Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Liturgy for Palm Sunday and Easter Triduum
Liturgy for Palm Sunday and Easter Triduum QUESTION from Gerry January 2, 2002 Dear Mr Slavek
At the beginning of 2000 two new priests took up duties at our parish. They seem to be very good pastors, with the good of their parishioners at heart. However, there are several practices they introduced in 2000 that I'd like your opinion on.
1) On Passion Sunday, after blessing the palms, the priest mounted a donkey and proceeded to lead the procession to the
church. While this did provide some spectacle, and provoked much interest amongst small children, I am wondering whether this practice is liturgically acceptable.
2) On Good Friday, in the interests of speeding up the procession venerating the Cross, three crosses were provided for veneration (two of the crosses had figures of Jesus on them - i.e. they were actually crucifixes). My understanding was that there is supposed to be one plain wooden cross for veneration.Please advise on what is correct.
3) On Sundays, at the Sign of Peace, the priest leaves the sanctuary and spends several minutes going up and down the aisle
greeting people. This seems to produce a liturgical hiatus while the congregation wait for the priest to return to the sanctuary to proceed with the Lamb of God.
Thank you for your assistance.
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on January 10, 2002 Dear Gerry,
No, it is not liturgically acceptable to have a donkey process in church. Unfortunately liturgical documents cannot anticipate all the crazy things that could possibly be introduced to Liturgy, so they cannot explicitly forbid each one. I would not be surprised if Rome explicitly forbids this in the near future because I have heard of this practice before, it seems to be catching on. Although the priest probably meant well, and the children may have temporarily been awestruck (assuredly by nature, not divine prayer) the presence and participation of the animal destroys all solemnity and sacredness, of which liturgical documents seemingly never cease to demand.
For those who insist we use documents before we frown on their fun, I would argue that liturgical procession are precisely described. Each minister has his own proper place in the procession, and no room is made for donkeys.
There is no directive that at least one cross must be plain. In fact, cross is a poor translation of the Latin crux, which is a crucifix. Rome clarifies that by cross it is meant a cross with an figure of Christ crucified on it in the new General Instruction.
There may only one cross used for veneration. If the number of people is too great, the priest may hold it in the center in front of the altar to allow the people to worship in silence. In the United States it is permitted that a second or third cross may be used.
The priest may not leave the sanctuary at the Sign of Peace. The rubrics state that he may offer the sign simply to the deacon or minister. It is totally unnecessary to offer the sign of peace AGAIN to individual people since he already has given it to the entire congregation.
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