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Henrik Hagnell wrote:

Hi, guys —

What are the Church's official (teachings|statements) on the following:

  1. What does the term official statement/teaching refer to?

  2. Can one disagree with such statements since they're not infallible statements?

  3. Why don't we kneel at Et Homo Factus Est when celebrating the Ordinary Form of the Mass (Novus Ordo) (We do at the Xmas midnight Mass)?

  4. Why do we say the Kyrie Eleison twice, Christie Eleison twice, and Kyrie Eleison twice in the Ordinary Form of the Mass (Novus Ordo) rather than saying it three times as in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Tridentine)?

  5. Why do we have the Priest say the Consecration out loud in the Ordinary Form of the Mass (Novus Ordo) rather than silently?

I am asking those as a person who would like to get some understanding of what goes on at Mass so I can become Catholic soon.

I am not asking about serious theology as I am no theologian at all.

Henrik Hagnell

  { What are the Church's official (teachings|statements) on these Church and liturgical issues? }

Mike replied:

Dear Henrik,

I believe I have addressed all but one of your questions. I'm hoping one of my colleagues can answer the other one.

The gist of the answers to your questions can be found in our knowledge base.

There are a lot of quick answers there, so give it a try.

Click on the search results here: doctrine tradition small t practices

We have to distinguish between:

  1. solemn teachings (dogmas)
  2. official teachings (doctrines)
  3. liturgical customs, disciplines and practices which can, and usually are changed for good reasons, over time, and
  4. theological opinions

All dogmas are doctrines but not all doctrines are dogmas.

Again search in our knowledge base for more on this issue using specific keywords.

You said:

  • Can one disagree with such statements since they're not infallible statements?

No. All Catholics who wish to remain faithful to the Church must believe all the Church's teachings, aka Her Magisterial teachings, whether they are infallible, or not. This would encompass dogmas and doctrines but not (traditions with a small "t", customs, disciplines) or theological opinions.

Some examples of statements we can disagree on are on Limbo and how our Blessed Mother was assumed into Heaven.

Limbo was never a doctrine but only a theological proposition as to a possible place unbaptized babies go after their Earthly death. All the Church officially teaches is that we entrust them to the Mercy of God.

VI. The Necessity of Baptism

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say:

"Let the children come to me, do not hinder them"

(Mark 10:14; cf. 1 Timothy 2:4)

allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

Faithful Catholics have to believe in the Assumption of Mary because it is a dogma (a solemn teaching) of the Church. We can have differences over the opinion of how Mary was assumed into Heaven.

  • some, like Pope St. John Paul II, think Mary died then was assumed
  • others like the Orthodox (Christians) and I believe she fell asleep before she was assumed
  • others like the Greek Orthodox believe a chariot came down from Heaven and took our Blessed Mother into Heaven.

You said:

  1. Why don't we kneel at 'Et Homo Factus Est' when celebrating the Ordinary Form of the Mass (Novus Ordo) (We do at the Xmas midnight Mass)?

Personally, I think we should show a sign of reverence throughout the year. As a matter of fact, it is written in the Sunday and daily missalette that we should bow. (so . . . I do, though I'm the only one : >) Whether it should or shouldn't be done, this falls into the category of liturgical customs and disciplines which are governed by the pastor and local bishop.

By the way, I would encourage you to refrain from using the term Xmas.

Do you really want to refer to your Creator as X? Typing five more letters won't hurt anyone and I don't buy the argument, but it won't fit. : (

You said:

  1. Why do we say the Kyrie Eleison twice, Christie Eleison twice, and Kyrie Eleison twice in the Ordinary Form of the Mass (Novus Ordo) rather than saying it three times as in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Tridentine)?

I haven't attended the Mass in the Extraordinary Form in a while so I'll let one of my colleagues address this one.

You said:

  1. Why do we have the Priest say the Consecration out loud in the Ordinary Form of the Mass (Novus Ordo) rather than silently?

I believe the Vatican has made this an option for the celebrant of the Mass. He may celebrate the Mass saying the Consecration out loud or silently.

You said:
I am asking those as a person who would like to get some understanding of what goes on at Mass so I can become Catholic soon.

I am not asking about serious theology as I am no theologian at all.

First of all, the Mass is the Divine Mystery; something we can't physically see but have to believe in faith is happening. The Mass is where Heaven and Earth come together; where the saints, the Faithful departed, and those on Earth come together to worship the Lord.

If this is too heavy, what the Catechism says may be more helpful:

The Sacrament of the Eucharist

1322 The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.

1323 "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'" (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium 47)

I. The Eucharist - Source and Summit of Ecclesial Life

1324 The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11) "The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch." (Vatican II, Presbyterorum Ordinis 5)

1325 "The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit." (Congregation of Rites, instruction, Eucharisticum mysterium, 6)

1326 Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all. (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:28)

1327 In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith:

"Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking."

(St. Irenaeus, 202 A.D. — Adv. haeres. 4,18,5:PG 7/l,1028.)

II. What Is This Sacrament (the Eucharist) called?

1328 The inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. It is called:

Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God.

The Greek words eucharistein (cf. Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24) and eulogein (cf. Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22) recall the Jewish blessings that proclaim - especially during a meal - God's works: creation, redemption, and sanctification.

1329 The Lord's Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem. (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:20; Revelation 19:9)

the Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meal, when as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread, (cf. Matthew 14:19; 15:36; Mark 8:6, 19) above all at the Last Supper. (cf. Matthew 26:26; 1 Corinthians 11:24) It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection, (cf. Luke 24:13-35) and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies; (cf. Acts 2:42-46; 20:7-11) by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him. (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church. (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:17-34)

1330 The memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection.

The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church's offering. The terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, sacrifice of praise, spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used, (Hebrews 13:15; cf. 1 Peter 2:5; Psalms 116:13, 17; Malachi 1:11) since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.

The Holy and Divine Liturgy, because the Church's whole liturgy finds its center and most intense expression in the celebration of this sacrament; in the same sense we also call its celebration the Sacred Mysteries. We speak of the most Blessed Sacrament because it is the Sacrament of sacraments. The Eucharistic species reserved in the tabernacle are designated by this same name.

1331 Holy Communion, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body. (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17) We also call it: the holy things (ta hagia; sancta) (Apostolic Constitutions 8,13,12:PG 1,1108; Didache 9,5; 10:6:SCh 248,176-178.) - the first meaning of the phrase communion of saints in the Apostles' Creed -the bread of angels, bread from heaven, medicine of immortality, (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Eph. 20,2:SCh 10,76.) viaticum. . . .

1332 Holy Mass (Missa), because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God's will in their daily lives.

If you are interested in a Scriptural defense of the Mass, check these web pages out:

I hope this helps, and

Welcome to our Family!


One of our colleagues, Andrew replied:

Hey, Henrik!

You've raised some great questions; I wondered about some of these same topics when I became a Catholic in 1980.

Let's start with a simple distinction: when people make statements, our response is to accept them as true or reject them as false.

On the other hand, when people give us directives or commands, that's a different category, and our response is either to comply with them or to disobey them.

The Church has apostolic authority in both of those areas: to teach and to govern. We believe that the Church is protected from error in teachings (under certain circumstances). On the other hand, there is no Catholic doctrine saying that the Pope and the bishops always express the faith in the clearest way in their words.

Moreover, in the area of governance, there is no Catholic doctrine saying that the authorities of the Church are particularly prudent or that they are protected from making poor decisions of governance.

Being a Catholic includes a commitment to accept authoritative doctrines, and it includes a commitment to obey legitimate commands that come to us from the Pope or from our bishop.
That deserves more explanation, so we can come back to this to talk about different categories of doctrine, the levels of authority involved, and what type of acceptance is involved. Also, we can talk about what types of commands are legitimate and what might not be.

As for your particular questions about the holy Mass: while the liturgy includes prayers and actions that express truths about God and about our relationship with Him, the procedural aspects of the liturgy are matters of Church governance; they are directives. We are obliged to conform to them (in general), but we are not obliged to think that the details of the current ritual books are a perfect expression of the Catholic faith. And when Church authorities have made changes, we don't have a duty to think that the changes are always an improvement. On the other hand, we should always act respectfully to our bishops because of their office.

In the case of the liturgical reforms of the 1950s and 1960s, Catholics are completely free to think that they have good points and bad points; or that they [the liturgical reforms] were based on valid or mistaken historical theories; or that they have had good or bad effects on the people of God. (I'm the webmaster for the site New Liturgical Movement, where these topics are discussed constantly.)

As you probably know, the Catholic Church includes Eastern Catholics such as Ukrainian Catholics, Maronite Catholics, Chaldean Catholics, and others. Their liturgical rites differ in their texts and practices from the Roman rite, and they differ from each other. The Church accepts them all, and the Church does not consider any of them better than another. This confirms that Catholics are not obliged to consider present-day Ordinary Form practice as the best of all.

But that's enough writing from me for the moment.

Do write back if you'd like to go further on some of these points.


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