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Breaking of the Eucharistic Bread

268. According to IG 83, the breaking of the Eucharistic bread is done by the priest alone, or by the priest and deacon. During this, the Lamb of God (i.e. Agnus Dei), is recited aloud or sung by the choir or cantor with the congregation responding. It may be repeated as many times as necessary to accompany the breaking of the bread. The final repetition concludes with the words Grant us peace.

269. For Mass with only one minister, without a congregation, according to IG 267, while breaking the Eucharist bread, the priest says the Lamb of God with the minister.

270. According to IG 278, if fragments of the Eucharistic bread adhere to the priest's fingers, especially after breaking of the bread, the priest wipes his fingers over the paten or, if necessary, washes them.

271. IG 83 has an interesting addition about the fraction, the breaking of the bread: "Nor should it be unnecessarily prolonged or its importance overemphasized." There is no mention of the Eucharistic wine being poured into chalices, of the tabernacle being opened, or of Extraordinary Ministers approaching. A new instruction, in IG 162, says Extraordinary Ministers are to approach after the priest receives communion. Perhaps the other requirements for distributing communion should take place after the priest receives communion. Then the faithful would be actively singing the Communion Song while the tabernacle is opened and the Eucharistic wine distributed.

272. There are no instructions to kneel or sit after the Lamb of God. According to IG 43, the faithful are standing, "They should sit ... if this seems helpful, during the period of religious silence after communion." The Conference of Bishops may adapt this, following IG 390.

2002 IG 43 added that where is it the custom to kneel before Communion, when the priest says This is the Lamb of God, this is to be retained.

2002 Roman Missal update: Different instructions on this.

273. For Mass with Children, according to DMC 31 "To facilitate the children's participation in singing the ... Agnus Dei it is permissible to use with the melodies appropriate vernacular texts, accepted by competent authority, even if they do not correspond exactly to the liturgical texts." However according to IG 366: "It is not permitted to substitute for the chants found in the Order of Mass, e.g. at the Agnus Dei."

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Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 18 March 2002. Updated 15 April 2002, 5 November 2002.