Jan 16, 2020

Readers’ Quiz: The Roman Missal (in general)

Editor’s note: we’re introducing a new feature, a Readers’ Quiz, to test your own knowledge and, we hope, supplement your own understanding of some aspect of the liturgy. In this, our first Quiz, we’ll test your general knowledge of the post conciliar Missal in its 50th year of use. Answers to this quiz are printed on the bottom of page 12. Good luck!


  1. Which 20th century pope was the first to mention a revision of the Roman Missal?
    1. Pius X (1903-1914).
    2. Benedict XV (1914-1922).
    3. Pius XII (1939-1958).
    4. John XXIII (1958-1963).


  1. What is the difference between a Missal and a Sacramentary?


  1. True or False: The Missal of St. Paul VI downplays the sacrificial nature of the Mass.


  1. Which liturgical minister is presumed in the first post-conciliar Missal (1969), but no longer present in today’s third edition (2002)?


  1. What was “the aim to be considered before all else” in the reform of the Missal?


  1. Which Missal—the Tridentine or the Novus Ordo—was compiled by a special group of experts?


  1. Parts of the first Latin edition of the Missale Romanum of St. Paul VI were available to use on November 30, 1969. When was the first English-language Sacramentary available for use?


  1. True or False: The General Instruction of the Roman Missal describes the new Missal’s break with the Tridentine Missal and the larger tradition.


  1. Which of the following lines is NOT from the post-conciliar Missal?
    1. “No Catholic would now deny a sacred rite celebrated in Latin to be legitimate and efficacious.”
    2. “The liturgical norms of the Council of Trent have certainly been completed and perfected in many particulars by those of the Second Vatican Council.”
    3. “Pastors of souls should take liberties to adapt the ritual wherever necessary to the sensibilities of participants.”
    4. “The nature of the ministerial Priesthood proper to the Bishop and the Priest, who offer the Sacrifice in the person of Christ and who preside over the gathering of the holy people, shines forth in the form of the rite itself, on account of the more prominent place and function given to the Priest.”


  1. Which council does the General Instruction of the Roman Missal cite when directing that “at each Mass the faithful present should communicate not only by spiritual desire but also by sacramental reception of the Eucharist”?
    1. Council of Nicaea (325)
    2. Council of Trent (1545-1563)
    3. Council of Pistoia (1786)
    4. Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)


Roman Missal Quiz Answers:

  1. Pius X. “As the arrangement of the psaltery has a certain intimate connection with all the divine office and the liturgy, it will be clear to everybody that by what we have here decreed we have taken the first step to the emendation of the Roman breviary and the missal, but for this we shall appoint shortly a special council or commission” (Apostolic Constitution Divino Afflatu, 1911).
  2. Historically speaking, a Sacramentary contained only the texts needed by the priest at Mass, and separate books would have held the texts required for readers, cantors, masters of ceremonies, and so forth. Various hybrids of these kinds of books also existed in the centuries before the invention of the printing press. A Missal, on the other hand, includes all the texts of the Mass in a single book, such that a priest could offer Mass alone with just the one book. The current Roman Missal, then, seems closer to a Sacramentary than a Missal. However, the post-Conciliar books conceive of the Lectionary and Graduale Romanum as part of the Missal’s whole, even though these texts are not contained between its covers. (Notice, for example, how the title page of the Lectionary begins, “The Roman Missal: Lectionary for Mass.”)
  3. False. The GIRM emphasizes the sacrificial nature of the Mass in its opening paragraphs: “The sacrificial nature of the Mass, solemnly defended by the Council of Trent, because it accords with the universal tradition of the Church, 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.’ 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’—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; 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” (GIRM, 2).
  4. The first edition of the Roman Missal from 1969 included instructions for the subdeacon. For example: “The subdeacon is ordained to serve at the altar and to assist the priest and deacon. In particular he prepares the altar and the sacred vessels and reads the epistle” (first edition of the GIRM, 65). Pope Paul VI transferred the liturgical duties of the subdeacon to the instituted lector and acolyte in his 1972 motu proprio Ministeria Quaedam: “consequently, the major order of subdiaconate no longer exists in the Latin Church”; the subdiaconate does exist in the Latin Church when she celebrates the Extraordinary Form.
  5. Full and active participation. “In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 14).
  6. From the Missal of St. Pius V: “We decided to entrust this work [of re-editing the Missal] to learned men of our selection. They very carefully collated all their work with the ancient codices in Our Vatican Library and with reliable, preserved or emended codices from elsewhere” (Pope Pius V, Quo Primum). From the Missal of St. Paul VI: “In order that this work [of revising rites and preparing new liturgical books] may be carried out with the necessary wisdom and prudence, we are establishing a special commission whose principal task will be to implement in the best possible way the prescriptions of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy itself” (Pope Paul VI, Sacram Liturgiam).
  7. The Sacramentary was available for optional use in July 1974, and mandatory use on December 1, 1974. Although a complete, bound copy of the Sacramentary wasn’t available in English until this time, a revised “order of Mass,” including four Eucharistic Prayers and a handful of prefaces, was available in 1970 in English as a 65-page insert to be used with the 1966 Sacramentary.
  8. To cite but one example from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal: “When it set out its instructions for the renewal of the Order of Mass, the Second Vatican Council, using, namely, the same words as did St. Pius V in the Apostolic Constitution Quo primum, by which the Missal of Trent was promulgated in 1570, also ordered, among other things, that a number of rites be restored ‘to the original norm of the holy Fathers.’ From the fact that the same words are used, it can be noted how the two Roman Missals, although four centuries have intervened, embrace one and the same tradition” (6). In paragraphs 6-15, when the GIRM grounds the Missal in the Church’s “Uninterrupted Tradition” (6-9) and its “Accommodation to New Conditions” (10-15), references are made to the Council of Trent, Pope Pius V, and the Missal of 1571 in nearly every paragraph.
  9. “Pastors of souls should take liberties to adapt the ritual wherever necessary to the sensibilities of participants” is found nowhere in the Roman Missal. (Option is found in GIRM 12; option b. in GIRM 15; option d. in GIRM 4.)
  10. Council of Trent. See GIRM, 13; also, Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session XXII, Doctrina de ss. Missae sacrificio, chapter 6: Denzinger-Schönmetzer, no. 1747. Even though Christ himself commanded his apostles (and, with them, the Church) to take, eat, and drink, regular reception of Holy Communion has varied in its frequency throughout the ages of the Church. The Council of Trent was one of many councils to encourage worthy and regular Eucharist communion.


The Editors