February 1-3, 2002
volume 13, no. 20

The Germs of GIRM

Part Thirty-seven:
There can be no peace in the piece-meal new order

    Continuing with my analysis of the General Instruction of The Roman Missal, in this installment I will treat Paragraphs 81 and 82 of GIRM.

    Paragraph 81 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "In the Lord's prayer, daily food is prayed for, which for Christians means preeminently the Eucharistic bread, and for the forgiveness of sin, so that what is holy may be given to those who are holy. The priest offers the invitation to pray, but all the faithful say the prayer with him; he alone adds the embolism: Deliver us, which the people conclude with a doxology. The embolism, developing the last petition of the Lord's Prayer, begs on behalf of the entire community of the faithful deliverance from the power of evil. The invitation, the prayer itself, the embolism, and the people's concluding doxology are sung or are recited aloud."
    Comment and Analysis:

    There are some very subtle considerations contained in this paragraph. First of all, Paragraph 81 implies that the recitation of the Lord's Prayer is as good as a sacramental confession for the forgiveness of mortal sin ("...and for the forgiveness of sin, so that what is holy may be given to those who are holy"). Taken together with Paragraph 80, which states correctly that the faithful must be disposed properly to receive Holy Communion, Paragraph 81 may be interpreted as meaning that the public recitation of the Lord's Prayer in the Communion Rite makes one so disposed. More importantly, however, the public, vocal recitation of the Lord's Prayer by both the priest and the faithful leads once more to the belief that the people are virtual concelebrants with each other, thereby supplanting the traditional belief that the alter Christus, the priest, prays to the Father for us, the faithful. Additionally, GIRM is strangely silent about the omission of any reference to the Blessed Mother and the saints in the Libera nos, perhaps in the belief that any frank discussion of how radically the Mass has changed would make it harder for an uninformed, miseducated priest to give his unthinking assent to the positivistic notion that the Novus Ordo is a "witness to an unchanged tradition." The omission of reference to the Mother of God in parts of the Novus Ordo where such references had been found in the Traditional Latin Mass is a continuation of a trend which began with the Ordo Missae of 1965.

    As Monsignor Gamber observed: "The third part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist is called the Communion Rite. It begins with the Pater noster, which, following the usual introduction but without the beginning Oremus, is no longer recited by the priest, but the people.

    "Actually, this practice follows Oriental rite, but its use in the new Order of Mass is not an adaptation of such rites; rather, it has its roots in the dialogue Masses of the 1920s. Weighing the pros and cons of this particular change may lead to different conclusions: there are reasons speaking for and against it. But it is a major change of the traditional rite, and particular noticeable when the Mass is sung.

        "The following Libera nos prayer was changed as well. The appeal for the intercession of the Mother of God and the Saints has been done away with altogether, and a new ending has been made up. What follows is the people's acclamation of the doxology, 'For the Kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.' This doxology is used in the Oriental rites, as well, although in an expanded Trinitarian Prayer recited by the deacon or sung by the choir. However, since it is recited by the people, and also because of the text used, in the new order of the Mass it is obviously an adaptation of the Protestant example."

    Precisely. The fact that no less than six Protestants served on the Consilium which created synthetically the Novus Ordo helps more than a little bit to explain how the doxology to the Lord's Prayer used in the new Mass was inserted. And is it too politically correct to point out that Protestants, who do not want public honor given to our Blessed Mother, recommended the omission of reference to our Lady and the saints during the new Communion Rite?

Paragraph 82 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "The rite of peace follows, by which the Church asks for peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful offer some sign of peace of their ecclesial communion and mutual love for each other before communicating by receiving the Sacrament. The form for the giving of the sign of peace is left to the Conference of Bishops to determine in accord with the culture and customs of the people. Nevertheless, it is suitable that each person offer the sign of peace only to those nearby and in a dignified manner."
    Comment and Analysis:

    The constituent parts of the Novus Ordo have done much to undermine the integrity of the Faith as it has been safeguarded for centuries in the Traditional Latin Mass. One of the chief elements of the Novus Ordo which has turned the Sacrifice of the Mass into a gigantic exercise in communitarian self-congratulations is the "rite of peace." At the very moment our attention should be focused exclusively on the reception of our Lord in Holy Communion we are diverted to concentrate on our "neighbors," as though, as I mentioned earlier, contain our Lord within them just as much as He is present in the Blessed Sacrament. A few theological comments are necessary before dealing with the atrocious practical results of the rite of peace as it has manifested itself in the life of the Catholic Church in the United States and around the world.

    The peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is not the peace of this world. It is not superficial. It is not an exercise in Protestant politeness and Masonic brotherly salutation to one's neighbor. No, our Lord gives us peace not as the world gives us peace. The peace of Christ refers to the indwelling presence of the very inner life of the Blessed Trinity in the soul of a baptized member of the Church He created upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. This peace is our Lord's free, unmerited, gratuitous gift to the members of His Mystical Body who are in states of sanctifying grace. Thus, this peace is not acquired cheaply. It has been purchased at the price of every single drop of our Lord's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross. The peace of Christ takes vigilance to maintain. We can lose it suddenly by committing a mortal sin. It can be lost gradually over time as our venial sins and our disordered attachment to the things, people, and places of this passing world takes control of our lives and gradually chokes off our interior lives of prayer and penance and mortification. The peace of Christ is not symbolized by a silly, superficial, forced, contrived and distracting expression offered to one's neighbor during Holy Mass just prior to the most sacred moment a Catholic encounters in this vale of tears: the reception of Holy Communion.

    Traditionally, the rite of peace in the Traditional Latin Mass has been signified by the priest turning to the congregation, reciting the words Pax vobiscum. This is the priest's exhortation for the faithful to live in the peace of Jesus Christ which is meant to be built up and fortified by the reception of Holy Communion. A truly dignified and restrained exchange of a sign of peace takes place in High Mass between the priest and the deacon and the sub-deacon. However, the faithful hearing a Traditional Latin Mass are supposed to understand that the dignified and restrained exchange of peace offered between a priest and deacon in a High Mass is symbolic of the exchange of peace which our Lord means to communicate into our souls by our worthy reception of Holy Communion. It is not an invitation to engage in maudlin displays of ostentatious and pretentious expressions of concern for people who in many instances are honking their automobile's horns at each other in the parking lot a few moments after rushing out of Mass as the priest walks down the aisle.

    As a practical reality, however, the rite of peace during the Novus Ordo has given rise to and sanctioned truly scandalous behavior. What began as a mere option in the original G.I.RM. mutated over the years into a mandatory expression, the specific nature of which is determined by the national episcopal conferences. Priests are supposed to remain in the sanctuary. As we know, many priests come down off the altar and act like politicians working the rope lines during a photo opportunity. Many of the faithful themselves use the rite of peace as an occasion to roam all throughout the Church, striking up conversations with friends and strangers, patting each other on the back, telling jokes. The profane spirit thus engendered often carries over to the Communion line, where it is not uncommon to find the faithful talking to each other as they are walking up to receive Holy Communion. Anyone who gives a disapproving look in the direction of such thoughtless Catholics is guilty of a grave crime of being judgmental and preconciliar. After all, if the Mass is a meal and not the unbloody re-presentation of Calvary then it is eminently reasonable that we should enjoy ourselves as we would at any family meal, right?

    As should be evident, the reservation of the determination of the specific gestures and forms to be used during the rite of peace to the local episcopal conferences robs GIRM's desire for dignity of any real meaning. The rite of peace has become for many Catholics the highlight of the Mass. So much so that those Catholics who kneel during the Novus Ordo from the Eucharistic Prayer until they rise to receive Holy Communion must be badgered by others who are incredulous that a Catholic would not want to participate actively in the "giving of Christ's peace" in the rite of peace. The entire practice, however, is opposed to Catholic tradition, detracts from the sacredness of the Mass, and diverts our attention on the fact that a particular Mass might be the last time we ever receive our Lord in Holy Communion before we die. Are we prepared to make that last Commuion a good one? Or are we more concerned with greeting as many people as we can to show how "peaceful" we are?

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

Next Friday: Part Thirty-eight NO way to treat the Host!

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February 1-3, 2002
volume 13, no. 20
CHRIST or chaos
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