Part Five The Eucharist in Special Circumstances

Chapter 53 Concelebration


Preliminary Questions

Before you came to the seminary, how often did you participate in a concelebrated Mass? How did you understand the "sign" of concelebration? What occasions do you remember in which concelebration added something to the celebration of the eucharist?  What is your understanding of the concelebration now? What problems do you see with the practice of concelebration?  What values or positive aspects of concelebration do you or others see in the practice?



The Liturgical Commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has prepared a document concerning Concelebration of the Eucharist. The various theological, spiritual and pastoral values of concelebration are highlighted in order to situate concelebration within the context of the liturgy. Both by general principles and practical observations, the document aims to provide guidelines for putting into practice all that concerns the concelebration of the Eucharist. The concluding section of the document gives a description of a concelebrated Mass, and indicates those elements related to the participation in the rite. [The document can be found in Notitiae #321 (April 1993 #4) pp 187-243. Pages 242-243 contain an excellent bibliography.]

Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, "Concelebration," Newsletter II (1966), 37- 39.

Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, "Guidelines for the Concelebration of the Eucharist," Newsletter XIII (1987), 33-39.

Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, Study Text 5, Eucharistic Concelebration, Washington: USCC Publications Office, 1978.

Congregation for Divine Worship, General Instruction of the Roman Missal, (April 6, 1969), nos. 153-208.

Congregation for Divine Worship, "In celebratione Missae" (Declaration on Concelebration, August 7, 1972).

International Commission on English in the Liturgy, Documents on the Liturgy 1963-1979, Conciliar, Papal and Curial Texts. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1982, pp. 553-564.

Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction on the Eucharist, (May 25, 1967), nos. 47-48.

Sacred Congregation of Rites, Rite to the Observed in the Concelebration of Mass and the Rite for Communion under both kinds (1965). Trans. Frank Rodimer (New York, 1965).

Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Liturgy, nos. 56-58.

Books, Studies, Articles

Martimort pp 221-230.

Baldovin, John F., "Concelebration: a Problem of Symbolic Rites in the Church, Worship 59 (1, 1985), 32-47.

Brown, Raymond. Priest and Bishop. New York: Paulist Press, 1970.

Cabie, Robert. The Eucharist. New Edition 1986. (The Church at Prayer, Vol II. A. G. Martimort editor. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1986, pp 221-230.

Cornides, A., "Concelebration," The New Catholic Encyclopedia, IV, pp. 103- 105.

Dekkus, E., "Concelebration: Limitations of Current Practice," Doctrine and Life 22 (1972), pp. 153-171.

Falsini, Rinaldo, "Concelebration," Concilium 38 (1968), 70-79.

Huels, John. "Concelebration," Disputed Questions in the Liturgy Today, Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1988, pp 39-46.

Jounel, Pierre, The Rite of Concelebration and of Communion under both Species: History, Text and Commentary, New York, 1967.

Jungmann, Josef Andreas, The Mass: an Historical, Theological and Pastoral Survey, Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1975.

Kavanagh, A., and Malkiewicz, S.E., "Concelebration," The New Catholic Encyclopedia XVI, 92.94.

King, Archdale A., Concelebration in the Christian Church, London, 1966.

Manders, Hendrick, "Concelebration" Concilium 2 (1965), 135-151.

McGowan, J.C., Concelebration: Sign of the Unity of the Church, New York: Herder and Herder, 1964.

McGowan, J., "Modes of Concelebration and their Relative Value," Proceedings of the North American Liturgical Week (1965), 101-112.

Mitchell, J., "An Inquiry into Concelebration," The Clergy Review 48 (1963). 154-157.

O'Connell, J.B., "The Voice of the Concelebrant at Mass," Ephemerides Liturgicae, 78 (1964), 67-69.

Rooney, M. "Eucharistic Concelebration: Twenty Five Years of Development", Ecclesia Orans 6, 1989, p. 117-129.

Seaslotz, R. Kevin, New Liturgy, New Laws, Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1980.

Skillon, Hermon, Concelebration: a Historical Synopsis and Canonical Commentary, Washington: Catholic University Press, 1968.

Taft, Robert, "Ex Oriente Lux? Some Reflections on Eucharistic Concelebration," Worship 54 (1980), 308-324.

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History of Concelebration

Apostolic [0-399]

Early practice of concelebration (2nd to 8th century)
Bishop/episkopos presiding with deacons and elders/presbyters
extemporized eucharistic prayers
presbyters gesture only, hold loaves
eucharistic hospitality
    visiting bishop allowed to preside / OR
    say the prayer over the chalice
The Norm: one bread, one cup, one altar, one eucharist = One Mass / week / Diocese

Patristic [400-799]

Early Medieval [800-1199]

Medieval [1200-1299]

Growth of church makes one Mass "impossible"
collegial concelebration for major solemnities, especially Holy Thursday
concelebration by the newly-ordained bishop or presbyter
Thomas Aquinas -- "many are but one in Christ"
eucharist "is the sacrament of ecclesial unity"

Late Medieval [1300-1499]

Reformation [1500-1699]

After Trent [1700-1899]

 Before Vat II [1900-1959]

Pius XII
Christ acts not through one minister but through several
Must say the words of institution

Vatican II [1960-1999]

Concelebration "aptly expresses the unity of the priesthood" SC 57
Extends permission for concelebration
    Holy Thursday
    Councils, bishops', conferences and synods
    Blessing of abbot
With permission of ordinary
    conventual Mass, principal Mass in the churches when individual celebration is not necessary
Meeting of priests

Tomorrow [2000-2099]

Unity of the Priesthood; but also Unity of the Church
Mass is more than "consecration"
Concelebration: a step away from "private" Masses
What does the Presider do that needs "con-celebrating?"

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Theological Reflections

1.  Sacrifice:  

Many Masses. One offering.

What Jesus did is all sufficient for salvation.


Ritual concelebration

Co-consecration — The "concelebrants" each say the words of "consecration."

Functional concelebration

Who offers?

the church

the priest

Pastoral Sensitivity

Stipends – How can a priest who is not presiding take a mass offering? How would you explain this to one of your parishioners?

Liturgy – Every symbol is multivalent – the problem is how to symbolize the unity of the Presbyterate and the unity of all the baptized at the same celebration.

Unity or division?

Size of the altar, only one goes to the altar now; at first everyone went to the altar and altars for concelebration were large.


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Weekday Masses

 see: Tad Guzie, The Book of Sacramental Basics, New York: Paulist Press, 1981, pp 54-55.

To Think About...

What you are going to do at your Mass of Thanksgiving (First Mass)? Are you going to tell your classmates who come for the occasion not to concelebrate? What if some insist on not concelebrating?

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© Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 03/20/15 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at