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Sign of Peace

Liturgical Changes, Part 5, Postures at Mass

Liturgical Changes, Part 5, Postures at Mass

Dear Parishioners,

In the course of time, traditions grow up in parishes, sometimes encouraged by priests, nuns, or other lay leaders. Other times, they come from experiences on retreats and other events. All these are part of the life of a parish. Sometimes, these are laudable for they reinforce or remind the people about the norms of the Church Universal. Sometimes, however, these traditions are not what the Church intended or are problematic expressions of faith that confuse the proper roles of those at Mass. Over time, I have been asked by various parishioners about the proper posture/gestures that are part of the Mass, specifically, the “Our Father” and the “Rite of Peace.” In this regard, the new Archdiocesan Liturgical Handbook (ALH) offers some clarification. Below, I have included salient paragraphs to help clarify:

Our Father
1.57.2  During the Our Father, the Roman Missal instructs the priest to “extend his hands” assuming the Orans posture (GIRM 152). This posture is prescribed only for the priest and although it has been adopted by the faithful in some countries after the approval of the Holy See, in the United States it is still a posture assumed only by the priest.

1.57.3  The faithful holding hands during the Our Father is another posture not envisioned or prescribed by the Roman Missal. While this has been adopted within families with small children it should not be considered a normal posture of the Sacred Liturgy. Indeed some may feel uncomfortable if this posture is imposed upon them.

Rite of Peace 
1.58.2  The sign of peace is not an act of reconciliation, which has already occurred in the Penitential Act at the beginning of the Mass, nor is it a neighborly greeting. This misunderstanding of the meaning of the sign has led to abuses, such as extended or protracted exchanges of handshakes, hugs, and kisses, which delay the Lamb of God and disrupt the flow of the celebration of the Eucharist.

Understanding these guidelines, it is important to be charitable in all we do. Please, if someone does not follow these guidelines, do not chastise them. Be very careful in your pastoral advice so as not to offend. That being said, the above guidelines are from our Archbishop and the ALH.

Related to other gestures, I have noticed that some faithful lower their heads and strike their breast when the Body and Blood are shown/elevated and the priest says, “do this in memory of me.” According to Fr. Paul Turner, STD::

There has never been a rubric for people striking their breast during the elevation, nor for them to lower their heads. The rubrics are quite scant when it comes to what the people are supposed to do. Devotions have evolved apart from the rubrics.  If the people stand for the eucharistic prayer they are supposed to make a low bow while the priest genuflects at the elevations (GIRM 43). (paulturner.org/striking-the-breast-and-bowing)

The General Instructions to the Roman Missal (aka GIRM) in Latin uses the word, “to show,” which then implies that the faithful are to be looking or gazing at the mystery before them. Bowing one’s head, therefore, would seem to be in contradiction to that which is intended by the action in Mass at that moment. So, please, look! Gaze! Let your hearts be filled with the great mystery before you when the priest shows you the precious species of the Eucharist. Do nothing other, for this is primarily a moment of wonder and awe, not of repentance.

Again, charity is first in all we do. Please refrain from being the. “liturgical police” and hunt everyone down that does not follow every gesture perfectly. It is my hope that all will read this letter and come to understand that uniformity in our gestures at Mass offer a more noble and simple liturgy which the Church prescribes. May the Holy Mass be ever more efficacious in our lives, as we all strive to be “led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people’ (1 Pet. 2:9, 4-5) have a right and obligation by reason of their baptism.” (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium 14).

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Guidelines at Mass During Flu Season

Guidelines at Mass During Flu Season

Dear Parishioners,

We are now at the peak of the flu season.  Last weekend, I shared that we are trying to be sensitive to this health issue. Similarly, many parishes have been concerned and have asked for guidance from the archdiocesan Office for Divine Worship. Here are their guidelines which they offered:

1. While communion under both species has “a more complete form as a sign when it is received under both kinds,” [GIRM 281], it is not always necessary or advisable.

2.  It is left to the prudent judgment of the pastor whether communion under both kinds should be offered during a period in which there is a high incidence of colds and the flu.

3. If Communion under both kinds is retained those who are not feeling well should refrain from receiving from the chalice, and should receive Holy Communion under the form of bread alone to avoid transmitting any illness.

4. Due to the fact that our hands are often transmitters of the cold and flu, care should be taken that:


a. No one should ever be permitted to self-intinct (dip) the consecrated host into the Precious Blood. The practice is prohibited by law and its result can be the unknowing transmission of illness.
b. In place of the regular way of offering the sign of peace a nod of the head and a verbal greeting of peace rather than the shaking of hands during this cold and flu season may be used.
c. Holding hands during the Our Father should be discouraged.


5. Those who are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in the parish church or those involved in ministry to the homebound should take special precautions. They should heed all health directives by frequently washing their hands and avoiding contact with others, especially those most susceptible to illness.

6. Catholics who are ill are excused from Sunday worship out of respect and concern for their fellow worshipers. Catholics who are ill may make a spiritual communion during the time of their illness.

So, I believe it prudent during all Masses to refrain from offering the chalice, discouraging shaking hands at the Sign of Peace, as well as from holding hands at the Lord’s Prayer.  It is my hope that fewer people will communicate the flu virus while at Mass.  Thank you for your understanding and patience, as this may be a source of sacrifice, especially for those for whom the chalice is the only way they receive communion due to celiac disease.  In these cases, a blessing and spiritual communion is the best that can be offered. These practices will be in place through the end of February where we expect to return to our regular practices.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor