The General Instruction on the
Roman Missal, 2000
“Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations belonging to the whole Church, which is the ‘sacrament of unity.’ namely the holy people united and ordered under their bishops. Therefore liturgical services involve the whole Body of the Church; they manifest it and have affects upon it; but they also concern individual orders, offices, and actual participation.” CSL #26
“The diocesan Bishop, who is to be regarded
as the high priest of his flock, and form the life in Christ of the faithful
under his care in a certain sense derives and upon who it depends, must promote,
regulate, and be vigilant over the liturgical life of the diocese.” GIRM
The new General Instruction of the Roman Missal is marked by an increased concern for reverence in the liturgy, significant moments of silence in our celebrations, and care for “sacred things.” It presumes the participation of lay ministers, but is also careful to preserve a clear distinction between the ordained and non-ordained.
It is important to note that the GIRM 2000 revokes earlier provisions of liturgical law only if it is directly contrary to them such that it is not possible to harmonize the earlier text with the later. The GIRM gives the normal pattern for the celebration of the Mass. Ritual Masses, Masses with children, and Masses for small groups are regulated by additional rules that must be observed, even if sometimes they are not the same as those in the GIRM. These are exceptional occasions, that is, exceptions to the normative pattern of the GIRM.
However, most of what is in the present instruction is not new. This document does not include the entire text for the GIRM or an exhaustive list of all the directives for deacons and priest presiders. All who are involved in any way in the liturgy should obtain a complete copy of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, as well attendant documents (Music in Catholic Worship, Norms for Communion, Built of Living Stones, etc.) which have been issued by the USCCB, in order to read through them thoughtfully and prayerfully over the next few months and periodically thereafter.
The text printed in bold indicates a change in the new GIRM. The text in italics indicates the adaptations for the Archdiocese of Portland. Also included here are the guidelines for Lectors and Eucharistic ministers which reflect the revised GIRM, and the indults given for the USA.
Bulletin inserts for catechesis on the GIRM are
available through the Office of Worship.
Preamble and Chapter I: The Importance and
Dignity of the Eucharistic Celebration
Although these sections are not significantly changed from the previous General Instruction, in that they do not contain specific rubrics, they provide excellent background material for instruction and meditation on the mystery of the Eucharist.
II: The Different Elements of the Mass
#31: It is also up to the priest, in the
exercise of his office of presiding over the gathered assembly, to offer certain
explanations that are foreseen in the rite itself. Where it is indicated in the
rubrics, the celebrant is permitted to adapt them somewhat in order that they
respond to the understanding of those participating. However, he should
always take care to keep the sense of the text given in the Missal and to
express it succinctly. The presiding priest is also to direct the Word of
God and impart the final blessing.
This section, as in the previous instruction, goes on to add that the priest may give various introductions to the different parts of the Mass. These options provide catechetical moments which will be helpful when implementing the various parts of the revised GIRM.
The Importance of Singing
#40: Great importance should therefore be
attached to the use of singing in the celebration of the Mass, with due
consideration for the culture of the people and abilities of each liturgical
assembly. Although it is not always necessary (e.g., on weekday Masses) to
sing all the texts that are of themselves meant to be sung, every care should be
taken that singing by the ministers and the people is not absent in celebrations
that occur on Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation.
This emphasis on the importance of music in Sunday liturgies and Holy Days of Obligation is new in the revised document. In this Archdiocese, every effort should be made to include music at these celebrations. Also, in the Archdiocese of Portland, cultural expressions will be encouraged, whenever they are authentic, and follow the principles in the revised GIRM as well as the USCCB documents Music in Catholic Worship and Liturgical Music Today.
# 42 …attention should be paid to what is determined by the General Instruction and the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the people of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice. A common posture, to be observed by all participants is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered for the sacred Liturgy: it both expresses and fosters the intention and spiritual attitude of the participants.
#43 The faithful should stand from
the beginning of the Entrance Chant (or gathering song)…until the end of the
collect; for the Alleluia chant before the Gospel; while the Gospel itself is
proclaimed; during the Profession of Faith, and the Prayer of the Faithful.
From the invitation, Orate, fratres (pray, brethren), before the prayer
over the offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places indicated below.
Standing after invitation, “pray brethren” and before the people answer
For parishes and institutions where kneelers are not yet installed, and for liturgies that take place in a building other than a church, catechesis will need to be given regarding the profound bow.
In the Archdiocese of Portland, the faithful stand after the Lamb of God.
There is an increased emphasis on the times of silence in the revised GIRM – before the liturgy, within the Act of Penitence, after each invitation to pray, after the readings, (including the psalm), after the homily, and after communion.
III. The Individual Parts of the Mass
#49: When they reach the sanctuary , the priest,
the deacon and the ministers reverence the altar with a profound bow.
In the previous directive the indication was only for a sign of reverence.
This is the new name for the Penitential Rite. When the new Missal is
The Responsorial Psalm
#61: After the first reading comes the
responsorial Psalm, which is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word and
holds great liturgical and pastoral importance, because it fosters meditation on
the Word of God. The responsorial psalm should correspond to each reading
and should, as a rule, be taken from the Lectionary….In the dioceses of the
United States of America, the following may also be sung in place of the Psalm
assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper seasonal
antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman
Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting; or an
antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons,
including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing they have been approved by
the USCCB or the diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place
of the responsorial psalm.
There has been some confusion about the use of the psalm in the light of the new Lectionary. Clearly, even though there are new translations, those settings which have been in the repertoire of the parish, seasonal psalms, alternate psalms and metrical psalms (poetic, hymn-like settings) may still be used. This section should be studied carefully by musicians and cantors. It also indicates that the preferred place for the singing of the psalm is at the ambo.
#66: The homily should ordinarily be given by
the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest
or occasionally, according to the circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a
An important exception to this is when the presiding priest is unable
The Profession of Faith
#137 …At the words…(by the power of the Holy
Spirit….and became man) all make a profound bow; but on solemnities of the
Annunciation and of the Nativity of the Lord, all genuflect.
The change here is that the bow indicated is to be a profound bow
#146: Upon returning to the middle of the altar,
the priest…invites the people to pray saying, “Pray Brethren” (Orate Fratres).
The people rise and make their response…
As indicated above, the assembly is now being asked to stand after the presider extends the invitation to pray. Simple catechesis could be offered for a few weeks in these or similar words: “The prayer we are about to pray concludes the preparation of the gifts and begins the liturgy of the Eucharist. Beginning today, you will always stand right after I invite you to pray. I will remind you to stand for a few weeks and give you plenty of time to do so before I continue the prayer.”
#154: The priest may give the sign of peace
to the ministers, but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb
the celebration. In the dioceses of the USA, for a good reason, on special
occasions (for example, in the case of a funeral, a wedding, or when civic
leaders are present) the priest may offer the sign of peace to a few of the
faithful near the sanctuary.
The exceptions listed in the GIRM are to be understood as expressions of hospitality, respect for cultural diversity, and responses to unique pastoral need.
#85 It is most desirable that the faithful,
just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s body from hosts
consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted,
they partake of the chalice, so that even by means of the signs Communion will
stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice being celebrated.
This is a new emphasis in the revised GIRM. It is not desirable that the faithful receive from hosts consecrated at another Mass. In #390 the GIRM indicates that it is up to the conferences of Bishops to decide the manner of receiving Holy Communion. The USCCB has published the document Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America. Every priest and pastoral minister should have a copy of this document. It will be available in book form through the liturgy office shortly. It may also be downloaded from the USCCB web site.
The revised GIRM (#387) leaves the regulation of distribution of communion under both kinds to the Diocesan Bishop. In the Archdiocese of Portland communion under both kinds is encouraged at every Eucharistic celebration, but most especially at all Masses on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
Musicians may need to be reminded not to wait until after the priests or other ministers receive to begin the communion processional. The music accompanies the communion of the entire assembly. It begins immediately when the priest is receiving and ends after the last person has received. The song should be easily sung without music in hand, and the text should reflect the communitarian nature of the Eucharist – communion with God and with one another.
Manner of Receiving Communion
#160:2: The faithful are not permitted to take
up the consecrated bread or the sacred chalice themselves, and, still less, hand
them to one another. The norm for the reception of Holy Communion in
the dioceses of the USA is standing. Communicants should not be denied
Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be
addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the
reasons for this norm. When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows
his or her head as a gesture of reverence and received the Body of the Lord from
the minister. The consecrated host may be received on the tongue or in the
hand at the discretion of the communicant. When Holy Communion is received
under both kinds, the sign of reverence is also made before receiving the
In all that pertains to Communion under both kinds, the Norms for the
Chapter V: The Arrangement and Furnishing of Churches for the Celebration of the Eucharist
#301, 326, 329, 339, 342, 346: It is up to the
diocesan bishop to determine the materials for the altar and sacred
furnishings, especially the sacred vessels and also the materials, forms and
colors of liturgical vestments.
Materials for fixed altars (see #301): In keeping with the Church’s traditional practice and the altar’s symbolism, the table of a fixed altar is to be of stone and indeed natural stone. In the diocese of the USA, however, wood, which is worthy, solid, and well-crafted may be used provided that the altar is structurally immobile.
The color of the altar cloths ( see #304): Out of reverence for the celebration of the memorial of the Lord and the banquet which gives us his Body and Blood, at least one white cloth should be placed on the altar where this memorial is celebrated. The shape, size, and decoration of the altar cloth should be in keeping with the design of the altar. When, in the dioceses of the USA, other cloths are used in addition to the altar cloth, then those cloths may be of other colors possessing Christian honorific or festive significance according to longstanding local usage, provided that the uppermost cloth covering the mensa, is always white in color.
Materials for sacred furnishings (see #326): In the dioceses of the USA these materials may include wood, stone, or metal which are appropriate to the purpose for which they are employed.
Materials for sacred vessels(see # 329): In the dioceses of the USA, sacred vessels may also be made from other solid materials that, according to the common estimation in each region, are precious, for example ebony or other hard woods, provided that such materials are suitable for sacred use and do not break easily. This applies to all vessels which hold the host such as the paten, the ciborium, the pyx, the monstrance, and other things of this kind.
In the Archdiocese of Portland, vessels acquired prior to this directive may be used, even if they are glass or crystal
Vesture for lay ministers(see #339): In the dioceses of the USA, acolytes, altar serves, readers and other lay
When selecting color for these occasions, it is important to consider cultural sensitivity regarding color, fabrics, etc. The use of these additional colors should be determined primarily by pastoral consideration and not personal preference. Blue is not an approved liturgical color.
#373: Days or periods of prayer for the fruits of the earth, prayer for human rights and equality, prayer for world justice and peace, and penitential observances outside of Lent are to be observed in the dioceses of the USA at times designated by the Diocesan Bishop.
In all dioceses of the USA January 22 (or
January 23, when the 22nd falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular
day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person through acts of
abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the
right to life. The Mass “For Peace and Justice” should be celebrated with
violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day.
In addition to this, the Archdiocese of Portland will observe three “ember days’ throughout the year. These are special days of prayer and fasting for particular intentions. There will be one designated in the fall, during Advent and during Lent.
Musical Instruments and Approval of Musical Settings
# 393: Bearing in mind the important place which singing has in the celebration, as a necessary and integral part of the liturgy, all musical settings of the texts for the people’s responses and acclamations in the Order of Mass and for special rites that occur in the course of the liturgical year must be submitted to the USCCB Secretariat for the Liturgy for approval prior to publication.
While the organ is to be accorded pride of
place, other wind, stringed or percussion instruments may be used in liturgical
services in the dioceses of the USA, according to longstanding local usage,
provided they are truly apt for sacred use or can be rendered apt.
Parishes should be careful of using unpublished and/or unapproved texts by local composers that are not faithful to the spirit and given texts of the liturgy. This is especially true In the case of the Gloria, Sanctus, the Our Father and the other acclamations in the Eucharistic Prayer.
Guidelines for Lectors
Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon
“The Word of God as proclaimed in the sacred Scripture lies at the heart of our Christian life and is integral to all our liturgical celebrations (Book of Blessings, 1827).”
“The two parts which in a sense go to make up the mass, the liturgy of the word and the Eucharistic liturgy, are so closely connected with each other that they form but one single act of worship (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 56).” Christ is truly “present in the word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are proclaimed in church (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 7).”
“Readings from Scripture and the chants between the readings form the main part of the liturgy of the word. The homily, profession of faith, and general intercessions or prayer of the faithful carry it forward and conclude it (Introduction to the Lectionary, 11)”
“The reader has his own proper function in the Eucharistic celebration and should exercise this even though ministers of higher rank may be present, (Introduction to the Lectionary 51).”
“[The readers]should be truly suited to
perform this function and should receive careful preparation, so that the
faithful by listening to the readings from the sacred texts may develop in their
hearts a warm and living love for the Sacred Scripture (GIRM, 2000, 101).”
1. The pastor, or his delegate, determines the needs and the persons best qualified to serve the parish in the ministry of lector. Those who are invited into this role should realize that it is a ministerial function in the community, and should exercise it in a spirit of faith and service.
Guidelines for Eucharistic Ministers
“ ‘The Eucharist has always been the source of Christian love and the center of ecclesial life (Dominicae Cenae, 7), daily building up the life of all Christians, making of them a holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling-place for God in the Spirit, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ (This Holy Living Sacrifice, 3).”
The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist together point to the rite of Holy Communion, for “Christ gave his body and blood to be eaten and drunk so that all who participate share in the reality of his unique sacrifice and Passover made present in sign and symbols in the eucharist (This Holy Living Sacrifice, 10).”
“The eyes of faith enable the believer to
recognize the ineffable depths of the mystery that is the Holy Eucharist….The
Eucharistic species of bread and wine derive from the work of human hand.
In the action of the Eucharist this bread and this wine become our spiritual
food and drink. It is Christ, the true vine, who gives life to the branches.
As bread from heaven, bread of angels, the chalice of salvation, the medicine of
immortality, the Eucharist is the promise of eternal life to all who eat and
drink it. The Eucharist is the a sacred meal, a sacrifice of love, a sign
of unity a bond of charity in which Christ calls us as his friends to the
banquet of heaven (Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy
Communion Under Both Kinds in the Diocese of the United States of America,
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