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Church Documents

The Roman Missal

3rd Edition

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved Roman Missal 3rd Edition is the official book of the Mass in the United States. A pdf version is available in the Files section of the Facebook group "Catholic Liturgy Geeks." There is a pdf version available for viewing on At the bottom of the page, click "Read Paper." The viewer is not searchable. The pdf is also available for download, but no guarantee of safety.

Online versions of the Order of Mass from the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (one with drop down menus of Prefaces and Eucharistic Prayers) are easy to use. However, the wording of the Mass in England and Wales differs somewhat. Always compare to the Roman Missal, 3rd Edition.

If you are outside of the United States, you should refer to the Missal from your Bishops' Conference. I was unable to find online version of the Roman Missal for Canada or Australia. The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales' website, directs people to the website of the Liturgy Office of England and Wales. The site has extensive resources.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal

Also known as the GIRM

The GIRM is the document governing the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite. It is included in the Roman Missal. It is available on the Vatican website in EnglishFrenchItalianSpanish, and Swahili:

You may want to refer to the GIRM translation approved by your Country's Bishops' Conference. Their websites may also post updates to the rubrics or other changes to the Mass.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops -- English GIRM -- Spanish GIRM
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops -- GIRM

Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference -- GIRM

Liturgy Office of England and Wales -- GIRM

The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum

On certain matter to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist

This document is from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament. It specifically addresses liturgical abuse. As a Vatican document, it applies to the whole Roman Rite, not just the in the United States. Paragraph 3 states:"The norms contained in the present Instruction are to be understood as pertaining to liturgical matters in the Roman Rite, and, mutatis mutandis, in the other Rites of the Latin Church that are duly acknowledged by law."

Some quotes can be found here. Summaries and commentaries are available online. One of the best summaries is from the Liturgy Office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales. 

The Instruction Inaestimabile Donum

Instruction Concerning Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery

This document is from Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, approved and confirmed by Pope Saint John Paul II on April 17, 1980. It was the first such document after Vatican II to specifically address liturgical abuse. It applies to the whole Roman Rite Church.


Quotes: "But these encouraging and positive aspects [of the Vatican II reform of the Liturgy] cannot suppress concern at the varied and frequent abuses being reported from different parts of the Catholic world[....]" "None of these things can bring good results. The consequences are--and cannot fail to be--the impairing of the unity of Faith and worship in the Church, doctrinal uncertainty, scandal and bewilderment among the People of God, and the near inevitability of violent reactions."

Much of this document is still in force, however, the Church has changed some things. Jimmy Akin has provided an annotated version with notes on the parts that have changed. One big change is the prohibition against altar girls. For more recent information on the current guidelines regarding altar girls, see this article from Catholic Answers

"Note on a change to the translation of Collect prayers" from the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship

Quote from the USCCB note on the change:

"In May of 2020 the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments wrote to the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops regarding the concluding doxology of the Collects in the Roman Missal (which also appear in other liturgical books).

"Specifically, the Congregation pointed out that the current translation – which concludes “[...] in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever” – is incorrect. There is no mention of “one” in the Latin, and “Deus” in the Latin text refers to Christ. Therefore, the correct translation, which is already reflected in the Missal in other languages (including our own USCCB Misal Romano) is simply: “[...] in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.” The Cardinal Prefect has pointed out the importance of affirming this Christological truth amid the religious pluralism of today’s world."

Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America

Redemptionis Sacramentum
Inaestimabile Donum
Communion norms

Instruction Memoriale Domini

Released on May 29, 1969 by the Congregation for Divine Worship, this Instruction was in response to the abuse of giving communion in the hand without the permission of the Holy See.  The Instruction gave reasons why communion on the tongue was to be retained and a tally of votes by the Bishops who overwhelmingly voted "no" to communion in the hand. The Instruction ended with a sample letter which Bishop's Conferences could use to be granted permission for communion in the hand.

Book of Blessings

In the United States, there is an additional source of texts used during the Liturgy: the Book of Blessings, published by the Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1998. (There is an abridged version (1992) of the Book of Blessings available on, however, it does not include prayers or rubrics for use during the Liturgy.) The complete Book of Blessings is not available in online form, however, some of the blessings, with rubrics, are available from Search for "book of blessings." Here are a few examples:


Orders for the Blessing of a Married Couple

Blessing of Mothers on Mother's Day (2nd Sunday of May)

Blessing of Fathers on Father's Day (3rd Sunday of June)

Order for the Blessing of a Family


The Lectionary for Mass (1998/2002 USA edition)

The Catholic Lectionary Website compiled by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D. has extensive links to information on the Lectionary. These include: 


The Lectionary for Mass (1998/2002 USA Edition)

General Introduction to the Lectionary (Second Edition) published on January 21, 1981, by the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship.


This instruction is similar to the General Introduction to the Roman Missal (GIRM), in that it contains guidelines for the Mass. 





Directory for Masses with Children

Footnote 32 to GIRM 21 points to texts which also apply to the Liturgy. GIRM 21 says,  "Hence this Instruction aims both to offer general lines for a suitable ordering of the celebration of the Eucharist and to explain the rules by which individual forms of celebration may be arranged.32" From footnote 32, "for Masses with children, cf. Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, Directory for Masses with Children, November 1, 1973: acta apostolicae sedis 66 (1974), pp. 30-46." The original Latin can be found by scrolling down to page 30-46 here.  An English translation can be found here:

The USCCB answers a question about the use of Eucharistic Prayers for Children here:

More information on the topic of the choice of Eucharistic Prayers can be read here:

Children directory

Lectionary for Masses with Children

The book, the Lectionary for Masses With Children, is published by the Catholic Book Publishing Company. You can see some sample pages here:

According to the June 2021 issue of Liturgy Update, the newsletter of the Archdiocese of New York's Office of the Liturgy, "The Lectionary for Masses with Children was granted an interim approval for three years in 1992, but this permission has long since expired. Notwithstanding, the USCCB’s Divine Worship Secretariat has clarified that the text may continue to be sold and also used in Masses with children."

An older edition of the Lectionary for Masses with Children may be viewed online at archive dot org. It is not up to date and is missing the three year cycle of readings of the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal. It can be viewed here:

Children lectionary

Apostolic Letter Desiderio Desideravi

Pope Francis's letter on the Liturgical Formation of the People of God, June 29, 2022, shares reflections on the Liturgy. 

Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith Note: Gestis verbisque: On the Validity of the Sacraments

Released only in Italian on February 2, 2023, the Note is, hopefully, a first step in the Vatican addressing liturgical abuse. It is now available in six languages. See the English translation here:

For a commentary by retired professor of theology Larry Chapp, see his article, In Praise of Gestis verbisque at The Catholic World Report here:

Also see below, On the sacramental formula for baptism


The Theological Vision of Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Roman Missal

From the USCCB, this document explores the relationship between Vatican II, the Roman Missal, 3rd Edition, and the GIRM. It gives many examples of topics covered in the GIRM, but often with further explanations. For example, according to the GIRM, the ambo is a sacred place, but this document goes further: "It is not to be used as a music stand: the cantor, the conductor of the choir/assembly and the commentator should use a moveable stand or lectern. The ambo is truly regarded as the table of God’s Word in the same way in which the altar is the table of the Lord’s body and blood." The further implication is that the ambo should not be used as a lectern for announcements.


Communion on the Tongue

In July 2009, during the Swine Flu, the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments sent a letter confirming that receiving on the tongue is the norm. It is illicit to deny someone communion because they wish to receive in this way. See the letter here.


For more on this topic, see the blog post, Can We Be required to Receive Communion in the Hand, Because of the Virus? by Cathy Caridi.


Dance and Drama in the Liturgy

In 2012, Fr. Anthony Ward, S.M. Undersecretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments responded to a letter regarding the performance of  "liturgical dance and drama ministry" at a parish in the Philippines. The response letter, Prot. n. 544/12/L, says in part, "The liturgical law of the Roman Rite does not foresee the use of dance or drama within the Sacred Liturgy, unless particular legislation has been enacted by the Bishops' Conference and confirmed by the Holy See. Any other practice is to be considered an abuse. [....] Should the unlawful practices persist, the matter should be brought to the Bishop of the Diocese."


You can see a jpg copy of the letter here:

On the sacramental formula for Baptism

Due to questions about the correct formula for baptism, the Vatican released the following: 


DOCTRINAL NOTE on the modification of the sacramental formula of Baptism


The Committee on Divine Worship's Newsletter

The Committee on Divine Worship's Newsletter is published 10 times per year. In it you will find updates about liturgical matters. Many of the newsletters may be read online here:–-liturgy-of-the-hours-penance-implementation-national-eucharistic-revival

Updates in the Newsletter include: 

"Pope Francis Opens Institution of Lectors and Acolytes to Women" and "CDWDS Issues Note on the Ash Wednesday Distribution of Ashes"

"USCCB Approves, CDWDS Confirms Translation Change to Collect Prayer Conclusions" which includes the text of the Decree.


Why does fidelity in the liturgy matter?

For quotes from other Church documents, see...

Fidelity to Liturgical Law and the Rights of the Faithful by Peter Kwasniewski, PhD

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