Legitimate Question

I have a legitimate question concerning the Ordinary Form Mass. I love the OF, and I have been wondering this for a while.

The TLM and other rites of the Church (Maronite, Melkite…etc) are all ancient, however, the Ordinary Form is not, my parents are older than the Ordinary Form. If it was made up by a group of men after Vatican II, then how is it valid if it does not stretch back to apostolic times? Is it valid just because the Church says it is? What about the extra Eucharistic Prayers that were added? No other rite in the Church has entirely scraped it’s liturgy and made up another one.

Moderators, this is not about pinning the EF vs OF, or some stuff like that. This is a legitimate question that I have been struggling with and would be really awesome if it could be answered.

It wasn’t “made up” by a group of men after Vatican II – the OF is a translation of the Latin Mass (EF) into the vernacular of each country. Some changes have been made in the translations over the years in order to conform more exactly to the Latin Mass but the OF wasn’t made up out of whole cloth.

The Biblical texts used in the readings for each Mass can still be traced back to the Aramaic and Greek texts of the early Church. The language of the Church became Latin when the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion. It isn’t the original language of the Church, and remember, one reason God sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles was to give them the knowledge of various languages so they could proclaim the good news to all people.

Howdy Magdalene. I think you might be somewhat mistaken. It’s been my knowledge that the OF is not a literal translation from what we now know as the EF. If it was, then a lot of stuff was cut out, or added (extra Eucharistic Prayers etc). If I am wrong I apologize in advance!!

There are elements of truth in both your posts. The Ordinary Form was “not made up” by a bunch of men after Vatican II. It was composed based on other ancient forms. This is true of the optional Eucharistic prayers as well:

Eucharistic Prayer n. 1: it is the ancient Roman Canon with minimal variations. This ancient text is especially appropriate for Sundays, unless for pastoral considerations Eucharistic Prayer III is preferred.
Eucharistic Prayer n. 2: it is based on the ancient Anaphora of the Apostolic Tradition with some adaptations to bring it in line with the other prayers. It is quite short, so it is appropriate for weekday use. It has its own Preface, based on the Anaphora of the Apostolic Tradition, but it can be substituted by the proper Preface of the Mass of the day;
Eucharistic Prayer n. 3: it is a new composition that uses the Antiochene structure filled with Alexandrine and Roman themes. Its use is preferred on Sundays and feast days and it is to be used with the proper Preface of the day;
Eucharistic Prayer n. 4: it is a new composition with a strong sacrificial wording and a fuller summary of Salvation history. It has its own Preface that cannot be substituted. It is based on Eastern anaphoras; especially that of St. Basil the Great

It is a misconception that any particular form of the mass is either “solely apostolic”, or dates to “ancient times”. The form of the Mass was modified repeatedly in different places and in different times. It is true that a large part of the church followed the “Tridentine” form from 1570 to Vatican II, but even that is hardly the majority of the history or the church, and even during that period, other forms of the mass were permitted, e.g. the Ambrosian Rite. In fact, Pope Paul VI came from the Ambrosian rite as former archbishop of Milan.

The EF (TLM) doesn’t reach back to apostolic times either. A fairly close version was normalized at the council of Trent. The earliest versions of Mass that somewhat resemble the EF date to the 4th Century. Throughout the Church’s history, the Mass has changed and developed. Some of the changes were minor; others were more drastic.

Is it valid just because the Church says it is?

Yes, because the Church is the steward of the Mass. No changes can be made without her permission and her permission imparts validity.

Yup, and Texan, you may find this article informative, though it is from Wiki, it is pretty accurate:


Awesome! Thanks for the help everyone:D

What’s confusing you here is the criteria for what makes a Mass “valid.”

A Mass is valid if it has all the essential elements for validity: an ordained priest with intention, bread & wine, the proper form for the consecration, etc. etc. Validity has nothing to do with who composed it, or how old or new it is.

In theory, a valid form for the Mass might be composed entirely by atheists. If it has all the essential elements, it would be a valid form of the Mass.

The Church decides which forms of the Mass are permitted for use, and naturally one of the first questions to be asked is “is this valid?” So it’s not valid “because the Church says it is” but it’s legitimate to use that form because the Church has approved that form.

The extra Eucharistic Prayers have a history all their own. They were first used in Switzerland as illegitimate experimentation (that’s why they are sometimes called “the Swiss Canon”). They are actually one canon with 4 variations. They were valid, but illicit (ie illegal) to use. The priests using them refused to stop, and eventually, the Holy See relented and gave approval for their use. Many people, and I am one of them, do not see this as a very good precedent for the Church. In any case, at the present time, they are approved for limited use. Even here, the approval of the Church does not make them valid----they were always valid; instead, the approval means that their use is legitimate.

Finally, please understand that the Missal of Pope Paul VI is hardly an example of “No other rite in the Church has entirely scraped it’s liturgy and made up another one.” That’s not what happened at all. The Novus Ordo Mass is a revision of the Missals previously in use. The Church has been doing this throughout all of history. Further, the changes made are not as significant as many would have you believe. If you would take a small missallette from the Extraordinary Form, the kind that just has one typical Sunday Mass, instead of one that has a lot of page-turning, and simply go through the text of the Mass, you would see that the changes are not too significant. Most of the “big” changes involve eliminating elements because they were being repeated. How many times do we need to say the Confiteor in a single Mass anyway?

Before comparing the Missal of Pope Paul VI to the Eastern usage, you need to be aware that even in the Eastern Churches, their Divine Liturgies have undergone many, many changes over the years as well.

Indeed. There is much evidence that the Roman Canon (EP1) goes back to the 4th century if not before. We know it doesn’t go all the way back to Christ because of the saints added. There is every evidence the Roman Canon was WRITTEN in Latin, though the earliest Masses were said in Greek and probably Hebrew and/or Aramaic. In the Campion missal there are pictures of part of the 750 AD Canon, which someone familiar with the Latin Mass (OF or EF) can easily recognize. (Te igitur clementissime…)

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