Wednesday 3 November 2010

Implementing all that comes from Rome

Today will see all the priests of the Archdiocese called together to discuss the possibility of re-arranging the order of the sacraments of initiation. I say "discuss" but when the question is asked, "Is this a consultation or has the decision already been made to change the order of the sacraments?" the answer "Yes, it is consultation" is said with hesitation and some qualification. The Council of Priests, we are told, has already decided in the positive. Now we all know that those eager to sit on committees and go to meetings are generally those who like to attend such things and make decisions in the name of everyone. To some extent, the fault lies with the vast majority of those of us who don't attend but who wants to sit through another talking shop?

Anyway, another reason pointed to is that apparently "Rome" has been encouraging this change in the order that the sacraments are given. Of course, "Rome" asks for many things but it seems to me that only a select few get taken up. One directive that has unambiguously come from "Rome" is the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum. This document says of itself that:

" the Supreme Pontiff has mandated that this Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, should prepare this Instruction."
Couldn't be any clearer as coming from "Rome". It is:

"set forth for Bishops, as well as for Priests, Deacons and all the lay Christian faithful".

Couldn't be any clearer that it applies to everyone.

It says that the Instruction has been prepared because:

"In some places the perpetration of liturgical abuses has become almost habitual, a fact which obviously cannot be allowed and must cease. The observance of the norms published by the authority of the Church requires conformity of thought and of word, of external action and of the application of the heart."

So everyone is to get on with doing what it says. Here is some of what it does say but strangely enough I can't recall any great emphasis being put on it in any place in this country that I've heard of. Here are some examples:

It is not to be tolerated that some Priests take upon themselves the right to change the same texts approved by the Church.

The reprobated practice by which Priests, Deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease.

It is also illicit to omit or to substitute the prescribed biblical readings on one’s own initiative, and especially “to substitute other, non-biblical texts for the readings and responsorial Psalm, which contain the word of God”

it is not permitted for a layperson, even a religious, to proclaim the Gospel reading in the celebration of Holy Mass

The homily, “should ordinarily be given by the Priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating Priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a Deacon, but never to a layperson. The prohibition of the admission of laypersons to preach within the Mass applies also to seminarians, students of theological disciplines, and those who have assumed the function of those known as “pastoral assistants”; nor is there to be any exception for any other kind of layperson, or group, or community, or association.

The offerings that Christ’s faithful are accustomed to present for the Liturgy of the Eucharist in Holy Mass are not necessarily limited to bread and wine for the eucharistic celebration, but may also include gifts given by the faithful in the form of money or other things for the sake of charity toward the poor. Money, therefore, just as other contributions for the poor, should be placed in an appropriate place which should be away from the Eucharistic table. Except for money and occasionally a minimal symbolic portion of other gifts, it is preferable that such offerings be made outside the celebration of Mass

The Priest may give the sign of peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb the celebration.

Mass is not to be celebrated without grave necessity on a dinner table nor in a dining room or banquet hall, nor in a room where food is present, nor in a place where the participants during the celebration itself are seated at tables.

anyone who is conscious of grave sin should not celebrate or receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession.

it sometimes happens that Christ’s faithful approach the altar as a group indiscriminately. It pertains to the Pastors prudently and firmly to correct such an abuse.

The First Communion of children must always be preceded by sacramental confession and absolution. Moreover First Communion should always be administered by a Priest

It is the Priest celebrant’s responsibility to minister Communion, perhaps assisted by other Priests or Deacons; and he should not resume the Mass until after the Communion of the faithful is concluded. Only when there is a necessity may extraordinary ministers assist the Priest celebrant in accordance with the norm of law.

“The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”.

each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue

The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful is to be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling

It is not licit for the faithful “to take . . . by themselves . . . and, still less, to hand . . . from one to another” the sacred host or the sacred chalice.

The chalice should not be ministered to lay members of Christ’s faithful where a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons, so that the sign of unity would in some sense be negated.

The communicant must not be permitted to intinct the host himself in the chalice

The celebration of the Eucharist is to be carried out in a sacred place

Priests are always and everywhere permitted to celebrate Mass in Latin.

Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily.

Before the alb is put on, if it does not completely cover the ordinary clothing at the neck, an amice should be put on”

The proper vestment of the Deacon is the dalmatic, to be worn over an alb and stole. In order that the beautiful tradition of the Church may be preserved, it is praiseworthy to refrain from exercising the option of omitting the dalmatic.

Only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy. Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity but rather, by its very nature, is supplementary and provisional. Furthermore, when recourse is had out of necessity to the functions of extraordinary ministers, special urgent prayers of intercession should be multiplied that the Lord may soon send a Priest for the service of the community and raise up an abundance of vocations to sacred Orders.

This function [of lay people assisting at communion] is to be understood strictly according to the name by which it is known, that is to say, that of extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and not “special minister of Holy Communion” nor “extraordinary minister of the Eucharist” nor “special minister of the Eucharist”, by which names the meaning of this function is unnecessarily and improperly broadened.

If there is usually present a sufficient number of sacred ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not be appointed. Indeed, in such circumstances, those who may have already been appointed to this ministry should not exercise it. The practice of those Priests is reprobated who, even though present at the celebration, abstain from distributing Communion and hand this function over to laypersons.

Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking, when the Priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged. This, however, is to be understood in such a way that a brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason.
I went through the Instruction and only included abuses that I know regularly go on. It was published in 2004 but I'm still awaiting to hear of any initiatives to make its contents known in our English dioceses.

I actually have no personal animus against changing the order of the sacraments but, as the comment by Gregory on my previous post points out, the ways suggested of doing this appear to be laden with agendas that I definitely do not share.


Jonathan said...

One way to help implement Redemptionis Sacramentum would be if lay people could be given clear instructions on how to respond when priests aren't following it. I have been to a mass celebrated on a coffee table, where no-one kneeled and then the Eucharist was passed round in a clay bowl. I wasn't expecting it to be like that and didn't know what to do. Refusing to participate seemed wrong. Does anyone have any recommendations on what to do in that situation?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post.

I share Jonathan's concern. In my parish earthenware vessels are now used (only in the last couple of years since a change of pastor), and as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion I have been asked to purify the eucharistic vessels (something our previous priest, in respect of RS forbad). Holy Communion is always distributed under both kinds, despite fewer than half the congregation at some masses receiving the Precious Blood. Also, a communion plate is not used and several times the Sacred Host has fallen to the ground. The Pastor believes the difficulty comes from people receiving on the tongue! I wonder what one can do in such a circumstance?