April 29, 2001
volume 12, no. 119

The Germs of GIRM

Part Thirteen: Unsacrificial self-affirmation

    Continuing on Chapter One of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, I have to once again emphasize how the sacrificial nature of the Mass has been diluted, many times eliminated.

Paragraph 19 of GIRM reads as follows:

        "The presence and active participation of the faithful bring out more plainly the ecclesial nature of the celebration. But even when their presence and participation is not possible, the Eucharistic celebration still retains its effectiveness and worth because it is the action of Christ and the Church, in which the priest fulfills his own principal office and always acts on behalf of the people's salvation. It is therefore recommended that the priest celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice even daily, whenever possible."

Comment and Analysis:

    Once again, there is the gratuitous assertion that the "active participation" of the faithful brings out "more plainly the ecclesial nature of the celebration." Oh, really? It can be argued that noise and the confusion and the clutter introduced by "active participation" has reduced the Mass to an anthropocentric exercise of community self-affirmation.

    The faithful do not need to feel as though they have to play a "part" in the "Liturgy" other than to unite themselves with the great mystery of our Lord's Sacrifice offered to the Father on our behalf in atonement for our sins, paying back in His own Sacred Humanity the blood-debt we owed God because of our sins but were unable to pay on our own.

    Finite beings cannot repay an offense to the Infinite God on their own, which is why the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity deigned to be clothed with His Sacred Humanity by the power of the Holy Spirit in our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb. The faithful had a better understanding of the nature of the Church as a hierarchical society instituted by Christ Himself for the salvation of souls when they were silent during Low Mass than they do now with all of the "added, active, full, conscious participation" that has been part of the "liturgical celebration" for over three decades now.

    That having been noted, Paragraph 19 does contain a rejoinder to modern liturgists, most of whom have tried to discourage priests from celebrating Masses privately without a congregation. These liturgists believe that the priest is merely the "presider"of the Lord's Supper and that the Sacrifice, if any, offered at his hands is not truly valid and/or complete if the faithful are not present. Thus, Paragraph 19 is a weak slap in the face of these liturgists by stating that a priest "fulfills his own principal office and always acts on behalf of the people's salvation" whenever he celebrates Mass, whether alone or with a congregation.

    It is a weak slap in the face because Paragraph 19 could have contained a reminder that all members of the Church Triumphant are present at every Sacrifice of the Mass. No priest is ever alone when celebrating the Sacred Mysteries. Our Lady is there once more. So are all of the other saints, both those canonized and those known only to the Blessed Trinity and the cloud of witnesses in Paradise.

    Another weakness of this part of Paragraph 19 is that it fails to mention that a priest gives glory to God and adds grace to the world every time he celebrates Mass, whether with our without a congregation. Actual graces are made present in the world through the celebration of Holy Mass. Thus, while Paragraph 19 contains a weak rejoinder to the spirit of modern liturgists, it does not go far enough in stating Catholic doctrine about the Mass, which, of course, is the whole problem with the prayers and other texts found within the Novus Ordo, most of which express the Faith in incomplete and sometimes imprecise terms.

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

Tomorrow: Part Fourteen: 'Renew' by dissing the tried and True?

For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives

April 29, 2001
volume 12, no. 119
CHRIST or chaos
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