The Germs of G.I.R.M. |
Part Fifty-Five: Cutting Corners
" Why should the people genuflect before the vessel which houses our Lord in His Real Presence if it is not reverenced as a priest and those assisting him in Mass do not do so? Monkey see, monkey do. Monkey don't see, monkey don't do. Obviously, the prayers at the foot of the altar are obliterated altogether. After all, if everyone enters the holy of holies, what reason is there for the priest to prepare himself to climb the stairs leading to the altar of sacrifice? The altar is now a table. The sacrifice is now the community worship service. The priest is merely the presider who shares a stage with other performers."
Paragraph 121 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:
"During the procession to the altar, the opening liturgical song is sung (see nos. 25-26)."
Comment and Analysis: Well, paraphrasing Warner Wolf, let's go to the actual text of Paragraphs 25 and 26. Paragraph 25 of GIRM reads: "Over and above this, certain adaptations indicated appropriately in the Mass of each place pertain, according to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, either to the diocesan bishop or the Conference of Bishops, respectively." What does this have to do with the opening liturgical song. Everything. As I noted in my own commentary on Paragraph 25 (found at Novus Narcissism and in the May, 2001 issue of Christ or Chaos): "Does anyone have any doubt as to what Paragraph 25 means? Well, it means that the same liturgical revolutionaries who have been advising the bishops in the past will be able to recommend the effective gutting of liturgical norms in the name of diversity and inculturation. . . ." Paragraph 26 specifies that there can be "more profound adaptations...which aim to take account of the mentality of peoples and regions. . . ." In other words, folks, any song deemed to be appropriate in light of community, national, ethnic, or other cultural standards can be sung without regard to its relevance to the Faith, no less the dignity befitting the Mass. It is quite a clever trick to refer to these two paragraphs in the context of the "opening liturgical song" as these two paragraphs really give carte blanche to national, diocesan and parish liturgical apparatchiks to choose whatever songs they want, including those that reaffirm the "holy people of God" in their sense of self-esteem and goodness. Ugh.
Paragraph 122 of GIRM reads as follows:
"On reaching the altar, the priest and ministers make a profound bow. The cross adorned with the figure of Christ crucified and which has been carried in procession, is placed near the altar so that it may become the altar cross, which ought then to be the only cross used; otherwise, it is set aside. The candlesticks carried by the ministers are placed on the altar or near it; the Book of the Gospels is placed on the altar."
Comment and Analysis: A profound bow? This assumes that the tabernacle is not located in the center of the sanctuary or that there is to be no genuflection before it if it is in the center. Why should the people genuflect before the vessel which houses our Lord in His Real Presence if it is not reverenced as a priest and those assisting him in Mass do not do so? Monkey see, monkey do. Monkey don't see, monkey don't do. Obviously, the prayers at the foot of the altar are obliterated altogether. After all, if everyone enters the holy of holies, what reason is there for the priest to prepare himself to climb the stairs leading to the altar of sacrifice? The altar is now a table. The sacrifice is now the community worship service. The priest is merely the presider who shares a stage with other performers.
Paragraph 123 of GIRM reads as follows:
"The priest goes up to the altar and venerates it with a kiss. If incense is used, he incenses the cross and the altar, walking around the altar."
Comment and Analysis: You do not need to be a Rhodes Scholar to figure this one out. The altar is to be free-standing. The priest is to celebrate Mass facing the people. Gone is the notion of priestly service used by the Levitical priests of the Old Dispensation and used to this day in all of the Eastern liturgies (whether the Uniat or Orthodox) and which used to be the norm in the Roman Rite until the period between 1965 and 1969. As I have noted on other occasions, the celebration of Mass with the priest facing the people has done more to destroy reverence and stability in the Mass than almost anything else which has been introduced as part of the liturgical revolution.
Paragraph 124 of GIRM reads as follows:
"The priest goes to the chair. After the opening liturgical song, and with all standing, the priest and faithful make the sign of the cross. The priest says: In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; the people answer: Amen. Then, facing the people and extending his arms, the priest greets all present, using one of the formulas indicated. He or another minister may give the faithful a very brief introduction to the Mass of the day."
Comment and Analysis: Showmanship writ large. The priest must face the people to greet them. He is free to improvise a greeting not found in the formulas. We heard a priest on Long Island during the Fall of 2001 start Mass by saying, "Hello, Church," which was sort of reminiscent of Art Carney's great line as Ed Norton on The Honeymooners. Responding to a query from pal Ralph Kramden, who wanted to know what the phrase "address the ball" meant in a golfer's instructional manual, Norton doffed his hat, bowed to the ball, and said, "Hello, ball." The new Mass enshrines improvisation, verbosity and showmanship, all of which detract from solemnity and reverence, from Christocentricity and the need for interior recollection. This is so much the case that priests get so carried away with the importance of their own words that they find they must use Eucharistic Prayer II to shorten a Mass which has been protracted as a result of their needless interposition of self in the so-called Liturgy of the Word.
Paragraph 125 of GIRM reads as follows:
"The penitential rite follows. After this the Kyrie is either sung or recited, in keeping with the rubrics (see n. 52)."
Comment and Analysis: GIRM begins to get more than a little redundant at this point, inserting instructions pertinent to the various forms of the celebration of Mass (with no deacon, with a deacon, with concelebrants, etc.) which have been given earlier in its text. Well, if GIRM is going to engage in redundancy, it is necessary to refer back to my own analysis of passages cited later as a means of justifying a revolution against our living liturgical tradition.
As I noted in part 29, Minimizing the culpability of the mea culpa and the September 2001 issue of Christ or Chaos ("More G.I.R.M. Warfare;" I ran out of clever names for this continuing analysis, choosing simply to number each succeeding installment), what is now called the Penitential Rite is not a rite at all. It is a listing of options from which a celebrant may choose. One never knows what option (or improvisation) is going to be used. This produces the sort of instability, uncertainty, and impermanence which are, in se, harmful to the faithful and destructive of the sensus fidei.
As was noted eight issues ago, "Paragraph 52 [cited in Paragraph 125] contains two key flaws which reflect the culture-bound view of the Mass which is endemic in the Novus Ordo: (a) the natural degeneration of worship when living languages become the basis of one needless adaptation after another; and (b) the replacement of the traditional (or revised) Confiteor with the Kyrie alone can result in the ideological manipulation of the Kyrie to suit the needs of the celebrant, introducing each part of the Kyrie with his own personal concoctions."
Paragraph 126 of GIRM reads as follows:
"When it is prescribed, the Gloria is either sung or recited (see n. 53)."
Comment and Analysis: Naturally, all of GIRM is needless as the Novus Ordo was needless. However, this paragraph contains kernels of truth mixed in with modernism. That is, there is no necessity that the Gloria be sung at every Mass. The plain truth is this: not every parish in the past had the people capable of singing a High Mass well. But a culture of entitlement and participatory democracy results in the belief that those who desire to be "leaders of song" in the Mass have a right to do so, regardless of their ability. A beautiful hymn of praise to the Blessed Trinity thus becomes the plaything of liturgical committees and/or choir directors. Its meaning is thus lost in the shuffle. And it is interesting to note that while GIRM correctly states that the Gloria is to be recited on the feast days it lists in the last sentence of Paragraph 53, the actual fact of the matter is that many priests arbitrarily omit the Gloria on solemnities and feasts, thereby depriving the faithful of the fullness of the meaning of the solemnity or feast. Alas, this is but the rotten fruit of omitting the Gloria from the celebration of even the simplest of what are now called optional memorials, something that was never done in the Traditional Latin Mass (which included the Gloria in all feasts, no matter what their rank, throughout all of Advent and most of Lent).
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
For past installments of G.I.R.M. Warfare in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives
Oct 22, 2002
volume 13, no. 121
The Germs of G.I.R.M.