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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 22 Aug 2001

Two Questions QUESTION from Mike April 20, 2000 Dear Mr. Miskell,
The Church I attend has concelebrated Masses very regularly. At last Sunday's Mass, there were three priests and one deacon. At the last elevation, the celebrating priest held up the Sacred Host, while the deacon elevated the Chalice containing the Sacred Blood. The other two priests stood off behind the deacon and priest. I am wondering if this is in accordance with the prescribed role of the deacon during Mass?
Also, every Sunday at the same Church, Communion is offered under both species, and liberal use of extraordinary ministers. What is the proper frequency for offering communion under both species?
Thanks again, and keep up the great work.
ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on April 20, 2000 Dear Mike,
Thank you for your questions.
The situation you describe with the deacon while illicit is very common. The problem is that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) was not clear on the proper position of the deacon during the consecration. The GIRM stresses that the deacon is particularly the minister of the chalice;
Among ministers, the deacon, whose order has been held in high honor since the early Church, has first place. At Mass he has his own functions: he proclaims the gospel, sometimes preaches God's word, leads the general intercessions, assists the priest, gives communion to the people (in particular, ministering the chalice), and sometimes gives directions regarding the assembly's moving, standing, kneeling, or sitting. [GIRM, Chapter 3, paragraph 61]. This is why the concelebrants mistakenly stand by while the deacon lifts the chalice at the Great Amen.
The Ceremonial of Bishops is a liturgical book with the force of law. Changes or adaptations made by the Ceremonial affect the GIRM. On page 57 we find instruction number 155 which states;
The deacons remain kneeling from the epiklesis to the elevation of the cup.
Therefore the correct posture for the deacon is to kneel from the epiklesis (when the priests extends his hands over the gifts) and to stand after the elevation of the cup. Your instinct was right: one of the concelebrants should be elevating the cup.
The American appendix to the GIRM allows Communion under both kinds at weekday Masses (AGI 242:19). This permission was further extended in the publication of the U.S. bishops' directory, This Holy and Living Sacrifice: Directory for the Celebration and Reception of Communion under Both Kinds, which was approved by the Holy See in 1984. This document stated that, in addition to weekday Masses,
Communion under both kinds is also permitted at parish and community Masses celebrated on Sundays and holy days of obligation in the diocese of the United States. [HLS 21].
The only Masses at which Communion under both kinds is not currently permitted in the U.S. are ones with a great number of communicants that would prevent the orderly and reverent reception of Communion under both kinds or other circumstances where the orderly and reverent of the Precious Blood is doubtful (these situations are described in HLS 22).
I hope this helps you.
In Christ, John Miskell
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