Vatican II: A Walk-Through - The Sacrifice of the Mass
In the rite of the Mass, the following are the changes already announced:
- The celebrant does not say privately those parts of the Proper of the Mass which are
sung by the choir, recited by the people, or proclaimed by the deacon, sub-deacon or lector.
The celebrant may, however, join with the people in singing or reciting parts of the Ordinary
of the Mass — as, for example, the Gloria and the Credo.
- Psalm 42 is omitted from the prayers to be said at the foot of the altar at the beginning
of Mass. Whenever another liturgical service immediately precedes the Mass, all these
opening prayers are omitted.
- The "secret" prayer before the preface is to be said or sung aloud.
- The "Doxology" at the end of the Canon of the Mass (that is, the prayer "Through him,
and with him . . . ") is to be said or sung in a loud voice. The signs of the Cross, formerly
made during this prayer, are omitted, and the celebrant holds the host with the chalice,
slightly raised above the corporal. The "Our Father" is said or sung in the vernacular by
the people together with the priest. The prayer which follows — is called the Embolism
(that is, an insertion or interpolation) and was originally added to the Mass as an extension
of the last petition in the "Our Father:" a prayer to be freed from evil, and for our sins to
be forgiven. This prayer is also to be said or sung aloud by the celebrant.
- The words spoken by the priest when giving Holy Communion have been shortened to
"Corpus Christ" — "The Body of Christ;" the person communicating says "Amen" before
receiving Holy Communion; and the priest no longer makes the sign of the Cross with the host.
- The Last Gospel is omitted, and the prayers formerly recited at the end of the Mass (the "Leonine" prayers) are no longer said.
- Provision is made for the Epistle to be read by a lector of by one of the servers; the Gospel
must be proclaimed by the celebrant or by a deacon.
- At all Masses attended by the faithful on Sundays and Holydays, the Gospel is to be
followed by a homily, or explanation reading from the Scriptures. This homily may be based
upon some other text of the Mass, taking account of the feast or mystery which is being
- After the Creed, provision is made for what is called the "community prayer" sometimes
called the "prayer of the faithful." In some countries this prayer is already customary; in most
places, however, it has not yet been introduced. In due course the form of this community
prayer will be announced by the Central Liturgical Commission.
- In accordance with the changes outlined above, the Ordo Missae issued in January 1965
states that, as a general rule, the celebrant will say the opening prayers at the foot of the altar;
when he has kissed the altar, he will go tot he sedile or seat and remain there until the prayer
of the faithful has been said before the offertory leaving it for the ambo if he himself is to read
the Epistle and Gospel but returning to it for the Creed.
- At a High Mass the subdeacon no longer wears the humeral veil; the paten is left upon
the altar, and the subdeacon joins the deacon in assisting the celebrant.
- Suitable translations of parts of the Mass are to be prepared by regional or national
councils of bishops. When these translations have been confirmed by the Holy See, they
may be used when Mass is said in the vernacular. The extent to which the vernacular is
used varies greatly. Generally speaking, its use is permitted for the first part of the
Mass — the "Service of the Word" — and for certain prayers in the second part — the
Another important change concerns the Eucharistic Fast. Until recent years, this Fast was
from midnight. Then it was reduced to three hours. Finally it was altered to a fast of one hour
from food and drink; this hour is to be reckoned from the time when Holy Communion is to
be received, and not from the time Mass starts. Those who receive Communion in the Mass
of the Easter Vigil, or at the Midnight mass of Christmas, may also receive Communion on the following morning (That is, Easter Sunday or Christmas Day).
Next: The Sacraments and Sacramentals
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