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Mass

Introduction

Mass, religious service of the Roman Catholic Church, which has as its central act the performance of the sacrament of the Eucharist. It is based on the ancient Latin liturgy of the city of Rome, now used in most, but not all, Roman Catholic churches. The term Mass [Lat. missa, = dismissed] probably derives from the practice of dismissing the catechumens—those not yet initiated into the mystery of the Eucharist—before the offertory and from the words Ite, missa est [Go, you are dismissed] spoken to the faithful at the end of the Mass. The term is also used among Anglo-Catholics; in the Eastern churches the Mass is generally called the Holy Liturgy or the Offering. For non-Roman liturgies, see liturgy.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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