It is so very important to subject GIRM to the most careful scrutiny as it is written to advance novel theological and liturgical concepts while attempting to pretend that the Novus Ordo Missae is a continuation of an unbroken liturgical tradition.
Paragraph 87 of GIRM reads as follows:
"An antiphon from the Graduale Romanum may also be used for the communion song, with or without the psalm, or an antiphon from the Graduale Simplex or another suitable liturgical song approved by the Conference of Bishops may be used. If there is no singing, the communion antiphon in the Missal may be recited either by the faithful, or by a group of them, or by a reader. Otherwise the priest himself says it after he has received communion and before he gives communion to them."
Comment and Analysis:
There is almost no supervision of the selection of music used in the Novus Ordo. Bishop Mulvee of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, must be given credit for banning "Danny Boy" for use during a funeral Mass. He took a lot heat from those whose pride in being Irish eclipses their love of being Catholic and rendering the sort of worship to God that is his due in church. However, most bishops look the other way as out and out secular music is played on a regular basis, to say nothing of weddings and funerals. As I noted a few months ago, a nuptial ceremony which took place in Saint Dominic's Church in Oyster Bay, New York, featured a duet from West Side Story. And Bishop William Higi of the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana has banned all use of Latin in Mass in the Novus Ordo even in the case of most music (he permits the Ave Maria and one or two other songs to be sung in Latin at the most orthodox parish in the diocese, Saint Boniface, whose pastor is Father Timothy Alkire).
What is most significant about this paragraph, however, is the institutionalization of yet another revolutionary change in the Mass. A priest who celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass reads the Communion prayer after he has distributed Holy Communion and has purified the vessels thoroughly. In those rare instances today when there is no singing in a Novus Ordo Mass, the priest is to read the Communion prayer (now called an antiphon) after his own communion but before he administers Holy Communion to the people. This once again demonstrates the "priestly" role of the people. Their "presider" is to pray the Communion prayer before they receive, not as a thanksgiving to be offered in the name of the people after they have received Holy Communion. Serious, serious stuff.
Paragraph 88 of GIRM reads as follows:
"After communion, the priest and people may spend some time praying silently. If desired, either a psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may be sung by the entire congregation."
Comment and Analysis:
Silence? Well, GIRM only says that "priest and people may spend some time praying silently." As the modern man, including the modern Catholic, gets very nervous in silence (which is why most people have the radio or television or compact disk player on at all times; they cannot function with the distractions offered by noise). This is especially true in the context of a liturgical environment which has fostered noise and confusion and anthropocentricity for so long now. The average Catholic does not know what to do when there is silence in church, except, perhaps, to talk to his neighbor. There has been such an emphasis on empty vocal participation and wordiness that most Catholics no longer understand the concept of mental prayer. They are in a rush to be done with the community celebration. Silence has become the distraction, not the distractions.
Gone is the time for an individual's Thanksgiving after Communion. We must all be about the business of playing our roles in the community celebration.
Paragraph 89 of GIRM reads as follows:
"To complete the prayer of the people of God, and also to conclude the entire Communion rite, the priest offers the Prayer After Communion in which he petitions for the fruits of the mysteries just celebrated. In the Mass only one Prayer After Communion is said, which ends with a brief conclusion, that is: if the prayer is directed to the Father: through Christ our Lord; if it is directed to the Father, but the Son is mentioned at the end: Who lives and reigns for ever and ever; if it is directed to the Son: You who live and reign for ever and ever. The people make the prayer their own and give their assent by the acclamation Amen."
Comment and Analysis:
This paragraph refers to the Postcommunion prayer of the Traditional Latin Mass. Naturally, everything has to be renamed in the Novus Ordo. Also changed, however, is the fact that a priest is either obligated (or has the option) to say a second Postcommunion prayer in the Traditional Latin Mass if a lesser feast was impeded by a higher one. This happens during the many octaves which occur in the traditional calendar. And it also happens when there are two or more feasts on the same day. All of that wonderful tradition of exposing the faithful to the full liturgical life of the church is obliterated in the name of simplicity. What has been done away with, however, is the Catholic sense that the mysteries contained in the Sacred Liturgy are inexhaustible and that not even the church calendar itself is large enough to hold them all.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives