Friday, August 31, 2007


There are quite a few strange terminologies that are creeping in though liturgies that I have attended lately. Some people might be able to enlighten me on some of them.

The trend has been from "celebrating Mass" to "celebrating the Eucharist" to now "celebrating Eucharist". The idea of removing the term Mass was for a number of reasons:
  • the perception that the word Mass came from the word "Missa" whihc referrred to the dismissal at the end of Mass" and not really what happens in the Mass
  • a move away from Catholic terms to a more protestant friendly term.

Mind you this seems to be a term used only in the English speaking world, other places eg Italy only use Messa or Sancta Messa (or Holy Mass)

I cannot understand why "the" has now beeen dropped. I suspect it might have been to give a bigger emphasis on the community celebrating (like we have "lunch" not "the lunch"). I think this is an attempt to make the meal aspect of the whole liturgy a lot stronger. Not a good trend.

Gathering Song

I think this is traditionally called the introit or "entrance". Where did gathering come into it? I thought that the gathering happens before this when the people gather in the church prior to the commencement of the liturgy. The GIRM calls it the entrance and the the music accompanying it the "entrance chant". Again the use of the word "song" creeps into local usage. This has been condemned by the Congregation for Divine Worship, as this does not refer to a liturgical act, and the word song does not appear in GIRM.

Presentation of the Gifts

This is another way of saying offertory. However, the intent is that it emphasises the people presenting the gifts whihc has a sense of "horizontality" in it. Offertory is presumably avoided as it is a priest action and accentuates the "verticality" of the liturgy.


This is the real odd one. The term presiding has been used since the early church. However, it appears to be used now to emphasise that it is the congregation does the liturgy and the priest merely presides over or chairs the proceedings. The problem stems from the GIRM n30-33, whihc talks about the priest presiding over the assembly "in the name of Christ" and "as the one who presides, prays in the name of the Church and the assembled community". This of course points strongly to an orientation that he faces towards the people; quite different to the extraordinary form where the priest prays in the "name of the people" and is not presiding over anything that the community actually does.

Thesea re all terms which I feel uncomfortable about. However, the seeds of them are all there in the GIRM and have been used effectively by the people who would push us towards protestantism, where a priesthood is not present.


Summa Theologica said...

I can't say how annoying the word "Eucharist" is standing alone without the "the." You are correct about the perception it comes from the end with the "Ite Missa est". Unfortunately this idea is reinforced by most catechetical books, even good ones. For those who want the straight story (and I'm basing this on St Thomas Aquinas) Mass is from the word "misso" which means "send." The central action of the Mass is all about a sending. Christ is send down upon our altars and the priest offers Him(sends Him) back to God.

Speaking of "Ite Missa est" though. Has anyone noticed how it doesn't literally mean "Go, the Mass has ended" but "Go, the Mass is."

Stephen said...

You are right about misso which means "send" (the origin of the word "mission"). I read somehwere that "Ite missa est" was used by the Roman Emperor when he commissioned a new general and gave him his orders. The Christians gave this commission a specific sacred meaning in inserting the same command into the Mass.

In the eloquent words of our Archbishop ite missa est literally means "go - get out of here!". The liturgy is not complete until we turn it into mission in apostolic works.

Anonymous said...

In my parish they call it "celebrating the liturgy". I fear that soon they won't even bother about invinting apriest to celebrate. It's so sad to see the emphasis go from Jesus sacrificing Himself to it being just a community gathering.

Fr. Reginald Wilson. said...

Stephen, you are quite right. It is part of a process of de-sacralising, protestantising and diminishing the sacred office of the priest. What Cranmer wanted, Cranmer is getting! If we allow it!

Stephen said...

The big thing is to ensure that the terms used in the GIRM are used always. These are Mass. Priest,Entrance Chant (or introit). Offertory (you can use presentation but the GIRM refers to the presentation and the offering). Use them often in speech and casual conversation around your churches.

With servers I always use the correct terms so that they will learn the correct terms, and use them in their conversation. In this way the word will psread.

Furthermore it is important to keep praying for the correct implementation of the sacred liturgy.