Mass of Paul VI

The Mass of Paul VI is the most commonly used form of the Mass in use today within the Catholic Church. It was first promulgated, after the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), by Pope Paul VI in 1969 and published in the 1970 edition of the Roman Missal, and was revised by Pope John Paul II in 2000 (published in 2002). As thus revised, it "is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria" (ordinary form) of the Roman Rite Mass, as intended for use in most contexts.[1]

It is derived from the Tridentine Mass (the Mass of the Council of Trent), the first edition of which was published in 1570[lower-alpha 1] and the final edition in 1962. These editions were published under the title Missale Romanum ex decreto SS. Concilii Tridentini restitutum[2] (The Roman Missal restored by decree of the Most Holy Council of Trent), followed by a mention of the popes who had a hand in the successive revisions leading to the edition in question. The editions of the Vatican II Roman Missal (1970, 1975, 2002) have as title Missale Romanum ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum (The Roman Missal renewed by decree of the Most Holy Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican), followed in the case of the 2002 edition by auctoritate Pauli PP. VI promulgatum Ioannis Pauli PP. II cura recognitum,[3] (promulgated by authority of Pope Paul VI and revised at the direction of Pope John Paul II).[4]

Other names

In its official documents, the Church identifies the forms of the Roman Rite Mass by the editions of the Roman Missal used in celebrating them. Thus Pope Benedict XVI referred to this form of the Roman Rite Mass by linking it, in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 7 July 2007, with "the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970"[5] or, in his accompanying letter of the same date to the bishops of the Church, "the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II".[6]

The names "Mass of Paul VI", "Pauline Mass", and "Mass of Saint Paul VI" refer to Pope Paul VI, who promulgated the first edition.

Another name used is "post-Vatican II Mass".[7]

The term "Novus Ordo" (New Order) is also used.[lower-alpha 2]

In his letter to bishops which accompanied his 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that "the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy."[10] Since then, the term "Ordinary Form" (abbreviated OF) is often used to distinguish this form of the Roman Rite of Mass from the 1962 edition of the Tridentine Mass, often called the "Extraordinary Form" (EF), because in his motu proprio Pope Benedict declared it an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.[6]


The current official text in Latin is that in the third post-Vatican II typical edition of the Roman Missal, published in 2002 (after being promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 2000) and reprinted with corrections and updating in 2008. Translations into the vernacular languages have appeared; the current English translation was promulgated in 2010 and was introduced progressively from September 2011. Two earlier typical editions of the post-Vatican II Missal were issued in 1970 (promulgated in 1969) and 1975. The liturgy contained in the 1570–1962 editions of the Roman Missal is frequently referred to as the Tridentine Mass: all these editions placed at the start the text of the bull Quo primum in which Pope Pius V linked the issuance of his edition of the Roman Missal to the Council of Trent. Only in the 1962 edition is this text preceded by a short decree, Novo rubricarum corpore, declaring that edition to be, from then on, the typical edition, to which other printings of the Missal were to conform.

John Paul II's post-Vatican II Roman Missal differs in many points from that of Paul VI. The changes include the addition of 13 new feasts of saints, a new preface of martyrs, several new Mass formulas, including five of the Blessed Virgin Mary, two votive Masses (one of which was taken from the 1962 Roman Missal), and complete formulas for the ferial days of Advent and Eastertide. Prayers over the faithful are added to the Lenten Mass formulas and the Apostles' Creed is provided as an alternative to the Nicene Creed.[11] The Mass of Paul VI thus became the Mass of Paul VI and John Paul II.[1]

For details of the Order of Mass in this Mass, see Mass.


The Liturgical Movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which arose from the work of Dom Prosper Guéranger, founder of Solesmes Abbey, encouraged the laity to "live" the liturgy by attending services (not only Mass) often, understanding what they meant, and following the priest in heart and mind. It envisaged only minor reforms of the liturgy itself; the most important changes it sought affected the calendar. It also focused on promoting Gregorian Chant.

By the 1920s, the Liturgical Movement still did not advocate a full-scale revision of the rite of Mass. However it argued for changes to practices such as:

  • The priest blessing the Host and chalice with many signs of the cross after the consecration, while on the other hand speaking before the consecration of already offering a sacrifice.
  • The priest reciting many of the most important prayers inaudibly.
  • So-called 'Duplications' such as the second Confiteor.

Another objective of the Movement was the introduction of the vernacular language (in particular, into the Mass of the Catechumens, i.e. the part of the liturgy which includes the readings from the Bible). This, it was believed, would assist the congregation's spiritual development by enabling them to participate in the celebration of Mass with understanding. Pope Pius XII, who had a particular interest in the liturgy, wrote in his 1947 encyclical Mediator Dei that "the use of the mother tongue in connection with several of the rites may be of much advantage to the people", though he stated at the same time that only the Holy See had the authority to grant permission for the use of the vernacular.[12] He granted permission for the use of local languages in the renewal of baptismal promises in the Easter Vigil service.

By this time, scholars thought they had discovered how and when many elements of varied provenance had come to be incorporated into the Roman Rite of Mass and preserved in Pope Pius V's 1570 revision of the liturgy. In section 4 of Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII praised the work of these scholars, while insisting that it was for the Holy See to judge what action to take on the basis of their findings.

Beginnings of the revision

The Roman Missal was revised on a number of occasions after 1570: after only 34 years, Pope Clement VIII made a general revision, as did Pope Urban VIII 30 years later. Other Popes added new feasts or made other minor adjustments. It was not until the twentieth century, however, that work began on a more radical rewriting.

In response to a decree of the First Vatican Council (1870), Pope Pius X introduced in 1911 a new arrangement of the Psalter for use in the Breviary. In the bull Divino afflatu, he described this change as "a first step towards a correction of the Roman Breviary and Missal". A Society of St. Pius X site states that this revision of the Breviary "significantly unsettled" clerics and encountered criticism.[13] The laity would only have noticed the accompanying change whereby on Sundays the Mass liturgy ceased to be generally taken from the proper or common of the saint whose feast fell on that day, and began instead to be that of the Sunday.

In 1955, Pope Pius XII made substantial changes to the liturgies for Palm Sunday, the Easter Triduum, and the Vigil of Pentecost.[14] The Palm Sunday blessing of palms was freed from elements such as the recitation of the Sanctus that were relics of an earlier celebration of a separate Mass for the blessing, and the procession was simplified. Among the changes for Holy Thursday were the moving of the Mass from morning to evening, thus making room for a morning Chrism Mass, and the introduction into the evening Mass of the rite of the washing of feet. Changes to the Good Friday liturgy included moving it from morning to afternoon and allowing the congregation to receive Holy Communion, which had been reserved to the priest; an end was also put to the custom whereby, at the communion, the priest drank some unconsecrated wine into which he had placed part of the consecrated host. There were more numerous changes to the Easter Vigil service.

  • The service was to be celebrated on the night leading to Easter Sunday instead of Holy Saturday morning.
  • The triple candlestick which had previously been lit at the start of the service was replaced with the Paschal candle and candles held by each member of the congregation.
  • New ceremonies were introduced, such as the renewal of baptismal promises (in the vernacular) and the inscribing of the Arabic numerals of the year on the Paschal candle.
  • The prayer for the Holy Roman Emperor in the Exultet was replaced with a newly composed prayer, since the Empire had been defunct since the early 19th century.
  • Eight Old Testament readings were omitted, another was shortened, and the priest was no longer obliged to read the passages quietly while they were being read or chanted aloud.
  • The "Last Gospel" (John 1:1–14) that had customarily ended Mass was omitted.

At the Vigil of Pentecost, the traditional blessing of baptismal water, accompanied by the Litany of the Saints and six Old Testament readings, was omitted completely. These were still printed in the Missal, which, except for the replacement of the Holy Week liturgies, remained unchanged and was not considered to constitute a new editio typica superseding that of Pope Pius X, which was published by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

Pope Pius XII decried those who would go back to ancient liturgical rites and usages, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation. Doing so, he said, "bids fair to revive the exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism to which the illegal Council of Pistoia gave rise". He indicated as examples of what was to be rejected: restoring the altar to its primitive table form, excluding black as a liturgical colour, forbidding the use in church of sacred images and statues, using crucifixes with no trace of suffering, rejecting polyphonic music that conforms with the Holy See's regulations.[15]

Pope John XXIII, who succeeded Pius XII in 1958, added some new feasts and made some other changes to the liturgical calendar, as well as amending some of the rubrics. In his 1962 edition of the Missal, he also deleted the word "perfidis" (Latin: "faithless") from the Good Friday prayer for the Jews, and added the name of St. Joseph to the Canon of the Mass. The second change was particularly significant, as many had considered the text of the Canon to be practically untouchable.

Second Vatican Council and its immediate consequences

The liturgy was the first matter considered by the Second Vatican Council of 1962–1965. On 4 December 1963, the Council issued a Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy known as Sacrosanctum Concilium, section 50 of which read as follows:

The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, 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; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary.[16]

Sacrosanctum Concilium further provided that (amongst other things) a greater use of the Scriptures should be made at Mass, and that vernacular languages should be more widely employed.

In 1964, Pope Paul VI, who had succeeded John XXIII the previous year, established the Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, the Council for Implementing the Constitution on the Liturgy. The instruction Inter oecumenici of 26 September 1964, issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites while the Council was still in session, and coming into effect on 7 March 1965[17] made significant changes to the existing liturgy, though the form of the rite was substantially preserved. Some sources speak of a "1965 Missal", but this generally refers to orders of the Mass that were published with the approval of bishops' conferences, for example, in the United States and Canada, rather than an editio typica of the Roman Missal itself. The changes included: use of the vernacular was permitted; free-standing altars were encouraged; there were some textual changes, such as omission of the Psalm Judica at the beginning and of the Last Gospel and Leonine Prayers at the end. The 1967 document Tres abhinc annos, the second instruction on the implementation of the Council's Constitution on the Liturgy,[18] made only minimal changes to the text, but simplified the rubrics and the vestments. Concelebration and Communion under both kinds had meanwhile been permitted,[19] and in 1968 three additional Eucharistic Prayers were authorized for use alongside the traditional Roman Canon.

By October 1967, the Consilium had produced a complete draft revision of the Mass liturgy, known as the Normative Mass,[20] and this revision was presented to the Synod of Bishops that met in Rome in that month. The bishops attended the first public celebration of the revised rite in the Sistine Chapel. When asked to vote on the new liturgy, 71 bishops voted placet (approved), 43 voted non-placet (not approved), and 62 voted placet iuxta modum (approved with reservations). In response to the bishops' concerns, some changes were made to the text. Pope Paul VI and the Consilium interpreted this as lack of approval for the Normative Mass, which was replaced by the text included in the book Novus Ordo Missae (The New Order of Mass) in 1969.[21]

On 25 September 1969, two retired cardinals, 79-year-old Alfredo Ottaviani and 84-year-old Antonio Bacci, wrote a letter with which they sent Pope Paul VI the text of the "Short Critical Study on the New Order of Mass", which had been prepared in the previous June by a group of twelve theologians under the direction of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.[22] The cardinals warned the New Order of the Mass "represented, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent".[23][24] The study that they transmitted said that on many points the New Mass had much to gladden the heart of even the most modernist Protestant.[25][26] Paul VI asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the department of the Roman Curia that Ottaviani had earlier headed, to examine the Short Critical Study. It responded on 12 November 1969 that the document contained many affirmations that were "superficial, exaggerated, inexact, emotional, and false".[27] However, some of its observations were taken into account in preparing the definitive version of the new Order of the Mass.

1970 Missal

Pope Paul VI promulgated the revised rite of Mass with his Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum of 3 April 1969, setting the first Sunday of Advent at the end of that year as the date on which it would enter into force. However, because he was dissatisfied with the edition that was produced, the revised Missal itself was not published until the following year, and full vernacular translations appeared much later.[28]

The revisions called for by Vatican II were guided by historical and Biblical studies that were not available at the Council of Trent when the rite was fixed to forestall any heretical accretions.[29] Missale Romanum made particular mention of the following significant changes from the previous edition of the Roman Missal:

  • To the single Canon of the previous edition (which, with minor alterations, was preserved as the "First Eucharistic Prayer or Roman Canon") were added three alternative Eucharistic Prayers, and the number of prefaces was increased.
  • The rites of the Order of the Mass (in Latin, Ordo Missae) – that is, the largely unvarying part of the liturgy – were, in the words of the missal, "simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance". "Elements that, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated or were added with but little advantage" were eliminated, especially in the rites for the presentation of the bread and wine, the breaking of the bread, and Communion.
  • "Other elements that have suffered injury through accident of history" are restored "to the tradition of the Fathers" (SC art. 50), for example, the homily (see SC art. 52), the general intercessions or prayer of the faithful (see SC art. 53), and the penitential rite or act of reconciliation with God and the community at the beginning of the Mass.[30] One of the most ancient of these rites of reconciliation, the Kiss of Peace[31] as a sign of reconciliation as an intrinsic part of these communicants' preparation for Communion, has been restored to all the faithful and no longer limited to clerics at High Mass.
  • The proportion of the Bible read at Mass was greatly increased. Prior to the reforms of Pius XII (which reduced the proportions further), 1% of the Old Testament and 16.5% of the New Testament had been read at Mass. Since 1970, the equivalent proportions for Sundays and weekdays (leaving aside major feasts) have been 13.5% of the Old Testament and 71.5% of the New Testament.[32] This was made possible through an increase in the number of readings at Mass and the introduction of a three-year cycle of readings on Sundays and a two-year cycle on weekdays.

In addition to these changes, Missale Romanum noted that the revision considerably modified other sections of the Missal, such as the Proper of Seasons, the Proper of Saints, the Common of Saints, the Ritual Masses, and the Votive Masses, adding that "[the] number [of the prayers] has been increased, so that the new forms might better correspond to new needs, and the text of older prayers has been restored on the basis of the ancient sources".

Other changes

Vernacular language

In his 1962 apostolic constitution Veterum sapientia on the teaching of Latin, Pope John XXIII spoke of that language as the one the Church uses: "The Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular." But the only mention of the liturgy in that document was in relation to the study of Greek.[33]

The Second Vatican Council stated in Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36:[16]

  1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
  2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.
  3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.

While this text would seem to suggest only limited use of the vernacular language, its reference to "particular law" (as opposed to universal law) and to "the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority" (the episcopal conference) entrusted to the latter the judgment on the actual extent of its use.

Bishops' Conferences from all over the world soon voted to expand the use of the vernacular, and requested confirmation of this choice from Rome. In response, from 1964 onwards, a series of documents from Rome granted general authorization for steadily greater proportions of the Mass to be said in the vernacular. By the time the revised Missal was published in 1970, priests were no longer obliged to use Latin in any part of the Mass. Today, a very large majority of Masses are celebrated in the language of the people, though Latin is still used either occasionally or, in some places, on a regular basis. The rule on the language to be used is as follows: "Mass is celebrated either in Latin or in another language, provided that liturgical texts are used which have been approved according to the norm of law. Except in the case of celebrations of the Mass that are scheduled by the ecclesiastical authorities to take place in the language of the people, priests are always and everywhere permitted to celebrate Mass in Latin." (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 112)

The decision to authorize use of a particular vernacular language, and the text of the translation to be employed, must be approved by at least a two-thirds majority of the relevant Bishops' Conference, whose decisions must be confirmed by the Holy See.

Changes in the Order of Mass

The Order of Mass was previously regarded as consisting of two parts: the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful. In the revised liturgy, it is divided into four sections: the Initial Rites, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and the Concluding Rites.

There were some noteworthy textual changes in the first two sections, and the dismissal formula in the Concluding Rites (Ite missa est) was moved to the very end of the Mass; previously it was followed by an inaudible personal prayer by the priest, the blessing of the people (which has been retained), and the reading of the "Last Gospel" (almost always John 1:1–14). The most extensive changes, however, were made in the first part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist: almost all of the Offertory prayers were altered or shortened. While previously the priest had said almost the entire Canon inaudibly, the words of the Canon or Eucharistic Prayer are now spoken aloud. The 25 signs of the cross that the priest once made over the Host and chalice during the Canon (15 of them after the Consecration) have been reduced to one done shortly before the Consecration. Aside from the introduction of an optional exchange of a sign of peace, the changes in the remainder of the Liturgy of the Eucharist are less notable.

Three new Eucharistic Prayers

As noted above, three new Eucharistic Prayers were introduced as alternatives to the Roman Canon, which had for centuries been the only Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Rite. After several writers had expressed dissatisfaction with the Roman Canon, the Benedictine scholar Cipriano Vagaggini, while noting what he called its "undeniable defects", concluded that its suppression was unthinkable; he proposed that it be retained but that two further Eucharistic Prayers be added.

In response to requests from various quarters, Pope Paul VI authorized the composition of new Eucharistic Prayers, which were examined by himself and by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and which he authorized for use in 1968.[34]

The Second Eucharistic Prayer is an abridgement of the Roman Canon with elements included from the Anaphora of the Apostolic Tradition, most notably in its proper preface and in the Epiclesis.[35] The Third Eucharistic Prayer is a new composition, longer than the Second Eucharistic Prayer, and contains Alexandrian, Byzantine, and Maronite elements. Its structure follows the Roman Canon. It is based on the 4th-century Anaphora of St Basil.[36] The fourth Eucharistic Prayer is roughly based upon the Anaphora of St Basil, with, among other things, the epiclesis moved before the Institution Narrative.

Communion under both species

In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas said that since not all Christians, in particular the old and the children, can be trusted to observe due caution, it was by then "a prudent custom in some churches for the blood not to be offered to the people, but to be consumed by the priest alone".[37] A council at Lambeth in 1281 directed that the people were to be given unconsecrated wine.[38] The Council of Trent taught that only the priest who celebrated Mass was bound by divine law to receive Communion under both species, and that Christ, whole and entire, and a true sacrament are received under either form alone, and therefore, as regards its fruits, those who receive one species only are not deprived of any grace necessary to salvation; and it decreed: "If anyone says that the holy Catholic Church was not moved by just causes and reasons that laymen and clerics when not consecrating should communicate under the form of bread only, or has erred in this, let him be anathema."[39] While the Council had declared that reception of Communion under one form alone deprived the communicant of no grace necessary to salvation, theologians had surmised that receiving both forms may confer a greater grace, either in itself (a minority view) or only accidentally (the majority view).[38]

When the 1970 Roman Missal allowed laypeople to receive both species of bread and wine, it insisted that priests should use the occasion to teach the faithful the Catholic doctrine on the form of Communion, as affirmed by the Council of Trent: they were first to be reminded that they receive the whole Christ when they participate in the sacrament even under one kind alone, and thus are not then deprived of any grace necessary for salvation. The circumstances in which this was permitted were initially very restricted, but were gradually extended. Regular distribution of Communion under both kinds requires the permission of the bishop, but bishops in some countries have given blanket permission for the administration of Communion in this way.

Liturgical orientation

From the middle of the 17th century, almost all new Latin-rite altars were built against a wall or backed by a reredos, with a tabernacle placed on the altar or inserted into the reredos.[41] This meant that the priest turned to the people, putting his back to the altar, only for a few short moments at Mass. However, the Tridentine Missal itself speaks of celebrating versus populum,[42] and gives corresponding instructions for the priest when performing actions that in the other orientation involved turning around in order to face the people.[43]

It has been said that the reason the Pope always faced the people when celebrating Mass in St Peter's was that early Christians faced eastward when praying and, due to the difficult terrain, the basilica was built with its apse to the west. Some have attributed this orientation in other early Roman churches to the influence of Saint Peter's.[44] However, the arrangement whereby the apse with the altar is at the west end of the church and the entrance on the east is found also in Roman churches contemporary with Saint Peter's (such as the original Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls) that were under no such constraints of terrain, and the same arrangement remained the usual one until the 6th century.[45] In this early layout, the people were situated in the side aisles of the church, not in the central nave. While the priest faced both the altar and east throughout the Mass, the people would face the altar (from the sides) until the high point of the Mass, where they would then turn to face east along with the priest.[46]

In several churches in Rome, it was physically impossible, even before the twentieth-century liturgical reforms, for the priest to celebrate Mass facing away from the people, because of the presence, immediately in front of the altar, of the "confession" (Latin: confessio), an area sunk below floor level to enable people to come close to the tomb of the saint buried beneath the altar. The best-known such "confession" is that in Saint Peter's Basilica, but many other churches in Rome have the same architectural feature, including at least one, the present Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, which is oriented in such a way that the priest faces west when celebrating Mass.

In its guidelines for the arrangement of churches, the current Roman Missal directs: "The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible."[47] Accordingly, altars at which the priest had to face away from the congregation have generally, if this was possible and appropriate, been moved away from the wall or reredos or a new freestanding altar is that on which Mass is celebrated. As a result, in the Roman-Rite Mass the priest usually faces the people. This is not obligatory: the ad orientem position is used either by choice, especially for the Tridentine form, or by necessity, due to the position of the altar as in small chapels or oratories.

The rubrics of the Roman Missal now prescribe that the priest should face the people at six points of the Mass.[48] The priest celebrating the Tridentine Mass was required to face the people, turning his back to the altar if necessary, eight times.[49]

The priest is still expressly directed to face the altar at exactly the same points as in the Tridentine Mass.

Repositioning of the tabernacle

In the second half of the 17th century it became customary to place the tabernacle on the main altar of the church. When a priest celebrates Mass on the same side as the people at such an altar, he sometimes necessarily turns his back directly to the tabernacle, as when he turns to the people at the Orate, fratres. While there is no stipulation forbidding that the tabernacle remain on the principal altar of the church – even should the priest say Mass facing the people – the revised Roman Missal states that it is "more appropriate as a sign that on an altar on which Mass is celebrated there not be a tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved", in which case it is "preferable that the tabernacle be located":

  • a. either in the sanctuary, apart from the altar of celebration, in an appropriate form and place, not excluding its being positioned on an old altar no longer used for celebration;
  • b. or even in some chapel suitable for the private adoration and prayer of the faithful and organically connected to the church and readily noticeable to the Christian faithful.[50]

The Missal does, however, direct that the tabernacle be situated "in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, conspicuous, worthily decorated, and suitable for prayer".[51]

Other matters

A procession is now allowed at the Offertory or Presentation of the Gifts, when bread, wine, and water are brought to the altar. The homily has been made an integral part of the Mass instead of being treated as an adjunct, and the ancient Prayer of the Faithful has been restored. The exchange of a sign of peace before Communion, previously limited to the clergy at High Mass, is permitted (not made obligatory) at every Mass, even for the laity. "As for the actual sign of peace to be given, the manner is to be established by Conferences of Bishops in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples. However, it is appropriate that each person, in a sober manner, offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest." (GIRM, 82.) "While the Sign of Peace is being given, it is permissible to say, The peace of the Lord be with you always, to which the reply is Amen" (GIRM, 154). In countries of European tradition, a simple clasping of hands is most common, though sometimes family members will exchange a kiss on the cheek, especially in Latin countries. In countries such as India, the sign is given by bowing with joined hands. Bowing, ranging from a simple neck bow to those in accordance with Japanese etiquette, is also practised in several other Asian countries.

Criticism of the revision

There are two distinct forms of criticisms of the liturgical reform: criticisms of the text of the revised Missal and criticisms of ways in which the rite has been celebrated in practice.

Criticisms of the text of the Missal

Critics of the revised liturgy (many of whom are traditionalist Catholics) claim that its specifically Catholic content is markedly deficient compared with that of the liturgy as it existed prior to the revision. The more moderate critics believe that the defects can be rectified by a "reform of the reform" rather than by a wholesale return to the Tridentine Mass. Others regard the revised rite as so seriously defective that it is displeasing to God, or even objectively sacrilegious.[52]

Critics make the following claims:

  • Prayers and phrases clearly presenting the Mass as a sacrifice have been removed or substantially reduced in number.
  • Words and actions suggesting that the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Jesus Christ have been removed or replaced. They say, for example, that the rubrics have reduced the number of genuflections and other gestures associated with reverence for the sacred elements; that phrases such as "spiritual drink" are deliberately ambiguous; and that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) directs the removal of the tabernacle from its previous place on the main altar to another place in the sanctuary or elsewhere in the church (albeit one that is "truly noble, prominent, readily visible, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer" – GIRM 314).
  • The Propers of the Mass omit or soften important traditional Catholic teachings whereas those of the pre-revision Mass affirm them in their fullness.

Of abuses in celebrating the liturgy Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, said: "In the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over the centuries and replaced it – as in a manufacturing process – with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product."[53][54] But of the revision of the Roman Missal he wrote: "There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture."[6]

Similarly, Pope John Paul II said of the Paul VI revision of the liturgy: "This work was undertaken in accordance with the conciliar principles of fidelity to tradition and openness to legitimate development, and so it is possible to say that the reform of the Liturgy is strictly traditional and 'in accordance with the ancient usage of the holy Fathers'."[55]

Some critics believe that any liturgy celebrated in a language in which the phrase "pro multis" (Latin for "for (the) many") in the words of consecration of the Paul VI Roman Missal was translated as "for all", as in the initial English translation, was sacramentally invalid and brought about no transubstantiation. In a circular issued on 17 October 2006,[56] the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments recalled the 1974 declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that there is no doubt whatsoever regarding the validity of Masses celebrated using "for all" as a translation of "pro multis", since "for all" corresponds to a correct interpretation of Christ's intention expressed in the words of the consecration, and since it is a dogma of the Catholic faith that Christ died on the Cross for all. However, the Congregation pointed out that "for all" is not a literal translation of the words that Matthew 26:28 and Mark 14:24 report that Jesus used at the Last Supper and of the words used in the Latin text of the Mass: "for all" is rather an explanation of the sort that belongs properly to catechesis. The Congregation told the episcopal conferences to translate the words "pro multis" more literally. The revised English translation therefore has "for many" in place of "for all".

Whether or not the liturgical changes (together with the other changes in the Church that followed the Second Vatican Council) have caused the loss of faith that has occurred in Western countries is disputed.

Some traditionalist Catholics argue that the promulgation of the revised liturgy was legally invalid due to alleged technical deficiencies in the wording of Missale Romanum.[57]

Some of them claim that the changes in the Roman Rite of Mass were made in order to make it acceptable to non-Catholics.[58] French philosopher Jean Guitton said that Pope Paul VI's intention was to assimilate the Catholic liturgy to the Protestant:[59] "The intention of Paul VI with regard to what is commonly called the Mass, was to reform the Catholic liturgy in such a way that it should almost coincide with the Protestant liturgy – but what is curious is that Paul VI did that to get as close as possible to the Protestant Lord's Supper, ... there was with Paul VI an ecumenical intention to remove, or at least to correct, or to relax, what was too Catholic, in the traditional sense, in the Mass and, I repeat, to get the Catholic Mass closer to the Calvinist Mass."[60][61]

Criticisms of practices

Criticisms have also been directed against practices followed in the celebration of the revised rite. Some of these are authorised by official Church documents (such as the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) and the Code of Canon Law), whereas other are not. Officially approved practices which have been criticized include the following:

  • Lay people may be commissioned to proclaim Biblical readings at Mass, except for the Gospel reading which is reserved to clerics.[62][63]
  • Lay people may act as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, distributing Holy Communion with the priest, when not enough ordinary ministers or instituted acolytes are available.[64]
  • In countries where the bishops' conference has obtained permission from the Holy See, the consecrated Host may be received on the hand, rather than directly into the mouth.[65]
  • Females may act as altar servers, if this is approved by the diocesan bishop and if the parish priest chooses to implement it.[66]

Other practices which arose because of changes of taste are criticized. These include the use of plainer vestments with simple designs and no lace, and innovative architectural designs for churches and sanctuaries. Criticism is also directed at the removal of kneelers and altar rails from some churches, and the use of non-traditional music, sometimes accompanied by percussion instruments. But unlike Lutheran and Anglican/Episcopal churches, which have retained the practice in contemporary times, the omission of the altar rail in churches celebrating the Pauline Mass is widely established in the Catholic Church.

Many critics regret the general abandonment of the use of the Latin language and Gregorian Chant, and allege that this development was not authorized by the Second Vatican Council. Redemptionis Sacramentum[67] confirms an option to use Latin, but some view an option, instead of an obligation, as insufficient to preserve the language.

On Gregorian chant, its adaptation to languages other than Latin is widely considered to be aesthetically defective, while Sacrosanctum Concilium[16] had said: "The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action."

Some critics see these changes as due to, or leading to, a loss of reverence. Some of them would consider the revised liturgy acceptable if some or all of these changes were removed or were addressed through catechesis. However, many traditionalist Catholics regard the revised rite as inherently unacceptable.

For the opposing view that liturgical changes have not gone far enough yet, see Rembert Weakland § Liturgical agenda

Revision of the English translation

The International Commission on English in the Liturgy was at work for 17 years,[68] responding to critiques of the earlier translation, and presented its new translation in 1998. But their proposed translation ran afoul of new leadership in Rome.[69] On 28 March 2001, the Holy See issued the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam.[70] This included the requirement that, in translations of the liturgical texts from the official Latin originals, "the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses. Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet." The following year, the third typical edition[lower-alpha 3] of the revised Roman Missal in Latin was released.

These two texts made clear the need for a new official English translation of the Roman Missal, particularly because the previous one was at some points an adaptation rather than strictly a translation. An example is the rendering of the response "Et cum spiritu tuo" (literally, "And with your spirit") as "And also with you".

In 2002 the leadership of the ICEL was changed, under insistence from the Roman Congregation for Divine Worship and to obtain a translation that was as close as possible to the wording of the Latin original. In spite of push-back by some in the Church,[71] Rome prevailed and nine years later a new English translation, closer to that of the Latin and consequently approved by the Holy See, was adopted by English-speaking episcopal conferences.[69] The text of this revised English translation of the Order of Mass is available,[72] and a comparison between it and that then in use in the United States is given under the heading "Changes in the People's Parts".[73]

Most episcopal conferences set the first Sunday in Advent (27 November) 2011 as the date when the new translation would come into use. However, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland) put into effect the changes in the people's parts of the revised English translation of the Order of Mass[74] from 28 November 2008, when the Missal as a whole was not yet available. Protests were voiced on grounds of content[75][76][77] and because it meant that Southern Africa was thus out of line with other English-speaking areas.[78] One bishop claimed that the English-speaking conferences should have withstood the Holy See's insistence on a more literal translation.[71] However, when in February 2009 the Holy See declared that the change should have waited until the whole of the Missal had been translated, the bishops' conference appealed, with the result that those parishes that had adopted the new translation of the Order of Mass were directed to continue using it, while those that had not were told to await further instructions before doing so.[79]

In December 2016, Pope Francis authorized a commission to study Liturgiam authenticam, the document promulgated by Pope John Paul II which governs authorized vernacular translations of the liturgy.[68]


  1. Date of publication of the papal bull Quo primum and the first edition of the Tridentine Missal
  2. Pope Paul VI used the phrase novus Ordo (not the term Novus Ordo) in a talk he gave at a papal consistory in 1976, twice mentioning the then-still-new Order of Mass, in Latin Ordo Missae, the unvarying part of the Mass, not the Mass as a whole. In the Latin text of his second mention, the word for "new" (novus), standing at the start of a sentence, is given a capital letter; in his first mention of it, which is in the middle of a sentence, the adjective novus is in lower case.[8] In the Italian text, the adjective qualifying Ordo Missae is in lower case in both instances.[9]
  3. The "typical edition" of a liturgical text is that to which editions by other publishers must conform.

See also


  1. "Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of Summorum Pontificum". The Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy
  2. The 1962 edition of the Roman Missal
  3. "Sumario". (in Latin). Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  4. Catholic Church (2011). The Roman Missal [Third Typical Edition, Chapel Edition]. LiturgyTrainingPublications. ISBN 978-1-56854-990-3.
  5. "Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum on the "Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970" (July 7, 2007) | BENEDICT XVI".
  6. "Letter to the Bishops that accompanies the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" Summorum Pontificum on the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970 (July 7, 2007) | BENEDICT XVI". 7 July 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  7. "Concistoro segreto del Santo Padre Paolo VI per la nomina di venti Cardinali" [Secret Consistory of the Holy Father Paul VI for the Appointment of Twenty Cardinals]. (in Latin). 24 May 1976.
  8. "Concistoro segreto per la nomina di venti Cardinali" [Secret Consistory of the Holy Father Paul VI for the Appointment of Twenty Cardinals]. (in Italian). 24 May 1976.
  9. "Letter to the Bishops that accompanies the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  10. Cardinal Prefect and the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (22 March 2002). "Library : Overview of the Third 'Editio Typica' Of The Roman Missal". Trinity Communications. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  11. Pius XII. "Mediator Dei". Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  12. Thuillier, Pascal (September 2003). "Saint Piux X: Reformer of the Liturgy". The Angelus via
  13. "Liturgical Revolution". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  14. "Encyclical ''Mediator Dei'', 62–64". Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  15. "Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium". 4 December 1963. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  16. "Inter oecumenici". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  17. "Tres abhinc annos". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  18. "Ecclesiae semper". 7 March 1965. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  19. Kappes, Christiaan. "The Normative Mass of 1967: Its History and Principles as Applied to the Liturgy of the Mass ([Complete pre-corrected Draft] Doct. Diss., Sant'Anselmo, 2012)". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. Kappes, p. 3
  21. "Archbishop Lefebvre gathered together a group of 12 theologians who wrote under his direction, A Short Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae often called the Ottaviani Intervention". A Short History of the SSPX Archived 15 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  22. Hardon, John (1971). Christianity in the twentieth century. Doubleday.
  23. Coomaraswamy, Rama (1981). The destruction of the Christian tradition. Perennial Books.
  24. Ottaviani, Alfredo (1971). The Ottaviani Intervention: Short Critical Study of the New Order of Mass. TAN Books & Publishers.
  25. "Modern History Sourcebook: The Ottaviani Intervention, 1969". Internet History Sourcebooks. Fordham University. 25 September 1969. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009 via
  26. Christophe Geffroy and Philippe Maxence, Enquête sur la messe traditionnelle (with preface by Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler), p. 21).
  27. Smolarski, Dennis (2003). The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 1969–2002: A Commentary. Collegeville (MN): Liturgical Press. ISBN 0814629369.
  28. "GIRM, 7f" (PDF).
  29. Missale Romanum. Archived 1 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine The internal references (SC) are from Sacrosanctum Concilium.
  30. The Apostle Paul typically concludes his letters to his missionary communities with an admonition to the faithful to greet each other with the kiss of peace.
  31. Felix Just, S.J. (1 February 2009). "Lectionary Statistics". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  32. "Apostolic Constitution ''Veterum sapientia''". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  33. Barry Hudock, ''The Eucharistic Prayer: A User's Guide'' (Liturgical Press 2010 ISBN 978-0-8146-3287-1), p. 34. 15 October 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  34. "Daniel J. Castellano, The Composition of the Second Eucharistic Prayer". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  35. Thomas A. McMahon (1978). The Mass explained. Carillon Books. ISBN 978-0-89310-042-1.
  36. "Summa Theologica III, q. 80, a. 12". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  37. "Patrick Toner, "Communion under Both Kinds" in ''Catholic Encyclopedia'' 1908". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  38. "Council of Trent, Session XXI, The Doctrine of Communion under both kinds and the Communion of little children, chapters I and III and canon 2". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  39. Helen Dietz, "The Biblical Roots of Church Orientation" in Sacred Architecture, vol. 10. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  40. The edition of the Roman Missal revised and promulgated by Pope Pius V in 1570 (see Tridentine Mass) still did not envisage placing the tabernacle on an altar; it laid down instead that the altar card containing some of the principal prayers of the Mass should rest against a cross placed midway on the altar (Rubricae generales Missalis, XX – De Praeparatione Altaris, et Ornamentorum eius).
  41. Latin versus does not mean "against", as does English versus; it means "turned, toward, from past participle of vertere, "to turn" (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000 Archived 10 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine)
  42. Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, V, 3
  43. "For whatever reason it was done, one can also see this arrangement (whereby the priest faced the people) in a whole series of church buildings within Saint Peter's direct sphere of influence."(Joseph Ratzinger: The Spirit of the Liturgy)
  44. "When Christians in fourth-century Rome could first freely begin to build churches, they customarily located the sanctuary towards the west end of the building in imitation of the sanctuary of the Jerusalem Temple. Although in the days of the Jerusalem Temple the high priest indeed faced east when sacrificing on Yom Kippur, the sanctuary within which he stood was located at the west end of the Temple. The Christian replication of the layout and the orientation of the Jerusalem Temple helped to dramatize the eschatological meaning attached to the sacrificial death of Jesus the High Priest in the Epistle to the Hebrews." "The Biblical Roots of Church Orientation" by Helen Dietz.
  45. "Msgr. Klaus Gamber has pointed out that although in these early west-facing Roman basilicas the people stood in the side naves and faced the centrally located altar for the first portion of the service, nevertheless at the approach of the consecration they all turned to face east towards the open church doors, the same direction the priest faced throughout the Eucharistic liturgy." "The Biblical Roots of Church Orientation" by Helen Dietz.
  46. "GIRM, 299" (PDF).
  47. The six times are:
    • When giving the opening greeting (GIRM, 124);
    • When giving the invitation to pray, "Orate, fratres" (GIRM, 146);
    • When giving the greeting of peace, "Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum" (GIRM, 154);
    • When displaying the consecrated Host (or Host and Chalice) before Communion and saying: "Ecce Agnus Dei" (GIRM, 157);
    • When inviting to pray ("Oremus") before the postcommunion prayer (GIRM, 165);
    • When giving the final blessing (Ordo Missae 141).
  48. The eight times are:
    • When greeting the people ("Dominus vobiscum") before the collect (Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, V, 1);
    • When greeting the people ("Dominus vobiscum") before the offertory rite (Ritus servandus, VII, 1);
    • When giving the invitation to pray, "Orate, fratres" (Ritus servandus, VII, 7);
    • Twice before giving Communion to others, first when saying the two prayers after the Confiteor, and again while displaying a consecrated Host and saying "Ecce Agnus Dei" (Ritus servandus, X, 6);
    • When greeting the people ("Dominus vobiscum") before the postcommunion prayer (Ritus servandus, XI, 1);
    • When saying "Ite, missa est" (Ritus servandus, XI, 1);
    • When giving the last part of the final blessing (Ritus servandus, XII, 1).
    Though the priest was required to face the people and spoke words addressed to them, he was forbidden to look at them, being instructed to turn to them "dimissis ad terram oculis" ("with eyes turned down to the ground") – Ritus servandus, V, 1; VII, 7; XII, 1.
  49. "GIRM, 315 (footnotes and citations omitted)" (PDF).
  50. "GIRM, 314" (PDF).
  51. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (PDF), a publication of the Society of St. Pius X, a canonically irregular association of priests.
  52. Rowland, Tracey (2008). Ratzinger's faith: the theology of Pope Benedict XVI. Oxford University Press.
  53. Kocik, Thomas (2003). The reform of the reform?: a liturgical debate: reform or return. Ignatius Press.
  54. "Apostolic Letter ''Vicesimus quintus annus''". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  55. "Letter to Heads of Episcopal Conferences". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  56. "Dossier on the Novus Ordo Missae: August 1997 Newsletter". Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  57. Studies in comparative religion, Volumes 13–14. '. Perennial Books. 1979.
  58. Archived 25 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  59. Laurent Cleenewerck (2008). His Broken Body: Understanding and Healing the Schism Between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Euclid University Press. p. 421. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  60. Francisco Radecki, Dominic Radecki, CMRI, Tumultuous Times: The Twenty General Councils of the Catholic Church and Vatican II and Its Aftermath (St. Joseph's Media 2004)
  61. I.e., deacons, priests and bishops.
  62. "GIRM, 101" (PDF).
  63. Redemptionis Sacramentum 154–160
  64. "Letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship". Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  65. "Female Altar Servers". 3 February 2004. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  66. "Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum".
  67. "Why Pope Francis is right to revisit the new Mass translation". America Magazine. 27 January 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  68. Allen, John L. (16 August 2002). "The Word From Rome". Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  69. "Liturgiam authenticam".
  70. Dowling, Kevin (18 January 2009). "Why the 'liturgical anger' is fair". Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference. Archived from the original on 4 May 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2012 via
  71. GIRM.
  72. "Roman Missal". USCCB. 27 November 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  73. "A pastoral response to the faithful with regard to the new English Language Mass translations". 2 February 2009. Archived from the original on 8 March 2009.
  74. Simmermacher, Gunther (24 December 2008). "Liturgical Anger". The Southern Cross. Archived from the original on 4 May 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2012 via
  75. "Letter by Fr John Conversett MCCJ". The Southern Cross. 24 December 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2012 via
  76. Coyle, Judith (28 December 2008). "Mass translations: A missed opportunity". The Southern Cross. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012 via
  77. Risi, Edward (3 February 2009). "Pastoral response to the new english translation text for Mass". Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011 via
  78. Brennan, Vincent (5 March 2009). "Clarification on the Implementation of the New English Mass Translation in South Africa". Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011 via


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