Audio Book

The Mass Explained

The Mass Explained

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The Mass is the central liturgical rite in the Catholic Church, encompassing the Liturgy of the Word (Mass of the Catechumens) and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (Mass of the Faithful), where the bread and wine are consecrated and become the Body and Blood of Christ.[1][2] As defined by the Church at the Council of Trent, in the Mass, “the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, is present and offered in an unbloody manner”.[3] The Church describes the Mass as the “source and summit of the Christian life”.[4] It teaches that the sacramental bread and wine, through consecration by an ordained priest, become the sacrificial body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ as the sacrifice on Calvary made truly present once again on the altar. The Catholic Church permits only baptised members in the state of grace (Catholics who have recently confessed all mortal sins) to receive Christ in the Eucharist.[5]

Many of the other sacraments of the Catholic Church, such as confirmation, holy orders, and holy matrimony, are now generally administered within the framework of the Mass, but before the Second Vatican Council were often or even usually administered outside of Mass. The term “Mass” is commonly used of celebration of the Eucharist in the Latin Church, while the various Eastern rites use terms such as “Divine Liturgy”, “Holy Qurbana”, and “Badarak”,[6] in accordance with each one’s tradition. Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum authorized under certain conditions continued use of the 1962 form of the Roman Rite as the Extraordinary Form (also known as the Tridentine or traditional Latin Mass), while the post–Vatican II form promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 and revised by Pope John Paul II in 2002 is the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite[7][8]

The term “Mass” is derived from the concluding words of the Roman Rite Mass in Latin: Ite, missa est (‘Go, it is the dismissal’, officially translated as ‘Go forth, the Mass is ended’). The Late Latin word missa substantively corresponds to the classical Latin word missio.[9] In antiquity, missa simply meant “dismissal”. In Christian usage, however, it gradually took on a deeper meaning. The word “dismissal” has come to imply a mission.[10]

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