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Analyzing the Canon of the Mass

An analysis of the Canon or Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass both the modern version—Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1—and the Traditional Latin Mass of Pius V or Gregorian Canon as translated from the Latin (from 1945 Roman Missal). This is what is called the "Holy Sacrifice" of the Mass.

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The following is not done in mean spiritedness, instead it is designed to set before the Catholic laity the words of both the old and the new Eucharistic prayers of the church to show that both do little more than use pretty words in an attempt to mask the church’s own confusion. It is a confusion rooted in the loss of the Gospel.

As we analyze the following, we ask the questions: Does this “Canon of the Mass” accurately reflect the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  If so, how? If not, why not?  Also, what is being conveyed to the people? 

The following is both Canons of the translated to English Traditional Latin Mass labeled Gregorian Canon and the Eucharistic Prayer of the Novus Ordo, or New Order of the Mass, promulgated by Pope Paul VI, followed by commentary, which includes insights from a former Catholic theologian, with whom I am aquainted.

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 -- We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving through Jesus Christ your Son. Through him we ask you to accept and bless these gifts we offer you in sacrifice. We offer them for your holy catholic Church, watch over it, Lord, and guide it; grant it peace and unity throughout the world. We offer them for N. our Pope, for N. our bishop, and for all who hold and teach the catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles. Remember Lord, your people, especially those for whom we now pray N. and N.

(Gregorian Canon -- “Wherefore, we humbly pray and beseech Thee, most merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, to receive and to bless these gifts, these presents, these holy unspotted sacrifices, which we offer up to Thee, in the first place for Thy holy Catholic Church, that it may please Thee to grant her peace, to guard, unite, and guide her through out the world; as also for They servant N. our Pope, and N. our Bishop and for all who are orthodox in belief and who profess the Catholic and apostolic faith.”)

Commentary - Here the priest is asking God to bless and see the host (bread) and our gifts as holy and so precious that they may serve as a sacrifice before God on behalf of all Christians. The bread and wine are still unconsecrated yet we call them unspotted and holy and present them to God as a sacrifice? We say this on behalf of all believers!  We attempt to offer bread and wine as a pure sacrifice and ask God to be pleased with them and bless them. God is not pleased or appeased by our offering Him bread and wine, He is pleased with the one sacrifice that His Son has made once and for all for all Christians. He calls it “My sacrifice” in Mal. (1:11). We are to be acknowledging the one sacrifice of Christ, not trying to make of our offerings a sacrifice in anyway confusing with His one sacrifice. Many liturgies often confuse our own offerings of thanksgiving, praise, money, time , talent and—yes, ourselves—with the sacrifice of Christ. This is to be avoided.

PRAYER FOR THE LIVING

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 Lord, Remember all of us gathered here before you. You know how firmly we believe in you and dedicate ourselves to you. We offer you this sacrifice of praise for ourselves and those who are dear to us. We pray to you, our living and true God, for our well-being and redemption.

(Gregorian Canon “Be mindful, O Lord, Thy servants, N. and N. and all here present, whose faith and devotion are known to Thee, for whom we offer, or who offer up to Thee, this sacrifice of praise for themselves, their families, and their friends, for the salvation of their souls and the heath and welfare they hope for and who now pay their vows to Thee, God eternal, living, and true.”)

Commentary - Now the priest involves those who are present in offering the still, as of yet, unconsecrated bread and wine and insists that they are actually offered for the redemption of their souls. If they believe in Christ by faith, how can it be that their souls still need redemption? Or has Christ failed to redeem them yet by the sacrifice of Himself? That's certainly the sound of it, isn't it?

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 In union with the whole Church, we honor Mary , the ever-virgin mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God. We honor Joseph, her husband, the apostles and martyrs Peter and Paul, Andres (James….and Damian) and all the saints. May their merits and prayers gain us to your constant help and protection (through Christ our Lord, Amen)

(Gregorian Canon “Having communion with and vernerating the memory, first, of the ever a virgin, mother of Jesus Christ, our God and our Lord: likewise of Thy blessed apostles and martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew…Cosmas and Damian; and all of thy Saints; for the sake of whose merits and prayers do Thou grant that in all things we may be defended by the help of Thy protection. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen..”)

Commentary - Christ instituted his body and blood for His own memorial (1 Cor. 11:24-25) but this canon also makes it a memorial and fellowship of departed saints and sets them up as intercessors and mediators (merits) at the same time we are supposedly talking about our sole mediator, Christ. Somewhat confusing? Indeed.

DURING THE CONSECRATION:

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 Father, accept this offering from your whole family. Grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen (through Christ our Lord, Amen.).

 (Gregorian Canon “Wherefore, we beseech Thee, O Lord graciously to receive this oblation which we Thy servants , and with us Thy whole family, offer up to Thee; dispose our days in Thy peace; command that we be saved from eternal damnation and numbered among the flock of Thine elect. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”)

Commentary - Once again the, as of yet, unconsecrated bread and wine are offered that we may be saved from eternal damnation and counted among the elect. And where is Christ’s one sacrifice that saves all who believe in him, once and for all, from eternal damnation and allows us to be counted among the elect? No where mentioned as of yet. Curious.

A PRAYER

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 Bless and approve our offering; make it acceptable to you, an offering in spirit and in truth. Let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord.

(Gregorian Canon “And do thou O God, vouchsafe in all respects to bless, consecrate and approve this our oblation, to perfect it and to render it well-pleasing to Thyself, so that it may become for us the body and blood of Thy most beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”)

Commentary - The host has already been called by the priest “holy and unspotted” and we’re not sure why because it hasn’t yet been consecrated. Now we are given a string of adverbs and adjectives about our wishes for an oblation (sacrifice) that we’re still wondering about but we are assured that we’re praying it become the body and blood of Christ.

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 The day before he suffered he took bread in his sacred hands and looking up to heaven, to you, his almighty Father, he gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: Take this all of you, and eat it: THIS IS MY BODY, which will be given up for you.

(Gregorian Canon “Who, the day before He suffered, took bread into His holy and vernerable hands, and having lifted up His eyes to heaven, to Thee, God, His almighty Father, giving thanks to Thee, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying Take ye and eat ye all of this; FOR THIS IS MY BODY." (priest elevates the Sacred Host, look at it and say devoutly:) "My Lord and My God."

Commentary - Christ plainly tells us “given for you” in Luke 22:20, why is it not here (in Gregorian)? Perhaps we don't wish to personalize this?

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said: Take this, all of you, and drink from it: THIS IS THE CUP OF MY BLOOD, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

(Gregorian Canon “In like manner, after He had supped, taking also into His holy and vernerable hands this goodly chalice again giving thans to Thee, He blessed it and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take ye, and drink ye all of this: FOR THIS IS THE CUP OF MY BLOOD OF THE NEW AND EVERLASTING TESTAMENT: WHICH FOR YOU AND FOR MANY SHALL BE SHED TO THE REMISSION OF SINS.” As oft as ye do these things, ye shall do them in remembrance of me.”)

Commentary - Though Christ plainly commands us “Drink of it all of you” (Matt. 26:27) we still often fail to provide the cup to the laity. This is particularly problematic because Christ tells us also that it is “shed for you” (Luke 22:20) “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). The faithful must be shown that these words definitely apply to them by being offered the cup. Watch EWTN’s daily Mass and you will see it is usually withheld from the laity even today.

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 Father, we celebrate the memory of Christ, your Son. We, your people and your ministers, recall his passion, his resurrection from the dead and his ascension into glory; and from the many gifts you have given us we offer to you, God of glory and majesty, this holy and perfect sacrifice: the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation.

(Gregorian Canon Wherefore, O Lord, we also, thy servants and thy holy people, calling to mind the blessed passion of the same Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, His resurrection from the grave, and His glorious ascension into heaven offer up to Thy most excellent majesty of Thine own gifts bestowed upon us, a victim which is pure, a victim which is holy, a victim which is stainless, the holy bread of life everlasting, and the chalice of eternal salvation")

Commentary - The bread is now the body, the wine the blood, why do we return to an offering of “holy bread and cup of salvation”? Why is this done? Simply, so the priest can offer up Christ again and again, no matter that He (Christ) offered himself once for all (Heb. 9:25-26) and no matter that he cannot die again and be offered up again (Rom. 6:9-10). Yet He is offered this way more than a hundred thousand times each day and those who offer it, knowingly or not, either deny His “once forever” sacrifice or seem to believe that it was not enough. Are we fostering such beliefs?

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchisedech.

(Gregorian Canon “Vouchsafe to look upon them with a gracious and tranquil countenance, and to accept them, even as Thou wast please to accept the offerings of Thy just servant Abel, and the sacrifice of Abraham, our patriarch, and that which Melchisedech, Thy high priest, offered up to Thee, a holy sacrifice, a victim without blemish.”)

Commentary - The consecrated bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ, are now before the priest but He is praying to God to accept them and be pleased with them? Why would the priest say such a thing? Is he trying to serve as mediator between God the Father and His only Son? Even in his so-called “persona Christi” why would he ask that this be pleasing when it is obvious that God was pleased with Christ’s sacrifice? Is the priest “negotiating?” And why would the most glorious of all sacrifices, that of the Son, be compared with such lesser Old Testament sacrifices which are all instead "shadows" purified only by the sacrifice of Christ? It should also be noted that Mechizedeck did not “sacrifice” bread and wine.

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing. (Through Christ our Lord, Amen).

(Gregorian Canon “We humbly beseech thee, almighty God, to command that these our offerings be borne by the hands of Thy holy angel to Thine altar on high in the presence of Thy divine Majesty; that as many of us as shall receive the most sacred Body and Blood of Thy Son by partaking thereof from this altar may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.” )

Commentary - High marks for imagination here. Again the body and blood of Christ is now before the priest but the words of consecration that Christ gave us are not enough. Now we must ask God to command that an angel take this to an altar in heaven to ensure that it will truly fill us with every grace and blessing. Again, what a powerful priest we have here who assumes to mediate between the Father and the Son, and all without any warrant or reason. Totally unnecessary but again very dramatic and “authoritative.”

COMMEMORATION OF THE DEAD

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 Remember, Lord, those who have died and have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, especially those for whom we now pray, N. and N. May these, and all who sleep in Christ, find in your presence light, happiness, and peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Gregorian Canon “Be mindful also, O Lord, of They servants N. and N., who have gone before us with the sign of faith and who sleep the sleep of peace. To these, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and peace. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.”)

Commentary - Now back again to the dead. If these dead died marked with the sign of faith and sleep in peace and rest in Christ, why do they need our prayers? Perhaps because some believe their loved ones came up short and ended up in the myth of Purgatory and are willing to pay good money (for the Mass) to help get them out of there? Just a thought and not a far-fetched one at that since Purgatory is an official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church.

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 For ourselves too, we ask some share in the fellowship of your apostles and martyrs, with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias…Anastasia and all the saints. Though we are sinners, we trust in your mercy and love. Do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us your forgiveness, through Christ our Lord.

(Gregorian Canon “To us sinners, also, Thy servants, who put our trust in the multitude of Thy mercies, vouchsafe to grant some part and fellowship with Thy holy apostles and martyrs; with John Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, ....Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia, and with all Thy saints. Into their company do Thou, we beseech Thee, admit us, not weighing our merits, but freely pardoning our offenses, through Christ our Lord.”)

Commentary - Here we pray: “put us with the saints Lord, that’s all we ask.” Even though Christ offers His very fellowship for us in heaven and comfort of the Holy Spirit while on earth, just put us somewhere to consort with the saints when we die, that’s all we ask. Why?

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1  - Through him you give us all these gifts. You fill them with life and goodness, you bless them and make them holy. Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, forever and ever.

Let us pray to the Father in the words our Savior gave us: (priest and parishioners join in Our Father)

(following the Lord's prayer:) Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sins and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

(Gregorian Canon  - “By whom, O Lord, all these good things Thou dost always create, sanctify, quicken, bless and bestow upon us all these good things. 

“Through him and with him, and in him, is to Thee, God the Father almighty, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honor and glory. World without end. Amen.”

“Admonished by salutary precepts, and following divine directions, we presume to say:  (Next is prayed the Lord’s prayer)

“Deliver us, we beseech thee, O Lord, from all evils, past, present and to come and by the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary, ever a virgin, Mother of God, and of Thy holy apostles Peter and Paul, of Andrew, and of all the saints, graciously grant peace in our days, that through the help of Thy bountiful mercy we may always be free from sin and secure from all disturbance.  Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God. World without end. Amen.”)

Commentary - So (in the Gregorian Canon, at least) ultimately the saints play a very key role in reconciling us with God, or so it would seem. And again, we fail to mention that such reconciliation actually and really comes through no one but Christ Himself. No wonder this was changed in the Novus Ordo.

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 - Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live forever and ever. Amen. Let us offer each other the sign of peace.

(Next, during the breaking of the host, the priest mingles a piece of the consecrated host  in the blood and says:)  

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 - Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: grant us peace. 

May the mingling of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it. 

(Gregorian Canon "May this commingling and consecrating of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ avail us who recieve it unto life everlasting."  Amen

Commentary - Here something  is made of an act (commingling) that was devised by the Pope to represent a sharing with those in union or communion with his teachings—those in churches elsewhere. Instead the commingling is somehow given equality with the words of institution. The faithful are lead to believe that somehow the commingling may also be necessary for Christ to nourish us with his body and blood.  Again, we are distracted from Christ by our own actions and words.

Gregorian Canon (continues) Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace.”

“O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst say to Thine apostles: Peace I leave you.  My peace I give you:  look not up on my sins but upon the faith of Thy Church, and vouchsafe to grant her peace and unity according to Thy will. Who livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.”)

Commentary - Beautiful words as always but is it enough that the church has faith, or is it not essential that each one of us also have faith in God? Can we depend on the “faith” of the Church to override our lack of faith? In other words, what’s this getting at? Will we say anything about the Word of God in all this? Will someone explain that it is by Christ's very promise that we receive his body and blood ? Is it because of Christ himself or because of the certain prayer we pray that this happens?  

A PRAYER

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 (inaudibly) Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, by the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit your death brought life to the world. By your holy body and blood free me from all my sins, and from every evil. Keep me faithful to your teaching, and never let me be parted from you. (or Lord Jesus Christ, with faith in your love and mercy I eat your body and drink your blood. Let it not bring me condemnation, but health in mind and body.)

Gregorian Canon “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who, according to the will of the Father, through the cooperation of the the Holy Ghost hast by Thy  death given life to the world: deliver me by this Thy most sacred Body and Blood from all my iniquities and from every evil; make me always cleave to Thy commandments and never suffer me to be separated from Thee, Who with the same God the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.

Let not the partaking of Thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, all unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgment and condemnation: but through Thy loving kindness may it be to me a safeguard and remedy for the soul and body; Who with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest, God, world without end. Amen.

I will take the bread of heaven and will call upon the name of the Lord. 

Lord I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the world and my soul shall be healed.

May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep my soul unto life everlasting.

Commentary - Are our (the priest’s) works the focus here? “I take, (I) call” –how could the Lord possibly save me (or you folks) without my help?

Modern Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer 1 This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper. 

Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed. 

Gregorian Canon “Lord I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof but speak the word only and my soul will be healed. 

The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul to everlasting life. Amen.”

“What shall I render unto the Lord for all the things that He hath rendered unto me? I will take the chalice of salvation and will call upon the name of the Lord. With high praises will I call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from all mine enemies."

Commentary - This (paragraph immediately above)  is a misuse of Psalm 110 where David acknowledges God has helped him out of every adversity and in return David offers his modest portion or “cup” to tell the Lord he will willingly endure what God lays upon him (David). In the context it is used, it is as if we are somehow trying to repay God by agreeing to drink the blood of His Son. Not an appropriate Psalm in the offering and receiving of the Sacrament. More confusion.

Modern Novus Ordo May the Body of Christ bring me to everlasting life. May the blood of Christ bring me to everlasting life.

Gregorian Canon May the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep my soul unto life everlasting. 

May almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins and bring you to life everlasting. May the almighty and merciful Lord grant you pardon, absolution, and remission of your sins. 

Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who taketh away the sins of the world.

Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed. 

(priest goes to the communion rail and gives Holy Communion to each communicant saying:)

May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep our soul unto life everlasting. Amen.

(immediately after communion, the priest returns to the altar and receives wine in the chalice, saying:) 

Into a pure heart, O Lord, may we receive the heavenly food which has passed our lips; bestowed upon us in time, may it be the healing of our souls for eternity.

May Thy Body, O lord, which I have received and They Blood which I have drunk cleave to mine inmost parts; and do, Thou grant that no stain of sin remain in me, whom pure and holy mysteries have refreshed. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Commentary - If you think that “cleaving” is necessary to make sure that you, a sinner, will have no spot of sin abide in you, pray what you will.

Modern Novus Ordo (Priests gives communion to the communicants, offering both bread and wine saying, as appropriate: ) Body of Christ, Blood of Christ....

(he returns to the altar and clenses the vessels saying inaudibly:) Lord, may I receive these gifts in purity of heart. May they bring me healing and strength, now and forever. 

(after period of silence he says:) Let us pray (and proceeds with concluding rite.

(Gregorian Canon (As the priest prepares to leave the altar, the mass is finished and benediction has been pronounced, he bows before the middle of the altar and says this prayer; after which he kisses the altar:)

“May the lowly homage of my service be pleasing to Thee, O most holy Trinity: and do Thou grant that the sacrifice which I, all unworthy, have offered up in the sight of Thy majesty, may be acceptable to Thee, and because of They loving kindness, may avail to atone to Thee for myself and for all those for whom I have offered it up. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Commentary - Here is the Old Testament priest in New Testament garments. He makes another final prayer, asking that his recent offering of Christ may be pleasing. Why?  Why did he feel led to make this offering of Christ in the first place? And if he has indeed offered Christ to the Father, why is it that he is concerned that Christ alone may not be a pleasing sacrifice to the Father?

And so, in both of these Masses, we see something vastly different from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his "once for all time" complete and finished sacrifice. Instead, we see a continual and ongoing sacrifice of Christ that the Council of Trent tells us is necessary to constantly appease the wrath of God. It makes Christ's finished work on the cross, something that isn't finished yet. It turns the biblical Gospel on its head. It makes the priest absolutely indispensable re-sacrificer on our behalf. What would the early Christians have to say about all this?  Please go to Why Neither Mass is Acceptable to find out more. 

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