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Cincinnati Implementation

There is a detailed article on the implementation of the changes of the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) in the The Catholic Telegraph, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

According to the article:

"Archbishop Pilarczyk has set the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, June 22, 2003, as the official date of implementation of the new General Instruction for our archdiocese."

I have mixed feelings about this. Perhaps they could be best summed up as "Better late than never".

Ideally the implementation should have happened when the 2002 Roman Missal was published. This situation was complicated by the fact that the Vatican did not publish the same General Instruction as they published in 2000. Nor did the Vatican provide a useful summary of the changes being made. The press conference did not compare the 2002 General Instruction with the 2000 one or the 1975 General Instruction.

The Vatican published the 2002 Roman Missal "All things to the contrary notwithstanding". But it also directed that individual countries were to make changes and, after approval, incorporate the changes into the translation for each country.

But I believe the liturgical books should be followed. I do not accept that an individual bishop has the authority to say: "Do not follow the Roman Missal that has been published with the Pope's approval."

So I rejoice that as of 22 June 2003 this is not being said in Cincinnati. Work is being done to implement the Roman Missal.

What role does the bishop have? From the article:

"Diversity in practice is not a bad thing, and the General Instruction allows for such diversity. The document encourages the local ordinary to make many decisions regarding the way the liturgy is to be celebrated in his diocese. Therefore, how we celebrate the liturgy in Cincinnati could be different from other dioceses around the country."

The "local ordinary" means the "local bishop", in this case Archbishop Pilarczyk. But rather than encouraging him to make many decisions I think the 2002 General Instruction aims to limit them. The areas a local bishop may decide upon are restricted in n. 387:

"... It is to him that in this Instruction is entrusted the regulating of the discipline of concelebration (cf. above, nos. 202, 374) and the establishing of norms regarding the function of serving the priest at the altar (cf. above, no. 107), the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds (cf. above, no. 283), and the construction and ordering of churches (cf. above, no. 291). ..."

I think the most controversial part of the article is the posture for the Eucharistic Prayer. According to the United States "General" Instruction, (n. 43):

"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."

The article gives a very broad interpretation of the exceptions:

".... The General Instruction does allow for exceptions to this norm, and Archbishop Pilarczyk has outlined some of those exceptions.

For example, if a church has no kneelers, the faithful may stand; if the assembly usually gathers around the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer, they may stand; if the faithful are prevented from kneeling for good reason (such as at a priest's funeral, when a number of priests are in attendance and they would block the view of the assembly) the faithful may stand.

But for the most part, kneeling is the normal posture for the Eucharistic Prayer. It is important to remember that unity of posture during this time of the Mass is an overriding goal, and whether the posture is kneeling or standing, everyone in the church should be doing the same thing. ..."

I would say if they usually gather around the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer that they should stop doing this. It is nonsense to say everyone in the church should be doing the same thing: no one is suggesting the priest should kneel for the Eucharistic Prayer if the people do. I would like to see a unity of posture. But I think that its is better that one person follow the approved liturgical books than none.

The photo at the beginning of the article seems to contradict the text. When receiving communion it has:

"Be careful to bow to the sacred elements and not to the back of the person in line if front of you."

But the photo shows a man bowing while a woman is receiving communion in front of him.

The USA 2003 GIRM 160 has:

"When receiving Holy Communion, 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."

I do not see this as having a particular concern about performing the bow while someone is in front of you.

The article's directions for after receiving Communion reflect the current confusion:

"In some parishes people will kneel after they return to their place from receiving communion. In some parishes all will remain standing until the whole community has received. Either choice is acceptable, but the whole assembly should do the same thing."

Its a challenging approach: to insist on uniformity without saying which approach to follow. Hopefully it means that the issues will be worked through.

By J.R. Lilburne, 23 June 2003. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.

Other sites:

The article in The Catholic Telegraph June 2003 by Karen Kane, Emily J. Besl and Father Stephen Walter

USA 2003 GIRM