Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Mass (Sacred Liturgy) | What You Need to Know

The Mass is an inexhaustible source of meaning and grace. Through the sacred liturgy of the Church, the action of the Mass carries on Christ's sacrifice for our salvation, incorporates us into Christ through communion, and instructs us through God's Word.

The critical elements of the holy sacrifice of the Mass are highlighted briefly in Fr. Hardon's Catholic Dictionary.

The Mass can be celebrated in various ways according to different rites. Here we are concerned with the Roman Rite which is used not only by a substantial majority of Catholics but by the overwhelming majority of our audience.

For a survey of the nature and purpose of the Mass, its various components or parts, and the roles of its ministers and participants, the 2000 instruction by Archbishop Thomas Collins of Edmonton, Alberta is a very handy, well-organized reference.

Finally, the bodily signs and postures used at Mass are important to our reverent involvement in this great mystery, and are external indicators of the "active participation" to which all Catholics are called.

Essential Perspective

  1. A Basic Definition of the Mass
  2. Archbishop Collins' Guide to the Mass
  3. Sacred Signs and Active Participation at Mass

Extra Reading

Many people are interested in learning more about liturgical norms, liturgical translations, Scriptural translations, and liturgical abuses (which have been widespread in the liturgical upheaval which followed the Second Vatican Council).

A good way to step into these waters is to examine the 2004 document issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments entitled Redemptionis Sacramentum (Sacrament of Redemption) (On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist).

A number of groups throughout the world promote their own vision of what the liturgy should be, but extreme caution is in order. For an organization devoted to the authentic renewal of the liturgy in obedience to the authority of the Holy See, we recommend Adoremus.

For a treatment of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist made present at the Mass, see the item in this series on Eucharist (Real Presence).

Finally, for a deeper treatment of the entire Eucharistic mystery as a whole, see the item in this series on the Eucharistic Mystery.