The Mass, F FACTS

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Content: FAITH FACTS The Answers You Need
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The Mass Timeless and Changing
Q. Which parts of the Mass have remained unchanged over time? Why have some parts of the Mass changed? A. The Second Vatican Council teaches that "the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change."1 Because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is "the heart and the summit of the Church's life" (Catechism, no. 1407), changes in the rites of the Mass are more apparent to Catholics than are changes in other liturgical rites. Changes in the rites of the Mass also evoke the most questions and concerns. Some changes are made at the whim of the celebrant or other ministers and are illicit. The Second Vatican Council forbids such actions: no person, "even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority."2 Other changes, however, have been made under the direction of the Church's Magisterium. Several such changes have taken place in the past four decades, especially between 1963 and 1969. If changes in one rite of the Mass manifest the truth that parts of the Mass are changeable, then the simultaneous existence of several rites attests to this truth even more clearly. While the Roman Rite is used most frequently in the West, other rites have been in use in cer-
tain dioceses and religious orders. These rites include the Ambrosian Rite, the Mozarabic Rite, the Lyonnais Rite, the Bragan Rite, and the rites of the Dominicans, Carmelites, and Carthusians.3 A variety of rites also exists in the 20 Eastern Catholic Churches. Two Eastern Catholic Churches make use of the Alexandrian Rite; three, the Antiochian Rite; one, the Armenian Rite; 12, the Byzantine Rite; and two, the Chaldean Rite.4 The Mass of the Ages The chart on the next two pages will help illustrate which parts of the Mass are timeless and which parts are changeable. All four rites of the Mass have two main parts: what is called the Liturgy of the Word in the current Roman Rite, and what is called the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the current Roman Rite.5 In all four rites described (see chart, pp. 28-29), the presiding priest and people gather together before the readings from Sacred Scripture. All four rites call for readings from Sacred Scripture, and all call explicitly for at least one New Testament reading. All four rites make provision for a homily or sermon, though a homily is now mandatory in the Roman Rite only on Sundays and holy days of obligation.6 Likewise, all four rites call for an offertory rite; a Eucharistic
July/August 2004 27
Altar in St. John's cave on the Island of Patmos photo by Beth Hart .
LW July/August 2004
Figure 1
Byzantine Divine Liturgy
Ordinary (Roman Rite, 1962 Missal)
Order of the Mass (Roman Rite, current Missal)
Consecration of Take, eat, THIS IS Take and eat of this, all of you,
the Body
of Christ
broken for you for
the remission of sins.
Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you.
Consecration of the precious blood of Christ
Drink of this all, THIS IS MY BLOOD OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins.
THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT: THE MYSTERY OF FAITH: WHICH IS BEING SHED FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE forgiveness of sins. As often as you shall do these actions, do this in memory of Me.
Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.
Figure 2 The Mass as described by St. Justin Martyr (c. 155)21
Byzantine Divine Ordinary (Roman Order of the Mass Liturgy22 Rite, 1962 Missal)23 (Roman Rite, current Missal)24
"On the day we call the day of the Proskomedia
sun, all who dwell in the city or (preparation of the
country gather in the same place." bread and wine)
Entrance song
Litany of peace (similar to general intercessions of the Roman Rite) Hymn of the Incarnation
Confiteor; Introit antiphon Kyrie
Rite of blessing and sprinkling holy water or penitential rite Kyrie
Little entrance
Tropars and kondaks (prayers of the day)
Opening Prayer
Trisagion (prayer of the Thrice-Holy God) "The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits."
First reading
Responsorial psalm
Second reading
Munda cor meum Alleluia or Gospel acclamation
"When the reader has finished, he Sermon who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things."
Homily or sermon Homily
Nicene Creed
Profession of faith (Creed)
"Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves . . . and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation."
Litany of supplications
General intercessions
"When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss."
First prayer of the faithful; second prayer of the faithful; cherubinic hymn
28 Lay Witness
Prayer wherein, by the words of consecration and the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ; and Holy Communion. These actions are the essence of the "Mass of all ages," whatever be the rite in which it is celebrated.7 Legitimate variation marks even the essential elements of the Mass. Different Scripture Readings are read on the same day in different rites, or even at times in the same rite. Likewise, the offertory rite and manner of distributing Holy Communion differ in the different rites; in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, for example, Holy Communion is always distributed under both species, while in the Latin Rite it is distributed only sometimes under both species. The Byzantine Divine Liturgy and the current Roman Rite have a variety of Eucharistic Prayers, or anaphoras, while the 1962 Roman Missal had only one (the Roman Canon). Even the words of the consecration that are necessary for validity ("This is My Body" and "This is My Blood") have been embedded in slightly different phrases (see figure 1). In an important development of doctrine, the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, determined in 2001 that the words of Consecration need not be present "in a coherent narrative way and ad litteram" for transubstantiation to occur; the words may instead be present "in a dispersed euchological way, that is, integrated in successive prayers of thanksgiving, praise, and intercession" (no. 3).8 Why Make Changes? Some parts of the Mass, then, are unchangeable, while others are subject to change. While "the Church herself has no power over those things which were established by Christ Himself and which constitute an unchangeable part of the liturgy,"9 the Church's Magisterium does have the authority to change the other parts of the Mass and has exercised that authority maNY Times
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over the centuries.10 Why might the Magisterium make changes in these parts of the Mass? · The principal reason changes are made is that the "mystery of Christ is so unfathomably rich that it cannot be exhausted by its expression in any single liturgical tradition" (Catechism, no. 1201). Changes can be made to the Mass when the Magisterium comes to believe that such changes will more fully express the mystery of Christ. Thus Pope Paul VI enriched the Roman Missal with additional prefaces and Eucharistic Prayers "in order that the different facets of the mystery of salvation will stand out more clearly and that there will be more and richer themes of thanksgiving."11 · Pastoral charity can lead the Magisterium to change the rites of the Mass when the Gospel encounters a previously unevangelized culture. The Church teaches that the "celebration of the liturgy . . . should correspond to the genius and the culture of the different peoples. . . . [The mystery of Christ] must be proclaimed, celebrated, and lived in all cultures. . . . [T]he Church has the power and on occasion the duty to adapt [the liturgy] to the cultures of recently evangelized peoples" (Catechism, nos. 1204-05). · When unsuitable elements creep into the Church's liturgical life, the Magisterium may fittingly decree their removal. The Second Vatican Council, for example, decried mythological allusions that had worked their way into liturgical hymns.12 Pope John Paul II has repeatedly "stressed the need to purify worship from ugliness of style, from distasteful forms of expression, from uninspired musical texts which are not worthy of the great act that is being celebrated, to guarantee dignity and excellence to liturgical compositions."13 · The Mass is fittingly changed when rites suitable in one era become unsuitable in another, or when elements came to be duplicated.14 · Conversely, the Magisterium can restore parts of the Mass that in
Figure 2 (continued) "Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren."
Great entrance Litany of the offertory Nicene Creed
"He takes them and offers praise Consecration and glory to the Father of the uni- (includes prayer verse, through the name of the Son like the preface and of the Holy Spirit and for a con- and Sanctus) siderable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts."
Offertory verse; offertory prayers Secret Preface
Preparation of the altar and the gifts Prayer over the gifts Eucharistic Prayer Preface
"When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: `Amen.'"
Epiclesis Hymn to the blessed virgin
Sanctus Roman Canon (includes Epiclesis)
Acclamation (Holy, holy, holy) Eucharistic Prayer (includes Epiclesis) Communion Rite
Litany of intercession Priest's prayer for a worthy Communion
Communion Rite (Lord's Prayer)
The Our Father The peace (includes the peace, Communion of the priest, and Communion of the faithful)
Agnus Dei (includes priest's preparation for Communion)
Lord's Prayer Doxology Sign of peace Breaking of the Bread (Lamb of God) Private preparation of the priest
"When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the `eucharisted' bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent."
Communion of Communion the priest; Communion of the faithful; ablutions
Communion antiphon
Communion song Period of silence or song of praise
Prayer of thanksgiving Dismissal Ablution
Postcommunion Final prayer and dismissal Last Gospel
Prayer after Communion CONCLUDING RITE Greeting Blessing Dismissal
July/August 2004 29
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previous times had fallen into disuse. The Second Vatican Council, for example, restored the general intercessions to the Roman Rite of the Mass.15 · Rites can be changed in order to "express more clearly the holy things they signify."16 · Finally, rites can be changed to promote a more devout participation by faithful.17 Magisterial Observations On March 25, 2004, the Congre- gation for Divine Worship, with the approval of Pope John Paul II, instructed the clergy and faithful on the importance of following liturgical norms. With sadness, the prefect and secretary of the congregation observed that "it is not possible to be silent about the abuses, even quite grave ones, against the nature of the liturgy and the sacraments as well as the tradition and the authority of the Church, which in our day not infrequently plague liturgical celebrations in one ecclesial environment or another. In some places the perpetration of liturgical abuses has become almost habitual, a fact which obviously cannot be allowed and must cease."18 At the same time, the instruction, quoting Pope John Paul II, praised the recent changes in the liturgical rites: "Certainly the liturgical reform inaugurated by the Council has greatly contributed to a more conscious, active, and fruitful participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar on the part of the faithful. . . . For promoting and elucidating active participation, the recent renewal of the liturgical books according to the mind of the Council fostered acclamations of the people, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and canticles, as well as actions or movements and gestures, and called for sacred silence to be maintained at the proper times, while providing rubrics for the parts of the faithful as well."19 Mindful of these observations, let us approach the Holy Sacrifice of FAITH FACTS The Answers You Need
the Mass, whatever be the rite in which it is celebrated, as if we were thirsty beggars, for in the liturgy we "draw abundantly the water of grace which flows from the side of the crucified Christ. To use an image dear to Pope John XXIII, it is like the village fountain to which every generation comes to draw water ever living and fresh."20 1 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 21. 2 Ibid., no. 22. Call (800) MY-FAITH or visit to request our FAITH FACT "Effective Lay Witness Protocol" for help in dealing with illicit liturgical practices. 3 Matthew Bunson, gen. ed., Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Almanac: 2004 Edition (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 2003), 173. 4 Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Almanac: 2004 Edition, 338-39. 5 Cf. Catechism, no. 1347. 6 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 66. 7 Cf. Catechism, nos. 1345-55. 8 Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Guidelines for Admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East (July 20, 2001). Some Catholic newspapers have reported that in this document the Church abandoned her solemnly defined teaching that Christ's words of institution are necessary to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. These reports are false. The document, on the contrary, reaffirmed explicitly that "the Catholic Church considers the words of the Eucharistic Institution a constitutive and therefore indispensable part of the Anaphora or Eucharistic Prayer" (no. 3). 9 Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction on
Certain Matters to be Observed or to be Avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist Redemptionis Sacramentum (March 25, 2004), no. 10. 10 "Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established" [Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium (December 4, 1963), no. 22, par. 1-2]. 11 Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum (April 3, 1969). 12 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 93. 13 Chirograph for the Centenary of the Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini on Sacred Music (November 22, 2003), no. 3. 14 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 21, 50. 15 Ibid., no. 53. 16 Ibid., no. 21. 17 Ibid., no. 50. 18 Redemptionis Sacramentum, no. 4. 19 Ibid., nos. 4, 39. 20 Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter on the 25th Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Vicesimus Quintus Annus (December 4, 1988), no. 22. 21 First Apology, nos. 65-67, in Catechism, no. 1345. 22 Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Almanac: 2004 Edition, 341-42 and UGC/Liturgy1.html. 23 24 Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Almanac: 2004 Edition, 174-75 and Rev. James Socias, ed., Daily Roman Missal (Princeton, New Jersey: Scepter Publishers and Chicago: Midwest Theological Forum, 1993), 548-745. Last edited 6/9/04
Recommended Reading Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy James Likoudis and Kenneth Whitehead, The Pope, The Council, and The Mass Holy Bible (Catholic version) Documents of Vatican II Catechism of the Catholic Church To order, call Benedictus Books toll-free: (888) 316-2640. CUF members receive a 10% discount. FAITH FACTs--Free Member Service: (800) MY-FAITH (693-2484) · Dogmatizing Discipline · Invalid Masses · Ordinance Forever: Biblical Origins of the Mass · Eastern Catholic Churches Catholics United for the Faith 827 N. Fourth St. Steubenville, OH 43952 (800) 693-2484 © 2004 Catholics United for the Faith
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