QUAERITUR: Sunday Mass without the Creed

From a reader:

Due to an emergency, my family couldn’t attend Mass on Sunday morning and thus had to attend on Sunday evening at a very "progressive" local parish.  At the Mass, the priest omitted the Creed.  I realize that on the Baptism of our Lord, the Creed is often replaced by a renewal of Baptismal vows, but that isn’t what happened; there was no Creed or renewal at all.  I hadn’t been to this Church in years because the last time I went, the priest replaced the Creed with a poem, "The Woman’s Creed" ("I believe in God, the Father and Mother…").  I went back this time because I was over a barrel and had no other options to fulfill my obligation; plus I had heard things had improved.  Wrong.
1. Is Mass valid in such a case? and
2. What’s a guy to do? Up and leave the Mass? I did so with the “Woman’s Creed” incident since I had other options for my obligation, but this time I stayed because it was that or no Sunday Mass at all.  Should I report this guy to the Archdiocese (Baltimore) or is that just vindictive?  In any case, I prayed for him.
Sigh.  Please remember those of us suffering in the Premier See; you are the virtual lifeline to orthodoxy for a lot of us here.

1) Mass is valid.  Also, you fulfilled your obligation.

2) What to do?  Go somewhere else, or else grit your teeth and bear it.

If you were going to the parish with any frequency and this was going on each time you went, then you might have to act.  A question to the priest would be in order.  After that a note to the diocesan bishop would have to follow.

However, since you were there once, you should probably assume that that priest in a moment of distraction simply forgot to do the Creed.  It happens.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. “Credo”, said in the first person singular, is offered with and for the Church, whatever anyone else does or doesn’t do. Just do it, and not just in Mass!

  2. Fr. Z said: However, since you were there once, you should probably assume that that priest in a moment of distraction simply forgot to do the Creed. It happens.

    Yes, it does happen! I was reader one Sunday and was waiting for the Creed to be said so that I could then come back to the ambo to read the prayers of the faithful… Well, he motioned me to begin. After Mass, I said, “What happened to the Creed?”

    He have me the strangest, most sheepish look because he realized at that moment that he had forgotten it.

  3. PNP, OP says:

    In my short fours years as a priest, I have forgotten the Creed twice at a Sunday Mass. It was those ten 800,000 watt sun lamps hanging above the presider’s chair…they cooked my brain. You can try talking to the priest, but I doubt very seriously it will do any good. Any priest who replaces the Church’s Creed with a feminist parody is pretty much already invincibly disposed to rebellion. He’ll just give you some babbling nonsense about “inclusivity,” “Spirit of Vatican Two,” “relevant liturgy,” and “legitimate option.” You can translate this gibberish, roughly: “I’m the priest, you Lay Insect! Depart from me before I strangle you with my burlap stole!” Liberal clericalism at its finest. Fr. Philip, OP

  4. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    My priest omits the Creed every Sunday. Because I’m charitable I don’t think its from any lack of belief, though perhaps it’s from a misguided sense of “inclusivity” in case some people don’t believe.

  5. magdalene says:

    I have been in this situation a number of times in the past. I would write my priest cousin and ask if the Mass was invalid if this and this and that were omitted or this or that added or changed. Invariably the answer would be that the Mass was ‘illicit but valid’.
    I cannot tell you how many times I had to repeat to myself those words at innovations at the Holy Mass–remember it it illicit but valid, illicit but valid.

  6. Bob says:

    My pastor omits both the Creed and the Gloria when the weather is “hot” (meaning, in practice, most of Ordinary Time, regardless of the actual temperature.) He simply can’t be convinced that this is wrong.

  7. Tiny says:

    I have noticed that on the occasions where I’ve seen things “skipped” it’s not the Priest’s fault insofaras the choir had moved directly to the next step.

  8. Thomas says:

    I don’t know if the omission of the Creed was motivated by inclusivity, but the Gospel reading at the Mass in question had God thundering from the heavens “You are my beloved CHILD.”

    Thank you Father Z and all of you for the responses and support.

  9. Although doing so takes a bit of courage, humility, tact, and kindness, I have to agree with Fr Z that a clarifying question to the priest is important in these situations. We may be met with derision or hostility…or stunned sheepishness. Its always best to ask before writing the bishop so nobody gets accused unjustly.

    You just never know.

    My sympathies to the writer of this scenario. How awful! I think all of us can empathize, having been through similar experiences at one time or another. After such experiences, you come away with ‘now did that satisfy my obligation I wonder?”

  10. MPod says:

    I was not aware that replacing the creed with the renewal of baptismal promises was permitted for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

  11. Peggy says:

    While I am sorry to hear that this is common problem, I appreciate this question being raised here. Our parish regularly omits the creed to take time to bless some portion of the parish population. Arggghhh!

    We did say baptismal promises instead yesterday. I knew that was fine. I know that sometimes during Lent when scrutinies occur, the creed might be omitted. The occurrence is too frequent and bothersome to me.

    Also, Father Z: It occurs to me that “we” need a motto to apply to us laity that is akin to the “Say the black, do the red” for priests. Laity need to be called to reverence at Mass, in dress, demeanor and action. I’m thinking about it, no good ideas yet.

    Thanks for your site!

  12. I know that there was an issue with the Neocatechumenal Way, and their systematic omission of the Creed from Masses with communities that hadn’t reached the “stage” of the Creed. In their case, it was simply misguided ‘pastoral sensitivity’ rather than desire to accommodate nonbelievers in the strict sense.

    I mention this, because it is a good illustration of unwarranted experimentation with liturgy, which is undertaken in the name of the aforementioned ‘pastoral sensitivity’.

    Lots of folks who experiment with the liturgy do not know better. They really want to be good sons and daughters (I will take the time and spend the electrons necessary to avoid saying, “children” :-/) of Holy Mother Church.

    One of the best things we all can do is remember this, and so remember to avoid condemning the people who run afoul of the rubrics – unless, of course, there is real and documentable evidence of contumacy.

    My experience is that people generally desire to learn, though they are decidedly less willing to learn from people, whose mouths are dripping with condemnation right from the get-go.

  13. Michael J says:


    I take mild exception to your advice to “grit your teeth and bear it”. I understand that time contraints make it virtually impossible to fully flesh out advice.

    On the other hand, in my opinion, we are in the current state, in part at least, because far too many of out parents “gritted their teeth and bore it”. The net result being almost an entire generation of poorly catechized Catholics who have no idea that the abuses they witness are, in fact, abuses.

  14. Jayna says:

    My priest left out the Creed and we had no renewal of baptismal vows yesterday. I’m still not sure if it was intentional, though the deacon looked like he was waiting for it after they sent off the catechumens and candidates (which kills me – they’ll send out the people preparing to join the Church, but are totally cool with people who have no intention of becoming Catholic coming forward to receive a blessing!). I’m inclined to say that it’s been intentional every time it’s happened because they have a binder right in front of them that would, presumably, say that it was time for the Creed.

  15. Mitch says:

    Michael J,

    I tend to be in agreement with you..Overall people are more inclined these days to grin and bear it and that is in large part responsible for where we are today…If liberals and progressives are so outspoken then it is time for the conservative, and perhaps non-confrontational types at least to speak their opinions…I believe she should have voiced her concern and asked the polite question to the Priest. Had the response been unfavorable, even as a visitor I believe she should have followed that up with a kind letter from a concerned “visitor to the parish” to the Bishop..I bet my bottom dollar her writing would have given voice to a few (maybe even majority) in the parish who are perhaps a little tired, old, shy, non-confrontational, or simply too confused to go up against a Priest or Congregation. In fact as a visitor she is even more neutral than the weekly parishoner…I mean we are talking about omission of the Creed, not flower arrangements or architectural tastes…And from the above posts this seems to occur probably more often than we think…Allow the “wiggle room” in the Priest’s response, but he should be made aware that people ARE paying attention..If I was in a foreign country and saw a crime being committed against someone, I would tell SOMEONE….In good conscious I don’t think we should turn our heads any longer, and Pray for humility in our “delivery” of the questions and protests..

  16. fortradition says:

    “Please remember those of us suffering in the Premier See; you are the virtual lifeline to orthodoxy for a lot of us here.”

    AMEN to the above.

    There are a lot of Liturgical abuses in the Premier See. After talking with the priest, going to one of the bishops would be useless, as I know from experiences. One of the bishops regularly uses glass chalices at Holy Mass. I respectfully mentioned Redemptionis Sacramentum and the prohibition of that practice. He replied that if I wanted to see precious metal chalices, I would have to donate them to the Church myself!

  17. D says:

    At the Mass I attended yesterday, not only was the Creed omitted, the priest incorrectly informed everyone that we are now back in Ordinary Time, and that he was wearing white instead of green because yesterday was a feast day. Not only was yesterday a feast day, the Baptism of the Lord is still part of Christmas and Epiphany, so we were in fact not in Ordinary Time until today. I was very disturbed. There were many other disturbing things that occurred at that Mass – Children’s Liturgy of the Word where the removed the little kids from the rest of the assembly and paraded them into another room, priest not fully vested, very few people dressed in appropriate attire, I can go on, but too many to list…

  18. matteo says:

    a few weeks ago we didnt have a creed either… but then i’m not surprised cuz this priest removed the Confiteor from our mass 6 years ago never to be uttered again….

  19. RANCHER says:

    Rules!?!?! We don’t need no stinkin rules! As long as everyone “feels good” and feels “included” and the Priest is popular and well loved—life is good. Time for a Church version of the Marine Corps motto. We need a few GOOD MEN as opposed to many who have no understanding of, or respect for, the GIRM or any other guidance.

  20. W. Schrift says:

    Question: Is there ever a “renewal of vows” in the EF, or is this an OF novelty?

  21. Dan says:

    Here’s another question: In the Novus Ordo Missae, is the Psalm negotialbe; in other words, does the cantor have the liberty to sing another psalm other than that given for the Sunday Liturgy? I ask because this is a frequent practice at a parish I attend when I cannot make the Extraordinary Form of Mass.

  22. Aq says:

    In my parish a priest uses (always or almost always) the apostolic creed instead of the Nicene. I know it is permissible in the newest version of the Missal, but since my Latin is too poor, I can’t figure out whether it is permissible every Sunday or only during some period of the liturgical year. I would be curious to know. Besides obiedience to rubrics, that practice is destructive for the harmony of people’s recitation of the Creed.

    Another thing the same priest does is he omits on Sundays the passage of the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer which is prescribed for Sundays. I wonder what you think of gravity of his invention.

  23. TJ Murphy says:

    Dan asked “In the Novus Ordo Missae, is the Psalm negotialbe; in other words, does the cantor have the liberty to sing another psalm other than that given for the Sunday Liturgy?”

    The answer to that is, in the Ordinary Form, the psalm on Sunday may be changed to a seasonal psalm. In the missalette it often lists the psalms that can be used in place of the prescribed psalm. Some churches do this so you have a consistant psalm that the entire congregation can sing. The problem with that IMO is the prescribed psalms at any given mass usually compliment the readings of the day and should therefore be used.

    Although my parish does not offer the EF mass, we are blessed to consistantly pray the Confetior followed by the Kyrie (in Greek). On Feasts we sing the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin, either chanted by entire congregation or Classical Masses by Hyden, etc. sung by the choir.

    We are building brick by brick or as my choir director says “Little by Slow.”

  24. Simon Platt says:

    Dear Aq,

    I thought that the second eucharistic prayer was not supposed to be used on Sundays. Perhaps I was wrong – I know it often is used on Sundays. What is the part which is prescribed for Sundays?

  25. Simon Platt says:

    On the subject of EP II – and hoping this is not too far off topic – where on earth does this come from:

    “We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you.”

    and whatever happened to “nobis quoque peccatoribus”?

  26. JPG says:

    This issue seems minor compared to that which the people at a local hospital were subjected yesterday.
    1. Crystal vessels
    2. Priest sans chasuble but with red modern looking stole over off-white hooded alb
    3. Omitted one reading.
    4. Described Isaiah as poetry
    5. Paraphrased EP II, so much so that I questioned the validity of the consecration.
    6. I had eaten breakfast less than an hour before thus I had no intention to go to Communion but had I been a able I would not
    since this seemed a simulation not Mass.
    I was on Call and got home at 11 PM thus a 7:30 at a hospital chapel is often a good thing.
    You will be happy to know we said the Creed.
    All the best,

  27. Jane M says:


    It is the prayer right after the “proclamation of the mystery of faith” right after the Consecration.

    In memory of his death and resurrection, we offer you, Father, this life-giving bread, this saving cup. We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you. May all of us who share…..

    I had the lovely experience of kneeling in a church full of people who were standing and when the priest reached that line he looked straight at me (between all the tall people around me) and glared. You’d think he had something better to do with his *time*.

  28. A Random Friar says:

    I admit to having forgotten the Creed once during Mass. After the intentions, I simply said a “mea culpa” and the people were rather understanding and amused.

    One of the things I got asked by a kids’ group once was “Father, do you ever mess up at Mass?” My answer was “Well, I probably had two minor glitches at the last Mass I just celebrated with you, so… yeah.” *sheepish grin* But that was when I was only ordained like a month. Now, I have the Latin equivalent of the Babushkas to keep me honest. :)

  29. PNP, OP says:

    That line–“counting us worthy to stand in your presence”–was pounded into us in seminary by our feminist prof as proof that the lay folks at Mass should stand during the consecration. When I objected and noted that the line referred to the priests and not the laity, she turned purple and started channeling Antirubrictron, the goddess of libertine liturgical practice. To this day, when I need cheering up, I fondly recall the rapid progression of her face from blush red to rotting plum. Fr. Z., should I confess this as an instance of morose delectation? :-) Fr. Philip, OP

  30. Michael says:

    At the parish I used to attend the Creed and Profession of Faith were always omitted by the Pastor and unless the Gloria was sung, it also was not included. Basically the priest would process into the ‘worship space’ and sit down on his chair. Then a lay person would walk up to the lectern and begin the first reading. Amazingly I ended up at a TLM community after having had my fill.

  31. TomG says:

    Also from the “Premier See”: In place of the homily, we had an audio-visual videotape (a series) on Holy Communion. The communal meal was hammered home every which way from Sunday. Almost nothing – and I mean nothing – on the Mass as sacrifice. And the sad thing is that it is a beautiful, new neo-classical church, and the pastor (who was the driving force behind its construction)is a fine and, I believe, holy man.

    I could just scream.

  32. TerryC says:

    D, the Baptism of the Lord is indeed the close of the Christmas Season. It is also part of ordinary time. Why do I say that? Because next Sunday is the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time. Hence last Sunday must be the First Sunday of Ordinary Time.
    Fr. Z I know you are attempting to be charitable to the priest involved, and I think its a noble stance. I must give the following story, realizing one witness is not data.
    There was a priest in my diocese whose heretical statements were not only well known to the faithful, but broadcast widely on local and even national television. Many members of his parish discussed his liturgical abuses and heretical stands with him before writing the diocese, who as part of their investigation would send a copy of the reporting letter to the priest. Said letters end up in a notebook the priest use to proudly show people, as he laughed about the lack of action on the part of the bishop. This continued for many years until a visitor from a neighboring diocese visited the priest’s parish for Mass. He was so appalled by the Mass and what he heard in the homily (in this particular case a denial of the Virgin birth) that he wrote his own bishop. This was highly publicized in the neighboring diocese. Our bishop then removed said priest from public ministry, obviously under the load of the public scandal which had finally reached outside the diocese.
    So in this case it took action from a one time visitor to fix a problem which should have been fixed years before. One which was not only known to people in the parish, but which they had tried to deal with.

  33. D says:

    TerryC, There is no “1st Sunday” in Ordinary Time. The Baptism of the Lord completes the Christmas Season. It does not begin Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time always begins on the Monday following the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This year in the United States, Ordinary Time began with the Liturgy of the Hours on the morning of Monday January 12. Not until then. In some years, in the United States, Epiphany falls on January 8 and the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on Monday January 9. Tuesday January 10 would be Tuesday of the 1st week of Ordinary Time. The following Sunday would still be the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time. You don’t need a “Sunday in Ordinary Time” to make that week part of Ordinary Time. Many feasts and solemnities take the place of the Sunday in Ordinary Time (or in other seasons for that matter). January 8 of such a year would not share the duel titles of the Epiphany and the 1st Sunday of Ordinary Time, since Epiphany is part of the Christmas Season. So it is with the Baptism of the Lord. It is part of Christmas. The church should still have decorations up appropriate to the season and songs from Christmas should still be sung during Baptism of the Lord liturgies. There should be a sense within the liturgy that it is still Christmas. We are still celebrating a mystery of the Incarnation, at this feast our adoption as coheirs through His Baptism. He who became man now begins the restoration of mankind’s Divine Image in this act. Because of Jesus, WE are God’s beloved sons and daughters in whom we are well pleased. And this is event is also an Epiphany, that God is revealing Himself through Jesus as a Trinity. And we share in life in the Trinity through baptism. This is the mystery of the Incarnation. He becomes what we are so that we might become what He is. This feast is not just there to celebrate the beginning of Jesus’ “public ministry” so we shouldn’t as individual parishes, on a whim, make it Ordinary Time just to fit that one point otherwise we lose the awesomeness of what truly occurs…

  34. D says:

    Sorry, it should read WE are God’s beloved sons and daughters in whom HE is well pleased not “WE are God’s beloved sons and daughters in whom we are well pleased”.

  35. Simon Platt says:

    Dear Jane,

    I suppose I didn’t make myself clear. What I meant to do was to contrast this prayer’s “we thank you for counting us worthy…” with the canon’s “also to us thy sinful servants …”. They seem to come at roughly equivalent positions but to express almost diametrically opposed sentiments. Perhaps this prayer actually takes the place of the “Unde et memores”, but nontheless this idea of the celebrant’s worthiness strikes me as very odd. And I wondered what was its historical or theological background.

    But perhaps that’s for another thread…

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