Saturday, 10 September 2011

The GIRM for Canada!

Finally, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced and made available, the GIRM for Canada 

Over the next few weeks, I will be providing important sections of the GIRM, the General Instruction on the Roman Missal here and my commentary. I profess no authority other than that of a Catholic layman educated in these matters. These posts will be presented here to assist you in understanding the GIRM in order to better appreciate the beauty of the liturgy and this new Missal for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. These posts are also intended to clarify issues that have been discussed here and which you may need in your parish to educated your friends and unfortunately, your Pastor, as the combox clearly reveals. As I said to Charlie Lewis in the National Post interview, "the better the liturgy, the better the prayer, the better the Catholic."

Given that this blog made such a noise about the kneeling posture, it is fitting that this controversy be discussed first. This writer began a series of posts on the matter of the "kneeling posture" last winter. It was a result of an investigation for the delay of the Recognitio for the Third Edition of the Roman Missal and its corresponding GIRM--General Instruction (on the Roman Missal.). The Bishops' Conferences in the Great Britain and the United States had already announced implementation for the first Sundays in September and Advent, respectively. There web pages and catechetical materials were already well-developed, but in Canada there was nothing; silence, priests knew little if anything and the people knew even less.

My investigation revealed two things; the web page of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops indicated that there would be no new GIRM for Canada until the "French" equivalent was completed (the Missal could not be implemented without the GIRM); and the knowledge from a priest friend that "they want you off your knees!'

My letter of inquiry as to the reason for the delay of the Recognitio from Rome to the General Secretary of the CCCB, Msgr. Patrick Powers was answered with the referral to a six month old blog post which I had already referred to in my letter to him and a perplexity as to what the delay in Rome could be. Further letters which included my suspicion and made it clear that this writer was not going away extracted more information including that a meeting would be held which he and the CCCB President would attend with the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments and that they would express "my concern" over the delay and that there was "nothing out of the ordinary" in the Canadian request. Well then, why the delay?

Around the same time, my suspicions that the kneeling issue was the reason for the hold up was confirmed when I received a copy of the actual page of the "Grey Book" (submission of the CCCB to Rome for Recognitio.)

There was the proof; the norm for kneeling in Canada would be from the end of the Sanctus to the end of the Memorial Acclamation. Bishops could instruct kneeling only at the Consecration (as per the 1975 GIRM) and where the practice of kneeling from the end of the Sanctus to the end of the Doxology and then at the Ecce Agnus Dei, it is "laudable to retain this practice." With this evidence, the CCCB finally admitted that the reason for the delay was indeed the disagreement in kneeling posture which was significantly different from that approved for Britain and America. However, I did not stop there. My research was taken up by a priest who would know whether it was legitimate or not. It was deemed credible and it was presented to a senior official in the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. The assurance was given; it would be further placed in "friendly hands" this would not be approved without further study at CDWDS as they agreed that the Canadian submission would result in less kneeling and stress and controvesy and the message was sent; "Canada needs more kneeling, not less!'

So what now is the kneeling posture for Canada:

43.     The faithful should stand from the beginning of the Entrance chant, or while the Priest approaches the altar, until the end of the Collect; for the Alleluia chant before the Gospel; while the Gospel itself is proclaimed; during the Profession of Faith and the Universal Prayer; and from the invitation, Orate, fratres (Pray, brethren), before the Prayer over the Offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places indicated here below.

          The faithful should sit, on the other hand, during the readings before the Gospel and the Responsorial Psalm and for the Homily and during the Preparation of the Gifts at the Offertory; and, if appropriate, during the period of sacred silence after Communion.

          In the dioceses of Canada, the faithful should kneel at the Consecration, except  when prevented on occasion by ill health, or for reasons of lack of space, of the large number of people present, or for another reasonable cause.53 However, those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the Priest genuflects after the Consecration. Where it is the practice for the people to remain kneeling after the Sanctus (Holy, Holy,Holy) until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer and before Communion when the Priest says Ecce Agnus Dei (This is the Lamb of God), it is laudable for this practice to be retained.  

         For the sake of uniformity in gestures and bodily postures during one and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the instructions which the Deacon, a lay minister, or the Priest gives, according to what is laid down in the Missal.
The rule for Canada now is consistent with the 1975 GIRM, kneeling is at the Consecration. Yet, in many parts of Canada this was never enacted. Tradition and popular piety held sway in many places for decades following the implementation of the Novus Ordo Missae and the laudable "practice' is in place in much of Canada. Where the expert liturgists could, they pushed their agenda and got many in the Maritimes, Quebec and Alberta and Manitoba off of their knees. Some initiated a compromise from end of the Sanctus to the end of the Memorial Acclamation and the Bishops of Canada wanted all three enshrined.

On this, the three variants for Canada, Rome declined and the GIRM is as above with some change in the word order that seems to be firmer. The Canadian submission was "it is laudable to retain this practice" and what was approved was "it is laudable for this practice to be retained."

While one might desire that one uniform posture, and if you read this blog you probably agree with me that it should be the most traditional manner, we now have uniformity and clarity, something lacked for decades. It is possible that in some places with the kneeling currently ending at the Memorial Acclamation they may simply extend the kneeling, but at least in one diocese according to the combox, this will not be the case, it will be only at the Consecration, a step backwards.

Rome clearly did not want to see an innovation or establish a precedent. Nowhere in the world was this Canadian third-way and compromise in place and it would not be now. Given that even in St. Peter's Basilica, kneeling or a profound bow (at the hips) is in place at the Consecration, we in Canada could hardly argue.

Now, I wish to address a note in the combox from a reader in the Diocese of London:
Interestingly, although this instruction mentions it as being laudable for the congregation to remain kneeling from the Sanctus to the end of the Cannon; this has been the practice in the Diocese of London in all of my 40 plus years.Until today.At the Vigil Mass this evening (Sept 10th) in my parish today, the Priest Celebrating the Mass, required the congregation to stand immediately AFTER the Consecration.This was something new and perhaps, the thin end of the wedge ? Has anyone else in this part of SW Ontario experienced anything similar? Are we being set-up here ?
Yes, you are being set-up and it is up to you to do something about it. The difference between you and me and our parents and our grandparents is we know! We know the truth because you've read it above and if you don't believe me you can go to the link and read it yourself because you are a grown-up Catholic now.

The Diocese of London has always followed the "laudable practice" and the Bishop of London has not changed this. There should be uniformity across a diocese, this priest has engaged in a a liturgical abuse and is being creative.

First, the GIRM does not take affect until the First Sunday of Advent, so, the priest was simply wrong to instruct you last night to stand to do this. He is being disobedient to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, on this, there is no doubt. You have the right (under Redemptionis Sacramentum) to raise this error with  him and to his bishop.

Second, the Diocese of London has indeed followed the "laudable practice." This priest, if he has read the GIRM, has not read all of paragraph 43. Let us look again what it says, " is a laudable for this practice to be retained." What does this mean? Laudable comes from Latin and it means, "praiseworthy". Think here of Magna cum laude (With great praise) or Laudate Dominum (Priaise the LORD) or Lauda Sion (Praise O Sion). If to do something, in this case kneeling, is "praiseworthy" what does it mean not to do it? 

Each of us has the right to expect the proper implementation of this long-awaited Missal. We have the right and responsibility to act and to inform. In many places it will be up to you and me; those who Bishop Trautman of Erie called dismissively, "John and Mary Catholic" who would be too simple-mined to understand words such as "ineffable" or "gibbet" in the corrected translation, to ensure that the Missal is properly implemented. It should not be that way, but sadly, the "spirit of Vatican II" still reigns in many dioceses and in many parishes.

What will you do?


Anonymous said...

Interestingly, although this instruction mentions it as being laudable for the congregation to remain kneeling from the Sanctus to the end of the Cannon; this has been the practice in the Diocese of London in all of my 40 plus years.Until today.At the Vigil Mass this evening (Sept 10th)in my parish today, the Priest Celebrating the Mass,required the congregation to stand immediately AFTER the Consecration.This was something new and perhaps, the thin end of the wedge ? Has anyone else in this part of SW Ontario experienced anything similar ?Are we being set-up here ?

Gabby said...

It should be noted that the CCCB is inviting Bishops "as of September 25 to authorize experimentation in their dioceses with the liturgical modifications required by the General Instruction and also with the sung responses for the new English-language translation of the liturgical texts in the Missal."

This is a good thing. We wouldn't want the first time the new Gloria is heard to be Midnight Mass, at least not if we expect the congregation to sing it.

Vox Cantoris said...

Well, why not just do the Gloira at Midnight Mass in Latin, perhaps Missa de Angelis, I mean everyone knows it; right?

Gabby said...

Ooh, my sarcasm meter just went bust!

Young Canadian RC Male said...

Woooo, Go Vox!

Anonymous said...

Our diocese is having a information session the end of the month. I would be intersted to see how this 2011 GIRM compares to the one currently in use. I hope to attend and I would like to be forearmed. There are a number of parishes in the diocese run by "resurrection people" who mandate standing during the whole Eucharist.

Gabby said...

There is no change in posture in this GIRM compared to the last one. The 1975 GIRM mandated kneeling at Consecration, just as this one does, with the same 'unless prohibited by... 'or some other good reason.' I've been in meetings where it was bluntly stated that "Father saying 'Stand' is one of those "good reasons" to not kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer.

There is a slight change to the posture for Communion since this GIRM 160 says "In
the Dioceses of Canada, Holy Communion is to be received standing, though individual
members of the faithful may choose to receive Communion while kneeling. When standing before the minister to receive Holy Communion, the faithful should make a simple bow of the head. When receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, they reverently join their hands; when receiving Holy Communion in the hand, they reverently open their hands placing one beneath the other, and they consume the host immediately upon receiving it."

Gabby said...

I haven't read the whole document but I note that the posture after Communio remains standing, where the US had clarified that while the norm was standing, kneeling and sitting were also OK.

Young Canadian RC Male said...

Same here anonymous at 9:37, but it is in two weeks. This session is for the new GIRM's impact on Lay leadership in positions such as catechists, lectors, extraordinary ministers of communion, children's liturgy. Personally, I think for my lay position, it will mean diddly squat with no changes.

Gabby said...

Vox, don't get too excited about 'laudable to retain this practice'. This is what is advised in a document on the GIRM on the CCCB website:
5. Note the levels of language employed in the law:
• IS (present tense of verbs) - does not admit exceptions
• MUST - strong statement of requirement
• Present tense + ALWAYS ... NEVER ...
• PERMITTED - not the same as required.
• RECOMMENDED ... PREFERRED ... sense of strongly encouraged
• MAY - admits that there is an option indicated
LAUDABLE ... NOBLE ... something good; but not required or necessarily encouraged; these are not a legislative terms
•DESIRABLE ... something to be encouraged; but not absolutely required.