Who has authority to make changes in the Mass?
November 29, 2020, 12:00 PM
Since the Mass belongs to the entire Church and is such an important part of the “deposit of faith” (CCC 84) that comes down to us from the apostles, only the Magisterium (the official teaching authority of the Church) can authorize and changes to it. Not even a bishop has the right to change the official rite of the Mass on a whim.
As we have pointed out, the heart of the Mass has remained the same ever since Jesus took bread into His hands at the Last Supper and said, “This is my body…” Every Mass since then has been the re-presentation of the Paschal Mystery (i.e., the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus).
Because the Church is presenting and joining in an action that is both human and divine – namely, the mystery of God the Son’s eternal self-offering to God the Father – no one can change the core meaning or the basic structure of the Mass. If we tried to change the Mass to mean something different at its core, taking away its sacrificial nature, it would no longer be the Mass. Because of this the Church has always been very conscious of guarding the prayers and rituals of the Mass, and if she makes any changes to the rites, she does so very carefully, lest we risk losing the essential meaning of the Mass over time and, thus, losing the Mass itself.