The Roman Rite (Ritus Romanus) is the most widespread liturgical rite in the Catholic Church and is one of the Latin rites used in the Western or Latin Church. The Roman Rite gradually became the predominant rite used by the Western Church. Many local variants, not amounting to distinctive Rites, existed in the medieval manuscripts, but have been progressively reduced since the invention of printing, most notably since the reform of liturgical law in the 16th century at the behest of the Council of Trent (1545–63) and more recently following the Second Vatican Council (1962–65).
The Roman Rite has been adapted over the centuries and the history of its Eucharistic liturgy can be divided into three stages: the Pre-Tridentine Mass, Tridentine Mass and Mass of Paul VI. The Mass of Paul VI is the current form of the Mass in the Catholic Church, first promulgated in the 1969 edition of the Roman Missal. It is considered the ordinary form of the mass, intended for most contexts. The Tridentine Mass, as promulgated in the 1962 Roman Missal, may be used as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, according to norms set in the 2007 papal document Summorum Pontificum.
The Roman Rite is noted for its sobriety of expression. In its Tridentine form, it was noted also for its formality: the Tridentine Missal minutely prescribed every movement, to the extent of laying down that the priest should put his right arm into the right sleeve of the alb before putting his left arm into the left sleeve (Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, I, 3). Concentration on the exact moment of change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ has led, in the Roman Rite, to the consecrated Host and the chalice being shown to the people immediately after the Words of Institution. If, as was once most common, the priest offers Mass while facing ad apsidem (towards the apse), ad orientem (towards the east) if the apse is at the east end of the church, he shows them to the people, who are behind him, by elevating them above his head. As each is shown, a bell (once called "the sacring bell") is rung and, if incense is used, the host and chalice are incensed (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 100). Sometimes the external bells of the church are rung as well. Other characteristics that distinguish the Roman Rite from the rites of the Eastern Catholic Churches are frequent genuflections, kneeling for long periods, and keeping both hands joined together.
In his 1912 book on the Roman Mass, Adrian Fortescue wrote: "Essentially the Missal of Pius V is the Gregorian Sacramentary; that again is formed from the Gelasian book, which depends on the Leonine collection. We find the prayers of our Canon in the treatise de Sacramentis and allusions to it in the 4th century. So our Mass goes back, without essential change, to the age when it first developed out of the oldest liturgy of all. It is still redolent of that liturgy, of the days when Caesar ruled the world and thought he could stamp out the faith of Christ, when our fathers met together before dawn and sang a hymn to Christ as to a God. The final result of our inquiry is that, in spite of unsolved problems, in spite of later changes, there is not in Christendom another rite so venerable as ours." In a footnote he added: "The prejudice that imagines that everything Eastern must be old is a mistake. Eastern rites have been modified later too; some of them quite late. No Eastern Rite now used is as archaic as the Roman Mass."
In the same book, Fortescue acknowledged that the Roman Rite underwent profound changes in the course of its development. His ideas are summarized in the article on the "Liturgy of the Mass" that he wrote for the Catholic Encyclopedia (published between 1907 and 1914) in which he pointed out that the earliest form of the Roman Mass, as witnessed in Justin Martyr's 2nd-century account, is of Eastern type, while the Leonine and Gelasian Sacramentaries, of about the 6th century, "show us what is practically our present Roman Mass". In the interval, there was what Fortescue called "a radical change". He quoted the theory of A. Baumstark that the Hanc Igitur, Quam oblationem, Supra quæ and Supplices, and the list of saints in the Nobis quoque were added to the Roman Canon of the Mass under "a mixed influence of Antioch and Alexandria", and that "St. Leo, I began to make these changes; Gregory I finished the process and finally recast the Canon in the form it still has."
Fortescue himself concluded:
In the same article Fortescue went on to speak of the many alterations that the Roman Rite of Mass underwent from the 7th century on (see Pre-Tridentine Mass), in particular through the infusion of Gallican elements, noticeable chiefly in the variations for the course of the year. This infusion Fortescue called the "last change since Gregory the Great" (who died in 604).
The Eucharistic Prayer normally used in the Byzantine Rite is attributed to Saint John Chrysostom, who died in 404, exactly two centuries before Pope Gregory the Great. The East Syrian Eucharistic Prayer of Addai and Mari, which is still in use, is certainly much older.
Before the high Middle Ages, several books were used at Mass: a Sacramentary with the prayers, one or more books for the Scriptural readings, and one or more books for the antiphons and other chants. Gradually, manuscripts came into being that incorporated parts of more than one of these books, leading finally to versions that were complete in themselves. Such a book was referred to as a Missale Plenum (English: "Full Missal"). In response to reforms called for in the Council of Trent, Pope Pius V promulgated, in the Apostolic Constitution Quo primum of 14 July 1570, an edition of the Roman Missal that was to be in obligatory use throughout the Latin Church except where there was a traditional liturgical rite that could be proved to be of at least two centuries’ antiquity. The version of the Mass in the 1570s edition became known as the Tridentine Mass. Various relatively minor revision were made in the centuries following, culminating in the 1962 edition promulgated by Pope John XXIII. Pope John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council that same year, whose participating bishops ultimately called for renewal and reform of the liturgy. The 1969 edition of the Roman Missal was promulgated by Pope Paul VI, issued in response to the council, introduced several major revisions, including simplifying the rituals and permitting translations into local vernacular languages. The version of the Mass in this missal, known colloquially as the Mass of Paul VI, is currently in use throughout the world.
The Roman Rite no longer has the pulpitum, or rood screen, a dividing wall characteristic of certain medieval cathedrals in northern Europe, or the iconostasis or curtain that heavily influences the ritual of some other rites. In large churches of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance the area near the main altar, reserved for the clergy, was separated from the nave (the area for the laity) by means of a rood screen extending from the floor to the beam that supported the great cross (the rood) of the church and sometimes topped by a loft or singing gallery. However, by about 1800 the Roman Rite had quite abandoned rood screens, although some fine examples survive.
Western ears find the traditional chant of the Roman Rite, known as Gregorian chant, less ornate than that of the Eastern rites: except in such pieces as the graduals and alleluias; it eschews the lengthy melismata of Coptic Christianity, and, being entirely monophonic, it has nothing of the dense harmonies of present-day chanting in the Russian and Georgian churches. However, when Western Europe adopted polyphony, the music of the Roman Rite did become very elaborate and lengthy. While the choir sang one part of the Mass, the priest said that part quickly and quietly to himself and continued with other parts; or he was directed by the rubrics to sit and wait for the conclusion of the choir's singing. It thus became normal in the Tridentine form of the Roman Rite for the priest to sing no part of the Mass, merely speaking the words, except on special occasions and in the principal Mass in monasteries and cathedrals.
The Catholic Church sees the Mass or Eucharist as "the source and summit of the Christian life", to which the other sacraments are oriented. The Catholic Church believes that the Mass is exactly the same sacrifice that Jesus Christ offered on the Cross at Calvary. The term "Mass" is generally used only in the Latin Church, while the Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Churches use the analogous term "Divine Liturgy" and other Eastern Catholic Churches have terms such as Holy Qurbana. Although similar in outward appearance to the Anglican Mass or Lutheran Mass, the Catholic Church distinguishes between its own Mass and theirs on the basis of what it views as the validity of the orders of their clergy, and as a result, does not ordinarily permit intercommunion between members of these Churches. However, in the Decree on Ecumenism, produced by Vatican II in 1964, the Catholic Church also notes its understanding that when other faith groups (such as Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians) "commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord's Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory."
Within the fixed structure outlined below, which is specific to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Scripture readings, the antiphons sung or recited during the entrance procession or communion, and certain other prayers vary each day according to the liturgical calendar. For more information regarding the structure and history of the approved Extraordinary Form of the Mass in the Roman Rite, see Mass in the Catholic Church.
The priest enters, with a deacon, if there is one, and altar servers (who may act as crucifer, torch-bearers and thurifer). After making the sign of the cross and greeting the people liturgically, he begins the Act of Penitence. This concludes with the priest's prayer of absolution, "which, however, lacks the efficacy of the Sacrament of Penance". The Kyrie, eleison (Lord, have mercy), is sung or said, followed by the Gloria in excelsis Deo (Glory to God in the highest), an ancient praise, if appropriate for the liturgical season. The Introductory Rites are brought to a close by the Collect Prayer.
On Sundays and solemnities, three Scripture readings are given. On other days there are only two. If there are three readings, the first is from the Old Testament (a term wider than "Hebrew Scriptures", since it includes the Deuterocanonical Books), or the Acts of the Apostles during Eastertide. The first reading is followed by a psalm, either sung responsorially or recited. The second reading is from the New Testament, typically from one of the Pauline epistles. A Gospel Acclamation is then sung as the Book of the Gospels is processed, sometimes with incense and candles, to the ambo. The final reading and high point of the Liturgy of the Word is the proclamation of the Gospel by the deacon or priest. At least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, a homily, a sermon that draws upon some aspect of the readings or the liturgy of the day, is then given. Finally, the Creed is professed on Sundays and solemnities, and it is desirable that in Masses celebrated with the people the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful should usually follow.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist begins with the preparation of the altar and gifts, after which the congregation stands, as the priest gives the exhortation to pray, "Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father." The congregation responds: "May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his holy Church." The priest then pronounces the variable prayer over the gifts.
The Anaphora, also commonly called "the Eucharistic Prayer", "the centre and high point of the entire celebration", then begins with a dialogue between priest and people. The oldest of the anaphoras of the Roman Rite is called the Roman Canon. The priest continues with one of many Eucharistic Prayer thanksgiving prefaces, which lead to the reciting of the Sanctus acclamation. The Eucharistic Prayer includes the epiclesis, a prayer that the gifts offered may by the power of the Holy Spirit become the body and blood of Christ. The central part is the Institution Narrative and Consecration, recalling the words and actions of Jesus at his Last Supper, which he told his disciples to do in remembrance of him. Immediately after the Consecration and the display to the people of the consecrated elements, the priest says: "The mystery of faith", and the people pronounce the acclamation, using one of the three prescribed formulae. It concludes with a doxology, with the priest lifting up the paten with the host and the deacon (if there is one) the chalice, and the singing or recitation of the Amen by the people.
All together recite or sing the "Lord's Prayer" ("Pater Noster" or "Our Father"). The priest introduces it with a short phrase and follows it up with a prayer called the embolism and the people respond with the doxology. The sign of peace is exchanged and then the "Lamb of God" ("Agnus Dei" in Latin) litany is sung or recited, while the priest breaks the host and places a piece in the main chalice; this is known as the rite of fraction and commingling.
The priest then presents the transubstantiated elements to the congregation, saying: "Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb." Then all repeat: "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." The priest then receives Communion and, with the help, if necessary, of extraordinary ministers, distributes Communion to the people, who usually approach in procession and receives standing. Singing by all the faithful during the Communion procession is encouraged, to highlight the communitarian nature of the Communion bread. Silence is called for following the Communion procession. A Prayer After Communion is then proclaimed by the priest while all stand.
The priest imparts a simple blessing or a solemn blessing to those present. The deacon or, in his absence, the priest himself then dismisses the people, choosing one of four formulas, of which the first is "Ite, missa est" in Latin or its equivalent in other languages. The congregation responds: "Thanks be to God." The priest and other ministers then leave, often to the accompaniment of a recessional hymn.
Anglicans worship with a service that may be called either Holy Eucharist or the Mass. Like the Lutheran Eucharist, it is very similar to the Catholic Mass.
There is evidence that the late sixteenth-century Catholic mass as held in Germany was quite similar in outward appearance to the Lutheran mass
Thus Anglican Eucharist is not the same as Catholic Mass or the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Eastern Catholics or Eastern Orthodox. Therefore Catholics may not receive at an Anglican Eucharist.
Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord's Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory. Therefore the teaching concerning the Lord's Supper, the other sacraments, worship, the ministry of the Church, must be the subject of the dialogue.