I HAVE ATTENDED Masses at different Catholic churches in Singapore and have noticed that in many instances the cantor or even the priest celebrant would erroneously refer to the Mass as a service in their welcome address to the congregation prior to the commencement of the Mass.

This is an error because the Mass is more than the service that takes place in Protestant churches because their pastors (celebrants) lack the “power” that only a Catholic priest has to offer the true sacrificial and liturgical elements of a Mass. The Mass is never ever a service; it is a divine liturgy or a Eucharistic celebration.

We attend a baptismal service, funeral service, wedding service or a communion service (where hosts consecrated previously at an earlier Mass are given); these services can be officiated by a deacon. Mass, on the other hand, can only be celebrated by an ordained priest. Therein lies the difference between the Mass and a service.

It is a pity that many Catholics unknowingly downgrade the great treasure we Catholics have.

Dr Peter Goh

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