About John Lilburne


Liturgy Series of Archbishop Chaput


Archbishop Chaput's Liturgy Series

I am very impressed with the Liturgy Series of Archbishop Chaput, of Denver U.S.A. He began it on 11 September 2002, describing it as "The first in a series of articles about the Catholic Mass and the new Roman Missal".

There are 17 articles in this series now (18 February 2003). The latest is on communion, explaining how there should not be blessings during communion.

Archbishop Chaput has given an excellent example of fulfilling Canon 392.2 of the Code of Canon Law:

"[A bishop] is to ensure that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline, especially concerning the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God ..."

With this liturgy series he has provided intelligent and persuasive information on how the Mass should be celebrated in his diocese. He corrects difficult issues, like genuflecting or kneeling to receive communion.

But here are my criticisms of the Liturgy Series.

There seems to be an error in Part 14 with:

"This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are we who have been called to his supper."

The word "we" is incorrect, with the approved translation having "those". It appears to be accidental, since no arguments are given for changing the word.

In Part 11 he discusses the people's gesture for the Our Father:

"The priest stands with his arms outstretched as the prayer begins. The assembly should also stand. There are no options for gestures listed in the General Instruction for this part of the Mass. For many persons, folding their hands during the "Our Father" is the best way to express their prayer. For others, they may hold their hands outstreched. Still others hold hands.

None of these gestures is mandated or forbidden by the Church. So our guiding principles should be respect for the dignity of the Mass, and respect for the freedom of our fellow worshipers."

I see it as inappropriate for the people to hold their arms outstreched or hold hands. I disagree with the argument "this is not forbidden, therefore its an option". Father Peter Stravinskas wrote in Understanding the Sacraments, (Ignatius Press, 1997) page 115, how abuses occur:

"... with the excuse that the General Instruction does not specifically forbid such additions — even though we know that rubrics always and only tell us what to do, not what not to do."

The 2000 General Instruction of the Roman Missal did add some corrections, in the form of "what not to do". For example in n. 160:

"The faithful are not permitted to take up the consecrated bread or the sacred chalice themselves, and still less hand them on to one another."

But such corrections do not justify an interpretation of: "if its not forbidden its allowed".

While Archbishop Chaput gives reasons for not holding hands, he also has:

"Some people feel that holding hands during the "Our Father" enhances a sense of community. This is perfectly appropriate - so long as it can be done with dignity and without the unseemly acrobatics that sometimes ensue."

Clearly the priest should not be holding hands. The General Instruction directs that the celebrant and concelebrants "extend their hands" (2002 GIRM 237). It would be wrong for the deacon to extend his hands, as if he were a concelebrant. It would also be wrong for the people to do this.

So I believe that some of the people holding hands is incorrect and that Archbishop Chaput should not have said that on some occasions it is "perfectly appropriate".

I praise Archbishop Chaput for going further than any other bishop (that I am aware of) in teaching about the 2002 Roman Missal. The Liturgy Series is not yet complete. But two particularly challenging issues have not yet been addressed:

A bow of the head is to be made when the three Divine Persons are named, at the name of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saint in whose honor Mass is celebrated (2002 GIRM 275, 1975 GIRM 234). In this case the gesture is not directed to the priest (as for extended hands at the Our Father) and so applies to everyone.

The other challenge is instituted lectors. Archbishop Chaput has rightly given considerable attention to the role of deacons. But he has not yet mentioned the new instruction:

"101. In the absence of an instituted reader, other lay people may be designated to proclaim the readings from the Sacred Scriptures."

He has rightly explained that there are ordinary and extraordinary ministers of communion and who they are. But he has not yet explained that the ordinary minister to read the first reading is an Instituted Lector/Reader, with others being extraordinary ministers who should only do this in his absence.

By J.R. Lilburne, 18 February 2003. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.

Other sites:

Part 14

Part 11