John Lilburne's journal about articles by Bishop Ryan of Monterey on postures for the people.



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1225 L Thu 7 Mar 2002

I found the articles on postures in Mass by Bishop Ryan interesting. I think it is encouraging that there is an attempt to sort out the correct times for standing, sitting and kneeling. Hopefully the issues he raises will lead to clearer legislation.

There seem to be two areas where he is not consistent with the liturgical books.

1. "They stand after the invitation and response, "Pray, Brethren ...".

This is consistent with the 1975 General Instruction to the Roman Missal, n. 21 "... the people should stand ... from the prayer over the gifts...". However in the 1984 Ceremonial of Bishops, for a Stational Mass of the Diocesan Bishop, the people stand slightly earlier:

The bishop receives the censer from the deacon and, in the same way as at the beginning of Mass and accompanied by a deacon, incenses the gifts, as well as the altar and the cross. After this, all rise, and a deacon, standing at the side of the altar, incenses the bishop, who stands without the mitre, then the concelebrants, then the people. Care should be taken that the invitation Pray, brethren and the prayer over the gifts do not begin until the incensation has been completed. (Ceremonial of Bishops, Liturgical Press, 1989, page 56, n. 149).

The 2000 General Instruction to the Roman Missal, n. 43 changes the instruction so that people "should stand ... from the invitatory, Pray that our sacrifice ...". So people are to be standing for this prayer as they would for the Stational Mass of the Diocesan Bishop.

{Update 18 March 2002: Exactly when the people are to stand according to the Third Edition of the Roman Missal is unclear to me. Perhaps it is before the priest says this invitatory. Perhaps it is when he finishes and the people begin saying their response.}

I am not aware of the U.S. Bishops Conference having sought to change this, but they may have.

2. I believe only the priests should extend their hands for the Our Father

Bishop Ryan wrote:

The proper posture for the members of the assembly during the recitation or singing of the Our Father is the same as indicated for the celebrant, specifically extending the hands in the same manner as the celebrant does for the opening prayer, prayer over the gifts and the prayer after communion.

The rubrics in the 1975 Roman Missal are:

He extends his hands and he continues, with the people:

Our Father ...

The 1975 General Instruction to the Roman Missal, n. 192 has:

Next, with hands joined, the celebrant introduces the Lord's Prayer; with hands outstreched, he then says this prayer itself with the other concelebrants and the congregation.

The 2000 Study Translation of the 2000 General Instruction to the Roman Missal, n. 237 has:

Next, with hands joined, the presiding celebrant introduces the Lord's Prayer together with the other concelebrants who also extend their hands. He then says this prayer himself with the other concelebrants and the congregation.

The Latin text for this is:

Deinde celebrans principalis, iunctis manibus, dicit monitionem ante orationem dominicam ac deinde, manibus extensis, una cum ceteris concelebrantibus, qui et manus extendunt, et cum populo ipsam orationem dominicam.

The extended hands seems proper to the priests, not for the people. There are warnings about this in the Vatican's 1997 Instruction on certain questions regarding the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in the sacred ministry of priests, Article 6.2

... In eucharistic celebrations deacons and non-ordained members of the faithful may not pronounce prayers - e.g. especially the eucharistic prayer, with its concluding doxology - or any other parts of the liturgy reserved the celebrant priest. Neither may deacons or non-ordained members of the faithful use gestures or actions which are proper to the same priest celebrant. ...

Bishop Ryan seems to be defying this. The adaptions that can be made by the diocesan bishop are given in the 2000 General Instruction to the Roman Missal (GIRM), n. 387. It is made clear that changes to posture are made by the Conference of Bishops, with the recognitio of the Apostolic See (in n. 390). To the best of my knowledge this has not happened for this.

So as a sign of unity with the Church, rather than with their bishop, I think the people in Monterey should not extend their hands for the Our Father.

Incidentally I agree with Bishop Ryan that "IT IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE POSTURE to genuflect or kneel before receiving Holy Communion." As the Ceremonial of Bishops says in n. 71:

Similarly, those who pass before the blessed sacrament genuflect, except when they are walking in procession.

I believe this includes the communion procession.

I also think it is excellent that he is promoting "Serious, continuous study and applications of the principles of the Sacred Liturgy and the GIRM" in his articles.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 7 March 2002. Last updated 18 March 2002.


Links to articles by Bishop Sylvester D. Ryan in The Observer magazine for January and February 2002 of the Diocese of Monterey on

The Sign of Unity, Part 1

The Sign of Unity, Part 2

A reaction to Part 2 on

Moves in Monterey