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  #1  
Old Apr 4, '13, 12:18 am
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Default Why is it called the "Mass"?

I have been wondering about this question lately...Why exactly is it called Mass?

I have read Michelle Arnold's answer on these forums "The word "Mass" derives from the Latin phrase said during the dismissal (when the Mass is said in Latin), "Ite, missa est," which is usually translated "Go, it is sent."

But, curious, as to why we name our whole 'service' after the ending....

Like saying, I will be attending "Go, it is sent" this Sunday morning...

?
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Old Apr 4, '13, 2:15 am
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

You are correct about the name coming from Latin missa.

The reason is because as Catholics we are called to "go forth" or Missa after mass. In the New translation one of my favorite ending blessings is "Go Forth and Share the Gospel"

That is exactly what we have to do. If we kept Christ to ourselves we would be selfish. God asks us to share and evangelize.
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Old Apr 4, '13, 2:18 am
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

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Originally Posted by dnar View Post
But, curious, as to why we name our whole 'service' after the ending....
The very short answer is that nobody really knows. This was not an official title selected by the Church; it was just what people came to call it. Probably the best guess is as follows. The dismissal of the Mass says, "Ite, missa est." But this is sort of hard to understand. Contrary to what some people will tell you, it does not mean "Go, it is the dismissal," or "Go, you are sent." Rather, it means "Go, it has been sent." What is the "it" there, exactly? Nobody knows.

But "Ite, missa est" could also theoretically mean, "Go, it is missa," with missa being presumed to be some kind of noun you don't know, like if the priest at the end of your Mass said, "Go in peace, this was a zvergborf." So, the hypothesis goes, since the phrase is difficult to parse if you treat missa as a verb, since no one knows what the "it" in question that has been sent is, people assumed that missa was a noun and intended to be some kind of title or description of what they had just sat through. We eventually got the form "Mass" in English through French's "messe."
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Old Apr 4, '13, 5:25 am
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

I wonder, given if the phrase means "It has been sent", if perhaps it was originally a somewhat imprecise translation into Latin of Christ's words on the cross "It is finished/accomplished"? Alternatively, perhaps it was originally a mistranslation of the phrase "You are sent" after all, simply mistranslated at some point in the Latin and the Mistranslation "stuck".

These are just theories, of course. Either way, either of those possibilities makes more sense in context of the "Thanks be to God" which follows than the current vernacular version, in my opinion. Being thankful that Christ's sacrifice is accomplished makes sense. Being thankful for our "sending" (our mission) makes sense. However, the Vernacular's "this Mass has ended" has always puzzled me in that it is followed by "Thanks be to God": If the Mass is Heaven on Earth, the most beautiful thing we experience this side of eternity, after all, then it's a bit strange that when it's over we should say, essentially, "Thank God that's over!"

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Old Apr 4, '13, 6:11 am
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

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Contrary to what some people will tell you, it does not mean "Go, it is the dismissal," or "Go, you are sent." Rather, it means "Go, it has been sent." What is the "it" there, exactly? Nobody knows.
Yes, missa est will mean "it has been sent," but only if we're talking about Classical Latin. In late-medieval Latin, missa is a noun, a substantive of a late form for missio. You could see it in the forms collecta, ingressa, secreta or confessa - from collectio, ingressio, secretio, or confessio. So I will argue that "Go, [it] is the dismissal" is the correct understanding of Ite, missa est.

Understanding missa as a noun makes it easier to understand why the word came to mean the liturgy as a whole: it is easier to go from "the dismissal is [made]" to "the Mass is [over]" than it is from "[It] has been sent" to "the Mass is [over]."
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Old Apr 4, '13, 6:18 am
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

The Catholic Encyclopedia article Liturgy of the Mass offers the following theory. In ancient practice, catechumens were dismissed before the Canon of the Mass (a practice still retained in the Roman rite during RCIA). Dismissal of catechumens in Latin is missa catechumenorum. Now I quote directly: "To stay till the missa catechumenorum is easily modified into: to stay for, or during, the missa catechumenorum. ... as the discipline of the catechumenate is gradually forgotten, and there remains only one connected service, it is called by the long familiar name missa, without further qualification."
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Old Apr 4, '13, 6:26 am
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

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Originally Posted by KindredSoul View Post
I wonder, given if the phrase means "It has been sent", if perhaps it was originally a somewhat imprecise translation into Latin of Christ's words on the cross "It is finished/accomplished"? Alternatively, perhaps it was originally a mistranslation of the phrase "You are sent" after all, simply mistranslated at some point in the Latin and the Mistranslation "stuck".
I doubt it. No Latin translation renders tetelestai (yes, that's just one word in Greek) as missa est: popular choices are consummatum est (so in the Vulgate), consummata sunt, or even perfectum est.

Quote:
These are just theories, of course. Either way, either of those possibilities makes more sense in context of the "Thanks be to God" which follows than the current vernacular version, in my opinion. Being thankful that Christ's sacrifice is accomplished makes sense. Being thankful for our "sending" (our mission) makes sense. However, the Vernacular's "this Mass has ended" has always puzzled me in that it is followed by "Thanks be to God": If the Mass is Heaven on Earth, the most beautiful thing we experience this side of eternity, after all, then it's a bit strange that when it's over we should say, essentially, "Thank God that's over!"

Blessings in Christ,
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I'd like to joke that "Thanks be to God" sounds perfect after a Mass with a very long homily.

You have to remember though that Ite, missa est was originally the deacon's line. In fact, it was really the deacon's job to give out orders to the congregation from time to time: which is why we have such lines from different rites as "Let us pray, let us kneel, arise" or "Be silent!" or "The doors, the doors!" or "Look towards the east" or "Let no cathecumen remain." ("The Lord be with you" was always said by the celebrant, BTW.) Actually you would find that the Roman dismissal is direct and straight to the point, which is really a unique characteristic of Rome. Most other liturgies have some more fancy wording ("Let us go in peace," "The solemnities are completed in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, etc."), but in Rome, the deacon says simply something to the effect of "It's over, go home."
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Old Apr 4, '13, 12:21 pm
MarkThompson MarkThompson is offline
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

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Originally Posted by patrick457 View Post
Yes, missa est will mean "it has been sent," but only if we're talking about Classical Latin. In late-medieval Latin, missa is a noun, a substantive of a late form for missio. You could see it in the forms collecta, ingressa, secreta or confessa - from collectio, ingressio, secretio, or confessio. So I will argue that "Go, [it] is the dismissal" is the correct understanding of Ite, missa est.
That is possible, but my confessedly limited research does not really bear that out. For one thing, "Ite, missa est" appears at least as early as the Ordo Romanus Primus (and thus doubtless antedates it), 9th century, which is not what I would call late mediaeval. Oxford's Glossary of Later Latin to 600 contains an entry for missa, ~ae, but says "(probably from ~a est with some fem. subject indicating the congregation) dismissal (at the close of the Vigil and other offices)," indicating that if it meant "dismissal" at all it was only in the special, transferred ecclesiastical sense we are discussing here. Cites are given as early as Cassian (†435). And this was always how I had understood it -- some feminine subject, perhaps once explicitly contained in the dismissal and later elided, or implied from a now-lost preceding sentence.

There is also the classically-attested missus, -us, m., 4th, meaning "the sending, dispatch (of persons), but "(app. always in abl. with subj. gen.)" (Oxford Latin Dictionary). Similarly, my glance through those sources, plus the Revised Medieval Latin World List (through ~1500) don't turn up a lot of your world like "ingressa" or "confessa," except for a few which were clearly used in an ecclesiastical sense only and obviously came from set phrases like "oratio secreta."

At any rate, I'm aware of no evidence that "missa" could have been used in 400 AD to mean "dismissal" in a generic sense. I'd be happy to be corrected if I'm wrong on anything here.
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Old Apr 4, '13, 1:04 pm
MarkThompson MarkThompson is offline
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

Corrigendum, "didn't turn up a lot of your words," vice "don't turn up a lot of your world."
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Old Apr 4, '13, 3:40 pm
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

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Originally Posted by MarkThompson View Post
That is possible, but my confessedly limited research does not really bear that out. For one thing, "Ite, missa est" appears at least as early as the Ordo Romanus Primus (and thus doubtless antedates it), 9th century, which is not what I would call late mediaeval. Oxford's Glossary of Later Latin to 600 contains an entry for missa, ~ae, but says "(probably from ~a est with some fem. subject indicating the congregation) dismissal (at the close of the Vigil and other offices)," indicating that if it meant "dismissal" at all it was only in the special, transferred ecclesiastical sense we are discussing here. Cites are given as early as Cassian (†435). And this was always how I had understood it -- some feminine subject, perhaps once explicitly contained in the dismissal and later elided, or implied from a now-lost preceding sentence.

There is also the classically-attested missus, -us, m., 4th, meaning "the sending, dispatch (of persons), but "(app. always in abl. with subj. gen.)" (Oxford Latin Dictionary). Similarly, my glance through those sources, plus the Revised Medieval Latin World List (through ~1500) don't turn up a lot of your world like "ingressa" or "confessa," except for a few which were clearly used in an ecclesiastical sense only and obviously came from set phrases like "oratio secreta."

At any rate, I'm aware of no evidence that "missa" could have been used in 400 AD to mean "dismissal" in a generic sense. I'd be happy to be corrected if I'm wrong on anything here.
Not 'late medieval'. Late. Medieval. Also, the first Ordo Romanus (compiled circa the early 8th century) basically gives the form of the Roman Mass around the time of Gregory the Great (reigned 590-604), with a few adjustments and additions from the late 7th century. So I think looking for a similar usage of the word in the 400s is a tad too early: we should move the clock a century or two later.

Oh, and the Ambrosian equivalent of the Roman Introit is the Ingressa. (Indulging in a bit of geekiness here, but as an aside, the reason why we call the Mass 'Mass' is just about as mysterious as the reason why the old Mozarabic Missal - one of two - is known as the Missale Omnium Offerentium.)

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Old Apr 4, '13, 3:53 pm
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

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Originally Posted by MarkThompson View Post
The very short answer is that nobody really knows. This was not an official title selected by the Church; it was just what people came to call it.
I wonder when the Church started referring to it as the Mass.

Quote:
Probably the best guess is as follows. The dismissal of the Mass says, "Ite, missa est." But this is sort of hard to understand. Contrary to what some people will tell you, it does not mean "Go, it is the dismissal," or "Go, you are sent." Rather, it means "Go, it has been sent." What is the "it" there, exactly? Nobody knows.

But "Ite, missa est" could also theoretically mean, "Go, it is missa," with missa being presumed to be some kind of noun you don't know, like if the priest at the end of your Mass said, "Go in peace, this was a zvergborf." So, the hypothesis goes, since the phrase is difficult to parse if you treat missa as a verb, since no one knows what the "it" in question that has been sent is, people assumed that missa was a noun and intended to be some kind of title or description of what they had just sat through. We eventually got the form "Mass" in English through French's "messe."
It definitely is confusing. When a Protestant asks me why its called the Mass, I have no answer thats for sure..and when I tell them its because at the end the deacon says "Ite, missa est," they always have a puzzled look on their face, like 'What'...which is really the same way I feel..
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Old Apr 4, '13, 4:01 pm
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

I can easily see how lay people would think the Deacon was saying, "that was Missa," or "It is Missa," but I am not sure how they got from "Missa" to "Mass."
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Old Apr 4, '13, 4:32 pm
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

Just found out what Adrian Fortescue said in The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy (1914):
Mass (missa) has become the proper name for the Latin liturgy. Its first certain occurrence is in a letter of St. Ambrose, where it is the liturgy of the faithful only. [Footnote: Ep. i, 20, 4-5 (P.L. xvi, 995).] But it is not for some time used exclusively for the Holy Eucharist. Its meaning and derivation, once much discussed, are not really doubtful. It is a late Latin form for missio [So Collecta, Ascensa, Ingressa, Confessa, etc.] and meant originally merely “dismissal”. Avitus of Vienne († 523) uses it for the dismissal from churches or law-courts in the most general sense: “missa fieri pronuniantur” (= the people are dismissed). [Ep. I quoted by Rottmanner: Ueber neuere u. ältere Deutungen des Wortes missa; Tübinger Qtlschr. 1889, pp. 532 seq.] So it occurs constantly for the dismissal of the catechumens in the Eucharistic service. St. Augustine, for instance: “post sermonem fit missa catechumenorum.” [Sermo lxix, 8 (P.L. xxxviii, 324).] A Synod at Lerida in Spain (524) says that people guilty of incest may remain “usque ad missam catechumenorum,” namely till the catechumens are dismissed. [Can. 4. Hefele-Leclercq: Hist. des Conciles ii, 1064.] St. Benedict († 543) in his rule uses missa for the dismissal from the divine office too. [Cap. xvii.] As there was a dismissal of the catechumens, so after Communion there was a dismissal of the faithful (“Ite missa est”). Florus of Lyons († 860) explains the word exactly: “Missa nihil aliud quam dimissio, id est absolutio, quam celebratis omnibus tunc diaconus esst pronuntiat quum populus a solemni observatione dimittitur … Tunc enim, clamante diacono, idem catechumeni mittebantur, id est dimittebantur foras. Missa ergo catechumenorum fiebat ante actionem sacramenti; missa fidelium post confectionem et participationem.” [de actione missae, n. 92 (P.L. cxix, 72)] From this a transition to meaning the whole of each part of the service was easy. To stay till the missa catechumenorum or fidelium became to stay for the missa. We have then many texts which speak of these two missae as the two parts of the liturgy. [E. gr. Ivo of Chartres († 1116) Ep. 219 (P.L. clxii, 224)] The Peregrinatio Silviae constantly uses “missa” for the liturgy of the faithful. [E. gr. xxiv, 11 etc.] Innocent I (401-417) [Ep. xvii, 5 (P.L. xx, 535)] Leo I (440-461) [Ep. ix, 2 (P.L. liv, 627)] in the same way. The disappearance of the discipline of the Catechumenate made a distinction between these two missae meaningless, so we find then the word used simply for the whole function. The Leonine Sacramentary supposes the word throughout; “Item alia” means “alia missa”; and the Gelasian book uses it constantly. [E gr. “Orationes et preces ad missam” (ed. Wilson, p. 29), “missa chrismatis” (p. 69), etc.] But a plural form, “missae,” “missarum solemnia” (for one Mass) remains in the middle ages, perhaps as a memory of the old two “masses,” of the catechumens and of the faithful.

It is not really surprising that so, step by step, the name of an unessential detail should have become that of the whole service. Liturgical language offers many similar examples. [For instance our common use of “Breviary” for the office, “Maundy Thursday” etc. Even “Confession” is not really the most essential element of the Sacrament of Penance, and so on.] The points to remember about the word Mass are, first, that it is not an essential name for the Eucharistic sacrifice, used everywhere from the beginning. It is a late term arising almost by accident in the West only. Except for later associations “Mass” no more involves the idea of sacrifice than do such names as “Lord’s Supper” or “Communion Service.” Secondly, we should never use the word for an Eastern rite. In the East they have the older technical term “Liturgy,” certainly at least equally significant. Mass is not a general name used everywhere and connoting a theological idea. It is the name this function acquired in the Roman and Gallican rites only.
So yeah, basically what Ad Orientem said earlier.

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Old Apr 4, '13, 4:42 pm
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

Fortescue on the Old Catholic Encyclopedia (Ad Orientem already linked to the Liturgy of the Mass article earlier - I linked to it again just in case - so I'll quote the article on Ite, missa est):
This is the versicle chanted in the Roman Rite by the deacon at the end of Mass, after the Post-Communions. It is our formula of the old dismissal (apolysis) still contained in all liturgies. It is undoubtedly one of the most ancient Roman formulæ, as may be seen from its archaic and difficult form. All the three oldest Roman Ordines contain it. "Ordo Rom. I" says: "When the prayer [Post-Communion] is over, that one of the deacons appointed by the archdeacon looks towards the pontiff to receive a sign from him and then says to the people: Ite missa est. They answer: Deo gratias (ed. Atchley, London, 1905, p. 144. See also "Ordo Rom. II", 15; "Ordo Rom. III", 18). The medieval commentators were much exercised to explain the meaning of the strange expression. Durandus (Rationale, IV, 57) suggests several interpretations. It has been thought that a word is omitted: Ite, missa est finita; or est is taken absolutely, as meaning "exists", is now an accomplished fact". The real explanation seems to lie rather in interpreting correctly the word missa. Before it became the technical name of the holy Liturgy in the Roman Rite, it meant simply "dismissal". The form missa for missio is like that of collecta (for collectio), ascensa (ascensio), etc. So Ite missa est should be translated "Go it is the dismissal." (See Florus the Deacon, "De expositione Missæ", P.L., CIX, 72.)
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Old Apr 5, '13, 3:49 am
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Default Re: Why is it called the "Mass"?

From Ordo Romanus I (the oldest manuscript, from Cod. Sang. 614, ca. AD 850):
Finita au[tem] antiphona surgit pontifex cum archidiacono & ueniens ad altare dat orationem ad complendum directus ad orientem; Nam in isto loco cum d[omi]n[u]s uobiscum dixerit non se dirig[it] ad populum;
Finita uero oratione cui preceperit archidiaconus de diaconib[us] aspicit ad pontificem ut ei annuat. & dicit ad populu[m] · Ite missa e[st] · R[espondent] d[e]o gratias; Tunc septem cereostata p[re]cedunt pontificem & subdiac[onus] regionarius cum turibulo ad secretarium: discendente autem ad p[res]b[ite]rium ep[iscop]i primum dicunt. iube domne benedicere; R[espondet] Benedicat nos d[omi]n[u]s. R[espondent] Amen; Post ea presbyteri · deinde monachi · deinde scola · deinde milites draconarii id e[st] qui signa portant · Deinde baiuli · Deinde cereostetarii · Deinde acoliti qui iurugam obseruant; Post eos extra p[res]b[ite]rium cruces portantes · Deinde mansionarii iuniores · & intrat in secretarium;


At the end of the antiphon the pontiff rises with the archdeacon and comes to the altar and says the last prayer (oratio ad complendum), facing towards east. For at this part, when he says, "The Lord be with you," he does not turn to the people. At the end of the prayer, one of the deacons, appointed by the archdeacon, looks towards the pontiff for him to sign to him, and then says to the people, "Go, [it] is the dismissal!" They answer, "Thanks be to God." Then the seven candlesticks [carried by acolytes] go before the pontiff, and a regional subdeacon with the thurible, to the secretarium (sacristy).

But as he descends to the presbytery, the bishops first say, "Deign, sir, to bless." The pontiff answers, "The Lord bless us." They answer, "Amen." After that, the presbyters, then the monks, then the choir, then the milites draconarii, that is, those who carry the standards, then the bearers, then the candle-bearers, then the acolytes who guard the gate (rugam) [of the sanctuary]; [but] outside the presbytery, those who carry the crosses, then the junior stewards (mansionarii); and he [the pontiff] enters into the secretarium.
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