Meeting Christ in the Liturgy Library
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal
REQUISITES FOR CELEBRATING MASS
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281. Following the example of Christ, the Church has always used
bread and wine with water to celebrate the Lord's Supper.
282. According to the tradition of the entire Church, the bread must
be made from wheat; according to the tradition of the Latin Church,
it must be unleavened.
283. The nature of the sign demands that the material for the
eucharistic celebration truly have the appearance of food.
Accordingly, even though unleavened and baked in the traditional
shape, the eucharistic bread should be made in such a way that in a
Mass with a congregation the priest is able actually to break the
host into parts and distribute them to at least some of the faithful.
(When, however, the number of communicants is large or other pastoral
needs require it, small hosts are in no way ruled out.) The action of
the breaking of the bread, the simple term for the eucharist in
apostolic times, will more clearly bring out the force and meaning of
the sign of the unity of all in the one bread and of their charity,
since the one bread is being distributed among the members of one
284. The wine for the eucharist must be from the fruit of the vine
(see Lk 22:18), natural, and pure, that is not mixed with any foreign
285. Care must be taken to ensure that the elements are kept in good
condition: that the wine does not turn to vinegar or the bread spoil
or become too hard to be broken easily.
286. If the priest notices after the consecration or as he receives
communion that water instead of wine was poured into the chalice, he
pours the water into another container, then pours wine with water
into the chalice and consecrates it. He says only the part of the
institution narrative related to the consecration of the chalice,
without being obliged to consecrate the bread again.
287. As in the case of architecture, the Church welcomes the artistic
style of every region for all sacred furnishings and accepts
adaptations in keeping with the genius and traditions of each people,
provided they fit the purpose for which the sacred furnishings are
In this matter as well the concern is to be for the noble simplicity
that is the perfect companion of genuine art.
288. In the choice of materials for sacred furnishings, others
besides the traditional are acceptable that by contemporary standards
are considered to be of high quality, are durable, and well suited to
sacred uses. The conference of bishops is to make the decisions for
289. Among the requisites for the celebration of Mass, the sacred
vessels hold a place of honor, especially the chalice and paten,
which are used in presenting, consecrating, and receiving the bread
290. Vessels should be made from materials that are solid and that in
the particular region are regarded as noble. The conference of
bishops will be the judge in this matter. But preference is to be
given to materials that do not break easily or become unusable.
291. Chalices and other vessels that serve as receptacles for the
blood of the Lord are to have a cup of nonabsorbent material. The
base may be of any other solid and worthy material.
292. Vessels that serve as receptacles for the eucharistic bread,
such as a paten, ciborium, pyx, monstrance, etc., may be made of
other materials that are prized in the region, for example, ebony or
other hard woods, as long as they are suited to sacred use.
293. For the consecration of hosts one rather large paten may
properly be used; on it is placed the bread for the priest as well as
for the ministers and the faithful.
294. Vessels made from metal should ordinarily be gilded on the
inside if the metal is one that rusts; gilding is not necessary if
the metal is more precious than gold and does not rust.
295. The artist may fashion the sacred vessels in a shape that is in
keeping with the culture of each region, provided each type of vessel
is suited to the intended liturgical use.
296. For the blessing or consecration of vessels the rites prescribed
in the liturgical books are to be followed.
297. In the Church, the Body of Christ, not all members have the same
function. This diversity of ministries is shown outwardly in worship
by the diversity of vestments. These should therefore symbolize the
function proper to each ministry. But at the same time the vestments
should also contribute to the beauty of the rite.
298. The vestment common to ministers of every rank is the alb, tied
at the waist with a cincture, unless it is made to fit without a
cincture. An amice should be put on first if the alb does not
completely cover the street clothing at the neck. A surplice may not
be substituted for the alb when the chasuble or dalmatic is to be
worn or when a stole is used instead of the chasuble or dalmatic.
299. Unless otherwise indicated, the chasuble, worn over the alb and
stole, is the vestment proper to the priest celebrant at Mass and
other rites immediately connected with Mass.
300. The dalmatic, worn over the alb and stole, is the vestment
proper to the deacon.
301. Ministers below the order of deacon may wear the alb or other
vestment that is lawfully approved in each region.
302. The priest wears the stole around his neck and hanging down in
front. The deacon wears it over his left shoulder and drawn across
the chest to the right side, where it is fastened.
303. The cope is worn by the priest in processions and other
services, in keeping with the rubrics proper to each rite.
304. Regarding the design of vestments, the conferences of bishops
may determine and propose to the Apostolic See adaptations that
correspond to the needs and usages of their regions.
305. In addition to the traditional materials, natural fabrics proper
to the region may be used for making vestments; artificial fabrics
that are in keeping with the dignity of the liturgy and the person
wearing them may also be used. The conference of bishops will be the
judge in this matter.
306. The beauty of a vestment should derive from its material and
design rather than from lavish ornamentation. Representations on
vestments should consist only of symbols, images, or pictures
portraying the sacred. Anything out of keeping with the sacred is to
307. Variety in the color of the vestments is meant to give
effective, outward expression to the specific character of the
mysteries of the faith being celebrated and, in the course of the
year, to a sense of progress in the Christian life.
308. Traditional usage should be retained for the vestment colors.
a. White is used in the offices and Masses of the Easter and
Christmas seasons; on feasts and memorials of the Lord, other than of
his passion; on feasts and memorials of Mary, the angels, saints who
were not martyrs, All Saints (1 November), John the Baptist (24
June), John the Evangelist (27 December), the Chair of St. Peter (22
February), and the Conversion of St. Paul (25 January).
b. Red is used on Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) and Good Friday,
Pentecost, celebrations of the Lord's passion, birthday feasts of the
apostles and evangelists, and celebrations of martyrs.
c. Green is used in the offices and Masses of Ordinary Time.
d. Violet is used in Lent and Advent. It may also be worn in offices
and Masses for the dead.
e. Black may be used in Masses for the dead.
f. Rose may be used on <Gaudete> Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and
<Laetare> Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent).
The conference of bishops may choose and propose to the Apostolic See
adaptations suited to the needs and culture of peoples.
309. On solemn occasions more precious vestments may be used, even if
not of the color of the day.
310. Ritual Masses are celebrated in their proper color, in white, or
in a festive color; Masses for various needs and occasions are
celebrated in the color proper to the day or the season or in violet
if they bear a penitential character, for example, ritual Masses nos.
23, 28, and 40; votive Masses are celebrated in the color suited to
the Mass itself or in the color proper to the day or season.
311. Besides vessels and vestments for which some special material is
prescribed, any other furnishings that either have a liturgical use
or are in any other way introduced into a church should be worthy and
suited to their particular purpose.
312. Even in minor matters, every effort should be made to respect
the canons of art and to combine cleanliness and a noble simplicity.
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