Thomas Aquinas on the Word *Mass*

I was reading the Summa theologiae of Saint Thomas Aquinas today on the liturgy of the Holy Eucharist and I came across this interesting etymology of the term missa from which we derive the English word “Mass.” Many people say that “Ite missa est,” refers to a dismissal of the people, i.e. “The assembly is dismissed.” However, Thomas refers it to the priest “sending” the prayer or the victim Christ to God, as in: “The prayer is sent.”

And from this the mass derives its name [missa; because the priest sends [mittit] his prayers up to God through the angel, as the people do through the priest. or else because Christ is the victim sent [missa] to us: accordingly the deacon on festival days “dismisses” the people at the end of the mass, by saying: “Ite, missa est,” that is, the victim has been sent [missa est] to God through the angel, so that it may be accepted by God. {STh III, q. 83, a. 4}

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  • 2TownSquares

    I knew “Missa” had to do with “sent” but I was told we were “sent.” Makes more sence, when St Thomas Aquinas, says Christ’s Haulocost is sent to God.

  • Agnieszka

    In Polish, it’s translated as;
    (Priest/Deacon): “The Sacrifice has been offered/”fulfilled””
    (People): “Thanks be to God”.

  • Matthew Markovich

    Now this is beautiful! Make so much more sense than all the other explanations I’ve heard and read over the years. Maybe it should be translated that way in English.
    Is there a way I can get a Polish Missal?

  • Elizabeth

    The English missal is soon coming out with the proper translation from Latin, the way we’ve had it in Polish from the beginning of the translation (from Latin).  Somehow the English translation was done hastily, inadequately and therefore needed a major revision.  The revision has been accomplished and is about to be printed for the English speaking church.  Watch out for it in the upcoming year!

  • Tap

    Maybe now Catholics can stop being ashamed of the word Mass. Stop treating it like some circular innovation, and somehow the word Liturgy is superior.

  • Taylor Marshall

    Absolutely. And we should always refer to “Holy Mass,” not merely “Mass.” Or
    go all out and say, “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”
    ad Jesum per Mariam,

  • lome

    I would like to congratulate and welcome this child of God Taylor Marshall.
    May we have  more of him.I ‘ll include him in my prayers..

  • Tap

    btw , i meant “secular”, but i suppose you understood what i meant.

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