Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: New GIRM

New GIRM QUESTION from Troy Martz May 15, 2001
Dear Mr. Slavek:
I have heard much about the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) released last year. Has this been made generally available to the public?
Also, I heard that implementation in the US was on hold until the USCCB could respond (presumably to avoid having to perform to the litergical housecleaning needed in the US).
Could you please explain what the GIRM is, what authority it holds, and some of the abuses it is intended to curtail?
Thank you and God Bless,
Troy Martz
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on May 18, 2001
Dear Mr. Martz,
I have to laugh when I answer your question is it available to the public: it is available on-line... in Latin. :-)
I did not find an English translation on the internet, but you may order a copy of the study translation from the NCCB for $12.
The new document takes effect on the publication date of the new Latin Roman Missal, which has not been set yet.
I encourage you to go to There is a summary page there in English which explains the changes in extreme detail.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal is a document found at the beginning of all altar missals, or sacramentaries. The latest, current edition was published in 1975. The GIRM contains the instructions for the proper celebration of the Mass. Its focus is on the ritual, not necessarily the spiritual aspect of Mass. It contains the instructions such as The priest holds the host raised slightly or the lector reads from the ambo. It is Liturgical Law, and all priests and those involved in Liturgy are required by Canon Law to follow it exactly. Because it is so concise and exact, there is VERY little room for interpretation or personal preference.
The new GIRM is meant to be a continuance of the old: it does not change the old, rather it more fully develops it. It answers some questions that have come up in recent decades. In brief, here are SOME of the differences:
The explanations of the different ministries involved in Mass (priest, deacon, lector, acolyte, cantor, etc) have been more fully developed.
Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist may only approach the altar after the priest has received Holy Communion. I believe this be intended to end the abuse where the priest receives communion last, after the congregation.
EMEs may NOT purify vessels, only the priest may.
The new GIRM requires a cross with a figure of Christ crucified, on or near the altar. The old GIRM called for a cross, so many parishes had a cross with a figure of Christ resurrected on it. This is not permitted in the new GIRM.
The use of incense is explained in greater detail.
The people will begin standing at the invitatory, pray that our sacrifice, and not from the prayer over the gifts as we do now.
Again, for greater detail go to the link above.
Mr. Slavek
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