General Instruction of the Roman Missal 2011
Foreword to This Edition ix
THE GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL
Testimony of an Unaltered Faith 1
Uninterrupted Tradition 4
Accommodation to New Conditions 6
The Importance and Dignity of the Celebration
of the Eucharist 10
The Structure of the Mass, Its Elements, and Its Parts 14
I. The General Structure of the Mass 14
II. The Different Elements of the Mass 15
Reading and Explaining the Word of God 15
The Prayers and Other Parts Pertaining to the Priest 15
Other Formulas Occurring during the Celebration 17
The Manner of Pronouncing the Different Texts 18
The Importance of Singing 18
Gestures and Bodily Posture 19
III. The Individual Parts of the Mass 21
A. The Introductory Rites 21
The Entrance 22
Reverence to the Altar and Greeting of the
Assembled People 22
The Penitential Act 23
The Kyrie, Eleison 23
The Gloria in Excelsis 23
The Collect 24
B. The Liturgy of the Word 25
The Biblical Readings 26
The Responsorial Psalm 27
The Acclamation before the Gospel 27
The Homily 28
The Profession of Faith 29
The Universal Prayer 30
C. The Liturgy of the Eucharist 31
The Preparation of the Gifts 31
The Prayer over the Offerings 33
The Eucharistic Prayer 33
The Communion Rite 35
The Lord’s Prayer 35
The Rite of Peace 35
The Fraction of the Bread 36
D. The Concluding Rites 38
Duties and Ministries in the Mass 39
I. The Duties of Those in Holy Orders 39
II. The Functions of the People of God 41
III. Particular Ministries 42
The Ministry of the Instituted Acolyte and Lector 42
Other Functions 42
IV. The Distribution of Functions and the
Preparation of the Celebration 44
The Different Forms of Celebrating Mass 46
I. Mass with the People 47
Things to Be Prepared 48
A. Mass without a Deacon 49
The Introductory Rites. 49
The Liturgy of the Word 50
The Liturgy of the Eucharist 52
The Concluding Rites 59
B. Mass with a Deacon 60
The Introductory Rites 60
The Liturgy of the Word 61
The Liturgy of the Eucharist 62
The Concluding Rites 63
C. The Functions of the Acolyte 63
The Introductory Rites 64
The Liturgy of the Eucharist 64
D. The Functions of the Reader 65
The Introductory Rites 65
The Liturgy of the Word 65
II. Concelebrated Mass 66
The Introductory Rites 68
The Liturgy of the Word 69
The Liturgy of the Eucharist 69
The Manner of Pronouncing the Eucharistic Prayer 70
Eucharistic Prayer I, or the Roman Canon 70
Eucharistic Prayer II 71
Eucharistic Prayer III 72
Eucharistic Prayer IV 73
The Communion Rite 74 The Concluding Rites 77
III. Mass at Which Only One Minister Participates 77
The Introductory Rites 78
The Liturgy of the Word 78
The Liturgy of the Eucharist 79
The Concluding Rites 80
IV. Some General Norms for All Forms of Mass 80
Veneration of the Altar and the Book of the Gospels 80
Genuflections and Bows 81
The Purification 83
Communion under Both Kinds. . . . . 83
The Arrangement and Ornamentation of Churches for the
Celebration of the Eucharist 87
I. General Principles 87
II. Arrangement of the Sanctuary for the Sacred Synaxis 90
The Altar and Its Ornamentation 90
The Ambo 93
The Chair for the Priest Celebrant and Other Seats 93
III. The Arrangement of the Church 94
The Places for the Faithful 94
The Place for the Schola Cantorum and the
Musical Instruments 95
The Place for the Reservation of the
Most Holy Eucharist 95
Sacred Images 97
The Requisites for the Celebration of Mass 98
I. The Bread and Wine for Celebrating the Eucharist 98
II. Sacred Furnishings in General 99
III. Sacred Vessels 100
IV. Sacred Vestments 101
V. Other Things Intended for Church Use 104
The Choice of the Mass and Its Parts 105
I. The Choice of Mass 105
II. The Choice of Texts for the Mass 107
The Readings 107
The Orations 109
The Eucharistic Prayer 110
The Chants 111
Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions and
Masses for the Dead 112
I. Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions 112
II. Masses for the Dead 115
Adaptations within the Competence of Bishops and
Bishops’ Conferences 117
Foreword To This Edition
November 27, 2011, marks a significant date in the liturgical life of
the Church in the United States as the Roman Missal, Third Edition, is
introduced and put into use for the celebration of the Eucharist. This
brings to conclusion the work of more than ten years of research,
translation, preparation, and study. The implementation of the new
translation of the prayers of the Mass is probably the most significant
change in the liturgy since the introduction of the novus ordo Missal
of Pope Paul VI in 1969.
The text of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) from the
Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, was translated and approved for
the Dioceses of the United States in 2003 and was subsequently
published as part of the United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops’ (USCCB) Liturgy Documentary Series. The final text of
the Roman Missal, Third Edition, for use in the Dioceses of the United
States and approved in 2010, includes a new translation of the GIRM.
The 2003 text was intended as a provisional translation, and in
subsequent years other English-language Conferences of Bishops issued
their own translations of the GIRM. The translation contained here and
also in the ritual edition of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, is now
the single official translation for the English-speaking world.
Also included in this edition are two other valuable documents: The
Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Roman Calendar and the
Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both
Kinds for the Dioceses of the United States of America, both of which
also appear in front matter of the Roman Missal, Third Edition.
Together with the GIRM these documents provide a comprehensive overview
and instruction for the celebration of the Mass.
Pope Benedict XVI reminds the Church that the Liturgy follows the
ancient axiom, Lex orandi, lex credendi (“the law of faith is the
law of belief”). Not only is it a matter of words that
communicate the faith of the Church, but the way in which the Liturgy
is celebrated witnesses to what we believe.
Pope Benedict explains:
These texts contain riches which have preserved and expressed the faith
and experience of the People of God over its two-thousand-year history.
Equally important for a correct ars celebrandi is an attentiveness to
the various kinds of language that the liturgy employs: words and
music, gestures and silence, movement, the liturgical colors of the
vestments. By its very nature the liturgy operates on different levels
of communication which enable it to engage the whole human person.
(Sacramentum Caritatis, no. 40)
May our study and observance of liturgical norms and rubrics continue
to foster prayerful and fruitful celebration of the Eucharist, that
this moment in the renewal of the Liturgy will strengthen us for the
ongoing renewal of the Church.
Rev. Richard B. Hilgartner
USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship
1. As Christ the Lord was about to celebrate with the disciples the
paschal supper in which he instituted the Sacrifice of his Body and
Blood, he commanded that a large, furnished upper room be prepared (Lk
22:12). Indeed, the Church has always judged that this command also
applied to herself whenever she decided about things related to the
disposition of people's minds, and of places, rites, and texts for the
Celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist. The present norms, too,
prescribed in keeping with the will of the Second Vatican Council,
together with the new Missal with which the Church of the Roman Rite
will henceforth celebrate the Mass, are again a demonstration of this
same solicitude of the Church, of her faith and her unaltered love for
the supreme mystery of the Eucharist, and also attest to her continuous
and consistent tradition, even though certain new elements have been
Testimony of an Unaltered Faith
2. The sacrificial nature of the Mass, solemnly defended by the Council
of Trent, because it accords with the universal tradition of the
Church, was once more stated by the Second Vatican Council, which
pronounced these clear words about the Mass: "At the Last Supper, Our
Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood, by
which the Sacrifice of his Cross is perpetuated until he comes again;
and till then he entrusts the memorial of his Death and Resurrection to
his beloved spouse, the Church."
What is taught in this way by the Council is consistently expressed in
the formulas of the Mass. Moreover, the doctrine which stands out in
the following sentence, already notable and concisely expressed in the
ancient Sacramentary commonly called the Leonine—"for whenever
the memorial of this sacrifice is celebrated the work of our redemption
is accomplished"—is aptly and exactly expounded in the
Eucharistic Prayers; for as in these the Priest enacts the anamnesis,
while turned towards God likewise in the name of all the people, he
renders thanks and offers the living and holy sacrifice, that is, the
Church's oblation and the sacrificial Victim by whose death God himself
willed to reconcile us to himself; and the Priest also prays that
the Body and Blood of Christ may be a sacrifice which is acceptable to
the Father and which brings salvation to the whole world.
So, in the new Missal the rule of prayer (lex orandi) of the Church
corresponds to her perennial rule of faith (lex credendi), by which we
are truly taught that the sacrifice of his Cross and its sacramental
renewal in the Mass, which Christ the Lord instituted at the Last
Supper and commanded his Apostles to do in his memory, are one and the
same, differing only in the manner of their offering; and as a result,
that the Mass is at one and the same time a sacrifice of praise,
thanksgiving, propitiation, and satisfaction.
3. Moreover, the wondrous mystery of the real presence of the Lord
under the Eucharistic species, confirmed by the Second Vatican
Council and other teachings of the Church's Magisterium in the
same sense and with the same doctrine as the Council of Trent proposed
that it must be believed, is proclaimed in the celebration of the
Mass, not only by the very words of consecration by which Christ is
rendered present through transubstantiation, but also with a sense and
a demonstration of the greatest reverence and adoration which strives
for realization in the Eucharistic liturgy. For the same reason, the
Christian people are led to worship this wondrous Sacrament through
adoration in a special way on Thursday of the Lord's Supper in Holy
Week and on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
4. In truth, the nature of the ministerial Priesthood proper to the
Bishop and the Priest, who offer the Sacrifice in the person of Christ
and who preside over the gathering of the holy people, shines forth in
the form of the rite itself, on account of the more prominent place and
function given to the Priest. The essential elements of this function
are set out and explained clearly and extensively in the Preface for
the Chrism Mass on Thursday of Holy Week, the day, namely, when the
institution of the Priesthood is commemorated. For in the Preface is
made clear how the conferral of Priestly power is accomplished through
the laying on of hands; and, by the listing one by one of its duties,
that power is described which is the continuation of the power of
Christ, the High Priest of the New Testament.
5. Moreover, by this nature of the ministerial Priesthood, something
else is put in its proper light, something certainly to be held in
great esteem, namely, the royal Priesthood of the faithful, whose
spiritual sacrifice is brought to completion through the ministry of
the Bishop and the Priests, in union with the Sacrifice of Christ, the
sole Mediator. For the celebration of the Eucharist is the action of
the whole Church, and in it each one should carry out solely but
totally that which pertains to him, in virtue of the place of each
within the People of God. The result of this is that greater
consideration is also given to some aspects of the celebration that
have sometimes been accorded less attention in the course of the
centuries. For this people is the People of God, purchased by Christ's
Blood, gathered together by the Lord, nourished by his word, the people
called to present to God the prayers of the entire human family, a
people that gives thanks in Christ for the mystery of salvation by
offering his Sacrifice, a people, finally, that is brought together in
unity by Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ. This people, though
holy in its origin, nevertheless grows constantly in holiness by
conscious, active, and fruitful participation in the mystery of the
6. When it set out its instructions for the renewal of the Order of
Mass, the Second Vatican Council, using, namely, the same words as did
St. Pius V in the Apostolic Constitution Quo primum, by which the
Missal of Trent was promulgated in 1570, also ordered, among other
things, that a number of rites be restored "to the original norm of the
holy Fathers." From the fact that the same words are used, it can
be noted how the two Roman Missals, although four centuries have
intervened, embrace one and the same tradition. Furthermore, if the
inner elements of this tradition are reflected upon, it is also
understood how outstandingly and felicitously the older Roman Missal is
brought to fulfillment in the later one.
7. In truly difficult times, when the Catholic faith in the sacrificial
nature of the Mass, the ministerial Priesthood, and the real and
perpetual presence of Christ under the Eucharistic species were called
into question, St. Pius V was first of all concerned with preserving
the more recent tradition, then unjustly assailed, introducing only
very slight changes into the sacred rite. In fact, the Missal of 1570
differs very little from the very first printed edition of 1474, which
in turn faithfully takes up again the Missal used in the time of Pope
Innocent III. Moreover, manuscript books in the Vatican Library, even
though they provided material for several textual emendations, by no
means made it possible to pursue inquiry into "ancient and approved
authors" further back than the liturgical commentaries of the Middle
8. Today, however, innumerable writings of scholars have shed light on
the "norm of the holy Fathers," which the revisers of the Missal of St.
Pius V assiduously followed. For following the first publication in
1571 of the Sacramentary called the Gregorian, critical editions of
other ancient Roman and Ambrosian Sacramentaries were disseminated,
often in printed form, as were ancient Hispanic and Gallican liturgical
books; these editions brought to light numerous prayers of no slight
spiritual value but previously unknown.
In the same way, traditions of the first centuries, before the rites of
East and West were formed, are now better known because of the
discovery of so many liturgical documents.
Furthermore, continuing progress in the study of the holy Fathers has
also shed upon the theology of the mystery of the Eucharist the light
brought by the doctrine of such illustrious Fathers of Christian
antiquity as St. Irenaeus, St. Ambrose, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, and St.
9. Hence, the "norm of the holy Fathers" requires not only the
preservation of what our immediate forebears have handed on to us, but
also an understanding and a more profound pondering of the Church's
entire past ages and of all the ways in which her one faith has been
expressed in forms of human and social culture so greatly differing
among themselves, indeed, as those prevailing in the Semitic, Greek,
and Latin regions. Moreover, this broader view allows us to see how the
Holy Spirit endows the People of God with a marvelous fidelity in
preserving the unalterable deposit of faith, even though there is a
very great variety of prayers and rites.
Accommodation to New Conditions
10. Hence, the new Missal, while bearing witness to the Roman Church's
rule of prayer (lex orandi), also safeguards the deposit of faith
handed down by the more recent Councils and marks in its turn a step of
great importance in liturgical tradition.
For, when the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council reaffirmed the
dogmatic pronouncements of the Council of Trent, they spoke at a far
different time in world history, and, for that reason, were able to
bring forward proposals and measures regarding pastoral life that could
not have even been foreseen four centuries earlier.
11. The Council of Trent had already recognized the great catechetical
usefulness contained in the celebration of Mass but was unable to bring
out all its consequences in regard to actual practice. In fact, many at
that time requested that permission be given to use the vernacular in
celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice. To such a request, the Council,
by reason of the circumstances of that age, judged it a matter of duty
to answer by insisting once more on the teaching of the Church as had
been handed on, according to which the Eucharistic Sacrifice is in the
first place the action of Christ himself, whose inherent efficacy is
therefore unaffected by the manner in which the faithful participate in
it. The Council for this reason stated in these firm and likewise
measured words: "Although the Mass contains much instruction for the
faithful people, it did not seem to the Fathers expedient, however,
that it be celebrated indiscriminately in the vernacular." And the
Council declared worthy of censure anyone maintaining that "the rite of
the Roman Church, in which part of the Canon and the words of
consecration are pronounced in a low voice, is to be condemned, or that
the Mass must be celebrated only in the vernacular." Nevertheless,
at the same time as it prohibited the use of the vernacular in the
Mass, it ordered, on the other hand, pastors of souls to put
appropriate catechesis in its place: "Lest Christ's flock go hungry . .
. the Holy Synod commands pastors and each and all of those others
having the care of souls that frequently during the celebration of
Mass, either personally or through others, they should explain what is
read at Mass; and expound, among other things, something of the mystery
of this most holy Sacrifice, especially on Sundays and feast days."
12. Hence, the Second Vatican Council, having come together in order to
accommodate the Church to the requirements of her proper apostolic
office precisely in these times, considered thoroughly, as had the
Council of Trent, the catechetical and pastoral character of the Sacred
Liturgy. And since no Catholic would now deny a sacred rite
celebrated in Latin to be legitimate and efficacious, the Council was
also able to concede that "not rarely adopting the vernacular language
may be of great usefulness for the people" and gave permission for it
to be used. The eagerness with which this measure was everywhere
received has certainly been so great that it has led, under the
guidance of the Bishops and the Apostolic See itself, to permission for
all liturgical celebrations in which the people participate to be in
the vernacular, so that the people may more fully understand the
mystery which is celebrated.
13. In this regard, although the use of the vernacular in the Sacred
Liturgy is a means, admittedly of great importance, for expressing more
clearly cate-chesis on the mystery, a catechesis inherent in the
celebration itself, the Second Vatican Council ordered additionally
that certain prescriptions of the Council of Trent that had not been
followed everywhere be brought to fruition, such as the Homily to be
given on Sundays and feast days and the faculty to interject
certain explanations during the sacred rites themselves.
Above all, the Second Vatican Council, which recommended "that more
perfect form of participation in the Mass by which the faithful, after
the Priest's Communion, receive the Lord's Body from the same
Sacrifice," called for another desire of the Fathers of Trent to be
put into effect, namely, that for the sake of a fuller participation in
the Holy Eucharist "at each Mass the faithful present should
communicate not only by spiritual desire but also by sacramental
reception of the Eucharist."
14. Prompted by the same intention and pastoral zeal, the Second
Vatican Council was able to give renewed consideration to what was
established by Trent on Communion under both kinds. And indeed, since
nowadays the doctrinal principles on the complete efficacy of
Eucharistic Communion received under the species of bread alone are not
in any way called into question, the Council gave permission for the
reception on occasion of Communion under both kinds, because this
clearer form of the sacramental sign offers a particular opportunity
for understanding more deeply the mystery in which the faithful
15. In this manner the Church, while remaining faithful to her office
as teacher of truth, safeguarding "things old," that is, the deposit of
tradition, fulfills at the same time the duty of examining and
prudently adopting "things new" (cf. Mt 13:52).
For part of the new Missal orders the prayers of the Church in a way
more open to the needs of our times. Of this kind are above all the
Ritual Masses and Masses for Various Needs, in which tradition and new
elements are appropriately brought together. Thus, while a great number
of expressions, drawn from the Church's most ancient tradition and
familiar through the many editions of the Roman Missal, have remained
numerous others have been accommodated to the needs and conditions
proper to our own age, and still others, such as the prayers for the
Church, for the laity, for the sanctification of human labor, for the
community of all nations, and certain needs proper to our era, have
been newly composed, drawing on the thoughts and often the very
phrasing of the recent documents of
On account, moreover, of the same attitude toward the new state of the
world as it now is, it seemed to cause no harm at all to so revered a
treasure if some phrases were changed so that the language would be in
accord with that of modern theology and would truly reflect the current
state of the Church's discipline. Hence, several expressions regarding
the evaluation and use of earthly goods have been changed, as have
several which alluded to a certain form of outward penance which was
proper to other periods of the Church's past.
In this way, finally, the liturgical norms of the Council of Trent have
certainly been completed and perfected in many particulars by those of
the Second Vatican Council, which has carried into effect the efforts
to bring the faithful closer to the Sacred Liturgy that have been taken
up these last four centuries and especially those of recent times, and
above all the attention to the Liturgy promoted by St. Pius X and his
Chapter I: The Importance And Dignity Of The Celebration Of The
16. The celebration of Mass, as the action of Christ and of the People
of God arrayed hierarchically, is the center of the whole of Christian
life for the Church both universal and local, as well as for each of
the faithful individually. For in it is found the high point both
of the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and of the
worship that the human race offers to the Father, adoring him through
Christ, the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit. In it, moreover, during
the course of the year, the mysteries of redemption are celebrated so
as to be in some way made present. As to the other sacred actions
and all the activities of the Christian life, these are bound up with
it, flow from it, and are ordered to it.
17. It is, therefore, of the greatest importance that the celebration
of the Mass or the Lord’s Supper be so ordered that the sacred
ministers and the faithful taking part in it, according to the state
proper to each, may draw from it more abundantly those fruits, to
obtain which, Christ the Lord instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of
his Body and Blood and entrusted it as the memorial of his Passion and
Resurrection to the Church, his beloved Bride.
18. This will fittingly come about if, with due regard for the nature
and other circumstances of each liturgical assembly, the entire
celebration is arranged in such a way that it leads to a conscious,
active, and full participation of the faithful, namely in body and in
mind, a participation fervent with faith, hope, and charity, of the
sort which is desired by the Church and which is required by the very
nature of the celebration and to which the Christian people have a
right and duty in virtue of their Baptism.
19. Even though it is on occasion not possible to have the presence and
active participation of the faithful, which manifest more clearly the
ecclesial nature of the celebration, the celebration of the
Eucharist is always endowed with its own efficacy and dignity, since it
is the act of Christ and of the Church, in which the Priest fulfills
his own principal function and always acts for the sake of the
Hence the Priest is recommended to celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice,
in so far as he can, even daily.
20. Since, however, the celebration of the Eucharist, like the entire
Liturgy, is carried out by means of perceptible signs by which the
faith is nourished, strengthened, and expressed, the greatest care
is to be taken that those forms and elements proposed by the Church are
chosen and arranged, which, given the circumstances of persons and
places, more effectively foster active and full participation and more
aptly respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful.
21. Hence this Instruction aims both to offer general lines for a
suitable ordering of the celebration of the Eucharist and to explain
the rules by which individual forms of celebration may be arranged.
22. The celebration of the Eucharist in a particular Church is of the
For the Diocesan Bishop, the prime steward of the mysteries of God in
the particular Church entrusted to his care, is the moderator,
promoter, and guardian of the whole of liturgical life. In
celebrations that take place with the Bishop presiding, and especially
in the celebration of the Eucharist by the Bishop himself with the
Presbyterate, the Deacons, and the people taking part, the mystery of
the Church is manifest. Hence, solemn celebrations of Mass of this sort
must be exemplary for the entire diocese.
The Bishop should therefore be determined that the Priests, the
Deacons, and the lay Christian faithful grasp ever more deeply the
genuine significance of the rites and liturgical texts, and thereby be
led to the active and fruitful celebration of the Eucharist. To that
end, he should also be vigilant in ensuring that the dignity of these
celebrations be enhanced and, in promoting such dignity, the beauty of
the sacred place, of the music, and of art should contribute as greatly
23. Moreover, in order that such a celebration may correspond more
fully to the prescriptions and spirit of the Sacred Liturgy, and also
in order that its pastoral effectiveness be enhanced, certain
accommodations and adaptations are set out in this General Instruction
and in the Order of Mass.
24. These adaptations consist, for the most part, in the choice of
certain rites or texts, that is, of the chants, readings, prayers,
explanatory interventions, and gestures capable of responding better to
the needs, the preparation, and the culture of the participants and
which are entrusted to the Priest Celebrant. However, the Priest will
remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he
himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or
to change anything in the celebration of Mass.
25. In addition, at the proper place in the Missal are indicated
certain adaptations which in accordance with the Constitution on the
Sacred Liturgy pertain respectively to the Diocesan Bishop or to the
Conference of Bishops (cf. below nos. 387, 388-393).
26. As for variations and the more profound adaptations which give
consideration to the traditions and culture of peoples and regions, to
be introduced in accordance with article 40 of the Constitution on the
Sacred Liturgy, for reasons of usefulness or necessity, those norms set
out in the Instruction on the Roman Liturgy and Inculturation and
below in nos. 395-399 are to be observed.
Chapter II: The Structure Of The Mass, Its Elements, And Its Parts
I. The General Structure of the Mass
27. At Mass or the Lord’s Supper the People of God is called
together, with a Priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ,
to celebrate the memorial of the Lord or Eucharistic Sacrifice. In
an outstanding way there applies to such a local gathering of the holy
Church the promise of Christ: “Where two or three are gathered in
my name, there am I in their midst” (Mt 18:20). For in the
celebration of Mass, in which the Sacrifice of the Cross is
perpetuated, Christ is really present in the very assembly gathered
in his name, in the person of the minister, in his word, and indeed
substantially and uninterruptedly under the Eucharistic species.
28. The Mass consists in some sense of two parts, namely the Liturgy of
the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, these being so closely
interconnected that they form but one single act of worship. For in
the Mass is spread the table both of God’s Word and of the Body
of Christ, and from it the faithful are to be instructed and
refreshed. There are also certain rites that open and conclude the
II. The Different Elements of the Mass
Reading and Explaining the Word of God
29. When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself
speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his word, proclaims the
Therefore, the readings from the Word of God are to be listened to
reverently by everyone, for they are an element of the greatest
importance in the Liturgy. Although in the readings from Sacred
Scripture the Word of God is addressed to all people of whatever era
and is understandable to them, a fuller understanding and a greater
efficaciousness of the word is nevertheless fostered by a living
commentary on the word, that is, by the Homily, as part of the
The Prayers and Other Parts Pertaining to the Priest
30. Among those things assigned to the Priest, the prime place is
occupied by the Eucharistic Prayer, which is the high point of the
whole celebration. Next are the orations, that is to say, the Collect,
the Prayer over the Offerings, and the Prayer after Communion. These
prayers are addressed to God by the Priest who presides over the
assembly in the person of Christ, in the name of the entire holy people
and of all present. Hence they are rightly called the
31. Likewise it is also for the Priest, in the exercise of his office
of presiding over the gathered assembly, to offer certain explanations
that are foreseen in the rite itself. Where this is laid down by the
rubrics, the celebrant is permitted to adapt them somewhat so that they
correspond to the capacity for understanding of those participating.
However, the Priest should always take care to keep to the sense of the
explanatory text given in the Missal and
to express it in just a few words. It is also for the presiding Priest
to regulate the Word of God and to impart the final blessing. He is
permitted, furthermore, in a very few words, to give the faithful an
introduction to the Mass of the day (after the initial Greeting and
before the Penitential Act), to the Liturgy of the Word (before the
readings), and to the Eucharistic Prayer (before the Preface), though
never during the Eucharistic Prayer itself; he may also make concluding
comments regarding the entire sacred action before the Dismissal.
32. The nature of the “presidential” parts requires that
they be spoken in a loud and clear voice and that everyone listen to
them attentively. Therefore, while the Priest is pronouncing them,
there should be no other prayers or singing, and the organ or other
musical instruments should be silent.
33. For the Priest, as the one who presides, expresses prayers in the
name of the Church and of the assembled community; but at times he
prays only in his own name, asking that he may exercise his ministry
with greater attention and devotion. Prayers of this kind, which occur
before the reading of the Gospel, at the Preparation of the Gifts, and
also before and after the Communion of the Priest, are said quietly.
Other Formulas Occurring during the Celebration
34. Since the celebration of Mass by its nature has a
“communitarian” character, both the dialogues between
the Priest and the assembled faithful, and the acclamations are of
great significance; for they are not simply outward signs of
communal celebration but foster and bring about communion between
Priest and people.
35. The acclamations and the responses of the faithful to the
Priest’s greetings and prayers constitute that level of active
participation that is to be made by the assembled faithful in every
form of the Mass, so that the action of the whole community may be
clearly expressed and fostered.
36. Other parts, most useful for expressing and fostering the active
participation of the faithful, and which are assigned to the whole
gathering, include especially the Penitential Act, the Profession of
Faith, the Universal Prayer, and the Lord’s Prayer.
37. Finally, among other formulas:
a) Some constitute an independent rite or act, such as the Gloria in
excelsis (Glory to God in the highest), the Responsorial Psalm, the
Alleluia and Verse before the Gospel, the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy),
the Memorial Acclamation, and the chant after Communion;
b) Others, on the other hand, accompany some other rite, such as the
chants at the Entrance, at the Offertory, at the fraction (Agnus Dei,
Lamb of God) and at Communion.
The Manner of Pronouncing the Different Texts
38. In texts that are to be pronounced in a loud and clear voice,
whether by the Priest or the Deacon, or by a reader, or by everyone,
the voice should correspond to the genre of the text itself, that is,
depending upon whether it is a reading, a prayer, an explanatory
comment, an acclamation, or a sung text; it should also be suited to
the form of celebration and to the solemnity of the gathering.
Consideration should also be given to the characteristics of different
languages and of the culture of different peoples.
Therefore, in the rubrics and in the norms that follow, words such as
“say” and “proclaim” are to be understood
either of singing or of reciting, with due regard for the principles
stated here above.
The Importance of Singing
39. The Christian faithful who come together as one in expectation of
the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing
together Psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles (cf. Col 3:16). Singing
is the sign of the heart’s joy (cf. Acts 2:46). Thus St.
Augustine says rightly, “Singing is for one who loves,”
and there is also an ancient proverb: “Whoever sings well prays
40. Great importance should therefore be attached to the use of singing
in the celebration of the Mass, with due consideration for the culture
of peoples and abilities of each liturgical assembly. Although it is
not always necessary (e.g., in weekday Masses) to sing all the texts
that are in principle meant to be sung, every care should be taken that
singing by the ministers and the people not be absent in celebrations
that occur on Sundays and on Holydays of Obligation.
However, in the choosing of the parts actually to be sung, preference
is to be given to those that are of greater importance and especially
to those which are to be sung by the Priest or the Deacon or a reader,
with the people replying, or by the Priest and people together.
41. The main place should be given, all things being equal, to
Gregorian chant, as being proper to the Roman Liturgy. Other kinds of
sacred music, in particular polyphony, are in no way excluded, provided
that they correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and that
they foster the participation of all the faithful.
Since the faithful from different countries come together ever more
frequently, it is desirable that they know how to sing together at
least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the
Profession of Faith and the Lord’s Prayer, according to the
Gestures and Bodily Posture
42. The gestures and bodily posture of both the Priest, the Deacon, and
the ministers, and also of the people, must be conducive to making the
entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, to
making clear the true and full meaning of its different parts, and to
fostering the participation of all. Attention must therefore be
paid to what is determined by this General Instruction and by the
traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common
spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or
A common bodily posture, to be observed by all those taking part, is a
sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered
together for the Sacred Liturgy, for it expresses the intentions and
spiritual attitude of the participants and also fosters them.
43. The faithful should stand from the beginning of the Entrance Chant,
or while the Priest approaches the altar, until the end of the Collect;
for the Alleluia Chant before the Gospel; while the Gospel itself is
proclaimed; during the Profession of Faith and the Universal Prayer;
and from the invitation, Orate, fratres (Pray, brethren), before the
Prayer over the Offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places
indicated here below.
The faithful should sit, on the other hand, during the readings before
the Gospel and the Responsorial Psalm and for the Homily and during the
Preparation of the Gifts at the Offertory; and, if appropriate, they
may sit or kneel during the period of sacred silence after Communion.
In the Dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel
beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy,
Holy) until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when
prevented on occasion by ill health, or for reasons of lack of space,
of the large number of people present, or for another reasonable cause.
However, those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the
Priest genuflects after the Consecration. The faithful kneel after the
Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) unless the Diocesan Bishop determines
For the sake of uniformity in gestures and bodily postures during one
and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the instructions
which the Deacon, a lay minister, or the Priest gives, according to
what is laid down in the Missal.
44. Among gestures are included also actions and processions, by which
the Priest, with the Deacon and ministers, goes to the altar; the
Deacon carries the Evangeliary or Book of the Gospels to the ambo
before the proclamation of the Gospel; the faithful bring up the gifts
and come forward to receive Communion. It is appropriate that actions
and processions of this sort be carried out with decorum while the
chants proper to them are sung, in accordance with the norms laid down
45. Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed
at the designated times. Its nature, however, depends on the moment
when it occurs in the different parts of the celebration. For in the
Penitential Act and again after the invitation to pray, individuals
recollect themselves; whereas after a reading or after the Homily, all
meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, they
praise God in their hearts and pray to him.
Even before the celebration itself, it is a praiseworthy practice for
silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting
room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to
carry out the sacred celebration in a devout and fitting manner.
III. The Individual Parts of the Mass
A) The Introductory Rites
46. The rites that precede the Liturgy of the Word, namely, the
Entrance, the Greeting, the Penitential Act, the Kyrie, the Gloria in
excelsis (Glory to God in the highest) and Collect, have the character
of a beginning, an introduction, and a preparation.
Their purpose is to ensure that the faithful, who come together as one,
establish communion and dispose themselves properly to listen to the
Word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist worthily.
In certain celebrations that are combined with Mass according to the
norms of the liturgical books, the Introductory Rites are omitted or
take place in a particular way.
47. When the people are gathered, and as the Priest enters with the
Deacon and ministers, the Entrance Chant begins. Its purpose is to open
the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered,
introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical time or
festivity, and accompany the procession of the Priest and ministers.
48. This chant is sung alternately by the choir and the people or
similarly by a cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by
the choir alone. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there
are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the
Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum, as set
to music there or in another setting; (2) the antiphon and Psalm of the
Graduale Simplex for the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another
collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of
Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in
responsorial or metrical forms; (4) another liturgical chant that is
suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, similarly
approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.
If there is no singing at the Entrance, the antiphon given in the
Missal is recited either by the faithful, or by some of them, or by a
reader; otherwise, it is recited by the Priest himself, who may even
adapt it as an introductory explanation (cf. no. 31).
Reverence to the Altar and Greeting of the Assembled People
49. When they have arrived at the sanctuary, the Priest, the Deacon,
and the ministers reverence the altar with a profound bow.
Moreover, as an expression of veneration, the Priest and Deacon then
kiss the altar itself; the Priest, if appropriate, also incenses the
cross and the altar.
50. When the Entrance Chant is concluded, the Priest stands at the
chair and, together with the whole gathering, signs himself with the
Sign of the Cross. Then by means of the Greeting he signifies the
presence of the Lord to the assembled community. By this greeting and
the people’s response, the mystery of the Church gathered
together is made manifest.
After the greeting of the people, the Priest, or the Deacon, or a lay
minister may very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day.
The Penitential Act
51. After this, the Priest calls upon the whole community to take part
in the Penitential Act, which, after a brief pause for silence, it does
by means of a formula of general confession. The rite concludes with
the Priest’s absolution, which, however, lacks the efficacy of
the Sacrament of Penance.
From time to time on Sundays, especially in Easter Time, instead of the
customary Penitential Act, the blessing and sprinkling of water may
take place as a reminder of Baptism.
The Kyrie, Eleison
52. After the Penitential Act, the Kyrie, eleison (Lord, have mercy),
is always begun, unless it has already been part of the Penitential
Act. Since it is a chant by which the faithful acclaim the Lord and
implore his mercy, it is usually executed by everyone, that is to say,
with the people and the choir or cantor taking part in it.
Each acclamation is usually pronounced twice, though it is not to be
excluded that it be repeated several times, by reason of the character
of the various languages, as well as of the artistry of the music or of
other circumstances. When the Kyrie is sung as a part of the
Penitential Act, a “trope” precedes each acclamation.
The Gloria in Excelsis
53. The Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the highest) is a most
ancient and venerable hymn by which the Church, gathered in the Holy
Spirit, glorifies and entreats God the Father and the Lamb. The text of
this hymn may not be replaced by any other. It is intoned by the Priest
or, if appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir; but it is sung either
by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or
by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited either by
everybody together or by two choirs responding one to the other.
It is sung or said on Sundays outside Advent and Lent, and also on
Solemnities and Feasts, and at particular celebrations of a more solemn
54. Next the Priest calls upon the people to pray and everybody,
together with the Priest, observes a brief silence so that they may
become aware of being in God’s presence and may call to mind
their intentions. Then the Priest pronounces the prayer usually called
the “Collect” and through which the character of the
celebration finds expression. By an ancient tradition of the Church,
the Collect prayer is usually addressed to God the Father, through
Christ, in the Holy Spirit, and is concluded with a Trinitarian
ending, or longer ending, in the following manner:
• If the prayer is directed to the Father: Through our Lord Jesus
Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever;
• If it is directed to the Father, but the Son is mentioned at the
end: Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever
• If it is directed to the Son: Who live and reign with God the
Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
The people, joining in this petition, make the prayer their own by
means of the acclamation Amen.
At Mass only a single Collect is ever said.
B) The Liturgy of the Word
55. The main part of the Liturgy of the Word is made up of the readings
from Sacred Scripture together with the chants occurring between them.
As for the Homily, the Profession of Faith, and the Universal Prayer,
they develop and conclude it. For in the readings, as explained by the
Homily, God speaks to his people, opening up to them the mystery of
redemption and salvation, and offering spiritual nourishment; and
Christ himself is present through his word in the midst of the
faithful. By silence and by singing, the people make this divine
word their own, and affirm their adherence to it by means of the
Profession of Faith; finally, having been nourished by the divine word,
the people pour out their petitions by means of the Universal Prayer
for the needs of the whole Church and for the salvation of the whole
56. The Liturgy of the Word is to be celebrated in such a way as to
favor meditation, and so any kind of haste such as hinders recollection
is clearly to be avoided. In the course of it, brief periods of silence
are also appropriate, accommodated to the assembled congregation; by
means of these, under the action of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God
may be grasped by the heart and a response through prayer may be
prepared. It may be appropriate to observe such periods of silence, for
example, before the Liturgy of the Word itself begins, after the First
and Second Reading, and lastly at the conclusion of the Homily.
The Biblical Readings
57. In the readings, the table of God’s Word is spread before the
faithful, and the treasures of the Bible are opened to them. Hence,
it is preferable that the arrangement of the biblical readings be
maintained, for by them the unity of both Testaments and of salvation
history is brought out. Nor is it lawful to replace the readings and
Responsorial Psalm, which contain the Word of God, with other,
58. In the celebration of the Mass with the people, the readings are
always read from the ambo.
59. The function of proclaiming the readings is by tradition not
presidential but ministerial. Therefore the readings are to be read by
a reader, but the Gospel by the Deacon or, in his absence, by another
Priest. If, however, a Deacon or another Priest is not present, the
Priest Celebrant himself should read the Gospel, and moreover, if no
other suitable reader is present, the Priest Celebrant should also
proclaim the other readings as well.
After each reading, whoever reads it pronounces the acclamation, and by
means of the reply the assembled people give honor to the Word of God
that they have received in faith and with gratitude.
60. The reading of the Gospel constitutes the high point of the Liturgy
of the Word. The Liturgy itself teaches the great reverence that is to
be shown to this reading by setting it off from the other readings with
special marks of honor, by the fact of which minister is appointed to
proclaim it and by the blessing or prayer with which he prepares
himself; and also by the fact that through their acclamations the
faithful acknowledge and confess that Christ is present and is speaking
to them and stand as they listen to the reading; and by the mere fact
of the marks of reverence that are given to the Book of the Gospels.
The Responsorial Psalm
61. After the First Reading follows the Responsorial Psalm, which is an
integral part of the Liturgy of the Word and which has great liturgical
and pastoral importance, since it fosters meditation on the Word of God.
The Responsorial Psalm should correspond to each reading and should
usually be taken from the Lectionary.
It is preferable for the Responsorial Psalm to be sung, at least as far
as the people’s response is concerned. Hence the psalmist, or
cantor of the Psalm, sings the Psalm verses at the ambo or another
suitable place, while the whole congregation sits and listens, normally
taking part by means of the response, except when the Psalm is sung
straight through, that is, without a response. However, in order that
the people may be able to sing the Psalm response more easily, texts of
some responses and Psalms have been chosen for the different times of
the year or for the different categories of Saints. These may be used
instead of the text corresponding to the reading whenever the Psalm is
sung. If the Psalm cannot be sung, then it should be recited in a way
that is particularly suited to fostering meditation on the Word of God.
In the Dioceses of the United States of America, instead of the Psalm
assigned in the Lectionary, there may be sung either the Responsorial
Gradual from the Graduale Romanum, or the Responsorial Psalm or the
Alleluia Psalm from the Graduale Simplex, as described in these books,
or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of Psalms and
antiphons, including Psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that
they have been approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan
Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the Responsorial
The Acclamation before the Gospel
62. After the reading that immediately precedes the Gospel, the
Alleluia or another chant laid down by the rubrics is sung, as the
liturgical time requires. An acclamation of this kind constitutes a
rite or act in itself, by which the gathering of the faithful welcomes
and greets the Lord who is about to speak to
them in the Gospel and profess their faith by means of the chant. It is
sung by everybody, standing, and is led by the choir or a cantor, being
repeated as the case requires. The verse, on the other hand, is sung
either by the choir or by a cantor.
a) The Alleluia is sung in every time of year other than Lent. The
verses are taken from the Lectionary or the Graduale.
b) During Lent, instead of the Alleluia, the Verse before the Gospel as
given in the Lectionary is sung. It is also possible to sing another
Psalm or Tract, as found in the Graduale.
63. When there is only one reading before the Gospel:
a) during a time of year when the Alleluia is prescribed, either an
Alleluia Psalm or the Responsorial Psalm followed by the Alleluia with
its verse may be used;
b) during a time of year when the Alleluia is not foreseen, either the
Psalm and the Verse before the Gospel or the Psalm alone may be used;
c) the Alleluia or the Verse before the Gospel, if not sung, may be
64. The Sequence which, except on Easter Sunday and on Pentecost Day,
is optional, is sung before the Alleluia.
65. The Homily is part of the Liturgy and is highly recommended,
for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should
be an explanation of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture
or of another text from the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass of the
day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and
the particular needs of
66. The Homily should ordinarily be given by the Priest Celebrant
himself or be entrusted by him to a concelebrating Priest, or from time
to time and, if appropriate, to the Deacon, but never to a lay
person. In particular cases and for a just cause, the Homily may
even be given by a Bishop or a Priest who is present at the celebration
but cannot concelebrate.
On Sundays and Holydays of Obligation there is to be a Homily at every
Mass that is celebrated with the people attending, and it may not be
omitted without a grave reason. On other days it is recommended,
especially on the weekdays of Advent, Lent, and Easter Time, as well as
on other festive days and occasions when the people come to church in
It is appropriate for a brief period of silence to be observed after
The Profession of Faith
67. The purpose of the Creed or Profession of Faith is that the whole
gathered people may respond to the Word of God proclaimed in the
readings taken from Sacred Scripture and explained in the Homily and
that they may also honor and confess the great mysteries of the faith
by pronouncing the rule of faith in a formula approved for liturgical
use and before the celebration of these mysteries in the Eucharist
68. The Creed is to be sung or said by the Priest together with the
people on Sundays and Solemnities. It may be said also at particular
celebrations of a more solemn character.
If it is sung, it is intoned by the Priest or, if appropriate, by a
cantor or by the choir. It is then sung either by everybody together or
by the people alternating with the choir.
If it is not sung, it is to be recited by everybody together or by two
choirs responding one to the other.
The Universal Prayer
69. In the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful, the people
respond in some sense to the Word of God which they have received in
faith and, exercising the office of their baptismal Priesthood, offer
prayers to God for the salvation of all. It is desirable that there
usually be such a form of prayer in Masses celebrated with the people,
so that petitions may be offered for holy Church, for those who govern
with authority over us, for those weighed down by various needs, for
all humanity, and for the salvation of the whole world.
70. The series of intentions is usually to be:
a) for the needs of the Church;
b) for public authorities and the salvation of the whole world;
c) for those burdened by any kind of difficulty;
d) for the local community.
Nevertheless, in any particular celebration, such as a Confirmation, a
Marriage, or at a Funeral, the series of intentions may be concerned
more closely with the particular occasion.
71. It is for the Priest Celebrant to regulate this prayer from the
chair. He himself begins it with a brief introduction, by which he
calls upon the faithful to pray, and likewise he concludes it with an
oration. The intentions announced should be sober, be composed with a
wise liberty and in few words, and they should be expressive of the
prayer of the entire community.
They are announced from the ambo or from another suitable place, by the
Deacon or by a cantor, a reader, or one of the lay faithful.
The people, for their part, stand and give expression to their prayer
either by an invocation said in common after each intention or by
praying in silence.
C) The Liturgy of the Eucharist
72. At the Last Supper Christ instituted the Paschal Sacrifice and
banquet, by which the Sacrifice of the Cross is continuously made
present in the Church whenever the Priest, representing Christ the
Lord, carries out what the Lord himself did and handed over to his
disciples to be done in his memory.
For Christ took the bread and the chalice, gave thanks, broke the bread
and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take, eat and drink: this is my
Body; this is the chalice of my Blood. Do this in memory of me. Hence,
the Church has arranged the entire celebration of the Liturgy of the
Eucharist in parts corresponding to precisely these words and actions
of Christ, namely:
a) At the Preparation of the Gifts, bread and wine with water are
brought to the altar, the same elements, that is to say, which Christ
b) In the Eucharistic Prayer, thanks is given to God for the whole work
of salvation, and the offerings become the Body and Blood of Christ.
c) Through the fraction and through Communion, the faithful, though
many, receive from the one bread the Lord’s Body and from the one
chalice the Lord’s Blood in the same way that the Apostles
received them from the hands of Christ himself.
The Preparation of the Gifts
73. At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist the gifts which
will become Christ’s Body and Blood are brought to the altar.
First of all, the altar or Lord’s table, which is the center of
the whole Liturgy of the Eucharist, is made ready when on it are
placed the corporal, purificator, Missal, and chalice (unless this last
is prepared at the credence table).
The offerings are then brought forward. It is a praiseworthy practice
for the bread and wine to be presented by the faithful. They are then
accepted at an appropriate place by the Priest or the Deacon to be
carried to the altar. Even though the faithful no longer bring from
their own possessions the bread and wine intended for the liturgy as
was once the case, nevertheless the rite of carrying up the offerings
still keeps its spiritual efficacy and significance.
Even money or other gifts for the poor or for the Church, brought by
the faithful or collected in the church, are acceptable; given their
purpose, they are to be put in a suitable place away from the
74. The procession bringing the gifts is accompanied by the Offertory
Chant (cf. no. 37 b), which continues at least until the gifts have
been placed on the altar. The norms on the manner of singing are the
same as for the Entrance Chant (cf. no. 48). Singing may always
accompany the rite at the Offertory, even when there is no procession
with the gifts.
75. The bread and wine are placed on the altar by the Priest to the
accompaniment of the prescribed formulas; the Priest may incense the
gifts placed on the altar and then incense the cross and the altar
itself, so as to signify the Church’s offering and prayer rising
like incense in the sight of God. Next, the Priest, because of his
sacred ministry, and the people, by reason of their baptismal dignity,
may be incensed by the Deacon or by another minister.
76. Then the Priest washes his hands at the side of the altar, a rite
in which the desire for interior purification finds expression.
The Prayer over the Offerings
77. Once the offerings have been placed on the altar and the
accompanying rites completed, by means of the invitation to pray with
the Priest and by means of the Prayer over the Offerings, the
Preparation of the Gifts is concluded and preparation made for the
At Mass, a single Prayer over the Offerings is said, and it ends with
the shorter conclusion, that is: Through Christ our Lord. If, however,
the Son is mentioned at the end of this prayer, the conclusion is: Who
lives and reigns for ever and ever.
The people, joining in this petition, make the prayer their own by
means of the acclamation Amen.
The Eucharistic Prayer
78. Now the center and high point of the entire celebration begins,
namely, the Eucharistic Prayer itself, that is, the prayer of
thanksgiving and sanctification. The Priest calls upon the people to
lift up their hearts towards the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving; he
associates the people with himself in the Prayer that he addresses in
the name of the entire community to God the Father through Jesus Christ
in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the meaning of this Prayer is that the
whole congregation of the faithful joins with Christ in confessing the
great deeds of God and in the offering of Sacrifice. The Eucharistic
Prayer requires that everybody listens to it with reverence and in
79. The main elements of which the Eucharistic Prayer consists may be
distinguished from one another in this way:
a) The thanksgiving (expressed especially in the Preface), in which the
Priest, in the name of the whole of the holy people, glorifies God the
Father and gives thanks to him for the whole work of salvation or for
some particular aspect of it, according to the varying day, festivity,
or time of year.
b) The acclamation, by which the whole congregation, joining with the
heavenly powers, sings the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy). This
acclamation, which constitutes part of the Eucharistic Prayer itself,
is pronounced by all the people with the Priest.
c) The epiclesis, in which, by means of particular invocations, the
Church implores the power of the Holy Spirit that the gifts offered by
human hands be consecrated, that is, become Christ’s Body and
Blood, and that the unblemished sacrificial Victim to be consumed in
Communion may be for the salvation of those who will partake of it.
d) The institution narrative and Consecration, by which, by means of
the words and actions of Christ, that Sacrifice is effected which
Christ himself instituted during the Last Supper, when he offered his
Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine, gave them to the
Apostles to eat and drink, and leaving with the latter the command to
perpetuate this same mystery.
e) The anamnesis, by which the Church, fulfilling the command that she
received from Christ the Lord through the Apostles, celebrates the
memorial of Christ, recalling especially his blessed Passion, glorious
Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven.
f) The oblation, by which, in this very memorial, the Church, in
particular that gathered here and now, offers the unblemished
sacrificial Victim in the Holy Spirit to the Father. The Church’s
intention, indeed, is that the faithful not only offer this unblemished
sacrificial Victim but also learn to offer their very selves, and
so day by day to be brought, through the mediation of Christ, into
unity with God and with each other, so that God may at last be all in
g) The intercessions, by which expression is given to the fact that the
Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the whole Church, of both
heaven and of earth, and that the oblation is made for her and for all
her members, living and dead, who are called to participate in the
redemption and salvation purchased by the Body and Blood of Christ.
h) The concluding doxology, by which the glorification of God is
expressed and which is affirmed and concluded by the people’s
The Communion Rite
80. Since the celebration of the Eucharist is the Paschal Banquet, it
is desirable that in accordance with the Lord’s command his Body
and Blood should be received as spiritual food by those of the faithful
who are properly disposed. This is the sense of the fraction and the
other preparatory rites by which the faithful are led more immediately
The Lord’s Prayer
81. In the Lord’s Prayer a petition is made for daily bread,
which for Christians means principally the Eucharistic Bread, and
entreating also purification from sin, so that what is holy may in
truth be given to the holy. The Priest pronounces the invitation to the
prayer, and all the faithful say the prayer with him; then the Priest
alone adds the embolism, which the people conclude by means of the
doxology. The embolism, developing the last petition of the
Lord’s Prayer itself, asks for deliverance from the power of evil
for the whole community of the faithful.
The invitation, the Prayer itself, the embolism, and the doxology by
which the people conclude these things are sung or are said aloud.
The Rite of Peace
82. There follows the Rite of Peace, by which the Church entreats peace
and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful
express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity
before communicating in the Sacrament.
As for the actual sign of peace to be given, the manner is to be
established by the Conferences of Bishops in accordance with the
culture and customs of the peoples. However, it is appropriate that
each person, in a sober manner, offer the sign of peace only to those
who are nearest.
The Fraction of the Bread
83. The Priest breaks the Eucharistic Bread, with the assistance, if
the case requires, of the Deacon or a concelebrant. The gesture of
breaking bread done by Christ at the Last Supper, which in apostolic
times gave the entire Eucharistic Action its name, signifies that the
many faithful are made one body
(1 Cor 10:17) by receiving Communion from the one Bread of Life, which
is Christ, who for the salvation of the world died and rose again. The
fraction or breaking of bread is begun after the sign of peace and is
carried out with proper reverence, and should not be unnecessarily
prolonged or accorded exaggerated importance. This rite is reserved to
the Priest and the Deacon.
The Priest breaks the Bread and puts a piece of the host into the
chalice to signify the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the
work of salvation, namely, of the Body of Jesus Christ, living and
glorious. The supplication Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) is usually sung by
the choir or cantor with the congregation replying; or at least recited
aloud. This invocation accompanies the fraction of the bread and, for
this reason, may be repeated as many times as necessary until the rite
has been completed. The final time it concludes with the words grant us
84. The Priest prepares himself by a prayer, said quietly, so that he
fruitfully receive the Body and Blood of Christ. The faithful do the
same, praying silently.
Then the Priest shows the faithful the Eucharistic Bread, holding it
over the paten or over the chalice, and invites them to the banquet of
Christ; and along with the faithful, he then makes an act of humility,
using the prescribed words from the Gospels.
85. It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the Priest himself
is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at
the same Mass and that, in the cases where this is foreseen, they
partake of the chalice (cf. no. 283), so that even by means of the
signs Communion may stand out more clearly as a participation in the
sacrifice actually being celebrated.
86. While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion Chant is
begun, its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the
communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of
heart, and to bring out more clearly the “communitarian”
character of the procession to receive the Eucharist. The singing is
prolonged for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the
faithful. However, if there is to be a hymn after Communion, the
Communion Chant should be ended in a timely manner.
Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease.
87. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four
options for singing at Communion: (1) the antiphon from the Missal or
the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum, as set to music
there or in another musical setting; (2) the antiphon with Psalm from
the Graduale Simplex of the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another
collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of
Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in
responsorial or metrical forms; (4) some other suitable liturgical
chant (cf. no. 86) approved by the Conference of Bishops or the
Diocesan Bishop. This is sung either by the choir alone or by the choir
or a cantor with the people.
However, if there is no singing, the antiphon given in the Missal may
be recited either by the faithful, or by some of them, or by a reader;
otherwise, it is recited by the Priest himself after he has received
Communion and before he distributes Communion to the faithful.
88. When the distribution of Communion is over, if appropriate, the
Priest and faithful pray quietly for some time. If desired, a Psalm or
other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the whole
89. To bring to completion the prayer of the People of God, and also to
conclude the whole Communion Rite, the Priest pronounces the Prayer
after Communion, in which he prays for the fruits of the mystery just
At Mass a single Prayer after Communion is said, and it ends with the
shorter conclusion; that is:
• if the prayer is directed to the Father: Through Christ our Lord;
• if it is directed to the Father, but the Son is mentioned at the
end: Who lives and reigns for ever and ever;
• if it is directed to the Son: Who live and reign for ever and
The people make the prayer their own by means of the acclamation Amen.
D) The Concluding Rites
90. To the Concluding Rites belong the following:
a) brief announcements, should they be necessary;
b) the Priest’s Greeting and Blessing, which on certain days and
occasions is expanded and expressed by the Prayer over the People or
another more solemn formula;
c) the Dismissal of the people by the Deacon or the Priest, so that
each may go back to doing good works, praising and blessing God;
d) the kissing of the altar by the Priest and the Deacon, followed by a
profound bow to the altar by the Priest, the Deacon, and the other
Chapter III: Duties And Ministries In The Mass
91. The celebration of the Eucharist is the action of Christ and of the
Church, namely, of the holy people united and ordered under the Bishop.
It therefore pertains to the whole Body of the Church, manifests it,
and has its effect upon it. Indeed, it also affects the individual
members of the Church in a different way, according to their different
orders, functions, and actual participation. In this way, the
Christian people, “a chosen race, a royal Priesthood, a holy
nation, a people for his own possession,” expresses its cohesion
and its hierarchical ordering. All, therefore, whether ordained
ministers or lay Christian faithful, in fulfilling their function or
their duty, should carry out solely but totally that which pertains to
I. The Duties of Those in Holy Orders
92. Every legitimate celebration of the Eucharist is directed by the
Bishop, either in person or through Priests who are his helpers.
When the Bishop is present at a Mass where the people are gathered, it
is most fitting that he himself celebrate the Eucharist and associate
Priests with himself in the sacred action as concelebrants. This is
done not for the sake of adding outward solemnity to the rite, but to
signify more vividly the mystery of the Church, “the sacrament of
If, on the other hand, the Bishop does not celebrate the Eucharist but
has assigned it to someone else to do this, then it is appropriate that
he should preside over the Liturgy of the Word, wearing the pectoral
cross, stole, and cope over an alb, and that he should give the
blessing at the end of Mass.
93. A Priest, also, who possesses within the Church the sacred power of
Orders to offer sacrifice in the person of Christ, presides by this
fact over the faithful people gathered here and now, presides over
their prayer, proclaims to them the message of salvation, associates
the people with himself in the offering of sacrifice through Christ in
the Holy Spirit to God the Father, and gives his brothers and sisters
the Bread of eternal life and partakes of it with them. Therefore, when
he celebrates the Eucharist, he must serve God and the people with
dignity and humility, and by his bearing and by the way he pronounces
the divine words he must convey to the faithful the living presence of
94. After the Priest, the Deacon, in virtue of the sacred Ordination he
has received, holds first place among those who minister in the
celebration of the Eucharist. For the sacred Order of the Diaconate has
been held in high honor in the Church even from the early time of the
Apostles. At Mass the Deacon has his own part in proclaiming the
Gospel, from time to time in preaching God’s Word, in announcing
the intentions of the Universal Prayer, in ministering to the Priest,
in preparing the altar and in serving the celebration of the Sacrifice,
in distributing the Eucharist to the faithful, especially under the
species of wine, and from time to time in giving instructions regarding
the people’s gestures and posture.
II. The Functions of the People of God
95. In the celebration of Mass the faithful form a holy people, a
people of God’s own possession and a royal Priesthood, so that
they may give thanks to God and offer the unblemished sacrificial
Victim not only by means of the hands of the Priest but also together
with him and so that they may learn to offer their very selves.
They should, moreover, take care to show this by their deep religious
sense and their charity toward brothers and sisters who participate
with them in the same celebration.
They are consequently to avoid any appearance of singularity or
division, keeping in mind that they have only one Father in heaven and
that hence are all brothers or sisters one to the other.
96. Moreover, they are to form one body, whether in hearing the Word of
God, or in taking part in the prayers and in the singing, or above all
by the common offering of the Sacrifice and by participating together
at the Lord’s table. This unity is beautifully apparent from the
gestures and bodily postures observed together by the faithful.
97. The faithful, moreover, should not refuse to serve the People of
God in gladness whenever they are asked to perform some particular
service or function in the celebration.
III. Particular Ministries
The Ministry of the Instituted Acolyte and Lector
98. The acolyte is instituted for service at the altar and to assist
the Priest and Deacon. It is his place principally to prepare the altar
and the sacred vessels and, if necessary, to distribute the Eucharist
to the faithful as an extraordinary minister.
In the ministry of the altar, the acolyte has his own proper functions
(cf. nos. 187-193), which he must carry out in person.
99. The lector is instituted to proclaim the readings from Sacred
Scripture, with the exception of the Gospel. He may also announce the
intentions for the Universal Prayer and, in the absence of a psalmist,
recite the Psalm between the readings.
In the celebration of the Eucharist, the lector has his own proper
function (cf. nos. 194-198), which he himself must carry out.
100. In the absence of an instituted acolyte, there may be deputed lay
ministers to serve at the altar and assist the Priest and the Deacon;
these carry the cross, the candles, the thurible, the bread, the wine,
and the water, or who are even deputed to distribute Holy Communion as
101. In the absence of an instituted lector, other lay people may be
deputed to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture, people who are
truly suited to carrying out this function and carefully prepared, so
that by their hearing the readings from the sacred texts the faithful
may conceive in their hearts a sweet and living affection for Sacred
102. It is the psalmist’s place to sing the Psalm or other
biblical canticle to be found between the readings. To carry out this
function correctly, it is necessary for the psalmist to be accomplished
in the art of singing Psalms and have a facility in public speaking and
103. Among the faithful, the schola cantorum or choir exercises its own
liturgical function, its place being to take care that the parts proper
to it, in keeping with the different genres of chant, are properly
carried out and to foster the active participation of the faithful by
means of the singing. What is said about the schola cantorum also
applies, with due regard for the relevant norms, to other musicians,
and especially the organist.
104. It is fitting that there be a cantor or a choir director to direct
and support the people’s singing. Indeed, when there is no choir,
it is up to the cantor to direct the different chants, with the people
taking the part proper to them.
105. A liturgical function is also exercised by:
a) The sacristan, who diligently arranges the liturgical books, the
vestments, and other things that are necessary for the celebration of
b) The commentator, who, if appropriate, provides the faithful briefly
with explanations and exhortations so as to direct their attention to
celebration and ensure that they are better disposed for understanding
it. The commentator’s remarks should be thoroughly prepared and
notable for their restraint. In performing this function the
commentator stands in a suitable place within sight of the faithful,
but not at the ambo.
c) Those who take up the collections in the church.
d) Those who, in some regions, welcome the faithful at the church
doors, seat them appropriately, and marshal them in processions.
106. It is desirable, at least in cathedrals and in larger churches, to
have some competent minister or master of ceremonies, to see to the
appropriate arrangement of sacred actions and to their being carried
out by the sacred ministers and lay faithful with decorum, order, and
107. Liturgical functions that are not proper to the Priest or the
Deacon and are mentioned above (nos. 100-106) may even be entrusted by
means of a liturgical blessing or a temporary deputation to suitable
lay persons chosen by the pastor or the rector of the church. As to
the function of serving the Priest at the altar, the norms established
by the Bishop for his diocese should be observed.
IV. The Distribution of Functions and
the Preparation of the Celebration
108. One and the same Priest must always exercise the presidential
function in all of its parts, except for those parts which are proper
to a Mass at which the Bishop is present (cf. above no. 92).
109. If there are several present who are able to exercise the same
ministry, nothing forbids their distributing among themselves and
performing different parts of the same ministry or duty. For example,
one Deacon may be assigned to execute the sung parts, another to serve
at the altar; if there are several readings, it is well to distribute
them among a number of readers, and the same applies for other matters.
However, it is not at all appropriate that several persons divide a
single element of the celebration among themselves, e.g., that the same
reading be proclaimed by two readers, one after the other, with the
exception of the Passion of the Lord.
110. If at a Mass with the people only one minister is present, that
minister may exercise several different functions.
111. There should be harmony and diligence among all those involved in
the effective preparation of each liturgical celebration in accordance
with the Missal and other liturgical books, both as regards the rites
and as regards the pastoral and musical aspects. This should take place
under the direction of the rector of the church and after consultation
with the faithful in things that directly pertain to them. However, the
Priest who presides at the celebration always retains the right of
arranging those things that pertain to him.
Chapter IV: The Different Forms Of Celebrating Mass
112. In the local Church, first place should certainly be given,
because of its significance, to the Mass at which the Bishop presides,
surrounded by his Presbyterate, Deacons, and lay ministers, and in
which the holy People of God participate fully and actively, for it is
there that the principal manifestation of the Church is found.
At a Mass celebrated by the Bishop or at which he presides without
celebrating the Eucharist, the norms found in the Caeremoniale
Episcoporum (Ceremonial of Bishops) should be observed.
113. Great importance should also be given to a Mass celebrated with
any community, but especially with the parish community, inasmuch as it
represents the universal Church at a given time and place, and chiefly
in the common Sunday celebration.
114. Moreover, among those Masses celebrated by some communities, a
particular place belongs to the Conventual Mass, which is a part of the
daily Office, or the “community” Mass. Although such Masses
do not involve any special form of celebration, it is nevertheless most
fitting that they be
celebrated with singing, especially with the full participation of all
members of the community, whether of religious or of canons. Therefore,
in these Masses all should exercise their function according to the
Order or ministry they have received. Hence, it is desirable that all
the Priests who are not obliged to celebrate individually for the
pastoral benefit of the faithful concelebrate in so far as possible at
the conventual or community Mass. In addition, all Priests belonging to
the community who are obliged, as a matter of duty, to celebrate
individually for the pastoral benefit of the faithful may also on the
same day concelebrate at the conventual or community Mass. For it
is preferable that Priests who are present at a celebration of the
Eucharist, unless excused for a just reason, should usually exercise
the function proper to their Order and hence take part as
concelebrants, wearing sacred vestments. Otherwise, they wear their
proper choir dress or a surplice over a cassock.
I. Mass with the People
115. By Mass with the people is meant a Mass celebrated with the
participation of the faithful. Moreover, it is appropriate, in so far
as possible, and especially on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation, that
the celebration take place with singing and with a suitable number of
ministers. It may, however, take place even without singing and
with only one minister.
116. If at any celebration of Mass a Deacon is present, he should
exercise his function. Furthermore, it is desirable that an acolyte, a
reader, and a cantor should usually be there to assist the Priest
Celebrant. Indeed, the rite described below foresees an even greater
number of ministers.
Things to Be Prepared
117. The altar is to be covered with at least one white cloth. In
addition, on or next to the altar are to be placed candlesticks with
lighted candles: at least two in any celebration, or even four or six,
especially for a Sunday Mass or a Holyday of Obligation, or if the
Diocesan Bishop celebrates, then seven candlesticks with lighted
candles. Likewise, on the altar or close to it, there is to be a cross
adorned with a figure of Christ crucified. The candles and the cross
with the figure of Christ crucified may also be carried in the
procession at the Entrance. On the altar itself may be placed a Book of
the Gospels distinct from the book of other readings, unless it is
carried in the Entrance Procession.
118. Likewise these should be prepared:
a) next to the Priest’s chair: the Missal and, if appropriate, a
b) at the ambo: the Lectionary;
c) on the credence table: the chalice, corporal, purificator, and, if
appropriate, the pall; the paten and, if needed, ciboria; bread for the
Communion of the Priest who presides, the Deacon, the ministers, and
the people; cruets containing the wine and the water, unless all of
these are presented by the faithful in the procession at the Offertory;
the vessel of water to be blessed, if the sprinkling of holy water
takes place; the Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful; and
whatever is needed for the washing of hands.
It is a praiseworthy practice for the chalice to be covered with a
veil, which may be either of the color of the day or white.
119. In the sacristy, according to the various forms of celebration,
there should be prepared the sacred vestments (cf. nos. 337-341) for
the Priest, the Deacon, and other ministers:
a) for the Priest: the alb, the stole, and the chasuble;
b) for the Deacon: the alb, the stole, and the dalmatic; the latter may
be omitted, however, either out of necessity or on account of a lesser
degree of solemnity;
c) for the other ministers: albs or other lawfully approved attire.
All who wear an alb should use a cincture and an amice unless, due to
the form of the alb, they are not needed.
When the Entrance takes place with a procession, the following are also
to be prepared: a Book of the Gospels; on Sundays and festive days, a
thurible and incense boat, if incense is being used; the cross to be
carried in procession; and candlesticks with lighted candles.
A) Mass without a Deacon
The Introductory Rites
120. When the people are gathered, the Priest and ministers, wearing
the sacred vestments, go in procession to the altar in this order:
a) the thurifer carrying a smoking thurible, if incense is being used;
b) ministers who carry lighted candles, and between them an acolyte or
other minister with the cross;
c) the acolytes and the other ministers;
d) a reader, who may carry a Book of the Gospels (though not a
Lectionary), slightly elevated;
e) the Priest who is to celebrate the Mass.
If incense is being used, before the procession begins, the Priest puts
some into the thurible and blesses it with the Sign of the Cross
without saying anything.
121. During the procession to the altar, the Entrance Chant takes place
(cf. nos. 47-48).
122. When they reach the altar, the Priest and ministers make a
The cross adorned with a figure of Christ crucified, and carried in
procession, may be placed next to the altar to serve as the altar
cross, in which case it must be the only cross used; otherwise it is
put away in a dignified place. As for the candlesticks, these are
placed on the altar or near it. It is a praiseworthy practice for the
Book of the Gospels to be placed on the altar.
123. The Priest goes up to the altar and venerates it with a kiss.
Then, if appropriate, he incenses the cross and the altar, walking
around the latter.
124. Once all this has been done, the Priest goes to the chair. When
the Entrance Chant is concluded, with everybody standing, the Priest
and faithful sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross. The Priest
says: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit. The people reply, Amen.
Then, facing the people and extending his hands, the Priest greets the
people, using one of the formulas indicated. The Priest himself or some
other minister may also very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass
of the day.
125. The Penitential Act follows. After this, the Kyrie is sung or
said, in accordance with the rubrics (cf. no. 52).
126. For celebrations where it is prescribed, the Gloria in excelsis
(Glory to God in the highest) is either sung or said (cf. no. 53).
127. The Priest then calls upon the people to pray, saying, with hands
joined, Let us pray. All pray silently with the Priest for a brief
time. Then the Priest, with hands extended, says the Collect, at the
end of which the people acclaim, Amen.
The Liturgy of the Word
128. After the Collect, all sit. The Priest may, very briefly,
introduce the faithful to the Liturgy of the Word. Then the reader goes
to the ambo and, from the Lectionary already placed there before Mass,
proclaims the First Reading, to which all listen. At the end, the
reader pronounces the acclamation The word of the Lord, and all reply,
Thanks be to God.
Then a few moments of silence may be observed, if appropriate, so that
all may meditate on what they have heard.
129. Then the psalmist or the reader proclaims the verses of the Psalm
and the people make the response as usual.
130. If there is to be a Second Reading before the Gospel, the reader
proclaims it from the ambo. All listen and at the end reply to the
acclamation, as noted above (no. 128). Then, if appropriate, a few
moments of silence may be observed.
131. After this, all rise, and the Alleluia or other chant is sung as
the liturgical time requires (cf. nos. 62-64).
132. During the singing of the Alleluia or other chant, if incense is
being used, the Priest puts some into the thurible and blesses it.
Then, with hands joined, he bows profoundly before the altar and
quietly says the prayer Munda cor meum (Cleanse my heart).
133. If the Book of the Gospels is on the altar, the Priest then takes
it and approaches the ambo, carrying the Book of the Gospels slightly
elevated. He is preceded by the lay ministers, who may carry the
thurible and the candles. Those present turn towards the ambo as a sign
of special reverence for the Gospel of Christ.
134. At the ambo, the Priest opens the book and, with hands joined,
says, The Lord be with you, to which the people reply, And with your
spirit. Then he says, A reading from the holy Gospel, making the Sign
of the Cross with his thumb on the book and on his forehead, mouth, and
breast, which everyone else does as well. The people acclaim, Glory to
you, O Lord. The Priest incenses the book, if incense is being used
(cf. nos. 276-277). Then he proclaims the Gospel and at the end
pronounces the acclamation The Gospel of the Lord, to which all reply,
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ. The Priest kisses the book, saying
quietly the formula Per evangelica dicta (Through the words of the
135. If no reader is present, the Priest himself proclaims all the
readings and the Psalm, standing at the ambo. If incense is being used,
he puts some incense into the thurible at the ambo, blesses it, and,
bowing profoundly, says the prayer Munda cor meum (Cleanse my heart).
136. The Priest, standing at the chair or at the ambo itself or, if
appropriate, in another worthy place, gives the Homily. When the Homily
is over, a period of silence may be observed.
137. The Symbol or Creed is sung or recited by the Priest together with
the people (cf. no. 68) with everyone standing. At the words et
incarnatus est, etc. (and by the Holy Spirit . . . and became man) all
make a profound bow; but on the Solemnities of the Annunciation and of
the Nativity of the Lord, all genuflect.
138. After the recitation of the Symbol or Creed, the Priest, standing
at the chair with his hands joined, by means of a brief address calls
upon the faithful to participate in the Universal Prayer. Then the
cantor, the reader, or another person announces the intentions from the
ambo or from some other suitable place while facing the people. The
latter take their part by replying in supplication. At the very end,
the Priest, with hands extended, concludes the petitions with a prayer.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
139. When the Universal Prayer is over, all sit, and the Offertory
Chant begins (cf. no. 74).
An acolyte or other lay minister places the corporal, the purificator,
the chalice, the pall, and the Missal on the altar.
140. It is desirable that the participation of the faithful be
expressed by an offering, whether of bread and wine for the celebration
of the Eucharist or of other gifts to relieve the needs of the Church
and of the poor.
The offerings of the faithful are received by the Priest, assisted by
the acolyte or other minister. The bread and wine for the Eucharist are
carried to the Celebrant, who places them on the altar, while other
gifts are put in another suitable place (cf. no. 73).
141. The Priest accepts the paten with the bread at the altar, holds it
slightly raised above the altar with both hands and says quietly,
Benedictus es, Domine (Blessed are you, Lord God). Then he places the
paten with the bread on
142. After this, as the minister presents the cruets, the Priest stands
at the side of the altar and pours wine and a little water into the
chalice, saying quietly, Per huius aquae (By the mystery of this
water). He returns to the middle of the altar and with both hands
raises the chalice a little, and says quietly, Benedictus es, Domine
(Blessed are you, Lord God). Then he places the chalice on the corporal
and, if appropriate, covers it with a pall.
If, however, there is no Offertory Chant and the organ is not played,
in the presentation of the bread and wine the Priest may say the
formulas of blessing aloud and the people acclaim, Blessed be God for
143. After placing the chalice on the altar, the Priest bows profoundly
and says quietly, In spiritu humilitatis (With humble spirit).
144. If incense is being used, the Priest then puts some in the
thurible, blesses it without saying anything, and incenses the
offerings, the cross, and the altar. While standing at the side of the
altar, a minister incenses the Priest and then the people.
145. After the prayer In spiritu humilitatis (With humble spirit) or
after the incensation, the Priest washes his hands standing at the side
of the altar and, as the minister pours the water, says quietly, Lava
me, Domine (Wash me, O Lord).
146. Returning to the middle of the altar, and standing facing the
people, the Priest extends and then joins his hands, and calls upon the
people to pray, saying, Orate, fratres (Pray, brethren). The people
rise and make the response May the Lord accept the sacrifice, etc. Then
the Priest, with hands extended, says the Prayer over the Offerings. At
the end the people acclaim, Amen.
147. Then the Priest begins the Eucharistic Prayer. In accordance with
the rubrics (cf. no. 365), he selects a Eucharistic Prayer from those
found in the Roman Missal or approved by the Apostolic See. By its very
nature, the Eucharistic Prayer requires that only the Priest say it, in
virtue of his Ordination. The people, for their part, should associate
themselves with the Priest in faith and in silence, as well as by means
of their interventions as prescribed in the course of the Eucharistic
Prayer: namely, the responses in the Preface dialogue, the Sanctus
(Holy, Holy, Holy), the acclamation after the Consecration, the
acclamation Amen after the concluding doxology, as well as other
acclamations approved by the Conference of Bishops with the recognitio
of the Holy See.
It is most appropriate that the Priest sing those parts of the
Eucharistic Prayer for which musical notation is provided.
148. As he begins the Eucharistic Prayer, the Priest extends his hands
and sings or says, The Lord be with you. The people reply, And with
your spirit. As he continues, saying, Lift up your hearts, he raises
his hands. The people reply, We lift them up to the Lord. Then the
Priest, with hands extended, adds, Let us give thanks to the Lord our
God, and the people reply, It is right and just. After this, the
Priest, with hands extended, continues the Preface. At its conclusion,
he joins his hands and, together with all those present, sings or says
aloud the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) (cf. no. 79 b).
149. The Priest continues the Eucharistic Prayer in accordance with the
rubrics that are set out in each of the Prayers.
If the celebrant is a Bishop, in the Prayers, after the words N., our
Pope, he adds, and me, your unworthy servant. If, however, the Bishop
is celebrating outside his own diocese, after the words with . . . N.,
our Pope, he adds, my brother N., the Bishop of this Church, and me,
your unworthy servant; or after the words especially . . . N., our
Pope, he adds, my brother N., the Bishop of this Church, and me, your
The Diocesan Bishop, or one who is equivalent to the Diocesan Bishop in
law, must be mentioned by means of this formula: together with your
servant N., our Pope, and N., our Bishop (or Vicar, Prelate, Prefect,
It is permitted to mention Coadjutor Bishop and Auxiliary Bishops in
the Eucharistic Prayer, but not other Bishops who happen to be present.
When several are to be mentioned, this is done with the collective
formula: N., our Bishop and his assistant Bishops.
In each of the Eucharistic Prayers, these formulas are to be adapted
according to the requirements of grammar.
150. A little before the Consecration, if appropriate, a minister rings
a small bell as a signal to the faithful. The minister also rings the
small bell at each elevation by the Priest, according to local custom.
If incense is being used, when the host and the chalice are shown to
the people after the Consecration, a minister incenses them.
151. After the Consecration when the Priest has said, The mystery of
faith, the people pronounce the acclamation, using one of the
At the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, the Priest takes the paten with
the host and the chalice and elevates them both while pronouncing alone
the doxology Through him. At the end the people acclaim, Amen. After
this, the Priest places the paten and the chalice on the corporal.
152. After the Eucharistic Prayer is concluded, the Priest, with hands
joined, says alone the introduction to the Lord’s Prayer, and
then with hands extended, he pronounces the prayer together with the
153. After the Lord’s Prayer is concluded, the Priest, with hands
extended, says alone the embolism Libera nos (Deliver us, Lord). At the
end, the people acclaim, For the kingdom.
154. Then the Priest, with hands extended, says aloud the prayer Domine
Iesu Christe, qui dixisti (Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your
Apostles) and when it is concluded, extending and then joining his
hands, he announces the greeting of peace, facing the people and
saying, The peace of the Lord be with you always. The people reply, And
with your spirit. After this, if appropriate, the Priest adds, Let us
offer each other the sign of peace.
The Priest may give the Sign of Peace to the ministers but always
remains within the sanctuary, so that the celebration is not disrupted.
In the Dioceses of the United States of America, for a good reason, on
special occasions (for example, in the case of a funeral, a wedding, or
when civic leaders are present), the Priest may offer the Sign of Peace
to a small number of the faithful near the sanctuary. According to what
is decided by the Conference of Bishops, all express to one another
peace, communion, and charity. While the Sign of Peace is being given,
it is permissible to say, The peace of the Lord be with you always, to
which the reply is Amen.
155. After this, the Priest takes the host, breaks it over the paten,
and places a small piece in the chalice, saying quietly, Haec commixtio
(May this mingling). Meanwhile the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) is sung or
said by the choir and by the people (cf. no. 83).
156. Then the Priest, with hands joined, says quietly the prayer for
Communion, either Domine Iesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi (Lord Jesus
Christ, Son of the living God) or Perceptio Corporis et Sanguinis tui
(May the receiving of your Body and Blood).
157. When the prayer is concluded, the Priest genuflects, takes a host
consecrated at the same Mass, and, holding it slightly raised above the
paten or above the chalice, facing the people, says, Ecce Agnus Dei
(Behold the Lamb of God) and together with the people he adds, Lord, I
am not worthy.
158. After this, standing facing the altar, the Priest says quietly,
Corpus Christi custodiat me in vitam aeternam (May the Body of Christ
keep me safe for eternal life), and reverently consumes the Body of
Christ. Then he takes the chalice, saying quietly, Sanguis Christi
custodiat me in vitam aeternam (May the Blood of Christ keep me safe
for eternal life), and reverently partakes of the Blood of Christ.
159. While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion Chant
begins (cf. no. 86).
160. The Priest then takes the paten or ciborium and approaches the
communicants, who usually come up in procession.
It is not permitted for the faithful to take the consecrated Bread or
the sacred chalice by themselves and, still less, to hand them on from
one to another among themselves. The norm established for the Dioceses
of the United States of America is that Holy Communion is to be
received standing, unless an individual member of the faithful wishes
to receive Communion while kneeling (Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction, Redemptionis
Sacramentum, March 25, 2004, no. 91).
When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head
before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of
the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either
on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant.
When Holy Communion is received under both kinds, the sign of reverence
is also made before receiving the Precious Blood.
161. If Communion is given only under the species of bread, the Priest
raises the host slightly and shows it to each, saying, The Body of
Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, and receives the Sacrament
either on the tongue or, where this is allowed, in the hand, the choice
lying with the communicant. As soon as the communicant receives the
host, he or she consumes the whole of it.
If, however, Communion is given under both kinds, the rite prescribed
in nos. 284-287 is to be followed.
162. In the distribution of Communion the Priest may be assisted by
other Priests who happen to be present. If such Priests are not present
and there is a truly large number of communicants, the Priest may call
upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, that is, duly instituted
acolytes or even other faithful who have been duly deputed for this
purpose. In case of necessity, the Priest may depute suitable
faithful for this single occasion.
These ministers should not approach the altar before the Priest has
received Communion, and they are always to receive from the hands of
the Priest Celebrant the vessel containing the species of the Most Holy
Eucharist for distribution to the faithful.
163. When the distribution of Communion is over, the Priest himself
immediately and completely consumes at the altar any consecrated wine
that happens to remain; as for any consecrated hosts that are left, he
either consumes them at the altar or carries them to the place
designated for the reservation of the Eucharist.
Upon returning to the altar, the Priest collects the fragments, should
any remain, and he stands at the altar or at the credence table and
purifies the paten or ciborium over the chalice, and after this
purifies the chalice, saying quietly the formula Quod ore sumpsimus,
Domine (What has passed our lips), and dries the chalice with a
purificator. If the vessels are purified at the altar, they are carried
to the credence table by a minister. Nevertheless, it is also permitted
to leave vessels needing to be purified, especially if there are
several, on a corporal, suitably covered, either on the altar or on the
credence table, and to purify them immediately after Mass, after the
Dismissal of the people.
164. After this, the Priest may return to the chair. A sacred silence
may now be observed for some time, or a Psalm or other canticle of
praise or a hymn may be sung (cf. no. 88).
165. Then, standing at the chair or at the altar, and facing the people
with hands joined, the Priest says, Let us pray; then, with hands
extended, he recites the Prayer after Communion. A brief period of
silence may precede the prayer, unless this has been already observed
immediately after Communion. At the end of the prayer the people
The Concluding Rites
166. When the Prayer after Communion is concluded, brief announcements
should be made to the people, if there are any.
167. Then the Priest, extending his hands, greets the people, saying,
The Lord be with you. They reply, And with your spirit. The Priest,
joining his hands again and then immediately placing his left hand on
his breast, raises his right hand and adds, May almighty God bless you
and, as he makes the Sign of the Cross over the people, he continues,
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All reply, Amen.
On certain days and occasions this blessing, in accordance with the
rubrics, is expanded and expressed by a Prayer over the People or
another more solemn formula.
A Bishop blesses the people with the appropriate formula, making the
Sign of the Cross three times over the people.
168. Immediately after the Blessing, with hands joined, the Priest
adds, Ite, missa est (Go forth, the Mass is ended) and all reply,
Thanks be to God.
169. Then the Priest venerates the altar as usual with a kiss and,
after making a profound bow with the lay ministers, he withdraws with
170. If, however, another liturgical action follows the Mass, the
Concluding Rites, that is, the Greeting, the Blessing, and the
Dismissal, are omitted.
B) Mass with a Deacon
171. When he is present at the celebration of the Eucharist, a Deacon
should exercise his ministry, wearing sacred vestments. In fact, the
a) assists the Priest and walks at his side;
b) ministers at the altar, both as regards the chalice and the book;
c) proclaims the Gospel and may, at the direction of the Priest
Celebrant, give the Homily (cf. no. 66);
d) guides the faithful people by giving appropriate instructions, and
announces the intentions of the Universal Prayer;
e) assists the Priest Celebrant in distributing Communion, and purifies
and arranges the sacred vessels;
f) carries out the duties of other ministers himself, if necessary,
when none of them is present.
The Introductory Rites
172. Carrying the Book of the Gospels slightly elevated, the Deacon
precedes the Priest as he approaches the altar or else walks at the
173. When he reaches the altar, if he is carrying the Book of the
Gospels, he omits the sign of reverence and goes up to the altar. It is
a praiseworthy practice for him to place the Book of the Gospels on the
altar, after which, together with the Priest, he venerates the altar
with a kiss.
If, however, he is not carrying the Book of the Gospels, he makes a
profound bow to the altar with the Priest in the customary way and with
him venerates the altar with a kiss.
Lastly, if incense is being used, he assists the Priest in putting some
into the thurible and in incensing the cross and the altar.
174. Once the altar has been incensed, the Deacon goes to the chair
together with the Priest and there stands at the Priest’s side
and assists him as necessary.
The Liturgy of the Word
175. During the singing of the Alleluia or other chant, if incense is
being used, the Deacon ministers to the Priest as he puts incense into
the thurible. Then, bowing profoundly before the Priest, he asks for
the blessing, saying in a low voice, Your blessing, Father. The Priest
blesses him, saying, May the Lord be in your heart. The Deacon signs
himself with the Sign of the Cross and replies, Amen. Having bowed to
the altar, he then takes up the Book of the Gospels which was placed on
it and proceeds to the ambo, carrying the book slightly elevated. He is
preceded by a thurifer carrying a smoking thurible and by ministers
with lighted candles. At the ambo the Deacon greets the people, with
hands joined, saying, The Lord be with you. After this, at the words A
reading from the holy Gospel, he signs with his thumb the book and then
himself on his forehead, mouth, and breast. He incenses the book and
proclaims the Gospel reading. When this is done, he acclaims, The
Gospel of the Lord, and all reply, Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ. He
then venerates the book with a kiss, saying quietly the formula Per
evangelica dicta (Through the words of the Gospel), and returns to the
When the Deacon is assisting the Bishop, he carries the book to him to
be kissed, or else kisses it himself, saying quietly the formula Per
evangelica dicta (Through the words of the Gospel). In more solemn
celebrations, if appropriate, the Bishop may impart a blessing to the
people with the Book of
Lastly, the Deacon may carry the Book of the Gospels to the credence
table or to another suitable and dignified place.
176. Moreover, if there is no other suitable reader present, the Deacon
should proclaim the other readings as well.
177. After the introduction by the Priest, it is the Deacon himself who
announces the intentions of the Universal Prayer, usually from the ambo.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
178. After the Universal Prayer, while the Priest remains at the chair,
the Deacon prepares the altar, assisted by the acolyte, but it is the
Deacon’s place to take care of the sacred vessels himself. He
also assists the Priest in receiving the people’s gifts. After
this, he hands the Priest the paten with the bread to be consecrated,
pours wine and a little water into the chalice, saying quietly, By the
mystery of this water, etc., and after this presents the chalice to the
Priest. He may also carry out the preparation of the chalice at the
credence table. If incense is being used, the Deacon assists the Priest
during the incensation of the offerings, the cross, and the altar; and
after this the Deacon himself or the acolyte incenses the Priest and
179. During the Eucharistic Prayer, the Deacon stands near the Priest,
but slightly behind him, so that when necessary he may assist the
Priest with the chalice or the Missal.
From the epiclesis until the Priest shows the chalice, the Deacon
usually remains kneeling. If several Deacons are present, one of them
may place incense in the thurible for the Consecration and incense the
host and the chalice at the elevation.
180. At the concluding doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer, the Deacon
stands next to the Priest, and holds the chalice elevated while the
Priest elevates the paten with the host, until the people have
181. After the Priest has said the prayer for the Rite of Peace and the
greeting The peace of the Lord be with you always and the people have
replied, And with your spirit, the Deacon, if appropriate, says the
invitation to the Sign of Peace. With hands joined, he faces the people
and says, Let us offer each other the sign of peace. Then he himself
receives the Sign of Peace from the Priest and may offer it to those
other ministers who are nearest to him.
182. After the Priest’s Communion, the Deacon receives Communion
under both kinds from the Priest himself and then assists the Priest in
distributing Communion to the people. If Communion is given under both
kinds, the Deacon himself administers the chalice to the communicants;
and, when the distribution is over, standing at the altar, he
immediately and reverently consumes all of the Blood of Christ that
remains, assisted, if the case requires, by other Deacons and Priests.
183. When the distribution of Communion is over, the Deacon returns to
the altar with the Priest, collects the fragments, should any remain,
and then carries the chalice and other sacred vessels to the credence
table, where he purifies them and arranges them as usual, while the
Priest returns to the chair. Nevertheless, it is also permitted to
leave vessels needing to be purified on a corporal, suitably covered,
on the credence table, and to purify them immediately after Mass,
following the Dismissal of the people.
The Concluding Rites
184. Once the Prayer after Communion has been said, the Deacon makes
brief announcements to the people, if indeed any need to be made,
unless the Priest prefers to do this himself.
185. If a Prayer over the People or a formula of Solemn Blessing is
used, the Deacon says, Bow down for the blessing. After the
Priest’s blessing, the Deacon, with hands joined and facing the
people, dismisses the people, saying, Ite, missa est (Go forth, the
Mass is ended).
186. Then, together with the Priest, the Deacon venerates the altar
with a kiss, makes a profound bow, and withdraws in a manner similar to
the Entrance Procession.
C) The Functions of the Acolyte
187. The functions that the acolyte may carry out are of various kinds
and several may occur at the same moment. Hence, it is desirable that
these duties be suitably distributed among several acolytes. If, in
fact, only one acolyte is present, he should perform the more important
duties while the rest are to be distributed among several ministers.
The Introductory Rites
188. In the procession to the altar, the acolyte may carry the cross,
walking between two ministers with lighted candles. Upon reaching the
altar, however, the acolyte places the cross upright near the altar so
that it may serve as the altar cross; otherwise, he puts it away in a
dignified place. Then he takes his place in the sanctuary.
189. Through the entire celebration, it is for the acolyte to approach
the Priest or the Deacon, whenever necessary, in order to present the
book to them and to assist them in any other way required. Thus it is
appropriate that, in so far as possible, the acolyte should occupy a
place from which he can easily carry out his ministry either at the
chair or at the altar.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
190. In the absence of a Deacon, after the Universal Prayer and while
the Priest remains at the chair, the acolyte places the corporal, the
purificator, the chalice, the pall, and the Missal on the altar. Then,
if necessary, the acolyte assists the Priest in receiving the gifts of
the people and, if appropriate, brings the bread and wine to the altar
and hands them to the Priest. If incense is being used, the acolyte
presents the thurible to the Priest and assists him while he incenses
the offerings, the cross, and the altar. Then the acolyte incenses the
Priest and the people.
191. A duly instituted acolyte, as an extraordinary minister, may, if
necessary, assist the Priest in distributing Communion to the
people. If Communion is given under both kinds, in the absence of a
Deacon, the acolyte administers the chalice to the communicants or
holds the chalice if Communion is given by intinction.
192. Likewise, after the distribution of Communion is complete, a duly
instituted acolyte helps the Priest or Deacon to purify and arrange the
sacred vessels. In the absence of a Deacon, a duly instituted acolyte
carries the sacred vessels to the credence table and there purifies
them, wipes them, and arranges them as usual.
193. After the celebration of Mass, the acolyte and other ministers
return together with the Deacon and the Priest in procession to the
sacristy, in the same manner and in the same order in which they
D) The Functions of the Reader
194. In the procession to the altar, in the absence of a Deacon, the
reader, wearing approved attire, may carry the Book of the Gospels,
slightly elevated. In that case, the reader walks in front of the
Priest but otherwise walks along with the other ministers.
195. Upon reaching the altar, the reader makes a profound bow with the
others. If he is carrying the Book of the Gospels, he approaches the
altar and places the Book of the Gospels upon it. Then the reader takes
his own place in the sanctuary with the other ministers.
The Liturgy of the Word
196. The reader reads from the ambo the readings that precede the
Gospel. In the absence of a psalmist, the reader may also proclaim the
Responsorial Psalm after the First Reading.
197. In the absence of a Deacon, the reader, after the introduction by
the Priest, may announce the intentions of the Universal Prayer from
198. If there is no singing at the Entrance or at Communion and the
antiphons given in the Missal are not recited by the faithful, the
reader may read them at an appropriate time (cf. nos. 48, 87).
II. Concelebrated Mass
199. Concelebration, by which the unity of the Priesthood, of the
Sacrifice, and also of the whole People of God is appropriately
expressed, is prescribed by the rite itself for the Ordination of a
Bishop and of Priests, at the Blessing of an Abbot, and at the Chrism
It is recommended, moreover, unless the good of the Christian faithful
requires or suggests otherwise, at:
a) the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper;
b) the Mass during Councils, gatherings of Bishops, and Synods;
c) the Conventual Mass and the principal Mass in churches and oratories;
d) Masses at any kind of gathering of Priests, either secular or
Every Priest, however, is allowed to celebrate the Eucharist
individually, though not at the same time as a concelebration is taking
place in the same church or oratory. However, on Holy Thursday, and for
the Mass of the Easter Vigil, it is not permitted to celebrate Mass
200. Visiting Priests should be gladly admitted to concelebration of
the Eucharist, provided their Priestly standing has been ascertained.
201. When there is a large number of Priests, concelebration may take
place even several times on the same day, where necessity or pastoral
advantage commend it. However, this must be done at different times or
in distinct sacred places.
202. It is for the Bishop, in accordance with the norm of law, to
regulate the discipline for concelebration in all churches and
oratories of his diocese.
203. To be held in particularly high regard is that concelebration in
which the Priests of any given diocese concelebrate with their own
Bishop at a stational Mass, especially on the more solemn days of the
liturgical year, at the Ordination Mass of a new Bishop of the diocese
or of his Coadjutor or Auxiliary, at the Chrism Mass, at the Evening
Mass of the Lord’s Supper, at celebrations of the Founder Saint
of a local Church or the Patron of the diocese, on anniversaries of the
Bishop, and, lastly, on the occasion of a Synod or a pastoral
In the same way, concelebration is recommended whenever Priests gather
together with their own Bishop whether on the occasion of a retreat or
at any other gathering. In these cases the sign of the unity of the
Priesthood and also of the Church inherent in every concelebration is
made more clearly manifest.
204. For a particular reason, having to do either with the significance
of the rite or of the festivity, the faculty is given to celebrate or
concelebrate more than once on the same day in the following cases:
a) a Priest who has celebrated or concelebrated the Chrism Mass on
Thursday of Holy Week may also celebrate or concelebrate the Evening
Mass of the Lord’s Supper;
b) a Priest who has celebrated or concelebrated the Mass of the Easter
Vigil may celebrate or concelebrate Mass during the day on Easter
c) on the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day), all Priests may
celebrate or concelebrate three Masses, provided the Masses are
celebrated at their proper times of day;
d) on the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’
Day), all Priests may celebrate or concelebrate three Masses, provided
that the celebrations take place at different times, and with due
regard for what has been laid down regarding the application of second
and third Masses;
e) a Priest who concelebrates with the Bishop or his delegate at a
Synod or pastoral visitation, or concelebrates on the occasion of a
gathering of Priests, may celebrate Mass again for the benefit of the
faithful. This holds also, with due regard for the prescriptions of
law, for groups
205. A concelebrated Mass, whatever its form, is arranged in accordance
with the norms commonly in force (cf. nos. 112-198), observing or
adapting however what is set out below.
206. No one is ever to join a concelebration or to be admitted as a
concelebrant once the Mass has already begun.
207. In the sanctuary there should be prepared:
a) seats and texts for the concelebrating Priests;
b) on the credence table: a chalice of sufficient size or else several
208. If a Deacon is not present, the functions proper to him are to be
carried out by some of the concelebrants.
If other ministers are also absent, their proper parts may be entrusted
to other suitable faithful laypeople; otherwise, they are carried out
by some of the concelebrants.
209. The concelebrants put on in the vesting room, or other suitable
place, the sacred vestments they customarily wear when celebrating Mass
individually. However, should a just cause arise (e.g., a more
considerable number of concelebrants or a lack of vestments),
concelebrants other than the principal celebrant may omit the chasuble
and simply wear the stole over the alb.
The Introductory Rites
210. When everything has been properly arranged, the procession moves
as usual through the church to the altar. The concelebrating Priests
walk ahead of the principal celebrant.
211. On arriving at the altar, the concelebrants and the principal
celebrant, after making a profound bow, venerate the altar with a kiss,
then go to their designated seats. As for the principal celebrant, if
appropriate, he incenses the cross and the altar and then goes to the
The Liturgy of the Word
212. During the Liturgy of the Word, the concelebrants remain at their
places, sitting or standing whenever the principal celebrant does.
When the Alleluia is begun, all rise, exept for a Bishop, who puts
incense into the thurible without saying anything and blesses the
Deacon or, in the absence of a Deacon, the concelebrant who is to
proclaim the Gospel. However, in a concelebration where a Priest
presides, the concelebrant who in the absence of a Deacon proclaims the
Gospel neither requests nor receives the blessing of the principal
213. The Homily is usually given by the principal celebrant or by one of
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
214. The Preparation of the Gifts (cf. nos. 139-146) is carried out by
the principal celebrant, while the other concelebrants remain at their
215. After the Prayer over the Offerings has been said by the principal
celebrant, the concelebrants approach the altar and stand around it,
but in such a way that they do not obstruct the execution of the rites
and that the sacred action may be seen clearly by the faithful. Nor
should they obstruct the Deacon whenever he needs to approach the altar
by reason of his ministry.
The Deacon exercises his ministry near the altar, assisting whenever
necessary with the chalice and the Missal. However, in so far as
possible, he stands back slightly, behind the concelebrating Priests
standing around the principal celebrant.
The Manner of Pronouncing the Eucharistic Prayer
216. The Preface is sung or said by the principal Priest Celebrant
alone; but the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) is sung or recited by all the
concelebrants, together with the people and the choir.
217. After the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), the concelebrating Priests
continue the Eucharistic Prayer in the way described below. Only the
principal celebrant makes the gestures, unless other indications are
218. The parts pronounced by all the concelebrants together and
especially the words of Consecration, which all are obliged to say, are
to be recited in such a manner that the concelebrants speak them in a
low voice and that the principal celebrant’s voice is heard
clearly. In this way the words can be more easily understood by the
It is a praiseworthy practice for the parts that are to be said by all
the concelebrants together and for which musical notation is provided
in the Missal to be sung.
Eucharistic Prayer I, or the Roman Canon
219. In Eucharistic Prayer I, or the Roman Canon, the Te igitur (To
you, therefore, most merciful Father) is said by the principal
celebrant alone, with hands extended.
220. It is appropriate that the commemoration (Memento) of the living
and the Communicantes (In communion with those) be assigned to one or
other of the concelebrating Priests, who then pronounces these prayers
alone, with hands extended, and in a loud voice.
221. The Hanc igitur (Therefore, Lord, we pray) is said once again by
the principal celebrant alone, with hands extended.
222. From the Quam oblationem (Be pleased, O God, we pray) up to and
including the Supplices (In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God), the
principal celebrant alone makes the gestures, while all the
concelebrants pronounce everything together, in this manner:
a) the Quam oblationem (Be pleased, O God, we pray) with hands extended
toward the offerings;
b) the Qui pridie (On the day before he was to suffer) and the Simili
modo (In a similar way) with hands joined;
c) the words of the Lord, with each extending his right hand toward the
bread and toward the chalice, if this seems appropriate; and at the
elevation looking toward them and after this bowing profoundly;
d) the Unde et memores (Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the
memorial) and the Supra quae (Be pleased to look upon) with hands
e) for the Supplices (In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God) up to
and including the words through this participation at the altar, bowing
with hands joined; then standing upright and crossing themselves at the
words may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing.
223. It is appropriate that the commemoration (Memento) of the dead and
the Nobis quoque peccatoribus (To us, also, your servants) be assigned
to one or other of the concelebrants, who pronounces them alone, with
hands extended, and in a loud voice.
224. At the words To us, also, your servants, who though sinners, of
the Nobis quoque peccatoribus, all the concelebrants strike their
225. The Per quem haec omnia (Through whom you continue) is said by the
principal celebrant alone.
Eucharistic Prayer II
226. In Eucharistic Prayer II, the part You are indeed Holy, O Lord is
pronounced by the principal celebrant alone, with hands extended.
227. In the parts from Make holy, therefore, these gifts to the end of
Humbly we pray, all the concelebrants pronounce everything together as
a) the part Make holy, therefore, these gifts, with hands extended
b) the parts At the time he was betrayed and In a similar way with
c) the words of the Lord, with each extending his right hand toward the
bread and toward the chalice, if this seems appropriate; and at the
elevation looking toward them and after this bowing profoundly;
d) the parts Therefore, as we celebrate and Humbly we pray with
228. It is appropriate that the intercessions for the living, Remember,
Lord, your Church, and for the dead, Remember also our brothers and
sisters, be assigned to one or other of the concelebrants, who
pronounces them alone, with hands extended, and in a loud voice.
Eucharistic Prayer III
229. In Eucharistic Prayer III, the part You are indeed Holy, O Lord is
pronounced by the principal celebrant alone, with hands extended.
230. In the parts from Therefore, O Lord, we humbly implore you to the
end of Look, we pray upon the oblation, all the concelebrants pronounce
everything together as follows:
a) the part Therefore, O Lord, we humbly implore you with hands
extended toward the offerings;
b) the parts For on the night he was betrayed and In a similar way with
c) the words of the Lord, with each extending his right hand toward the
bread and toward the chalice, if this seems appropriate; and at the
elevation looking toward them and after this bowing profoundly;
d) the parts Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial and Look,
we pray, upon the oblation with hands extended.
231. It is appropriate that the intercessions May he make of us an
eternal offering to you, and May this Sacrifice of our reconciliation,
and To our departed brothers and sisters be assigned to one or other of
the concelebrants, who pronounces them alone, with hands extended, and
in a loud voice.
Eucharistic Prayer IV
232. In Eucharistic Prayer IV, the part We give you praise, Father most
holy up to and including the words he might sanctify creation to the
full is pronounced by the principal celebrant alone, with hands
233. In the parts from Therefore, O Lord, we pray to the end of Look, O
Lord, upon the Sacrifice, all the concelebrants pronounce everything
a) the part Therefore, O Lord, we pray with hands extended toward
b) the parts For when the hour had come and In a similar way with
c) the words of the Lord, with each extending his right hand toward the
bread and toward the chalice, if this seems appropriate; and at the
elevation looking toward them and after this bowing profoundly;
d) the parts Therefore, O Lord, as we now celebrate and Look, O Lord,
upon the Sacrifice with hands extended.
234. It is appropriate that the intercessions Therefore, Lord, remember
now and To all of us, your children be assigned to one or other of the
concelebrants, who pronounces them alone, with hands extended, and in a
235. As for other Eucharistic Prayers approved by the Apostolic See,
the norms laid down for each one are to be observed.
236. The concluding doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer is pronounced
solely by the principal Priest Celebrant or together, if this is
desired, with the other concelebrants, but not by the faithful.
The Communion Rite
237. Then the principal celebrant, with hands joined, says the
introduction to the Lord’s Prayer. Next, with hands extended, he
says the Lord’s Prayer itself together with the other
concelebrants, who also pray with hands extended, and together with the
238. The Libera nos (Deliver us) is said by the principal celebrant
alone, with hands extended. All the concelebrants, together with the
people, pronounce the concluding acclamation For the kingdom.
239. After the Deacon or, in the absence of a Deacon, one of the
concele-brants, has given the instruction Let us offer each other the
sign of peace, all give one another the Sign of Peace. Those
concelebrants nearer the principal celebrant receive the Sign of Peace
from him before the Deacon does.
240. During the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), the Deacons or some of the
concelebrants may help the principal celebrant to break the hosts for
the Communion of both the concelebrants and the people.
241. After the commingling, the principal celebrant alone, with hands
joined, quietly says either the prayer Domine Iesu Christe, Fili Dei
vivi (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God) or the prayer Perceptio
Corporis et Sanguinis tui (May the receiving of your Body and Blood).
242. Once the prayer for Communion has been said, the principal
celebrant genuflects and steps back a little. Then one after another
the concelebrants come to the middle of the altar, genuflect, and
reverently take the Body of Christ from the altar. Then holding it in
their right hand, with the left hand placed underneath, they return to
their places. However, the concelebrants may remain in their places and
take the Body of Christ from the paten held for them by the principal
celebrant or held by one or more of the concele-brants passing in front
of them, or they may do so by handing the paten one to another, and so
to the last of them.
243. Then the principal celebrant takes a host consecrated in the same
Mass, holds it slightly raised above the paten or the chalice, and,
facing the people, says the Ecce Agnus Dei (Behold the Lamb of God).
With the concelebrants and the people he continues, saying the Domine,
non sum dignus (Lord, I am not worthy).
244. Then the principal celebrant, facing the altar, says quietly,
Corpus Christi custodiat me in vitam aeternam (May the Body of Christ
keep me safe for eternal life), and reverently receives the Body of
Christ. The concelebrants do likewise, giving themselves Communion.
After them the Deacon receives the Body and Blood of the Lord from the
245. The Blood of the Lord may be consumed either by drinking from the
chalice directly, or by intinction, or by means of a tube or a spoon.
246. If Communion is consumed by drinking directly from the chalice,
one of these procedures may be followed:
a) The principal celebrant, standing at the middle of the altar, takes
the chalice and says quietly, Sanguis Christi custodiat me in vitam
aeternam (May the Blood of Christ keep me safe for eternal life). He
consumes a little of the Blood of Christ and hands the chalice to the
Deacon or a concelebrant. He then distributes Communion to the faithful
(cf. nos. 160-162).
The concelebrants approach the altar one after another or, if two
chalices are used, two by two. They genuflect, partake of the Blood of
Christ, wipe the rim of the chalice, and return to their seats.
b) The principal celebrant consumes the Blood of the Lord standing as
usual at the middle of the altar.
The concelebrants, however, may partake of the Blood of the Lord while
remaining in their places and drinking from the chalice presented to
them by the Deacon or by one of the concelebrants, or even passed from
one to the other. The chalice is always wiped either by the one who
drinks from it or by the one who presents it. After each has
communicated, he returns to his seat.
247. The Deacon reverently drinks at the altar all of the Blood of
Christ that remains, assisted, if the case requires, by some of the
concelebrants. He then carries the chalice to the credence table and
there he or a duly instituted acolyte purifies it, wipes it, and
arranges it as usual (cf. no. 183).
248. The Communion of the concelebrants may also be arranged in such a
way that each communicates from the Body of the Lord at the altar and,
immediately afterwards, from the Blood of the Lord.
In this case the principal celebrant receives Communion under both
kinds in the usual way (cf. no. 158), observing, however, the rite
chosen in each particular instance for Communion from the chalice; and
the other concelebrants should do the same.
After the principal celebrant’s Communion, the chalice is placed
at the side of the altar on another corporal. The concelebrants
approach the middle of the altar one by one, genuflect, and communicate
from the Body of the Lord; then they move to the side of the altar and
partake of the Blood of the Lord, following the rite chosen for
Communion from the chalice, as has been remarked above.
The Communion of the Deacon and the purification of the chalice take
place as described above.
249. If the concelebrants’ Communion is by intinction, the
principal cele-brant partakes of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the
usual way, but making sure that enough of the precious Blood remains in
the chalice for the Communion of the concelebrants. Then the Deacon, or
one of the concelebrants, arranges the chalice together with the paten
containing particles of the host, if appropriate, either in the center
of the altar or at the side on another corporal.
The concelebrants approach the altar one by one, genuflect, and take a
particle, intinct it partly into the chalice, and, holding a
purificator under their mouth, consume the intincted particle. They
then return to their places as at the beginning of Mass.
The Deacon also receives Communion by intinction and to the
concelebrant’s words, Corpus et Sanguis Christi (The Body and
Blood of Christ) replies, Amen. Moreover, the Deacon consumes at the
altar all that remains of the Precious Blood, assisted, if the case
requires, by some of the concele-brants. He carries the chalice to the
credence table and there he or a duly instituted acolyte purifies it,
wipes it, and arranges it as usual.
The Concluding Rites
250. Everything else until the end of Mass is done by the principal
celebrant in the usual way (cf. nos. 166-168), with the other
concelebrants remaining at their seats.
251. Before leaving the altar, the concelebrants make a profound bow to
the altar. For his part the principal celebrant, along with the Deacon,
venerates the altar as usual with a kiss.
III. Mass at Which only
One Minister Participates
252. At a Mass celebrated by a Priest with only one minister to assist
him and to make the responses, the rite of Mass with the people is
followed (cf. nos. 120-169), the minister saying the people’s
parts if appropriate.
253. If, however, the minister is a Deacon, he performs his proper
functions (cf. nos. 171-186) and likewise carries out the other parts,
that is, those of the people.
254. Mass should not be celebrated without a minister, or at least one
of the faithful, except for a just and reasonable cause. In this case,
the greetings, the instructions, and the blessing at the end of Mass
255. Before Mass, the necessary vessels are prepared either at the
credence table or on the right hand side of the altar.
The Introductory Rites
256. The Priest approaches the altar and, after making a profound bow
along with the minister, venerates the altar with a kiss and goes to
the chair. If he wishes, the Priest may remain at the altar; in which
case, the Missal is also prepared there. Then the minister or the
Priest says the Entrance Antiphon.
257. Then the Priest, standing, makes with the minister the Sign of the
Cross as the Priest says, In the name of the Father, etc. Facing the
minister, he greets him, choosing one of the formulas provided.
258. Then the Penitential Act takes place, and, in accordance with the
rubrics, the Kyrie and the Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the
highest) are said.
259. Then, with hands joined, the Priest pronounces, Let us pray, and
after a suitable pause, with hands extended he pronounces the Collect.
At the end the minister acclaims, Amen.
The Liturgy of the Word
260. The readings should, in so far as possible, be proclaimed from the
ambo or a lectern.
261. After the Collect, the minister reads the First Reading and Psalm,
the Second Reading, when it is to be said, and the verse of the
Alleluia or other chant.
262. Then the Priest, bowing profoundly, says the prayer Munda cor meum
(Cleanse my heart) and after this reads the Gospel. At the end he says,
The Gospel of the Lord, to which the minister replies, Praise to you,
Lord Jesus Christ. The Priest then venerates the book with a kiss,
saying quietly the formula Per evangelica dicta (Through the words of
263. After this, the Priest says the Symbol or Creed, in accordance
with the rubrics, together with the minister.
264. The Universal Prayer follows, which may be said even in this form
of Mass. The Priest introduces and concludes it, with the minister
announcing the intentions.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
265. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, everything is done as at Mass
with the people, except for the following.
266. After the acclamation at the end of the embolism that follows the
Lord’s Prayer, the Priest says the prayer Domine Iesu Christe,
qui dixisti (Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles). He then
adds, The peace of the Lord be with you always, to which the minister
replies, And with your spirit. If appropriate, the Priest gives the
Sign of Peace to the minister.
267. Then, while he says the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) with the minister,
the Priest breaks the host over the paten. After the Agnus Dei (Lamb of
God), he performs the commingling, saying quietly the prayer Haec
commixtio (May this mingling).
268. After the commingling, the Priest quietly says either the prayer
Domine Iesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the
living God) or the prayer Perceptio Corporis et Sanguinis tui (May the
receiving of your Body and Blood). Then he genuflects, takes the host,
and, if the minister is to receive Communion, turns to the minister
and, holding the host a little above the paten or the chalice, says the
Ecce Agnus Dei (Behold the Lamb of God), adding with the minister,
Lord, I am not worthy. Then facing the altar, the Priest partakes of
the Body of Christ. If, however, the minister does not receive
Communion, the Priest, after genuflecting, takes the host and, facing
the altar, says quietly, Lord, I am not worthy, etc., and the Corpus
Christi custodiat me in vitam aeternam (May the Body of Christ keep me
safe for eternal life), and consumes the Body of Christ. Then he takes
the chalice and says quietly, Sanguis Christi custodiat me in vitam
aeternam (May the Blood of Christ keep me safe for eternal life), and
consumes the Blood of Christ.
269. Before Communion is given to the minister, the Communion Antiphon
is said by the minister or by the Priest himself.
270. The Priest purifies the chalice at the credence table or at the
altar. If the chalice is purified at the altar, it may be carried to
the credence table by the minister or may be arranged once again on the
altar, at the side.
271. After the purification of the chalice, the Priest should observe a
brief pause for silence, and after this he says the Prayer after
The Concluding Rites
272. The Concluding Rites are carried out as at a Mass with the people,
but the Ite, missa est (Go forth, the Mass is ended) is omitted. The
Priest venerates the altar as usual with a kiss and, after making a
profound bow with the minister, withdraws.
IV. Some General Norms for
All Forms of Mass
Veneration of the Altar and the Book of the Gospels
273. According to traditional practice, the veneration of the altar and
of the Book of the Gospels is done by means of a kiss. However, where a
sign of this kind is not in harmony with the traditions or the culture
of some region, it is for the Conference of Bishops to establish some
other sign in its place, with the consent of the Apostolic See.
Genuflections and Bows
274. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground,
signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed
Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration
during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of
the Easter Vigil.
During Mass, three genuflections are made by the Priest Celebrant:
namely, after the elevation of the host, after the elevation of the
chalice, and before Communion. Certain specific features to be observed
in a concele-brated Mass are noted in their proper place (cf. nos.
If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is situated
in the sanctuary, the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers
genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it,
but not during the celebration of Mass itself.
Otherwise, all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect,
unless they are moving in procession.
Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads
instead of genuflecting.
275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons
themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of
bow: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.
a) A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named
together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of
the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.
b) A bow of the body, that is to say, a profound bow, is made to the
altar; during the prayers Munda cor meum (Cleanse my heart) and In
spiritu humilitatis (With humble spirit); in the Creed at the words et
incarnatus est (and by the Holy Spirit . . . and became man); in the
Roman Canon at the Supplices te rogamus (In humble prayer we ask you,
almighty God). The same kind of bow is made by the Deacon when he asks
for a blessing before the proclamation of the Gospel. In addition, the
Priest bows slightly as he pronounces the words of the Lord at the
276. Thurification or incensation is an expression of reverence and of
prayer, as is signified in Sacred Scripture (cf. Ps 141 :2; Rev
Incense may be used optionally in any form of Mass:
a) during the Entrance Procession;
b) at the beginning of Mass, to incense the cross and the altar;
c) at the procession before the Gospel and the proclamation of the
d) after the bread and the chalice have been placed on the altar, to
incense the offerings, the cross, and the altar, as well as the Priest
and the people;
e) at the elevation of the host and the chalice after the Consecration.
277. The Priest, having put incense into the thurible, blesses it with
the Sign of the Cross, without saying anything.
Before and after an incensation, a profound bow is made to the person
or object that is incensed, except for the altar and the offerings for
the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Three swings of the thurible are used to incense: the Most Blessed
Sacrament, a relic of the Holy Cross and images of the Lord exposed for
public veneration, the offerings for the Sacrifice of the Mass, the
altar cross, the Book of the Gospels, the paschal candle, the Priest,
and the people.
Two swings of the thurible are used to incense relics and images of the
Saints exposed for public veneration; this should be done, however,
only at the beginning of the celebration, following the incensation of
The altar is incensed with single swings of the thurible in this way:
a) if the altar is freestanding with respect to the wall, the Priest
incenses walking around it;
b) if the altar is not freestanding, the Priest incenses it while
walking first to the right hand side, then to the left.
The cross, if situated on the altar or near it, is incensed by the
Priest before he incenses the altar; otherwise, he incenses it when he
passes in front of it.
The Priest incenses the offerings with three swings of the thurible or
by making the Sign of the Cross over the offerings with the thurible
before going on to incense the cross and the altar.
278. Whenever a fragment of the host adheres to his fingers, especially
after the fraction or after the Communion of the faithful, the Priest
should wipe his fingers over the paten or, if necessary, wash them.
Likewise, he should also gather any fragments that may have fallen
outside the paten.
279. The sacred vessels are purified by the Priest, the Deacon, or an
instituted acolyte after Communion or after Mass, in so far as possible
at the credence table. The purification of the chalice is done with
water alone or with wine and water, which is then consumed by whoever
does the purification. The paten is wiped clean as usual with the
Care is to be taken that whatever may remain of the Blood of Christ
after the distribution of Communion is consumed immediately and
completely at the altar.
280. If a host or any particle should fall, it is to be picked up
reverently; and if any of the Precious Blood is spilled, the area where
the spill occurred should be washed with water, and this water should
then be poured into the sacrarium in the sacristy.
Communion under Both Kinds
281. Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place
under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet
is more clearly evident and clearer expression is given to the divine
will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of
the Lord, as also the connection between the Eucharistic banquet and
the eschatological banquet in the Kingdom of the Father.
282. Sacred pastors should take care to ensure that the faithful who
participate in the rite or are present at it, are made aware by the
most suitable means possible of the Catholic teaching on the form of
Holy Communion as laid down by the Ecumenical Council of Trent. Above
all, they should instruct the Christian faithful that the Catholic
faith teaches that Christ, whole and entire, and the true Sacrament, is
received even under only one species, and hence that as regards the
resulting fruits, those who receive under only one species are not
deprived of any grace that is necessary for salvation.
Furthermore, they should teach that the Church, in her administration
of the Sacraments, has the power to lay down or alter whatever
provisions, apart from the substance of the Sacraments, that she judges
to be more readily conducive to reverence for the Sacraments and the
good of the recipients, in view of changing conditions, times, and
places. However, at the same time the faithful should be
instructed to participate more readily in this sacred rite, by which
the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is made more fully evident.
283. In addition to those cases given in the ritual books, Communion
under both kinds is permitted for:
a) Priests who are not able to celebrate or concelebrate Mass;
b) the Deacon and others who perform some duty at the Mass;
c) members of communities at the Conventual Mass or the
“community” Mass, along with seminarians, and all those
engaged in a retreat or taking part in a spiritual or pastoral
The Diocesan Bishop may establish norms for Communion under both kinds
for his own diocese, which are also to be observed in churches of
religious and at celebrations with small groups. The Diocesan Bishop is
also given the faculty to permit Communion under both kinds whenever it
may seem appropriate to the Priest to whom a community has been
entrusted as its own shepherd, provided that the faithful have been
well instructed and that there is no danger of profanation of the
Sacrament or of the rite’s becoming difficult because of the
large number of participants or for some other cause.
In all that pertains to Communion under both kinds, the Norms for the
Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the
Dioceses of the United States of America are to be followed
(particularly nos. 27-54).
284. When Communion is distributed under both kinds:
a) the chalice is usually administered by a Deacon or, in the absence
of a Deacon, by a Priest, or even by a duly instituted acolyte or
another extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, or by one of the
faithful who, in a case of necessity, has been entrusted with this duty
for a single occasion;
b) whatever may remain of the Blood of Christ is consumed at the altar
by the Priest or the Deacon or the duly instituted acolyte who
ministered the chalice. The same then purifies, wipes, and arranges the
sacred vessels in the usual way.
Any of the faithful who wish to receive Holy Communion under the
species of bread alone should be given Communion in this form.
285. For Communion under both kinds the following should be prepared:
a) If Communion from the chalice is done by drinking directly from the
chalice, a chalice of a sufficiently large size or several chalices are
prepared. However, care should be taken lest beyond what is needed of
the Blood of Christ remains to be consumed at the end of the
b) If Communion from the chalice is done by intinction, the hosts
should be neither too thin nor too small, but rather a little thicker
than usual, so that after being intincted partly into the Blood of
Christ they can still be easily distributed.
286. If Communion of the Blood of Christ is carried out by
communicants’ drinking from the chalice, each communicant, after
receiving the Body of Christ, moves to the minister of the chalice and
stands facing him. The minister says, The Blood of Christ, the
communicant replies, Amen, and the minister hands over the chalice,
which the communicant raises to his or her mouth. Each communicant
drinks a little from the chalice, hands it back to the minister, and
then withdraws; the minister wipes the rim of the chalice with the
287. If Communion from the chalice is carried out by intinction, each
communicant, holding a Communion-plate under the mouth, approaches the
Priest who holds a vessel with the sacred particles, with a minister
standing at his side and holding the chalice. The Priest takes a host,
intincts it partly in the chalice and, showing it, says, The Body and
Blood of Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, receives the Sacrament
in the mouth from the Priest, and then withdraws.
Chapter V: The Arrangement And Ornamentation Of Churches For The
Celebration Of The Eucharist
I. General Principles
288. For the celebration of the Eucharist, the People of God are
normally gathered together in a church or, if there is no church or if
it is too small, then in another respectable place that is nonetheless
worthy of so great a mystery. Therefore, churches or other places
should be suitable for carrying out the sacred action and for ensuring
the active participation of the faithful. Moreover, sacred buildings
and requisites for divine worship should be truly worthy and beautiful
and be signs and symbols of heavenly realities.
289. Consequently, the Church constantly seeks the noble assistance of
the arts and admits the artistic expressions of all peoples and
regions. In fact, just as she is intent on preserving the works of
art and the artistic treasures handed down from past centuries
and, in so far as necessary, on adapting them to new needs, so also she
strives to promote new works of art that are in harmony with the
character of each successive age.
On account of this, in appointing artists and choosing works of art to
be admitted into a church, what should be looked for is that true
excellence in art which nourishes faith and devotion and accords
authentically with both the meaning and the purpose for which it is
290. All churches should be dedicated or at least blessed. Cathedrals
and parish churches, however, are to be dedicated with a solemn rite.
291. For the proper construction, restoration, and arrangement of
sacred buildings, all those involved should consult the diocesan
commission for the Sacred Liturgy and sacred art. Moreover, the
Diocesan Bishop should employ the counsel and help of this commission
whenever it comes to laying down norms on this matter, approving plans
for new buildings, and making decisions on the more important
292. The ornamentation of a church should contribute toward its
noble simplicity rather than to ostentation. Moreover, in the choice of
elements attention should be paid to authenticity and there should be
the intention of fostering the instruction of the faithful and the
dignity of the entire sacred place.
293. The suitable arrangement of a church, and of what goes with it, in
such a way as to meet appropriately the needs of our own age requires
not only that care be taken as regards whatever pertains more
immediately to the celebration of sacred actions but also that the
faithful be provided with whatever is conducive to their appropriate
comfort and is normally provided in places where people habitually
294. The People of God which is gathered for Mass is coherently and
hierarchically ordered, and this finds its expression in the variety of
ministries and the variety of actions according to the different parts
of the celebration. Hence the general arrangement of the sacred
building must be such that in some way it conveys the image of the
assembled congregation and allows the appropriate ordering of all the
participants, as well as facilitating each in the proper carrying out
of his function.
The faithful and the schola cantorum (choir) shall have a place that
facilitates their active participation.
The Priest Celebrant, the Deacon, and the other ministers have places
in the sanctuary. There, also, should be prepared seats for
concelebrants, but if their number is great, seats should be arranged
in another part of the church, though near the altar.
All these elements, even though they must express the hierarchical
structure and the diversity of functions, should nevertheless bring
about a close and coherent unity that is clearly expressive of the
unity of the entire holy people. Indeed, the nature and beauty of the
place and all its furnishings should foster devotion and express
visually the holiness of the mysteries celebrated there.
II. Arrangement of the Sanctuary
for the Sacred Synaxis
295. The sanctuary is the place where the altar stands, the Word of God
is proclaimed, and the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers
exercise their functions. It should be appropriately marked off from
the body of the church either by its being somewhat elevated or by a
particular structure and ornamentation. It should, moreover, be large
enough to allow the Eucharist to be easily celebrated and seen.
The Altar and Its Ornamentation
296. The altar, on which is effected the Sacrifice of the Cross made
present under sacramental signs, is also the table of the Lord to which
the People of God is convoked to participate in the Mass, and it is
also the center of the thanksgiving that is accomplished through the
297. The celebration of the Eucharist in a sacred place is to take
place on an altar; however, outside a sacred place, it may take place
on a suitable table, always with the use of a cloth, a corporal, a
cross, and candles.
298. It is desirable that in every church there be a fixed altar, since
this more clearly and permanently signifies Christ Jesus, the Living
Stone (1 Pt 2:4; cf. Eph 2:20). In other places set aside for sacred
celebrations, the altar may
An altar is said to be fixed if it is so constructed as to be attached
to the floor and not removable; it is said to be movable if it can be
299. The altar should be built separate 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. Moreover, the altar should occupy a place where it is truly
the center toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the
faithful naturally turns. The altar should usually be fixed and
300. An altar, whether fixed or movable, should be dedicated according
to the rite prescribed in the Roman Pontifical; but it is permissible
for a movable altar simply to be blessed.
301. In keeping with the Church’s traditional practice and with
what the altar signifies, the table of a fixed altar should be of stone
and indeed of natural stone. In the Dioceses of the United States of
America, wood which is dignified, solid, and well-crafted may be used,
provided that the altar is structurally immobile. As to the supports or
base for supporting the table, these may be made of any material,
provided it is dignified and solid.
A movable altar may be constructed of any noble and solid material
suited to liturgical use, according to the traditions and usages of the
302. The practice of the deposition of relics of Saints, even those not
Martyrs, under the altar to be dedicated is fittingly retained.
However, care should be taken to ensure the authenticity of such relics.
303. In building new churches, it is preferable for a single altar to
be erected, one that in the gathering of the faithful will signify the
one Christ and the one Eucharist of the Church.
In already existing churches, however, when the old altar is so
positioned that it makes the people’s participation difficult but
cannot be moved without damage to artistic value, another fixed altar,
skillfully made and properly dedicated, should be erected and the
sacred rites celebrated on it alone. In order that the attention of the
faithful not be distracted from the new altar, the old altar should not
be decorated in any special way.
304. Out of reverence for the celebration of the memorial of the Lord
and for the banquet in which the Body and Blood of the Lord are
offered, there should be, on an altar where this is celebrated, at
least one cloth, white in color, whose shape, size, and decoration are
in keeping with the altar’s structure. When, in the Dioceses of
the United States of America, other cloths are used in addition to the
altar cloth, then those cloths may be of other colors possessing
Christian honorific or festive significance according to longstanding
local usage, provided that the uppermost cloth covering the mensa
(i.e., the altar cloth itself) is always white in color.
305. Moderation should be observed in the decoration of the altar.
During Advent the floral decoration of the altar should be marked by a
moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without
expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord.
During Lent it is forbidden for the altar to be decorated with flowers.
Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent),
Solemnities, and Feasts.
Floral decoration should always show moderation and be arranged around
the altar rather than on the altar table.
306. For only what is required for the celebration of the Mass may be
placed on the altar table: namely, from the beginning of the
celebration until the proclamation of the Gospel, the Book of the
Gospels; then from the Presentation of the Gifts until the purification
of the vessels, the chalice with the paten, a ciborium, if necessary,
and, finally, the corporal, the purificator, the pall, and the Missal.
In addition, arranged discreetly, there should be whatever may be
needed to amplify the Priest’s voice.
307. The candlesticks required for the different liturgical services
for reasons of reverence or the festive character of the celebration
(cf. no. 117) should be appropriately placed either on the altar or
around it, according to the design of the altar and the sanctuary, so
that the whole may be harmonious and the faithful may not be impeded
from a clear view of what takes place at the altar or what is placed
308. Likewise, either on the altar or near it, there is to be a cross,
with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, a cross clearly visible to
the assembled people. It is desirable that such a cross should remain
near the altar even outside of liturgical celebrations, so as to call
to mind for the faithful the saving Passion of the Lord.
309. The dignity of the Word of God requires that in the church there
be a suitable place from which it may be proclaimed and toward which
the attention of the faithful naturally turns during the Liturgy of the
It is appropriate that generally this place be a stationary ambo and
not simply a movable lectern. The ambo must be located in keeping with
the design of each church in such a way that the ordained ministers and
readers may be clearly seen and heard by the faithful.
From the ambo only the readings, the Responsorial Psalm, and the Easter
Proclamation (Exsultet) are to be proclaimed; likewise it may be used
for giving the Homily and for announcing the intentions of the
Universal Prayer. The dignity of the ambo requires that only a minister
of the word should stand at it.
It is appropriate that before being put into liturgical use a new ambo
be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.
The Chair for the Priest Celebrant and Other Seats
310. The chair of the Priest Celebrant must signify his function of
presiding over the gathering and of directing the prayer. Thus the more
suitable place for the chair is facing the people at the head of the
sanctuary, unless the design of the building or other features prevent
this: as, for example, if on account of too great a distance,
communication between the Priest and the congregation would be
difficult, or if the tabernacle were to be positioned in the center
behind the altar. In any case, any appearance of a throne is to be
avoided. It is appropriate that before being put into liturgical
use, the chair be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman
Likewise, seats should be arranged in the sanctuary for concelebrating
Priests as well as for Priests who are present at the celebration in
choir dress but without concelebrating.
The seat for the Deacon should be placed near that of the celebrant.
For the other ministers seats should be arranged so that they are
clearly distinguishable from seats for the clergy and so that the
ministers are easily able to carry out the function entrusted to
III. The Arrangement of the Church
The Places for the Faithful
311. Places for the faithful should be arranged with appropriate care
so that they are able to participate in the sacred celebrations, duly
following them with their eyes and their attention. It is desirable
that benches or seating usually should be provided for their use.
However, the custom of reserving seats for private persons is to be
reprobated. Moreover, benches or seating should be so arranged,
especially in newly built churches, that the faithful can easily take
up the bodily postures required for the different parts of the
celebration and can have easy access for the reception of Holy
Care should be taken to ensure that the faithful be able not only to
see the Priest, the Deacon, and the readers but also, with the aid of
modern technical means, to hear them without difficulty.
The Place for the Schola Cantorum and the Musical Instruments
312. The schola cantorum (choir) should be so positioned with respect
to the arrangement of each church that its nature may be clearly
evident, namely as part of the assembled community of the faithful
undertaking a specific function. The positioning should also help the
choir to exercise this function more easily and allow each choir member
full sacramental participation in the Mass in a convenient manner.
313. The organ and other lawfully approved musical instruments should
be placed in a suitable place so that they can sustain the singing of
both the choir and the people and be heard with ease by everybody if
they are played alone. It is appropriate that before being put into
liturgical use, the organ be blessed according to the rite described in
the Roman Ritual.
In Advent the use of the organ and other musical instruments should be
marked by a moderation suited to the character of this time of year,
without expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the
In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed
only in order to support the singing. Exceptions, however, are Laetare
Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.
The Place for the Reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist
314. In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate
local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a
tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent,
conspicuous, worthily decorated, and suitable for prayer.
The tabernacle should usually be the only one, be irremovable, be made
of solid and inviolable material that is not transparent, and be locked
in such a way that the danger of profanation is prevented to the
greatest extent possible. Moreover, it is appropriate that before
it is put into liturgical use, the tabernacle be blessed according to
the rite described in the Roman Ritual.
315. It is more appropriate as a sign that on an altar on which Mass is
celebrated there not be a tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist
Consequently, it 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
appropriate form and place, not excluding its being positioned on an
old altar no longer used for celebration (cf. no. 303);
b) or even in some chapel suitable for the private adoration and prayer
of the faithful and organically connected to the church and
readily noticeable by the Christian faithful.
316. In accordance with traditional custom, near the tabernacle a
special lamp, fueled by oil or wax, should shine permanently to
indicate the presence of Christ and honor it.
317. In no way should any of the other things be forgotten which are
prescribed by law concerning the reservation of the Most Holy
318. In the earthly Liturgy, the Church participates, by a foretaste,
in that heavenly Liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of
Jerusalem, toward which she journeys as a pilgrim, and where Christ is
seated at the right hand of God; and by venerating the memory of the
Saints, she hopes one day to have some share and fellowship with
Thus, in sacred buildings images of the Lord, of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, and of the Saints, in accordance with most ancient tradition of
the Church, should be displayed for veneration by the faithful and
should be so arranged so as to lead the faithful toward the mysteries
of faith celebrated there. Care should, therefore, be taken that their
number not be increased indiscriminately, and moreover that they be
arranged in proper order so as not to draw the attention of the
faithful to themselves and away from the celebration itself. There
should usually be only one image of any given Saint. Generally
speaking, in the ornamentation and arrangement of a church, as far as
images are concerned, provision should be made for the devotion of the
entire community as well as for the beauty and dignity of the images.
Chapter VI: The Requisites For The Celebration Of Mass
I. The Bread and Wine for
Celebrating the Eucharist
319. Following the example of Christ, the Church has always used bread
and wine with water to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
320. The bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be made only from
wheat, must be recently made, and, according to the ancient tradition
of the Latin Church, must be unleavened.
321. By reason of the sign, it is required that the material for the
Eucharistic Celebration truly have the appearance of food. Therefore,
it is desirable that the Eucharistic Bread, even though unleavened and
made in the traditional form, be fashioned in such a way that the
Priest at Mass with the people is truly able to break it into parts and
distribute these to at least some of the faithful. However, small hosts
are not at all excluded when the large number of those receiving Holy
Communion or other pastoral reasons call for them. Moreover, the
gesture of the fraction or breaking of bread, which was quite simply
the term by which the Eucharist was known in apostolic times, will
bring out more clearly the force and importance of the sign of the
unity of all in the one bread, and of the sign of charity by the fact
that the one bread is distributed among the brothers and sisters.
322. The wine for the celebration of the Eucharist must be from the
fruit of the vine (cf. Lk 22:18), natural, and unadulterated, that is,
without admixture of extraneous substances.
323. Diligent care should be taken to ensure that the bread and wine
intended for the Eucharist are kept in a perfect state of conservation:
that is, that the wine does not turn to vinegar nor the bread spoil or
become too hard to be broken easily.
324. If after the Consecration or as he receives Communion, the Priest
notices that not wine but only water was poured into the chalice, he
pours the water into some container, pours wine with water into the
chalice and consecrates it, saying the part of narrative relating to
the Consecration of the chalice, without being obliged to consecrate
the bread again.
II. Sacred Furnishings in General
325. As in the case of the building of churches, so also regarding all
sacred furnishings, the Church admits the manner of art of each
individual region and accepts those adaptations that are in keeping
with the culture and traditions of the individual nations, provided
that all are suited to the purpose for which the sacred furnishings are
In this matter as well, that noble simplicity should be ensured which
is the best accompaniment of genuine art.
326. In choosing materials for sacred furnishings, besides those which
are traditional, others are admissible that, according to the mentality
of our own age, are considered to be noble and are durable, and well
suited for sacred use. In the Dioceses of the United States of America
these materials may include wood, stone, or metal which are solid and
appropriate to the purpose for which they are employed.
III. Sacred Vessels
327. Among the requisites for the celebration of Mass, the sacred
vessels are held in special honor, and among these especially the
chalice and paten, in which the bread and wine are offered and
consecrated and from which they are consumed.
328. Sacred vessels should be made from precious metal. If they are
made from metal that rusts or from a metal less precious than gold,
they should generally be gilded on the inside.
329. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, sacred vessels
may also be made from other solid materials which in the common
estimation in each region are considered precious or noble, for
example, ebony or other harder woods, provided that such materials are
suitable for sacred use. In this case, preference is always to be given
to materials that do not easily break or deteriorate. This applies to
all vessels that are intended to hold the hosts, such as the paten, the
ciborium, the pyx, the monstrance, and others of this kind.
330. As regards chalices and other vessels that are intended to serve
as receptacles for the Blood of the Lord, they are to have a bowl of
material that does not absorb liquids. The base, on the other hand, may
be made of other solid and worthy materials.
331. For the Consecration of hosts, a large paten may fittingly be
used, on which is placed the bread both for the Priest and the Deacon
and also for the other ministers and for the faithful.
332. As regards the form of the sacred vessels, it is for the artist to
fashion them in a manner that is more particularly in keeping with the
customs of each region, provided the individual vessels are suitable
for their intended liturgical use and are clearly distinguishable from
vessels intended for everyday use.
333. As for the blessing of sacred vessels, the rites prescribed in the
liturgical books should be followed.
334. The practice should be kept of building in the sacristy a
sacrarium into which is poured the water from the washing of sacred
vessels and linens
(cf. no. 280).
IV. Sacred Vestments
335. In the Church, which is the Body of Christ, not all members have
the same function. This diversity of offices is shown outwardly in the
celebration of the Eucharist by the diversity of sacred vestments,
which must therefore be a sign of the function proper to each minister.
Moreover, these same sacred vestments should also contribute to the
decoration of the sacred action itself. The vestments worn by Priests
and Deacons, as well as the attire worn by lay ministers, are blessed
before being put into liturgical use according to the rite described in
the Roman Ritual.
336. The sacred garment common to all ordained and instituted ministers
of any rank is the alb, to be tied at the waist with a cincture unless
it is made so as to fit even without such. Before the alb is put on,
should this not completely cover the ordinary clothing at the neck, an
amice should be used. The alb may not be exchanged for a surplice, not
even over a cassock, on occasions when a chasuble or dalmatic is to be
worn or when, according to the norms, only a stole is worn without a
chasuble or dalmatic.
337. The vestment proper to the Priest Celebrant at Mass and during
other sacred actions directly connected with Mass is the chasuble worn,
unless otherwise indicated, over the alb and stole.
338. The vestment proper to the Deacon is the dalmatic, worn over the
alb and stole; however, the dalmatic may be omitted out of necessity or
on account of a lesser degree of solemnity.
339. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, acolytes, altar
servers, readers, and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other
appropriate and dignified clothing.
340. The stole is worn by the Priest around his neck and hanging down
in front of his chest, while it is worn by the Deacon over his left
shoulder and drawn diagonally across the chest to the right side, where
it is fastened.
341. The cope is worn by the Priest in processions and during other
sacred actions, in accordance with the rubrics proper to the individual
342. As regards the form of sacred vestments, Conferences of Bishops
may determine and propose to the Apostolic See adaptations that
correspond to the needs and the usages of the individual regions.
343. For making sacred vestments, in addition to traditional materials,
natural fabrics proper to each region may be used, and also artificial
fabrics that are in keeping with the dignity of the sacred action and
the sacred person. The Conference of Bishops will be the judge of this
344. It is fitting that the beauty and nobility of each vestment not be
sought in an abundance of overlaid ornamentation, but rather in the
material used and in the design. Ornamentation on vestments should,
moreover, consist of figures, that is, of images or symbols, that
denote sacred use, avoiding anything unbecoming to this.
345. Diversity of color in the sacred vestments has as its purpose to
give more effective expression even outwardly whether to the specific
character of the mysteries of faith to be celebrated or to a sense of
Christian life’s passage through the course of the liturgical
346. As regards the color of sacred vestments, traditional usage should
be observed, namely:
a) The color white is used in the Offices and Masses during Easter Time
and Christmas Time; on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity; and
furthermore on celebrations of the Lord other than of his Passion,
celebrations of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Holy Angels, and of
Saints who were not Martyrs; on the Solemnities of All Saints (November
1) and of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June24 ); and on the
Feasts of St. John the Evangelist (December 27), of the Chair of St.
Peter (February 22), and of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25).
b) The color red is used on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion and
on Friday of Holy Week (Good Friday), on Pentecost Sunday, on
celebrations of the Lord’s Passion, on the “birthday”
feast days of Apostles and Evangelists, and on celebrations of Martyr
c) The color green is used in the Offices and Masses of Ordinary Time.
d) The color violet or purple is used in Advent and Lent. It may also
be worn in Offices and Masses for the Dead.
e) Besides the color violet, the colors white or black may be used at
funeral services and at other Offices and Masses for the Dead in the
Dioceses of the United States of America.
f) The color rose may be used, where it is the practice, on Gaudete
Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of
g) On more solemn days, festive, that is, more precious, sacred
vestments may be used even if not of the color of the day.
h) The colors gold or silver may be worn on more solemn occasions in
the Dioceses of the United States of America.
347. Ritual Masses are celebrated in their proper color, in white, or
in a festive color; Masses for Various Needs, on the other hand, are
celebrated in the color proper to the day or the time of year or in
violet if they have a penitential character, for example, nos. 31, 33,
or 38; Votive Masses are celebrated in the color suited to the Mass
itself or even in the color proper to the day or the time of the year.
V. Other Things Intended for Church Use
348. Besides the sacred vessels and the sacred vestments, for which
some particular material is prescribed, other furnishings that either
are intended for direct liturgical use or are in any other way
admitted into a church should be worthy and in keeping with their
particular intended purpose.
349. Special care must be taken to ensure that the liturgical books,
particularly the Book of the Gospels and the Lectionary, which are
intended for the proclamation of the Word of God and hence receive
special veneration, are to be in a liturgical action truly signs and
symbols of higher realities and hence should be truly worthy,
dignified, and beautiful.
350. Furthermore, every care is to be taken with respect to those
things directly associated with the altar and the celebration of the
Eucharist, for example, the altar cross and the cross carried in
351. Every effort should be made, even in minor matters, to observe
appropriately the requirements of art and to ensure that a noble
simplicity is combined with elegance.
Chapter VII: The Choice Of The Mass And Its Parts
352. The pastoral effectiveness of a celebration will be greatly
increased if the texts of the readings, the prayers, and the liturgical
chants correspond as aptly as possible to the needs, the preparation,
and the culture of the participants. This will be achieved by
appropriate use of the many possibilities of choice described below.
Hence in arranging the celebration of Mass, the Priest should be
attentive rather to the common spiritual good of the People of God than
to his own inclinations. He should also remember that choices of this
kind are to be made in harmony with those who exercise some part in the
celebration, including the faithful, as regards the parts that more
directly pertain to them.
Since, indeed, many possibilities are provided for choosing the
different parts of the Mass, it is necessary for the Deacon, the
readers, the psalmist, the cantor, the commentator, and the choir to
know properly before the celebration the texts that concern each and
that are to be used, and it is necessary that nothing be in any sense
improvised. For harmonious ordering and carrying out of the rites will
greatly help in disposing the faithful for participation in the
I. The Choice of Mass
353. On Solemnities the Priest is obliged to follow the Calendar of the
church where he is celebrating.
354. On Sundays, on the weekdays during Advent, Christmas Time, Lent,
and Easter Time, on Feasts, and on Obligatory Memorials:
a) If Mass is celebrated with the people, the Priest should follow the
Calendar of the church where he is celebrating;
b) If Mass is celebrated with the participation of one minister only,
the Priest may choose either the Calendar of the church or his
355. On Optional Memorials,
a) On the weekdays of Advent from December 17 to December 24, on days
within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord, and on the weekdays of
Lent, except Ash Wednesday and during Holy Week, the Mass texts for the
current liturgical day are used; but the Collect may be taken from a
Memorial which happens to be inscribed in the General Calendar for that
day, except on Ash Wednesday and during Holy Week. On weekdays of
Easter Time, Memorials of Saints may rightly be celebrated in full.
b) On weekdays of Advent before December 17, on weekdays of Christmas
Time from January 2, and on weekdays of Easter Time, one of the
following may be chosen: either the Mass of the weekday, or the Mass of
the Saint or of one of the Saints whose Memorial is observed, or the
Mass of any Saint inscribed in the Martyrology for that day.
c) On weekdays in Ordinary Time, there may be chosen either the Mass of
the weekday, or the Mass of an Optional Memorial which happens to occur
on that day, or the Mass of any Saint inscribed in the Martyrology for
that day, or a Mass for Various Needs, or a Votive Mass.
If he celebrates with the people, the Priest will take care not to omit
too frequently and without sufficient reason the readings assigned each
day in the Lectionary to the weekdays, for the Church desires that a
richer portion at the table of God’s Word should be spread before
For the same reason he should choose Masses for the Dead in moderation,
for every Mass is offered for both the living and the dead, and there
is a commemoration of the dead in the Eucharistic Prayer.
Where, however, the Optional Memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary or of
the Saints are dear to the faithful, the legitimate devotion of the
latter should be satisfied.
Moreover, as regards the option of choosing between a Memorial
inscribed in the General Calendar and one inserted in a diocesan or
religious Calendar, preference should be given, all else being equal
and in keeping with tradition, to the Memorial in the particular
II. The Choice of Texts for the Mass
356. In choosing texts for the different parts of the Mass, whether for
the time of the year or for Saints, the norms that follow should be
357. Sundays and Solemnities have assigned to them three readings, that
is, from a Prophet, an Apostle, and a Gospel, by which the Christian
people are instructed in the continuity of the work of salvation
according to God’s wonderful design. These readings should be
followed strictly. In Easter Time, according to the tradition of the
Church, instead of being from the Old Testament, the reading is taken
from the Acts of the Apostles.
For Feasts, two readings are assigned. If, however, according to the
norms a Feast is raised to the rank of a Solemnity, a third reading is
added, and this is taken from the Common.
For Memorials of Saints, unless proper readings are given, the readings
assigned for the weekday are normally used. In certain cases,
particularized readings are provided, that is to say, readings which
highlight some particular aspect of the spiritual life or activity of
the Saint. The use of such readings is not to be insisted upon, unless
a pastoral reason truly suggests it.
358. In the Lectionary for weekdays, readings are provided for each day
of every week throughout the entire course of the year; hence, these
readings will in general be used on the days to which they are
assigned, unless there occurs a Solemnity, a Feast, or Memorial that
has its own New Testament readings, that is to say, readings in which
mention is made of the Saint
Should, however, the continuous reading during the week from time to
time be interrupted, on account of some Solemnity or Feast, or some
particular celebration, then the Priest shall be permitted, bearing in
mind the scheme of readings for the entire week, either to combine
parts omitted with other readings or to decide which readings are to be
given preference over others.
In Masses for special groups, the Priest shall be allowed to choose
texts more particularly suited to the particular celebration, provided
they are taken from the texts of an approved Lectionary.
359. In addition, in the Lectionary a special selection of texts from
Sacred Scripture is given for Ritual Masses into which certain
Sacraments or Sacramentals are incorporated, or for Masses that are
celebrated for certain needs.
Sets of readings of this kind have been so prescribed so that through a
more apt hearing of the Word of God the faithful may be led to a fuller
understanding of the mystery in which they are participating, and may
be educated to a more ardent love of the Word of God.
Therefore, the texts proclaimed in the celebration are to be chosen
keeping in mind both an appropriate pastoral reason and the options
allowed in this matter.
360. At times, a longer and shorter form of the same text is given. In
choosing between these two forms, a pastoral criterion should be kept
in mind. On such an occasion, attention should be paid to the capacity
of the faithful to listen with fruit to a reading of greater or lesser
length, and to their capacity to hear a more complete text, which is
then explained in the Homily.
361. When a possibility is given of choosing between one or other text
laid down, or suggested as optional, attention shall be paid to the
good of participants, whether, that is to say, it is a matter of using
an easier text or one more appropriate for a given gathering, or of
repeating or setting aside a text that is assigned as proper to some
particular celebration while being optional for another, just as
pastoral advantage may suggest.
Such a situation may arise either when the same text would have to be
read again within a few days, as, for example, on a Sunday and on a
subsequent weekday, or when it is feared that a certain text might give
rise to some difficulties for a particular group of the Christian
faithful. However, care should be taken that, when choosing scriptural
passages, parts of Sacred Scripture are not permanently excluded.
362. The adaptations to the Ordo Lectionum Missae as contained in the
Lectionary for Mass for use in the Dioceses of the United States of
America should be carefully observed.
363. In any Mass the orations proper to that Mass are used, unless
On Memorials of Saints, the proper Collect is said or, if this is
lacking, one from an appropriate Common. As to the Prayer over the
Offerings and the Prayer after Communion, unless these are proper, they
may be taken either from the Common or from the weekday of the current
time of year.
On the weekdays in Ordinary Time, however, besides the orations from
the previous Sunday, orations from another Sunday in Ordinary Time may
be used, or one of the Prayers for Various Needs provided in the
Missal. However, it shall always be permissible to use from these
Masses the Collect alone.
In this way a richer collection of texts is provided, by which the
prayer life of the faithful is more abundantly nourished.
However, during the more important times of the year, provision has
already been made for this by means of the orations proper to these
times of the year that exist for each weekday in the Missal.
The Eucharistic Prayer
364. The numerous Prefaces with which the Roman Missal is endowed have
as their purpose to bring out more fully the motives for thanksgiving
within the Eucharistic Prayer and to set out more clearly the different
facets of the mystery of salvation.
365. The choice between the Eucharistic Prayers found in the Order of
Mass is suitably guided by the following norms:
a) Eucharistic Prayer I, or the Roman Canon, which may always be used,
is especially suited for use on days to which a proper text for the
Communicantes (In communion with those whose memory we venerate) is
assigned or in Masses endowed with a proper form of the Hanc igitur
(Therefore, Lord, we pray) and also in the celebrations of the Apostles
and of the Saints mentioned in the Prayer itself; likewise it is
especially suited for use on Sundays, unless for pastoral reasons
Eucharistic Prayer III is preferred.
b) Eucharistic Prayer II, on account of its particular features, is
more appropriately used on weekdays or in special circumstances.
Although it is provided with its own Preface, it may also be used with
other Prefaces, especially those that sum up the mystery of salvation,
for example, the Common Prefaces. When Mass is celebrated for a
particular deceased person, the special formula given may be used at
the proper point, namely, before the part Remember also our brothers
c) Eucharistic Prayer III may be said with any Preface. Its use should
be preferred on Sundays and festive days. If, however, this Eucharistic
Prayer is used in Masses for the Dead, the special formula for a
deceased person may be used, to be included at the proper place, namely
after the words: in your compassion, O merciful Father, gather to
yourself all your children scattered throughout the world.
d) Eucharistic Prayer IV has an invariable Preface and gives a fuller
summary of salvation history. It may be used when a Mass has no Preface
of its own and on Sundays in Ordinary Time. On account of its
structure, no special formula for a deceased person may be inserted
into this prayer.
366. It is not permitted to substitute other chants for those found in
the Order of Mass, for example, at the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).
367. In choosing the chants between the readings, as well as the chants
at the Entrance, at the Offertory, and at Communion, the norms laid
down in their proper places are to be observed (cf. nos. 40-41, 47-48,
61-64, 74, 86-88).
Chapter VIII: Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions
And Masses For The Dead
I. Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions
368. Since the liturgy of the Sacraments and Sacramentals has as its
effect that for the faithful who are properly disposed almost every
event in life is sanctified by the divine grace that flows from the
Paschal Mystery, and because the Eucharist is the Sacrament of
Sacraments, the Missal provides examples of Mass formularies and
orations that may be used in the various occasions of Christian life
for the needs of the whole world or for the needs of the Church,
whether universal or local.
369. In view of the rather broad possibilities of choice among the
readings and orations, it is desirable that Masses for Various Needs
and Occasions be used in moderation, that is, when truly required.
370. In all the Masses for Various Needs and Occasions, unless
expressly indicated otherwise, it is permissible to use the weekday
readings and also the chants between them, if they are suited to the
371. Among Masses of this kind are included Ritual Masses, Masses for
Various Needs and Occasions, and Votive Masses.
372. Ritual Masses are connected to the celebration of certain
Sacraments or Sacramentals. They are prohibited on Sundays of Advent,
Lent, and Easter, on Solemnities, on the days within the Octave of
Easter, on the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All
Souls’ Day), on Ash Wednesday, and during Holy Week, and
furthermore due regard is to be had for the norms set out in the ritual
books or in the Masses themselves.
373. Masses for Various Needs and Occasions are used in certain
situations either as occasion arises or at fixed times.
Days or periods of prayer for the fruits of the earth, prayer for human
rights and equality, prayer for world justice and peace, and
penitential observances outside Lent are to be observed in the Dioceses
of the United States of America at times to be designated by the
In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or
January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a
particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal
guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the
dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion. The
liturgical celebrations for this day may be the Mass “For Giving
Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life” (no. 48/1 of the Masses
and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions), celebrated with white
vestments, or the Mass “For the Preservation of Peace and
Justice” (no. 30 of the Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and
Occasions), cele-brated with violet vestments.
374. If any case of a graver need or of pastoral advantage should
arise, at the direction of the Diocesan Bishop or with his permission,
an appropriate Mass may be celebrated on any day except Solemnities,
the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, days within the Octave of
Easter, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All
Souls’ Day), Ash Wednesday, and the days of Holy Week.
375. Votive Masses of the mysteries of the Lord or in honor of the
Blessed Virgin Mary or of the Angels or of any given Saint or of all
the Saints may be said in response to the devotion of the faithful on
weekdays in Ordinary Time, even if an Optional Memorial occurs.
However, it is not permitted to celebrate as Votive Masses those that
refer to mysteries related to events in the life of the Lord or of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, with the exception of the Mass of the Immaculate
Conception, since their celebration is an integral part of the course
of the liturgical year.
376. On days when there occurs an Obligatory Memorial or on a weekday
of Advent up to and including December 16, of Christmas Time from
January 2, and of Easter Time after the Octave of Easter, Masses for
Various Needs and Occasions and Votive Masses are in principle
forbidden. If, however, some real necessity or pastoral advantage calls
for it, in the estimation of the rector of the church or the Priest
Celebrant himself, a Mass appropriate to the same may be used in a
celebration with the people.
377. On weekdays in Ordinary Time when an Optional Memorial occurs or
when the Office is of the weekday, it is permissible to celebrate any
Mass for Various Needs and Occasions, or use any prayer for the same,
but to the exclusion of Ritual Masses.
378. Particularly recommended is the Saturday commemoration of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, because it is to the Mother of the Redeemer that
in the Liturgy of the Church firstly and before all the Saints
veneration is given.
II. Masses for the Dead
379. The Church offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Christ’s
Pasch for the dead so that, since all the members of Christ’s
Body are in communion with one another, what implores spiritual help
for some, may bring comforting hope to others.
380. Among the Masses for the Dead, the Funeral Mass holds first place.
It may be celebrated on any day except for Solemnities that are
Holydays of Obligation, Thursday of Holy Week (Holy Thursday), the
Paschal Triduum, and the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, with due
regard also for all the other requirements of the norm of the law.
381. A Mass for the Dead, on receiving the news of a death, for the
final burial, or the first anniversary, may be celebrated even on days
within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas), on days when
an Obligatory Memorial occurs, and on weekdays other than Ash Wednesday
or the weekdays of Holy Week.
Other Masses for the Dead or “daily” Masses, may be
celebrated on weekdays in Ordinary Time on which Optional Memorials
occur or when the Office is of the weekday, provided such Masses are
actually applied for the dead.
382. At Funeral Masses there should usually be a short Homily, but to
the exclusion of a funeral eulogy of any kind.
383. The faithful, and especially those of the deceased’s family,
should be urged to participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice offered for
the deceased person, also by receiving Holy Communion.
384. If the Funeral Mass is directly joined to the rite of burial, once
the Prayer after Communion has been said and omitting the Concluding
Rites, there takes place the Rite of Final Commendation or Farewell.
This rite is celebrated only if the body is present.
385. In the arranging and choosing of the variable parts of the Mass
for the Dead, especially the Funeral Mass (for example, orations,
readings, and the Universal Prayer), pastoral considerations bearing
upon the deceased, the family, and those attending should be kept in
Moreover, pastors should take into special account those who are
present at a liturgical celebration or who hear the Gospel on the
occasion of the funeral and who may be non-Catholics or Catholics who
never or hardly ever participate in the Eucharist or who seem even to
have lost the faith. For Priests are ministers of Christ’s Gospel
Chapter IX: Adaptations Within The Competence Of Bishops And
386. The renewal of the Roman Missal carried out in our time in
accordance with the decrees of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council
has taken great care that all the faithful may display in the
celebration of the Eucharist that full, conscious, and active
participation that is required by the very nature of the Liturgy and to
which the faithful, in virtue of their status as such, have a right and
However, in order that such a celebration may correspond all the more
fully to the norms and the spirit of the Sacred Liturgy, certain
further adaptations are set out in this Instruction and in the Order of
Mass and entrusted to the judgment either of the Diocesan Bishop or of
the Conferences of Bishops.
387. The Diocesan Bishop, who is to be regarded as the High Priest of
his flock, from whom the life in Christ of his faithful in some sense
derives and upon whom it depends, must promote, regulate, and be
vigilant over the liturgical life in his diocese. It is to him that in
this Instruction is entrusted the regulating of the discipline of
concelebration (cf. nos. 202, 374) and the establishing of norms
regarding the function of serving the Priest at the altar (cf. no.
107), the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds
(cf. no. 283), and the construction and ordering of churches (cf. no.
291). It is above all for him, moreover, to nourish the spirit of the
Sacred Liturgy in the Priests, Deacons, and faithful.
388. Those adaptations spoken of below that necessitate a wider degree
of coordination are to be decided, in accord with the norm of law, in
the Conference of Bishops.
389. It is the competence, in the first place, of the Conferences of
Bishops to prepare and approve an edition of this Roman Missal in the
authorized vernacular languages, so that, once their decisions have
been accorded the recognitio of the Apostolic See, the edition may be
used in the regions to which it pertains.
The Roman Missal, whether in Latin or in legitimately approved
vernacular translations, is to be published in its entirety.
390. It is for the Conferences of Bishops to formulate the adaptations
indicated in this General Instruction and in the Order of Mass and,
once their decisions have been accorded the recognitio of the Apostolic
See, to introduce them into the Missal itself. They are such as these:
• the gestures and bodily posture of the faithful (cf. no. 43);
• the gestures of veneration toward the altar and the Book of the
Gospels (cf. no. 273);
• the texts of the chants at the Entrance, at the Presentation of
the Gifts, and at Communion (cf. nos. 48, 74, 87);
• the readings from Sacred Scripture to be used in special
circumstances (cf. no. 362);
• the form of the gesture of peace (cf. no. 82);
• the manner of receiving Holy Communion (cf. nos. 160, 283);
• the materials for the altar and sacred furnishings, especially
the sacred vessels, and also the materials, form, and color of the
liturgical vestments (cf. nos. 301, 326, 329, 339, 342-346).
It shall be permissible for Directories or pastoral Instructions that
the Conferences of Bishops judge useful to be included, with the prior
recognitio of the Apostolic See, in the Roman Missal at an appropriate
391. It is for the same Conferences of Bishops to attend to the
translations of the biblical texts that are used in the celebration of
Mass, exercising special care in this. For it is out of the Sacred
Scripture that the readings are read and are explained in the Homily
and that Psalms are sung, and it is by the influence of Sacred
Scripture and at its prompting that prayers, orations, and liturgical
chants are fashioned in such a way that it is from Sacred Scripture
that actions and signs derive their meaning.
Language should be used that corresponds to the capacity for
understanding of the faithful and is suitable for public proclamation,
while maintaining those characteristics that are proper to the
different ways of speaking used in the biblical books.
392. It shall also be for Conferences of Bishops to prepare with care a
translation of the other texts, so that, even though the character of
each language is respected, the meaning of the original Latin text is
fully and faithfully rendered. In accomplishing this task, it is
desirable that the different literary genres used at Mass be taken into
account, such as the presidential prayers, the antiphons, the
acclamations, the responses, the litanies of supplication, and so on.
It should be borne in mind that the primary purpose of the translation
of the texts is not for meditation, but rather for their proclamation
or singing during an actual celebration.
Language should be used that is accommodated to the faithful of the
region, but is noble and marked by literary quality, even though there
will always be a necessity for some catechesis on the biblical and
Christian meaning of certain words and expressions.
Moreover, it is preferable that in regions that share the same
language, the same translation be used in so far as possible for
liturgical texts, especially for biblical texts and for the Order of
393. Bearing in mind the important place that singing has in a
celebration as a necessary or integral part of the Liturgy, all
musical settings for the texts of the Ordinary of Mass, for the
people’s responses and acclamations, and for the special rites
that occur in the course of the liturgical year must be submitted to
the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops for review and approval prior to publication.
While the organ is to be accorded pride of place, other wind, stringed,
or percussion instruments may be admitted into divine worship in the
Dioceses of the United States of America, according to longstanding
local usage, in so far as these are truly suitable for sacred use, or
can be made suitable.
394. Each diocese should have its own Calendar and Proper of Masses.
For its part, the Conference of Bishops should draw up a proper
Calendar for the nation or, together with other Conferences, a Calendar
for a wider territory, to be approved by the Apostolic See.
In carrying out this task, to the greatest extent possible the
Lord’s Day is to be preserved and safeguarded, as the primordial
feast day, and hence other celebrations, unless they are truly of the
greatest importance, should not have precedence over it. Care
should likewise be taken that the liturgical year as revised by decree
of the Second Vatican Council not be obscured by secondary elements.
In the drawing up of the Calendar of a nation, the Rogation Days and
Ember Days should be indicated (cf. no. 373), as well as the forms and
texts for their celebration, and other special measures should
also be kept in mind.
It is appropriate that in publishing the Missal, celebrations proper to
an entire nation or territory be inserted at the proper place among the
celebrations of the General Calendar, while those proper to a region or
diocese should have a place in a special appendix.
395. Finally, if the participation of the faithful and their spiritual
welfare require variations and profounder adaptations in order for the
celebration to correspond with the culture and traditions of the
different nations, then Conferences of Bishops may propose these to the
Apostolic See in accordance with article 40 of the Constitution on the
Sacred Liturgy for introduction with the Apostolic See’s consent,
especially in the case of nations to whom the Gospel has been more
recently proclaimed. The special norms handed down by means of the
Instruction on the Roman Liturgy and Inculturation should be
As regards the procedures in this matter, these should be observed:
Firstly, a detailed preliminary proposal should be set before the
Apostolic See, so that, after the necessary faculty has been granted,
the detailed working out of the individual points of adaptation may
Once these proposals have been duly approved by the Apostolic See,
experiments should be carried out for specified periods and at
specified places. When the period of experimentation is concluded, the
Conference of Bishops shall decide, if the case requires, upon pursuing
the adaptations and shall submit a mature formulation of the matter to
the judgment of the Apostolic See.
396. However, before proceeding to new adaptations, especially
profounder ones, great care shall be taken to promote due instruction
of the clergy and the faithful in a wise and orderly manner, so as to
take advantage of the faculties already foreseen and to apply fully the
pastoral norms in keeping with the spirit of the celebration.
397. The principle shall moreover be respected, according to which each
particular Church must be in accord with the universal Church not only
regarding the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs, but also as
to the usages universally received from apostolic and unbroken
tradition. These are to be kept not only so that errors may be avoided,
but also so that the faith may be handed on in its integrity, since the
Church’s rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of
faith (lex credendi).
The Roman Rite constitutes a notable and precious part of the
liturgical treasure and patrimony of the Catholic Church; its riches
are conducive to the good of the universal Church, so that their loss
would gravely harm her.
This Rite has in the course of the centuries not only preserved the
liturgical usages that arose in the city of Rome, but has also in a
deep, organic, and harmonious way integrated into itself certain other
usages derived from the customs and culture of different peoples and of
various particular Churches whether of the West or the East, so
acquiring a certain supra-regional character. As to our own times, the
identity and unitary expression of this Rite is found in the typical
editions of the liturgical books promulgated by authority of the
Supreme Pontiff, and in the liturgical books corresponding to them
approved for their territories by the Conferences of Bishops and
endowed with the recognitio of the Apostolic See.
398. The norm established by the Second Vatican Council, namely that in
the liturgical renewal innovations should not be made unless required
by true and certain usefulness to the Church, nor without exercising
caution to ensure that new forms grow in some sense organically from
forms already existing, must also be applied to implementation of
the inculturation of the Roman Rite as such. Inculturation,
moreover, requires a necessary length of time, lest the authentic
liturgical tradition suffer hasty and incautious contamination.
Finally, the pursuit of inculturation does not have as its purpose in
any way the creation of new families of rites, but aims rather at
meeting the needs of a particular culture, though in such a way that
adaptations introduced either into the Missal or coordinated with other
liturgical books are not at variance with the proper character of the
399. And so, the Roman Missal, though in a diversity of languages and
with some variety of customs, must in the future be safeguarded as
an instrument and an outstanding sign of the integrity and unity of the