Roman Catholicism: Mass

Mass is the term used of the celebration of the Eucharist (the Lord's Supper) in the Latin rites of the Roman Catholic Church and in some Anglican churches. The word itself is derived from the phrase with which the liturgical celebration concludes in Latin, Ite, missa est. In this phrase, the word missa is usually explained as late Latin for classical Latin missio, so that the phrase would be literally translated as: "Go, it is the sending".


The Council of Trent reaffirmed the Roman Catholic teaching that the Mass is not just a re-creation or remembrance of the Last Supper, but rather it is the same Sacrifice of Calvary offered in an unbloody manner: "The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different. And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an unbloody manner... this sacrifice is truly propitiatory" [1]. It is Roman Catholic belief that the wheaten bread and grape wine are in objective reality, not merely symbolically, converted into Christ's body and blood, a conversion referred to as transubstantiation, so that the whole Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity, is truly, really, and substantially contained in the sacrament of the Eucharist.



  1. Doctrina de ss. Missae sacrificio, c. 2, quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1367


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