Mar 15, 2003

Adaptions and Excerpts from Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani

Online Edition

– Vol. IX, No. 1: March 2003

Highlights of

Adaptions and Excerpts from

Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani

Adaptations that are Within the Competence of Bishops and Conferences of Bishops:Excerpt from Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani [IGMR] – Chapter 9 : 387, 397

IGMR 42 – External actions to convey "the true and full meaning" of the Mass, "common spiritual good"

IGMR 43 – The Posture of the People at Mass

IGMR 160 – Communion posture, gesture of reverence

IGMR 274, 275 – Meaning of gestures: Genuflection signifies adoration of Blessed Sacrament; Bow means reverence & honor


Note: The English translation of the IGMR that appears here is a provisional version, and should not be regarded as definitive.


Adaptations that are Within the Competence of Bishops and Conferences of Bishops

Excerpt from Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani [IGMR] Chapter 9 – 387, 397 [Page 3 of the March 2003 AB]

387 The diocesan Bishop, who is to be regarded as the high priest of his flock, and from whom in some sense the life in Christ of its faithful is derived and is dependent, must foster, govern and watch over the liturgical life in his diocese. To him are assigned in this Institutio the governance of the discipline of concelebration (see n. 202), the establishment of norms about service to the priest at the altar (see n. 107), about the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds (see n. 283), and about the construction and ordering of church buildings (see nos. 291­294). However, his primary task is to nourish the priests, the deacons and the faithful with the spirit of the sacred Liturgy.

397 Furthermore, the principle shall be respected that each particular Church must be in accord with the Church universal not only as to the doctrine of the faith and the sacramental signs, but even as to the usages universally admitted by apostolic and unbroken tradition, which are to be maintained not only so that errors may be avoided, but even with the purpose of handing on the faith in its integrity, since the Church’s rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of belief (lex credendi).

The Roman Rite constitutes a notable and estimable part of the liturgical treasure and patrimony of the Catholic Church, and its riches are of benefit to the universal Church, so that were these riches lost, this would be gravely damaging to her.

The Roman Rite has in the course of the centuries not only conserved the liturgical usages that had their origin in the city of Rome, but has also in a deep, organic and harmonious way incorporated into itself certain others, which were derived from the customs and genius of different peoples and of various particular Churches of both West and East, thus acquiring a certain "supra-regional" character. In our own times the identity and unitary expression of this Rite is found in the typical editions of the liturgical books promulgated by authority of the Supreme Pontiff, and in the liturgical books which correspond to them that have been approved by the Conferences of Bishops for their territories and accorded the recognitio of the Apostolic See.

399 Thus the Roman Missal, although in a diversity of languages and in a certain variety of customs, must in the future be maintained as a means to the integrity and unity of the Roman Rite, and as its outstanding sign.



External actions to convey "the true and full meaning" of the Mass, "common spiritual good" [Page 4 of the March 2003 AB]

42 The external actions, movements, and posture of the priest, the deacon and the ministers, as well as of the people ought to draw things together in such a way that the entire celebration shines with beauty and noble simplicity, that the true and full meaning of the different parts of the celebration is perceived, and that the participation of all is encouraged. Therefore, attention must be paid to what is determined by this Institutio Generalis and by the traditional practice of the Roman Rite, and to what pertains to the common spiritual good of the people of God, rather than to personal inclination or arbitrary choice.



The Posture of The People at Mass [Page 4 of the March 2003 AB]

43 The faithful should stand from the beginning of the opening song or when the priest enters until the end of the opening prayer or collect; for the singing of the Alleluia before the gospel reading; while the Gospel itself is proclaimed; during the profession of faith and the general intercessions; from the invitatory, "Pray that our sacrifice…", before the prayer over the gifts to the end of the Mass, except at the places indicated later in this paragraph.

They should sit during the readings before the Gospel reading and during the responsorial psalm, for the homily and the preparation of the gifts, and, if this seems helpful, they may kneel or sit during the period of religious silence after Communion.

In the dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.

[Note: Bold type indicates US adaptations. A sentence in the un-adapted IGMR reads: "Where it is the custom that the people remain kneeling from the end of the Sanctus until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, and before Communion when the priest says Ecce Agnus Dei, this is laudably retained".]

For the sake of observing a uniformity in gestures and posture during the same celebration, the faithful should obey the directions which the deacon or lay minister or the priest give during the celebration, according to whatever is indicated in the Missal.


IGMR 160

Posture and gesture at Communion

The faithful may communicate either standing or kneeling, as established by the Conference of Bishops. However, when they communicate standing, it is recommended that they make an appropriate gesture of reverence, to be laid down in the same norms, before receiving the Sacrament.

As adapted for the United States, IGMR 160 now reads:

The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.

When receiving Holy Communion standing, the communicant bows his or her head before the sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand at the discretion of each communicant. When Holy Communion is received under both kinds, the sign of reverence is also made before receiving the Precious Blood.

NOTE: Before giving the required "recognitio" to this adaptation of the US bishops’ conference, the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments required that "communicants who choose to kneel are not be denied Communion on these grounds". The same letter stated, "the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favor a centuries-old tradition, and it is a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species". (see CDW letter dated July 2002, in AB Dec 02-Jan 03 – p 15)


IGMR 274, 275:

Genuflection signifies adoration of Blessed Sacrament; Bow means reverence & honor [Page 5 of the March 2003 AB]

The Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (IGMR), the rules for celebration of Mass in the Roman Rite, explains the meaning of traditional Catholic gestures, genuflections and bows, indicating when these expressive gestures are to be assumed at Mass.


274 A genuflection, which is made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and for this reason is reserved to the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Holy Cross, from the solemn adoration in the liturgy of Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.

Three genuflections are made during Mass by the priest celebrant: after the showing of the Eucharistic bread, after the showing of the chalice, and before Communion. Special features to be observed in a concelebrated Mass are noted in their proper place (see nos. 210-252).

If there is a tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament in the sanctuary, the priest, deacon and other ministers genuflect to it when they approach or leave the altar, but not during the celebration of Mass itself. Otherwise, all who cross before the most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are involved in a procession.

Ministers who are carrying the processional cross or the candles bow their heads in place of a genuflection.

275 A bow is a sign of the reverence and honor given to persons or what represents those persons.

a) An inclination of the head should be made when the three Divine Persons are named, at the name of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is celebrated.

b) A bow of the body, or profound bow, is made: toward the altar if there is no tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament; during the prayers "Almighty God, cleanse" and "with humble and contrite hearts"; with the Profession of Faith at the words "was incarnate of the Holy Spirit … made man"; in Eucharistic Prayer I (Roman Canon) at the words "Almighty God, command that your angel". The same kind of bow is made by the deacon when he asks the blessing before proclaiming the Gospel reading. In addition, the priest bends over slightly as he says the words of the Lord at the Consecration.



The Editors