Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Council of Trent - Canons on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

The following is taken from The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Much of this is important for the debate between the Traditionalists and the "Novus ordo" Catholics. If I am not mistaken, these canons are infallible; the fact that they include anathemas indicates so, as does the explanation beforehand. I've included a couple of my own comments, in bold and red, pointing out any current relevance these canons have.


Since many errors are at this time disseminated and many things taught and discussed by many persons that are in opposition to this ancient faith, which is founded on the holy Gospel, the traditions of the Apostles, and the teaching of the holy Fathers, the holy council, after many and grave deliberations concerning these matters, has resolved with the unanimous consent of all to condemn and eliminate from holy Church by means of the following canons whatever is opposed to this most pure faith and sacred doctrine. [Note that last bit. This, I think, makes it quite clear that the following canons are infallible and binding on all, and that it is heretical to deny them.]

Canons On The Sacrifice Of The Mass

Canon 1. If anyone says that in the mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God; or that to be offered is nothing else than that Christ is given to us to eat, let him be anathema. [This is notable insofar as the Novus ordo and the liturgical mentality connected with it often gives the impression of the mass being more of a meal than it is a sacrifice. The sacrificial nature of the mass is arguably somewhat downplayed in the Novus ordo, and the emphasis is placed more often on its nature as a meal. Luther famously despised the Catholic mass because of its sacrificial nature.]

Canon 2. If anyone says that by those words, "Do this for a commemoration of me," Christ did not institute the Apostles priests; or did not ordain that they and other priests should offer His own body and blood, let him be anathema.

Canon 3. If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema. [The Novus ordo also under-emphasizes the doctrine of propitiation for sin, at least in the ordinary text. Arguments have been made on both sides in regards to the proper texts; I haven't come to a final conclusion myself yet.]

Canon 4. If anyone says that by the sacrifice of the mass a blasphemy is cast upon the most holy sacrifice of Christ consummated on the cross; or that the former derogates from the latter, let him be anathema.

Canon 5. If anyone says that it is a deception to celebrate masses in honor of the saints and in order to obtain their intercession with God, as the Church intends, let him be anathema.

Canon 6. If anyone says that the canon of the mass contains errors and is therefore to be abrogated, let him be anathema. 

Canon 7. If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of masses, are incentives to impiety rather than stimulants to piety, let him be anathema.

Canon 8. If anyone says that masses in which the priest alone communicates sacramentally are illicit and are therefore to be abrogated, let him be anathema.

Canon 9. If anyone says that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue only; or that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice because it is contrary to the institution of Christ, let him be anathema. [This is important. No one can deny that so much of the Novus ordo hate directed toward the Tridentine Mass has to do with so much of being pronounced in a low tone, and most of it being said in Latin - not a vernacular tongue. So many Novus ordo masses celebrated today have not a single bit of Latin in them, and are said completely in the vernacular. Now, this does not make those masses invalid. This canon does not state that the validity of the mass depends on the language in which it is celebrated, but that anyone who thinks that the mass should only be celebrated in the vernacular is anathema. However, the fact the Novus ordo is so often celebrated in only the vernacular does point point a deficiency and an imperfection, given this decree.]

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