Formulary of the Mass

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Formulary of the Mass: Dynamic text and rite

Pontifical Liturgy Institute

optional seminar offered in English: NNNN  (3 ECTS): 

Taught byDaniel McCarthy

Brief description

The three proper prayers of one mass formulary reveal the dynamic movement of the eucharistic liturgy from entrance procession to the procession with the gifts and communion procession and sometimes even hinting of the procession back home. Each mass formulary expresses this dynamic movement in different ways.

This seminar provides a context for the student-scholar to learn and apply a method to discern the dynamic movement latent in three proper prayers from from one mass formulary, in three stages:

  1. Heuristics: the student-researcher studies the literary composition and ritual contexts of the prayers.
  2. Hermeneutics: the student-scholar interprets the prayers in their liturgical-ritual context and according to four pairs of interpretative keys.
  3. Synthetics: the student-author formulates a proposal that addresses the concerns of an identified audience and presents the three prayers of one mass formulary both in the seminar and finally in a written summative paper.

In this seminar, the student joins the collegial discussion among scholar-participants, as the professor provides careful supervision of the work undertaken.



By the end of this course the student will have done and will know a method for doing the following:

  1. Heuristics: the student will have gathered essential information on the three prayers of one mass formulary, their Latin expression, liturgical context, sources.
  2. Hermeneutics: the student will have interpreted the prayers both in their ritual-liturgical context to understand the dynamic movement of the eucharistic liturgy from the entrance to the presentation and communion and finally departure, and according to four pairs of interpretative keys: anamnesis (narration – ritual programme); epiclesis (presentation – invocation); eschatology – (fulfillment – moral life and personal maturation); theosis (a personal way of living in freedom and love).
  3. Synthetics: the student will have integrated the findings and interpretation into a reasoned proposal intended to address the concerns of an identified audience, and will have communicated this in oral form to the participants in the seminar and in written form in a final summative paper.
  4. The student conducts personal research while engaged in collaborative conversation with colleague-scholars, as the professor carefully directs their attention and encourages deeper investigation.

Structure of the course

  1. In this seminar the professor reviews methods of finding data, interpreting the three prayers in their respective contexts and writing a summative paper; the professor provides careful moderation.
  2. Each student presents an analysis of the Latin expression of the three prayers.
  3. In a second presentation each student interprets the meaning of the prayers in their liturgical-ritual context according to the four pairs of interpretative keys.
  4. Seminar discussions encourage learning from others and support self-motivated personal research and sharing personal reflections.
  5. Each student integrates this historical and hermeneutical method and findings in the preparation of a reasoned proposal on the Latin text of the three prayers intended to address the concerns of an identified audience.

Learning activities

  1. Each session begins with a clear and accurate understanding of the Latin text of one formulary consisting of three prayers.
  2. The student-researcher seeks to identify sources of the prayers in Scripture, literature, magisterium.
  3. The student-scholar interprets the meaning of the prayers in their liturgical-ritual context and according to four pairs of interpretative keys.
  4. The student-author addresses the particular concerns of an identified audience in two oral presentations on the prayers and in the final written summative paper.


The course is scheduled for Thursday afternoons of the Spring semester 2018. The organizational meeting will be held on Thursday XX February. Sessions continue until the end of the semester at the end of May 2018. Sessions begin at XX:XX on each of the following days:

XX, XX February
XX March
(Easter break)
XX April
XX May


Hours: 15:30-17:05

First session 15:30-16:15
Break: 16:15-16:20
Second session 16:20-17:05
During our first session, it is possible to schedule the course for a different day or time favorable to the participants.

Office Hours

Please do not phone the instructor. Rather email him at danielmccarthyosb AT mac DOT com.

He is available outside of class time by appointment.



♦ Leachman, J.G. – McCarthy, D.P., « The formation of the Ecclesial Person through Baptismal Preparation and celebrations of the RCIA: The Collects of the Scrutinies », The Liturgical Subject: Subject and Subjectivity, ed. J. Leachman, SCM–University of Notre Dame Press, London – Notre Dame, IL 2008, 172-200.

♦ Leachman, J.G. –McCarthy, D.P., « Preparation for the Piazza: The Preface of the Second Scrutiny (the Fourth Sunday in Lent): the mystagogical formation of the neophytes and the assembly, » Conference of Societas Liturgica, « Liturgy and the Piazza », Studia Liturgica 38 (2008) 114-33.

♦ Leachman, J.G., “The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Catechumenal Preparation for Baptism in OICA,” in Spíritus spiritália nóbis dóna poténter infúndit[Studia Anselmiana 139], PIL, Roma 2006, 277-292.

♦ Leachman, J.G., “The Holy Spirit in the Period of Purification and Enlightenment in RCIA,” Studia Liturgica 36 (2006) 185-2007.

♦ Transition in the Easter Vigil: Becoming Christians. Paschali in vigilia Christiani nominis fieri, ed. D.P. McCarthy – J.G. Leachman (Documenta rerum ecclesiasticarum instaurata, Liturgiam aestimare: Appreciating the Liturgy 2), St. Michael’s Abbey Press, Farnborough 2011, 295-322.

Also recommended:

♦ LEWIS, C.T.,- SHORT, C., A Latin Dictionary, OUP, Oxford-New York 1879, reprinted 1995.

♦ Appreciating the CollectAn Irenic Methodology, ed. J.G. Leachman – D.P. McCarthy (Documenta rerum ecclesiasticarum instaurata, Liturgiam aestimare: Appreciating the Liturgy 1), St. Michael’s Abbey Press, Farnborough 2008.

♦ FOSTER, R. – D.P. MCCARTHY, Ossa Latinitatis Sola ad mentem Reginaldi rationemqueThe mere bones of Latin according to the thought and system of Reginald (Latinitatis Corpus 1), Catholic University of America Press, Washington DC forthcoming.

♦ MCCARTHY, D., “Seeing a Reflection, Considering Appearances: The History, Theology and Literary Composition of the Missale Romanum at a Time of Vernacular Reflection”, Questions Liturgiques / Studies in Liturgy 94 (2013) 109-143.

♦ LEACHMAN, J.G. “A New Liturgical Hermeneutic: Christian Maturation by Developmental Steps”, New Blackfriars 90 (2009) 219-231.

Enter an inflected form of your word in the field under the heading “Dictionary Entry Lookup”, located in the column on the right.
Parsing tool with Lewis and Short Dictionary♦ LEWIS and SHORT dictionary available here: Enter the dictionary entry for your word in the field under the heading “Dictionary Entry Lookup”, located in the column on the right.


Preparation: Having agreed with the instructor upon the three prayers of a Latin formulary from the Missale Romanum, the student conducts his or her own study of the prayers and presents the findings in two seminar presentations. The student also participates in the seminar discussion on the research of other collegue-participants. The student uses the shared discussion and personal research to revise and further develop a final summative paper.

Examination in detail


Explanation: The student presents his or her findings in class twice and has the chance to revise the material based on class discussion and feedback from the instructor, before submitting a research paper of 10 pages of text but not more than 15 pages, following the norms of the PIL (without binding). The norms of the PIL may be downloaded here.

Criteria for evaluation: Both the regular in class presentations by the student of his or her ongoing research and the final paper are assessed based on the following criteria:

  1. understanding of the method and quality of its application to the particular prayers,
  2. logical organisation of the material and its clear presentation,
  3. accuracy of information and analysis,
  4. consistency in style of notes and bibliography,
  5. sources preferaby in their original languages,
  6. theological accuracy

Mode of evaluation: The final assessment will be based 50% on class participation and 50% on the final written paper.

When: The final paper is to be handed in to the Registrar no later than 24 May 2018, two copies if the student would like to receive back a copy with notations and comments.


Academic program

The program of studies, course descriptions and calendar for the academic year 2017-2018 is available for download here.


This course is offered in English at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy housed at:

Piazza Cavalieri di Malta, 5
00153 Roma, Italia

See map below.

Schedule in detail

Here is the subject matter for each seminar session

Session 1: Thursday, 15 February 2018

Since this is a seminar and the students are expected to work together, we shall begin with general introductions of the students to one another.

We shall establish the days and times of our sessions.

We shall go over the syllabus, bibliography and make a visit to the library.

For session 2 the students are requested to choose the prayer they wish to work with and to prepare a direct translation into English (or Italian) as well as into their mother language.

Session 2: Thursday, 22 February


Description here.

Mass formularies chosen


list the formularies here.

Materials continued

You may purchase our books from Sr. Bernadette or the English desk at:

Pauline multimedia
via del Mascherino, 94
00193 Roma
Tel. 06.6872354
Fax: 06.68308093
Sr. Bernadette:
General enquiries:


Latin resources

I have begun to develop a page of resources for the Latin language including: dictionaries, grammars, resources, texts, links.