THURSDAY
October 3, 2002
volume 13, no. 108

The Germs of GIRM



Part Fifty-One: Demasculinity of the Sacred

    "Once again, G.I.R.M. uses to the term "presidential office" to refer to the sacerdotal priesthood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The priest is reduced to the level of a functionary in the Novus Ordo. It is kind of like this: Our Lord did not exercise a "presidential office" on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday. He exercised the Victimhood and the Priesthood of the new and eternal priesthood He had instituted at the Last Supper. He did not divide His Redemptive Act among various "ministers." Likewise, a priest is meant to do the manly work of Christ's priesthood unimpeded by concessions made to those who believe in the value of participatory democracy and egalitarianism."

    Paragraph 106 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:

    "At least in cathedrals and in major churches, there should be a competent minister or a master of ceremonies, who is assigned responsibility for planning the services properly and for their being carried out by the sacred ministers and the lay faithful."

Comment and Analysis: There is such a thing in our liturgical tradition as masters of ceremonies. Such masters of ceremonies are especially important during the Easter Vigil Mass in the Traditional rite as well as during Pontifical High Masses. Traditionally, the master of ceremonies leads the celebrant through the complex rituals and directs the altar boys. In the new order of things, however, the word "planning" takes on a special connotation. As there are so many options within the Novus Ordo, "planners" must be assigned in many instances to choose which option will be used on what occasion. Thus, although it is certainly true that masters of ceremonies in the Novus Ordo can and do perform the same limited function as in the Traditional Latin Mass, it is also the case that they help in more than a handful of instances to "plan" the "liturgy," which is entirely alien to Catholic tradition and actually harmful to the Faith. For it is frequently the case that priests, even pastors of parishes and rectors of diocesan and archdiocesan cathedrals, defer to the "expertise" of their planners. The celebrant thus becomes but a mere observer and functionary in the process.

Paragraph 107 of G.I.RM. reads as follows:

    "The liturgical functions which are not proper to the priest or the deacon, and which are listed above (nos. 100-106), may be entrusted to suitable laity chosen by the pastor or rector of the church through a liturgical blessing or a temporary deputation. The function of altar servers is regulated by the norms established by the Bishop for his diocese."

Comment and Analysis: In other words, a pastor intent on laicizing the clergy and clericalizing the laity may do so with impunity. Any other questions? As regards "altar servers," we know only too sadly that the decision of the Holy Father in 1994 to permit "girl altar boys," as Father Kenneth Baker calls them, has further feminized the sanctuary and driven prospective priests away from serving as altar boys. However, the egalitarian spirit which drives the Novus Ordo must seek to clericalize the laity while seeking concomitantly to express its concern for "gender justice" as to who serves at the altar. I have lots of questions. Ugh.

Paragraph 108 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:

    "The same priest celebrant should always exercise the presidential office in all the parts proper to him, except for those parts which are particular to a Mass at which the Bishop is present (see n. 92)."

Comment and Analysis: Once again, G.I.R.M. uses to the term "presidential office" to refer to the sacerdotal priesthood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The priest is reduced to the level of a functionary in the Novus Ordo. It is kind of like this: Our Lord did not exercise a "presidential office" on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday. He exercised the Victimhood and the Priesthood of the new and eternal priesthood He had instituted at the Last Supper. He did not divide His Redemptive Act among various "ministers." Likewise, a priest is meant to do the manly work of Christ's priesthood unimpeded by concessions made to those who believe in the value of participatory democracy and egalitarianism.

Paragraph 109 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:

    "If there are several persons who are empowered to exercise the same ministry or office, there is no objection to their being assigned different parts to perform. For example, one deacon may take the sung parts, another assist at the altar; if there are several readings, it is better to distribute them among a number of readers. The same applies for the other ministries. Indeed, it is not all appropriate that several persons divide a single element of the celebration among themselves, e.g., that the same reading is divided into two parts for two readers, unless it is the Passion of the Lord."

Comment and Analysis: As I noted in more recent installments, if everything is "ministry," nothing is "ministry." We live in a world which has a mania for titles. It is not an exaggeration to state that we have developed an ethos of entitlement concerning titles: people believe they are entitled to have a "title" to perform some "ministry" in the Mass lest they develop a lack of self-esteem as a result of being excluded from being truly "involved" in the "liturgy." This is all so anthropocentric. It's just too bad that David Merrick is dead. He did a wonderful job casting parts for his Broadway productions. He chose the right people for the right parts. Imagine what he could do with Paragraph 109 and the new Mass. More seriously, though, the multiplication of "roles" detracts from the Christocentricity and solemnity of the Mass, which has become in a very real sense a theatrical production.

Paragraph 110 of G.I.R.M. reads as follows:

    "If only one minister is present at a Mass with a congregation, that minister may exercise several different functions."

Comment and Analysis: A Mass only needs one "minister," that is, a priest. Period. What Paragraph 110 is saying, however, is that a reader can serve at the altar and also distribute Holy Communion. What has happened as a result of the institutionalization of this sense of participatory democracy is the phenomenon of priests coming to believe that they cannot celebrate a Mass unless they have a reader and a server and at least one extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. There are instances in which priests actually come out to disturb the good order of those trying to recollect themselves before Mass in order to recruit people "from the audience," as my wife Sharon likes to say, to be "minister of the day." Where's the late Jack Bailey when you need him?

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

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



Oct 3, 2002
volume 13, no. 108
CHRIST or chaos
www.DailyCatholic.org
Return to Current Issue