TUESDAY
October 15, 2002
volume 13, no. 116

The Germs of G.I.R.M.


Part Fifty-Three:
       Ambo along, singing a song, hide more, hide.

    "After all, if the 'altar' is in the form of a table and there is no indication of any cross or chalice on it, then the faithful are going to come to believe over the course of time that they are engaged in little else than a community worship service. And the institutionalization of the 'presentation' of various vessels and instruments used in the 'Liturgy of the Eucharist' by the faithful has added yet another layer of participatory democracy and egalitarianism and showmanship, which further detracts from the solemnity and dignity of the unbloody perpetuation of our Lord's Sacrifice of Himself to the Father in Spirit and in Truth."

Paragraph 115 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:

    "Mass with a congregation means Mass with the faithful taking part. As far as possible, and especially on Sundays and holydays of obligation, the Mass should be celebrated with liturgical song and with a suitable number of ministers. But it may be celebrated without music and with only one minister."

Comment and Analysis: This part of GIRM describes some of the more mundane details of "Mass with a congregation." Even in this part of GIRM, however, there are very telling signs of the extent to which the new religion is meant to eclipse most vestiges of our living liturgical tradition. Paragraph 15, for example, asserts that every Mass should be celebrated "with liturgical song and a suitable number of ministers." This is not part of Catholic tradition. Low Mass, which is a derivation of the High Mass, is offered during the week in as simple a form as possible. The emphasis in Low Mass is on the action of the priest offering a propitiatory sacrifice to the Father through the Son in Spirit and in Truth. The fixed nature of the rubrics of Low Mass leaves almost no options for a priest (save for the selection of additional Collects, Secrets, and Postcommunion prayers, principally on days when several feasts occur together). Understanding the pastoral needs of the faithful to attend to their daily duties (which is why Low Mass was originally instituted), daily Mass in the traditional Latin rite is simple and to the point. Our lives are meant to be simple and to the point. The new Mass, however, has introduced a mania for showmanship and spectacle. Almost no time is left for personal recollection. Those attending daily Mass, for example, in the new order of things are invited constantly to keep active (singing, speaking, seeking out their neighbors at the "sign of peace"), which detracts from the sense of personal interior recollection we are supposed to develop while hearing Holy Mass.

   Furthermore, Paragraph 115 demonstrates the new Mass's preference for large numbers of people in the sanctuary (readers, acolytes, extraordinary ministers). Introibo ad altare Dei. Only the priest is supposed to enter the holy of holies. However, the sense of participatory democracy engendered by the Novus Ordo requires individuals to play some active, visible role alongside the priest in order that there be a "full expression" of the unity of the Church. This is nothing other than egalitarianism of the worst sort, which contributes in no small measure to the laicization of priests and the clericalization of the laity, to say nothing of the profanation of Holy Mass itself.

Paragraph 116 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "In any celebration of Mass at which a deacon is present he may exercise his function. It is desirable that as a rule an acolyte, a reader, and a cantor assist the priest celebrant. But the rite to be described [Mass with a congregation] also allows for a greater number of ministers."

Comment and Analysis: In other words, the more the merrier. Sharon and I attended a Novus Ordo Mass at the nuthouse known as St. Brigid's Church in Westbury, New York, this past fall. The cantor, who was strumming on her old guitar, interrupted the befuddled, poor spoken reader to tell him, "We're singing the responsorial psalm today, OK?" right during the middle of Mass. The priest who was ostensibly celebrating the Mass (or, more accurately, presiding at the community worship service) looked on in utter silence. The readers and the cantors and the "other ministers" duke it out amongst themselves as to who is going to do what during the "liturgy." The priest is a passive observer, not even a first among equals.

Paragraph 117 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "The altar is to be covered with at least one white colored cloth. On or even next to the altar are to be candlesticks with lighted candles, at least two in every celebration, or even four or six, especially if a Sunday Mass or Mass for a holy day of obligation is celebrated, or if the Bishop of the diocese celebrates, then seven candles should be used. There is also to be a cross on or near the altar, with a figure of Christ crucified. However, the candles and the cross adorned with the figure of Christ crucified may be carried in the entrance procession. The Book of Gospels, if distinct from the book of other readings, may be placed on the altar, unless it is carried in the entrance procession."

Comment and Analysis: Hidden in this paragraph, which appears to continue the liturgical tradition of the Roman Rite for the arrangement of an altar, are two novelties which have done much to undermine the right ordering of things in the Mass. First, GIRM states that the cross with the figure of our Lord crucified on it may be placed "on or near the altar," a deviation from the true tradition of the Roman Rite. A cross is to be on the top of every tabernacle, which is supposed to be situated in the center of an altar of sacrifice, not simply near it by being off to the side in a stand to hold the processional cross. (It should be noted that crosses are to be found on the side altars for the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in churches and chapels where the Blessed Sacrament is not reposed.) Secondly, it has never been part of the Roman Rite for the Book of the Gospels to be carried in procession. In High Masses where deacons proclaim the Gospel, they do so from a stand which faces the celebrant. In those cases where deacons do not assist a priest in the Traditional Latin Mass, however, there is no "Book of the Gospels." All of the readings are contained in the Missale Romanum, which is moved from the Epistle side of the altar to the Gospel side after the Gradual (or, seasonally, the Lesser or Greater Alleluia or the Tract). These seemingly insignificant changes are very meaningful. The first change can lead to a de-emphasis, if not an outright denial, of the sacrificial nature of the Mass; the second change adds a sense of theatrics to be found in Protestant worship services.

Paragraph 118 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "The following are also to be prepared: (a) next to the priest's chair: the missal, and, as needed, the hymnal; (b) on the ambo: the Lectionary; (c) on a side table: the chalice, corporal, purificator, and, if useful, a pall; but also a paten and vessels, if needed, with the bread for the communion of the priest who presides, of the deacon, the ministers and of the people, together with cruets containing wine and water, unless all of these are presented by the faithful in procession at the preparation of the gifts; the communion paten for the communion of the faithful; the requisites for the washing of hands. It is very fitting that the chalice be covered with a veil which may either be the color of the day or may be white."

Comment and Analysis: A new order of things requires quite a rearranging of the furniture, so to speak. GIRM states its preference in this paragraph, however implicitly, for the priest to "preside" from a "presidential chair," something which is novel. That is, a priest does sit in a side chair during some parts of High Mass (as the schola sings the Gloria and Creed after he has recited same at the altar sotto voce). However, he does not pray from the chair. He rises from the chair to return to the altar after the Gloria and the Creed. He does not sit down after the distribution of Holy Communion and the purification of the vessels. GIRM states quite clearly in this paragraph that the priest is only to be at the altar of sacrifice during the "Liturgy of the Eucharist" and at no other point. This does indeed de-emphasize the sacrificial nature of the Mass, copying quite completely the rituals observed by Protestants in their worship services. The priest in the new Mass is also supposed to demonstrate his submissiveness to the mania for singing. As the cantor or choir sings a little ditty, he is supposed to have his hymnal in hand to sing along with Mitch, much like Protestant ministers. This is patently un-Catholic.

   Secondly, there is no such thing as an "ambo" in the Traditional Latin Mass. There is no such thing as a Lectionary. These are adaptations from Protestantism, plain and simple.

   Thirdly, GIRM removes the chalice from the center of the altar, which is where it is located in the Traditional Latin Mass before the prayers at the foot of the altar, to a side table. This is another subtle change which detracts from the sacrificial nature of the Mass. After all, if the "altar" is in the form of a table and there is no indication of any cross or chalice on it, then the faithful are going to come to believe over the course of time that they are engaged in little else than a community worship service. And the institutionalization of the "presentation" of various vessels and instruments used in the "Liturgy of the Eucharist" by the faithful has added yet another layer of participatory democracy and egalitarianism and showmanship, which further detracts from the solemnity and dignity of the unbloody perpetuation of our Lord's Sacrifice of Himself to the Father in Spirit and in Truth.

   Finally, GIRM merely recommends that the chalice be covered with a veil. This is a radical departure from tradition. The chalice and paten are covered with a veil in the Traditional Latin Mass "up to the Offertory and after the Communion" (The Fulton J. Sheen Sunday Missal). As Father F. X. Lasance noted in his own Missal, "If one is not present at Sunday Mass before the veil is removed from the chalice, one is obliged to hear another Mass." As the entire structure of the Mass has been altered radically (the Offertory being replaced by the so-called "Preparation of the Gifts"), it is necessary to rearrange everything used in the Mass - and to render absolutely no explanation as to why certain things are used or their historical significance.

   A Pall can be used if it is considered "useful." Well, it is useful of its very nature. It is meant to protect the Chalice from impurities before the Consecration and after its purification, as well as to indicate the fact that what appears under the veil of bread and wine is believed in faith to be the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Divine Redeemer after the elements of bread and wine have been transubstantiated at the consecration. The optional nature of the veil today is a way for some priests to indicate that they do not believe in the Real Presence at all.

   Gone altogether from the Novus Ordo is the Burse, which is the "cloth case in which the Corporal is kept. It usually has a cross in the middle and is of the same color as the Chasuble. It is placed over the veil on top of the Chalice and during Mass is placed on the Gospel side of the altar" (The Fulton J. Sheen Sunday Missal). Obviously, if there is no "Gospel side of the altar" any longer, as the reading of the Gospel has been moved to an "ambo," then there is no need for the Burse.

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

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



Oct 15, 2002
volume 13, no. 116
The Germs of G.I.R.M.
www.DailyCatholic.org
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