"Liturgy", "Mass" and "Service"

On the radio this afternoon, one of the callers asked for the distinction between “Liturgy” and “Mass”

I understand the answer, even if I can’t relate it back to others (There are various Liturgies. Mass is a Liturgy of the Eucharist) :wink:

But what about ‘Service’? I personally HATE it when I hear Catholics say, 'What time is ‘Service’. We don’t have “Service”. We have Mass. :thumbsup:

What is the difference? Is it just that every one is asked to participate in the Mass, where ‘Service’ suggest a spectator role? How can I suscinctly say the differences. :shrug:

Or am I wrong to say we don’t have ‘Service’ (at least not when we are having Mass)?:blush:

I could be wrong, but I think a service could be a different kind of worship other than a Mass, such as Vespers, benediction, or a communion service. In other words a more generic term.

However I would never use service to refer to the Mass. To me service is what Protestants call their principal Sunday worship, for us it is the Mass. The Mass is more than just a group of people gathering to worship, it is a recalling of the holy sacrifice of our Lord and reception of his Body and Blood, so it is much more than a service.

Actually, the Mass has two liturgies contained with in it…the Liturgy of the Word (i.e. everything after the collect and before the offertory…the Readings, Psalm, Gospel, Homily, Creed, Prayers of the Faithful) and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (i.e. everything after the Creed and before the Post-Communion prayer).

I know. My DW, a convert, will occasionally regress and refer to Mass as “service.” Makes my teeth hurt when she says it.

A liturgy is an official prayer of the Church. Mass is a liturgy, the Divine Office is a liturgy, each sacrament is associated with a liturgy. There will be set prayers and directions for liturgies, because they are official.

Any gathering with prayers that’s not a liturgy could rightfully be called a service. For example, an ecumenical prayer service, a Rosary service, a healing service. There are no official rules about how these are to be conducted.

And then, there’s the exception that proves the rule: the Communion service. I’m sure that this is actually a liturgy with an official title, but it is commonly called a service to distinguish it from the Mass.

The protestant usage is very different. “Service” usually applies to the Sunday worship, and it may have an official, set pattern similar to Catholic liturgies. This is probably where the confusion originates.


Betsy, good to know. :thumbsup:

I attend a communion service @ 6:30am on weekdays. Mass is @ 8am, which makes me late for work.

You’re right. :stuck_out_tongue:

I was trying to post quickly before class, and my computer is still on the blink. :rolleyes:

I’m aware that the Mass contains the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but it is ALSO a Liturgy of the Sacrifice of the Eucharist. :slight_smile:

(Ok, now I’m sleepy… I can’t recall the correct term for the Liturgy that is the Mass… but someone will help me, won’t you?) :blush:

The only time I’ve ever heard “service” in the context of a Catholic Mass is when the word “funeral” directly precedes it.

\But what about ‘Service’? I personally HATE it when I hear Catholics say, 'What time is ‘Service’. We don’t have “Service”. We have Mass.\

**But not all services of the Church, even the Latin rite, are concerned with the Eucharistic Sacrifice (or Mass).

The Vigil the night before a funeral is a service–but not a Mass.

The Divine Office comprises several services each day. NONE of them is a Mass.

Confirmation and Baptism are services, but not Masses.

The Solemn Service on Good Friday is NOT a Mass, either, though frequently Communion is distributed from the Reserved Gifts.

And I’m not even mentioning Eastern practice here.

So, yes, Catholics, even traditional Latin Catholics, have “Services”, too.**

But all of those are more correctly referred to as 'Liturgies" not as “Services”

A “Service” is having an electrician come in an check why the lights in the Nave aren’t working. A Liturgy is an official prayer of the Church :wink:

Not really. “Service” is a generic word for them all.

Remember that in the Eastern Churches, “Liturgy” is reserved for the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Yes, it covers everything from the plumber fixing the toilet in the narthex to a High Pontifical Mass. But since a more precise word (Liturgy) is availible, would it not be best to use that word and remove as ambiguity as possible :wink:

Remember that in the Eastern Churches, “Liturgy” is reserved for the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

But the Liturgy of the PreSanctified Gift isn’t the Eucharistic Sacrifice (by definition)

The actual term, from Redemptionis Sacramentum, is Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest. Even though, lamentably, some of these sometimes do occur on a weekday.

However, let’s get the right contexts and terms.

What happens the night before the funeral is called the Vigil of the Deceased. The Divine Office is called the Liturgy of the Hours. There are Solemn Celebrations of Vespers which are presided over by the Holy Father.

Confirmation is typically not imparted apart from the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Thus, it usually is not a stand-alone circumstance. Baptisms have their own liturgy, if they are conducted apart from the Mass.

The actual term for the Good Friday liturgy is the Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion.

Not on Sunday mornings. :eek:

That was what I was talking about. :rolleyes:

We do NOT have Service… (on Sunday mornings). We have MASS (on Sunday mornings) :stuck_out_tongue:

I have heard liturgies that are not the Mass or the LOTH referred to as services. In other words, all the public prayer of the Church is liturgy: If it isn’t Mass or the Liturgy of the Hours, it might be generically referred to as a “service.” As in “…the Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion begins at 7 pm; the service is expected to last until about such and so a time”. Sure, it is good to use the proper term at least once, but I don’t think it needs to be referred to as “the Commemoration” every time. Besides, it is nice to have a word that makes it clear what the liturgy won’t be, even if it isn’t exactly clear what it will be: “No, there isn’t a Mass or Liturgy of the Hours, but they’re having some sort of a service at church this afternoon, I’m not sure what.” I could live with using “service” instead of “liturgy” under those circumstances.

That’s the only usage that doesn’t make my teeth hurt.

**Yes,you do have Service on Sunday Morning.

If Lauds (Morning Prayer) or another Hour is publicly celebrated before Sunday (or daily) Mass, this is a SERVICE.

If Baptism is held separately from Mass, this is a SERVICE.

If Confessions are heard, this is a SERVICE.

if Benediction is held after Mass, this is a SERVICE.

Even Mass comes under the generic name SERVICE.


Even the secular press calls it the Mass, such as the Pope saying Mass at Easter or for other occasions. Why is this a problem for Catholics?

My point EXACTLY! It’s like Catholics (at least many that I’ve come into contact with) are so busy trying to ‘fit in’ with the rest of the world that they deny their Catholicism. :eek:

Pish Posh!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.