GIRM 2: Christ Guides Us

A reminder that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal is up at the USCCB site.

We have a lengthier section today, but it’s largely a re-statement of classical sacramental theology. Emphasizing the notion of the Eucharist as sacrifice, we read:

2. The sacrificial nature of the Mass, solemnly defended by the Council of Trent, because it accords with the universal tradition of the Church,[1] was once more stated by the Second Vatican Council, which pronounced these clear words about the Mass: “At the Last Supper, Our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood, by which the Sacrifice of his Cross is perpetuated until he comes again; and till then he entrusts the memorial of his Death and Resurrection to his beloved spouse, the Church.”[2]

What is taught in this way by the Council is consistently expressed in the formulas of the Mass. Moreover, the doctrine which stands out in the following sentence, already notable and concisely expressed in the ancient Sacramentary commonly called the Leonine—”for whenever the memorial of this sacrifice is celebrated the work of our redemption is accomplished”[3]—is aptly and exactly expounded in the Eucharistic Prayers; for as in these the Priest enacts the anamnesis, while turned towards God likewise in the name of all the people, he renders thanks and offers the living and holy sacrifice, that is, the Church’s oblation and the sacrificial Victim by whose death God himself willed to reconcile us to himself;[4] and the Priest also prays that the Body and Blood of Christ may be a sacrifice which is acceptable to the Father and which brings salvation to the whole world.[5]

So, in the new Missal the rule of prayer (lex orandi) of the Church corresponds to her perennial rule of faith (lex credendi), by which we are truly taught that the sacrifice of his Cross and its sacramental renewal in the Mass, which Christ the Lord instituted at the Last Supper and commanded his Apostles to do in his memory, are one and the same, differing only in the manner of their offering; and as a result, that the Mass is at one and the same time a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, propitiation, and satisfaction.


[1] Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session XXII, September 17, 1562: Enchiridion Symbolorum, H. Denzinger and A. Schönmetzer, editors (editio XXXIII, Freiburg: Herder, 1965; hereafter, Denz-Schön), nos. 1738-1759.

[2] Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 47; cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen gentium, nos. 3, 28; Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum ordinis, nos. 2, 4, 5.

[3] Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Prayer over the Offerings. Cf. Sacramentarium Veronense, L.C. Mohlberg editor, no. 93.

[4] Cf. Eucharistic Prayer III.

[5] Cf. Eucharistic Prayer IV.

Satisfactory to all? Comments?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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