Saturday, December 16, 2023


As everyone knows, I am conflicted about some of the reforms of the 1962 Roman Missal but not all of the reforms.

I applaud the unified rubrics for the postures of the laity. In the TLM, there are differing postures for the low and high Mass. For example, in the Low Mass, people kneel for most of the Mass to include the Mass of Catechumens (Liturgy of the Word) except for the Gospel. That leads to a butt kneel, with one’s bum on the pew while the knees are on the kneeler. 

One posture that should be recovered though in the MRM is kneeling as soon as the Sanctus is begun. That makes sense to me and is quite profound to fall to one’s knees at this hymn. 

I like the American rubric to remain kneeling for the Canon through the Great Amen. In Canada and Italy, the congregation stands and remains standing for the Mystery of Faith. Not sure why and this would seem to make the first part of the canon more important than the second half which is the sacrificial half, by the way, as our Eucharistic Lord is “offered” in an unbloody way to the Father for His acceptance of Jesus’ one Sacrifice to forgive our sins. 

I think it is laudable to kneel after Lamb of God, for the Ecce Agnus Dei. And I strongly recommend recovering kneeling to receive Holy Communion and then to return to one’s seat and to knee during the duration of distributing Holy Communion. Unfortunately some left coast dioceses require people to remain standing from the Lord’s Prayer through the duration of distributing Holy Communion. What the…?

Let me bitter complain about an unfortunate dragging into the Mass itself, a devotion properly observed outside of Mass but not within Mass. I have been told that a parish in my diocese is now seeing “holier than thou” Catholics during Mass, dropping to their knees as the Agnus Dei is sung, when the tabernacle is opened during the Agnus Dei to retrieve Hosts consecrated as a previous Mass to be distributed at that particular Mass. From what I am told, about half of those who see themselves as super pious fall to their knees while the rest follow the rubric and wait to kneel until the Agnus Dei is completed. 

I think that it is laudable outside of Mass for anyone in the church to fall to their knees when the tabernacle is opened. But it should not happen during the Mass and while the Agnus Dei is being sung. And what about the Consecrated Species consecrated at that particular Mass already on the altar while everyone is standing, why fall to one’s knees for the opening of the tabernacle?

Follow the dang rubrics for standing throughout the Agnus Dei and keeling only after it is sung!

Let’s talk about the positive reform of “The Preparation of the Altar” which, unfortunately, not every Modern Roman Missal parish performs!

I like the proper reform of the Preparation of the Altar. It is laudable. First, the chalice veil and burse must be used and placed on the altar before Mass. 

At the Preparation, a deacon or adult server takes the Corporal out of the burse, and liturgically unfolds it, properly, placing it directly on the center of the altar with the edge facing the priest all the way to the edge of the altar!!!! Please, properly centered, and properly placed to touch the edge of the altar in front of the priest!!!! This keeps the priest centered.

Then the Roman Missal on a beautiful stand is placed on the altar to the left of the corporal cloth, not on it and not in the center of the altar and never, never, never, is the Roman Missal to be placed directly in front of the priest on the middle of the altar with the bread to be consecrated and the chalice on the opposite side where the priest or bishop (as i have seen bishops doing this stupid thing) reaching over the missal to consecrate the Host and Chalice. What kind of stupid nonsense is this? The missal gets the spills and Crumbs! Idiotic!

What do you think about the proper, but reformed, Preparation of the Altar? 


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I always, always, and happily, happily place the missal above the corporal in the center of the altar.

Like you I want the corporal IN THE CENTER, but am willing to leave my measuring stick - metric of course - in my pocket and can live with the corporal off center just a bit and remain centered.

Speaking of corporals, I'd like to see the tradition of embroidering a cross on one edge done away with. Too often I see the person who is preparing the altar unfold the corporal and then, realizing the wholly unimportant stitchery is not in the proper place, wherever that is, lift and turn the corporal 90 or 180 degrees. Just stop it!

I never, never use a missal stand, beautiful or otherwise, as I find it wholly unnecessary.

I have not encountered some kneeling during the Lamb of God as you have.

the Egyptian said...

If only!! The Corporal is to be folded like an envelope, correct? Our "family" of parishes folds it over double twice. most servers pick it up by the edges and let the sides drop then fold double again and toss it on the table or in the case of our church on the top of the piano. One young severette used to pick it up and snap it like a dish towel then fold it twice and toss aside, her mother about laid an egg and corrected her after mass. but some still do it. Tell me they believe in the real presence and that their behavior helps others belief!!

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father McD:

While I have no objection to placing the chalice (with burse, and pall) on the altar at or even before the beginning of Mass, when I last looked into this, I thought the general instruction for Mass (GIRM) said something about the chalice being brought to the altar at the preparation of the gifts. Insofar as I tend to deprecate -- in other priests -- needless messing around with, or idiosyncratic alteration of, the rubrics for Mass, I concluded I ought to practice what I preach, and so do not place the chalice on the altar beforehand. It seems to me that the GIRM sees value in the altar being uncluttered, particularly before the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Perhaps something explicitly says that somewhere and I forgot.

But one virtue of your approach -- placing the chalice on the altar ahead of time -- is practicality. Sometimes altar servers aren't confident, or consistent, and the preparation of the altar can turn into a distracting ballet. (It doesn't help when they must contend with multiple deacons or priests who all have different ways of preparing the altar; our small differences can be confusing to kids.) With the chalice, paten, pall and burse already on the altar, the servers have fewer tasks at this point.