December 3-9, 2001
volume 12, no. 159

The Germs of GIRM

Part Thirty-two: The devisive elements of the New Mass

    Paragraph 69 of GIRM reads as follows:
    "In the general intercessions or prayer of the faithful, the people, respond in some way to the Word of God which they have welcomed in faith, and exercising the office of their baptismal priesthood, offer prayers to God for the salvation of all."
Comment and Analysis:

    As noted in previous commentaries, the so-called "prayer of the faithful" is superfluous. It adds nothing to the faithful "exercising the office of their baptismal priesthood." Indeed, it has become in many instances yet another way for wordiness to transplant solemnity, especially when such petitions are opened up to the faithful for their own extemporaneous prayers (which goes on interminably in some instances during weekday Masses in one parish after another). Again, as I noted in an earlier commentary, all of the needs of the Church are contained in the Roman Canon. There is no need for the "prayer of the faithful," which has become a gigantic and time-consuming detraction in the celebration of the Mass.

    Paragraph 70 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "As a rule the sequence of intentions is to be: (a) for the needs of the Church; (b) for public authorities and the salvation of the whole world; (c) for those oppressed by any need; (d) for the local community. In particular celebrations, such as confirmations, marriages, or funerals, the series of intercessions may refer more specifically to the occasion."
Comment and Analysis:

    As noted in my analysis of Paragraph 69, the needs of the Church are contained in the Roman Canon, as well as in the Collects, Secrets, Communion, and Postcommunion prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass. Insofar as funerals and marriages are concerned, there is no need for prayers "tailored" for particular circumstances or people. The Dies Irae of a Requiem Mass in the Traditional Latin Mass is timeless. The solemn Nuptial Blessing, which Sharon was privileged to receive during our Nuptial Mass on June 7, was equally as timeless. The Mass must not be turned into a topical and idiosyncratic vessel. The Mass is timeless. Its focus is on Christ, and only on us as individuals in funeral Masses and Nuptial Masses who are in need of the graces He won for us by the shedding of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross. Making the Mass a vessel for topicality and idiosyncracy detracts from its Christocentricity and from its timelessness.

    Paragraph 71 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "It is for the priest celebrant to direct the general intercessions from the chair. He himself introduces them with a brief remark by which he invites the faithful to pray. He also concludes them with a prayer. The intentions announced should be sober, with a discrete freedom and composed of few words, expressing the needs of the whole community. As a rule, the intentions are announced from the ambo or another suitable place, either by the deacon or the cantor, or even by a reader or a member of the lay faithful. Lastly, the people make their prayer standing, either by a response said together after each intercession, or by praying in silence."
Comment and Analysis:

    More stage directions. Move here, stand there. Be sober. This is sort of reminiscent of what happened when President Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr., read a speech from a teleprompter in January 1975. Reading his address from the White House basement, Ford actually read the stage directions contained in the TelePrompter at one point: "Inflation has been a very serious, look into camera seriously and fold arms, problem. . . ." What does "discrete freedom" mean? How does one define "a few" words? Does "expressing the needs of the whole community" mean that every constituent group in a parish has to have representation in the prayers of the faithful? The very people who claim that the Traditional Latin Mass was "divisive" and "exclusive" wind up dividing parishes and dioceses during the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

Next Monday: Part Thirty-three: In the Novus Ordo the Offertory leaves little to offer!

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December 3-9, 2001
volume 12, no. 159
CHRIST or chaos
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