Eucharist
Part 3 Structure and Elements

Chapter e38 G.I.R.M. III

General Instruction of the Roman Missal
Third Typical Edition, Spring 2001

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

Theological Context of the GIRM

Foreword

Preamble

Chapter1  Importance and Dignity of the Eucharistic Celebration

Chapter 2  The Structure of the Mass, Its Elements and Its Parts

Chapter 3  The Duties and Ministries in the Mass

Chapter 4  The Different Forms of Celebrating Mass

Chapter 5  The Arrangement and Furnishings of Churches for the Celebration of the Eucharist

Chapter 6  The Requisites for the Celebration of Mass

Chapter 7  The Choice of the Mass and Its Parts

Chapter 8  Masses and Prayers for Various Circumstances and Masses for the Dead

Chapter 9  Adaptations Within the Competence of Bishops and Bishops' Conferences

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

 

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Bibliography

The notes in this chapter are keyed to the following edition of the GIRM:  General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Liturgy Documentary Series 2, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Publication No. 5-543.  ISBN 1-57555-543-3. 

For a program on the new translation of the Ordo Missae, and the Latin text and English translation, go to http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/relrpt/

Smolarski, Dennis The General Instruction of the Roman Missal 1969-2002: A Commentary. Collegeville, MN:  Liturgical Press, 2003.  Pp. 76 + ix. ISBN 0-8146-2939-9.

Turner, Paul A Guide to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Chicago, IL:  Liturgy Training Publications, 2003.  Pp. 28.  ISBN 1-56854-496-0.

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Theological Context of the GIRM

First of all, place the GIRM III in its historical context  Note especially the red dates.

1.  Perhaps we are still too close to the events to sort out the changes in theology that have taken place between the first and third editions of the General Instruction.

2.  It is obvious that there has been a change in personnel:  Reverend John Gurrieri and Father Ron Krisman are no longer at the BCL.  John Page and Jim Schellman are no longer at ICEL.  Gy, Jounel, Neunheuser are no longer consulters to the congregation of the CDW.  Cardinal Arinze  has replaced Cardinal Jorge A. Card. Medina Estevez as prefect of the Congregation.

3.  As I look back over the past forty years and compare the various editions of the GIRM, I find the following differences.

In the years following the council, it seemed that God had "moved closer to us" .  Religion became less transcendent and was more concerned with the here and now life in the world.  The priest was less "set apart" and was more "in the midst." 

These are the trends which, it seems, are being reversed.  For example, in a recent statement (December 17, 2001) Jorge A. Card. Medina Estevez, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated:  [I will color red those phrases which I think are significant in this regard.]

The celebration of the Liturgy is an act of the virtue of religion which, in keeping with its nature, must be characterized by a profound sense of the sacred.  Both the individual and the community must be aware that, in a special way, through the Liturgy they come into the presence of Him who is thrice holy and transcendent.  Consequently, the disposition required of them is one that can only flow from that reverence and awe deriving from an awareness of being in the presence of the majesty of Almighty God.  Did not God Himself wish to express this when he commanded Moses to remove his sandals in the presence of the burning bush?  Was it not because of this same realization that Moses and Elijah did not dare gaze on God facie in faciem.

The People of God require a comportment in their priests and deacons that is completely imbued with reverence and dignity since it allows them to penetrate invisible realities without words or explanations.  The Roman Missal, promulgated by Saint Pope Pius V, and the various Eastern Liturgies, contain many very beautiful prayers with which the priest expresses a profound sense of reverence and humility before the Sacred Mysteries. These prayers reveal the very substance of every Liturgy.  [TRR comment:  Note which missals the cardinal selects.  It is interesting that the cardinal says that these beautiful prayers are in the Tridentine Missal of Pius V and the Eastern Liturgies.  It seems he does not find any beautiful prayers in the Vatican II Missal of Paul VI.]

I see this same trend in the GIRM III:  the increased use of the word sacred, increased capitalization [e.g. eucharist becomes Eucharist; communion becomes Communion], the difference between ordinary and religious objects, the use of Church words to translate Latin terms or the use of more literal translations of the Latin terms [e.g. ex ambone was translated  in 1969 by lectern, in 2001 it is consistently ambo;   and the call for silence and mystery.

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Foreword

1.  Regarding the word "Instruction" in the title:  Ordinarily the word "instruction" refers to a non-legislative text.  Nevertheless ICEL deiced to retain the word "Instruction" in the title of the GIRM.  The use of "Instruction" for "Institutio" was addressed in a "postscript" to the proposed translation of the text, in a section entitled: "Issues Related to the Translation and Editing of the Institutio generalis of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia" where ICEL states that: 

The English title General Instruction of the Roman Missal to translate Institutio generalis Missalis Romani has been retained, primarily since it has been in use in the English-speaking world since 1969. Some have questioned the use of the word Instruction as a translation of Institutio, since the word 'instruction' (instructio) is used in canon 34 of the Code of Canon Law to designate an administrative document, whereas the General Instruction is a text of liturgical legislation of the universal Latin Church. To address the issue of translating Institutio generalis as "General Instruction" the translators have suggested that a superscript asterisk appear at the conclusion of the title that would direct the lector to the following note to appear at the bottom of the first page of the Instruction: *General Instruction (Institutio generalis): a text of liturgical legislation of the universal Latin Church, also containing doctrinal and pastoral orientations.

2.  The Forward is signed by James Moroney, the Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for the Liturgy. 

3.

4.   

5.  When the third edition of the Roman Missal was published the following interview as published on Zenit (reprinted here with permission -- ZE02053006). 

ROME, MAY 30, 2002. The new Roman Missal for the eucharistic celebration in Latin will foster a sense of the sacred, says a liturgy professor.   Father Edward McNamara, of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, explained some of the most interesting characteristics of the third typical edition of the "Missale Romanum," which was approved by the Pope and prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. The missal will be the basic text for all translations.

Q: What are the novelties?  Father McNamara: At first sight the most impressive thing about the new Latin missal is its size. Weighing in at about 6 pounds and costing about $150, it is larger than any vernacular missal now in use.

But this hefty tome is much more than a fine example of the typographer's craft because its specific characteristics make it a further step toward the fulfillment of the genuine renewal of liturgy proposed by the Second Vatican Council and an instrument that fosters the restoration of a greater sense of the sacred in the celebration of the holy Eucharist.  Q: What has impressed you most?  Father McNamara: Another important feature is that, unlike the former editions of the Latin missal, this version is clearly intended to be used at Mass with an assembly. The former editions at times gave the impression of being designed more for study than for practical use, sometimes obliging the celebrant to turn a page in the middle of a prayer or sending him to an appendix if he wished to use an alternative formula.  The new Missal is handsomely designed with clear legible typeset, a very practical distribution of the prayer texts and the inclusion of accents so that those priests whose Latin has become a little rusty -- or perchance was never burnished at all -- can make it through the Mass without any major phonetic blunders.

Q: What are the most important novelties? Father McNamara: The most important and novel characteristic of this version, and the principal cause of its bulk, is the inclusion of abundant musical settings so as to encourage the singing of those parts of the celebration where singing is recommended.  Thus melodies are provided for the entire ordinary of the Mass, including five different intonations for the "Gloria in Excelsis," two for the "Credo," and even settings for singing the four principal Eucharistic Prayers. Furthermore, all of the major feasts include the musical text of the preface. In order to facilitate singing, the major musical texts are located in their proper places in the Missal and not exiled to an appendix.  The fact that the Missal actively promotes and favors singing, both by the celebrant and the congregation, shows that the Church considers that this may be one of the most important means of restoring a sense of the sacred to the celebration. Other additions have been the inclusion of the 10 celebrations of saints, which have been added to the Church's universal calendar over the last twenty years, to which the Holy Father decided to make a further contribution just before the new missal went to print by appending another 11 celebrations.  Some of these are new celebrations, for example, recently canonized saints like the Chinese martyrs and St. Josephine Bakhita, a former slave from Sudan who later became a nun. Others, such as the Virgin of Fatima, are especially significant to the Church's experience of persecutions in the 20th century and, indeed, have a special place in the life of John Paul II.  Other celebrations restore older celebrations from the Missal of St. Pius V, such as the Holy Name of Jesus, the Holy Name of Mary, and St. Rita of Cascia.  Furthermore, many other new prayers have also been added, either taken from ancient Roman manuscripts or recovered from the Missal of Pius V, as well as several new votive Masses in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a new votive Mass "De Dei Misericordia."  Two Masses for various needs have likewise been recuperated from the Missal of St. Pius V, the Mass "Ad petendam compunctionem cordis" and the formula "ad postulandam continentiam."

Q:  What is the meaning of these celebrations?   Father McNamara: Today's society has more need than ever for mercy, compunction and continence, and the inclusion of these themes as Mass formulas is a boon for preachers who can use them in homilies and on retreats.  The new missal, both the prayer texts and the renewed general introduction that gives precise rules for the celebration, enhances and enriches the existing body of liturgical norms and merits close study on the part of all priests.

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Preamble

Following the publication of the Constitution on the Liturgy (1963 December 4), work began almost immediately on the reform of the liturgical books.  The Missal was reformed gradually with the First Instruction on the Reform of the Liturgy,  Inter Oecumenici, published on September 26, 1964 and the Second Instruction on the Reform of the Liturgy,  Tres abhinc annos, published on May 4, 1967.   On April 3, 1969  Paul VI approves the apostolic Constitution Missile Romanum.  In preparation for the publication of the new Missal of 1970, the CDW circulated the GIRM among  bishops, pastors, and catechists around the world so that when the Missal appeared it would have been prepared for and more readily received and more easily implemented. 

And for the most part, this was the case.  However, their was a few bishops who voiced very strong objections to the "new Missal" and said some very harsh things about Paul VI, his orthodoxy, and his qualifications to be Pope.  They said that the Missal of Paul VI was not a Roman Missal but indeed "New" Mass not in line with Catholic tradition.  The New Mass was no longer a sacrifice.  The New Mass was invalid and the bread and wine did not become the Body and Blood of Christ.  The New Mass denied the need for the ministerial Priesthood.  The Mass was the "invention" of some of Paul VI's cronies and is not a Catholic prayer but something they just "made up."  The New Mass goes against the teaching of the Council of Trent, particularly in allowing the vernacular languages and communion under both kinds.  And finally, Pope Saint Pius X would roll over in his grave if he saw this heretical "New Mass."

Pope Paul VI was deeply hurt by these accusations. and in the Fall of 1969 he sat down and penned a personal response to the accusations.  In 15 paragraphs he answered their objections clearly and charitably (one might say, almost apologetically).  

When the Missal appeared  26 March 1970,  Bugnini and the CDF decided to print these 15 paragraphs of the Pope at the head of the GIRM.  However, as the GIRM had already been circulated and studied and commented on, they decided not to renumber the articles for that would be confusing in light of the articles and commentaries on it that were already published.  This is why in the 1970 edition (and all editions until 2001) the GIRM is numbered 1-15 and then starts over with a new number 1-340.  The double numbering was a reminder that the first 15 paragraphs were written by a different author and directed to a different audience.  In the third edition of the GIRM there is no longer any indication of this history of the text.

[Note:  The final rupture between the Society of St. Pius X and the Holy See took place on June 30, 1988, when Archbishop Lefebvre ordained four bishops (among them Fellay) without papal approval. On July 2 of that year, the Holy Father came out with the apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei in which he defined that episcopal ordination as "a schismatic act." Archbishop Lefebvre died in 1991.]

The above history gives insight into the intent of the text:  (GIRM 1)  Giving instructions about how to celebrated the Eucharist is nothing new.  (2)  The Mass is still a sacrifice, this has been the constant teaching of the Church.  (3)  The new Mass is a valid Mass.  (4) We (Paul VI) do not deny the ministerial priesthood.  (6) This is not a "new" Mass but the same Mass as that of St. Pius V.  (7) It is the same Mass but the times are different.  (8)  Today we know more about the history of the Mass than they did in the time of Pius V.  More manuscripts have been discovered.  (11)  Trent knew that the Mass had a catechetical value.   They were not opposed to the vernacular on principle.  (12) The Vatican Council wants to do the same thing that Trent did -- preserve the Tradition.  (15)  We have safeguarded "things old" but we also want to bring forth "things new"   and the Pope concludes his "apology"  by saying: 

"Finally, in this manner the liturgical norms of the Council of Trent have certainly been completed and perfected in many respects by those of the Second Vatican Council, which has brought to realization the efforts of the last four hundred years to bring the faithful closer to the sacred Liturgy especially in recent times, and above all the zeal for the Liturgy promoted by St. Pius X and his successors."   (GIRM 15)

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Chapter1  Importance and Dignity of the Eucharistic Celebration

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Chapter 2  The Structure of the Mass, Its Elements and Its Parts

For my comments on GIRM 46-54, The Introductory Rites, see Chapter 21 The Gathering Rites

For my comments on GIRM 55-71, The Liturgy of the Word, see Chapter 22 Story Telling

For my comments on GIRM 72-77, The Liturgy of the Eucharist, see Chapter 23 Setting the Table

For my comments on GIRM 78-79, The Eucharistic Prayer, see Chapter 24 The Eucharistic Prayer

For my comments on GIRM 80-89, The Communion Rite, see Chapter 26 The Communion Rite

For my comments on GIRM 90, The Concluding Rites, see Chapter 27 Commissioning

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Chapter 3  The Duties and Ministries in the Mass

 

 

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Chapter 4  The Different Forms of Celebrating Mass

 

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Chapter 5  The Arrangement and Furnishings of Churches for the Celebration of the Eucharist

 

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Chapter 6  The Requisites for the Celebration of Mass

281.  Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both kinds.  For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clear expression is given to the divine will be which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the relationship between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Father's Kingdom. (General Instruction on the Roman Missal 2002, #281)

Second edition translation:  "The sign of communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the Eucharistic meal appears more clearly. The intention of Christ that the new and eternal covenant be ratified in his blood is better expressed, as is the relation of the Eucharistic banquet to the heavenly banquet." (General Instruction on the Roman Missal 1975, #240)

 

319. Following the example of Christ, the Church has always used bread and wine with water to celebrate the Lord's Supper. (General Instruction on the Roman Missal 2002, #319)

320. The Bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be made only from wheat must be recently baked, and, according to the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, must be unleavened. (General Instruction on the Roman Missal 2002, #320)

321. The meaning of the sign demands that the material for the Eucharistic celebration truly have the appearance of food.  It is there fore expedient that the Eucharistic bread, even though unleavened and baked in the traditional shape, be made in such a way that the priest at Mass with congregation is able in practice to break it into parts for distribution to at least some of the faithful.  Small hosts are, however, in no way ruled out when the number of those receiving Holy Communion or other pastoral needs require it.  The action of the fraction or breaking of the bread, which gave its name to the Eucharist in apostolic times, will bring out more clearly the force and importance of the sign of unity of all in the one bread, and of the sign of charity by the fact that the one bread is distributed among the brothers and sisters. (General Instruction on the Roman Missal 2002, #321)

Second edition translation: 283. "The nature of the sign demands that the material for the Eucharistic celebration appear as actual food. The Eucharistic bread, even though unleavened and traditional in form, should therefore be made in such a way that the priest can break it and distribute the parts to at least some of the faithful. When the number of communicants is large or other pastoral needs require it, small hosts may be used. The gesture of breaking of the bread, as the Eucharist was called in apostolic times, will more clearly show the Eucharist as a sign of unity and charity, since the one bread is being distributed among the members of one family." (General Instruction on the Roman Missal 1975, #283)

 

 

 

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Chapter 7  The Choice of the Mass and Its Parts

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Chapter 8  Masses and Prayers for Various Circumstances and Masses for the Dead

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Chapter 9  Adaptations Within the Competence of Bishops and Bishops' Conferences

386-399.  [This entire chapter is new to the GIRM 2001.]

399.  [The final words of the document.]  TRR Comment:  An author is attentive to the final words of a book or article.  For example, the final words of the (1983) Code of Canon Law (Canon 1752) are "Aniamrum salus suprema lex."  (The salvation of souls is always the supreme law of the Church.)    The GIRM 1969 ends with the words with which Saint Paul describes his ministerial orientation:  "To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some"  (1 Cor. 9:22),  namely    "Priest are, after all, ministers of Christ's Gospel for all people." (GIRM 1969 341).   The GIRM 2001 ends with the words "And so, the Roman Missal, even if in different languages and with some variety of customs, must be preserved in the future as an instrument and an outstanding sign of the integrity and unity of the Roman Rite.  (GIRM 2001 399)   In 1969 the concern of the Church was directed toward the variety and adaptations necessary for pastoral care; in 2001 the concern of the Church is for the integrity and unity of the Roman Rite.

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To Think About

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© Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 05/31/11 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at tomrichs@psci.net.