August 6-8, 2001
volume 12, no. 140

The Germs of GIRM

Part Eighteen: Words do matter!

    A lot has happened since my last installment of my analysis of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal was published. The American bishops have applied for various indults to be exempted from the few parts of GIRM which actually require some degree of adherence to fixed formulas in various parts of the Novus Ordo. Our bishops have gotten almost everything they have wanted from Rome concerning the liturgy in the last thirty-two years or so. If granted, the indults will prove just how meaningless the new set of instructions are.

    A second development involves the issuance by the Holy See of a set of norms governing the translation of the Novus Ordo from the Latin into the vernacular, a process which has been controlled by liturgical revolutionaries across the world from the very outset of the translation process in 1969. Far from being a "solution" to the problem, however, the new set of norms for translation only highlight the inherent weakness of having the Mass celebrated in many different living languages, which of their nature are subject to change and ideological manipulation. Moreover, the new set of instructions translation ignore entirely the inconvenient little fact that the Latin editio typica of the Novus Ordo has indeed watered down the expression of the Holy Faith, conveying a sense of the Faith which is deliberately in contrast to that expressed over the ages in the Traditional Latin Mass. I will provide a detailed analysis of the norms for translation in the next issue of Christ or Chaos.

    Selected passages found in Chapter Two of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal are herein analyzed:

Paragraph 27 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "At Mass or the Lord's Supper, the people of God are called together into unity, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord or the Eucharistic sacrifice. For this reason Christ's promise applies supremely to such a local gathering of the Church. 'Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their presence' (Matthew 18:20). For at the celebration of Mass, which perpetuates the sacrifice of the cross, Christ is really present in the assembly gathered in his name; he is present in the person of the minister, in his own word, and indeed substantially and permanently under the Eucharistic elements."
Comment and Analysis:

    Words matter. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is at one and the same time a commemoration of the Last Supper and the unbloody re-presentation of the Son's Sacrifice to the Father in Spirit and in Truth effected on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday.

    To define the Mass in "either/or" terms (either the Mass or the Lord's Supper; the memorial of the Lord or the Eucharistic sacrifice) is to imply that the phrase used to describe the Mass is unimportant. However, yes, indeed, words do matter. The Mass suffers from a severe and permanent identity crisis in the Novus Ordo. It is referred to variously as "the celebration," "our celebration," "the meal," "the banquet," "the table," "the liturgy," and so on by "presiders" throughout the world. And given the fact that GIRM permits the priest to introduce the Mass in words not found in the Missal, then the whole enterprise rests upon the theology of the individual priest as opposed to the actual act of the Church which the priest alone, regardless of the faithful, has the power to make our Lord incarnate under the appearance of bread and wine.

    As Pope Pius XII noted in Mediator Dei, the faithful do unite themselves with the sacrifice offered by the priest. However, it is the priest alone who is the alter Christus, the one who is empowered by virtue of his ordination to celebrate the Mass and to perpetuate the Sacrifice of Calvary in an unbloody manner.

    Paragraph 27 makes it appear as though there is a contingent relationship between the priesthood of the ordained minister and the common priesthood all the faithful have by means of their baptism. Imprecise language can lead to all manner of ideological manipulations.

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

Thursday: Part Nineteen: The Polemics of the "People of God"

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

August 6-8, 2001
volume 12, no. 140
CHRIST or chaos
Return to Today's Issue