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Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year by Msgr. Peter Elliott

I have been reading Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year by Msgr. Peter Elliott.

The book seems to be particular current, with the Forward by Archbishop Hart dated 1 November 2002. In the Preface Msgr. Elliott wrote that: "It is in accord with the revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002) prepared for the third edition of the Missale Romanum." However the imprimatur is dated 21 January 2002, before the publication of the 2002 Roman Missal in March.

Msgr Elliott's Introduction is particularly impressive and is available on the internet at www.adoremus.org.

But in the specifics of the ceremonies there are shortcomings.

There is an incorrect statement on the first page of Chapter 1:

"The Nicene Creed is sung or said at Mass on all Sundays, ..."

The Apostles' Creed is printed in the 2002 Roman Missal, page 513, as an option for Lent and Easter. Even before the 2002 Roman Missal, the Nicene Creed was not always required on Sundays, for example when there is a baptism.

In a number of places Msgr. Elliott writes of lay people wearing albs to do the readings. For example on page 71:

"For those who read the Passion: albs and red stoles, if they are deacons, or albs, if they are laity."

It is clearly an option for lay people to wear albs. From the 1981 Lectionary for Mass, n. 54:

"... an instituted reader must wear the distinctive vestment of their office when they go to the lectern to read the word of God. Those who carry out the ministry of reader just for the occasion or even regularly but without institution may go to the lectern in ordinary attire."

Vestments are compulsory for instituted lectors. But I see no justification for Msgr. Elliott writing as though they are compulsory for other lay readers.

For Ash Wednesday he writes:

"To impose ashes it is customary to take the ashes with the thumb and mark the forehead with the sign of the cross. However, ashes may be sprinkled in the form of a cross on the crown of the head of men in major Orders, while they bow."

The liturgical books makes no mention of different ways to impose ashes on those of different rank. It is surprising that Msgr. Elliott does. The term "major Orders" is also outdated, referring to the orders of subdiaconate, diaconate and priesthood as opposed to the "minor orders" of porter, lector, exorcist and acolyte. In 1972 these subdiaconate, porter and exorcist positions were removed, but institued lectors and acolytes remained.

For the Stations of the Cross, page 66, Msgr. Elliott wrote:

"If the celebrant recites the verse: "We adore you, O Christ ...", the cross bearer and candle bearers remain standing while the celebrant and faithful genuflect."

No mention is made of genuflecting to the Blessed Sacrament. According to the Ceremonial of Bishops, n. 69:

"A genuflection, made by bending only the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and is therefore reserved for the blessed sacrament, whether exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, and for the holy cross from the time of the solemn adoration in the liturgical celebration of Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil."

It is interesting to note a slight change on "double genuflections" in this book.

"In countries where the episcopal conference has maintained the double genuflection, such as Australia, this act of reverence is customarily made now and whenever passing the Blessed Sacrament at the Place of Reposition." (page 108).

I have been critical of the double genuflection, which is made on two knees, seeing it as contradicting the instructions in the Ceremonial of Bishops:

"1103. Genuflection in the presence of the blessed sacrament exposed for public adoration is on one knee."

While in "Liturgical Question Box" Msgr. Elliott wrote:

"In Australia, the bishops decided to retain the double genuflection, and Rome confirmed their decision, so it is still required in that country." (page 65).

I wrote about the lack of evidence that Rome confirmed the decision on in my journal of 7 November 2002. I find it interesting that this new book refers to the episcopal conference maintaining the double genuflection, without mentioning Rome.

Even if Msgr. Elliott believed there should be a double genuflection for the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, why should it occur in this case? The Place of Reposition for this Holy Thursday is a tabernacle.

The 1975 Roman Missal has:

"The faithful should be encouraged to continue adoration before the Blessed Sacrament for a suitable period of time during the night, according to local circumstances, but there should be no solemn adoration after midnight."

The 2002 Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, n. 141 has:

"After midnight on Holy Thursday, the adoration should conclude without solemnity, since the day of the Lord's Passion has already begun."

But Msgr. Elliott would prefer the adoration continue after midnight:

"At midnight, the candles and lamps are extinguished and the flowers are removed, but one lamp should remain buring. A simpler form of adoration may, and should, continue throughout the early morning hours, even up to the Good Friday ceremonies, when this can be arranged." (page 108).

People should faithfully follow the liturgical books. So while Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year has some inspirational material, perhaps it would be better to go to the liturgical books.

I think page 171, footnote 11 is instructive:

"Should confessions be heard during Mass? In the author's opinion, yes. In this case pastoral need, the "good of souls", takes precedence over liturgical "correctness", at least on certain opportune occasions."

I see it as the sort of thinking that says "I am above the liturgical books. I don't have to follow the rules. What I am doing is for the good of souls." Then follows whatever variation one can think of, causing considerable problems in Catholic liturgy today.

In fact the Pope has highlighted that it is OK to have confession during Mass in the Motu Proprio Misericordia Dei published last year:

"It is particularly recommended that in places of worship confessors be visibly present at the advertized times, that these times be adapted to the real circumstances of penitents, and that confessions be especially available before Masses, and even during Mass if there are other priests available, in order to meet the needs of the faithful.

[Footnote 15: Cf. Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Responsa ad dubia proposita: Notitiae, 37 (2001) 259-260]"

So there was no need to go beyond liturgical correctness, which should be the aim.

By J.R. Lilburne, 8 February 2003. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.

Other sites on Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year:

The Introduction at adoremus.org