In the past several weeks, Fr. Manuel, Jessica, and I have been pondering upon and experimenting with some ideas and ways to adjust our liturgy. Beginning this weekend, we will be implementing two changes, one for Sunday celebrations and Holy Days of Obligation and one for daily Mass.
On Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, we decided to change the way the vessels will be purified after Communion. Going forward, the cup ministers will return their chalices to the Credence Table while the host ministers will continue to return their bowls to the Altar. The vessels will still be purified by the priest or deacon, but in two different locations, expediting the clearing of the Altar. To do this, the servers are being retrained to make sure that the Credence Table is mostly free of other items used earlier in the Mass such as the lavabo (the bowl for the priest to wash his hands) and other items used in preparation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Also, the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are being trained to follow this new process. This will also allow the sacristans to clean or prepare the vessels for the next Mass if they wish. The clearing of the Altar is not a separate Rite in the Mass but a procedure in a transitional phase from the Communion Rite to the Concluding Rite. However, due to the number of vessels, this procedure has been taking so much time so as to appear as a formal rite in and of itself. This change will clarify and simplify this part of the Mass. The General Instructions to the Roman Missal directs that the purification of the vessels can be done at their location. (GIRM 163).
On weekdays, we have decided to emphasize a greater unity with the Universal Church and increase awareness of the principle of Progressive Solemnity. This term, Progressive Solemnity, is the principle where by the Mass ebbs and flows according to the state or “level” of celebration in the Mass. When Mass is being offered on a day in Ordinary Time and there is no saint of whom we memorialize nor is there any feast or solemnity, the Mass should take on a very basic form. This kind of day is called a “ferial celebration” or “ferial day” The term comes from the Latin, feria, meaning “free day.” On these weekday Masses, we will forego singing at the beginning and end of Mass and, instead, replace the entrance song with the universal antiphon which the Church is expressing all through the globe. This is called the Entrance Antiphon. The procession of the priest leaving the Sanctuary will be done in silence. This small change will let us experience the change of a seasons via memorials, feasts, or solemnities in contrast to those days where none of these are prescribed. So on ferial days, the Mass will be much simpler. When a saint is to be memorialized, singing at the entrance and recessional of the Mass will return. On feast days, as the Church prescribes, the Gloria will be said or sung. On Solemnities, the Creed will be added. So, depending on the kind of day the Mass lands, there will be more or less things happening. We hope that this very small shift will allow our daily Mass goers to experience more the variations or the progressiveness of the sacrifice of the Mass while also bringing more harmony with the Masses offered throughout the world.
Are these important or critical changes, no. But, I do believe that these small changes will aid us in more clarity and intelligibility of the actions, meanings, and sense of progression within the celebration of the Mass.
Fr. William Holtzinger