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Catholic Essentials
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The Mass

The True Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ made present on the altar by the words of consecration; a representation and a renewal of the offering made on Calvary; "in this divine sacrifice the same Christ is present and immolated in a bloodless manner who once for all offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross...only the manner of offering is different. The sacrificial action is held by the majority of theologians to be contained in the separate consecrations of the bread and wine. (Definition from A Catholic Dictionary, 1951)

References in Scripture:

  • "And he said to them: With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you, before I suffer....And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. In like manner the chalice also, after he had supped, saying: This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you." Luke 22:15,19,20
  • "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come." 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • "The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread. Behold Israel according to the flesh: are not they, that eat of the sacrifices, partakers of the altar? What then? Do I say, that what is offered in sacrifice to idols, is any thing? Or, that the idol is any thing? But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God. And I would not that you should be made partakers with devils. You cannot drink the chalice of the Lord, and the chalice of devils: you cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord, and of the table of devils." 1 Corinthians 10:16-21
  • "And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Acts 2:42
  • "And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, being to depart on the morrow: and he continued his speech until midnight." Acts 20:7

Church Teaching on the Mass:

  • "Let all everywhere adopt and observe what has been handed down by the Holy Roman Church, the Mother and Teacher of the other churches, and let Masses not be sung or read according to any other formula than that of this Missal published by Us. This ordinance applies henceforth, now, and forever, throughout all the provinces of the Christian world, to all patriarchs, cathedral churches, collegiate and parish churches, be they secular or religious, both of men and of women - even of military orders - and of churches or chapels without a specific congregation in which conventual Masses are sung aloud in choir or read privately in accord with the rites and customs of the Roman Church. This Missal is to be used by all churches, even by those which in their authorization are made exempt, whether by Apostolic indult, custom, or privilege, or even if by oath or official confirmation of the Holy See, or have their rights and faculties guaranteed to them by any other manner whatsoever." Encyclical "Quo Primum" (Promulgating the Tridentine Liturgy) by Pope St. Pius V, 1570
  • "We specifically command each and every patriarch, administrator, and all other persons or whatever ecclesiastical dignity they may be, be they even cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, or possessed of any other rank or pre-eminence, and We order them in virtue of holy obedience to chant or to read the Mass according to the rite and manner and norm herewith laid down by Us and, hereafter, to discontinue and completely discard all other rubrics and rites of other missals, however ancient, which they have customarily followed; and they must not in celebrating Mass presume to introduce any ceremonies or recite any prayers other than those contained in this Missal." Encyclical "Quo Primum" (Promulgating the Tridentine Liturgy) by Pope St. Pius V, 1570
  • "CANON VI.--If any one saith, that the canon of the mass contains errors, and is therefore to be abrogated; let him be anathema." Council of Trent, On the Sacrifice of the Mass

Church Teaching on the Missal Used at Mass

  • "All other of the churches referred to above, however, are hereby denied the use of other missals, which are to be discontinued entirely and absolutely; whereas, by this present Constitution, which will be valid henceforth, now, and forever, We order and enjoin that nothing must be added to Our recently published Missal, nothing omitted from it, nor anything whatsoever be changed within it under the penalty of Our displeasure." Encyclical "Quo Primum" (Promulgating the Tridentine Liturgy) by Pope St. Pius V, 1570
  • "Furthermore, by these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force notwithstanding the previous constitutions and decrees of the Holy See, as well as any general or special constitutions or edicts of provincial or synodal councils, and notwithstanding the practice and custom of the aforesaid churches, established by long and immemorial prescription - except, however, if more than two hundred years' standing." Encyclical "Quo Primum" (Promulgating the Tridentine Liturgy) by Pope St. Pius V, 1570

Church Teaching on the Language Used at Mass:

  • "The use of the Latin language, customary in a considerable portion of the Church, is a manifest and beautiful sign of unity, as well as an effective antidote for any corruption of doctrinal truth" Encyclical On the Sacred Liturgy by Pope Pius XII, 1947
  • "Although the mass contains great instruction for the faithful people, nevertheless, it has not seemed expedient to the Fathers, that it should be every where celebrated in the vulgar tongue" Council of Trent, Chapter VIII, On not celebrating the Mass every where in the vulgar tongue; the mysteries of the Mass to be explained to the people
  • "The Church has never set up a mysterious unintelligible language as an ideal. There is no principle of sacerdotal mysteries from which the layman is shut out. In spite of the use of Latin the people have means of understanding the service. That they might do so still better if everything were in the vulgar tongue may be admitted, but in making this change the loss would probably be greater than the gain." 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Rites

Church Teaching on Women Assisting at Mass

  • "Pope Gelasius in his ninth letter (chap. 26) to the bishops of Lucania condemned the evil practice which had been introduced of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass. Since this abuse had spread to the Greeks, Innocent IV strictly forbade it in his letter to the bishop of Tusculum: "Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry." We too have forbidden this practice in the same words in Our oft-repeated constitution Etsi Pastoralis, sect. 6, no. 21." Encyclical On the Observance of Oriental Rites (Women Assisting at Mass) by Pope Benedict XIV, 1755
  • "Ministering at the altar, even in a subordinate capacity, is likewise forbidden. A decree says: "It is prohibited to any woman to presume to approach the altar or minister to the priest" (cap. Inhibendum, 1 de cohab.); for if a woman should keep silence in church, much more should she abstain from the ministry of the altar, conclude the canonists." 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Woman
  • "Canon 44. Women may not go to the altar" 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Synod of Laodicea


Latin has been the standard language of the Catholic Church starting around the third century, and the Catholic Church retained that language in its liturgy for over 15 centuries. Unfortunately many churches have discarded the Tridentine liturgy and changed to new missals since the Second Vatican Council, all contrary to the declarations of the Council of Trent.



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