FRIDAY-SUNDAY
June 7-9, 2002
volume 13, no. 102

The Germs of GIRM



Part Forty-nine: "Grin and Bear it?"

    "...nowhere in Catholic tradition is there anywhere to be found anything resembling what are called in some places today 'ministers of greeting' or 'ministers of hospitality.' We enter a church to pray, not to be harassed by people who want to demonstrate how 'loving' and 'friendly' they are, people who believe they have a 'ministry' to 'enhance' our 'worship experience.' Again, this is Protestantism writ large."

Paragraph 104 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "There should be a cantor or a choir director to lead and sustain the people in the singing. When in fact there is no choir, it is up to the cantor to lead the various liturgical songs, and the people take part in the way proper to them."

Comment and Analysis: Another person to look at during Mass other than the priest. Enough said. This is all so very destructive of the reverence and solemnity befitting the unbloody perpetuation of the Sacrifice of the Cross.

Paragraph 105 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "The following also exercise a liturgical function: a) the sacristan, who arranges the liturgical books, the vestments and other things which are necessary in the celebration of Mass; b) the Commentator, who provides the faithful with brief explanations and commentaries as needed with the purpose of introducing them to the celebration and preparing them to understand it better. The commentator's remarks must be meticulously prepared and marked by a simple brevity. In performing this function the commentator stands in a convenient place, visible to the faithful, not, however, at the ambo; c) those who take up the collection; d) those who, in some places, meet the faithful at the church entrance, seat them, and direct processions."

Comment and Analysis: As a very wise priest noted in a class at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in the Fall of 1981, "Men, if everything is a ministry, nothing is ministry." Thus, the position of sacristan, which is not unimportant by any stretch of the imagination, must be termed that of a "liturgical function" rather than of a service rendered by a volunteer or parish employee to keep the sacristy in order for a priest. The novel role of Commentator, far different that the Commentator who read the Epistle and the Gospel in some places following the promulgation of the 1962 Missal, calls for an actual narrator, a person who makes announcements before Mass, introduces special ceremonies, instructs the congregation to applaud, urges the faithful to "participate" actively. This role has become so banal and profane that one such "commentator" in Winchester, Indiana, felt compelled on May 10, 1987, to give the scores of local baseball games after the distribution of Holy Communion and before the Final Blessing. That is more common than one would like to think.

    Moreover, to state that ushers have a liturgical function is clericalizing the laity while the priesthood is stripped of all dignity. Yes, ushers have an important job to maintain order and decorum during Mass, although many of them are the worst offenders insofar as talking to parishioners (and each other) in church quite audibly before, during and after Holy Mass. However, they are not liturgical ministers. And nowhere in Catholic tradition is there anywhere to be found anything resembling what are called in some places today "ministers of greeting" or "ministers of hospitality." We enter a church to pray, not to be harassed by people who want to demonstrate how "loving" and "friendly" they are, people who believe they have a "ministry" to "enhance" our "worship experience." Again, this is Protestantism writ large. What else need to be said at this point?

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives



June 3-9, 2002
volume 13, no. 102
CHRIST or chaos
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