Chapter VI: The Requisites for the Celebration of Mass

From the General Instruction on the Roman Missal

I. The Bread and Wine for Celebrating the Eucharist

319. Following the example of Christ, the Church has always used bread and wine with water to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

320. The bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be made only from wheat, must be recently made, and, according to the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, must be unleavened.

321. By reason of the sign, it is required that the material for the Eucharistic Celebration truly have the appearance of food. Therefore, it is desirable that the Eucharistic Bread, even though unleavened and made in the traditional form, be fashioned in such a way that the Priest at Mass with the people is truly able to break it into parts and distribute these to at least some of the faithful. However, small hosts are not at all excluded when the large number of those receiving Holy Communion or other pastoral reasons call for them. Moreover, the gesture of the fraction or breaking of bread, which was quite simply the term by which the Eucharist was known in apostolic times, will bring out more clearly the force and importance of the sign of the unity of all in the one bread, and of the sign of charity by the fact that the one bread is distributed among the brothers and sisters.

322. The wine for the celebration of the Eucharist must be from the fruit of the vine (cf. Lk 22:18), natural, and unadulterated, that is, without admixture of extraneous substances.

323. Diligent care should be taken to ensure that the bread and wine intended for the Eucharist are kept in a perfect state of conservation: that is, that the wine does not turn to vinegar nor the bread spoil or become too hard to be broken easily.

324. If after the Consecration or as he receives Communion, the Priest notices that not wine but only water was poured into the chalice, he pours the water into some container, pours wine with water into the chalice and consecrates it, saying the part of narrative relating to the Consecration of the chalice, without being obliged to consecrate the bread again.

II. Sacred Furnishings in General

325. As in the case of the building of churches, so also regarding all sacred furnishings, the Church admits the manner of art of each individual region and accepts those adaptations that are in keeping with the culture and traditions of the individual nations, provided that all are suited to the purpose for which the sacred furnishings are intended.[134]

In this matter as well, that noble simplicity should be ensured which is the best accompaniment of genuine art.

326. In choosing materials for sacred furnishings, besides those which are traditional, others are admissible that, according to the mentality of our own age, are considered to be noble and are durable, and well suited for sacred use. In the Dioceses of the United States of America these materials may include wood, stone, or metal which are solid and appropriate to the purpose for which they are employed.

III. Sacred Vessels

327. Among the requisites for the celebration of Mass, the sacred vessels are held in special honor, and among these especially the chalice and paten, in which the bread and wine are offered and consecrated and from which they are consumed.

328. Sacred vessels should be made from precious metal. If they are made from metal that rusts or from a metal less precious than gold, they should generally be gilded on the inside.

329. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, sacred vessels may also be made from other solid materials which in the common estimation in each region are considered precious or noble, for example, ebony or other harder woods, provided that such materials are suitable for sacred use. In this case, preference is always to be given to materials that do not easily break or deteriorate. This applies to all vessels that are intended to hold the hosts, such as the paten, the ciborium, the pyx, the monstrance, and others of this kind.

330. As regards chalices and other vessels that are intended to serve as receptacles for the Blood of the Lord, they are to have a bowl of material that does not absorb liquids. The base, on the other hand, may be made of other solid and worthy materials.

331. For the Consecration of hosts, a large paten may fittingly be used, on which is placed the bread both for the Priest and the Deacon and also for the other ministers and for the faithful.

332. As regards the form of the sacred vessels, it is for the artist to fashion them in a manner that is more particularly in keeping with the customs of each region, provided the individual vessels are suitable for their intended liturgical use and are clearly distinguishable from vessels intended for everyday use.

333. As for the blessing of sacred vessels, the rites prescribed in the liturgical books should be followed.[135]

334. The practice should be kept of building in the sacristy a sacrarium into which is poured the water from the washing of sacred vessels and linens (cf. no. 280).

IV. Sacred Vestments

335. In the Church, which is the Body of Christ, not all members have the same function. This diversity of offices is shown outwardly in the celebration of the Eucharist by the diversity of sacred vestments, which must therefore be a sign of the function proper to each minister. Moreover, these same sacred vestments should also contribute to the decoration of the sacred action itself. The vestments worn by Priests and Deacons, as well as the attire worn by lay ministers, are blessed before being put into liturgical use according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.[136]

336. The sacred garment common to all ordained and instituted ministers of any rank is the alb, to be tied at the waist with a cincture unless it is made so as to fit even without such. Before the alb is put on, should this not completely cover the ordinary clothing at the neck, an amice should be used. The alb may not be exchanged for a surplice, not even over a cassock, on occasions when a chasuble or dalmatic is to be worn or when, according to the norms, only a stole is worn without a chasuble or dalmatic.

337. The vestment proper to the Priest Celebrant at Mass and during other sacred actions directly connected with Mass is the chasuble worn, unless otherwise indicated, over the alb and stole.

338. The vestment proper to the Deacon is the dalmatic, worn over the alb and stole; however, the dalmatic may be omitted out of necessity or on account of a lesser degree of solemnity.

339. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, acolytes, altar servers, readers, and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other appropriate and dignified clothing.

340. The stole is worn by the Priest around his neck and hanging down in front of his chest, while it is worn by the Deacon over his left shoulder and drawn diagonally across the chest to the right side, where it is fastened.

341. The cope is worn by the Priest in processions and during other sacred actions, in accordance with the rubrics proper to the individual rites.

342. As regards the form of sacred vestments, Conferences of Bishops may determine and propose to the Apostolic See adaptations that correspond to the needs and the usages of the individual regions.[137]

343. For making sacred vestments, in addition to traditional materials, natural fabrics proper to each region may be used, and also artificial fabrics that are in keeping with the dignity of the sacred action and the sacred person. The Conference of Bishops will be the judge of this matter.[138]

344. It is fitting that the beauty and nobility of each vestment not be sought in an abundance of overlaid ornamentation, but rather in the material used and in the design. Ornamentation on vestments should, moreover, consist of figures, that is, of images or symbols, that denote sacred use, avoiding anything unbecoming to this.

345. Diversity of color in the sacred vestments has as its purpose to give more effective expression even outwardly whether to the specific character of the mysteries of faith to be celebrated or to a sense of Christian life’s passage through the course of the liturgical year.

346. As regards the color of sacred vestments, traditional usage should be observed, namely:

a) The color white is used in the Offices and Masses during Easter Time and Christmas Time; on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity; and furthermore on celebrations of the Lord other than of his Passion, celebrations of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Holy Angels, and of Saints who were not Martyrs; on the Solemnities of All Saints (November 1) and of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June24 ); and on the Feasts of St. John the Evangelist (December 27), of the Chair of St. Peter (February 22), and of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25).

b) The color red is used on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion and on Friday of Holy Week (Good Friday), on Pentecost Sunday, on celebrations of the Lord’s Passion, on the “birthday” feast days of Apostles and Evangelists, and on celebrations of Martyr Saints.

c) The color green is used in the Offices and Masses of Ordinary Time.

d) The color violet or purple is used in Advent and Lent. It may also be worn in Offices and Masses for the Dead.

e) Besides the color violet, the colors white or black may be used at funeral services and at other Offices and Masses for the Dead in the Dioceses of the United States of America.

f) The color rose may be used, where it is the practice, on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent).

g) On more solemn days, festive, that is, more precious, sacred vestments may be used even if not of the color of the day.

h) The colors gold or silver may be worn on more solemn occasions in the Dioceses of the United States of America.

347. Ritual Masses are celebrated in their proper color, in white, or in a festive color; Masses for Various Needs, on the other hand, are celebrated in the color proper to the day or the time of year or in violet if they have a penitential character, for example, nos. 31, 33, or 38; Votive Masses are celebrated in the color suited to the Mass itself or even in the color proper to the day or the time of the year.

V. Other Things Intended for Church Use

348. Besides the sacred vessels and the sacred vestments, for which some particular material is prescribed, other furnishings that either are intended for direct liturgical use[139] or are in any other way admitted into a church should be worthy and in keeping with their particular intended purpose.

349. Special care must be taken to ensure that the liturgical books, particularly the Book of the Gospels and the Lectionary, which are intended for the proclamation of the Word of God and hence receive special veneration, are to be in a liturgical action truly signs and symbols of higher realities and hence should be truly worthy, dignified, and beautiful.

350. Furthermore, every care is to be taken with respect to those things directly associated with the altar and the celebration of the Eucharist, for example, the altar cross and the cross carried in procession.

351. Every effort should be made, even in minor matters, to observe appropriately the requirements of art and to ensure that a noble simplicity is combined with elegance.



[134] Cf. Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 128.

[135]Cf. Pontificale Romanum, Ordo Dedicationis ecclesiae et altaris, editio typica, 1977, Ordo benedictionis calicis et patenae; Rituale Romanum, De Benedictionibus, editio typica, 1984, Ordo benedictionis rerum quæ in liturgicis celebrationibus usurpantur, nos. 1068-1084.

[136] Cf. Rituale Romanum, De Benedictionibus, editio typica, 1984, Ordo benedictionis rerum quae in liturgicis celebrationibus usurpantur, no. 1070.

[137] Cf. Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 128.

[138] Cf. Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 128.

[139] For blessing objects that are intended for liturgical use in churches, cf. Rituale Romanum, De Benedictionibus, editio typica, 1984, pars III.