Monday, 5 December 2011

Archbishop Prendergast read the GIRM!

Archbishiop Terence Prendergast, S.J. of Ottawa may need read this blog (or perhaps he might) but he sure read the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) and understands fully the mind of the Church on these matters. Thanks to SoCon for the information.

May the Archbishop be richly blest for his clarity, his teaching and his leadership and loyalty and may other bishops in Canada follow his example: (bolding is my emphasis).

Letter to the Archdiocese of Ottawa
on the Implementation of the Third Edition
of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

The First Sunday of Advent sees the introduction of a new translation of the Roman Missal for the English-speaking members of the Archdiocese. I am confident that the priests of the Archdiocese have been preparing the faithful on the new prayers and responses contained in the new translation. November 27 is also the date on which a new version of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal comes into effect.
After discussing with priests how to carry out these changes in our liturgical life, I have determined that, in the Archdiocese of Ottawa, we will do this in stages, gradually putting into effect practices that the Universal Church is inviting us to adopt so as to enrich the sacred liturgy as an offering pleasing to God.
I will be writing you several times in the new liturgical year, proposing an ordered implementation of new directives, some of which will come into effect in Advent, others in Lent, still others during Eastertide and at Pentecost.
In the meantime, I encourage priests, religious and the faithful to read and reflect upon the Third Edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). The General Instruction of the Roman Missal may be found in the new Roman Missal, is available as an offprint from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and may be downloaded from the website of its Liturgy Office [cf.]. Liturgy committees will profit from studying it carefully in order to understand the new norms in context.
On this occasion, I wish to draw your attention to several matters: the General Instruction’s invitation to unity in the congregation assembled for the Eucharist—including in posture; the call in the General Instruction for reflective silence at Mass; the Creed to be recited on Sundays and major feasts; and a change with regard to the lectionary in the entrance procession.
The General Instruction offers a wonderful expression of the ideal of unity in the People of God gathered for Eucharistic worship in paragraphs 95-96, which read as follows:

In the celebration of Mass the faithful form a holy people, a people of God’s own possession and a royal priesthood, so that they may give thanks to God and offer the unblemished sacrificial Victim not only by means of the hands of the Priest but also together with him and so that they may learn to offer their very selves. They should, moreover, take care to show this by their deep religious sense and their charity toward brothers and sisters who participate with them in the same celebration. They are consequently to avoid any appearance of singularity or division, keeping in mind that they have only one Father in heaven and that hence are all brothers or sisters one to the other.

Moreover, they are to form one body, whether in hearing the Word of God, or in taking part in the prayers and in the singing, or above all by the common offering of the Sacrifice and by participating together at the Lord’s table. This unity is beautifully apparent from the gestures and bodily postures observed together by the faithful.

The ideal, then, is realized in part when the faithful manifest their unity by common postures. The postures to be observed at various parts of the Mass are spelled out in #43; we are familiar with most of these, including the call to kneel for the consecration (which in the Archdiocese of Ottawa means from the end of the Holy, holy, holy until the acclamation of faith following the Consecration).
What is new is that, except for kneeling at the Consecration, the General Instruction says that the faithful should stand ―from the invitation, Orate, fratres (Pray, brethren) until the end of Mass‖. How this is to function in practice will have to be worked out in particular circumstances, as #43 also says that the faithful may sit ―if appropriate, during the period of sacred silence after Communion‖. Some liturgical experts have suggested that the congregation remain standing until the last person has received Holy Communion at which point people kneel or sit in reverent prayer. When queried whether people may kneel or sit on returning to their place after receiving Holy Communion as, generally speaking, we have been accustomed to doing, the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship said that the expression of unity should not be so emphasized that people are not free to kneel or sit in prayer after Communion.
The note about silent prayer following Communion is part of a wider call for reflective silence at key points in the Mass: in recollection before the Penitential Act; after the celebrant says, ―Let us pray‖; following the readings and the homily. The General Instruction calls us to reflection and an unhurried pace in order to foster true liturgical devotion (cf. #45 and 56).
The new Roman Missal indicates that the Apostles’ Creed, following a long-standing tradition, is appropriate to Lent and Easter. Accordingly, I ask that the Nicene Creed be proclaimed on the other Sundays and holy days of the year when the profession of faith is to be said.
This year our Pastoral Theme—―The Word of God grew and multiplied‖ Acts 12.24—strives to have us focus on the power of God’s Word in our lives. I will speak about this in my next reflection on liturgy in January 2012. The liturgy gives priority to the Gospel and so the description of the entrance procession stresses the Book of the Gospels over the lectionary (cf. GIRM #120 d). Accordingly, the lectionary may no longer be brought in procession but should be placed on the ambo. If a Book of the Gospels is available (the English Sector of the Canadian Church hopes this will be available in a couple of years), it is carried in procession and placed on the altar until it is brought to the ambo.
Changes in the liturgy, dear brothers and sisters, are demanding as they interrupt habitual practices which have become second nature to us. So, I counsel patience at this time and openness to what the Lord is asking of us for our greater spiritual good in this transition.
When he published Third Edition of the Roman Missal, Blessed Pope John Paul II wished this new book of liturgical prayer to open us to new prayer formulas and to liturgical celebration of newly-canonized saints. He saw it as the ongoing manifestation of the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy desired by the Second Vatican Council.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will move us to grow more fully into our dignity as the holy people of God by our embracing these new prayers and modified liturgical practices.

       Devotedly yours in Christ,

         Terrence Prendergast, S.J
 Archbishop of Ottawa

On the Solemnity of Christ the King
November 20, 2011


maria klara said...

This "unity of posture" thing really has become the latest fad in clergy think. I don't buy it. Unity is greater than dressing the same, talking the same, looking the same, mimicking each other and so on.

In my little mind and heart, unity doesn't require coercion of the body. Unity is in our spirits. Unity is in our hearts. Don't the clergy trust us?

Whoever dreamed up this posture stuff may sincerely believe it. Fine. If people want to do it, fine. Wonderful in fact. Good for them. But---

I just want to gratefully go kneel down after receiving communion because I love God and am so overwhelmed and grateful to receive him... If this is an offence to the Catholic Church, then the Catholic Church is an offence to me.

Sorry if I completely misread this posting and jumped to a paranoid panicky reaction. But I sense "control" and that makes me
very nervous.

Anonymous said...

Besides we already had a unity of posture. Everybody knelt in thanksgiving together after they had received communion.
It's true that some people have already received and some have not and that the difference in posture emphasizes that reality. But that difference sill exists even with the new posture. Waiting for everybody to receive before we all sit or kneel togehter doesn't change that reality. As it is now, some people are waiting to get in line, some people are in line and some people are no longer in line. The fact that they are all standing doesn't change anything and does not effect any new unity between those who have received and those who haven't. The practice of kneeling immediately after receiving communion makes more sense if ask me. If anything, it gives the communion procession more meaning because it symbolizes the idea that people in the communion procession are processing towards a deeper communion with God and with one another - a communion that they enter into upon receiving communion. The people after communion are in a greater state of communion with God and with one another than they are with the people who have not yet received. This makes more sense than the present practice which implies that people are in communion as much before receiving communion as they are after. If that's the case, what's the point of communion?
It also puts the cart before the horse. It suggests that our communion with God derives from our communion with one another. In fact the opposite is true. If we are in communion with one another, it is because we have first been brought into communion with God in, with and though Jesus Christ. And only because we are each in communion with God, are we in communion with each other. It is Christ who reconciles us with God and with one another.
It is largely because we put the cart before the horse in this regard that there is so little unity in contemporary Catholicism.

maria klara said...


I wish you were a Canadian bishop (if you aren't you should be!).

Your eloquent words have greatly settled my mind. I go up and down over all this stuff. I do not know if there is any "division" in the Catholic Church so much as a lot of intolerance and quibbling over things that aren't really that important.

What is important is God. Catholicism shares God with many faiths. I think God loves everyone, regardless of faith, regardless of standing or bowing or kneeling... I think a Universal Church has room for a lot of diversity, and that "diversity" in no way is synonomous with "division".

If we (me included) stopped thinking "our way" is the "best way" and/or "the only way" a lot of "divisions" would disappear. We create "divisions" with intolerant thinking.

I have heard a Bishop explain the standing during communion theory, and the sincerity and joy in his presentation was very touching. I don't share his view, but perhaps only because I am not strong enough yet to embrace it.

I don't understand why the Mass needs to be run like a military parade.

Forgive me, love me, accept me, dear Church. I love you.

From George said...

Does all this standing business come from Pope John Paul II's proclamation of the 2002 third Roman Missal and the GIRM to go with it? That was the impression I got from the Archbishop of Ottawa's letter. Who are these liturgical experts that are playing change for change sake?

From George said...

Perhaps to answer my own 2003 Cardinal Arinze was making a point that this standing after communion didn't come from Rome and he should know.

Anonymous said...

It comes from those who value community over sacredness and reverence.

And the tricky way they are pretending its and order from the CCCB and we all must conform is evil.

The next schism will come from those who think that community trumps the sacred in all things liturgical, pastoral and theological.

I have never stopped kneeling am creating wallet-sized cards with the GIRM instruction for those who are bamboozled into standing.

My own parents know not one word of theology or liturgy but sensed on their own that kneeling is the most respectful posture and refused to go along with the sheeple in their parish and their liberal priest.