Is this Mass valid?

I love to watch EWTN and I know that Mother Angelica won’t steer me off track. I’m sure she said that the words for the concecration must be said EXACTLY and not deviated from at all…or the Mass is invalid. In fact, I’m pretty sure she said that she would walk out and not consume the host…she was that precise about how important the words were.

A priest who has been displaying a lot of pride in his gestures and words (he actually put people down for wanting to recieve on the tongue) and insists on being called the “very reverend” and insists on having an announcement before Mass begins that states that people are NOT TO GENUFLECT before the Blessed Sacrament (at communion time) and are to recieve STANDING UP, not kneeling, has also now, been getting a bit loose with his wording of the prayers in the Liturgy. I am quite devout and always follow along in my won missal…and he insterts ANDS, BUTS, AND SOs, and words like this all over the place.

I always listen close to the words of concecration…today I noticed that he did not repeat the words of concecration as they appear in the missal either.

He said:

Bread: Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body and will be given up for you. (instead of: which will be given up for you.)

Wine: Take this, all of you, and drink form it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. NOW do this in memory of me.

He seems to get worse everyday…but today when the concecration was off, I really got alarmed.

He is the head priest at the cathedral here…I don’t know who to write to. If I write the Bishop…he may even open the Bishop’s mail…I don’t know how to go about getting this corrected…if indeed I need be concerned. I suspect I do if Mother Angelica is correct.

I would very much appreciate an answer from a priest. Thank you…I am concerned about the effects this has on the faithful and also worried about this priest.

I’m not a priest (although I play one on TV) and the consecrations I’ve heard can have some variations. There’s nothing in the liturgies you described which raise any sort of red flag. If in doubt, ask the actual priest first before running off to ring the Bishop’s bell.

I’m not a priest either, but the liturgies described do raise a bit of a red flag. Priests should take great care to speak the words of the liturgy, especially the words of Institution, as they are prescribed. Nevertheless, the vital words are “this is my body” and “this is . . . my blood.” A slight error with a conjunction in the surrounding words will not invalidate the consecration. As De Defectibus states, “If the priest were to shorten or change the form of the consecration of the Body and the Blood, so that in the change of wording the words did not mean the same thing, he would not be achieving a valid Sacrament. If, on the other hand, he were to add or take away anything which did not change the meaning, the Sacrament would be valid, but he would be committing a grave sin.” (Obviously, if the change is unintentional or a slip of the tongue, there is no sin.)

This type of variation in the text is one of the most common that priests make, especially when they have the Mass pretty well memorized. E.g., creating a smoother transition between two sentences by inserting the word “for” in “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have this bread to offer.” This is why they should just read the darned text.

Nevertheless, the Mass you describe sounds like it was definitely valid, so you’ve got nothing to worry about on that front. You might want to have a discussion with the priest about his variations in the liturgy. You never know, it might even startle him to learn that changes were creeping into the words of Institution – sometimes these things are more the result of mental slips than deliberate intent. It would be charitable to speak with him in person before writing to the bishop, but if you do write to the bishop, I can tell you it is unlikely that the pastor of the Cathedral parish is the one who opens his mail. Pastors of important parishes have better things to do than be the bishop’s receptionist.

Ooops. I could easily make a slip like that. But who else would notice this? :slight_smile:

Since the words aren’t substantially changed in their meaning, they would be valid. If, as an extremed example, the priest were to say, "…this is my body for all you Italians out there. " that would be substantially different and make the consecration invalid.

Actually “this is my body” and “this is the cup of my blood” are the essential words, not the other explanatory or expansive clauses such as “which will be given” or even “take this all of you and eat it”:

That priest’s sloppiness is a red flag. Take a good, clear video of his departures from the canon and email it to the bishop.

Because there are no magic words of consecration in the Chaldean Rite, here’s the new thinking on validity.

The Entire Prayer as Formula of Consecration

Catholic teaching of late has moved toward the broader view that the eucharistic consecration comprises the prayer over the gifts in its entirety. This renewal is reflected in official Catholic texts in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Nov. 18, 1969) says of the eucharistic prayer: “Now begins the summit and center of the whole celebration, namely the Eucharistic Prayer itself, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification…” (No. 54). “Sanctification,” of course, means in this context eucharistic consecration. This broader vision is also reflected in how the new Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the anaphora: “with the eucharistic prayer, the prayer, namely, of thanksgiving and consecration, we come to the heart and culmination of the celebration” (No. 1352). This renewal found ecumenical agreement in the Munich Statement of the Orthodox-Catholic Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue (July 1982): “…the Eucharistic mystery is accomplished in the prayer which joins together the words by which the word made flesh instituted the sacrament and the epiclesis in which the church, moved by faith, entreats the Father, through the Son, to send the Spirit…”

Mass Without the Consecration?

Technically, you do not have to genuflect when in the communion procession (I believe I’ve read something that excepts processions from having to genuflect), but you still can out of personal reverence (the recommended action for people not kneeling is to bow).

On the standing up thing, that is beyond his authority. People kneeling are not to be denied communion (someone will find it, but it’s in one of the documents from the Vatican)

From the examples given, it would appear to be an abuse but not all abuses render the consecration invalid.

I had a similar situation once when I was traveling to north Wales. I attended Mass where I was staying and the priest really did take liberties, combining clauses, rewording sentences, etc. I should have seen the warning signs when he turned up, dressed like any other parishioner… no sign of a dog-collar!

Anyway, when I got home I raised it with my parish priest, who is a stickler for correctness. He told me that, yes, it was an abuse but that it’s the intent of the priest that matters most: if he intends to consecrate the bread and wine and it is clear that that’s what he’s doing, then the consecration is valid, even though the priest himself isn’t following the rules and the rubrics properly.

As for ‘very reverend’ - this is from Wikipedia (which I grant you isn’t automatically reliable, since it can be vandalised, but let’s assume that it is for the moment):

In the Roman Catholic Church, by custom, priests who hold positions of notable authority above pastor of a parish, but who are not actual monsignors: e.g. vicars general, episcopal vicars, judicial vicars, ecclesiastical judges, vicars forane (deans or archpriests), provincials of religious orders, rectors of seminaries or colleges, priors of monasteries, for instance. Monsignors of the grade Papal Chamberlain were formerly styled as The Very Reverend Monsignor while domestic prelates and protonotaries apostolic were styled The Right Reverend Monsignor. Now, apart from legitimate custom or acquired right, most monsignors are simply styled The Reverend Monsignor.

With respect to the manner in which you receive Communion, other than if it were to cause a serious problem in the church (say for example, infection control during a flu outbreak), I believe that no priest is allowed to withhold communion on the tongue. It may irritate him but he’s not to deny you communion. As for kneeling, well it’s possible you could be making an obstacle of yourself - I don’t know how much space there is obviously, but if there’s no practical reason why you shouldn’t kneel, then again, he’s being unreasonable.

Personally, I don’t kneel except where Communion is distributed traditionally at the altar rail of course. But if I can, without obstructing anyone or running the risk of head-butting the priest if I’m too close, I do make a profound bow to the Blessed Sacrament before receiving Communion. Perhaps that would be a reasonable compromise if keeping the peace is necessary?


Others have addressed your concerns about the words of the Mass. I’ll just summarize to say the priest should be reading the words printed in the Missal and not changing them.

This priest has no right to denigrate or insult or otherwise “put down” people who wish to receive Communion on the tongue, as is their right, because that is the universal norm.

If he is the rector of the cathedral, his title probably is “very reverend”.

The requested sign of reverence before receiving Holy Communion in the United States is to bow your head if you are receiving standing up; if you are receiving kneeling, no additional sign of reverence is required.

Although the norm in the United States is to receive standing up, it is not permitted to deny a person Holy Communion simply because he or she wishes to receive kneeling.

The first person to whom you should write is the priest himself. Set out your concerns politely and respectfully. Identify the relevant rubrics, instructions, and other documents that bear on the issue if you’re comfortable doing so and can do so without coming across like you’re grading his homework. Talking to him is good, too—really, just start with a conversation—but if you expect the matter is likely to go further, you may want to document who said what. (Personally, I prefer communicating in writing for any serious matter where I need to be able to collect and frame my thoughts, but be aware that he is probably a busy man and you’ll get an answer faster by just talking.)

[H]e actually put people down for wanting to recieve on the tongue

“The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant.” GIRM 160. It isn’t appropriate for him to disparage the faithful for preferring to receive on the tongue, although one would want to know what was said and in what context before condemning it. (With all respect, people who have strong feelings about an issue often bruise easily.)

[He] insists on having an announcement before Mass begins that states that people are NOT TO GENUFLECT before the Blessed Sacrament (at communion time)

The rubrics expressly distinguish between bows and genuflections and call for a bow, not a genuflection, before the blessed Sacrament. See GIRM nos. 160 and 274-275. It’s not appropriately pastoral to make a big deal about this, in my own opinion, but if he does, you should defer to his request in the context of the Mass. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you shouldn’t ask him outside Mass to reconsider his position—in a letter, say!—but do so in the awareness that he’s on all fours with the rubric.

and are to recieve STANDING UP, not kneeling

“The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.” GIRM 160 again. And again, he’s strictly correct: the norm is to receive standing, and while he can’t deny you communion for your choice to kneel, he can counsel you pastorally to stand. Whether an announcement before Mass begins is too much of a blunt instrument for administering pastoral guidance to the community is tough to analyze on the record you’ve supplied.

It seems to me that none of what you’re reporting is necessarily liturgical abuse—some of it might be, but it depends on details not supplied. In your position, as I’ve indicated, I would write to the priest. Set out what’s bothering you and your concerns in a spirit of love and charity. Don’t go into it like an ACLU lawyer. And see what he says.

I was just thinking… it’s odd that this priest should be such a stickler for his title, yet somewhat lazy with the words of the Mass.

What a shame!

Here ya’ go!

[quote=The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Paragraph 160]…
Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel.


You know, I thought it was the GIRM, but I wasn’t sure (the other option was Redemptionis Sacramentum).

Thank you everyone…I was very upset, it was the first time he had strayed from the words during the consecration (when I was there)…and I was very concerned. I’m not one to criticize priests, generally…but these seemingly little things have been bothering me…and I think others too. The “speech” about us old fashioned people needing to get rid of our old fashioned ways (recieving on the tongue) was a bit much for me…even though I recieve in the hand…there are many elderly people in the parish who had great difficulty with this, I know. I felt he was just plain insensitive to them…and then these other things I started noticing too… I won’t be running off to the bishop without good cause…but I was wondering if I need to talk to someone…or what I should do. I will still appreciate it if there is a priest who knows and could tell me more. Thanks.

It looks like the thread wandered off a bit. The reception of communion (or lack of it) by those other than the priest does not affect the validity of the Mass.

Yes and no. The original recension of the Anaphora of Ss Addai & Mari, as used by the ACoE, is the one that lacks an explicit Institution Narrative. The version used by the Chaldean Church does have an Institution Narrative, albeit that it’s a Syriac rendition of the words from the Roman Canon.

You’re right. Wrong terminology on my part. Article, however, does bring up good points in my opinion.

I know this is exactly opposite the point of your post, but…

Other than the priest? The mass is valid if the Eucharist is validly consecrated. It doesn’t matter if the priest consumes them for validity. It is a serious matter, but it isn’t necessary for validity.

I’m afraid it does.

The point is that the priest must consume both kinds, therefore he must have both kinds. It is not necessary for Mass to be valid that anyone else consume the Eucharist. Even if people don’t receive, they have been to Mass.


The Council of Trent was the first Council to really bring all the teachings of Catholicism in one body. They said, first, that when the words of consecration are spoken, the elements become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine. The sacrifice is completed by the priest’s consuming the elements.

Regarding the text of the consecration, Redemptionis Sacramentum specifically states that:

51.] Only those Eucharistic Prayers are to be used which are found in the Roman Missal or are legitimately approved by the Apostolic See, and according to the manner and the terms set forth by it. "It is not to be tolerated that some Priests take upon themselves the right to compose their own Eucharistic Prayers"129 or to change the same texts approved by the Church, or to introduce others composed by private individuals.130

This section is listed as a grave matter in RS:

  1. Grave Matters
    [173.] Although the gravity of a matter is to be judged in accordance with the common teaching of the Church and the norms established by her, objectively to be considered among grave matters is anything that puts at risk the validity and dignity of the Most Holy Eucharist: namely, anything that contravenes what is set out above in nn. 48-52, 56, 76-77, 79, 91-92, 94, 96, 101-102, 104, 106, 109, 111, 115, 117, 126, 131-133, 138, 153 and 168. Moreover, attention should be given to the other prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law, and especially what is laid down by canons 1364, 1369, 1373, 1376, 1380, 1384, 1385, 1386, and 1398.

Regarding the issue of kneeling during the reception of Holy Communion, RS clearly states that:

[91.] In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”.177 Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, **it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling **or standing.

We need to also remember that this thread specifically treats the Latin Rite. When we start bringing up the Eastern Rites and their liturgical forms, it tends to confuse things further. I think that, for the purposes of this thread, we should limit ourselves to the Latin Rite, since this is the issue at hand.

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