ASK FATHER: Father omits both “for all” and “for many” from the consecration of the Precious Blood. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

Yesterday I posted a response to a question about the validity of Mass if a priest says “for all” instead of “for many” in the English version of the Novus Ordo.  HERE

That raised a question in the combox so serious that I must make another post.


Suppose the priest says:

“for you, for the forgiveness of sins”

omitting both “for all” and “for many”?

I wish this were a hypothetical question. [!!!]

The fact that the questioner added “I wish this were a hypothetical question” alarms me.

In the Novus Ordo, the essential forms of the two-fold consecration are a) over the Host “Hoc est enim Corpus meum” and b) over the wine in the chalice “Hic est enim calix Sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni testament, qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur, in remissionem peccatorum”.  In the present English translation: “[For] this is my Body” and “[For] this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins”.

These two phrases are the essential forms.  The other bits, such as “In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took this precious chalice…” are not of the essence.  “For” is not essential (which doesn’t not mean “not important”). The only words which are strictly necessary are those which signify transubstantiation of both the Host and of the Precious Blood individually as well as the sacrifice for both the Host and Precious Blood together.

St. Thomas Aquinas explains this in STh III, 78 (also III, 60, a.8 and Super I Cor, c. 11, v. 25).  That explanation of course deals with the wording of the Vetus Ordo including “mysterium fidei“, hoisted out of the form of consecration in direct disobedience to Council Fathers’ mandate in Sacrosanctum Concilium 23 that “Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”  The “mysterium fidei” issue is another question entirely which space does not allow for here.

If a priest does not say the essential words of consecration the Mass is invalid.  It might be that just one species is consecrated or neither are.  Either way, Mass is invalid.

What if Father gets confused and mixes up part of the old translation with the new?  What if he says “cup” instead of “chalice” or “all” instead of “many”?  Won’t that invalidate the consecration?

No.  These defects, though serious, do not change the essential meaning of the forms.

Leaving out “pro multis” completely in the Latin would invalidate. Leaving out completely the English rendering of “pro multis” (either “for all” or more accurately “for many”) would invalidate the consecration.

The omission changes the essential meaning of the consecratory form.

If the priest is doing this regularly, that is intentionally, he must immediately be informed about what he is doing and the bishop must be alerted.  

For the sake of completeness, if a priest realizes or suspects that he did something wrong in the two-fold consecration, he ought immediately to stop and pronounce the proper form over both or either of the two species to be consecrated.  Then he should return to the point in Mass where he left off.

All seminarians and priests would be wise to learn well the De Defectibus section at the beginning of the Vetus Ordo Missale Romanum.  This section was intentionally excluded from the Novus Ordo editions.

The rationale for that was, I think, that these were matters of moral theology.

The result of that was disastrous for the ars celebrandi of priests and for the knock-on effect that had on congregations.

What is crucial to understand is that De Defectibus said that some defects, abuses, were mortal sins.  The combination of removing the concept of sin from straying from rubrics or defects in matter and form, along with the vagueness of Novus Ordo rubrics and the prevalence of “options” for actions and texts, greatly eroded the Novus Ordo’s continuity with the Vetus Ordo to the point one can legitimately argue that they are two different Rites.

Here’s an example from De Defectibus (in translation):

V. 1. DEFECTS may arise in respect of the formula, if anything is wanting to complete the actual words of consecration. The words of consecration, which are the formative principle of this Sacrament, are as follows: Hoc est enim Corpus meum; and: Hic est enim calix Sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni testamenti; mysterium fidei, [Vetus Ordo] qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum. If any omission or alteration is made in the formula of consecration of the Body and Blood, involving a change of meaning, the consecration is invalid. An addition made without altering the meaning does not invalidate the consecration, but the Celebrant commits a mortal sin.

If it does change the meaning and it does invalidate, how much more is it a mortal sin?

This matter of options is taken up, inter alia, in

Does Traditionis Custodes Pass the Juridical Rationality Test?

by Fr. Réginald-Marie Rivoire FSVF and Fr. William Barker FSSP



A note of CAUTION: Lay people, with a few exceptions, are not adequately formed or informed such that they should interrupt Mass.  Most of the time, and I say this from experiential knowledge as well as sincere respect, they don’t know what they don’t know*.  Alas, the internet age (and the age of hand missals before that) have given some well-meaning and zealous Catholics (YouTubers are not an exception to this) a false sense of how well-informed they truly are in these matters, the details of which are important.  Moreover, there’s the critical point of knowing how to proceed in a concrete situation such that the very best outcome is obtained.  There’s an art to that in ecclesiastical contexts.

*Priests are not automatically to be excluded from this these days.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. ex seaxe says:

    I have long imagined that Jerome casting the Dominical Words of Institution into Latin was using pro multis in the same terms as described in Lewis & Short (my emphasis):-

    multus (old form moltus ), a, um;
    multi , ?rum, m., the many, the common mass, the multitude: probis probatus potius, quam multis forem, Att. ap. Non. 519, 9: “video ego te, mulier, more multarum utier,” id. ib.—Esp.: unus e (or de) multis, one of the multitude, a man of no distinction: “tenuis L. Virginius unusque e multis,” Cic. Fin. 2, 20, 62: “unus de multis esse,” id. Off. 1, 30, 109: M. Calidius non fuit orator unus e multis; “potius inter multos prope singularis fuit,” id. Brut. 79, 274: “numerarer in multis,” among the herd of orators, id. ib. 97, 333: “e multis una sit tibi,” no better than others, Ov. R. Am. 682: ….

  2. Kenneth Wolfe says:

    I think even laymen not “adequately formed” rightly observe: why is the sacrament of baptism (rightly) invalid when Father Idiot changes “I” to “We” but a novus ordo consecration can be valid if Father Idiot decides to skip or substitute essential words? This explanation is not convincing.

    [Because not all changes made by Father Idiot are obviously invalidating. Some scream “INVALID” and some seem like they are but they aren’t. Also, I know you: you are better formed than many in the pews. Furthermore, you haven’t been the object of a someone whose sum and total knowledge is how they remember old Fr. Sven O’Reilly said Mass back in the day at St. Swithen’s by the Slough, aggressively grading you on how you say Mass from his dog-eared St. Joseph Missal, where old Fr. Sven used to wiggle his little finger during the ablutions.]

  3. Philokalos says:

    Father you would’ve made a great Jesuit, only you’re 150 years too late.

  4. CandS says:

    Incidentally, in my own Latin reading and paying attention lately, the adjective cunctus caught my attention and led me to catalogue how many words for ‘all’ you can find in Latin.
    omnis each, every, every one (of a number); all (pl.); all/the whole of
    t?tus whole, all, entire, total, complete; every part; all together/at once
    cunctus altogether (usu. pl.), in a body; every, all, entire; total/complete; whole of
    universus whole, entire; all together; all; universal
    with all these options for ‘all’, why would anyone want to pull this meaning into multus!

  5. Not says:

    Just to throw a little fire on the conversation… The consecration of the wine in the Novus Ordo is not the Mystery of the Faith as in the latin Mass. [Ummm…]
    The Novus Ordo has the Mystery of Faith much later and it has nothing to do with the consecration of the Blood of Christ.

    P.S. Yes, Father, when I have to attend an NO because of a wedding, funeral etc. I do not receive because I doubt the validity. Also, I find it difficult to say a rosary during the NO and I think that was one of the goals.

  6. Leaving out the De Defectibus in the Novus Ordo editions because it’s a matter of moral theology? My understanding is that moral theology addresses and informs all actions, interior and exterior. Since the Holy Sacrifice is the heart of our holy religion, I’d think moral theology should address the heart of our holy religion. Botch that, I figure, that’s a grave matter. So, it saddens me that De Defectibus isn’t in the new Missal. In my opinion, it would be a great good for it to be included. As for laity, it should behoove us faithful that, when we perceive a possible error on the part of priests, we should approach him with humility ( A good point is that we faithful don’t know the parts priests know. Our hand missals in the pews are not the Missal on the Altar. ) and charity seeking understanding to help our priests when they do err.

  7. Boniface says:

    Dear Kenneth Wolfe: Novus Ordo or Vetus Ordo makes no difference in terms of the concept of “bare minimum validity” that the Latin Church developed for practical and historical reasons many centuries ago. The Catechism of the Council of Trent wrote that the bar for invalidating a mass is actually quite high; if the priest says the words “This is my body/This is my blood” over the requisite, valid matter, with the general intention to celebrate mass, then transubstantiation occurs. Trent said that one should be very careful in suggesting a mass is invalid unless it reaches this very high bar.
    I appreciate Fr. Z pointing out that most people don’t know what they are talking about (I’m not pointing at you, here, Mr. Wolfe, or anyone else) in these matters. It’s not that difficult to figure out, though – if one just reads the two universal catechisms (1566 and 1994), reads the current Code of Canon Law (1983), the 1962 and 2002 missals and their rubrics; the GIRM, and perhaps a few other things – at least the portions relevant to questions such as sacramental validity – it’s clear what the “rules” are.

    I have heard many anecdotes along the lines of Fr. Z’s comment about what he has unfortunately experienced from critics whose “low information” is matched only by their self-confidence.

  8. Matt R says:

    The only time that I’d say something is if I were the MC at a sung Mass and I could hear the priest such as to be certain that he messed up. But that is very rare such as to be a non-issue, which is to say that your point is well-taken.

  9. Charles E Flynn says:

    @Father Z,

    Thank you for your clear and citation-equipped reply.

    Why did I not consider the omission of both “for all” and “for many” to be so serious that it would invalidate the consecration of the Precious Blood? It was probably because, without explicitly thinking this, if the phrase were so important, why was a blatantly inaccurate translation of “pro multis” to “for all” permitted for so many years? It is not as if “for all” and “for many” are synonyms. The officially approved inaccuracy of the translation of a phrase is bound to affect our impression of how important that phrase is.

    Apparently, is permitted for some of the words of the consecration to mean the wrong thing, but it is not permitted to omit them altogether.

    As far as I could determine, nothing else that the priest did during masses or said during his sermons was at all objectionable.

  10. Charles E Flynn says: why was a blatantly inaccurate translation of “pro multis” to “for all” permitted for so many years?

    The answer is manifold.

    First, there were those who wanted to pacify Protestants. The “scholarly” justification for the patently wrong translation “for all” goes back to the biased notions of Lutheran scholar Joachim Jeremias who wrote the article on the Greek word “polus” in an important dictionary of the Bible in the 1950’s which was translated into English in the 1960’s (Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament). He stated that the the idea of any “exclusive” concept attached to Jesus’ saving work is an “offense”. He then designed an understanding of polloí without this “offense” by means of a convoluted rereading of the relevant verses in Isaiah 52 and 53. Jeremias basically made a conjecture about what Jesus really said in Aramaic and argues that Scripture’s polloí (“many”) is wrong. In effect, he forced a word in Greek to mean something it had never meant in the history of that language based on a guess about what Jesus might have said in Aramaic but all filtered through his desire to avoid what the Catholic Church teaches.

    On the less scholarly side of things, we have to simply state that there are a lot of poorly educate and even stupid priests and bishops who are neither smart enough not curious enough to ask the question you asked.

    On the darker side of things, we also have to admit that many priests and bishops don’t care about these questions because they don’t believe.

    I will note here that for years the French text read “pour le multitude” and the Polish text went “za wielu”. Pretty much all the other languages had some version of “all”, “everybody”.

    BTW… all of this is even more astonishing in the face of the fact that the Roman Catechism (remember: the CCC didn’t come out till after the translations) explicitly states that we cannot, must not, say “all” in the consecration!

    But the words which are added for you and for many (pro vobis et pro multis), were taken some of them from Matthew (26: 28) and some from Luke (22: 20) which however Holy Church, instructed by the Spirit of God, joined together. They serve to make clear the fruit and the benefit of the Passion. For if we examine its value (virtutem), it will have to be admitted that Blood was poured out by the Savior for the salvation of all (pro omnium salute sanguinem a Salvatore effusum esse); but if we ponder the fruit which men (homines) will obtain from it, we easily understand that its benefit comes not to all, but only to many (non ad omnes, sed ad multos tantum eam utilitatem pervenisse). Therefore when He said pro vobis, He meant either those who were present, or those chosen (delectos) from the people of the Jews such as the disciples were, Judas excepted, with whom He was then speaking. But when He added pro multis He wanted that there be understood the rest of those chosen (electos) from the Jews or from the gentiles. Rightly therefore did it happen that for all (pro universis) were not said, since at this point the discourse was only about the fruits of the Passion which bears the fruit of salvation only for the elect (delectis). And this is what the words of the Apostle aim at: Christ was offered up once in order to remove the sins of many (ad multorum exhaurienda peccata – Heb 9:28); and what according to John the Lord says: I pray for them; I do not pray for the world, but for those whom you gave to Me, for they are Yours (John 17:9). Many other mysteries (plurima mysteria) lie hidden in the words of this consecration, which pastors, God helping, will easily come to comprehend for themselves by constant meditation upon divine things and by diligent study. (My translation and emphasis. Part II, ch. 4 (264.7-265.14) from the Catechismus Romanus seu Catechsimus ex decreto Concilii Tridentini ad parochos …. Editio critica. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1989, p. 250. Cf. The Catechism of the Council of Trent. Trans. John A. McHugh & Charles J. Callan. Joseph F. Wagner, Inc.: New York, 1934, pp. 227-28.)

  11. Charles E Flynn says:

    @Father Z,

    Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to provide such a multitude of details, and the historical background for the defective translation of “pro multis”.

    The Catechism of the Council of Trent, translated by the men you cite, is available in a beautiful edition from Baronius Press, and in a Kindle edition from Amazon that costs $1.99. The section that reads in your translation “Many other mysteries (plurima mysteria) lie hidden in the words of this consecration, which pastors, God helping,” is at Kindle location 3491. There are no page numbers in the Kindle edition.

    Someone brought to my attention this manual, which has been used in at least two seminaries:

    The Sacraments and Their Celebration, by Nicholas Halligan, O.P.

    The section about the essential words of the consecration states something to the effect that “it is widely taught that the essential words are ‘This is my body” and ‘This is my blood’”. In the pages I was shown, there was no reference to De Defectibus, or to the Catechism of the Council of Trent. As far as I can tell from the reading I have done online, both of these documents have not been abrogated. The manual appears to have been originally published in 1974, and was reprinted by a different publisher in 2004.

  12. Amina says:

    The new pew missals only say- “for you” For the chalice, it is “for you and for many”.

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