In the modern age of Catholicism, where services, creeds and prayers periodically undergo regular revisions to capture the current papal ‘mood’, it can be difficult to keep track of which words should be capitalized. Historically, there was a trend to capitalize every noun related to God, including that of the pronoun “He”. Indeed, even the most devout Catholic writers still struggle to follow a consistent rule for capitalizing and non-capitalizing Catholic terms, which leads to more confusion. Is “Mass” capitalized when referring to the Catholic sacrament, or is “mass” equally valid in today’s world? Is there a difference between “catholic” and “Catholic”?
Is the word “mass” capitalized?
The word “Mass“, when referring to the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, should always be capitalized. This is, in part, so it may be readily distinguished from the general, non-Catholic uses of the word “mass” – for example, when it refers to a large, non-specific number (e.g. a mass of people had gathered in the courtyard), or when referring to the physical unit of measurement mass that we measure in Newtons. Catholic Mass, as written with the upper-case initial, also functions to identify itself as a proper noun describing the specific liturgical ritual where the Eucharist is celebrated.
On occasions where “Mass” is preceded by a common adjective, the adjective is customarily written in lower-case, as seen in “evening Mass”, or “requiem Mass”.
(To answer the other question at the beginning of the article – yes, there is indeed a difference between Catholic and catholic! The former refers to being of the Roman Catholic faith, while the latter means universal, diverse, and all-embracing).
As you can see, there can be rather a large difference between a “Catholic Mass” and a “catholic mass”, and care should be taken so as not to confuse the two; the correct capitalization of “Mass” and “Catholic” has the remarkable ability to distinguish a Eucharistic liturgy from a non-specifically large, all-embracing quantity.
For more capitalization questions, use our free title capitalization tool here.