What Is The Proper Verb That Describes What The Priest Does At Mass?

I am always inclined to say “celebrate the Mass” but I am not sure if this is the correct verb because we don’t necessarily celebrate sacrifices, do we?. Some say “pray the Mass” which seems better but foreign to me. I was curious what your thoughts are on this subject.

The terms that I grew up hearing:

Father is saying Mass.
Father is offering the Mass.
Father is celebrating Mass.

I still hear all of those terms.

“Celebrate” is correct. As are “offer” or “say”.

I don’t know about “offer” because he is not “offering the Mass” because the parish is one doing that. In the case of “offer”, shouldn’t it be “offering at the Mass”?

I agree.
I’ve never yet heard “pray the Mass.”
Maybe the usage is new?

The term “offer Mass” is used in Vatican documents and it is phrased that way in the Catholic Encyclopedia from 1910. The priest offers the sacrifice. We, the people, unite ourselves to that sacrifice.

Yes, the priest is offering the Mass.
Without a priest offering the Mass, there would be no Mass.

The Cath. Encyc. uses “celebrate the Mass” quite often as well. Usually, I think it uses offer in conjunction with speaking of th sacrifice or its effects, fruits, etc.

“Pray the Holy Mass” - His Holiness Pope St. Pius X

Pope St. Pius x? Yes, very new. Alive fewer than 100 years ago.

I think celebrate is the most canonically precise term for what he does (and pertains to all sacramental rites) although offer and say are also alright. So, when one conducts a sacramental rite one celebrates that rite, when one imparts a particular sacrament to an individual, one administers the sacrament (like penance). So one can celebrate the rite of baptism in order to administer it to individuals X, Y, and Z; one celebrates the Mass, but administers the Eucharist to those in the communion line, etc.

So no one has heard the phrase, “confect the Eucharist”?

Sister Joan Chittiser says the proper term is “praying Eucharist as a meal in harmony with the community.”

The problem is her views either border on heresy or are outright heretical given her associations with Call To Action.

The only ones who should determine the proper term are those actually ordained, ie priests, bishops.

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There really should be a rule against quoting Sr. Joan here!

Interestingly, the USCCB says we all celebrate the Mass.


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The problem with Joan is that she may be in harmony with the community but she certainly is not in harmony with the church,

She may be in harmony with the community but she certainly is out of harmony with The Church!:eek:

Most often I use “celebrates Mass” or occasionally “says Mass.” The other one I hear frequently is “presides at Mass.”

I hope you are being sarcastic! Some people might not know this “Sister” and think her views are legitimate. :frowning:

I hear “saying Mass” a lot, but in the old days :smiley: it was “offering” because the priest offers the sacrifice, in persona Christi, to the Father.

I once heard a priest say “to pray the Mass is to celebrate the Mass”

I, myself generally say “say the Mass”.
I do have a small pocket prayer book that does say that “The Mass is greatest of all prayers”.