Mass is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is commonly called in the Catholic Church, Western Rite Orthodox churches and many Old Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches, as well as some Methodist churches. Apart from "Eucharist" others are the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly (synaxis)", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and Divine Liturgy" and "Holy Communion". In these denominations, the term Mass often refers to the entire church service in general. Some Protestants employ terms such as Divine Service or service of worship, rather than the word Mass, although other Protestants, such as Anglicans and Lutherans, use the word. For the celebration of the Eucharist in Eastern churches, including those in full communion with the Holy See, other terms such as the Divine Liturgy, the Qurbono Qadisho or Holy Qurbana and the Badarak are normal.
- Mass in the Catholic Church
- Introductory rites
- Liturgy of the Word
- Liturgy of the Eucharist
- Communion rite
- Concluding rite
- Jubilee Indulgence to the faithful celebrating the Holy Eucharist
- Mass in Anglicanism
- Structure of the rite
- Special Masses
- Mass in Lutheranism
- Calendrical usage
The English noun mass is derived from Middle Latin missa. The Latin word was adopted in Old English as mæsse (via a Vulgar Latin form *messa), and was sometimes glossed as sendnes (i.e. "a sending, dismission"). The Latin term missa itself was in use by the 6th century. It is most likely derived from the concluding formula Ite, missa est ("Go; the dismissal is made"); missa here is a Late Latin substantive corresponding to classical missio.
Historically, however, there have been other explanations of the noun missa, i.e. as not derived from the formula ite, missa est. Fortescue (1910) cites older, "fanciful" etymological explanations, notably a latinization of Hebrew matzâh (מַצָּה) "unleavened bread; oblation", a derivation favoured in the 16th century by Reuchlin and Luther, or Greek μύησις "initiation", or even Germanic mese "assembly". Already Du Cange (1678) reports "various opinions on the origin" of the noun missa "mass", including the derivation from Hebrew matzah (Missah, id est, oblatio), here attributed to Caesar Baronius. The Hebrew derivation is learned speculation from 16th-century philology; medieval authorities did derive the noun missa from the verb mittere, but not in connection with the formula ite, missa est. Thus, De divinis officiis (9th century) explains the word as a mittendo, quod nos mittat ad Deo ("from 'sending', that which sends us towards God"), while Rupert of Deutz (early 12th century) derives it from a "dismissal" of the "enmities which had been between God and men" (inimicitiarum quæ erant inter Deum et homines).
Mass in the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church sees the Mass or Eucharist as "the source and summit of the Christian life", to which the other sacraments are oriented. The Catholic Church believes that the Mass is exactly the same sacrifice that Jesus Christ offered on the Cross at Calvary. The term "Mass" is generally used only in the Latin Church, while the Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Churches use the analogous term "Divine Liturgy" and other Eastern Catholic Churches have terms such as Holy Qurbana. Although similar in outward appearance to the Anglican Mass or Lutheran Mass, the Catholic Church distinguishes between its own Mass and theirs on the basis of what it views as the validity of the orders of their clergy, and as a result, does not ordinarily permit intercommunion between members of these Churches. However, in the Decree on Ecumenism, produced by Vatican II in 1964, the Catholic Church also notes its understanding that when other faith groups (such as Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians) "commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord's Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory."
Within the fixed structure outlined below, which is specific to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Scripture readings, the antiphons sung or recited during the entrance procession or communion, and certain other prayers vary each day according to the liturgical calendar. For more information regarding the structure and history of the approved Extraordinary Form of the Mass in the Roman Rite see Mass (Catholic Church)
The priest enters, with a deacon, if there is one, and altar servers (who may act as crucifer, torch-bearers and thurifer). After making the sign of the cross and greeting the people liturgically, he begins the Act of Penitence. This concludes with the priest's prayer of absolution, "which, however, lacks the efficacy of the Sacrament of Penance". The Kyrie, eleison (Lord, have mercy), is sung or said, followed by the Gloria in excelsis Deo (Glory to God in the highest), an ancient praise, if appropriate for the liturgical season. The Introductory Rites are brought to a close by the Collect Prayer.
Liturgy of the Word
On Sundays and solemnities, three Scripture readings are given. On other days there are only two. If there are three readings, the first is from the Old Testament (a term wider than "Hebrew Scriptures", since it includes the Deuterocanonical Books), or the Acts of the Apostles during Eastertide. The first reading is followed by a psalm, either sung responsorially or recited. The second reading is from the New Testament, typically from one of the Pauline epistles. A Gospel Acclamation is then sung as the Book of the Gospels is processed, sometimes with incense and candles, to the ambo. The final reading and high point of the Liturgy of the Word is the proclamation of the Gospel by the deacon or priest. At least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, a homily, a sermon that draws upon some aspect of the readings or the liturgy of the day, is then given. Finally, the Creed is professed on Sundays and solemnities, and it is desirable that in Masses celebrated with the people the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful should usually follow.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
The Liturgy of the Eucharist begins with the preparation of the altar and gifts, after which the congregation stands, as the priest gives the exhortation to pray, "Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father." The congregation responds: "May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his holy Church." The priest then pronounces the variable prayer over the gifts.
The Eucharistic Prayer, "the centre and high point of the entire celebration", then begins with a dialogue between priest and people. The priest continues with one of many Eucharistic Prayer thanksgiving prefaces, which lead to the reciting of the Sanctus acclamation. The Eucharistic Prayer includes the epiclesis, a prayer that the gifts offered may by the power of the Holy Spirit become the body and blood of Christ. The central part is the Institution Narrative and Consecration, recalling the words and actions of Jesus at his Last Supper, which he told his disciples to do in remembrance of him. Immediately after the Consecration and the display to the people of the consecrated elements, the priest says: "The mystery of faith", and the people pronounce the acclamation, using one of the three prescribed formulae. It concludes with a doxology, with the priest lifting up the paten with the host and the deacon (if there is one) the chalice, and the singing or recitation of the Amen by the people.
All together recite or sing the "Lord's Prayer" ("Pater Noster" or "Our Father"). The priest introduces it with a short phrase and follows it up with a prayer called the embolism and the people respond with the doxology. The sign of peace is exchanged and then the "Lamb of God" ("Agnus Dei" in Latin) litany is sung or recited, while the priest breaks the host and places a piece in the main chalice; this is known as the rite of fraction and commingling.
The priest then presents the transubstantiated elements to the congregation, saying: "Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb." Then all repeat: "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." The priest then receives Communion and, with the help, if necessary, of extraordinary ministers, distributes Communion to the people, who usually approach in procession and receives standing. Singing by all the faithful during the Communion procession is encouraged, to highlight the communitarian nature of the Communion bread. Silence is called for following the Communion procession. A Prayer After Communion is then proclaimed by the priest while all stand.
The priest imparts a simple blessing or a solemn blessing to those present. The deacon or, in his absence, the priest himself then dismisses the people, choosing one of four formulas, of which the first is "Ite, missa est" in Latin or its equivalent in other languages. The congregation responds: "Thanks be to God." The priest and other ministers then leave, often to the accompaniment of a recessional hymn.
Jubilee Indulgence to the faithful celebrating the Holy Eucharist
Pope Francis granted the Jubilee Indulgence to the faithful celebrating the Holy Eucharist:
"My thought first of all goes to all the faithful who, whether in individual Dioceses or as pilgrims to Rome, will experience the grace of the Jubilee. I wish that the Jubilee Indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God’s mercy, which comes to meet each person in the Face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting completely the sin committed. To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose that the Indulgence may be obtained in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee Churches. It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world." (...) "Additionally, I am thinking of those for whom, for various reasons, it will be impossible to enter the Holy Door, particularly the sick and people who are elderly and alone, often confined to the home. For them it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his Passion, death and Resurrection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and loneliness. Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence."
Mass in Anglicanism
"Mass" is one of many terms used to describe the Eucharist in the Anglican tradition. More frequently, the term used is either "Holy Communion", "Holy Eucharist", or the "Lord's Supper". Occasionally the term used in Eastern churches, the "Divine Liturgy", is also used. In the English-speaking Anglican world, the term used often identifies the Eucharistic theology of the person using it. "Mass" is frequently used by Anglo-Catholics.
Structure of the rite
The various Eucharistic liturgies used by national churches of the Anglican Communion have continuously evolved from the 1549 and 1552 editions of the Book of Common Prayer which both owed their form and contents chiefly to the work of Thomas Cranmer, who had rejected the medieval theology of the Mass in about 1547. Although the 1549 rite retained the traditional sequence of the Mass, its underlying theology was Cranmer's and the four-day debate in the House of Lords during December 1548 makes it clear that this had already moved far beyond traditional Catholicism. In the 1552 revision, this was made clear by the restructuring of the elements of the rite while retaining nearly all the language so that it became, in the words of an Anglo-Catholic liturgiologist (Arthur Couratin) "a series of communion devotions; disembarrassed of the Mass with which they were temporarily associated in 1548 and 1549". Some rites, such as the 1637 Scottish rite and the 1789 rite in the United States, went back to the 1549 model. From the time of the Elizabethan Settlement in 1559 the services allowed for a certain variety of theological interpretation. Today's rites generally follow the same general five-part shape(some or all of the following elements may be altered, transposed or absent depending on the rite, the liturgical season and use of the province or national church):
The liturgy is divided into two main parts: The Liturgy of the Word (Gathering, Proclaiming and Hearing the Word, Prayers of the People) and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (together with the Dismissal), but the entire liturgy itself is also properly referred to as the Holy Eucharist. The sequence of the liturgy is almost identical to the Roman Rite, except the Confession of Sin ends the Liturgy of the Word in the Anglican rites in North America, while in the Roman Rite and in Anglican rites in many jurisdictions the Confession is near the beginning of the service.
The Anglican tradition includes separate rites for Nuptial Masses, Funeral Masses, and votive Masses. The Eucharist is an integral part of many other sacramental services, including ordination and Confirmation.
Some Anglo-Catholic parishes use Anglican versions of the Tridentine Missal, such as the English Missal, The Anglican Missal, or the American Missal, for the celebration of Mass, all of which are intended primarily for the celebration of the Eucharist. Many Anglo-Catholic parishes in the Church of England use A Manual of Anglo-Catholic Devotion (successor to the earlier A Manual of Catholic Devotion). In the Episcopal Church USA, a traditional-language, Anglo-Catholic adaptation of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer has been published (An Anglican Service Book).
All of these books contain such features as meditations for the presiding celebrant(s) during the liturgy, and other material such as the rite for the blessing of palms on Palm Sunday, propers for special feast days, and instructions for proper ceremonial order. These books are used as a more expansively Catholic context in which to celebrate the liturgical use found in the Book of Common Prayer and related liturgical books.
These are often supplemented in Anglo-Catholic parishes by books specifying ceremonial actions, such as A Priest's Handbook by Dennis G. Michno, Ceremonies of the Eucharist by Howard E. Galley, Low Mass Ceremonial by C.P.A. Burnett, and Ritual Notes by E.C.R. Lamburn. Other guides to ceremonial include the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite (Peter Elliott), Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described (Adrian Fortescue), and The Parson's Handbook (Percy Dearmer). In Evangelical Anglican parishes, the rubrics detailed in the Book of Common Prayer are sometimes considered normative.
Mass in Lutheranism
In the Book of Concord, Article XXIV ("Of the Mass") of the Augsburg Confession (1530) begins thus:
"Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. We do not abolish the Mass but religiously keep and defend it... we keep the traditional liturgical form... In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other holy days, when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved (Article XXIV)".
Martin Luther rejected parts of the Roman Rite Catholic Mass, specifically the Canon of the Mass, which, as he argued, did not conform with Hebrews 7:27. That verse contrasts the Old Testament priests, who needed to make a sacrifice for sins on a regular basis, with the single priest Christ, who offers his body only once as a sacrifice. The theme is carried out also in Hebrews 9:26, 9:28, and 10:10. Luther composed as a replacement a revised Latin-language rite, Formula missae in 1523 and the vernacular Deutsche Messe in 1526.
As such, historically, the Lutheran Church has stated that the Lutheran Mass is "the only Mass founded in the Scriptures of God, in accordance with the plain and incontestable institution of the Saviour."
In German, the Scandinavian languages, Finnish, and some English Lutherans, use the word "Mass" for their corresponding service, but in most English-speaking churches, they call it the "Divine Service", "Holy Communion, or "the Holy Eucharist".
The celebration of the Mass in Lutheran churches follows a similar pattern to other traditions, starting with public confession (Confiteor) by all and a Declaration of Grace said by the priest or pastor. There follow the Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, collect, the readings with an alleluia (alleluia is not said during Lent), homily (or sermon) and recitation of the Nicene Creed. The Service of the Eucharist includes the General intercessions, Preface, Sanctus and Eucharistic Prayer, elevation of the host and chalice and invitation to the Eucharist. The Agnus Dei is chanted while the clergy and assistants first commune, followed by lay communicants. Postcommunion prayers and the final blessing by the priest ends the Mass. A Catholic or Anglican of the Anglo-Catholic party would find its elements familiar, in particular the use of the sign of the cross, kneeling for prayer and the Eucharistic Prayer, bowing to the processional crucifix, kissing the altar, incense (among some), chanting, and vestments.
Lutheran churches often celebrate the Eucharist each Sunday, if not at every worship service. This aligns with Luther's preference and the Lutheran confessions. Also, eucharistic ministers take the sacramental elements to the sick in hospitals and nursing homes. The practice of weekly communion is increasingly the norm again in most Lutheran parishes throughout the world. The bishops and pastors of the larger Lutheran bodies have strongly encouraged this restoration of the weekly Mass.
The celebration of the Eucharist may form a part of services for weddings, funerals, retreats, the dedication of a church building and annual synod conventions. The Mass is also an important aspect of ordinations and confirmations in Lutheran churches.
The English suffix -mas (equivalent to modern English "mass") can label certain prominent (originally religious) feasts or seasons based on a traditional liturgical year, for example: