washing of feet

Mass of Paul VI

This article is about the post-Vatican-II changes to the Mass; for an explanation of the current structure of the Mass, see Mass (Catholic Church).

The Mass of Pope Paul VI is the liturgy of the Catholic Mass of the Roman Rite promulgated by Paul VI in 1969, after the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). It is the present ordinary or normal form of the Roman Rite of the Mass. For the terms "Novus Ordo" and "Novus Ordo Missae", sometimes applied to it, see below.

The text

The current official text of the Mass of Paul VI is the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 2000 and issued in Latin in 2002; translations into the vernacular are in production. Two earlier typical editions of the revised 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, since 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.


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;
  • 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. He granted permission for the use of local languages in the renewal of baptismal promises in the Easter Vigil service.

By this time, scholars had discovered how and when many elements of varied provenance had come to be incorporated into the Roman Rite of Mass and subsequently 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. The commission established by Pope Pius V had not succeeded, because of the insufficient resources at its disposal, in achieving the aim attributed to it in Pope Pius V's bull Quo Primum, namely to restore the liturgy to "the original form and rite of the holy Fathers". For instance, the general intercessions or prayer of the faithful, of which a slight trace remained in the isolated single word "Oremus" (Let us pray), had not been restored to the Mass liturgy.

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. The laity will 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. 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 formerly 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;
  • 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 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.

The Second Vatican Council and its immediate aftermath

The liturgy was among the matters 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.

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 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; the priest was allowed to face towards the congregation, if he wished, throughout Mass; 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, made only minimal changes to the text, but simplified the rubrics and the vestments. Concelebration, and Communion under both kinds had meanwhile been permitted, 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 liturgy, 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.

The 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, the revised Missal itself was not published until the following year, and full vernacular translations appeared much later.

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 Ordinary of the Mass (in Latin, Ordo Missae) - that is, the largely unvarying part of the liturgy - were "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.
  • 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. 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".

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.

Other changes

Vernacular language

The Second Vatican Council stated in Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36:

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 Ordinary of the Mass

The Ordinary (or unchanging part) of the Mass had previously been 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 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. Furthermore (as noted above) three new alternative Eucharistic Prayers were introduced alongside the Roman Canon, which formerly was the only one used. 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 used to make over the host and chalice during the Canon (15 of them after the consecration) have been reduced to a single sign 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.

Communion under both species

The 1970 Roman Missal allowed laypeople to receive Holy Communion under the appearances of both bread and wine. 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. This practice had largely fallen into disuse in Western Europe even before the Council of Trent, and the revised Roman Missal therefore 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.

Liturgical orientation

From the middle of the seventeenth 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. 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, and gives corresponding instructions for the priest when performing actions that in the other orientation involved turning around in order to face the people.

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. 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 sixth century. 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.

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 St 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.

Without requiring priests to face the people throughout the Mass, the Roman Missal now calls for the facing-the-people orientation to be made possible: "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. Accordingly, altars that obliged the priest to have his back to the people have generally been moved away from the apse wall or reredos, or, where this was unsuitable, a new freestanding altar has been built closer to the people. This, however, is not universal, and in some churches and chapels it is physically impossible for the priest to face the people throughout the Mass.

The rubrics of the Roman Missal now prescribe that the priest should face the people at six points of the Mass. The priest celebrating the Tridentine Mass was required to face the people, turning if necessary his back to the altar, eight times. The priest is still expressly directed to face the altar at exactly the same points as in the Tridentine Mass. His position in relation to the altar determines, as before, whether facing the altar means also facing the people.

Repositioning of the tabernacle

From the second half of the seventeenth century, it had been customary to place the tabernacle on the main altar of the church. Such a location, however, is arguably inconvenient for a celebration in which the priest faces the people. Accordingly, the revised Roman Missal states:
[I]t is preferable that the tabernacle be located, according to the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop,
a. Either in the sanctuary, apart from the altar of celebration, in a form and place more appropriate, not excluding on an old altar no longer used for celebration;
b. Or even in some chapel suitable for the faithful’s private adoration and prayer and which is organically connected to the church and readily visible to the Christian faithful. (GIRM 315)
The Missal does, however, direct that the tabernacle be situated "in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, readily visible, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer" (GIRM 314).

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 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. It is, however, appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner" (GIRM 82). A simple handshake 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.

Criticism of the revision

There are two distinct forms of criticisms: criticisms of the text itself, and criticisms of the way that text has been acted upon since 1970.

Criticisms of the text of the Ordinary of the Mass

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. Some regard the revised rite as so seriously defective that it is displeasing to God and a Catholic ought not to attend celebrations of it. Some traditionalists claim that it is sacramentally invalid (see below). Others agree that there are deficiencies in the revised liturgy, but believe that these should be rectified by a "reform of the reform" rather than by a wholesale return to the Tridentine Mass. They attributed this position to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Critics often point to the following (alleged) examples of defects in the liturgy:

  • It is alleged that prayers and phrases clearly presenting the Mass as a sacrifice have been removed or substantially reduced in number.
  • It is alleged that words and actions suggesting that the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Jesus Christ have been removed or replaced. It is said, 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 GIRM directs the removal of the tabernacle from its previous place on the main altar to another part of the church (albeit one that is "truly noble, prominent, readily visible, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer" - GIRM 314).
  • It is alleged that the Propers of the Mass omit or soften important traditional Catholic teachings whereas those of the pre-revision Mass affirm them in their fulness.

It has been affirmed that the changes were made in the rite in order to make the Mass less unacceptable to non-Catholics. A similarly undocumented charge is made that Vincentian Father Annibale Bugnini, who was secretary of the group that drew up the text that Pope Paul VI approved and promulgated, was a Freemason.

Whether or not the liturgical changes (together with the other changes in the Church that followed the Second Vatican Council) have caused a loss of faith is disputed. Critics cite opinion polling evidence in their support; supporters of the reform point to polling evidence of their own. Critics point to the large drop in attendance at Mass in the Western world; supporters ascribe this development to the general decline in religiosity in the West.

Some critics believe that any liturgy celebrated in a language in which the phrase "pro multis" (Latin for "for many" or "for the many") in the words of consecration is translated as "for all" is sacramentally invalid and brings about no transubstantiation. In a circular (No. 467/05/L) of 17 October 2006, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments recalled a previous declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that, 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, there is no doubt whatsoever regarding the validity of Masses celebrated using "for all" as a translation of "pro multis", but at the same time it directed that a more faithful translation of the Latin words be introduced as soon as is feasible.

The September 2002 issue of the SSPX periodical Angelus declared the Mass of Paul VI "objectively sacrilegious" and "in itself sinful". In the cover letter issued with the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 7 July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: "In order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness."

Criticisms of practices not expressly mentioned in the Ordinary of the Mass

Criticisms have been directed not only against the text of the Ordinary of the Mass in the 1970 Roman Missal, but also against practices, some of which are authorized by official Church documents such as the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) of the Missal and the 1983 Code of Canon Law. These include the following:

  • Lay people may proclaim Biblical readings and lead the Responsorial Psalm at Mass (though the Gospel reading remains reserved to clerics)
  • Lay people may act as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, distributing Holy Communion with the priest - the use, for persons other than priests, of terms such as "Ministers of the Eucharist", though once common in some countries, has been condemned as an abuse (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 154-155)
  • The consecrated Host may be received on the hand, rather than directly into the mouth
  • Females may act as altar servers

Other practices criticized arose because of changes of taste. These would 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.

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. The Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, before stating: "since the use of the mother tongue ... frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended," also stated that "particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites." (36) "Particular law" refers to decisions by national or regional Episcopal Conferences, ratified by the Holy See. Redemptionis Sacramentum, 112 confirms an option to use Latin, but some view an option, instead of an obligation, as insufficient to preserve the Latin language.

On Gregorian chant, the adaptation of which to languages other than Latin is widely considered to be aesthetically defective, Sacrosanctum Concilium 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" (116).

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 though catechesis. However, many traditionalist Catholics regard the revised rite as inherently unacceptable.

Preparing a more literal English translation

On 28 March 2001, the Holy See issued the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam "on the use of vernacular languages in the publication of the books of the Roman liturgy". This included the requirement that, in translations of the liturgical texts (the originals of which are always in Latin), "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 in Latin of the revised Roman Missal was released, an edition announced in 2000. (The "typical edition" of a liturgical text is that to which editions by other publishers must conform.)

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 Et cum spiritu tuo (literally, "And with your spirit") as "And also with you." A revised translation may therefore make more evident to English speakers that the Second Vatican Council revision of the Ordinary of the Mass left most of the text unchanged.

The body responsible for producing English translations of liturgical texts of the Roman Rite is the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). It promptly began work on a completely new translation of the Roman Missal, intending it not to be a rushed job. On 2 February 2004, ICEL Chairman Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, England issued a first draft of the Ordinary of the Mass part of the Missal. A second draft of the same part of the Missal was distributed to the Episcopal Conferences on which ICEL depends in late 2005, and has been approved by at least some of them - with some modifications in the case of the United States' conference. If confirmation by the Holy See is obtained for these decisions, the revised English version of the Ordinary of the Mass could be introduced soon; however, some think it more likely that the conferences will prefer to wait for completion of the work on the whole of the Roman Missal before putting any changes into effect.

On 17 October 2006, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments sent a circular (No. 467/05/L) to Presidents of Episcopal Conferences on the question of the translation of "pro multis" in the formula of the consecration of the wine. The Congregation first recalled the 25 January 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 (cf. , , , ). However, the Congregation pointed out that "for all" is not a literal translation of the words that and report that Jesus used at the Last Supper and of the words used in the Latin text of the Roman Mass; "for all" is rather an explanation of the sort that belongs properly to catechesis. After making these and other observations, the Congregation told the Episcopal Conferences to make an effort, in line with the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam, to translate the words "pro multis" more faithfully and to prepare the faithful for the introduction, when the next translation of the Roman Missal has been approved by the Conferences and examined by the Holy See, of a precise vernacular translation of the phrase.

The term "Novus Ordo"

In advance of the 1969 decision on the form of the revision of the liturgy, a preliminary draft of two sections of the Roman Missal was published. The section containing the unvarying part of the Mass had the Latin title Ordo Missae (Ordinary of the Mass), the same title that the equivalent section had in previous editions of the Missal. It was unremarkably referred to as the "novus Ordo Missae" — "the new Ordinary of the Mass", "novus" being the Latin for "new" (see, for example, this speech by Pope Paul VI).

Novus Ordo Missae, or simply Novus Ordo, has since become a specific composite term used to refer to the revised rite of Mass in its entirety. It is frequently (though not exclusively) used by traditionalist Catholics who are opposed to the liturgical reform. For this reason, while some mainstream Catholics are comfortable with the term Novus Ordo, others reject it. It is not used in official Church documents or by academic liturgists.

Sometimes, "Novus Ordo" is used by traditionalist critics of contemporary Catholic practice as a blanket term in relation to the present-day Church and the changes that emerged from the Second Vatican Council. This explains adjectival references to, for example, "Novus Ordo priests" and "the Novus Ordo Church".

Other terms for the revised liturgy include "the ordinary form" (the older liturgy as it existed in 1962 has been designated an "extraordinary form" of the rite), "Pauline Mass", "Post-Tridentine Mass", and "New Mass" (in wide use in the 1970s, but now dated).

In its official documents, the Church identifies the form of the Mass by the edition of the Roman Missal used in its celebration. Thus, in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of "the Roman Missal published by Pope Blessed John XXIII in 1962" and "the Roman Missal promulgated by the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI in 1970".


External links

A) Revision of the Roman Missal

B) History

C) Polemics

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