Meeting Christ in the Liturgy Library
CLARIFICATIONS AND INTERPRETATIONS OF
THE GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL
The Sacred Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship, through its official
publication <Notitiae>, has issued a number of clarifications regarding the
reformed rites of the Church and their celebration. The interpretations and
explanations which affect the <General Instruction of the Roman Missal> and
which appeared in <Notitiae> between 1969 and 1981 are included below. The
numbers at the beginning of each section refer to the respective sections of the
QUERY: An organ accompaniment for the recitation of the eucharistic prayer is a
practice that has developed in some places. Is this acceptable?
REPLY: The GIRM no. 12 clearly states: "The nature of the presidential prayers
demands that they be spoken in a loud and clear voice and that everyone present
listen with attention. While the priest is reciting them there should be no other
prayer and the organ or other instruments should not be played." This is a clear
rule, leaving no room for doubt, since it is a reminder of wrong practices that have
greatly impeded and diminished the people's participation in this central part of
the Mass. Further, it is obvious that the organ's so-called background music often
puts into the background what should be foremost and dominant. A "background"
accompaniment of the priest's homily would be out of the question: but in the
eucharistic prayer the word of the presider, <Tou proestou> in Justin's
expression, reaches the peak of its meaning: Not 13 (1977) 94-95, no. 2.
QUERY 1: After communion should the faithful be seated or not? REPLY: After
communion they may either kneel, stand, or sit. Accordingly the GIRM no. 21
gives this rule: "The people sit. . .if this seems useful during the period of silence
after communion." Thus it is a matter of option, not obligation. The GIRM no.
121, should, therefore, be interpreted to match no. 21: Not 10 (1974) 407.
QUERY 2: In liturgical assemblies there is a great variety of gestures and
postures during a celebration. For example, should the people: a. stand during the
prayer over the gifts; b. kneel after the <Sanctus> and during the entire
eucharistic prayer; c. sit after communion? REPLY: As usual the GIRM gives
simple rules to solve these questions (GIRM no. 21): a. The people stand while
the presidential prayers are being said, therefore, during the prayer over the gifts.
b. Thy also stand throughout the eucharistic prayer, except the consecration. The
practice is for the faithful to remain kneeling from the epiclesis before the
consecration until the memorial acclamation after it. c. The people may sit during
the silence after communion.
The points determined are in no way to be considered trivial, since their purpose
is to ensure uniformity in posture in the assembly celebrating the eucharist as a
manifestation of the community's unity in faith and worship. The people often give
the impression immediately after the <Sanctus> and even more often after the
consecration by their diverse postures that they are unmindful of being
participants in the Church's liturgy, which is the supreme action of a community
and not a time for individuals to isolate themselves in acts of private devotion:
Not 14 (1978) 300-301, no. 1.
QUERY 3: In some places kneelers have been taken out of the churches. Thus,
the people can only stand or sit and this detracts from the reverence and
adoration due to the eucharist. REPLY: The appointments of a place of worship
have some relationship to the customs of the particular locale. For example, in the
East there are carpets; in the Roman basilicas, only since modern times, there are
usually chairs without kneelers, so as to accommodate large crowds. There is
nothing to prevent the faithful from kneeling on the floor to show their adoration,
no matter how uncomfortable this may be. In cases where kneeling is not possible
(see GIRM no. 21), a deep bow and a respectful bearing are signs of the
reverence and adoration to be shown at the time of the consecration and
communion: Not 14 (1978) 302-303, no. 4.
QUERY 1: Is it appropriate to meditate for a short time in silence after the
homily? REPLY: Very much so.
QUERY 2: May the organ be played softly during this interval of silence?
REPLY: Yes, as long as it really is played softly and is not a distraction to
meditation: Not 9 (1973) 192.
QUERY: In the GIRM no. 26 are the words <actioni sacrae> to be understood of
the procession of the priest and ministers or of the entire eucharistic celebration?
REPLY: The words are to be understood of the procession, because the context is
about the entrance song. Nevertheless the norm takes on a general applicability;
whatever the singing during Mass, it should fit the character of the season and of
the part of the rite actually taking place: Not 6 (1970) 404, no. 42.
QUERY: Does the <Asperges> rite still exist? REPLY: Yes. For it is a rite that
on Sunday helpfully calls to mind the baptismal washing. But this matter will be
settled better in the new missal, in such a way that the <Asperges> will be
coordinated with the penitential rite of the Mass: Not 5 (1969) 403, no. 11.
QUERY 1: What is to be understood by the phrase "a special, more solemn
celebration?" REPLY: This occasion on which GIRM no. 31 calls for the singing
of the <Gloria> is a celebration observed with solemnity or with a large number of
people: Not 6 (1970) 263, no. 33.
QUERY 2: When the <Gloria> and <Credo> are not sung but just recited,
sometimes the celebrant conducts the recitation in alternation with the
congregation. But since a hymn and a profession of faith are at issue and these
involve the assembly as a whole, does this practice seem to be keeping with the
rubrics? REPLY: The rubrics of the Order of Mass, drawn up in a practical
fashion, have only this on the <Gloria>: "the hymn is sung or recited" (no. 5) and
on the <Credo>: "the profession of faith. . .is made" (no. 15). As is often the case,
the GIRM shows progress of a spiritual order (nos. 31 and 43), by bringing out
the community character proper to these texts and by stressing the dialogic style
for their recitation. a. As to the <Gloria>, the GIRM no. 31, to preserve its
character as a hymn, says: "It is sung by the congregation, or by the congregation
alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited
either by all together or in alternation." By preference, therefore, the <Gloria>
should be sung. Otherwise it is recited by all either together or in alternation. The
celebrant should join with the assembly's singing or reciting of the <Gloria>
together or with one sector of the assembly's dialogic recitation or else he should
recite the hymn in alternation with the assembly. b. As to the <Credo>, the GIRM
no. 44 says: "Recitation of the profession of faith by the priest together with the
people is obligatory on Sundays and solemnities. It may be said also at special,
more solemn celebrations. If it is sung, as a rule all are to sing it together or in
alternation." Therefore, whether sung or recited the <Credo> belongs to the
entire liturgical assembly, which says it together ("all") or sings it as two
alternating choirs: Not 14 (1978) 538, no. 14.
QUERY: Is it advisable to invite the faithful to bless themselves before or after
the homily, to address a salutation to them, for example, "Praised be Jesus
Christ, etc.?" REPLY: It all depends on lawful local custom. But generally
speaking it is inadvisable to continue such customs because they have their origin
in preaching outside Mass. The homily is part of the liturgy; the people have
already blessed themselves and received the greeting at the beginning of Mass. It
is better, then, not to have a repetition before or after the homily: Not 9 (1973)
QUERY: Is the <Credo> to be said during the Easter octave? REPLY: Not per
se; still, it may be said even on these weekdays when there is a "more solemn"
celebration: Not 7 (1971) 112, no. 2. See also no. 31, Query 2b above.
QUERY 1: What is the genuine meaning of the offertory rite? The description of
the offertory of the Mass, it is pointed out, speaks only of the <preparation> of
the gifts and placing them on the altar, of the people's offerings for the Church
and for the poor, but nothing about the of <offering> of the sacrifice. REPLY:
History teaches that the offertory rite is an action of preparation for the sacrifice
in which priest and ministers accept the gifts offered by the people. These are the
elements for the celebration (the bread and wine) and other gifts intended for the
Church and the poor. This preparatory meaning has always been regarded as the
identifying note of the offertory, even though the formularies did not adequately
bring it out and were couched in sacrificial language. The new rite puts this
specifying note in a clearer light by means both of the active part taken by the
faithful in the presentation of the gifts and the formularies the celebrant says in
placing the elements for the eucharistic celebration on the altar: Not 6 (1970) 37,
QUERY 2: Does it not seem that the suppression of the prayers that accompanied
the offering of the bread and wine has impoverished the offertory rite? REPLY: In
no way. The former prayers: <Suscipe, Sancte Pater>. . . and <Offerimus tibi,
Domine>. . . were not accurate expressions of the genuine meaning of the
"offertory" rites but merely anticipated the meaning of the true and literal
sacrificial offering that is present in the eucharistic prayer after the consecration,
when Christ becomes present on the altar as victim. The new formularies for the
gifts bring out the giving of glory to God, who is the source of all things and of all
the gifts given to humanity. They state explicitly the meaning of the rite being
carried out; they associate the value of human work, which embraces all human
concerns, with the mystery of Christ. The offertory rite, then, has been restored
through that explicit teaching and shines forth with new light: Not 6 (1970) 37-38,
QUERY: In Mass with a congregation celebrated more solemnly, different ways
of incensation are being used: one plain and simple; the other, the same as the
rite for incensation prescribed in the former Roman Missal. Which usage should
be followed? REPLY: It must never be forgotten that the Missal of Pope Paul VI
has, since 1970, supplanted the one called improperly "the Missal of St. Pius V,"
and completely so, in both texts and rubrics. When the rubrics of the Missal of
Paul VI say nothing or say little on particulars in some places, it is not to be
inferred that the former rite should be observed. Therefore, the multiple and
complex gestures for incensation as prescribed in the former Missal (see
<Missale Romanum>, Vatican Polyglot Press, 1962: <Ritus servandus> VIII and
<Ordo incensandi> pp. LXXXLXXXIII) are not to be resumed.
In incensation the celebrant (GIRM nos. 51 and 105) proceeds as follows: a.
toward the gifts: he incenses with three swings, as the deacon does toward the
Book of the Gospels; b. toward the cross: he incenses with three swings when he
comes in front of it; c. toward the altar: he incenses continuously from the side as
he passes around the altar, making no distinction between the altar table and the
base: Not 14 (1978) 301-302, no. 2.
QUERY: May the rite of washing the hands be omitted from the celebration of
Mass? REPLY: In no way. 1. Both the GIRM (nos. 52, 106, 222) and the Order of
Mass (with a congregation, no. 24; without a congregation, no. 18) show the
<Lavabo> to be one of the prescribed rites in the preparation of the gifts. A rite of
major importance is clearly not at issue, but it is not to be dropped since its
meaning is: "an expression of the (priest's) desire to be cleansed within" (GIRM
no. 52). In the course of the Consilium's work on the Order of Mass, there were a
number of debates on the value and the place to be assigned to the <Lavabo>,
e.g., on whether it should be a rite in silence or with an accompanying text; there
was, however, unanimity that it must be retained. Even though there has been no
practical reason for the act of handwashing since the beginning of the Middle
Ages, its symbolism is obvious and understood by all (see SC art. 34). The rite is a
usage in all liturgies of the West. 2. The Constitution on the Liturgy (SC art.
37-40) envisions ritual adaptations to be suggested by the conferences of bishops
and submitted to the Holy See. Such adaptations must be based on serious
reasons, for example, the specific culture and viewpoint of a people, contrary and
unchangeable usages, the practical impossibility of adapting some new rite that is
foreign to the genius of a people, and so on. 3. Apart from the envisioned
exemptions from rubrics and differing translations of texts (see Consilium, Instr.
25 Jan. 1969), the Order of Mass is presented as a single unit whose general
structure and individual components must be exactly respected. Arbitrary
selectiveness on the part of an individual or a community would soon result in the
ruin of a patiently and thoughtfully constructed work: Not 6 (1970) 38-39, no. 27.
55d. In certain vernacular versions of the text for consecrating the wine, the
words <pro multis> are translated thus: English, <for all>; Spanish, <por todos>;
Italian, <per tutti>.
QUERY: a. Is there a sufficient reason for introducing in this variant and if so,
what is it? b. Is the pertinent traditional teaching in the <Catechism of the Council
of Trent> to be considered superseded? c. Are all other versions of the biblical
passage in question to be regarded as less accurate? d. Did something inaccurate
and needing correction or emendation in fact slip in when the approval was given
for such a version? REPLY: The variant involved is fully justified: a. According to
exegetes the Aramaic word translated in Latin by <pro multis> has as its meaning
"for all": the many for whom Christ died is without limit; it is equivalent to saying
"Christ has died for all." The words of St. Augustine are apposite: "See what he
gave and you will discover what he bought. The price is Christ's blood. What is it
worth but the whole world? What, but all peoples? Those who say either that the
price is so small that it has purchased only Africans are ungrateful for the price
they cost; those who say that they are so important that it has been given for them
alone are proud" (<Enarr.> in Ps. 95, 5). b. The teaching of the <Catechism> is in
no way superseded: the distinction that Christ's death is sufficient for all but
efficacious for many remains valid. c. In the approval of this vernacular variant in
the liturgical text nothing inaccurate has slipped in that requires correction or
emendation: Not 6 (1970) 39-40, no. 28.
QUERY: In the intercessions of Eucharistic Prayer III, this parenthesis appears
("Saint N.-the saint of the day or the patron saint"). How should these words be
interpreted? Must the saint of the day or the patron saint be mentioned? And
even on a Sunday or on more solemn days? May the blessed also be mentioned?
REPLY: a. The words quoted, as is rightly noted, are in parenthesis; therefore,
mention of the saint of the day or the patron saint is to be considered as optional.
But it should not be omitted all the time, because mention of the saint adds
something concretely relevant to the participants, the place, and the
circumstances. b. There may, therefore, always be a mention of the saint of the
day or of the patron saint, even if celebration of a Mass in honor of the saint is
impeded, and even on Sunday and more solemn days. Special conditions of people
and places may sometimes favor omission, for example, if mention of a
little-known saint may cause puzzlement. The celebrant should always guard
against imposing his own personal devotion on the faithful. c. What has been said
about saints is applicable to the blessed, but only in keeping with places and ways
established by law (see CIC can. 1277, 2): Not 14 (1978) 594-595, no. 17.
QUERY 1: May the singing of <Shalom> replace the singing of the <Agnus Dei>?
REPLY: No. The Ordinary of the Mass in all its parts must be followed as it
appears in the Missal. Some slight adaptation is countenanced in the <Directory
for Masses with Children> no. 31. What is established for children, however, is
not transferable to other assemblies: Not 11 (1975) 205.
QUERY 2: How many times must the <Agnus Dei> be said or sung, according to
the indications in the Order of Mass? REPLY: The point of the <Agnus Dei> is to
accompany the breaking of the consecrated bread until a particle is dropped into
the chalice (GIRM no. 56e). In practice two situations are to be considered: a. If
there is only one celebrant presiding or if there are only a few concelebrants, the
breaking of the bread is done quite quickly. Usually the <Agnus Dei> said or sung
three times, as indicated in the Order of Mass no. 131, is enough to accompany
the rite. b. In the case when there are many concelebrants or the breaking of the
bread takes a long time, then the <Agnus Dei> may be repeated until the
completion of the breaking of the bread, following the rubric in the Order of Mass
no. 131: "This may be repeated. . ." and the directive of the GIRM no. 56e:
"This invocation may be repeated as often as necessary to accompany the
breaking of the bread. The final reprise concludes with the words, <grant us
peace>": Not 14 (1978) 306, no. 8.
QUERY: What is the formulary a bishop is to use for the final blessing of Mass?
REPLY: Although nothing is said on this point in the new Order of Mass, at the
end of Mass bishops bless the people either with the more solemn formulary that
will appear in the new Roman Missal or with the formulary that has been
customary until now, namely: <Blessed be the name of the Lord. . .; Our help is in
the name of the Lord> (they do not cross themselves); <May almighty God bless
you>. . .; as he makes the triple sign of the cross: Not 5 (1969) 403, no. 14. See
also no. 108 below.
61. See DOL 309 no. 2536, note R.
QUERY: Are hand missals still needed? REPLY: Since reform of the liturgy the
usefulness of hand missals for the faithful is often questioned. All now understand
the words spoken at Mass; what is more, as far as the biblical readings are
concerned, all ought to be listening attentively to the word of God. Nevertheless
hand missals, it seems, remain necessary. People do not always hear well,
especially in large churches, and what they do hear physically they do not always
understand right away. They, therefore, often need to go back over the texts
heard during a celebration. In addition, the liturgy, and the eucharistic celebration
above all, is "the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at
the same time it is the fount from which all the Church's power flows" (SC art. 10).
All the concerns of the spiritual life must be brought to the liturgy and that
happens if participation is truly actual and <aware>. This requires frequent
meditation on the liturgical texts both before and after the celebration: Not 8
(1972) 195-196. See also the notes from Bp. R. Coffy, President of the Liturgical
Commission of France, and the survey of vernacular missals available: ibid.
76. See DOL 223 no. 1796, note R.
79. See no. 269 below.
QUERY: In a great many places the veil is hardly ever used to cover the chalice
prepared at a side table before Mass. Have any recent norms been given to
suppress use of the veil? REPLY: There is no norm, not even a recent one, to
change the GIRM no. 80c, which reads: "The chalice should be covered with a
veil, which may always be white.": Not 14 (1978) 594, no. 16.
QUERY: During the recitation of certain formularies, for example, the
<Confiteor, Agnus Dei, Domine, non sum dignus>, the accompanying gestures on
the part of both priest and people are not always the same: some strike their
breast three times; others, once during such formularies. What is the lawful
practice to be followed? REPLY: In this case it is helpful to recall: 1. gestures and
words usually complement each other; 2. in this matter as in others the liturgical
reform has sought authenticity and simplicity, in keeping with SC art. 34: "The
rites should be marked by a noble simplicity." Whereas in the Roman Missal
promulgated by authority of the Council of Trent meticulous gestures usually
accompanied the words, the rubrics of the Roman Missal as reformed by
authority of Vatican Council II are marked by their restraint with regard to
gestures. This being said: a. The words, <Through my own fault> in the
<Confiteor> are annotated in the reformed Roman Missal with the rubric: "Thy
strike their breast" (<Ordo Missae> no. 3). In the former Missal at the same
place the rubric read this way: "He strikes his breast three times." Therefore, it
seems that the breast is not to be struck three times by anyone in reciting the
words, whether in Latin or another language, even if the tripled formulary is said
(<mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa>). One striking of the breast is
enough. Clearly, also, one gesture is enough in those languages in which the
words expressing fault are translated in a simpler form, for example in English, <I
have sinned through my own fault>; in French <Oui, j'ai vraiment peche'>. b. The
special restraint of the reformed Roman Missal is also clear regarding the other
texts mentioned, the <Agnus Dei> and <Domine, non sum dignus>, expressions of
repentance and humility accompanying the breaking of the bread and the call of
the faithful to communion.
As noted in the Reply no. 2 of the comments in Not 14 (1978) 301, when the
rubrics of the Missal of Paul VI say nothing, it is not to be thereby inferred that
the former rubrics must be followed (see no. 51 above). The reformed Missal does
not supplement but supplants the former Missal. The old Missal at the <Agnus
Dei> had the directive "striking his breast three times" and the same for the
<Domine, non sum dignus>. But because the new Missal says nothing on this
point (<Ordo Missae>, nos. 131 and 133), there is no reason for requiring any
gesture to be added to these invocations: Not 14 (1978) 534-535, no. 10.
QUERY: Before the biblical readings sometimes priests or lay readers announce
subtitles for the selection or even the rubric: "The first reading," "The second
reading," etc. Is it permissible to follow this practice? REPLY: Clearly not. As
with all rubrics, the titles, "The first reading," "The second reading," are guides
for the convenience of the reader. As to the captions, which consist either in a
sentence drawn from the text or in a summary statement of the reading, they too
are guides useful for choosing among different texts, especially in the Commons.
The sole title to be announced is the one indicating the book of the Bible or, where
applicable, its author. For example: "A reading from the Letter of Paul to
Timothy"; "A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark": Not 14 (1978)
303, no. 5.
QUERY: In the celebration of Mass may the bishop give the homily at the chair
and seated? REPLY: By rule of the GIRM no. 97, in the celebration of Mass the
homily is given at the chair or at the lectern. In keeping with custom, the bishop
may certainly give the homily seated: Not 10 (1974) 80, no. 3. See also no. 42
QUERY: At the presentation of gifts at a Mass with congregation, persons (lay or
religious) bring to the altar the bread and wine which are to be consecrated. These
gifts are received by the priest celebrant. All those participating in the Mass
accompany this group procession in which the gifts are brought forward. They
then stand around the altar until communion time. Is this procedure in conformity
with the spirit of the law and of the Roman Missal? REPLY: Assuredly, the
Eucharistic celebration is the act of the entire community, carried out by all the
members of the liturgical assembly. Nevertheless, everyone must have and also
must observe his or her own place and proper role: "In liturgical celebrations
each one, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but
only, those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of the rite and the
principles of liturgy." (SC art. 29).
During the liturgy of the eucharist, only the presiding celebrant remains at the
altar. The assembly of the faithful take their place in the Church outside the
<presbyterium>, which is reserved for the celebrant or concelebrants and altar
ministers: Not 17 (1981) 61.
QUERY: How are the presentation of the bread and wine by the faithful and the
presentation of the paten with the bread in GIRM no. 102 compatible? REPLY:
There is no problem. For the offerings that the priest receives from the people are
put on a nearby table and the bread and wine are carried to the altar (see GIRM
no. 101), then the offertory rites take place. If the celebrant takes the paten or
ciborium with the bread from the faithful last, he may proceed directly to the altar
and immediately recite the formulary for offering the bread: Not 6 (1970) 404, no.
105. See no. 51 above.
QUERY: Some celebrants have the practice of raising then joining their hands
during the dialogue before the preface and at the beginning of the final blessing.
Others omit such gestures. What is right? REPLY: As is often the case, at issue is
a habit having its source in the rubrics of the former Roman Missal. The current
directives of the Order of Mass are to be followed, which are clear on the two
points raised: a. As to the dialogue before the preface, no. 27 (MR p. 392) says
precisely: "With hands extended he sings or says: <The Lord be with you>;" "He
lifts up his hands and continues: <Lift up your hearts>;" "With hands extended,
he continues: <Let us give thanks to the Lord our God>;" "The priest continues
the preface with hands extended." Therefore, the former rite is not to be
continued; among other things it indicated at this point: "He joins his hands
before his breast and bows his head as he says: <Let us give thanks>...." b. As to
the blessing at the end of Mass, the new Order of Mass says only: "The priest
blesses the people, with these words . . ."(no. 42). But the rubrics of the former
Order of Mass, after the dismissal <Ite, Missa est>, prescribed a gesture for the
blessing having five steps: "Raising his eyes, extending, raising, and joining his
hands, and bowing his head to the cross, he says: <May almighty God bless you>.
. .and turning to the people . .continues: <the Father>. . ." Now, however, only
that gesture is required which is indicated by the revelant rubric, namely, the
priest blesses the people, with the words: <May almighty God bless you, the
Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit>: Not 14 (1978) 536-537, no. 12.
QUERY: Is a bell to be rung at Mass? REPLY: It all depends on the different
circumstances of places and people, as is clear from GIRM no. 109: "A little
before the consecration, the server may ring a bell as a signal to the faithful.
Depending on local custom, he also rings the bell at the showing of both the host
and the chalice." From a long and attentive catechesis and education in liturgy, a
particular liturgical assembly may be able to take part in the Mass with such
attention and awareness that it has no need of this signal at the central part of the
Mass. This may easily be the case, for example, with religious communities or
with particular or small groups. The opposite may be presumed in a parish or
public church, where there is a different level of liturgical and religious education
and where often people who are visitors or are not regular churchgoers take part.
In these cases the bell as a signal is entirely appropriate and is sometimes
necessary. To conclude: usually a signal with the bell should be given, at least at
the two elevations, in order to elicit joy and attention: Not 8 (1972) 343.
QUERY 1: In churches without an altar facing the people should the priest in the
celebration of Mass turn toward the congregation as he says: <The peace of the
Lord be with you always> and <Let us offer each other a sign of peace>? REPLY:
Yes. The rubric in the Order of Mass with a congregation no. 128 directs that the
priest speaks these words while facing the congregation: Not 6 (1970) 264, no. 39.
QUERY 2: In some places there is a current practice whereby those taking part in
the Mass replace the giving of the sign of peace at the deacon's invitation by
holding hands during the singing of the Lord's Prayer. Is this acceptable? REPLY:
The prolonged holding of hands is of itself a sign of communion rather than of
peace. Further, it is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on personal
initiative; it is not in the rubrics. Nor is there any clear explanation of why the sign
of peace at the invitation: <Let us offer each other the sign of peace> should be
supplanted in order to bring a different gesture with less meaning into another
part of the Mass: the sign of peace is filled with meaning, graciousness, and
Christian inspiration. Any substitution for it must be repudiated: Not 11 (1975)
113. See no. 56e above.
QUERY: After the commingling and during the prayer, <Lord, Jesus Christ, Son
of the living God> or <Lord Jesus Christ, with faith>, some celebrants place their
joined hands on the altar and, with bowed head, say the text of the prayer softly.
Is this procedure still to be followed? REPLY: Traces of the former rites are here
again discernible. To resolve this query the norms of the Order of Mass have to
be heeded, with care not to add anything and with attention once again to the
principle so kindly stated by Pope John XXIII: "Make complex and difficult
matters simple; what is already simple leave alone." The former <Ritus
servandus> regarding this prayer directed (no. X, 3): "Then with joined hands
placed on the altar, eyes foxed on the sacrament, and bowing over he says softly. .
." The Order of Mass of Paul VI (no. 132) more precisely determines what the
GIRM says in no. 114: "Then the priest, with hands joined, says softly. . ."
Therefore, the celebrant stands upright with hands joined before his breast: Not
14 (1978) 537-538, no. 13.
115. See no. 87 above.
121. See no. 21 above.
QUERY 1: When at the end of Mass one of the solemn blessings or the prayer
over the people is used, how is it to be integrated into the concluding rite?
REPLY: The GIRM no. 124 indicates that on certain days and occasions another,
more solemn form of blessing or the prayer over the people precedes this form of
blessing as the rubrics direct. The rite in this case takes the following form. After
the greeting, <The Lord be with you>, the deacon or the priest himself, if there is
no deacon, says the invitation, <Bow your heads and pray for God's blessing> or
something similar. Then the priest, with hands outstretched over the people, says
the solemn blessing or the prayer over the people, then the words of the blessing;
all reply: <Amen> (see MR 495 and 507): Not 6 (1970) 404, no. 41.
QUERY 2: The use of the solemn blessings and prayers over the people that are
in the Roman Missal (MR, <ed. typica altera>, 1975, 495-511) expand and add
solemnity to the conclusion of the Mass. This form of the concluding rite grows in
use as the texts are translated and inserted into the missal proper to each region.
But practice varies: a. The celebrant omits the greeting, <The Lord be with you>,
before the blessing. b. The deacon or the celebrant omits the invitation, <Bow
your heads and ask for God's blessing>, given in the Missal (MR 495 and 507). c.
The priest omits extending his hands over the congregation (MR 495 and 507). d.
At the blessing the priest sometimes uses the form, <May almighty God bless
you. . .,> sometimes, <May the blessing of almighty God>.... REPLY: In this case
also the queries arising from such diversity can be answered from a careful
reading of the Roman Missal: a. The rubrics of the Missal (GIRM no. 124; Order
of Mass no. 142) expressly lay down the steps in the conclusion of the
celebration: first the greeting ("the priest...greets the people"), then the blessing
("he continues. . .blessing"), then the dismissal ("he adds immediately").
Furthermore, one of the solemn blessings or prayers over the people may be
substituted for the usual formula for the blessing, <May almighty God bless you>,
which follows the greeting of the celebrant. Clearly these formularies have the
same status as the text of the usual blessing. Therefore, the celebrant's greeting,
<The Lord be with you>, must precede them. b. The rubric at the beginning of this
part of the Missal says: ". . .may give the invitation: <Bow your heads and pray
for God's blessing>" (MR 495 and 507). Therefore, the deacon or the priest
celebrant is at liberty to use this invitation, to put it in different words, or to omit it
altogether. c. But in contrast this same rubric also gives an explicit directive:
"The priest extends his hands over the congregation while he says or sings the
blessing." Therefore, he holds his hands extended over the congregation during
the entire blessing and during it the people respond: <Amen> to each part of this
blessing. The priest performs the same gesture over the assembly during the
prayer over the people. d. The celebrant as a rule uses the formulary: <May
almighty God bless you>. . . (MR, <ed. typica altera>, 1975, pp. 495-506): Not 14
(1978) 306-307, no. 9. 153.
QUERY: At the eucharist where several bishops concelebrate, is the use of the
pastoral staff restricted to the presiding bishop only, even if he is not the Ordinary
of the place of celebration? REPLY: In all the liturgical rites, use of the pastoral
staff belongs only to the principal celebrant of the eucharist or the one who
presides over the liturgy and to no other bishops regardless of their rank.
In the rite of ordination of bishops, the newly ordained use(s) the pastoral staff at
the conclusion of the celebration, in accordance with the rubrics of the Roman
Pontifical: Not 17 (1981) 231.
QUERY: Does the permission granted to religious to celebrate or concelebrate
twice when they concelebrate with their own Ordinary apply also in the case of
Ordinary's delegate? REPLY: Yes, just as this is granted to priests
concelebrating with the diocesan bishop or his delegate (see GIRM no. 158d):
Not 5 (1969) 403, no. 13.
QUERY: In the manner of concelebrating we find the following differences: a.
Sometimes the celebrant's voice stands out clearly, while the concelebrants recite
the eucharistic prayer in a low or subdued voice. In other cases, conversely, a
clash of loud voices is heard, as though each were striving to outdo the others. b.
In carrying out the epiclesis before the consecration not all concelebrants stretch
out their hands toward the gifts to invoke the action of the Holy Spirit, but they
are extremely careful to do so during the consecration. c. During the epiclesis
some bring their hands back as soon as the principal concelebrant has made the
sign of the cross over the gifts; others keep their hands outstretched until the text
of the epiclesis is concluded. Which ways are right? REPLY: To decide which of
the differences are right, it is enough to consider the nature of the functions that
each concelebrant performs and the nature of the corresponding gesture: a.
According to the GIRM no. 170 the assembly of the faithful must distinctly hear
the voice of the one presiding. This can be achieved by use of a sensitive and
well-placed microphone and especially by the modulation of the concelebrants'
voices (<submissa voce>). Otherwise, as in the second case cited, the unity of
tone and rhythm for the assembly's understanding of the text cannot be achieved.
b. It is rather odd that the norms of the Missal envision a situation quite the
opposite from the one alleged: during the epiclesis of the consecration all the
concelebrants must hold their hands over the gifts (GIRM nos. 174a, 180a, 184a,
188a: "with hands outstretched toward the gifts") in invoking the action of the
Holy Spirit. But during the consecration, the concelebrants hold the right hand
toward the bread and the chalice, "if this seems appropriate" (GIRM nos. 174c,
180c, 184c, 188c) and they do so as they recite the <words of the Lord>, namely,
up to "Do this in memory of me" inclusive. c. The act of holding the hands
outstretched must accompany the words of the prayer. This is why the rubrics of
the Order of Mass (nos. 90, 103, 110, 119) indicate the end of this action by
saying: "He joins his hands": Not 14 (1978) 303304, no. 6. See also DOL 242.
QUERY: It is apparent that practices differ greatly in the recitation or singing of
the doxology concluding the eucharistic prayer: a. Sometimes the principal
celebrant alone says or sings it. b. Or regularly all the concelebrants say or sing
it. c. In some places the whole assembly says or sings it. What rule should be
followed? REPLY: In any meeting it customarily belongs to the one presiding to
open and close the proceedings that are the purpose of the meeting. In the case of
the eucharist the essential part of the entire celebration is clearly the eucharistic
prayer, which extends from the preface to the final doxology inclusive. Therefore,
it belongs to the one presiding to open this prayer with the preface; this is
followed by the <Sanctus>, in which the assembly joins, then the one presiding
alone recites the <Father, you are holy indeed> (or the parallel text). As to the
concluding doxology, the three cases reported call for the following remarks: a. It
is the right of the one who presides and who opened the eucharistic prayer also to
close it by reciting the final doxology. This is exactly what the GIRM no. 191
indicates: "The concluding doxology of the eucharistic prayer is recited. . .by the
principal celebrant alone." b. The second case reflects the prevailing usage, which
almost everywhere concelebrants have quickly adopted in reciting or singing this
conclusion together. This usage also conforms to the GIRM no. 191, the second
part of which refers to it: ". . .or by all the concelebrants together with the
principal celebrant." c. Unlike the two preceding cases, the recitation or singing of
the conclusion by the whole assembly is an extension that is unlawful not merely
from a disciplinary point of view-as being against the rules now in force-but at a
deeper level, namely, as being in conflict with the very nature of ministries and
Even though someone could interpret this extension to the entire assembly as a
sign of the desire of the assembly for increased participation in the liturgy, it is
necessary that this desire be realized in an orderly and authentic way. What
seems like progress is in fact retrogression: it is a sign of forgetting the part that
belongs to each individual in the liturgical celebration. See SC art. 28: ". . .each
person, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should do all, but only
those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of the rite and the principles
of liturgy." In the third case it happens often that the final <Amen> is said or sung
by no one or almost no one. If, on the contrary, the directions given in the Order
of Mass (nos. 100, 108, 115, 124, "The people respond: <Amen>") are followed,
it is possible in order to give greater emphasis to this response to use more
elaborate chants that give force and solemnity to the acclamation of all the people
(for example, the triple <Amen> sung by all the people at a Mass celebrated by
the pope or the more simple <Amen> in the French missal of 1974, p. 103): Not 14
(1978) 304-305, no. 7.
QUERY: When there is no member of the faithful present able to make the
acclamation after the consecration, should the priest say: <Let us proclaim the
mystery of faith>? REPLY: No. The words <the mystery of faith>, which have
been removed from the context of Christ's own words and put after the
consecration, "serve as an introduction to the acclamation" (Ap. Const. <Missale
Romanum>). But when no member of the faithful is present who is able to respond
to the acclamation, the priest omits saying: <Let us proclaim the mystery of
faith>. The case is like that of a Mass which, because of serious need, is
celebrated without any server and, therefore, without the greetings and the
blessings at the end of Mass (GIRM no. 211). The same reply applies to a
concelebration by priests at which no member of the faithful is present: Not 5
(1969) 324-325, no. 3. 229. See no. 238 below.
QUERY: Some of the acts of reverence by both the celebrant and the people have
fallen into disuse, for example, the profound bow to be made in place of the former
genuflection at the words announcing the mystery of the incarnation in the
<Credo>. Are such gestures still to be observed? REPLY: Clearly people should
express their faith, devotion, and reverence not only by words but also by
gestures and posture. All the more care should be taken about this because the
gestures now prescribed since the reform of the liturgy are fewer and simpler.
Thus the Order of Mass and the GIRM assign a few instances when gestures are
to accompany the words. It is enough to recall the GIRM no. 234 to recognize
these various cases: "A bow of the head is made when the three divine persons
are named together and at the name of Jesus, Mary, and the saint in whose honor
Mass is celebrated. A bow of the body, or profound bow, is made: toward the altar
if there is no tabernacle with the blessed sacrament; during the prayers,
<Almighty God, cleanse and Lord God, we ask you to receive>; within the
profession of faith at the words, >by the power of the Holy Spirit;> in Eucharistic
Prayer I (Roman Canon) at the words, <Almighty God, we pray>." In the case of
the words in the <Credo> the rubric of the Order of Mass also reads: "All bow."
It is well to remember that at the Mass of the Christmas Vigil, the Mass at
Midnight, the Mass at Dawn, and the Mass during the Day, there is genuflection
at the words <And he became man> (see MR pp. 153, 155, 156, 157); the same
holds for Mass on the solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord (see MR p.
For the consecration of the bread and wine the GIRM no. 234b prescribes: "The
priest bends over slightly as he says the words of the Lord at the consecration."
Further the priest genuflects "after the showing of the host," and "after the
showing of the chalice" (GIRM no. 233); "he genuflects in adoration" (Order of
Mass, nos. 91-92, 104-105, 111- 112, 120-121). As for concelebrants, they stand
at the showing of the host and chalice, look at them, then bow profoundly (GIRM
nos. 174c, 180c, 184c, 188c).
Likewise before communion there are gestures of reverence and faith made by
both the celebrant and the people who receive communion. For the celebrant the
GIRM no. 115 and the Order of Mass no. 133 have ". . .then the priest
genuflects, takes the host" etc.; and for concelebrants the GIRM directs: "One
by one the concelebrants come to the middle of the altar, genuflect, and
reverently take the body of Christ from the altar. Then holding the eucharistic
bread in the right hand, with the left hand under it, they return to their places. The
concelebrants may, however, remain in their places and take the body of Christ
from the paten presented to them by the principal celebrant or by one or more of
the concelebrants, or from the paten as it is passed from one to the other"
(GIRM no. 197). As for the people, when they receive the eucharist standing,
they are able to make some sign of reverence (GIRM nos. 244c, 245b, 246b,
247b): Not 14 (1978) 535-536, no. 11.
QUERY: The GIRM no. 237 says that particles of the eucharistic bread are to be
collected after the consecration, but it is not clear what is to be done about them.
REPLY: The GIRM no. 237 must be taken in context with other articles that deal
with the same point. The description of the basic form of celebration says clearly:
"After communion the priest returns to the altar and collects any remaining
particles. Then, standing at the side of the altar or at the side table, he purifies the
paten or ciborium <over the chalice>, then purifies the chalice . . . and dries it with
a purificator" (GIRM no. 120). The Order of Mass with a congregation no. 138
says: "After communion the priest or deacon purifies the paten <over the
chalice> and the chalice itself." The Order of Mass without a congregation no. 31
says: "Then the priest purifies the chalice <over the paten> and the chalice
itself." The point, therefore, is quite clear: Not 8 (1972) 195.
QUERY: After the distribution of communion the priest often is observed
purifying the vessels (chalice, paten, ciborium) at the middle of the altar. Cannot a
better place and time be chosen to do this? May another minister purify the
vessels? REPLY: a. The directives in the GIRM are to be observed. There is a
general principle in no. 238: "The vessels are purified by the priest or else by the
deacon or acolyte after the communion or after Mass, if possible at a side table."
The directive as to time (whether after communion or after Mass) is completed in
no. 229 with one regarding place (at the side of the altar). It is implicit in this
regulation that the celebrant never stands at the middle of the altar as he purifies
the vessels (see also no. 120). b. Other particulars are found elsewhere in the
GIRM: As the priest, no. 120: "After communion the priest returns to the altar
and collects any remaining particles. Then, standing at the side of the altar or at a
side table, he purifies the paten or ciborium over the chalice, then purifies the
chalice, saying quietly: <Lord, may I receive these gifts>, etc., and dries it with a
purificator. If this is done at the altar, the vessels are taken to a side table by a
minister. It is also permitted, especially if there are several vessels to be purified,
to leave them, properly covered and on a corporal, either at the altar or at a side
table and to purify them after Mass when the people have left."
As to the deacon, no. 138: "After communion, the deacon returns to the altar with
the priest and collects any remaining fragments. He then takes the chalice and
other vessels to the side table, where he purifies them and arranges them in the
usual way; the priest returns to the chair. But it is permissible to leave the vessels
to be purified, properly covered and on a corporal, at a side table and to purify
them after Mass, when the people have left."
As to the acolyte, no. 147: "After communion, the acolyte helps the priest or
deacon to purify and arrange the vessels. If no deacon is present, the acolyte
takes the vessels to the side table, where he purifies and arranges them."
The remarks on the priest, deacon and acolyte are applicable to a special minister
who lawfully distributes communion (see SCDS, Instr. <Immensae caritatis>; RR,
<Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass>, no. 17). See also
GIRM no. 229 on a priest celebrating without a congregation; nos. 202-206 on a
concelebrated Mass: Not 14 (1978) 593-594, no. 15.
257. See no. 272 below.
QUERY: Should an altar with a table of wood or metal be consecrated?
REPLY: Yes, The GIRM no. 263 says: "According to the Church's traditional
practice and the altar's symbolism, the table of a fixed altar should be of stone
and indeed of natural stone. But at the discretion of the conference of bishops
some other solid, becoming, and well-crafted material may be used." The
consecration should be carried out according to the existing practice until a new
rite is ready: Not 6 (1970) 263, no. 34.
265. QUERY: Has the formulary for the blessing of a movable altar been
completed and where is it available? REPLY: According to the GIRM no. 265,
movable altars may only be blessed. The blessing formulary has not yet been
completed: Not 6 (1970) 263, no. 35. (Subsequent to this response, the
Congregation of Sacraments and Divine Worship published the rite of Dedication
of a Church and an Altar, May 29,1977.)
QUERY: Must the lighted candles that are to be placed in candlesticks for the
celebration of Mass consist in part of beeswax, olive oil, or other vegetable oil?
REPLY: The GIRM prescribes candles for Mass "as a sign of reverence and
festiveness" (nos. 79, 269). But it makes no further determination regarding the
material of their composition, except in the case of the sanctuary lamp, the fuel
for which must be oil or wax (see <Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist
outside Mass>, Introduction no. 11). The faculty that the conferences of bishops
possess to choose suitable materials for sacred furnishings applies, therefore, to
the candles for Mass. That faculty is limited only by the condition that in the
estimation of the people the materials are valued and worthy and that they are
appropriate for sacred use. Candles intended for liturgical use should be made of
material that can provide a living flame without being smoky or noxious and that
does not stain the altar cloths or coverings. Electric bulbs are banned in the
interest of safeguarding authenticity and the full symbolism of light: Not 10 (1974)
80, no. 4.
272. QUERY: When there is no celebrant's chair and no special place for carrying
out the liturgy of the word, may a priest who celebrates with a small group
present: a. remain at the altar during the liturgy of the word? b. set the missal on
the right side of the altar or at the middle? c. and if so, which side of the altar is
designated as the left or right? REPLY: a. The liturgical norms in force make a
clear distinction between the altar and the place for proclaiming the word of God
(GIRM nos. 252-257). Where places have not yet been remodeled in keeping with
the reformed liturgy (and such remodeling should be done without delay), it is
necessary to provide at least a chair for the celebrant and a movable lectern for
the reader. When the celebrant himself must act as reader, especially for the
gospel, the reading should be at the movable lectern. In the very exceptional case
when not even a bench can be set up, the priest may stay at the altar, where the
missal and lectionary are set on a reading stand. b. This stand obviously should be
placed conveniently for the celebrant's reading, for example, at the middle of the
altar. The custom of setting the missal stand on the left side of the altar comes
from the time when the chalice was placed at the center at the beginning of Mass.
This is no longer the case, since reform of the liturgy, because the chalice is now
placed on a side table, away from the altar. c. The left side of the altar is the side
at the celebrant's left; the right side, at his right. Not 14 (1978) 302, no. 3.
273. See no. 21, Query 3, above.
QUERY: In the GIRM no. 283 what does <eucharistic bread> mean?
REPLY: The term means the same thing as the <host> hitherto in use, except that
the bread is larger in size. The term <eucharistic bread> in line 2 is explained by
the words of line 4: "The priest is able actually <to break the host into parts.>"
Thus line 2 is about this eucharistic element as to its kind and line 4 as to its
<shape>. Therefore, it was incorrect to interpret <eucharistic bread> in line 2 as a
reference to its shape as though the term implies that bread in the shape designed
for its everyday use may be substituted for the host in its traditional shape. The
GIRM in no way intended to change the shape of the large and small hosts, but
only to provide an option regarding size, thickness, and color in order that the host
may really have the appearance of bread that is shared by many people: Not 6
(1970) 37, no. 24.
284. Card. F. Seper, Prefect of the SCDF addressed the following letter, May 2,
1974, Prot. No. 88/74, to Card. J. Krol, President of the Conference of Bishops of
the United States:
For some time different Ordinaries have asked this Sacred Congregation for the
permission to allow priests who are undergoing a treatment for alcoholism or who
have undergone this treatment, to celebrate Mass with unfermented grape juice.
With this situation in mind, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
authorizes the Ordinaries of the United States of America to grant to those priests
who have made this request the permission either to concelebrate with one or
more priests a normal Mass but without receiving communion under the species
of wine or, when this is not possible, to celebrate Mass using unfermented grape
juice and to use water alone for the ritual ablutions after Communion. Also, one
must avoid creating scandal for the faithful.
In the hope of meeting the concern shown by the bishops for those of their priests
suffering from alcoholism and in asking you to inform the Ordinaries of the
permission that is granted to them, I am sincerely yours.
QUERY: In consecrating vessels not made of gold should the formularies of the
Roman Pontifical be used?
REPLY: Yes. Whatever the material of their composition, provided this is solid
and noble in the judgment of the conference of bishops, vessels are to be blessed
or consecrated according to the rites appearing in the liturgical books (see GIRM
no. 296). The formularies to be used remain those from the Roman Pontifical, with
an anointing added in the case of consecration: Not 6 (1970) 263, no. 36.
QUERY: May the priest omit wearing the stole?
REPLY: No. The query arises from an interpretation of the GIRM no. 299. The
contents of that number, "The chasuble is the vestment proper to the priest
celebrant, at Masses and other rites. . . ," must be understood as governed by
nos. 81 and 302. From these it is altogether clear that the stole is a priestly
vestment that never is to be left off at Mass and other rites directly connected
with Mass: Not 6 (1970) 104, no. 30.
QUERY: On Passion Sunday is the color red worn only in the palms procession?
REPLY: No. Red is the color for the Mass and office for the entire liturgical day
on Passion, that is, Palm Sunday, namely, from Evening Prayer I to Evening
Prayer 11. The same applies to Good Friday, on which red is the color for both the
office and the Celebration of the Lord's Passion: Not 5 (1969) 403, no. 12.
QUERY: May Masses for various needs and occasions and votive Masses be
celebrated on weekdays of the Christmas and Easter seasons?
REPLY: The GIRM no. 316(c) speaks only of the weekdays in Ordinary Time
and not of the weekdays of the Christmas and Easter seasons. But a comparison
of the GIRM with the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar
leads to the following interpretation. 1. Masses for various needs and occasions
or votive Masses are forbidden on solemnities, the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and
the Easter season, as well as on Ash Wednesday and the weekdays of Holy
Week, which "have precedence over all other celebrations" (see GNLYC no. 16).
2. On the Sundays other than those just listed, on feasts, on the weekdays of
Advent from 17 to 24 December and of Lent, such Masses may be said "in cases
of serious need, at the direction of the local Ordinary or with his permission"
(GIRM no. 332). 3. On the weekdays of Advent, up to December 16 inclusive,
during the Christmas season from January 2 to the Saturday after Epiphany,
during the Easter season from the Tuesday after the octave of Easter until the
Saturday before Pentecost, and on obligatory memorials, "if some real need or
pastoral advantage requires, at the discretion of the rector of the church or the
priest celebrant, the Masses corresponding to such need or advantage may be
used in a celebration with a congregation" (GIRM no. 333). The need in question
is to be understood in a pastoral sense, for example, if a large number of people
gathers for a particular celebration, as is the case in some places on the first
Friday of the month. Apart from such situations Masses for various needs and
occasions are not allowed. During these seasons the weekday office has a certain
priority in order that the mystery of salvation, rather than other feasts or
commemorations, may be celebrated in the measure due to it (see SC art. 108).
This applies above all to the fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost, days that
are celebrated "as one feast day, or better as 'one great Sunday"' (GNLYC no.
22). 4. During Ordinary Time it is permissible to celebrate any of the Masses for
various needs and occasions whenever the office is of the weekday or an optional
memorial occurs. 5. Masses for the dead are regulated in the same way. a. The
Mass of burial may be celebrated on any day, except the Easter triduum, the
Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, and solemnities. b. The Masses on the
occasions of news of a death, final burial, and the first anniversary may be
celebrated on the days indicated in nos. 3-4 (see GIRM no. 337). c. Daily Masses
for the dead may be celebrated on the weekdays in Ordinary Time and when an
optional memorial occurs, as in no. 4: Not 5 (1969) 323-324, no. 2.
QUERY: On weekdays in Ordinary Time may the Mass of any saint one chooses
REPLY: Yes. The GIRM no. 316c says: "On the weekdays in Ordinary Time, the
priest may choose the weekday Mass, the Mass of an optional memorial, the
Mass of a saint inscribed in the martyrology for that day, a Mass for various
needs and occasions, or a votive Mass." The votive Masses listed are those "of
the mysteries of the Lord or in honor of Mary or of a particular saint or of all the
saints" (GIRM no. 329c). Even though no. 316c gives a certain precedence to
those saints mentioned in the martyrology for the day, no. 329c at the end allows,
as an option in favor of the faithful's devotion, a votive Mass of any saint or all
the saints. Texts for votive Masses to be celebrated in honor of the saints are to
be chosen in keeping with no. 4, p. 514 of the <Missale Romanum> (RM: Proper
of the Saints, Introduction no. 4): Not 10 (1974) 145, no. 2.
322a. QUERY: Are the formularies of the Roman Canon proper to the day still to
be followed on Holy Thursday? REPLY: Yes. They are not in the new Order of
Mass because they are given in their proper place, that is, in the Roman Missal
for the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday: Not 5 (1969) 403-404, no.
QUERY: When may the special formulary for the dead be used in
Eucharistic Prayers II and III?
REPLY: The source of this query is
the phrasing of the rubric for Eucharistic Prayer III: "When this prayer is used in
<Masses for the dead. . .>" (See <Preces eucharisticae et praefationes>, Vatican
Polyglot Press, 1967, p. 35). This rubric has been clarified in the new Order of
Mass (GIRM no. 322b): "When Mass is celebrated <for any dead person. . .>"
Thus the special embolism for the deceased may be used in any Mass that is
celebrated for a dead person or in which a dead person receives special
remembrance. The purpose of the law is to facilitate the carrying out of the
GIRM no. 316 on restraint in using the Masses for the dead. Not 5 (1969) 325,
QUERY: When is a particular preface to be regarded as proper?
REPLY: The problem arises mainly from the possibility of using Eucharistic
Prayer IV, which has a fixed preface and consequently is governed by the rule
that it may not be used when a Mass has its own proper preface (GIRM no.
322d). Further, the preface of the season is said on feasts and also during the
particular seasons, some of which are quite long, and this raises the question of
the meaning of "proper preface." A preface is to be regarded as "proper" in a
strict sense in Masses that are celebrated on the very day of a feast or during its
<octave>. In the Proper of Seasons there is a corresponding preface, but this is
not to be regarded as proper strictly speaking and during the season Eucharistic
Prayer IV and Eucharistic Prayer II with their own prefaces may be used. In
votive Masses there is the option to use either the preface corresponding to the
Mass or the preface of any eucharistic prayer: Not 5 (1969) 323, no. 1.
323. QUERY: In Masses on a memorial may the prayer over the gifts and the
prayer after communion, unless they are proper, also be taken from the votive
Masses or from the votive prayers for various needs and occasions?
REPLY: The GIRM no. 323 says: "In Masses on a memorial, however. . .the
prayer over the gifts and the prayer after communion, unless they are proper,
may be taken <either> from the common or from the weekday of the current
season." For the celebration of a memorial is combined with the celebration of the
current weekday; but Masses of saints cannot be combined with the Masses for
various needs and occasions: Not 7 (1971) 112, no. 1.
QUERY 1: May the votive Masses of Jesus Christ the High Priest, the Sacred
Heart, the Immaculate Heart of Mary be celebrated, respectively, on the first
Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the month even if an obligatory memorial
REPLY: They may be celebrated observing the rule of GIRM no. 333: "If some
real need or pastoral advantage requires, at the discretion of the rector of the
Church or the priest celebrant, the Masses corresponding to such need or
advantage may be used in a celebration with a congregation." The decision about
a real need is based on consideration of the sensibilities and devotion of the
people: Not 5 (1969) 404, no. 17.
QUERY 2: What is meant by the weekdays of Advent, Christmas, and the Easter
season on which "if some real need or pastoral advantage requires, at the
discretion of the rector of the Church or the priest celebrant, the Masses
corresponding to such need or advantage may be used in a celebration with a
congregation" (GIRM no. 333)?
REPLY: These are the weekdays that are listed in the Table of Liturgical Days
no. 13, i.e., "weekdays of Advent up to December 16 inclusive; weekdays of the
Christmas season from January 2 until the Saturday after Epiphany; weekdays of
the Easter season from the Monday after the octave of Easter until the Saturday
before Pentecost inclusive." Since the GIRM no. 333 does not speak of the
weekdays of Lent, neither does it intend to speak of the weekdays of Advent from
December 17 to 24 inclusive nor of the days within the octave of Christmas, which
in the Table of Liturgical Days no. 9 are ranked with the weekdays of Lent: Not
10 (1974) 145, no. 1.
QUERY 1: May a funeral Mass be celebrated during the octaves of Christmas
REPLY: Yes. The rule of the GIRM no. 336 is that of the Masses for the dead
the one for a funeral may be celebrated on any day except holy days of obligation,
the Sundays of Advent and Lent, and Easter Sunday. Therefore, it may be
celebrated during the octaves of Christmas or Easter: Not 6 (1970) 263, no. 37.
QUERY 2: May a funeral Mass be celebrated on Holy Thursday and during the
REPLY: No. The directives in the Roman Missal apply. On Holy Thursday
morning as a rule the chrism Mass is celebrated (MR pp. 239-242). In addition to
the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper "the local Ordinary may permit another
Mass to be celebrated in churches and public or semipublic oratories in the
evening or, in the case of genuine necessity, even in the morning, but exclusively
for those who cannot in any way take part in the evening Mass" (MR p. 243 RM,
Holy Thursday "Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper"]). Other eucharistic
celebrations on Holy Thursday are entirely forbidden. On Good Friday "according
to the Church's ancient tradition, the sacraments are not celebrated" (MR p. 250
RM, Good Friday, "Celebration of the Lord's Passion"]). "On Holy Saturday the
Church waits at the Lord's tomb,. . .and the sacrifice of the Mass is not
celebrated" (MR p. 265 RM, Holy Saturday]). In the case of Easter Sunday, the
GIRM no. 336 already forbids a funeral Mass, since this is a solemnity that is of
obligation: Not 10 (1974) 145-146, no. 3.
QUERY 1: May the Masses for the dead referred to in the GIRM no. 337 be
celebrated even on weekdays of Lent?
REPLY: Yes. The Masses mentioned in no. 337 (on the occasions of news of a
death, final burial, or the first anniversary) may be celebrated <all> weekdays,
with the exception only of Ash Wednesday and the weekdays of Holy Week: Not
6 (1970) 264, no. 38.
QUERY 2: May a Mass for the dead after news of a death or on the day of final
burial or the first anniversary be celebrated even within the octave of Christmas?
REPLY: Yes. According to the GIRM no. 337 these Masses are allowed on
weekdays from December 17 to 24 inclusive and on the weekdays of Lent.
Therefore, they may be celebrated on days within the octave of Christmas, which
the Table of Liturgical Days no. 9 ranks with those weekdays: Not 10 (1974) 146,
no. 4. ------------------------------------------------------------------