Wednesday, November 14, 2018


The question is:

In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the celebrant strikes his breast each time he says "Agnus Dei...."

However, in the Requiem Mass, he is instructed by the rubrics not to strike his breast three times.

Why does the rubric of the Requiem Mass forbid the celebrant to strike his breast three times at the Agnus Dei?



Marc said...

Probably a couple reasons: the Requiem mass predates the inclusion of the Agnus Dei into the rite resulting in the reduced rubrics, and the Agnus Dei is modified in the requiem so that it is spoken on behalf of the third party decedent rather than the priest personally.

John Nolan said...

Marc is correct. The Agnus Dei in the Requiem Mass has 'dona eis requiem', not 'miserere nobis.'

The rubrics of the Requiem Mass are pared down. The water is not blessed before it is added to the chalice. Lights are not carried at the Gospel. Incense is only used from the Offertory onwards, and only the priest is incensed. The subdeacon does not hold the paten in a humeral veil. The kiss of peace is omitted.

The Tract replaces the Alleluia, and the ferial tones are used for the Preface and Pater Noster.

For a long time polyphony was not used; the earliest extant setting is Ockeghem's, dating from the 15th century. The Offertory (Domine Jesu Christe) retained its form as a responsory and until the 20th century was unique in this regard. However, it is now permitted to add the melismatic verses to all Offertories, a welcome restoration (and a genuine one, unlike the bogus innovations introduced into the Novus Ordo under the guise of 'restoration').

What passes nowadays for funeral rites in most Catholic churches is a travesty which needs to be swept away with the rest of the post-V2 garbage. Meanwhile real Catholics can and should avail themselves of the traditional and authentic liturgy of the dead, something which they are entitled to do.

Carol H. said...

It appears from John's answer that I guessed correctly. The priest is not culpable for the dead person's sins.

John Nolan said...

Incidentally, most of the features of the traditional Requiem Mass can be used as options in the Novus Ordo. This would include all the Proper chants, including the Dies Irae sequence, black vestments and unbleached candles.

The Absolutions and burial rite are not part of the Mass and there is no reason to use the anodyne and attenuated modern version. I dare say there is a vernacular version which would have been used from 1965 to 1970, should you really want one.

The Oxford Oratory has a guide to funerals which makes it quite clear what the traditional Catholic teaching is, and doesn't allow a plethora of choices in the Novus Ordo, which can turn the liturgy into a 'designer' product, assembled on an ad hoc basis.

It needs to be emphasized that a Catholic funeral is not 'a celebration of the life of ...' and not primarily a 'ministry to the mourners'. Both concepts are essentially Protestant.