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Valid Mass, Invalid Mass, Licit Mass, Illicit Mass
Question from Don Parker on 4/11/2002:

Would you please describe what in a Cathlic mass, would render it a) valid, 2) invalid, 3) licit, 4) illicit. Thank you. Don

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 4/12/2002:

Valid. A Mass in which 1) the matter (wheat bread and grape wine), 2) the essential form (This is My Body; This My Blood), and 3) the intention of the celebrant to do what the Church does (even if poorly formed, held with doubts, but at least not contradicted) is present.

Invalid. There is some defect in matter, form or intention. A defect in any of those is fatal. It would not be a Sacrifice (Mass) and Christ is not made Present (Communion and reserved Species). If anything is mixed with the wheat bread (e.g. honey, cinnamon etc.), in any quantity, then the matter immediately becomes only probably valid. If it is substantially not wheat any more then it is invalid. Since we cannot know experientially where the line is crossed the Church strictly forbids ANY additions. It is a serious moral and canonical crime to adulterate the matter of the sacraments. Likewise the form. However, while it is sinful to change the Words of Institution, only changing the essential words invalidates. As for intention, all presumptions favor validity, unless the priest positively intends NOT to consecrate.

Licit. A licit Mass follows the rubrics.

Illicit. Such a Mass contains liturgical abuses, small or grave.

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