November 19, 2002
volume 13, no. 139

The Germs of G.I.R.M.

Part Fifty-Eight: A Fixed Rite Turned into a Fungible Fix

    "The placement of the priest at a chair to introduce petitions prayed in most instances by someone other than himself, including a layperson, is Protestant, not Catholic. It detracts from both the timelessness of the Mass and the dignity of the priest as an alter Christus."

   This continuing analysis of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal will round the corner with this installment. Many of the paragraphs analyzed in this installment contain instructions that are simply a restatement of earlier paragraphs. Thus, there is no need for a detailed analysis of these duplicative instructions. I merely note the comments that have been made before, saving more detailed comments for the parts of GIRM that deal with material not covered in earlier paragraphs.

   As I have noted constantly in this protracted analysis, the new Mass is so fungible and admits of so many legitimate options that it is defenseless against those who desire to make it their ideological plaything. A liturgical rite is supposed to be fixed of its very nature, not subject to adaptation to various circumstances. The very stability which is supposed to be produced by our act of worship of the unchanging Triune God is undermined when each parish and each celebrant and each language grouping is given the ability to make of the Mass what they desire, giving the impression that we may make of God and His Holy Truths what we desire. Anyone who denies that this is so is blind to the actual reality of what has happened to the Faith in the Latin rite in the past thirty-five years

Paragraph 138 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "When the creed has been recited, the priest, standing at the chair with hands joined, may briefly introduce the faithful to the general intercessions. Then the deacon, or the cantor, the reader or another person may announce the intentions from the ambo or another suitable place while facing the people who for their part make a reverent response. At the completion of the intercessions, the priest, with his hands extended, concludes the petitions with a prayer."

Comment and Analysis: As noted in "A Mere Matter of Preference?" that ran in the February issue of Christ or Chaos and on these pages of The Daily Catholic, the Traditional Latin Mass of its very fixed rite summarized all of the Church's petitions to the Father through the Son in Spirit and in Truth. There is no need for the Novus Ordo's exercise in participatory democracy and the multiplication of verbiage. The Mass is supposed to be timeless, not topical. The petitions contained in the Collects and Offertories and Secrets and Communions and Postcommunions of the Traditional Latin Mass are timeless. They refer to the needs of the Church at all times and in all ages, especially as it relates to the sanctification of human souls. Moreover, petitions are found in The Roman Canon, which until 1969 was the only Eucharistic prayer used in the Roman rite. The placement of the priest at a chair to introduce petitions prayed in most instances by someone other than himself, including a layperson, is Protestant, not Catholic. It detracts from both the timelessness of the Mass and the dignity of the priest as an alter Christus.

Paragraph 139 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "After the general intercessions, all sit and, if there is a procession of the gifts, the liturgical song for the preparation of the gifts begins (see n. 50). An acolyte, or other lay minister arranges the corporal, the purificator, the chalice, the pall and the missal upon the altar."

Comment and Analysis: Comment was offered on this matter in this analysis of GIRM at Paragraph 50. Suffice it to say at this point, however, that while processions at this point in the Mass were common until the eleventh century, their revival in the Novus Ordo has resulted in displays that are unbefitting the solemnity of the unbloody representation of Calvary. We do not need exterior displays to demonstrate our interior spirit of participation in the Mass. Additionally, everything was arranged in the Traditional Latin Mass prior to the beginning of the Mass (with the priest bringing the veiled chalice with him as he made his way to the altar in low Mass). Now, however, there needs to be a show of participation by the non-ordained at the altar of sacrifice during the Mass.

Paragraph 140 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "It is fitting for the faithful's participation to be expressed by their presenting the bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist and other gifts to meet the needs of the Church and of the poor. The faithful's offerings are received by the priest, assisted by the acolyte or other minister. The bread and wine for the Eucharist are brought forward to the celebrant, who places them upon the altar, while other gifts are put in another appropriate place (see n. 73)."

Comment and Analysis: The comment offered at Paragraph 139 suffices for this paragraph as well. We do not need displays of lay "empowerment" to participate in the Mass.

Paragraph 141 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "At the altar the priest receives the paten with the bread from a minister. With both hands he holds it slightly raised above the altar and says inaudibly, Blessed are you, O Lord. Then he places the paten with the bread on the corporal."

Paragraph 142 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "Next, the priest stands at the side of the altar, as the minister presents the cruets and pours wine and a little water into the chalice, saying inaudibly: By the mystery of this water. He returns to the middle of the altar, takes the chalice, raises it a little with both hands, and says in a low voice: Blessed are you, Lord God. Then he places the chalice on the corporal and may cover it with a pall. However, if no liturgical song is sung at the offering of the gifts, and the organ is not played, the priest is permitted to offer the formulas of the blessing in the presentation of the bread and wine audibly, to which the people respond with the acclamation: Blessed be God for ever."

Comment and Analysis: I commented at length about the obliteration of the traditional Offertory prayers found in the Traditional Latin Mass from the synthetic Mass created by a commission in the 1960s. The traditional Offertory Prayers make it quite clear that a propitiatory sacrifice is being offered by a priest, who is acting in persona Christi at the altar of sacrifice. They are beautiful prayers. So beautiful and complete, in fact, that many diocesan priests who took spiritual direction from priests of Opus Dei were told up to 1982 to say the traditional Offertory prayers sotto voce (advice which was no longer given after Opus Dei became a Personal Prelature of the Holy Father in 1982). Those of us who attend the Traditional Latin Mass on a daily basis are privileged to read through our hand missals as the priest prays the great prayers of tradition, which summarize the essence of the Mass and of our need for purification and sanctification.

   Another note needs to be made in connection to these two paragraphs. It is frequently the case today in the Novus Ordo that priests will "present" both the "bread" and the "wine" at the same time, not individually as specified in these two paragraphs. There is little indication that bishops are willing to enforce the separate presentation of the Eucharistic elements. Thus, what little GIRM indicates as fixed norms actually winds up being quite fungible in fact."

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

For past installments of G.I.R.M. Warfare in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives

November 19, 2002
volume 13, no. 139
The Germs of G.I.R.M.

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