August 9-12, 2001
volume 12, no. 141

The Germs of GIRM

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

    [Continuing with selected passages found in Chapter Two of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, in this issue Paragraphs 28 and 29 are herein analyzed. The first treats how the liturgists deconstructed the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the sake of "the people of God;" the latter deals with the imbalance of Divine Revelation placing Scripture on a plane above Tradition and Church Teachings.]

Paragraph 28 of GIRM reads as follows:

       "The Mass is made up as it were of two parts: the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the Eucharist. These two parts are closely connected that they form but one single act of worship. For in the Mass the table of God's word and of Christ's Body is laid for the people of God to receive from it instruction and food. There are also certain rites to open and conclude the celebration."
Comment and Analysis:

    The division of the Mass into what is now called the "liturgy of the word" and the "liturgy of the Eucharist" is novel to the Novus Ordo. Indeed, this division, which changed the terminology used in the Traditional Latin Mass, has led some theologians and liturgists to claim that the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the Eucharist are equal to each other, that our Lord is just as present in His word as He is in the Blessed Sacrament, where, as we know, He is present sacramentally and actually, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. This is the Real Presence, which is unlike any other presence of the Lord (in the faithful, in the Scriptures, in the "community").

    Also problematic in this paragraph is the use of the word "table" to describe "God's word" and "Christ's Body," which also place the two on equal footing, and which tends to de-emphasize the sacrificial nature of the Mass, all protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

    As I have noted in other analyses, the use of the phrase "people of God" is another novel expression of the past forty years, bearing an eery similarity to the invocations of "the people" found in the American Constitution, the French Revolution, Freemasonry, and Communist propaganda (which asserts that Communism alone represents the "people").

    It must be remembered that the liturgical revolutionaries do not believe that all of the "people of God" are equal. Those members of the Mystical Body of Christ who do not adhere to the revolutionary agenda are to be browbeaten and re-educated until they submit to the new order of things.

    A very perceptive priest, who was sent an initial draft of this analysis, adds this cogent observation about Paragraph 28: "This description of the two-parts of the Mass completely leaves out the worship due to the Blessed Trinity and the adoration of the adorable Sacrament on the altar. The old Mass had three essential parts: offertory, consecration and communion. The new Mass by having two parts is equivalent to a mere communion service in which a non-priest may go to the Tabernacle, place the ciborium on the altar, give Holy Communion, all preceded by the Bible readings, viz., "instruction and food." There seems to be no connection whatsoever with our Catholic tradition in many of the paragraphs in the instruction."

Paragraph 29 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "When the Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself is speaking to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, is proclaiming the gospel. The readings of God's word must therefore be listened to by all with reverence; they make up a principal element of the liturgy. In the biblical readings God's word addresses all people of every era and is understandable to them, and a fuller understanding and efficacy are fostered by a living commentary on it, that is to say, by the homily, understood as an integral part of the liturgical action."
Comment and Analysis:

    Yes, our Lord does speak to us through Sacred Scripture, which is one of the two sources of Revelation, of the Deposit of Faith. Indeed, we must pay careful attention to the proclamation of His word during the Sacrifice of the Mass. No doubt. However, there is a hidden agenda here that is necessary to discuss.

    In her infinite wisdom, Holy Mother Church knew through the centuries that the faithful are busy with their own lives. Concerned though they might be with First and Last Things, the faithful are busy with the affairs of this world and are prone to forget the lessons of the Faith. That is why the Church had until the liturgical revolution an annual cycle of readings for the Mass as opposed to the triennial cycle which obtains at present. People need to be reminded of the truths of the Faith over and over again. They can only absorb so much and be expected to retain it over the course of time.

    It might be possible, however, for them to learn the basics well enough for them to cooperate more fully with the graces won for the human race by our Lord on the wood of the Holy Cross through the outpouring of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood. God gives us a lifetime to "get it right," which is why the Church had an annual cycle of preaching until the 1960s, a cycle which stressed the truths of the Faith over and over again (the Ten Commandments, the moral life and the virtues, the Sacraments, the nature of the Church).

    The sermon, as opposed to the homily, helped the faithful to live the truths of the Faith more fully in their daily lives. Our Lord does not expect the faithful to be au courant on the latest (and almost always specious) "explanation" provided us by Biblical exegetes. He does not expect every one of the faithful to be degreed experts in theology. He expects them to be saints. And it is to that end that the sermon sought to instruct the faithful as to how to get to Heaven, not to impress them with the alleged scholarship or erudition of the "homilist."

    Moreover, a later paragraph in GIRM notes the "importance" of the homily even during a weekday Mass. It does not mandate a homily during weekday Mass but highly recommends one. This is novel in the tradition of the Church. The Novus Ordo, which produces noise and cacophony of its nature, proliferates a barrage of verbiage which detracts from the centrality of the Mass, the Transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Theandric Person, the God-Man, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Indeed, there are many instances in which priests who are in love with the sound of their own voice drone on forever in their "homily" and then race through what is now called the Eucharistic Prayer, using Eucharistic Prayer II to "shorten" the Mass which has been elongated as a result of their own desire to make the homily appear to be more important than the fruits of the Mass which flow out into the souls of those assembled and into the world as a result of the Consecration.

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

Monday: Part Twenty: Presider and Divider

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

August 9-12, 2001
volume 12, no. 141
CHRIST or chaos
Return to Today's Issue