Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy
General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Third Typical Edition) © 2002, links to USCCB
General Instruction Of The Roman Missal
Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship
Issued March 27, 1975
[Although translated for use in the English speaking countries these norms are the universal law of the Church for the Latin Rite (ICEL translation). If in specific rubrics they are modified for a particular country, with the approval of the Holy See, such emendations will be included in a Appendix to the General Instruction and found together with it in the Sacramentary (altar missal) published for the nation in question.]
[This 2nd edition of the "General Instruction of the Roman Missal" (GIRM) was issued by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship on March 27, 1975. ]
Chapter I: Importance And Dignity Of The Eucharistic Celebration
Chapter II: Structure, Elements, And Parts Of The Mass
Chapter III: Offices And Ministries In The Mass
Chapter IV: The Different Forms Of Celebration
Chapter V: Arrangement And Furnishing Of Churches For The Eucharistic Celebration
Chapter VI: Requisites For Celebrating Mass
Chapter VII: Choice Of The Mass And Its Parts
Chapter VIII Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions And Masses For The Dead
1. When Christ the Lord was about to celebrate the Passover meal with his disciples and institute the sacrifice of his body and blood, he directed them to prepare a large room, arranged for the supper (Lk 22:12).
The Church has always regarded this command of Christ as applying to itself when it gives directions about the preparation of the sentiments of the worshipers, the place, rites, and texts for the celebration of the eucharist. The current norms, laid down on the basis of the intent of Vatican Council II, and the new Missal that will be used henceforth in the celebration of Mass by the Church of the Roman Rite, are fresh evidence of the great care, faith, and unchanged love that the Church shows toward the eucharist. They attest as well to its coherent tradition, continuing amid the introduction of some new elements.
A Witness To Unchanged Faith
2. The sacrificial nature of the Mass was solemnly proclaimed by the Council of Trent in agreement with the whole tradition of the Church. Vatican Council II reaffirmed this teaching in these significant words: "At the Last Supper our Savior instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of his body and blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until he should come again and in this way to entrust to his beloved Bride, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection."
The Council’s teaching is expressed constantly in the formularies of the Mass. This teaching, in the concise words of the Leonine Sacramentary, is that "the work of our redemption is carried out whenever we celebrate the memory of this sacrifice"; it is aptly and accurately brought out in the eucharistic prayers. At the anamnesis or memorial, the priest, addressing God in the name of all the people, offers in thanksgiving the holy and living sacrifice: the Church’s offering and the Victim whose death has reconciled us with God. The priest also prays that the body and blood of Christ may be a sacrifice acceptable to the Father, bringing salvation to the whole world.
In this new Missal, then, the Church’s rule of prayer ("lex orandi") corresponds to its constant rule of faith ("lex credendi"). This rule of faith instructs us that the sacrifice of the cross and its sacramental renewal in the Mass, which Christ instituted at the Last Supper and commanded his apostles to do in his memory, are one and the same, differing only in the manner of offering and that consequently the Mass is at once a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, of reconciliation and expiation.
3. The celebration of Mass also proclaims the sublime mystery of the Lord’s real presence under the eucharistic elements, which Vatican Council II and other documents of the Church’s Magisterium have reaffirmed in the same sense and as the same teaching that the Council of Trent had proposed as a matter of faith. The Mass does this not only by means of the very words of consecration, by which Christ becomes present through transubstantiation, but also by that spirit and expression of reverence and adoration in which the eucharistic liturgy is carried out. For the same reason the Christian people are invited in Holy Week on Holy Thursday and on the solemnity of Corpus Christi to honor this wonderful sacrament in a special way by their adoration.
4. Further, because of the priest’s more prominent place and office in the rite, its form sheds light on the ministerial priesthood proper to the presbyter, who offers the sacrifice in the person of Christ and presides over the assembly of a holy people. The meaning of his office is declared and detailed in the preface for the chrism Mass on Thursday of Holy Week, the day celebrating the institution of the priesthood. The preface brings out the passing on of the sacerdotal power through the laying on of hands and, by listing its various offices, describes that power. It is the continuation of the power of Christ, High Priest of the New Testament.
5. In addition, the ministerial priesthood puts into its proper light another reality of which much should be made, namely, the royal priesthood of believers. Through the ministry of presbyters the people’s spiritual sacrifice to God is brought to completeness in union with the sacrifice of Christ, our one and only Mediator. For the celebration of the eucharist is the action of the whole Church; in it all should do only, but all of, those parts that belong to them in virtue of their place within the people of God. In this way greater attention will be given to some aspects of the eucharistic celebration that have sometimes been neglected in the course of time. For these people are the people of God, purchased by Christ’s blood, gathered together by the Lord, nourished by his word.
They are a people called to offer God the prayers of the entire human family, a people giving thanks in Christ for the mystery of salvation by offering his sacrifice. Finally, they are a people growing together into unity by sharing in Christ’s body and blood.
These people are holy by their origin, but becoming ever more holy by conscious, active, and fruitful participation in the mystery of the eucharist.
A Witness To Unbroken Tradition
6. In setting forth its decrees for the revision of the Order of Mass, Vatican Council II directed, among other things, that some rites be restored "to the vigor they had in the tradition of the Fathers"; this is a quotation from the Apostolic Constitution "Quo primum" of 1570, by which St. Pius V promulgated the Tridentine Missal. The fact that the same words are used in reference to both Roman Missals indicates how both of them, although separated by four centuries, embrace one and the same tradition. And when the more profound elements of this tradition are considered, it becomes clear how remarkably and harmoniously this new Roman Missal improves on the older one.
7. The older Missal belongs to the difficult period of attacks against Catholic teaching on the sacrificial nature of the Mass, the ministerial priesthood, and the real and permanent presence of Christ under the eucharistic elements. St. Pius V was therefore especially concerned with preserving the relatively recent developments in the Church’s tradition, then unjustly being assailed, and introduced only very slight changes into the sacred rites. In fact, the Roman Missal of 1570 differs very little from the first printed edition of 1474, which in turn faithfully follows the Missal used at the time of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216). Manuscripts in the Vatican Library provided some verbal emendations, but they seldom allowed research into "ancient and approved authors" to extend beyond the examination of a few liturgical commentaries of the Middle Ages.
8. Today, on the other hand, countless studies of scholars have enriched the "tradition of the Fathers" that the revisers of the Missal under St. Pius V followed. After the Gregorian Sacramentary was first published in 1571, many critical editions of other ancient Roman and Ambrosian sacramentaries appeared. Ancient Spanish and Gallican liturgical books also became available, bringing to light many prayers of profound spirituality that had hitherto been unknown.
Traditions dating back to the first centuries before the formation of the Eastern and Western rites are also better known today because so many liturgical documents have been discovered.
The continuing progress in patristic studies has also illumined eucharistic theology through the teachings of such illustrious saints of Christian antiquity as Irenaeus, Ambrose, Cyril of Jerusalem, and John Chrysostom.
9. The "tradition of the Fathers" does not require merely the preservation of what our immediate predecessors have passed on to us. There must also be profound study and understanding of the Church’s entire past and of all the ways in which its single faith has been expressed in the quite diverse human and social forms prevailing in Semitic, Greek, and Latin cultures. This broader view shows us how the Holy Spirit endows the people of God with a marvelous fidelity in preserving the deposit of faith unchanged, even though prayers and rites differ so greatly.
Adaptation To Modern Conditions
10. As it bears witness to the Roman Church’s rule of prayer ("lex orandi") and guards the deposit of faith handed down by the later councils, the new Roman Missal in turn marks a major step forward in liturgical tradition.
The Fathers of Vatican Council II in reaffirming the dogmatic statements of the Council of Trent were speaking at a far different time in the world’s history. They were able therefore to bring forward proposals and measures of a pastoral nature that could not have even been foreseen four centuries ago.
11. The Council of Trent recognized the great catechetical value of the celebration of Mass, but was unable to bring out all its consequences for the actual life of the Church.
Many were pressing for permission to use the vernacular in celebrating the eucharistic sacrifice, but the Council, judging the conditions of that age, felt bound to answer such a request with a reaffirmation of the Church’s traditional teaching. This teaching is that the eucharistic sacrifice is, first and foremost, the action of Christ himself and therefore the manner in which the faithful take part in the Mass does not affect the efficacy belonging to it. The Council thus stated in firm but measured words: "Although the Mass contains much instruction for the faithful, it did not seem expedient to the Fathers that as a general rule it be celebrated in the vernacular." The Council accordingly anathematized anyone maintaining that "the rite of the Roman Church, in which part of the canon and the words of consecration are spoken in a low voice, should be condemned or that the Mass must be celebrated only in the vernacular." Although the Council of Trent on the one hand prohibited the use of the vernacular in the Mass, nevertheless, on the other, it did direct pastors to substitute appropriate catechesis: "Lest Christ’s flock go hungry. . .the Council commands pastors and others having the care of souls that either personally or through others they frequently give instructions during Mass, especially on Sundays and holydays, on what is read at Mass and that among their instructions they include some explanation of the mystery of this sacrifice."
12. Convened in order to adapt the Church to the contemporary requirements of its apostolic task, Vatican Council II examined thoroughly, as had Trent, the pedagogic and pastoral character of the liturgy. Since no Catholic would now deny the lawfulness and efficacy of a sacred rite celebrated in Latin, the Council was able to acknowledge that "the use of the mother tongue frequently may be of great advantage to the people" and gave permission for its use. The enthusiasm in response to this decision was so great that, under the leadership of the bishops and the Apostolic See, it has resulted in the permission for all liturgical celebrations in which the faithful participate to be in the vernacular for the sake of a better comprehension of the mystery being celebrated.
13. The use of the vernacular in the liturgy may certainly be considered an important means for presenting more clearly the catechesis on the mystery that is part of the celebration itself. Nevertheless, Vatican Council II also ordered the observance of certain directives, prescribed by the Council of Trent but not obeyed everywhere.
Among these are the obligatory homily on Sundays and holydays and the permission to interpose some commentary during the sacred rites themselves.
Above all, Vatican Council II strongly endorsed "that more complete form of participation in the Mass by which the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the same sacrifice." Thus the Council gave impetus to the fulfillment of the further desire of the Fathers of Trent that for fuller participation in the holy eucharist "the faithful present at each Mass should communicate not only by spiritual desire but also by sacramental communion."
14. Moved by the same spirit and pastoral concern, Vatican Council II was able to reevaluate the Tridentine norm on communion under both kinds. No one today challenges the doctrinal principles on the completeness of eucharistic communion under the form of bread alone. The Council thus gave permission for the reception of communion under both kinds on some occasions, because this more explicit form of the sacramental sign offers a special means of deepening the understanding of the mystery in which the faithful are taking part.
15. Thus the Church remains faithful in its responsibility as teacher of truth to guard "things old," that is, the deposit of tradition; at the same time it fulfills another duty, that of examining and prudently bringing forth "things new" (see Mt. 13:52).
Accordingly, a part of the new Roman Missal directs the prayer of the Church expressly to the needs of our times. This is above all true of the ritual Masses and the Masses for various needs and occasions, which happily combine the traditional and the contemporary. Thus many expressions, drawn from the Church’s most ancient tradition and become familiar through the many editions of the Roman Missal, have remained unchanged. Other expressions, however, have been adapted to today’s needs and circumstances and still others-for example, the prayers for the Church, the laity, the sanctification of human work, the community of all peoples, certain needs proper to our era-are completely new compositions, drawing on the thoughts and even the very language of the recent conciliar documents.
The same awareness of the present state of the world also influenced the use of texts from very ancient tradition. It seemed that this cherished treasure would not be harmed if some phrases were changed so that the style of language would be more in accord with the language of modern theology and would faithfully reflect the actual state of the Church’s discipline. Thus there have been changes of some expressions bearing on the evaluation and use of the good things of the earth and of allusions to a particular form of outward penance belonging to another age in the history of the Church.
In short, the liturgical norms of the Council of Trent have been completed and improved in many respects by those of Vatican Council II. This Council has brought to realization the efforts of the last four hundred years to move the faithful closer to the sacred liturgy, especially the efforts of recent times and above all the zeal for the liturgy promoted by St. Pius X and his successors.
Chapter I Importance And Dignity Of The Eucharistic Celebration
1. The celebration of Mass, the action of Christ and the people of God arrayed hierarchically, is for the universal and the local Church as well as for each person the center of the whole Christian life. In the Mass we have the high point of the work that in Christ God accomplishes to sanctify us and the high point of the worship that in adoring God through Christ, his Son, we offer to the Father. During the cycle of the year, moreover, the mysteries of redemption are recalled in the Mass in such a way that they are somehow made present. All other liturgical rites and all the works of the Christian life are linked with the eucharistic celebration, flow from it, and have it as their end.
2. Therefore, it is of the greatest importance that the celebration of the Mass, the Lord’s Supper, be so arranged that the ministers and the faithful who take their own proper part in it may more fully receive its good effects. This is the reason why Christ the Lord instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of his body and blood and entrusted it to the Church, his beloved Bride, as the memorial of his passion and resurrection.
3. This purpose will best be accomplished if, after due regard for the nature and circumstances of each assembly, the celebration is planned in such a way that it brings about in the faithful a participation in body and spirit that is conscious, active, full, and motivated by faith, hope, and charity. The Church desires this kind of participation, the nature of the celebration demands it, and for the Christian people it is a right and duty they have by reason of their baptism.
4. The presence and active participation of the people bring out more plainly the ecclesial nature of the celebration. But even when their participation is not possible, the eucharistic celebration still retains its effectiveness and worth because it is the action of Christ and the Church, in which the priest always acts on behalf of the people’s salvation.
5. The celebration of the eucharist, like the entire liturgy, involves the use of outward signs that foster, strengthen, and express faith. There must be the utmost care therefore to choose and to make wise use of those forms and elements provided by the Church which, in view of the circumstances of the people and the place, will best foster active and full participation and serve the spiritual well-being of the faithful.
6. The purpose of this Instruction is to give the general guidelines for planning the eucharistic celebration properly and to set forth the rules for arranging the individual forms of celebration. In accord with the Constitution on the Liturgy, each conference of bishops has the power to lay down norms for its own territory that are suited to the traditions and character of peoples, regions, and various communities
Chapter II Structure, Elements, And Parts Of The Mass
I. General Structure of the Mass
7. At Mass or the Lord’s Supper, the people of God are called together, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord or eucharistic sacrifice. For this reason Christ’s promise applies supremely to such a local gathering together of the Church: "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst" (Mt. 18:20). For at the celebration of Mass, which perpetuates the sacrifice of the cross, Christ is really present to the assembly gathered in his name; he is present in the person of the minister, in his own word, and indeed substantially and permanently under the eucharistic elements.
8. The Mass is made up as it were of the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the eucharist, two parts so closely connected that they form but one single act of worship. For in the Mass the table of God’s word and of Christ’s body is laid for the people of God to receive from it instruction and food. There are also certain rites to open and conclude the celebration.
II. Different Elements Of The Mass Reading And Explaining The Word Of God
9. When the Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself is speaking to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, is proclaiming the Gospel.
The readings must therefore be listened to by all with reverence; they make up a principal element of the liturgy. In the biblical readings God’s word addresses all people of every era and is understandable to them, but a living commentary on the word, that is, the homily, as an integral part of the liturgy, increases the word’s effectiveness.
Prayers And Other Parts Assigned To The Priest
10. Among the parts assigned to the priest, the eucharistic prayer is preeminent; it is the high point of the entire celebration. Next are the prayers: the opening prayer or collect, the prayer over the gifts, and the prayer after communion. The priest, presiding over the assembly in the person of Christ, addresses these prayers to God in the name of the entire holy people and all present. Thus there is good reason to call them "the presidential prayers."
11. It is also up to the priest in the exercise of his office of presiding over the assembly to pronounce the instructions and words of introduction and conclusion that are provided in the rites themselves. By their very nature these introductions do not need to be expressed verbatim in the form in which they are given in the Missal; at least in certain cases it will be advisable to adapt them somewhat to the concrete situation of the community. It also belongs to the priest presiding to proclaim the word of God and to give the final blessing. He may give the faithful a very brief introduction to the Mass of the day (before the celebration begins), to the liturgy of the word (before the readings), and to the eucharistic prayer (before the preface); he may also make comments concluding the entire sacred service before the dismissal.
12. The nature of the presidential prayers demands that they be spoken in a loud and clear voice and that everyone present listen with attention. While the priest is reciting them there should be no other prayer and the organ or other instruments should not be played.
13. But the priest does not only pray in the name of the whole community as its president; he also prays at times in his own name that he may exercise his ministry with attention and devotion. Such prayers are said inaudibly.
Other Texts In The Celebration
14. Since by nature the celebration of Mass has the character of being the act of a community, both the dialogues between celebrant and congregation and the acclamations take on special value; they are not simply outward signs of the community’s celebration, but the means of greater communion between priest and people.
15. The acclamations and the responses to the priest’s greeting and prayers create a degree of the active participation that the gathered faithful must contribute in every form of the Mass, in order to express clearly and to further the entire community’s involvement.
16. There are other parts, extremely useful for expressing and encouraging the people’s active participation, that are assigned to the whole congregation: the penitential rite, the profession of faith, the general intercessions, and the Lord’s Prayer.
17. Finally, of the other texts:
a. Some constitute an independent rite or act, such as the "Gloria," the responsorial psalm, the "Alleluia" verse and the verse before the gospel, the "Sanctus," the memorial acclamation, and the song after communion.
b. Others accompany another rite, such as the songs at the entrance, at the preparation of the gifts, at the breaking of the bread ("Agnus Dei"), and at communion.
Vocal Expression Of The Different Texts
18. In texts that are to be delivered in a clear, loud voice, whether by the priest or by the ministers or by all, the tone of voice should correspond to the genre of the text, that is, accordingly as it is a reading, a prayer, an instruction, an acclamation, or a song; the tone should also be suited to the form of celebration and to the solemnity of the gathering. Other criteria are the idiom of different languages and the genius of peoples.
In the rubrics and in the norms that follow, the words "say" ("dicere") or "proclaim" ("proferre") are to be understood of both singing and speaking, and in accordance with the principles just stated.
Importance Of Singing
19. The faithful who gather together to await the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing psalms, hymns, and inspired songs (see Col 3:16). Song is the sign of the heart’s joy (see Acts 2:46). Thus St. Augustine says rightly: "To sing belongs to lovers." There is also the ancient proverb: "One who sings well prays twice."
With due consideration for the culture and ability of each congregation, great importance should be attached to the use of singing at Mass; but it is not always necessary to sing all the texts that are of themselves meant to be sung.
In choosing the parts actually to be sung, however, preference should be given to those that are more significant and especially to those to be sung by the priest or ministers with the congregation responding or by the priest and people together.
Since the faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is desirable that they know how to sing at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the profession of faith and the Lord’s Prayer, set to simple melodies.
Movements And Postures
20. The uniformity in standing, kneeling, or sitting to be observed by all taking part is a sign of the community and the unity of the assembly; it both expresses and fosters the spiritual attitude of those taking part.
21. For the sake of uniformity in movement and posture, the people should follow the directions given during the celebration by the deacon, the priest, or another minister. Unless other provision is made, at every Mass the people should stand from the beginning of the entrance song or when the priest enters until the end of the opening prayer or collect; for the singing of the Alleluia before the gospel; while the gospel is proclaimed; during the profession of faith and the general intercessions; from 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 and during the responsorial psalm, for the homily and the presentation of the gifts, and, if this seems helpful, during the period of silence after communion. They should kneel at the consecration unless prevented by the lack of space, the number of people present, or some other good reason.
But it is up to the conference of bishops to adapt the actions and postures described in the Order of the Roman Mass to the customs of the people. But the conference must make sure that such adaptations correspond to the meaning and character of each part of the celebration.
22. Included among the external actions of the Mass are those of the priest going to the altar, of the faithful presenting the gifts, and their coming forward to receive communion. While the songs proper to these movements are being sung, they should be carried out becomingly in keeping with the norms prescribed for each.
23. Silence should be observed at the designated times as part of the celebration. Its function depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration. Thus at the penitential rite and again after the invitation to pray, all recollect themselves; at the conclusion of a reading or the homily, all meditate briefly on what has been heard; after communion, all praise God in silent prayer.
III. Individual Parts Of The Mass
A. Introductory Rites
24. The parts preceding the liturgy of the word, namely, the entrance song, greeting, penitential rite, "Kyrie," "Gloria," and opening prayer or collect, have the character of a beginning, introduction, and preparation.
The purpose of these rites is that the faithful coming together take on the form of a community and prepare themselves to listen to God’s word and celebrate the eucharist properly.
25. After the people have assembled, the entrance song begins as the priest and the ministers come in. The purpose of this song is to open the celebration, intensify the unity of the gathered people, lead their thoughts to the mystery of the season or feast, and accompany the procession of priest and ministers.
26. The entrance song is sung alternately either by the choir and the congregation or by the cantor and the congregation; or it is sung entirely by the congregation or by the choir alone. The antiphon and psalm of the "Graduale Romanum" or "The Simple Gradual" may be used, or another song that is suited to this part of the Mass, the day, or the seasons and that has a text approved by the conference of bishops.
If there is no singing for the entrance, the antiphon in the Missal is recited either by the faithful, by some of them, or by a reader; otherwise it is recited by the priest after the greeting.
Veneration Of The Altar And Greeting Of The Congregation
27. When the priest and the ministers enter the sanctuary, they reverence the altar. As a sign of veneration, the priest and deacon kiss the altar; when the occasion warrants, the priest may also incense the altar.
28. After the entrance song, the priest and the whole assembly make the sign of the cross. Then through his greeting the priest declares to the assembled community that the Lord is present. This greeting and the congregation’s response express the mystery of the gathered Church.
29. After greeting the congregation, the priest or other qualified minister may very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day. Then the priest invites them to take part in the penitential rite, which the entire community carries out through a communal confession and which the priest’s absolution brings to an end.
30. Then the "Kyrie" begins, unless it has already been included as part of the penitential rite. Since it is a song by which the faithful praise the Lord and implore his mercy, it is ordinarily prayed by all, that is, alternately by the congregation and the choir or cantor.
As a rule each of the acclamations is said twice, but, because of the idiom of different languages, the music, or other circumstances, it may be said more than twice or a short verse (trope) may be interpolated. If the "Kyrie" is not sung, it is to be recited.
31. The "Gloria" is an ancient hymn in which the Church, assembled in the Holy Spirit, praises and entreats the Father and the Lamb. It is sung by the congregation, or by the congregation alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited either by all together or in alternation.
The "Gloria" is sung or said on Sundays outside Advent and Lent, on solemnities and feasts, and in special, more solemn celebrations.
Opening Prayer Or Collect
32. Next the priest invites the people to pray and together with him they observe a brief silence so that they may realize they are in God’s presence and may call their petitions to mind. The priest then says the opening prayer, which custom has named the "collect." This expresses the theme of the celebration and the priest’s words address a petition to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit.
The people make the prayer their own and give their assent by the acclamation, "Amen."
In the Mass only one opening prayer is said; this rule applies also to the prayer over the gifts and the prayer after communion.
The opening prayer ends with the longer conclusion, namely:
if the prayer is directed to the Father: "We ask this (Grant this) through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever";
if it is directed to the Father, but the Son is mentioned at the end: "Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever";
if directed to the Son: "You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."
The prayer over the gifts and the prayer after communion end with the shorter conclusion, namely:
if the prayer is directed to the Father: "We ask this (Grant this) through Christ our Lord";
if it is directed to the Father, but the Son is mentioned at the end: "Who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever";
if it is directed to the Son: "You live and reign for ever and ever."
B. Liturgy of the Word
33. Readings from Scripture and the chants between the readings form the main part of the liturgy of the word. The homily, profession of faith, and general intercessions or prayer of the faithful expand and complete this part of the Mass. In the readings, explained by the homily, God is speaking to his people, opening up to them the mystery of redemption and salvation, and nourishing their spirit; Christ is present to the faithful through his own word. Through the chants the people make God’s word their own and through the profession of faith affirm their adherence to it. Finally, having been fed by this word, they make their petitions in the general intercessions for the needs of the Church and for the salvation of the whole world.
34. The readings lay the table of God’s word for the faithful and open up the riches of the Bible to them. Since by tradition the reading of the Scriptures is a ministerial, not a presidential function, it is proper that as a rule a deacon or, in his absence, a priest other than the one presiding read the gospel. A reader proclaims the other readings. In the absence of a deacon or another priest, the celebrant reads the gospel.
35. The liturgy itself inculcates the great reverence to be shown toward the reading of the gospel, setting it off from the other readings by special marks of honor. A special minister is appointed to proclaim it and prepares himself by a blessing or prayer. The people, who by their acclamations acknowledge and confess Christ present and speaking to them, stand as they listen to it. Marks of reverence are given to the Book of the Gospels itself.
Chants Between The Readings
36. After the first reading comes the responsorial psalm or gradual, an integral part of the liturgy of the word. The psalm as a rule is drawn from the Lectionary because the individual psalm texts are directly connected with the individual readings: the choice of psalm depends therefore on the readings. Nevertheless, in order that the people may be able to join in the responsorial psalm more readily, some texts of responses and psalms have been chosen, according to the different seasons of the year and classes of saints, for optional use, whenever the psalm is sung, in place of the text corresponding to the reading.
The psalmist or cantor of the psalm sings the verses of the psalm at the lectern or other suitable place. The people remain seated and listen, but also as a rule take part by singing the response, except when the psalm is sung straight through without the response.
The psalm when sung may be either the psalm assigned in the Lectionary or the gradual from the "Graduale Romanum" or the responsorial psalm or the psalm with "Alleluia" as the response from The "Simple Gradual" in the form they have in those books.
37. As the season requires, the "Alleluia" or another chant follows the second reading.
a. The "Alleluia" is sung in every season outside Lent. It is begun either by all present or by the choir or cantor; it may then be repeated. The verses are taken from the Lectionary or the "Graduale."
b. The other chant consists of the verse before the gospel or another psalm or tract, as found in the Lectionary or the "Graduale."
38. When there is only one reading before the gospel:
a. during a season calling for the "Alleluia," there is an option to use either the psalm with "Alleluia" as the response, or the responsorial psalm and the "Alleluia" with its verse, or just the psalm, or just the "Alleluia";
b. during the season when the "Alleluia" is not allowed, either the responsorial psalm or the verse before the gospel may be used.
39. If the psalm after the reading is not sung, it is to be recited. If not sung, the "Alleluia" or the verse before the gospel may be omitted.
40. Sequences are optional, except on Easter Sunday and Pentecost.
41. The homily is an integral part of the liturgy and is strongly recommended: it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should develop some point of the readings or of another text from the Ordinary or from the Proper of the Mass of the day, and take into account the mystery being celebrated and the needs proper to the listeners.
42. There must be a homily on Sundays and holydays of obligation at all Masses that are celebrated with a congregation. It is recommended on other days, especially on the weekdays of Advent, Lent, and the Easter season, as well as on other feasts and occasions when the people come to church in large numbers.
The homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant.
Profession Of Faith
43. The symbol or profession of faith in the celebration of Mass serves as a way for the people to respond and to give their assent to the word of God heard in the readings and through the homily and for them to call to mind the truths of faith before thy begin to celebrate the eucharist.
44. Recitation of the profession of faith by the priest together with the people is obligatory on Sundays and solemnities. It maybe said also at special, more solemn celebrations.
If it is sung, as a rule all are to sing it together or in alternation.
45. In the general intercessions or prayer of the faithful, the people, exercising their priestly function, intercede for all humanity. It is appropriate that this prayer be included in all Masses celebrated with a congregation, so that petitions will be offered for the Church, for civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs, for all people, and for the salvation of the world.
46. As a rule the sequence of intentions is to be:
a. for the needs of the Church;
b. for public authorities and the salvation of the world;
c. for those oppressed by any need;
d. for the local community.
In particular celebrations, such as confirmations, marriages, funerals, etc., the series of intercessions may refer more specifically to the occasion.
47. It belongs to the priest celebrant to direct the general intercessions, by means of a brief introduction to invite the congregation to pray, and after the intercessions to say the concluding prayer. It is desirable that a deacon, cantor, or other person announce the intentions. The whole assembly gives expression to its supplication either by a response said together after each intention or by silent prayer.
C. Liturgy of the Eucharist
48. At the last supper Christ instituted the sacrifice and paschal meal that make the sacrifice of the cross to be continuously present in the Church, when the priest, representing Christ the Lord, carries out what the Lord did and handed over to his disciples to do in his memory.
Christ took the bread and the cup and gave thanks; he broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying: "Take and eat, this is my body." Giving the cup, he said: "Take and drink, this is the cup of my blood. Do this in memory of me." Accordingly, the Church has planned the celebration of the eucharistic liturgy around the parts corresponding to these words and actions of Christ:
1. In the preparation of the gifts, the bread and the wine with water are brought to the altar, that is, the same elements that Christ used.
2. In the eucharistic prayer thanks is given to God for the whole work of salvation and the gifts of bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ.
3. Through the breaking of the one bread the unity of the faithful is expressed and through communion they receive the Lord’s body and blood in the same way the apostles received them from Christ’s own hands.
Preparation Of The Gifts
49. At the beginning of the liturgy of the eucharist the gifts, which will become Christ’s body and blood, are brought to the altar.
First the altar, the Lord’s table, which is the center of the whole eucharistic liturgy, is prepared: the corporal, purificator, missal, and chalice are placed on it (unless the chalice is prepared at a side table).
The gifts are then brought forward. It is desirable for the faithful to present the bread and wine, which are accepted by the priest or deacon at a convenient place. The gifts are placed on the altar to the accompaniment of the prescribed texts. Even though the faithful no longer, as in the past, bring the bread and wine for the liturgy from their homes, the rite of carrying up the gifts retains the same spiritual value and meaning.
This is also the time to receive money or other gifts for the church or the poor brought by the faithful or collected at the Mass. These are to be put in a suitable place but not on the altar.
50. The procession bringing the gifts is accompanied by the presentation song, which continues at least until the gifts have been placed on the altar. The rules for this song are the same as those for the entrance song (no. 26). If it is not sung, the presentation antiphon is omitted.
51. The gifts on the altar and the altar itself may be incensed. This is a symbol of the Church’s offering and prayer going up to God. Afterward the deacon or other minister may incense the priest and the people.
52. The priest then washes his hands as an expression of his desire to be cleansed within.
53. Once the gifts have been placed on the altar and the accompanying rites completed, the preparation of the gifts comes to an end through the invitation to pray with the priest and the prayer over the gifts, which are a preparation for the eucharistic prayer.
54. Now the center and summit of the entire celebration begins: the eucharistic prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. The priest invites the people to lift up their hearts to the Lord in prayer and thanks; he unites them with himself in the prayer he addresses in their name to the Father through Jesus Christ. The meaning of the prayer is that the entire congregation joins itself to Christ in acknowledging the great things God has done and in offering the sacrifice.
55. The chief elements making up the eucharistic prayer are these:
a. Thanksgiving (expressed especially in the preface): in the name of the entire people of God, the priest praises the Father and gives thanks to him for the whole work of salvation or for some special aspect of it that corresponds to the day, feast, or season.
b. Acclamation: joining with the angels, the congregation sings or recites the "Sanctus" This acclamation is an intrinsic part of the eucharistic prayer and all the people join with the priest in singing or reciting it.
c. Epiclesis: in special invocations the Church calls on God’s power and asks that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated, that is, become Christ’s body and blood, and that the victim to be received in communion be the source of salvation for those who will partake.
d. Institution narrative and consecration: in the words and actions of Christ, that sacrifice is celebrated which he himself instituted at the Last Supper, when, under the appearances of bread and wine, he offered his body and blood, gave them to his apostles to eat and drink, then commanded that they carry on this mystery.
e. Anamnesis: in fulfillment of the command received from Christ through the apostles, the Church keeps his memorial by recalling especially his passion, resurrection, and ascension.
f. Offering: in this memorial, the Church-and in particular the Church here and now assembled-offers the spotless victim to the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Church’s intention is that the faithful not only offer this victim but also learn to offer themselves and so to surrender themselves, through Christ the Mediator, to an ever more complete union with the Father and with each other, so that at last God may be all in all.
g. Intercessions: the intercessions make it clear that the eucharist is celebrated in communion with the entire Church of heaven and earth and that the offering is made for the Church and all its members, living and dead, who are called to share in the salvation and redemption purchased by Christ’s body and blood.
h. Final doxology: the praise of God is expressed in the doxology, to which the people’s acclamation is an assent and a conclusion.
The eucharistic prayer calls for all to listen in silent reverence, but also to take part through the acclamations for which the rite makes provision.
56. Since the eucharistic celebration is the paschal meal, it is right that the faithful who are properly disposed receive the Lord’s body and blood as spiritual food as he commanded. This is the purpose of the breaking of bread and the other preparatory rites that lead directly to the communion of the people:
a. Lord’s Prayer: this is a petition both for daily food, which for Christians means also the eucharistic bread, and for the forgiveness of sin, so that what is holy may be given to those who are holy. The priest offers the invitation to pray, but all the faithful say the prayer with him; he alone adds the embolism, "Deliver us," which the people conclude with a doxology. The embolism, developing the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer, begs on behalf of the entire community of the faithful deliverance from the power of evil. The invitation, the prayer itself, the embolism, and the people’s doxology are sung or are recited aloud.
b. Rite of peace: before they share in the same bread, the faithful implore peace and unity for the Church and for the whole human family and offer some sign of their love for one another.
The form the sign of peace should take is left to the conference of bishops to determine, in accord with the culture and customs of the people.
c. Breaking of the bread: in apostolic times this gesture of Christ at the last supper gave the entire eucharistic action its name. This rite is not simply functional, but is a sign that in sharing in the one bread of life which is Christ we who are many are made one body (see 1 Cor 10:17).
d. Commingling: the celebrant drops a part of the host into the chalice.
e. "Agnus Dei": during the breaking of the bread and the commingling, the "Agnus Dei" is as a rule sung by the choir or cantor with the congregation responding; otherwise it is recited aloud. This invocation may be repeated as often as necessary to accompany the breaking of the bread. The final reprise concludes with the words, "grant us peace."
f. Personal preparation of the priest: the priest prepares himself by the prayer, said softly, that he may receive Christ’s body and blood to good effect. The faithful do the same by silent prayer.
g. The priest then shows the eucharistic bread for communion to the faithful and with them recites the prayer of humility in words from the Gospels.
h. It is most desirable that the faithful receive the Lord’s body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they share in the chalice. Then even through the signs communion will stand out more clearly as a sharing in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.
i. During the priest’s and the faithful’s reception of the sacrament the communion song is sung. Its function is to express outwardly the communicants’ union in spirit by means of the unity of their voices, to give evidence of joy of heart, and to make the procession to receive Christ’s body more fully an act of community.
The song begins when the priest takes communion and continues for as long as seems appropriate while the faithful receive Christ’s body. But the communion song should be ended in good time whenever there is to be a hymn after communion.
An antiphon from the "Graduale Romanum" may also be used, with or without the psalm, or an antiphon with psalm from "The Simple Gradual" or another suitable song approved by the conference of bishops. It is sung by the choir alone or by the choir or cantor with the congregation.
If there is no singing, the communion antiphon in the Missal is recited either by the people, by some of them, or by a reader. Otherwise the priest himself says it after he has received communion and before he gives communion to the faithful.
j. After communion, the priest and people may spend some time in silent prayer. If desired, a hymn, psalm, or other song of praise may be sung by the entire congregation.
k. In the prayer after communion, the priest petitions for the effects of the mystery just celebrated and by their acclamation, Amen, the people make the prayer their own.
D. Concluding Rite
57. The concluding rite consists of:
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