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The General Instruction of the Roman Missal

Appendix to the General Instruction for the Dioceses of the United States

 

The following notes, related to the individual sections of the
<General Instruction of the Roman Missal>, include adaptations made
by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops for the dioceses of
the United States, as well as supplementary references.

For further documentation concerning the Eucharistic celebration, see
Congregation of Rites, <Instruction on Eucharistic Worship> (May 25,
1967), especially "Some General Principles of Particular Importance
in the Catechesis of the People on the Mystery of the Eucharist"
(nos. 5-15) and "The Celebration of the Memorial of the Lord" (nos.
16 48); and Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine
Worship, <On Certain Norms concerning Worship of the Eucharistic
Mystery> (April 17, 1980).

The number at the beginning of each section below refers to the
respective section of the <General Instruction>. Unless otherwise
indicated, decisions of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops
were taken at the plenary session of November, 1969.

11. INTRODUCTIONS AND INVITATIONS

With regard to the adaptation of words of introduction, see the
circular letter of the Congregation for Divine Worship, April 27,
1973. No. 14 reads: Among the possibilities for further accommodating
any individual celebration, it is important to consider the
admonitions, the homily and the general intercessions. First of all
are the admonitions. These enable the people to be drawn into a
fuller understanding of the sacred action, or any of its parts, and
lead them into a true spirit of participation. The <General
Instruction of the Roman Missal> entrusts the more important
admonitions to the priest for preparation and use. He may introduce
the Mass to the people before the celebration begins, during the
liturgy of the word prior to the actual readings, and in the
Eucharistic prayer before the preface; he may also conclude the
entire sacred action before the dismissal. The <Order of Mass>
provides others as well, which are important to certain portions of
the rite, such as during the penitential rite, or before the Lord's
Prayer. By their very nature these brief admonitions do not require
that everyone use them in the form in which they appear in the
<Missal>. Provision can be made in certain cases that they be adapted
to some degree to the varying circumstances of the community. In all
cases it is well to remember the nature of an admonition, and not
make them into a sermon or homily; care should be taken to keep them
brief and not too wordy, for otherwise they become tedious.

19. SINGING

See the statement of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, <The
Place of Music in Eucharistic Celebrations> (Washington, 1968);
revised ed., <Music in Catholic Worship> (Washington, 1972).

The settings for liturgical texts to be sung by the priest and
ministers that are given in the <Sacramentary> are chant adaptations
prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy,
rather than new melodies. Other settings for the ministerial chants
are those approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops
(November, 1965).

No official approbation is needed for new melodies for the Lord's
Prayer at Mass or for the chants, acclamations and other song of the
congregation.

In accord with no. 55 of the instruction of the Congregation of Rites
on music in the liturgy (March 5, 1967), the Conference of Bishops
has determined that vernacular texts set to music composed in earlier
periods may be used in liturgical services even though they may not
conform in all details with the legitimately approved versions of
liturgical texts (November, 1967). This decision authorizes the use
of choral and other music in English when the older text is not
precisely the same as the official version.

21. ACTIONS AND POSTURES

At its meeting in November, 1969, the National Conference of Catholic
Bishops voted that in general, the directives of the <Roman Missal>
concerning the posture of the congregation at Mass should be left
unchanged, but that no. 21 of the <General Instruction> should be
adapted so that the people kneel beginning after the singing or
recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic
prayer, that is, before the Lord's Prayer.

26. ENTRANCE SONG

As a further alternative to the singing of the entrance antiphon and
psalm of the <Roman Gradual> (Missal) or of the <Simple Gradual>, the
Conference of Bishops has approved the use of other collections of
psalms and antiphons in English, as supplements to the <Simple
Gradual>, including psalms arranged in responsorial form, metrical
and similar versions of psalms, provided they are used in accordance
with the principles of the <Simple Gradual> and are selected in
harmony with the liturgical season, feast or occasion (decree
confirmed by the Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution
on the Liturgy, December 17, 1968).

With regard to texts of other sacred songs from the psalter that may
be used as the entrance song, the following criterion was adopted by
the Conference of Bishops in November, 1969:

The entrance rite should create an atmosphere of celebration. It
serves the function of putting the assembly in the proper frame of
mind for listening to the word of God. It helps people to become
conscious of themselves as a worshipping community. The choice of
texts for the entrance song should not conflict with these purposes.

In general, during the most important seasons of the Church year,
Easter time, Lent, Christmas and Advent, it is preferable that most
songs used at the entrance be seasonal in nature.

There are thus four options for the entrance song:

1. the entrance antiphon and psalm of the <Roman Gradual>;

2. the entrance antiphon and psalm of the <Simple Gradual>;

3. song from other collections of psalms and antiphons;

4. other sacred song chosen in accord with the above criterion.

The same options exist for the sacred song at the offertory and
Communion, but not for the chants between the readings (below).

Only if none of the above alternatives is employed and there is no
entrance song, is the antiphon in the Missal recited.

36. CHANTS BETWEEN THE READINGS

As a further alternative to (1) the singing of the psalm with its
response in the <Lectionary,> (2) the gradual in the <Roman Gradual>,
or (3) the responsorial or alleluia psalm in the <Simple Gradual>,
the Conference of Bishops has approved the use of other collections
of psalms and antiphons in English, as supplements to the <Simple
Gradual>, including psalms arranged in responsorial form, metrical
and similar versions of psalms, provided they are used in accordance
with the principles of the <Simple Gradual> and are selected in
harmony with the liturgical season, feast or occasion (decree
confirmed by the Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution
on the Liturgy, December 17, 1968).

The choice of texts that are <not> from the psalter (permitted at the
entrance, offertory and Communion) is not extended to the chants
between the readings.

For further information concerning the use of the chants between the
readings, see the Foreword and the Introduction (VIII) to the
<Lectionary for Mass> (New York, Collegeville, Minn., 1970). In
particular, see the common texts for sung responsorial psalms (nos.
174-175), which may be used in place of the text corresponding to the
reading whenever the psalm is sung.

During Lent the alleluia is not sung with the verse before the
Gospel. Instead one of the following (or similar) acclamations may be
sung before and after the verse before the Gospel:

Praise and honor to you, Lord Jesus Christ,

King of endless glory!

Praise and honor to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

Glory to you, Word of God, Lord Jesus Christ!

If the psalm after the reading is not sung it is recited. The
alleluia or the verse before the Gospel may be omitted if not sung
(see no. 39 of the <General Instruction>). The people stand for the
singing of the alleluia before the Gospel (see no. 21 of the <General
Instruction>).

45. GENERAL INTERCESSIONS

See the statement of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, <General
Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful>, July, 1969.

50. OFFERTORY SONG

The choice of texts for the offertory song is governed by the same
rule as the entrance song, with the several options described above
(no. 26). If there is no offertory song, the offertory antiphon is
omitted.

With regard to texts not from the psalter that may be used as the
offertory song, the following criterion was adopted by the National
Conference of Bishops in November, 1969:

The offertory song need not speak of bread and wine or of offering.
The proper function of the offertory song is rather to accompany and
celebrate the communal aspects of the procession. The text,
therefore, may be an appropriate song of praise or of rejoicing in
keeping with the season. Those texts are not acceptable that speak of
the offering completely apart from the action of Christ.

In general, during the most important seasons of the Church year,
Easter time, Lent, Christmas and Advent, it is preferable that most
songs used during the offertory be seasonal in character. During the
remainder of the Church year, however, topical songs may be used
during the offertory procession provided that these texts do not
conflict with the paschal character of every Sunday (<Constitution on
the Liturgy,> arts. 102,106).

With regard to the offertory song, the statement of the Bishops'
Committee on the Liturgy of 1968 (<The Place of Music in Eucharistic
Celebrations>) gives additional comments:

The procession can be accompanied by song. Song is not always
necessary or desirable. Organ or instrumental music is also fitting
at this time. The song need not speak of bread or wine or offering.
The proper function of this song is to accompany and celebrate the
communal aspects of the procession. The text, therefore, can be any
appropriate song of praise or of rejoicing in keeping with the
season. (See approved criterion above.) The song need not accompany
the entire preparation rite. (The song, if any, continues at least
until the priest has placed the bread and wine on the altar, while
saying the accompanying prayers quietly; see no. 50 of the <General
Instruction>, nos. 19-21 of the <Order of Mass>.)

If there is no singing or organ or instrumental music, this may be a
period of silence (see no. 23 of the <General Instruction>). In fact,
it is good to give the assembly a period of quiet (that is, while the
gifts are prepared and placed on the altar, until the introduction to
the prayer over the gifts: "Pray, brethren. . .") before demanding,
at the preface, their full attention to the Eucharistic prayer.

56b. SIGN OF PEACE

The Conference of Bishops has left the development of specific modes
of exchanging the sign of peace to local usage. Neither a specific
form nor specific words are determined (November, 1969).

56i. COMMUNION SONG

The choice of texts for the Communion song is governed by the same
rule as the entrance song, with the several options described above
(no. 26). With regard to the texts not from the psalter that may be
used as the Communion song, the following criterion was adopted by
the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in November, 1969:

The Communion song should foster a sense of unity. It should be
simple and not demand great effort. It gives expression to the joy of
unity in the body of Christ and the fulfillment of the mystery being
celebrated. Most benediction hymns, by reason of their concentration
on adoration rather than on Communion, are not acceptable, as
indicated in the instruction on music in the liturgy, no. 36.

In general, during the most important seasons of the Church year,
Easter time, Lent, Christmas and Advent, it is preferable that most
songs used at the Communion be seasonal in nature. During the
remainder of the Church year, however, topical songs may be used
during the Communion procession provided these texts do not conflict
with the paschal character of every Sunday (<Constitution on the
Liturgy,> arts. 102,106).

Only if none of the above alternatives is employed and there is no
Communion song, is the antiphon in the <Missal> recited. Until the
publication of the complete new <Missal>, the antiphon from the
present <Missal> is said in such cases (Congregation for Divine
Worship, instruction, October 20,1969, no. 13).

59. CELEBRATION BY THE BISHOP

See Congregation of Rites, instruction on the simplification of
pontifical rites and insignia, June 21, 1968.

For occasions when the bishop is present at a celebration of the
Eucharist but, for a just reason, does not elect to be the principal
celebrant, he may assign another to celebrate the liturgy of the
Eucharist while he presides over

the introductory rites, the liturgy of the word and the concluding
rite of the Mass. For directives on the manner in which this is done,
see <Newsletter> of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, May-June,
1981.

66. WOMEN AS READERS

The Conference of Bishops has given permission for women to serve as
readers in accord with no. 66 of the <General Instruction> (November,
1969).

In February, 1971, the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy prepared a
commentary on the liturgical ministry of women:

a. With the exception of service at the altar itself, women may be
admitted to the exercise of other liturgical ministries. In
particular the designation of women to serve in such ministries as
reader, cantor, leader of singing, commentator, director of
liturgical participation, etc., is left to the judgment of the pastor
or the priest who presides over the celebration, in the light of the
culture and mentality of the congregation.

b. Worthiness of life and character and other qualifications are
required in women who exercise liturgical ministries in the same way
as for men who exercise the same ministries.

c. Women who read one or other biblical reading during the liturgy of
the word (other than the Gospel, which is reserved to a deacon or
priest) should do so from the lectern or ambo where the other
readings are proclaimed: the reservation of a single place for all
the biblical readings is more significant than the person of the
reader, whether ordained or lay, whether woman or man (cf. <General
Instruction>, no 272).

d. Other ministries performed by women, such as leading the singing
or otherwise directing the congregation, should be done either within
or outside the sanctuary area, depending on circumstances or
convenience.

127. OFFICE OF DEACON

The various ministries of the deacon at Mass may be distributed among
several deacons, present and wearing their vestments. (See
Congregation of Rites, instruction, June 21, 1968, nos. 4, 5.) Other
deacons who are present but not called upon to function in the
celebration normally should not vest or occupy a specific place in
the liturgy, unless they are participating as the <order of deacons>,
e.g., at the liturgy of ordination of another deacon. (See Bishops'
Committee on the Liturgy, <Newsletter>, October, 1981.)

153. CONCELEBRATED MASS

See the statement of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy,
"Concelebration," <Newsletter>, June 1966.

240. DISTRIBUTION OF COMMUNION

On June 17, 1977, the Congregation of Sacraments and Divine Worship
approved the request of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops
to permit the optional practice of Communion in the hand. The
Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, in its catechesis about this
optional practice, drew attention to these considerations:

a. Proper catechesis must be provided to assure the proper and
reverent reception of Communion without any suggestion of wavering on
the part of the Church in its faith in the Eucharistic presence.

b. The practice must remain the option of the communicant. The priest
or minister of Communion does not make the decision as to the manner
of reception of Communion. It is the communicant's personal choice.

c. When Communion is distributed under both kinds by intinction, the
host is not placed in the hands of the communicants, nor may the
communicants receive the host and dip it into the chalice. Intinction
should not be introduced as a means of circumventing the practice of
Communion in the hand.

d. Children have the option to receive Communion in the hand or on
the tongue. No limitations because of age have been established.
Careful preparation for first reception of the Eucharist will provide
the necessary instruction. (See also the Roman Ritual, <Holy
Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass>, no. 21.)

242. COMMUNION UNDER BOTH KINDS

See the statement of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy,
"Communion under Both Kinds," <Newsletter>, July 1966.

In accord with the instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship
on Communion under both kinds June 29, 1970), the National Conference
of Catholic Bishops in November, 1970, added the following cases:

15. other members of the faithful present on the special occasions
enumerated in no. 242 of the <General Instruction>;

16. at funeral Masses and at Masses for a special family observance;

17. at Masses on days of special religious or civil significance for
the people of the United States;

18. at Masses on Holy Thursday and at the Mass of the Easter Vigil,
the norms of the instruction of June 29, 1970, being observed;

19. at weekday Masses.

At its meeting in November, 1978, the National Conference of Catholic
Bishops further extended the occasions on which Holy Communion under
both kinds might be given when it approved the motion that Holy
Communion may be given under both kinds to the faithful at Masses on
Sundays and holy days of obligation if, in the judgment of the
ordinary, Communion may be given in an orderly and reverent manner.

263. MATERIALS FOR FIXED ALTARS

Materials other than natural stone may be used for fixed altars
provided these are worthy, solid and properly constructed, subject to
the further judgment of the local ordinary in doubtful cases.

270. ALTAR CROSS

Only a single cross should be carried in a procession in order to
give greater dignity and reverence to the cross. It is desirable to
place the cross that has been carried in the procession near the
altar so that it may serve as the cross of the altar. Otherwise it
should be put away during the service. (See Congregation of Rites,
Instruction, June 21, 1968, no. 20.)

275. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

The Conference of Bishops has decreed that musical instruments other
than the organ may be used in liturgical services provided they are
played in a manner that is suitable to public worship (November,
1967; see <Constitution on the Liturgy,> art. 120). This decision
deliberately refrains from singling out specific instruments. Their
use depends on circumstances, the nature of the congregation, etc. In
particular cases, if there should be doubt as to the suitability of
the instruments, it is the responsibility of the diocesan bishop, in
consultation with the diocesan liturgical and music commissions, to
render a decision.

288. MATERIALS FOR SACRED FURNISHINGS

Materials other than the traditional ones may be used for sacred
furnishings provided they are suitable for liturgical use, subject to
the further judgment of the local ordinary in doubtful cases.

305. MATERIALS FOR VESTMENTS

Fabrics, both natural and artificial, other than the traditional ones
may be used for sacred vesture provided they are suitable for
liturgical use, subject to the further judgment of the local ordinary
in doubtful cases.

308. COLOR OF VESTMENTS

White, violet or black vestments may be worn at funeral services and
at other offices and Masses for the dead (November, 1970).

318. READINGS ON SUNDAYS AND FEASTS

According to the decision of the National Conference of Catholic
Bishops, the complete pattern of three readings for Sundays and feast
days should be completely implemented.

331. DAYS OF PRAYER

The Conference of Bishops has decreed that there be observed in the
dioceses of the United States, at times to be designated by the local
ordinary in consultation with the diocesan liturgical commission,
days or periods of prayer for the fruits of the earth, prayer for
human rights and equality, prayer for world justice and peace, and
penitential observance outside Lent (November, 1971). This is in
addition to observances customary on certain civic occasions such as
Independence Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day, for which either
proper text or texts of the <Sacramentary> and <Lectionary for Mass>
are provided.

The Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy presented the above decision in
these terms: The expression of such days or periods of prayer should
be left as general as possible, so that the time, length, occasion,
and more specific intentions of prayer should be determined locally
rather than nationally. In this way no arbitrary rule is imposed
until it becomes evident that a pattern of such supplications is
emerging from practice. See also General Norms for the Liturgical
Year and the Calendar, nos. 45-47.

340. FUNERAL MASS

Although the rite of final commendation at the catafalque or pall is
excluded, it is permitted to celebrate the funeral service, including
the commendations, in those cases where it is physically or morally
impossible for the body of the deceased person to be present
(November, 1970).

For other adaptations in the funeral Mass and service, see the <Rite
of Funerals> (1971); <Newsletter> of the Bishops' Committee on the
Liturgy, April-May, 1971. The following refer directly to the
Eucharistic celebration:

It is appropriate that the paschal candle be carried in the entrance
procession.

If the introductory rites have taken place at the church door, the
priest venerates the altar and goes to his chair. The penitential
rite is omitted, and the priest says or sings the opening prayer.

It is desirable that the first and second readings be read by
relatives or friends of the deceased person.

The homily may properly include an expression of praise and gratitude
to God for his gifts, particularly the gift of a Christian life, to
the deceased person. The homily should relate Christian death to the
paschal mystery of the Lord's victorious death and resurrection and
to the hope of eternal life.

It is desirable that members of the family or friends of the deceased
person participate in the usual offering of the bread and wine for
the celebration of the Eucharist, together with other gifts for the
needs of the Church and of the poor.

If incense is used, the priest, after incensing the gifts and the
altar, may incense the body. The deacon or another minister then
incenses the priest and people.

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