in the "Prex
Eucharistica IV", has taken the place of the prayer of the Roman Canon "pro omnibus orthodoxes
atque catholicae et apostolicae fidei cultoribus". Now they are merely: "omnium qui te quaerunt
corde sincere".
2a) Again, in the Memento of the dead, these have no longer passed on "cum signo fidei, et
dormiunt in somno pacis" but only "obierunt in pace Christi tui",
2b) and to them are added, with further obvious detriment to the concept of visible unity, the
host of all the dead "Quorum fidem tu solus cognovisti". The Church can no longer objectively
judge if someone possesses the faith.
3) Furthermore, in none of the three new eucharistic prayers, is there any reference, as has
already been said, to the state of suffering of those who have died, in none the possibility of a
particular Memento: all of this, again, must undermine faith in the propitiator and redemptive
nature of the Sacrifice.
4) Desacralizing omissions everywhere debase the mystery of the Church. Above all she is not
presented as a sacred hierarchy: Angels and Saints are reduced to anonymity in the second part
of the collective Confiteor: they have disappeared, as witnesses and judges, in the person of St.
Michael, from the first.
5) The various hierarchies of angels have also disappeared (and this is without precedent) from
the new Preface of "Prex II".
6) In the Communicantes reminder of the Pontiffs and holy martyrs on whom the Church of Rome
The Liturgy of the Mass
is founded and who were, without doubt, the transmitters of the apostolic traditions, destined to
be completed in what became, with St. Gregory, the Roman Mass, has been suppressed.
7) In the Libera nos the Blessed Virgin, the Apostles and all the Saints are no longer mentioned:
her and their intercession is thus no longer asked, even in time of peril.
8) The unity of the Church is gravely compromised by the wholly intolerable omission from the
entire Ordo, including the three new Preces, of the names of the Apostles Peter and Paul,
Founders of the Church of Rome, and the names of the other Apostles, foundation and mark of
the one and universal Church, the only remaining mention being in the Communicantes of the
Roman Canon.
9) A clear attack upon the dogma of the Communion of Saints is the omission, when the priest is
celebrating without a server, of all the salutations, and the final Blessing, not to speak of the Ite
Missa est now not even said in Masses celebrated with a server.
10) The double Confiteor showed how the priest, in his capacity of Christ's Minister, bowing down
deeply and acknowledging himself unworthy of his sublime mission, of the "tremendum
mysterium", about to be accomplished by him and of even (in the Aufer a nobis) entering into the
Holy of Holies, invoked the intercession (in the Oramus te Domine) of the merits of the martyrs
whose relics were sealed in the altar. Both these prayers have been suppressed; what has been
said previously in respect of the double Confiteor and the double Communion is equally relevant
11) The outward setting of the Sacrifice, evidence of its sacred character, has been profaned.
See, for example, what is laid down for celebration outside sacred precincts, in which the altar
may be replaced by a simple "mensa" without consecrated stone or relics, and with a single cloth
(nos. 260, 265). Here too all that has been previously said with regard to the Real Presence
applies, the disassociation of the "convivium" and of the sacrifice of the supper from the Real
Presence Itself.
12) The process of desacralization is completed thanks to the new procedures for the offering:
the reference to ordinary not unleavened bread; altar-servers (and lay people at Communion sub
utraque specie) being allowed to handle sacred vessels (no. 244d);
13) the distracting atmosphere created by the ceaseless coming and going of priest, deacon,
subdeacon, psalmist, commentator (the priest becomes a commentator himself from his
constantly being required to 'explain' what he is about to accomplish) - of readers (men and
women), of servers or laymen welcoming people at the door and escorting them to their places
whilst others carry and sort offerings.
14) And in the midst of all this prescribed activity, the 'mulier idonea' (anti-scriptural and
anti-Pauline) who for the first time in the tradition of the Church will be authorised to read the
lessons and also perform other "ministeria quae extra presbyterium peraguntur" (no. 70).
15) Finally, there is the concelebration mania, which will end by destroying Eucharistic piety in
the priest, by overshadowing the central figure of Christ, sole Priest and Victim, in a collective
presence of concelebrants.

The New Canons. We have limited ourselves to a summary evaluation of the new Ordo
where it deviates must seriously from the theology of the Catholic Mass and our observations
touch only those deviations that are typical. A complete evaluation of all the pitfalls, the dangers,
the spiritually and psychologically destructive elements contained in the document - whether in
text, rubrics or instructions - would be a vast undertaking.
No more than a passing glance has been taken at the three new Canons, since these have
already come in for repeated and authoritative criticism, both as to form and substance. The
second of them gave immediate scandal to the faithful on account of its brevity. Of Canon II it
has been well said, amongst other things, that it could be recited with perfect tranquillity of
conscience by a priest who no longer believes either in Transubstantiation or in the sacrificial
character of the Mass - hence even by a Protestant minister.
The new Missal was introduced in Rome as "a text of ample pastoral matter", and "more
pastoral than juridical", which the Episcopal Conferences would be able to utilise according to the
varying circumstances and genius of different peoples. In this same Apostolic Constitution we
read: "... in novum Missale legitimas varietates et aptationes ascivimus. Besides, Section I of the
new Congregation for Divine Worship will be responsible "for the publication and constant
revision of the liturgical books". The last official bulletin of the Liturgical Institutes of Germany,
Switzerland and Austria says: "The Latin texts will now have to be translated into the languages
of the various peoples; the 'Roman' style will have to be adapted to the individuality of the local
Churches: that which was conceived beyond time must be transposed into the changing context
The Liturgy of the Mass
of concrete situations in the constant flux of the Universal Church and of its myriad
The Apostolic Constitution itself gives the coup de grace to the Church's universal language
(contrary to that which was indicated by Vatican Council II) with the bland affirmation that "in tot
varietate linguarum" una (?) eademque cunctorum precatio ... quovis ture fragrantior ascendat."
The demise of Latin may therefore be taken for granted; that of Gregorian chant, which even
the Council recognised as "liturgiae romanae proprium" (Sacros Conc. no. 116), ordering that
"principem locum obtineat" (ibid.) will logically follow, with the freedom of choice, amongst other
things, of the texts of Introit and Gradual.
From the outset therefore the new rite is launched as pluralistic and experimental, bound to
time and place. Unity of worship, thus swept away for good and all, what will now become of that
unity of faith that went with it, and which, we were always told, was to be defended without
It is evident that the Novus Ordo has no intention of Presenting the Faith as taught by the
Council of Trent, to which, nonetheless, the Catholic conscience is bound forever. With the
promulgation of the Novus Ordo, the loyal Catholic is thus faced with a most tragic alternative.

The Borrowing from eastern Rites? The Apostolic Constitution makes explicit reference to
a wealth of piety and teaching in the Novus Ordo borrowed from the Eastern Churches. The result
- utterly remote from and even opposed to the inspiration of the oriental Liturgies - can only repel
the faithful of the Eastern Rites. What, in truth, do these eocumenical options amount to?
Basically to the multiplicity of anaphora (but nothing approaching their beauty and complexity),
to the presence of the deacons, to Communion sub utraque specie. Against this the Ordo would
appear to have been deliberately shorn of everything which in the Liturgy of Rome came close to
those of the East. Moreover in abandoning its unmistakable and immemorial Roman character,
the Ordo lost what was spiritually precious of its own. Its place has been taken by elements which
bring it closer only to certain other reformed liturgies (not even to those closest to Catholicism)
and which debase it at the same time. The East will be ever more alienated, as it already has
been by the preceding liturgical reforms.
By way of compensation the new Liturgy will be the delight of the various groups who,
hovering on the verge of apostasy are wreaking havoc in the Church of God, poisoning her
organism and undermining her unity of doctrine, worship, morals and discipline in a spiritual
crisis without precedent.

Reasons of Unity. St. Pius V had the Roman Missal drawn up (as the present Apostolic
Constitution itself recalls) so that it might be an instrument of unity among Catholics. In
conformity with the injunctions of the Council of Trent it was to exclude all danger, in liturgical
worship, of errors against the Faith, then threatened by the Protestant Reformation. The gravity
of the situation fully justified, and even rendered prophetic, the saintly Pontiff's solemn warning
given at the end of the Bull promulgating his Missal "Si quis autem hoc attentare praesumserit,
indignationem Omnipotenti Dei ac beatorum Petri et Pauli Apostolorum eius se noverit
incursurum (Quo Primum, July 13, 1570).
When the Novus Ordo was presented at the Vatican Press Office, it was asserted with great
audacity that the reasons which prompted the Tridentine decrees are no longer valid. Not only do
they still apply, but there also exist, as we do not hesitate to affirm, very much more serious ones
today. It was precisely in order to ward off the dangers which in every century threaten the purity
of the deposit of faith ("depositum custodi, devitans profanas vocum novitates." - I Tim. 6; 20)
the Church has had to erect under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost the defences of her dogmatic
definitions and doctrinal pronouncements. These were immediately reflected in her worship,
which became the most complete monument of her faith. To try and bring the Church's worship
back at all costs to ancient practices by refashioning, artificially and with that "unhealthy
archeologism" so roundly condemned by Pius XII, what in earlier times had the grace of original
spontaneity means - as we see to-day only too clearly - to dismantle all the theological ramparts
erected for the protection of the Rite and to take away all the beauty by which it was enriched
over the centuries
And all this at one of the most critical moments - if not the most critical moment - of the
Church's history! Today, division and schism are officially acknowledged to exist not only outside
of but within the Church. Her unity is not only threatened but already tragically compromised.
Errors against the Faith are not so much insinuated but rather an inevitable consequence of
liturgical abuses and aberrations which have been given equal recognitions. To abandon a
The Liturgy of the Mass
liturgical tradition which for four centuries was both the sign and the pledge of unity of worship
(and to replace it with another which cannot but be a sign of division by virtue of the countless
liberties implicitly authorised, and which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the
integrity of the Catholic religion) is, we feel in conscience bound to proclaim, an incalculable

Chapter Eighteen
A Look at the Change in Orations

The oldest orations in the traditional Missal are found in the Temporal Cycle. We do not know
the names of the men who wrote these venerable texts nor who assigned them their places in
the Missal, since not even modern historical scholarship can reconstruct the relevant records
back beyond the 5th century. Nevertheless, we do know that the older orations in the traditional
Missal and their order of recitation throughout the church year correspond to the arrangement
found in the 6th century Leonine Sacramentary. Tradition ascribes the authorship of the nucleus
of the old Missal's collects to Pope St. Damasus (366-384). Father Guy Oury, a French Benedictine
of Solesmes, published a book entitled La Messe de S. Pie V a Paul VI (1975) by which he
intended to defend the New Mass against traditionalist critiques and to demonstrate the new
rite's conformity with Catholic doctrine and tradition. Voicing an opinion all too common among
conservatives, he says: "What exactly is the Missal of Paul VI, other than that of Saint Pius V,
adapted, enriched and completed? If someone were to devote his time to the work of making a
line-by-line comparison, he would find in the Missal of Paul VI three-quarters if not six-ninths of
the content of the original Missal of St. Pius V."
Pope Paul VI entrusted the responsibility for carrying out the liturgical reform mandated by
Vatican II's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (4 December 1963) to the Consilium (cƒ.pg. 64)
The new orations are the work of Consilium Study Group 18B, appointed by Father Bugnini in
1965. The group consisted of Fathers Placide Bruylants, G. Lucchesi, A. Rose, W. Durig, Henry
Ashworth, G.A. Gracias, and Antoine Dumas. To these we may add the names of Fathers Matias
Auge, Vincenzo Raffa, Walter Ferretti, and Carlo Braga, Father Bugnini's assistant. Their writings,
culled from other sources, provide invaluable information about how they changed the orations
and why.
The Fathers of Consilium met in October 1966, and approved certain principles - undoubtedly
drawn up by Father Bugnini - to guide the various study groups. In its work on the orations, Study
Group 18B was instructed; "where fitting, [to] replace expressions which have for the most part
lost their significance today (the emphasis the Lenten orations place on bodily fasting, for
instance) with others more in accord with today's conditions." (La Riforma Liturgica 1948 - 1979).
The orations, then, like the rest of the Mass, were in for a bit of what Father Bugnini liked to
call qualchi ritocchi ("some touching up") and arricchimento ("enrichment"). For an old oration,
"touching it up" turned out to mean dropping language and concepts repugnant to Protestants
and Modernists. "Enriching the Missal" meant suppressing old orations, some of them in their
entirety, and substituting texts from other sources, sometimes unaltered, sometimes themselves
"touched up."
The statistics, however, tell a different story: The traditional Missal contains 1182 orations.
About 760 of those were dropped entirely. Of the approximately 36% which remained, the
revisers altered over half of them before introducing them into the new Missal. Thus, only some
17% of the orations from the old Missal made it untouched into the new Missal. As testimony, we
offer the words of Father Bugaini's assistant, Father Carlo Braga, who put the finishing touches on
the revisers' work immediately before the new Missal went to press:
"Revising the preexisting text becomes more delicate when faced with a need to update
content or language, and when all this affects not only form, but also doctrinal reality. This
[revision] is called for in light of the new view of human values, considered in relation to and
as a way to supernatural goods. The Council clearly proposes this [new view] and it was kept
in mind when the Temporal Cycle was revised. It could not have been ignored in revising the
Sanctoral Cycle. In other cases, ecumenical requirements dictated appropriate revisions in
language. Expressions recalling positions or struggles of the past are no longer in harmony
with the Church's new positions[!]. An entirely new foundation of eucharistic theology has
superseded devotional points of view or a particular way of venerating and invoking the
Saints. Retouching the text, moreover, was deemed necessary to bring to light new values
The Liturgy of the Mass
and new perspectives" (Carlo Braga. "Il Proprium de Sanctis" Ephemerides Liturgicae 84
(1970) 419).
The old Advent Orations for instance, they pronounced "impoverished" too "negative" too
"moralizing." So too the Lenten orations, which still worse, were "of little relevance to the
mentality of modern man." Why? Father Auge explained: "Some of these collects, in fact, spoke
of, among other things, the punishments, anger, or divine wrath for our sins, of a Christian
assembly oppressed with guilt, continually afflicted due to its disorders, threatened with
condemnation to eternal punishment, etc."
Consilium, therefore, incorporated into the new Missal only those older texts "which could still
have a pastoral worth for contemporary man - To have introduced unaltered ancient prayers
which alluded to doctrinal controversies or fasting, or which disparaged the things of this world,
would have created, said the revisers, "difficulty for the psychology of the man who experiences
other problems, who has a different way of thinking, and who lives in a different material and
disciplinary situation." (Carlo Braga, "Il Nuovo Messale Romano," Ephemerides Liturgicae 84
(1970), 272).
Thanks to the diligent work of Consilium, the psyche of this modem man will encounter few
difficulties with the new orations, since they do not emphasize such obsolete notions as the
fragility of the human condition "infirmities of soul," our weak will, our languor of soul, our
obstinacy of heart, the strength of our vices, "concupiscence of the flesh and of the eyes" and
"continual affliction from our excesses."
The revisers moved the old Collect for the Second Sunday after Easter to a weekday and
rewrote the ending:

O God, who in the humility of Thy Son, didst raise up the fallen world, grant to Thy faithful
abiding gladness: that whereas Thou hast saved them ...

Old Text New Text

from the perils of from the slavery of sin,
everlasting death, Thou Thou mayest bring them to
mayest bring them to possess eternal joys.
possess eternal joys.
Here they replaced the "perils of everlasting death" - again, hell - with the less threatening
idea of deliverance from the "slavery of sin".
Ash Wednesday, of course, is liturgical low tide for those sensitive to negative theology.
Consilium had actually contemplated abolishing it. Ash Wednesday in the end was retained - but
only grudgingly, since its observance was so rooted in the peoples' lives that "it would be difficult
to take it away without encountering other inconveniences." (Carlo Braga, "De Anno Liturgico et
Calendario Generali Instauratis," Ephemerides Liturgicae 83 (1969), 184-5).
In the traditional Missal, therefore, many orations to the saints singled out their disdain or
contempt for earthly things as something singularly virtuous. Again and again, the phrase
terrena despicere - "to despise the things of this world" - recurs as an ideal which a saint
achieved and which we hope to attain. This particular doctrinal reality the revisers purged in its
entirety from the new Missal, which they now called "more positive." "more respectful in the face
of earthly reality." In the Postcommunion for the Second Sunday of Advent, the texts in both
Missals begin with the same phrases, and then head in different directions:

Filled with the food of spiritual nourishment, we suppliantly entreat Thee, O Lord, that through
our participation in this Mystery, Thou wouldest teach us ...

Old Text New Text

to despise earthly things to consider wisely earthly
and to love heavenly things and cleave to
things. heavenly things.

One of the most striking changes in the post-Conciliar liturgy involved the rites and prayers
for the dead. White vestments replaced black; Alleluia replaced Requiem aeterna dona ei,
Domine, and the typical funeral, was turned into something akin to a canonization ceremony. A
comparison, for instance, of the old Collect on the Day of Burial with its revised version reveals
that Consilium eliminated the following clauses:
The Liturgy of the Mass
that Thou wouldst deliver not his soul into the hands of the enemy, nor forget him forever,
but command that he be taken up by Thy holy angels... [that] he may not undergo the
pains of hell...

In 1970 one of the liturgists involved in revising these prayers, Father Henry Ashworth, wrote
an interesting commentary on the new texts, claiming: "The Church's faith in purgatory is implied
in these prayers by phrases which ask that the soul of the departed be purified from sin."
(Ephemerides Liturgicae 85 (1971), 5). Yet the word anima, has practically disappeared from the
new orations for the dead. In the nine orations used in the New Mass on All Souls' Day, for
instance, anima does not appear even once; whereas, the traditional Missal uses it in all nine
orations. (Perhaps November 2 should have been renamed "No Souls Day.")
The notion of acknowledging the one, true God has been deleted from the Collect for St. Cyril
of Jerusalem. The Collect for the Propagation of the Faith, now ecumenized (as it were),
underwent similar revisions:

O God, who wouldst have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth...

Old Text New Text

send, we beseech Thee, look upon Thy great
laborers into Thy harvest harvest, and graciously
and grant them grace with send laborers therein, so
all boldness to speak Thy that the Gospel may be
word; so that Thy word may preached to every creature
run and be glorified, and all and that Thy people,
nations may know Thee, gathered by the word of
the only God, and Him life, and strengthened by
whom Thou hast sent, Jesus the power of the
Christ Thy Son, Our Lord. sacraments, may advance
in the way of salvation and

If even petitions to convert men to the one true God using Our Lord's own words, no less -
were deemed too triumphalistic, it is no surprise to learn that the Collect for the Feast of Christ
the King was "adapted in its expression to the mentality of contemporary man," by scrapping the
phrase "grant in Thy mercy that all the families of nations, rent asunder by the bond of sin, may
be subjected to His most gentle rule." The Church Militant has likewise disappeared from the
feasts of Christ the King and St. Ignatius Loyola.
The petitions in the orations to St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Peter Canisius (called during the
Protestant revolt "the Hammer of Heretics") to bring those in error back to the unity of the
Church and to salvation have been dropped, said Father Braga, as reflections of an age
characterized by "intransigence and a spirit of conquest." Intransigence and a spirit of conquest
naturally bring to mind the great pope who promulgated the Tridentine Missal, St. Pius V. His
oration has been replaced with one a bit more ecumenical:

Old Text New Text

O God, who for the O God, who raised up in
overthrowing of the Thy Church blessed Pius as
enemies of Thy Church and Pope, to protect the faith
for the restoration of the and render worship more
beauty of Thy worship, worthy, grant by his
didst choose blessed Pius intercession that we may
as supreme Pontiff; grant share in Thy mysteries with
that we may be defended lively faith and fruitful
by his patronage and charity.
cleave to Thy service, that
overcoming the snares of
our enemies, we may
rejoice in Thy eternal
The Liturgy of the Mass
Strange things happened to phrases which reflected the Church's teaching on the power and
function of the Supreme Pontiff. St. Robert Bellarmine, an eloquent defender of papal infallibility
in the face of the Protestant threat, is no longer said to have "repelled the snares of errors and
vindicated the rights of the Apostolic See." In two orations for the Supreme Pontiff, the notion
that he governs the Church has been removed. But did not Pope Paul VI wish that the revision of
the liturgy bring it back to primitive practices? (cƒ. pgs. 52 - 53). Yet if so, why are the
expressions of the primitive language abhored? Language which condemned the evil of heresy
and proclaimed the rights of God and His Church, had to be done away with in the new liturgy.
One has but to consider the Solemn Orations for Good Friday. These prayers, the oldest in the
traditional Missal, dated back to the days of the earliest persecutions. In the Gelasian
Sacramentary, (cƒ. pg. 25) 128 texts of these orations are, identical to those found in the
traditional Roman Missal. Comparing these texts with their counterparts in the new Missal of Paul
VI reveals that:
In the Oration for the Church, the revisers omitted the petition that principalities and powers
be subjected to the Church. "An anachronism." said Father Bugnini, "when it comes to the
temporal role of the Church."
The Oration for Heretics and Schismatics has been abolished. The traditional text prays for
their deliverance from error and the wiles of the devil, their repentance, their return to the unity
of the truth and the removal of the evil of heresy from their hearts. In its place the revisers
substituted a vague oration for the Unity of Christians. - The Oration for the Jews no longer
speaks of their "faithlessness." their "blindness" and the "veil" over their hearts in refusing to
acknowledge Christ. The Oration now asks God that the Jews increase in faithfulness to their
covenant "and come to the fullness of Redemption" - instead of praying, as formerly, for their
conversion. The Oration for the Pagans is now called "For those who do not believe in Christ," it
no longer prays for their conversion, either. The ancient prayers were changed, said Archbishop
Bugnini in his memoirs because they "sounded rather bad" in the ecumenical climate of Vatican
II, and because "no one should find a motive for spiritual discomfort in the prayer of the Church."
While we on earth can merit graces for others through our prayers and good works, the
Church also teaches that the merits of the saints in heaven are far more powerful in obtaining for
us the graces, and blessings we need. Hence, on at least 200 occasions throughout the course of
the liturgical year, the traditional orations invoke the merits of the saints. Typically, an oration will
ask God for something through "the assistance of their merits" their "merits and prayers" their
"merits and intercession" or their "merits and example."
In the orations of Paul VI's Missal, the merits of the saints followed the soul into virtual
oblivion. In 30 instances, the revisers substituted different orations for the old ones which
mentioned merits. In 21 other orations to the saints which they retained, the revisers excised the
word "merit;" and only 3 of the 13 orations where it still occurs in the new Missal are obligatory
(Sts. Aloysius Gonzaga, Dominic & Theresa of the infant Jesus). A typical result is the new Collect
in honor of St. Gertrude the Great: Both the old and the new versions in Latin begin with the
same phrase:
"O God, who didst prepare for Thyself a pleasant home in the heart of the holy virgin
The remainder of the prayer has been reorientated:

Old Text New Text

by her merits and by her intercession do Thou
intercession do Thou mercifully enlighten the
mercifully wash away from darkness of our hearts that
our hearts the stains [of we may joyfully experience
sin] and grant that we may Thee working and present
rejoice [with her] in within us.
[heavenly] fellowship.

The allusions to miracles, needless to say, have all been suppressed to make the prayers
better suited, said Father Braga, "to the mentality of contemporary man." Expressions of the
marvellous or the miraculous are "characteristic of a certain hagiography of the past." ("Il
Proprium... 405). Such considerations may have prompted the abolition of the old oration for the
feast of St. Nicholas:
O God, who hast adorned the blessed Bishop Nicholas with numberless miracles: grant, we
beseech Thee, that by his merits and prayers we may be saved from the fires of hell.
The Liturgy of the Mass
If the saints are "demythologized" why not the Queen of All Saints? The oration for the feast
of Our Lady of Lourdes no longer mentions her apparition, but then the new orations for the Feast
of Our Lady of the Rosary no longer bother to mention her Rosary, either. The virtual elimination
of these "doctrinal realities" from the orations of the new Missal is nothing less than an attack on
the integrity of the Catholic faith. Liturgy of its nature expresses doctrine, and as Pope Pius XII
observed, the entire liturgy "bears public witness to the faith of the Church" (Mediator Dei). This
intimate connection between liturgy and doctrine is often summed up in the old adage, Lex
orandi, lex credendi. In their treatment of Catholic doctrine, what weight should modern
theologians give the new orations as theological sources? Msgr. A.G. Martimort, another of
Consilium's experts, provided the answer: "The content of these prayers is the most important of
the liturgical loci theologici [theological sources]. The reason is that they interpret the shared
faith of the assembly."
What more proof do you want?