Reflections on the Scriptures of the sacred Liturgy and the Catechism of the Catholic Church


The MCITL Liturgical Library

Facts on the Sacred Liturgy

1. "The General Instruction of the Roman Missal" (GIRM) is the document, with the force of law, which governs worship for the entire Church throughout the world. It is found at the beginning of every copy of the Sacramentary, also known as The Roman Missal.

2. "Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority." (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, No. 22)

3. In the document Inaestimabile donum, (no. 11), of 3 April, 1980, the Church teaches that, in those places where the blessed Sacrament is received standing, "it is strongly recommended that, coming up in procession," the faithful "should make a sign of reverence before receiving the Sacrament." (The universal sign of reverence for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, whether reserved in the tabernacle or in Communion, is the genuflection.)

4. "A bow of the body, or profound bow, is made within the profession of faith at the words, 'by the power of the Holy Spirit' ". (GIRM, No. 234b)

5. During the "Confiteor" of the Mass, ("I confess"), the people are instructed to strike their breast during the words: "through my own fault".

6. In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, chapter VI, the Second Vatican Council teaches that a preeminent place is to be given to the Latin language, organ and Gregorian chant in the liturgy of the Latin rite, and that these are the "three jewels" of the Latin rite liturgy. In Dominicae Cenae Pope John Paul II teaches, "The Roman Church has special obligations toward Latin, the splendid language of ancient Rome, and she must manifest them whenever the occasion presents itself."

7. "...steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them." (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, No. 54) This includes, for example, the "Gloria", "Credo", "Sanctus", and "Agnus Dei".

8. The GIRM, number 234a, instructs priest and people that, in the celebration of the Mass, "a bow of the head is made when the three divine Persons are named together and at the name of Jesus, Mary and the saint in whose honor the Mass is celebrated".

9. "Three genuflections are made during Mass: after the showing of the Eucharistic bread, after the showing of the chalice, and before communion. If there is a tabernacle with the blessed Sacrament in the sanctuary, a genuflection is made before and after Mass and whenever anyone passes in front of the blessed Sacrament." (GIRM, No. 233)

10. The recitation of the Creed is a required element of the liturgies of Sundays and Solemnities. Neither priest nor people have the authority to omit it. (See no. 2 above.)

11. Re: "liturgical dance". On January 8, 1982, in answer to a question regarding liturgical dance, the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship referred to an article in its official journal, Notitiae, XI, 1975, pp. 202-205. "In the Byzantine Liturgy, there is a very simple dance [procession] on the occasion of a wedding, when the crowned newly married couple goes around the lectern with the celebrant...However, the same criterion and approach cannot be applied to Western culture. Here, the dance is connected with love, with amusement, with profanity, to rouse the senses, such a dance, usually, is not pure. Hence it is not possible to introduce something of that sort in the liturgical celebrations: it would mean to bring into the liturgy one of the most desacralized and desacralizing elements; and this would be seen as introducing an atmosphere of profanity, which would easily suggest to those present worldly places and profane situations. Nor is it acceptable to introduce into the liturgy the so-called artistic ballet because it would reduce the liturgy to mere entertainment...If it were the case that the suggestion of liturgical dance in the West should be accepted, there would arise the obligation that the dances should take place outside the Liturgy at a time and place where they are not considered liturgical celebrations. And from such dance priests should always be excluded."

Click here for information on the Worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass in processions, Exposition and Benediction.

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