October 22-28, 2001
volume 12, no. 153

The Germs of GIRM

Part Twenty-nine: Minimizing the culpability of mea culpa

    Paragraphs 51 and 52 of GIRM read as follows:
    (51) "Then the priest invites them to take part in the penitential rite, which, after a brief pause for silence, the entire community carries out through a formula of general confession, and which is concluded with the priest's absolution. This latter, however, lacks the efficacy of the sacrament of penance. On Sundays, especially in Easter time, in place of the customary penitential rite, the blessing and sprinkling with water may occasionally be performed to recall baptism."

    (52) "Then the Kyrie always begins, unless it has been included as part of the penitential rite. Since it is a liturgical song by which the faithful praise the Lord and implore His mercy, it is ordinarily prayed by all, that is, alternately by the congregation and the choir or the cantor. As a rule each of the acclamations is repeated twice, though it may be repeated more, because of different languages, the music, or other circumstances. When the Kyrie is sung as a a part of a penitential act, a trope may be inserted before each acclamation."

Comment and Analysis:

    Paragraph 51 conveniently ignores the nasty little fact that the traditional Confiteor has been changed radically. The deletion of the triple expression of our own individual guilt for sins (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) is in concert with GIRM's stated belief (in Paragraph 15) that its authors did not believe that the "tradition" would be harmed if certain prayers were reformulated "so that the style of language would be more in accord with the language of modern theology and would faithfully reflect the actual state of the Church's discipline. Thus there have been changes of some expressions bearing on the evaluation and use of the good things of the earth and of allusions to a particular form of outward penance belonging to another age in the history of the Church."

    If human nature is unchanging, then it stands to reason that there is no such thing as "modern theology," is there? GIRM betrays its own efforts to rewrite the truths of the Faith to conform the unchanging truths of Our Lord to the narcissism of our present day. Modern man does not want to hear anything negative about himself, does not want to even consider the possibility of going to hell for all eternity. Thus, the Mass must be adapted to soothe the guilty conscience of man, not fixed in time so as to reflect the immutability of God and the unchanging nature of our need for forgiveness from Him.

    Similarly, Paragraph 52 contains two key flaws which reflect the culture-bound view of the Mass which is endemic in the Novus Ordo: (a) the natural degeneration of worship when living languages become the basis of one needless adaptation after another; and (b) the replacement of the traditional (or revised) Confiteor with the Kyrie alone can result in the ideological manipulation of the Kyrie to suit the needs of the celebrant, introducing each part of the Kyrie with his own personal concoctions.

Paragraph 53 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "The Gloria is the ancient and venerable hymn in which the Church, assembled in the Holy Spirit, praises and entreats God the Father and the Lamb. The text of this hymn is not to be replaced by any other. The Gloria is begun by the priest or, as needs dictate, by a cantor or a choir, but is sung by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited either by all or by two parts of the congregation responding to each other. The Gloria is sung or said on Sundays outside Advent and Lent, on solemnities and feasts, and in special, or solemn celebrations."

Comment and Analysis: Naturally, all of GIRM is needless as the Novus Ordo was needless. However, this paragraph contains kernels of truth mixed in with modernism. That is, there is no necessity that the Gloria be sung at every Mass. The plain truth is this: not every parish in the past had the people capable of singing a High Mass well. But a culture of entitlement and participatory democracy results in the belief that those who desire to be "leaders of song" in the Mass have a right to do so, regardless of their ability. A beautiful hymn of praise to the Blessed Trinity thus becomes the plaything of liturgical committees and/or choir directors. Its meaning is thus lost in the shuffle.

    And it is interesting to note that while GIRM correctly states that the Gloria is to be recited on the feast days it lists in the last sentence of Paragraph 53, the actual fact of the matter is that many priests arbitrarily omit the Gloria on solemnities and feasts, thereby depriving the faithful of the fullness of the meaning of the solemnity or feast. Alas, this is but the rotten fruit of omitting the Gloria from the celebration of weekday Mass altogether, something that was not the case in the Traditional Latin Mass except during Advent and Lent.

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

Next Monday: Part Thirty: Watering down the Faith

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October 22-28, 2001
volume 12, no. 153
CHRIST or chaos
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