Christ's Faithful People
|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.
|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.|
|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.
|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.|
|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.
|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).
|See the statement of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, General Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful, July, 1969.|
|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.
|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).|
|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
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).
|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.
|The Conference of Bishops has given permission for
women to serve as readers in accord with no. 66 of the General Instruction
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.
|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.)|
|See the statement of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, "Concelebration," Newsletter, June 1966.|
|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
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.)
|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.
|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.|
|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.)|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|White, violet or black vestments may be worn at funeral services and at other offices and Masses for the dead (November, 1970).|
|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.|
|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.
|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.