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