Expert Answer Forum

Importance of the rubrics QUESTION from Jane Gahlon February 27, 1999
Beyond addressing your forum as to the correct posture during the Eucharistic Prayer, I also spoke with and wrote to my pastor (as our congregation usually stands throughout the last half and during Easter season, throughout the entire prayer). Beyond this I wrote to our Bishop who, while acknowledging that the correct posture would be to kneel, hoped we would not develop an adversarial position over rubrics but rather stressed full and active participation by all the people as the aim before all else. My pastor said, clearly the GIRM provides legitimate choices directed by the presider...as to the proper posture of the assembly...and what is most disheartening about the debate over which is correct is the attitude that one or the other is unfaithful, disrespectful... I am now very confused, and wonder if I have recourse beyond this, or if I should just leave it all alone? ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on February 27, 1999
Dear Jane, Almost 20 years ago, our holy father said; The faithful have a right to a true liturgy, which means the liturgy desired and laid down by the Church. Undue experimentation, changes and creativity bewilder the faithful. The Second Vatican Council's admonition in this regard must be remembered: 'No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority'. [Pope John Paul II, April 17, 1980] You said in your inquiry, that the actions of your pastor, and the response of both he and you bishop have left you confused. In the same letter written by Pope John Paul II, he made the following prediction, which in your case (and many, many others) has obviously materialized. None of these things (liturgical innovations) can bring good results. The consequences are-and cannot fail to be-the impairing of the unity of faith and worship in the Church, doctrinal uncertainty, scandal, and bewilderment among the People of God, and the near inevitability of violent reactions. [Ibid] Evidently many American clerics haven't been listening. The holy father has had to reiterate his concern regarding obedience to the rubrics when bishops from the American Northwest were in Rome last year for their ad limina visit. He told them; ...[I]t is so important that the liturgical law be respected. The priest, who is the servant of the liturgy, not its inventor or producer, has a particular responsibility in this regard, lest he empty liturgy of its true meaning or obscure its sacred character. These are strong words of warning which should not go unheeded. Your pastor's statement that the GIRM clearly allows the presider to make choices regarding the posture of the faithful during the Eucharistic prayer and consecration is very interesting (and bewildering. If anything, the GIRM is quite clear that the proper posture of the faithful during this time in the Mass is KNEELING. Judging from his response to you, your bishop seems well aware that the proper posture is kneeling. Yet he does a tap-dance and says it's okay to stand in the interest of full and active participation by all the people as the aim before all else. Again, bewildering. The proper Church authority which regulates the liturgy has repeatedly said that obedience to liturgical law is extremely important. To give you an idea as to just how important rubrics are, the dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium, promulgated at the Second Vatican Council by Pope Paul VI says; . . . the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. Now -- do you have any recourse? Yes! The faithful have a right to a true liturgy, which means the liturgy desired and laid down by the Church. Undue experimentation, changes and creativity bewilder the faithful. The Second Vatican Council's admonition in this regard must be remembered: 'No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority'. [Pope John Paul II, April 17, 1980] There are several options. You've tried the first by writing to the pastor and to the bishop to no avail. Were I you, I might gather the appropriate documents and ask to meet with the pastor again. Ask him to show you exactly where the GIRM allows latitude in this area, then show him where the GIRM, and subsequent clarifications are specific to your case. E-mail me at porter@saint-mike.org if you need any help getting the documents together. Second, I recommend that you consider a personal Eucharistic novena for your pastor. Go to Mass and receive Communion for nine consecutive days. Offer this novena for the pastor. You might be surprised. I tried this once and offered it for a priest who was making innovations to the Mass as well as teaching non-Catholic things. He was very vocal that his position in this particular parish was secure and that he wasn't going anywhere. On the ninth day of my novena, much to everyone's surprise, he announced that he was being transferred immediately. As a last resort you have access to the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C., but please consider contacting the St. Joseph's Foundation first. The St. Joseph Foundation is a nonprofit organization with the sole purpose of helping Catholics vindicate their rights through the means which the Church has established. In one of its most notable cases, the St. Joseph Foundation helped alumni and friends of Georgetown University prepare an appeal to the Holy See when the university granted recognition of benefits to GU Choice, a pro-abortion student group. Three weeks after the appeal reached Rome, Georgetown decided that GU Choice would no longer receive benefits. You can contact them at; St. Joseph Foundation - 11107 Wurzbach, #404 - San Antonio, Texas, 78230-2553. Telephone; 210-697-0717 God Bless You, John Miskell Back to Index Page

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