December 10-16, 2001
volume 12, no. 160

The Germs of GIRM

Part Thirty-three:

In the Novus Ordo the Offertory leaves little to offer!

Paragraph 72 of GIRM reads as follows:
        "At the Last Supper Christ instituted the sacrifice and paschal meal that make the sacrifice of the cross to be continuously present in the Church, when the priest, representing Christ the Lord, carries out what the Lord did and handed over to his disciples to do in his memory. Christ took the bread and the cup and gave thanks; he broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying: 'Take, eat, and drink: this is my body; this is the cup of my blood. Do this in memory of me.' Accordingly, the Church has planned the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy around the parts corresponding to these word and actions of Christ: (1) In the preparation of the gifts, the bread and the wine with water are brought to the altar, that is, the same elements that Christ took into his hands; (2) In the Eucharistic Prayer thanks is given to God for the whole work of salvation and the gifts of bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ; (3) Through the breaking of the bread and the Communion of the faithful the unity of the faithful is expressed, who although they are many, nevertheless receive from the one bread the Lord's body and blood in the same way the apostles received them from Christ's own hands."
Comment and Analysis:

    Once again, GIRM demonstrates its schizophrenic nature. For the authors of GIRM, the Mass can be referred to equally as a sacrifice or as the paschal meal. The late Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani noted this equivalence in his own initial reaction to the original General Instruction of the Roman Missal back in 1969. "The ultimate purpose of the Mass is the sacrifice of praise rendered to the Most Holy Trinity. This end conforms to the primary purpose of the Incarnation, explicitly enunciated by Christ Himself: 'Coming into the world He saith: sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not, but, but a body Thou hast fitted Me.' In the Novus Ordo, this purpose has disappeared: From the Offertory, where the prayer Receive, Holy Trinity, this Oblation has been removed." Indeed. Moreover, the eradication of the very term "Offertory" weakens the sacrificial sense of the Mass and communicates the sense, whether advertent or inadvertent, that the liturgy is more of a meal than a sacrifice, all of GIRM's protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. Additionally, referring to the Consecration as the "breaking of the bread" can also be used as a basis for those who claim that the Mass is principally a meal, that the Consecration is merely symbolic and not an offering of the Son to the Father in an unbloody manner. The very prayers read in what is now called the "Preparation of the Gifts" differ dramatically from the traditional prayers contained in the Offertory of the Traditional Latin Mass. It is significant that GIRM makes no reference whatsoever to the beauty of the Offertory prayers contained in the Traditional Latin Mass. And while those prayers developed relatively late in the history of the organic development of the Traditional Latin Mass, they convey the true sense of the Mass without any ambiguity at all.

        "Receive, O holy Father, almighty and eternal God, this spotless host, which I, Thine unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for my countless sins, trespasses, and omissions; likewise for all here present, and for all faithful Christians, whether living or dead, that it may avail both me and them to salvation, unto life everlasting. Amen."
    As Father F.X. Lasance quotes a source in The New Roman Missal: "This is a telling illustration of the perfect and indissoluble union of the divinity with the humanity of Jesus through the Incarnation of the Word; and, according to the prayer of the Church, it is likewise a touching symbol of the union of Jesus with all Christians and especially with every single one who assists at Holy Mass; for the priest petitions the heavenly Father to unite our poor human nature so closely with the divinity of Jesus that nothing may ever be able to separate it. And even as these few drops of water lose themselves in the wine, so may also we lose ourselves in the divinity of Christ."

    The first part of the Offertory prayer demonstrates the sacerdotal nature of the holy priesthood and of the solemn nature of what will take place on the altar of Sacrifice. It also expresses the priest's sense of his own unworthiness to offer the Sacrifice as he acts in persona Christi. As was indicated in the first part of this series several months ago, the Novus Ordo eliminates most references to man's sinful nature and of his need for God's forgiveness. This is indicated quite dramatically in the reformulated prayers for the Preparation of the Gifts. The sense of the Mass as a sacrifice is so lacking in the Novus Ordo that priests of Opus Dei used to counsel diocesan priests to say the old Offertory prayers silently instead of the prayers found in the Novus Ordo. Once Opus Dei received its status as a Personal Prelature of the Holy Father in 1982, however, such advice was dropped. It is significant, however, that such advice was given for such a long time.

    The second part of the Offertory of the host reads as follows:

        "O God, Who in creating man didst exalt his nature very wonderfully and yet more wonderfully didst establish it anew; by the mystery signified in the mingling of this water and wine grant us to ahve part in the Godhead of him Who hath vouchsafed to share our manhood, Jesus Christ Thy Son, Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost; God, world without end. Amen."
    The prayer at the Offering of the chalice reads as follows:
        "We offer unto Thee, O Lord, the chalice of salvation, beseeching Thy clemency that it may ascend as a sweet odor before Thy divine majesty, for our salvation, and for that of the whole world. Humbled in mind, and contrite of heart, may we find favor with Thee, O Lord; and may the sacrifice we this day offer up be well-pleasing to Tee, Who art our Lord and God. Come, Thou, the sanctifier, God almighty and everlasting; bless this sacrifice which is prepared for the glory of Thy name."
    This formulation is a lot different than that found in the Novus Ordo, which sanitize and actually de-Catholicize the nature of the Mass. The traditional Offertory prayers fully communicate the nature of the Mass. Consider, for example, the concluding prayer of the Traditional Offertory:
        "Receive, O holy Trinity, this oblation offered up by us to Thee, in memory of the passion, resurrection, and ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honor of the blessed Mary, ever a virgin, of blessed John the Baptist, of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, of these, and of all the saints, that it may be available to their honor and to our salvation; and may they whose memory we celebrate on earth vouchsafe to intercede for us in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen."
    There is no reference to the Mother of God at this point in the celebration of the Novus Ordo. And just as the one who prepared the way for the commencement of our Lord's public ministry, Saint John the Baptist, is omitted from the new Confiteor, so is he omitted from the "Preparation of the Gifts, as are the founders of the Church of Rome, Saints Peter and Paul. Let's face it: this was an effort to make the Mass more appealing to Protestant theologians, some of whom served on the infamous Consilium in the 1960s. What happened as a result, however, was the driving away of Catholics in great numbers, not the attracting of Protestants to the Catholic Church. And the prayers contained in the Novus Ordo's Preparation of the Gifts less fully prepare the faithful for the Transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the God-Man, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Paragraph 73 of GIRM reads as follows:

        "At the beginning of the liturgy of the Eucharist the gifts, which will become Christ's body and blood, are brought to the altar. First the altar, the Lord's table, which is the center of the whole Eucharistic liturgy, is prepared: the corporal, purificator, Sacramentary, and chalice are placed on it (unless the chalice is prepared at a side table). The gifts are then brought forward. It is desirable for the faithful to present the bread and wine, which are accepted by the priest or deacon at a convenient place from which they may brought to the altar. This is also the time to receive money or other gifts for the poor or the Church brought the faithful or collected at the Mass. These are to be put in a suitable place but not on the Eucharistic table."
Comment and Analysis:

    Once again, GIRMan schizophrenia. Is the altar an altar or is it a table? It is referred to as both. The mania for participatory democracy is demonstrated by giving the laity a visible, public "role" in what leads up to the Consecration. This presentation of the gifts has become a grand spectacle in many parishes. The very selection of who will present the gifts during a particular Mass can become a matter of satisfying various constituency groups in a parish (or who are prone to attend a particular Mass). Spectacles such as the "presentation of the gifts" by the laity detract from the solemnity of preparing to participate interiorly in the unbloody re-presentation of the Son to the Father in Spirit and in Truth.

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

Next Monday: Part Thirty-four: Awash in Ambiguity

Your email:
Your name:
E-mail it  to:
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives

December 10-16, 2001
volume 12, no. 160
CHRIST or chaos
Return to Current Issue