October 15-21, 2001
volume 12, no. 152

The Germs of GIRM

Part Twenty-eight: The Entrance: the not so Gradual exit from the Mystery of the Mass

    Paragraph 48 of GIRM reads as follows:
    "The opening liturgical song is sung alternately either by the choir and the people or by the cantor and the people; or it is sung entirely by the people or by the choir alone. The antiphon and psalm of the Graduale Romanum or The Simple Gradual may be used, or another liturgical song that is suited to this part of the Mass, the day or the season and that has a text approved by the Conference of Bishops. If there is no singing for the entrance, the antiphon in the Missal is recited either by the faithful, by some of them, or by a reader; otherwise, it is recited by the priest himself, who may also incorporate it into his introductory remarks."

Comment and Analysis:

    In other words, any song that is not specifically prohibited by a Conference of Bishops is going to be sung, no matter what it expresses. This leads to the triumph of congregationalism, as I have noted in past commentaries. Secondly, the lack of any fixed structure leads a celebrant to ad lib his way through the beginning of the Mass, exalting himself while deemphasizing his role as an alter Christus acting in persona Christi. The faithful must not be subjected to the unpredictable personal whims of those who are charged with the sacred and recollect celebration of the sacred mysteries.

Paragraphs 49 and 50 of GIRM read as follows:

    (49) "When the priest, the deacon, and the ministers enter the sanctuary, they reverence the altar with a profound bow. As a sign of veneration, the priest and deacon kiss the altar; when the occasion warrants, the priest may also incense the cross and the altar."

    (50) "After the opening liturgical song, the priest, standing at the chair, blesses himself with the sign of the cross together with the whole assembly. Then through his greeting the priest declares to the assembled community that the Lord is present. This greeting and the people's response express the mystery of the gathered Church. After greeting the people, the priest, the deacon or another minister may very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day."

Comment and Analysis:

    Paragraph 49 is written with one of two assumptions in mind: (a) that the tabernacle is no longer located in the center of the Church, thus vitiating a genuflection as the priest enters the sanctuary; or (b) that the presence of the tabernacle in the center of the Church is to be ignored, a head bow to the altar replacing a reverent genuflection before Jesus Christ the King of Kings in His Real Presence.

    Paragraph 50 propagates the specious notion that our Lord's presence to the "assembled community" is declared by the priest in his greeting, not believed in by the faithful as a matter of the Faith itself. The "dialogue" between the priest and the people does nothing to express "the mystery of the gathered Church." The mystery which is the Mass subsists in its very nature.

    Our dialogue adds nothing to that mystery, nor do the introductory remarks of the priest (something that is apparently a very important goal of GIRM as such remarks are encouraged over and over again in its various paragraphs). And it is interesting to note that the priest is not to stand at the altar when he begins the Mass; he is to do so from the chair. This is inserted as an ipse dixit. And the fact that there was no such greeting in our living liturgical tradition means nothing to those intent on Protestanizing the Mass.

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

Next Monday: Part Twenty-nine: Minimizing the culpability of mea culpa

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October 15-21, 2001
volume 12, no. 152
CHRIST or chaos
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