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The General Instruction of the Roman Missal
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CHOICE OF THE MASS AND ITS PARTS
313. The pastoral effectiveness of a celebration will be heightened
if the texts of readings, prayers, and songs correspond as closely as
possible to the needs, religious dispositions, and aptitude of the
participants. This will be achieved by an intelligent use of the
broad options described in this chapter.
In planning the celebration, then, the priest should consider the
general spiritual good of the assembly rather than his personal
outlook. He should be mindful that the choice of texts is to be made
in consultation with the ministers and others who have a function in
the celebration, including the faithful in regard to the parts that
more directly belong to them.
Since a variety of options is provided for the different parts of the
Mass, it is necessary for the deacon, readers, psalmists, cantors,
commentator, and choir to be completely sure beforehand of those
texts for which they are responsible so that nothing is improvised. A
harmonious planning and execution will help dispose the people
spiritually to take part in the eucharist.
314. On solemnities the priest is bound to follow the calendar of the
church where he is celebrating.
315. On Sundays, on weekdays of Advent, the Christmas season, Lent,
and the Easter season, on feasts, and on obligatory memorials:
a. if Mass is celebrated with a congregation, the priest should
follow the calendar of the church where he is celebrating;
b. if Mass is celebrated without a congregation, the priest may
choose either the calendar of the church or his own calendar.
316. On optional memorials:
a. On the weekdays of Advent from 17 December to 24 December, during
the octave of Christmas, and on the weekdays of Lent, apart from Ash
Wednesday and in Holy Week, the priest celebrates the Mass of the
day; but he may take the opening prayer from a memorial listed in the
General Roman Calendar for that day, except on Ash Wednesday and
during Holy Week.
b. On the weekdays of Advent before 17 December, the weekdays of the
Christmas season from 2 January on, and the weekdays of the Easter
season, the priest may choose the weekday Mass, the Mass of the saint
or of one of the saints whose memorial is observed, or the Mass of a
saint inscribed in the martyrology for that day.
c. 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.
If he celebrates with a congregation, the priest should first
consider the spiritual good of the faithful and avoid imposing his
own personal preferences. In particular, he should not omit the
readings assigned for each day in the weekday lectionary too
frequently or without sufficient reason, since the Church desires
that a richer portion of God's word be provided for the people.
For similar reasons he should use Masses for the dead sparingly.
Every Mass is offered for both the living and the dead and there is a
remembrance of the dead in each eucharistic prayer.
Where the faithful are attached to the optional memorials of Mary or
the saints, at least one Mass of the memorial should be celebrated to
satisfy their devotion.
When an option is given between a memorial in the General Roman
Calendar and one in a diocesan or religious calendar, the preference
should be given, all things being equal and depending on tradition,
to the memorial in the particular calendar.
317. In the choice of texts for the several parts of the Mass, the
following rules are to be observed. They apply to Masses of the
season and of the saints.
318. Sundays and holydays have three readings, that is, from the Old
Testament, from the writings of an apostle, and from a Gospel. Thus
God's own teaching brings the Christian people to a knowledge of the
continuity of the work of salvation.
Accordingly, it is expected that there will be three readings, but
for pastoral reasons and by decree of the conference of bishops the
use of only two readings is allowed in some places. In such a case,
the choice between the first two readings should be based on the
norms in the Lectionary and on the intention to lead the people to a
deeper knowledge of Scripture; there should never be any thought of
choosing a text because it is shorter or easier.
319. In the weekday lectionary, readings are provided for each day of
every week throughout the year; therefore, unless a solemnity or
feast occurs, these readings are for the most part to be used on the
days to which they are assigned.
The continuous reading during the week, however, is sometimes
interrupted by the occurrence of a feast or particular celebration.
In this case the priest, taking into consideration the entire week's
plan of readings, is allowed either to combine omitted parts with
other readings or to give preference to certain readings.
In Masses with special groups, the priest may choose texts more
suited to the particular celebration, provided they are taken from
the texts of an approved lectionary.
320. The Lectionary has a special selection of texts from Scripture
for Masses that incorporate certain sacraments or sacramentals or
that are celebrated by reason of special circumstances.
These selections of readings have been assigned so that by hearing a
more pertinent passage from God's word the faithful may be led to a
better understanding of the mystery they are taking part in and may
be led to a more ardent love for God's word.
Therefore the texts for proclamation in the liturgical assembly are
to be chosen on the basis of their pastoral relevance and the options
allowed in this matter.
321. The many prefaces enriching the Roman Missal are intended to
develop in different ways the theme of thanksgiving in the
eucharistic prayer and bring out more clearly the different facets of
the mystery of salvation.
322. The choice of the eucharistic prayer may be guided by the
a. Eucharistic Prayer I, the Roman Canon, which may be used on any
day, is particularly apt on days when there is a special text for the
prayer, <In union with the whole Church> or in Masses that have a
special form of the prayer, <Father, accept this offering;> also on
the feasts of the apostles and saints mentioned in it and on Sundays,
unless for pastoral considerations another eucharistic prayer is
b. Eucharistic Prayer II has features that make it particularly
suitable for weekdays and special circumstances.
Although it has its own preface, it may also be used with other
prefaces, especially those that summarize the mystery of salvation,
such as the Sunday prefaces or the common prefaces.
When Mass is celebrated for a dead person, the special formulary may
be inserted in the place indicated, namely, before the intercession,
<Remember our brothers and sisters>.
c. Eucharistic Prayer III may be said with any preface. Its use is
particularly suited to Sundays and holydays.
The special formulary for a dead person may be used with this prayer
in the place indicated, namely, at the prayer, <In mercy and love
unite all your children>.
d. Eucharistic Prayer IV has a fixed preface and provides a fuller
summary of the history of salvation. It may be used when a Mass has
no preface of its own.
Because of the structure of this prayer no special formulary for the
dead may be inserted.
e. A eucharistic prayer that has its own preface may be used with
that preface. even when the Mass calls for the preface of the season.
323. In any Mass the prayers belonging to that Mass are used, unless
In Masses on a memorial, however, the opening prayer or collect may
be from the Mass itself or from the common; the prayer over the gifts
and prayer after communion, unless they are proper, may be taken
either from the common or from the weekdays of the current season.
On the weekdays in Ordinary Time, the prayers may be taken from the
preceding Sunday; from another Sunday in Ordinary Time, or from the
prayers for various needs and occasions listed in the Missal. It is
always permissible even to use the opening prayer from these Masses.
This provides a rich collection of texts that create an opportunity
continually to rephrase the themes of prayer for the liturgical
assembly and also to adapt the prayer to the needs of the people, the
Church, and the world. During the more important seasons of the year,
however, the proper seasonal prayers appointed for each day in the
Missal already make this adaptation.
324. The norms laid down in their proper places are to be observed
for the choice of chants between the readings and the songs for the
processions at the entrance, presentation of the gifts, and
325. In addition to the permissions just given to choose more
suitable texts, the conferences of bishops have the right in some
circumstances to make further adaptations of readings, but on
condition that the texts are taken from an approved lectionary.
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