What would constitute an invalid Mass?

After reading a fiew threads about liturgical abuses, now I’m curious. What would need to happen at a Mass to make it invalid?

Either the celebrant was not a validly ordained priest, or that the matter used for consecration was not wheat bread nor grape wine.

That would invalidate the Mass.

Other issues, such as if the priest did not have faculties, if the bread was leaven etc… would be liturgical abuses, but the Mass would still be a valid Mass.

Liturgical abuses can range from minor to very grave. But even then, Christ would be present in the Eucharist and offered as a sacrifice for our sins.

It would also be invalid if the celebrant didn’t use the proper form of words for consecration - said something other than ‘This is My body … This is My blood …’.

Or if he lacked the INTENT to consecrate. For example if he was a teacher in a seminary and was going through all the motions of the Mass in order to demonstrate them to his students, without ACTUALLY intending to celebrate a Mass.

Isn’t the intent more important than the actual words. So for example if the priest mumbles or has a speech impediment, what matters is what he intends to say even if that is not actually what he says.

The words are important too as they are part of the Form of the Sacrament. However, audibility of the words are not as important. In the East, sometimes the words for consecration are silent, such is in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari (Syriac Rite), but have been determined to validly consecrate the sacrament.

So if the priest has a sore throat and speaks but cannot be understood clearly, assuming he says the proper words, its still valid.

Also, the priest has to receive both the Precious Body and the Precious Blood of our Lord. If the priest celebrant doesn’t receive, then the Mass is invalid. Its not enough that the Eucharist is validly consecrated. You can have a valid Eucharist but an invalid Mass.

Also if any major parts are taken out or ommitted, then the Mass is invalid. So if there is no Gospel reading, there is no valid Mass.

I thought only four things were required to make Mass valid:

*]validly ordained priest
*]intent of the priest
I don’t think the priest consuming the sacred species is essential for validity. If parts of the Mass are omitted or altered then that makes the Mass illicit, it’s a serious liturgical abuse, and the priest may be committing a grave sin but it doesn’t invalidate the Mass.

I wasn’t aware that there could be an invalid Mass with a valid Eucharist. If one received Communion at such a Mass,or adored a Eucharist consecrated at such a Mass, would it put that person in mortal sin? Also, if something like the priest washing his hands after the Offertory were omitted, would that make the Mass or the Eucharist invalid? Would the same rule for the Gospel reading also apply for the homily?

Not washing his hands would be illicit but it wouldn’t invalidate the Mass.

Mortal sin requires inter alia culpability. You would have to be certain that the Mass was invalid but you carried on with participating in the Mass and receiving unconsecrated bread an wine.

The Eucharist can be validly consecrated outside of Mass, but the Church absolutely forbids this. Any priest who even attempts such a thing would be committing a grave offense and is under pain of sin.

An unwilling person does not commit sin. For example there would be priests, who would try to consecrate more Hosts during Communion because he ran out. That is illicit for the priest but for the people who don’t know any better, there is no sin.

Also you may adore and worship the Eucharist no matter the circumstance of its consecration. It is still Christ.

By the way, receiving a valid Eucharist in an invalid Mass would be akin to receiving at a Communion Service.

No, that part is not that essential. A good practice to find the essential and non-essential parts is to go to Eastern Liturgies and compare. Some practices in the Roman Rite are not found in the East, and vice versa. It will give you a good idea of whats essential or not. I don’t really have a list with me.

No, because you can licitly ommit the Homily during weekdays. So that points to the fact that its not essential. It would be illicit to omit it on Sundays and Holy Days, but will not invalidate the Mass.

Thanks ConstantineTG for all the info. I’m still confused though, about how the Eucharist at an invalid Mass can still be valid. I always thought that an invalid Mass = an invalid sacrifice = an invalid Eucharist.

As another poster has already said, there are four criteria for the validity of the Eucharist:
*] valid form (the correct formula as approved by the Church)
*] valid matter (unadulterated bread and pure grape wine – there have been many threads about this here so there’s no need to go into the specific details again now)
*] valid Orders (valid ordination to the priesthood according to the prescriptions of HMC)
*] valid intent (the intent of the priest to do what the Church intends, i.e. to consecrate the offerings that the Real Presence be made present in them.)

In Western terms, the validity of the Mass itself depends on the validity of the Eucharist confected therein. If the Eucharist is not valid, there is no Mass, and if there is no Mass, there can be no validity, so you are essentially correct.

I’ll add here that for the Holy Sacrifice to be complete, both bread and wine must be validly consecrated (as above), and the priest celebrant must partake of both Species. For the Mass to be complete, there are other criteria.

Those are for Sacraments. The Mass itself is not a Sacrament although the Blessed Sacrament is part of the Mass.

The Eucharist as a Sacrament can exist independently of Mass. Of course the Church forbids that but just a matter of law. Once the Eucharist is consecrated, it is the Eucharist. But the Sacrifice of the Mass is not completed if the priest does not receive. What the priest will receive is the Eucharist. So if there is no valid Eucharist, how can the priest complete the Sacrifice? So once the priest consecrates, the Eucharist is valid, but the Mass is not yet complete. If the priest omits receiving, then the Sacrifice is not complete, the Mass is invalid, but the Eucharist is already there at this point. Also same with omitting the Gospel. The Gospel has nothing to do with the Sacrifice, the Sacrifice is part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Gospel is the Liturgy of the Word.

OK, what do you say are the requirements for a valid Mass?

One of course is a complete Sacrifice. So the offering of bread and wine, the Consecration, and the priest receiving both Sacred Species of the Eucharist.

I also believe that the Gospel, Psalms and at least one Epistle is needed for a complete Liturgy of the Word. Although I’m not too sure about this part because it hasn’t been discussed extensively. But I’m sure about the Liturgy of the Eucharist. There must be a Consecration and the priest must receive.

I was a bit surprised by your response. I have given that four point list before in various posts and not had it contradicted before. Another post in this thread supports the list as does this website.

I’m not precisely sure about this either, though the difference between a valid Consecration and a valid Mass is one I’ve taken pains to point out on a number of other threads. Let me give an example of its relevance, however: if the priest does everything that he normally does at Mass, but omits to take communion himself, then (1) the Eucharist is valid, hence the other people there who received it actually received Jesus Christ, but (2) it was not a Mass, hence the priest is forbidden under Canon Law to accept a stipend for it.

I doubt if you will find a list of four or five pithy “requirements for a valid Mass,” since it is not really an issue that comes up that often and, as CTG notes, the Mass is not itself a sacrament. In fact, the validity or not of the Mass has no bearing at all on the validity of the Eucharist. We know that leaving out some things (candles) does not negate the Mass; others (the priest’s communion) do. Leaving out the entire Liturgy of the Word, or the Offertory? I’m just not sure.

EDIT: Please note that many people, including the website you linked above, fail to make this distinction (because it is almost never relevant to people’s lives). So that website says, “For a Mass to be invalid, the Consecration of the Eucharist does not occur.” But that is not true. For instance, if a priest, trying to consecrate matter to be distributed at the hospital, walks into a room and just says the words of consecration over bread and wine, the consecration of the Eucharist does occur, but obviously you do not have a Mass. Or if, in a normal Mass setting, the priest mistakenly uses invalid wine (e.g., rice wine), then the consecration of the bread occurs, but you do not have a Mass because Mass requires the consecration of both species.

So you are correct that the distinction is often ignored; but it certainly exists.

I understand that the priest must a) validly consecrate the bread and wine to confect the Eucharist and b) he must partake of both Species to make it a valid sacrifice. So, if the priest does not take Communion, the sacrifice is not complete. If the sacrifice it not completed, does that render the Mass invalid?

Potentially then there are quite a number of things which could invalidate the Mass?

Are you saying then that if the priest did not confect the Eucharist (lack of his intent; invalid matter; invalid form) the Mass wouldn’t necessarily be invalid?

Would it be illicit? I believe that a priest must only consecrate the Sacred Species during Mass.

The business of a stipend is rather extraneous, but no, it was not a complete Mass. More important than stipends is that any “obligation” to assist at Mass is not met in such a case, unless dispensed by the bishop or pastor (assuming that it was not the pastor who offered an incomplete Mass in the first place). The “obligation” is to assist at Mass, and that means a complete Mass. If the Mass is not complete (for reasons other than extreme emergency: say, e.g., the priest takes ill before the final blessing) the “obligation” is clearly not satisfied.

As far as I know, yes.

Potentially then there are quite a number of things which could invalidate the Mass?

I really don’t know whether “a few” or “quite a number” would be a better descriptor.

Are you saying then that if the priest did not confect the Eucharist (lack of his intent; invalid matter; invalid form) the Mass wouldn’t necessarily be invalid?

Not at all. It’s definitely true that “Invalid Eucharist” necessarily implies “Invalid Mass,” but the quotation I cited claimed that “Invalid Mass” necessarily implies “Invalid Eucharist,” which is incorrect.

Would it be illicit? I believe that a priest must only consecrate the Sacred Species during Mass.

“Can. 927 It is absolutely forbidden, even in extreme urgent necessity, to consecrate one matter without the other or even both outside the eucharistic celebration.”

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.