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Mass Abuses


Liturgical Abuses in the Catholic Mass Today Many Catholic Masses today are awash in a variety of errors. How well do you know the Mass? Would you notice if the priest introduced actions or wording which are not in the rubrics of the Mass? The purpose of this website is not to condemn the Catholic Mass - on the contrary - the actions of the ordained priest in the Mass are what gives us the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. This website simply describes what is liturgical law within the Church, and what are liturgical abuses and errors. NO Churches are named specifically - it is informational only. As people of God, we have a right to study and inform ourselves about what makes a proper Mass. If liturgical errors and abuses are occurring within your Church, you also have the right to question why such abuses are happening. Many of the abuses occurring today are 'subtle' and have slowly crept into the liturgy over the years. Take the quiz below to see how well you know a proper Mass.

LITURGICAL QUIZ Much of the information from this website was gathered from "Mass Confusion: The Do's and Don'ts of Catholic Worship" by James Akin. Many thanks to him for this wonderful book. If you'd like more in depth information about this topic, I suggest you get a copy of this book. You may do so by visiting the "Catholic Answers" website at : or calling their toll free number: U.S. Orders: 888-291-8000 Another source is "Rubrics of the Mass" by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas - you can get a copy of this document by calling 1-800-348-2440 Also, Pangaeus Press, Box 670127, Dallas, Texas 75367, publishes the approved Order of Mass in English, approved for use in the United States, in a beautiful little paperback that retails for $4.95 + $1.95 s/h (they give VERY generous discounts on bulk orders so that schools, parishes, study groups, or just concerned parishioners can have all the copies that they need.) According to the permissions office of the ICEL, Pangaeus is the only publisher in the country to ask for, and receive, permission to print this text.

PLEASE NOTE: I am a mom of seven children offering this website information as an assistance to many who are confused about a proper Mass. I AM NOT a theologian nor liturgical expert! Please do not write to me posing questions related to the Mass or Liturgy, as I cannot help you. I would suggest you pose your questions to the Liturgical experts at the "Ask the Experts" forum at -- God bless!

Break out a pen and paper and take this True/False quiz about the Mass.


1. It is permissible for the priest to change the word 'brethren' to 'brothers and sisters' in the Mass.

2. A lector may have the liberty to change the words of the Scripture Readings by eliminating all male references.

3. A parish may change and revise words in the Creed during Mass, as long as they make note of the changes and show these changes in the Sunday missal which the public uses.

4. At the conclusion of Mass, the lector or priest may make general announcements for the information of the parish.

5. A priest may give a 'general absolution' during the penitential rite of the Mass or during a communal penance service if he chooses to do so.

6. If the priest chooses to use the rite of blessing and sprinkling, he must omit the "Lord have Mercy" and the penitential rite.

7. A Lector may use the NRSV version during U.S. Masses.

8. The priest may not omit the homily on Sundays or holy days of obligation.

9. The priest may not omit the homily at any Mass.

10. An individual who is not a priest, deacon or bishop may not give the homily at Mass.

11. Those non ordained ministers who assist in passing out Communion are properly called "Eucharistic Ministers".

12. A person who is not an ordained minister (priest, deacon or bishop) may give a 'talk' or 'reflection' in place of the homily at Mass.

13. It is permissible to omit the Creed on a Sunday or solemnity if the priest chooses to do so.

14. The "Apostles' Creed" may be used in place of the "Nicene Creed" at a Mass for children.

15. A priest must not omit washing his hands at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

16. The priest may say, "Lord, wash away our iniquities and cleanse us of our sins" (instead of 'my') in the hand-washing prior to the Eucharistic Liturgy.

17. A bell is not required to be rung during the Eucharistic Prayer.

18. At special occasions, the people may join in with the prayer:"Through him, with Him, in Him..." if the priest invites them to do so.

19. A priest may never use an unapproved Eucharistic Prayer.

20. The altar bread dough may not include ingredients other than flour and water.

21. Communion in the form of ginger bread or a sweetened cake may be used at Masses for children.

22. The Vatican has issued guidelines encouraging people to hold hands during the "Our Father".

23. The priest may omit the sign of peace during Mass if he so chooses.

24. The priest may move the sign of peace to another part of the Mass if he feels it is for the best.

25. During the sign of peace, the priest may leave the sanctuary to exchange peace with the congregation.

26. Those non-ordained ministers who assist with distributing Holy Communion are called "Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion."

27. People assisting at the altar may receive Holy Communion at the same time as the priest.

28. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion must be used at every Mass to ensure proper participation of the lay people.

29. A minister or Priest may refuse a person the right to receive the Eucharist on the tongue in the United States.

30. A priest may not refuse an altar server the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

31. The priest may change the words of fixed prayers in the Mass upon approval from his bishop.

32. The chalice of Precious Blood may be left on the altar for the people to pick up and share from during lightly attended Masses.

33. An individual may dip his host into the Precious Blood instead of taking the Chalice to drink.

34. Communion may be distributed to Protestants during special occasions (like weddings and funerals).

35. Communion may be given to Protestants if they are the Heads of State or other dignitaries.

36. Children must receive First Confession prior to their First Communion.

37. Precious Blood which is not consumed during Mass may be disposed of by throwing it down the sink or sacrarium.

38. Extraordinary Ministers may not purify (clean) the vessels instead of the priest.

39. The chalice may be made of clay or silver.

40. A decorative basket may be used to hold Holy Communion.

41. A cross must be on or near the altar during Mass.

42. An image of the Resurrected Christ may be used in place of a cross on or near the altar.

43. The tabernacle may not be re-located to an out-of-the-way chapel, even if the pastor wishes to do so.

44. It is permissible for a Church to be totally bare of any images of the Saints if the pastor deems it appropriate.

45. People must always genuflect when passing in front of the Eucharist.

46. People are not required to kneel during the Consecration.

47. If there are no kneelers, the people may stand during the Consecration.

48. The priest may invite individuals to stand around the altar and hold hands during the Consecration if it is a lightly attended Mass.

49. After Communion, people are free to stand, sit or kneel.

50. Dancing may be performed during any liturgical service, especially those with children.

51. In America, blue may be used as a liturgical color during Advent or Lent instead of purple.

52. It is required that crosses be veiled from Good Friday to the Easter Vigil.

53. Women may join the 12 selected members of the parish to have their feet washed on Holy Thursday.

54. All holy water fonts must be refilled with water which was blessed at the Easter Vigil.

55. All holy water fonts must be covered during Lent.

56. While giving a homily, the priest may leave the Sanctuary and walk among the people if he so chooses.

57. During the recitation of the Creed, all are required to bow or kneel during the lines "by the power of the Holy Spirit..."

58. If improper bread and wine are used, the Consecration may be invalid.

59. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion must be of 'mature age' and 'outstanding piety".

60. The wine must have a small amount of water mixed with it in order to be properly consecrated.

Answers to True/False Quiz

The source for most answers are in parenthesis - see source abbreviations below:

1. True - the priest is permitted to change the word "brethren" to "brothers and sisters". (GIRM 86, GIRM II).

2. False - No one is permitted to change gender-related language or eliminate male references while reading Scripture. (CIC 838, 846)

3. False - No words of the Creed are ever permitted to be changed or revised for any reason or under any circumstances. (CIC 838, 846)

4. True - general announcements may be made during the concluding rites. (GIRM 139)

5. False - a priest may never give 'general absolution' as a substitution for individual confession during an ordinary Mass or under non-emergency circumstances. (CIC 961)

6. True - the rite of blessing and sprinkling takes the place of the "Lord have Mercy" and penitential rite.

7. False - no lector (or anyone else) may use the NRSV of Scripture during any Mass, as it has not been approved by Rome for liturgical use. (CIC 826, CIC 838).

8. True - a priest may not omit the homily on Sundays or Holy Days. (CIC 767)

9. False - a priest may omit the homily on weekday Masses if they are not a Holy Day.

10. True - only an ordained minister (priest, deacon or bishop) may give the homily at Mass. (CIC 766)

11. False - the term "Eucharistic Minister" is to be avoided and has never been approved by Rome. (per Vatican Encyclical)

12. False - a 'talk' or 'reflection' by a non-ordained minister may never be used in place of the homily. (CIC 766)

13. False - the Creed may never be omitted on Sundays or Holy Days. (GIRM 44)

14. True - The Apostle's Creed may be substituted for the Nicene Creed at a children's Masses only. (GIRM 44)

15. True - the priest may never omit washing his hands at the beginning of the Eucharistic Liturgy. (GIRM 52)

16. False - the priest may not substitute 'our' for 'my' in the prayer asking for his sins to be cleansed prior to the Eucharistic Liturgy. (Sacramentary)

17. True - (technically), although the General Rites indicate that a bell usually should be rung, is entirely appropriate, and sometimes necessary. (GIRM 109)

18. False - the people may never join in with the "Through Him, with Him, in Him..." prayer. (ID 4)

19. True - only the Eucharistic Prayers approved by the Vatican are to be used in Mass. (ID 5)

20. True - only unleavened bread made from wheat flour and water in the preferred form of round wafers may be used. (CIC 924)

21. False - Communion made from any substance other than unleavened bread, especially those which crumble, may never be used under any circumstances. (CIC 924)

22. False - The Vatican Document Notitiae (Not 11 (1975) 226) stated the practice of holding hands during the Our Father should be "repudiated". That means it should not happen, and should not continue. (see also DOL 1502)

23. True - The actual wording is: : "Then the deacon (or the priest) may add: Let us offer each other the sign of peace." (Note "may" does not mean it is required) (GIRM 112)

24. False - the sign of peace may not be moved to any other portion of the Mass. (GIRM 112)

25. False - despite wide-spread acceptance, the priest is prohibited from leaving the Sanctuary to exchange peace with the congregation. (GIRM 136)

26. True - the term preferred by Rome is "Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion" - NOT "Eucharistic Minister." (Vatican Encyclical - DOL)

27. False - The priest must always receive Holy Communion prior to those assisting at the altar. (GIRM 116-117)

28. False - Extraordinary Ministers should not be used at Masses when there are not large numbers of the faithful in attendance, unless the priest is physically unable to distribute Communion. (IC)

29. False - No one may be refused the right to receive the Eucharist on the tongue. (AGI 240)

30. True - altar servers, lectors and Extraordinary Ministers also have the right to receive the Eucharist on the tongue. (GIRM 117)

31. False - changing fixed prayers of the Mass is strictly prohibited for any priest, bishop or deacon. (CIC 838)

32. False - the faithful are not permitted to 'self communicate' by picking up the chalice from the altar. (HLS 47)

33. False - Communion by intinction (dipping the host into the chalice) must be done by the priest or Extraordinary Minister only (not the individual receiving) and must then be administered on the tongue. (HLS 45)

34. False - Communion given to non-Catholics under normal circumstances is prohibited. (CIC 844)

35. False - see above explanation.

36. True - it is prohibited for a parish to not allow children to make their First Confession prior to their First Communion.(QS)

37. False - any remaining Precious Blood must be consumed by the priest or attending Extraordinary Ministers. (HLS 34, 36, 38)

38. True - a deacon only, or the Priest himself (not lay people) may purify the vessels. This is a new directive handed on to us by Pope Benedict XVI

39. False - chalices made of absorbent material or material prone to corrosion are prohibited. (GIRM 291)

40. False - the vessels used to hold Consecrated Hosts must be "noble, durable and sacred". (ID 16)

41. True - a cross must be on or near the altar during Mass. (GIRM 270)

42. False - an image of the Resurrected Christ may not be used in place of the cross on or near the altar. (CMRR 64)

43. True - the Tabernacle should be 'placed in a part of the Church that is prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer' (Canon Law 938)

44. False - It is prohibited for a church to be devoid of any images of the Saints. (GIRM 278)

45. True - individuals must always genuflect when passing by the Eucharist, whether in the tabernacle or publicly exposed. (GIRM 233)

46. False - all are required to kneel until after the end of the 'Sanctus', through the Consecration, until the Great Amen. (GIRM 21, AGI 21)

47. False - even if no kneelers are present, the faithful are still required to kneel during the above mentioned times, unless there is not adequate physical space to do so. (DOL 1411)

48. False - individuals may never be invited to hold hands around the altar during the Consecration. (Notitiae 17)

49. True - there is no required posture after receiving Holy Communion. (GIRM 21)

50. False - dancing of any kind during liturgical services (in Western Churches) is strictly prohibited.

(Notitiae II 202-205)

51. False - it is not permissible to substitute blue for purple as a liturgical color. (GIRM 307)

52. True - Crosses and other images should be covered during this time. (PS 26)

53. True - a Directive issued by the Episcopal Conference of Bishops in the United States permits this practice.

54. True - the holy water fonts should be filled with water that was blessed during the Easter Vigil. (PS 97)

55. False - directives state that only the cross and other images (i.e. statues) must be covered. The practice of covering holy water fonts only deprives the faithful of the indulgences they receive from crossing themselves with holy water upon entering and leaving church. (PS 26)

56. False - the priest is actually prohibited from leaving the sanctuary while giving the homily. (GIRM 97)

57. True - although it is rarely done today, during the recitation of the Creed, all are required to bow or kneel at the words "by the power of the Holy Spirit..." (GIRM 98)

58. True - depending on how much of an abuse of approved materials occurred, the Consecration may be 'invalid' -- that is the bread and wine remained bread and wine only, and did not become the Body and Blood of Jesus. (CIC 924)

59. True - directives for choosing Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion state that they should be of 'mature age' and 'outstanding piety'. (DOL 2048)

60. True - to be both validly and licitly performed, Consecration of the Precious Blood requires that a small amount of water be mixed with the wine. (ID 8)

Source Abbreviations: - GIRM = "General Instruction of the Roman Missal", CIC = Code of Canon Law, ID= "Inaestimabile Donum", DOL = "Documents on the Liturgy", IC = "Immensae Caritatis", AGI = Appendix to the Sacramentary,HLS = U.S. Bishop's Directory on Communion under both Species, QS = Quam Singulari, CMRR- "Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite",PS = "Paschales Solemnitatis"

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