Effect of Trent on the Mass

The Solemn mass in extraordinary form is often referred to as “Tridentine” Mass. Such a term is misleading, since one might think that such a mass started from the Council of Trent(1545-1563), which is not the case, since the Council was responsible for proliferation of modifications of the traditional Latin Rite Mass. Having said so, these entails of the Mass had remained constant since the time of Pope St Gregory, who is one of the Doctors of the Church and one of the Latin Fathers. Thus the Council of Trent didn’t start the mass in extraordinary form, instead it helped to impose a revised missal( which is a collection of instructions for celebrating the Mass). The connection between faith and the highest form of liturgy, has its Classic expression in the Council of Trent, which dealt with the topic in three sessions: the 13th in October 1551, the 20th session in July 1562, which dealt with the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and especially the 22nd in September 1562, which produced the dogmatic chapters and canons on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There is also a particular decree that concerns those things that need to be observed and avoided in the celebration of Mass. Thus, this is a classical and central statement, authoritative and official of the Church’s mind on the subject. Before one continues to read further one must understand that the Protestant Reformation was the main reason behind such a Council. Thus, such documents are given their necessary importance when one realizes that they are a response to what Martin Luther had said. So what did the former Augustinian priest say, which caused such a Counter Reformation?  Martin Luther had clearly and openly denied its very nature by stating that the Mass was not a sacrifice. It is true that, in order not to disturb the simple faithful, the Reformers did not immediately eliminate all those parts of the Mass which reflected the true Faith and ran contrary to their new doctrines. For example, they retained the elevation of the Host between the Sanctus and the Benedictus. For Luther and his followers, worship consisted mainly in preaching as a means of instruction and edification, interwoven with prayers and hymns. The reception of Holy Communion was only a secondary event. Luther still maintained the presence of Christ in the bread at the moment of its reception, but he strongly denied the Sacrifice of the Mass. For him the altar could never be a place of sacrifice. From this denial we can understand the consequent flaws in the Protestant liturgy, which is completely different from that of the Catholic Church. We can also understand why the Council of Trent defined the part of the Catholic Faith which concerns the nature of the Eucharistic sacrifice: it is a real saving, force. In the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the priest is a substitute of Christ himself. As a result of his ordination he is a true alter Christus. By means of the Consecration the bread is changed into the Body of Christ and the wine into His Blood. This implementation of His sacrifice is the adoration of God.


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