|THE COUNCIL OF TRENT
|Session XXII - The sixth under the Supreme
Pontiff, Pius IV, celebrated on the seventeenth day of September, 1562
Doctrine Concerning the Sacrifice of the Mass
|Doctrine Concerning The Sacrifice Of
That the ancient, complete and in every way perfect faith and teaching regarding the great mystery of the Eucharist in the Catholic Church may be retained, and with the removal of errors and heresies may be preserved in its purity, the holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, instructed by the light of the Holy Ghost, teaches, declares and orders to be preached to the faithful the following concerning it, since it is the true and only sacrifice.
Since under the former Testament, according to the testimony of the Apostle Paul, there was no perfection because of the weakness of the Levitical priesthood, there was need, God the Father of mercies so ordaining, that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchisedech, our Lord Jesus Christ, who might perfect and lead to perfection as many as were to be sanctified. He, therefore, our God and Lord, though He was by His death about to offer Himself once upon the altar of the cross to God the Father that He might there accomplish an eternal redemption, nevertheless, that His priesthood might not come to an end with His death, at the last supper, on the night He was betrayed, that He might leave to His beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice, such as the nature of man requires, whereby that bloody sacrifice once to be accomplished on the cross might be represented, the memory thereof remain even to the end of the world, and its salutary effects applied to the remission of those sins which we daily commit, declaring Himself constituted a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech, offered up to God the Father His own body and blood under the form of bread and wine, and under the forms of those same things gave to the Apostles, whom He then made priests of the New Testament, that they might partake, commanding them and their successors in the priesthood by these words to do likewise: Do this in commemoration of me, as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught. For having celebrated the ancient Passover which the multitude of the children of Israel sacrificed in memory of their departure from Egypt, He instituted a new Passover, namely, Himself, to be immolated under visible signs by the Church through the priests in memory of His own passage from this world to the Father, when by the shedding of His blood He redeemed and delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into his kingdom. And this is indeed that clean oblation which cannot be defiled by any unworthiness or malice on the part of those who offer it; which the Lord foretold by Malachias was to be great among the Gentiles, and which the Apostle Paul has clearly indicated when he says, that they who are defiled by partaking of the table of devils cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord, understanding by table in each case the altar. It is, finally, that [sacrifice] which was prefigured by various types of sacrifices during the period of nature and of the law, which, namely, comprises all the good things signified by them, as being the consummation and perfection of them all.
And inasmuch as in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner the same Christ who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, the holy council teaches that this is truly propitiatory and has this effect, that if we, contrite and penitent, with sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence, draw nigh to God, <we obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid.> For, appeased by this sacrifice, the Lord grants the grace and gift of penitence and pardons even the gravest crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. The fruits of that bloody sacrifice, it is well understood, are received most abundantly through this unbloody one, so far is the latter from derogating in any way from the former. Wherefore, according to the tradition of the Apostles, it is rightly offered not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions and other necessities of the faithful who are living, but also for those departed in Christ but not yet fully purified.
And though the Church has been accustomed to celebrate at times certain masses in honor and memory of the saints, she does not teach that sacrifice is offered to them but to God alone who crowned them; whence, the priest does not say: "To thee, Peter or Paul, I offer sacrifice," but, giving thanks to God for their victories, he implores their favor that they may vouchsafe to intercede for us in heaven whose memory we celebrate on earth.
And since it is becoming that holy things be administered in a holy manner, and of all things this sacrifice is the most holy, the Catholic Church, to the end that it might be worthily and reverently offered and received, instituted many centuries ago the holy canon, which is so free from error that it contains nothing that does not in the highest degree savor of a certain holiness and piety and raise up to God the minds of those who offer. For it consists partly of the very words of the Lord, partly of the traditions of the Apostles, and also of pious regulations of holy pontiffs.
And since the nature of man is such that he cannot without external means be raised easily to meditation on divine things, holy mother Church has instituted certain rites, namely, that some things in the mass be pronounced in a low tone and others in a louder tone. She has likewise, in accordance with apostolic discipline and tradition, made use of ceremonies, such as mystical blessings, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be emphasized and the minds of the faithful excited by those visible signs of religion and piety to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice.
The holy council wishes indeed that at each mass the faithful who are present should communicate, not only in spiritual desire but also by the sacramental partaking of the Eucharist, that thereby they may derive from this most holy sacrifice a more abundant fruit; if, however, that is not always done, it does not on that account condemn as private and illicit those masses in which the priest alone communicates sacramentally, but rather approves and commends them, since these masses also ought to be considered as truly common, partly because at them the people communicate spiritually and partly also because they are celebrated by a public minister of the Church, not for himself only but for all the faithful who belong to the body of Christ.
The holy council in the next place calls to mind that the Church has instructed priests to mix water with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice; because it is believed that Christ the Lord did this, and also because from His side there came blood and water; the memory of this mystery is renewed by this mixture, and since in the Apocalypse of St. John the "people" are called "waters," the union of the faithful people with Christ their head is represented.
Though the mass contains much instruction for the faithful, it has, nevertheless, not been deemed advisable by the Fathers that it should be celebrated everywhere in the vernacular tongue. Wherefore, the ancient rite of each Church, approved by the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all churches, being everywhere retained, that the sheep of Christ may not suffer hunger, or <the little ones ask for bread and there is none to break it unto them,> the holy council commands pastors and all who have the <cura animarum> that they, either themselves or through others, explain frequently during the celebration of the mass some of the things read during the mass, and that among other things they explain some mystery of this most holy sacrifice, especially on Sundays and festival days.
Since many errors are at this time disseminated and many things taught and discussed by many persons that are in opposition to this ancient faith, which is founded on the holy Gospel, the traditions of the Apostles, and the teaching of the holy Fathers, the holy council, after many and grave deliberations concerning these matters, has resolved with the unanimous consent of all to condemn and eliminate from holy Church by means of the following canons whatever is opposed to this most pure faith and sacred doctrine.
Canon 1. If anyone says that in the mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God; or that to be offered is nothing else than that Christ is given to us to eat, let him be anathema.
Canon 2. If anyone says that by those words, <Do this for a commemoration of me,> Christ did not institute the Apostles priests; or did not ordain that they and other priests should offer His own body and blood, let him be anathema.
Canon 3. If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema.
Canon 4. If anyone says that by the sacrifice of the mass a blasphemy is cast upon the most holy sacrifice of Christ consummated on the cross; or that the former derogates from the latter, let him be anathema.
Canon 5. If anyone says that it is a deception to celebrate masses in honor of the saints and in order to obtain their intercession with God, as the Church intends, let him be anathema.
Canon 6. If anyone says that the canon of the mass contains errors and is therefore to be abrogated, let him be anathema.
Canon 7. If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of masses, are incentives to impiety rather than stimulants to piety, let him be anathema.
Canon 8. If anyone says that masses in which the priest alone communicates sacramentally are illicit and are therefore to be abrogated, let him be anathema.
Canon 9. If anyone says that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue only; or that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice because it is contrary to the institution of Christ, let him be anathema.
What great care is to be taken that the holy sacrifice of the mass be celebrated with all religious devotion and reverence, each one may easily conceive who considers that in the sacred writings he is called accursed who does the work of God negligently. And since we must confess that no other work can be performed by the faithful that is so holy and divine as this awe-inspiring mystery, wherein that life-giving victim by which we are reconciled to the Father is daily immolated on the altar by priests, it is also sufficiently clear that all effort and attention must be directed to the end that it be performed with the greatest possible interior cleanness and purity of heart and exterior evidence of devotion and piety. Therefore, since either through the depravity of the times or through the indifference and corruption of men many things seem already to have crept in that are foreign to the dignity of so great a sacrifice, in order that the honor and worship due to it may for the glory of God and the edification of the faithful be restored, the holy council decrees that the local ordinaries shall be zealously concerned and be bound to prohibit and abolish all those things which either covetousness, which is a serving of idols, or irreverence, which can scarcely be separated from ungodliness, or superstition, a false imitation of true piety, have introduced.
And that many things may be summed up in a few, they shall in the first place, as regards avarice, absolutely forbid conditions of compensations of whatever kind, bargains, and whatever is given for the celebration of new masses; also those importunate and unbecoming demands, rather than requests, for alms and other things of this kind which border on simoniacal taint or certainly savor of filthy lucre.
In the second place, that irreverence may be avoided, each in his own diocese shall forbid that any wandering or unknown priest be permitted to celebrate mass.
Furthermore, they shall permit no one who is publicly and notoriously wicked either to minister at the altar or to be present at the sacred services; nor suffer the holy sacrifice to be celebrated by any seculars and regulars whatsoever in private houses or entirely outside the church and the oratories dedicated solely to divine worship and to be designated and visited by the same ordinaries; or unless those present have first shown by their outward disposition and appearance that they are there not in body only but also in mind and devout affection of heart. They shall also banish from the churches all such music which, whether by the organ or in the singing, contains things that are lascivious or impure; likewise all worldly conduct, vain and profane conversations, wandering around, noise and clamor, so that the house of God may be seen to be and may be truly called a house of prayer.
Finally, that no room may be given to superstition, they shall by ordinance and prescribed penalties provide that priests do not celebrate at other than proper hours; or make use of rites or ceremonies and prayers in the celebration of masses other than those that have been approved by the Church and have been received through frequent and praiseworthy usage. They shall completely banish from the Church the practice of any fixed number of masses and candles, which has its origin in superstitious worship rather than in true religion; and they shall instruct the people as to what the very precious and heavenly fruit of this most holy sacrifice is and whence especially it is derived. They shall also admonish their people to go frequently to their own parish churches, at least on Sundays and the greater feast days. All these things, therefore, which have been summarily enumerated, are in such wise set before all local ordinaries, that by the authority given them by this holy council, and also as delegates of the Apostolic See, they may prohibit, command, reform and establish not only the things aforesaid but also whatsoever else shall seem to them to be connected therewith; and they may by ecclesiastical censures and other penalties, which in their judgment they may impose, compel the faithful to observe them inviolately; any privileges, exemptions, appeals and customs to the contrary notwithstanding.
The same holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, that the work of reform may be continued, has deemed it well that the following things be established in the present session.
There is nothing that leads others to piety and to the service of God more than the life and example of those who have dedicated themselves to the divine ministry. For since they are observed to be raised from the things of this world to a higher position, others fix their eyes upon them as upon a mirror and derive from them what they are to imitate. Wherefore, clerics, called to have the Lord for their portion, ought by all means so to regulate their life and conduct that in dress, behavior, gait, speech, and all other things nothing may appear but what is dignified, moderated, and permeated with piety; avoiding also minor offenses which in them would be grievous, so that their actions may inspire reverence. Since therefore the more these things contribute to usefulness and honor in the Church of God, so the more zealously must they be observed, the holy council ordains that those things which have in the past been frequently and wholesomely enacted by the supreme pontiffs and holy councils concerning adherence to the life, conduct, dress, and learning of clerics, as also the avoidance of luxury, feastings, dances, gambling, sports, and all sorts of crime and secular pursuits, shall in the future be observed under the same or greater penalties to be imposed at the discretion of the ordinary; nor shall appeal suspend the execution of that which pertains to the correction of morals. If any of these things shall be found to have fallen into desuetude, the ordinaries shall make it their duty to restore their practice as soon as possible and enforce the careful observance by all, any customs to the contrary notwithstanding; lest they themselves, God being the avenger, may have to pay the penalty deserved by their neglect of the correction of their subjects.
Everyone who is hereafter to be promoted to a cathedral church shall not only be qualified by birth, age, morals, and life, and in other respects as required by the sacred canons, but shall also for the space of at least six months previously have been constituted in sacred orders. Information covering these points, in case the (Roman) Curia has no knowledge or only recent knowledge of the person, shall be obtained from the legates of the Apostolic See or from the nuncios of the provinces or from his ordinary, and in his default, from the nearest ordinaries. In addition, he shall possess such learning as will enable him to discharge the obligations of the office that is to be conferred on him. He shall, therefore, have been previously promoted by merit in a university of learning to the rank of master or doctor or licentiate in sacred theology or canon law, or shall be declared by the public testimony of some academy competent to teach others. If he be a regular he shall have a similar attestation from the superiors of his order. All the aforesaid persons from whom the information or testimony is to be obtained, shall be bound to report on these matters faithfully and gratis; otherwise let them know that their consciences will be grievously burdened and that they will have God and their superiors as avengers.
Bishops, also as delegates of the Apostolic See, have the authority to divide the third part of the fruits and revenues of all dignities with and without jurisdiction and offices existing in cathedral and collegiate churches into distributions, to be assigned as they shall judge advisable; so namely, that if their recipients should fail on any day to discharge personally the duty that devolves upon them in accordance with the form to be prescribed by the bishops, they shall forfeit the distribution of that day and in no manner acquire proprietorship thereof; but it should be applied to the administration of the church so far as there is need, or, in the judgment of the ordinary, to some other pious purpose. If, however, their contumacy should increase, they shall proceed against them according to the prescriptions of the sacred canons. If anyone of the aforesaid dignitaries possesses neither by right nor by custom any jurisdiction, administration or office in cathedral or collegiate churches, but should there be outside the city in the diocese a <cura animarum> which he is willing to take upon himself, then he shall during the time that he resides in and administers the church with such <cura> be considered as though he were present and assisted at the divine offices in those cathedral and collegiate churches. These things are to be understood as applying to those churches only in which there is no custom or statute whereby the said dignitaries who do not serve, lose something which amounts to the third part of the fruits and revenues; any customs, even though immemorial, exemptions and constitutions, even though confirmed by oath or by any authority whatsoever, to the contrary notwithstanding.
Anyone engaged in the divine offices in a cathedral or collegiate church, whether secular or regular, who is not constituted at least in the sub-diaconal order, shall not have a voice in the chapter of those churches, even though this may have been freely conceded to him by the others. Those who hold or shall hereafter hold in the said churches dignities with or without jurisdiction, offices, prebends, portions, or any other benefices whatsoever, to which are attached various obligations, namely, that some say or sing the masses, others the Gospel, others the Epistles, shall be bound, in the absence of a just impediment, to receive the required orders within a year, whatever privilege, exemption, prerogative or nobility of birth they may possess; otherwise they shall incur the penalties provided by the constitution of the Council of Vienne, which begins, "Ut ii, qui," which is by the present decree renewed. The bishops shall compel them to exercise personally the aforesaid orders on the days specified, and to discharge all other duties required of them in the divine service under the same and even other more severe penalties which may be imposed at their discretion. In the future such offices shall not be assigned except to those who are known to have attained the required age and the other qualifications; otherwise such assignments shall be null.
Dispensations, by whatever authority to be granted, if they are to be sent outside the Roman Curia, shall be committed to the ordinaries of those who have obtained them.
Those, however, which are granted as a favor shall not have effect until the ordinaries, as delegates of the Apostolic See, have established summarily only and extra-judicially that the terms of the petition are free from fraud and deception.
In alterations of last testaments, which ought not to be made except for a just and necessary cause, the bishops, as delegates of the Apostolic See, shall, before the alterations are put into execution, ascertain summarily and extra-judicially that nothing has been stated in the petition which suppresses what is true or suggests what is false.
Apostolic legates and nuncios, patriarchs, primates and metropolitans, in appeals brought before them, shall in all causes, both in admitting the appeals and in granting inhibitions after an appeal, be bound to observe the form and tenor of the sacred constitutions and particularly that of Innocent IV, which begins, "Romana"; any custom, even though immemorial, usage or privilege to the contrary notwithstanding.
Otherwise the inhibitions and proceedings and all consequences thereof shall be <ipso jure> null.
The bishops, also as delegates of the Apostolic See, shall in the cases conceded by law be the executors of all pious dispositions, whether made by last will or among the living; they shall have the right to visit hospitals and all colleges and confraternities of laymen, even those that are called schools or are known by some other name (not, however, those that are under the immediate protection of kings, except with their permission); also eleemosynary institutions known as loan or charity foundations, and all pious places by whatever name designated, even though the care of the aforesaid institutions be in the hands of laymen and the said pious places protected by the privilege of exemption; by virtue of their office they shall, moreover, take cognizance of and execute in accordance with the ordinances of the sacred canons all things that have been instituted for the worship of God or for the salvation of souls or for the support of the poor; any custom, even though immemorial, privilege or statute whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding.
Administrators, whether ecclesiastical or lay, of the revenues of any church, also of cathedrals, hospitals, confraternities, eleemosynary institutions known as loan foundations, and of all pious places, shall be bound to render to the ordinary each year an account of their administration, all customs and privileges to the contrary being set aside, unless perchance it be expressly provided otherwise in the institution and regulation of such a church or fund. But if by reason of custom, privilege or some local regulation their account has to be rendered to others deputed thereto, then the ordinary shall also be employed conjointly with them, and releases made otherwise shall be of no avail to the said administrators.
Since the incompetency of notaries causes very much harm and is the occasion of many lawsuits, the bishop, also as delegate of the Apostolic See, may by examination inquire into the fitness of all notaries, even though appointed by Apostolic, imperial or royal authority; and if found incompetent or at any time delinquent in office, he may forbid them either altogether or for a time to exercise the office in ecclesiastical and spiritual affairs, lawsuits and causes. No appeal on their part shall suspend the prohibition of the ordinary.
If any cleric or laic, of whatever rank, even imperial or royal, should be so possessed by avarice, the root of all evil, as to presume to convert to his own use and to usurp <per se vel alios>, by force or fear, or even by means of supposititious persons, whether clerical or lay, or by any fraud or colored pretext whatsoever, the prerogatives, properties, rents and rights, even those held in fee or under lease, revenues, profits, or any incomes whatsoever, belonging to any church or benefices, secular or regular, eleemosynary institutions or any other pious places, which ought to be used for the needs of the ministers and the poor, or to hinder them from being received by those to whom they by right belong, he shall be anathematized till he shall have restored integrally to the church and to its administrator or beneficiary the prerogatives, properties, effects, rights, fruits and revenues which he has seized or in whatever way they have come to him, even by way of gift from a supposititious person, and furthermore, till he shall have obtained absolution from the Roman pontiff. If he be a patron of that church, he shall, in addition to the aforesaid penalties, be <eo ipso> deprived of the right of patronage. The cleric who instigates or consents to an execrable fraud and usurpation of this kind, shall be subject to the same penalties, and he shall be deprived of all benefices and be rendered unqualified to hold others; and even after complete satisfaction and absolution, he shall be suspended, at the discretion of his ordinary, from the exercise of his orders.
Moreover, since the same holy council in the preceding session reserved to another and more convenient time the examination and definition of two articles which had been proposed on another occasion and had then not yet been discussed, namely, whether the reasons which induced the holy Catholic Church to decide that lay people and also priests when not celebrating are to communicate under the one species of bread, are so to be retained that under no condition is the use of the chalice to be permitted to anyone; and whether in case, for reasons befitting and consonant with Christian charity, it appears that the use of the chalice is to be conceded to any nation or kingdom, it is to be conceded under certain conditions, and what are those conditions; it has now, in its desire to provide for the salvation of those on whose behalf the petition is made, decreed that the entire matter be referred to our most holy Lord [the Pope], as in the present decree it does refer it, who in accordance with his singular prudence will do what he shall judge beneficial for the Christian commonwealth and salutary for those who petition for the use of the chalice.
Moreover, the same holy Council of Trent announces the day of the next session to be the Thursday after the octave of All Saints, which will be the twelfth day of the month of November, and in it will dead with the sacrament of order and the sacrament of matrimony, etc. The session was prorogued till the fifteenth day of July, 1563.
1 Heb. 7:11.
2 Ibid., 7:24
3 Ps. 109:4.
4 Luke 22:19; I Cor. 11:24f.
5 Ex. 13.
6 Col. 1:13.
7 Mal. 1:11.
8 Cf. 1 Cor. 10:21
9 Gen. 4:4; 12:8, etc.
10 Heb. 4:16.
11 Cf. <infra>, can. 3, and Sess. XXV, decr. on Purgatory.
12 Ibid., can. 5, and Sess. XXV. Invocation of the Saints.
13 St. Aug <De civitate Dei.> VIII. c. 27.
14 C. 6, X, De celebr. miss., III, 41.
15 Cf. <infra>, can. 7.
16 Cc. 4, 5, 7, D. II de cons.; c. 6, X, De celebr. miss., III, 41. Cf. Denzinger, nos. 416, 698. 945.
17 John 19:34.
18 Apoc. 17:1, 15.
19 Lam. 4:4.
20 Cf. Sess. V, chap. 2 de ref., and Sess. XXIV, chap. 7 de ref.
21 Luke 22:19; I Cor. 11:25.
22 Cf. <supra,> chap. I.
23 Ibid., chap. 2.
24 Ibid, chap. 3
25 <Supra>, chap. 4.
26 Ibid., chap. 5.
27 Ibid., chap. 6.
28 Ibid., chap. 8.
29 Ibid., chap. 7.
30 Jer. 48:10.
31 Cf. Sess. XIII, chap. 7.
32 Eph. 5:5.
33 Cc. 12, 34, D.I de cons.
34 Is. 56:7; Matt. 21:13.
35 C. 35, D.I de cons.; CC. 4, 5, C.IX, q. 2; C. 2, X, De paroch., III, 29.
36 Cf. Sess. XXV, chap. I de ref.
37 C.I, D.XXI.
38 Cf tot. tit. de vit. et hon. cler. apud Greg., in VI et in Clem. (III, I).
39 Cf c. 5, D.LI; cc. 7, 19, X, De elect., I, 6; Sess. VII, chap. I de ref., and Sess. XXIV, chaps. 1, 12 de ref.
40 Cf. Sess. XXI, chap. 3 de ref.
42 C. 2, De aet. et qual. et ord. praef., in Clem., I, 6.
43 Cf. Sess. XXIV, chap. I: de ref.
44 Cf. Sess. XXV, chap. 4 de ref.
45 C. 3, VI, De appell., II, 15.
46 C 2, in Clem. De relig. dom., III, II.
47 Cf. cc. 3, 6, 17 19, X, De test. et ult. volunt., III, 26.
48 Cf. Sess. VII, chap. 15 de ref., and Sess. XXV, chap. 8 de ref.
49 Cf. I Tim. 6:10.
50 Cf. Sess. XIII in the decree of prorogation and Sess. XXI, following can. 4
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