Press Conference on the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum

Author: Father Lecuyer


Father Lecuyer

By the Apostolic Constitution "Missale Romanum", dated Holy Thursday, April 3, 1969, the Holy Father has approved and commanded to be promulgated the new Missal revised on the basis of the directives of the Second Vatican Council.

Now, by a Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, dated April 6, 1969, there appears the volume which contains the Ordo Missae and the general norms, brought together into one document entitled "Institution Generalis Missalis Romani". The Ordo Missae and the general norms come into force on the first Sunday of next Advent, November 30, 1969.


The Ordo Missae in its new form marks the goal of the reform of the Mass, after the intermediary stages reached with the Instructions of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of September 26, 1964, and of May 4, 1967.

The points, that have been altered are the following:

1. Introductory rites. The prayers at the foot of the altar are suppressed in their present form, and the celebration opens with the singing of the Introit, while the celebrant goes to the altar and then goes to the seat. Then, at the seat, the celebrant makes the sign of the cross together with the people, and greets the assembly. Certain formulae of greeting derived from St. Paul's Letters can be used (for instance, "The love of God the Father, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you"), or the traditional "The Lord be with you". In every case the people reply: "And with your spirit" (or "And. also with you"). Then comes the penitential act, which can take different forms, and before which the priest may speak some words to the faithful as an introduction to the celebration beginning. The rite then continues with the Kyrie and the Gloria.

2. Offertory rites. This part of the celebration, left completely untouched in the preceding reforms, is now rearranged to correspond better to its true meaning. The formulae accompanying the placing of the bread and wine on the altar have been changed, so as not to anticipate the true offering of the sacrifice, which will be done in the Canon. Use has been made of expressions of blessing traditional in the Bible, stressing the creative action of God and man's participation in the offering of the elements that will serve for the sacrifice: "Your are blessed, Lord, God of the universe. From your generosity we have received the bread which we present to you. It is the fruit of the earth and of man's labour. And from it will come to us the bread of life". A similar formula, with the necessary changes, accompanies the placing of the chalice on the altar. The formula for pouring water in the wine has been shortened, and that of the washing of hands changed.

3. Therite of the "Fractio" and of the "Pax". The elements that constitute this part have been arranged in a clearer fashion. The Our Father, which begins the communion rites, is followed by the embolism ("Deliver us...") in a shortened form and without the names of the saints. This concludes with the memorial of the return of the Lord and the acclamation of the people: "...we may be ever free from sin and safe from all disquiet, awaiting the blessed hope and the coming of our saviour Jesus Christ. U Yours is the kingdom, yours the power for ever".

The rite of the kiss of peace has been arranged thus: first the priest asks of God the gift of peace for the Church and the world with the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you ...." Then he addresses this wish to the faithful "May the peace of the Lord be always with you" and the invitation "Give one another the kiss of peace". The faithful may exchange a greeting of peace by a suitable gesture to be determined by the Bishops Conferences.

Then comes the breaking of the Eucharistic Bread for the Communion, accompanied by the singing of the acclamation "Lamb of God". The Communion rites remain unchanged.

4. There are other minor changes throughout the Ordo. Of these we note two touching the Roman Canon. In it too the words of the Lord in the narration of the Last Supper have been made uniform with the reading adopted in the new eucharistic prayers: "This is my body which will be given up for you" for the consecration of the bread, and 'This is the cup of my blood, the bloodof the new and everlasting convenant. It will be shed for you and for all men so that sins may be forgiven". The first formula has received the addition of the phrase "which will be given up for you", and the second has had removed the words "the mystery of faith", which are said by the celebrant as an introduction to the acclamation of the people: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again".

Besides, the conclusions "Through Christ our Lord" recurring in the Canon are put between brackets and may be omitted. The same procedure is used for the names of the saints: in the Communicantes only the names of the BlessedVirgin, of St. Joseph and of the Apostles Peter, Paul and Andrew remain obligatory; in the Nobis quoque the names of the saints mentioned in the Bible are obligatory, namely John the Baptist, Stephen Matthew and Barnabas. In this way the venerable Roman Canon acquires greater unity and ease of recitation, on the lines of the new eucharistic prayers.


The Institutio Generalis of the Missal, summarizes the Missal's present introductory documents: The General Rubrics, the "Ritus Servandus in Celebratione Missae", the "De Defectibus in Celebratione Missae Occurrentibus". Its style is of course pastoral rather than juridical and rubrical, so as to guide the celebrant not only in the exact performance of the rite, but also in understanding its spirit and significance.

The document contains eight chapters. The first is an introduction of doctrinal character. The second reviews the various elements of the celebration, giving the doctrinal and rubrical presentation of each. The third illustrates the roles of each of those participating in the celebration: priest, people and ministers. The fourth sets forth the various forms of celebration: Mass with the people, private Mass, concelebrated Mass; and contains also the norms for communion under both species. The fifth offers an ample set of directives on the arrangement of the church as the place of the celebration. The sixth reviews what is needed for the sacred action: the sacred furniture, vessels and vestments. The seventh gives guidance in choosing the formulary of the Mass and of its various parts: readings, prayers and chants, offering also a whole series of possible adaptations and a number of different forms. The eighth summarizes in two pages the hitherto very wide and extremely complicated legislation on votive Masses and Masses for the dead.  

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
8 May 1969, page 8

L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
The Weekly Edition in English is published for the US by:

The Cathedral Foundation
L'Osservatore Romano English Edition
320 Cathedral St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
Subscriptions: (410) 547-5315
Fax: (410) 332-1069