The General Instruction on the Roman Missal, 2000
Revisions and Adaptations for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon

“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 2000, #387

It will become apparent, as pastors, other clergy and pastoral ministers review these adaptations and changes, that there is a deeper message in this document than merely executing rubrics correctly in the liturgy.  In order to bring this instruction to life, all must be “deeply imbued with the spirit of the liturgy (CSL # 29b).”  Patience, mutual respect, charity and careful catechesis over a significant period of time will be needed, as we work together through these changes, which will bring us into unity of practice and expression – although not necessarily uniformity - in this rich and ethnically diverse local church.

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.

                         Chapter II: The Structure of the Mass, Its Elements and Its Parts

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.

#34: Since the celebration of Mass by its nature has a “communitarian” character, both the dialogues between the priest and the faithful gathered together, and the acclamations are of great significance; in fact, they are not simply outward signs of communal celebration but foster and bring about communion between priest and people.

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.

Movement and Posture

# 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
  “May the Lord receive the sacrifice…” is new in the revised GIRM.

In the dioceses of the United States, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, large number of people present, or some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration.

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.

The faithful kneel after Agnus Dei unless the diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.

In the Archdiocese of Portland, the faithful stand after the Lamb of God.

#45: Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times.

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.
   Now a profound bow is specifically designated.

#51: The Act of Penitence

   This is the new name for the Penitential Rite.  When the new Missal is
   available there will be more options for form C.
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.

The Homily

#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 lay person…

   An important exception to this is when the presiding priest is unable
   to speak the language of the assembly and there is no other priest
   or deacon who has the language skill.  In this case, the presider
   prepares the homily and it is delivered in the language of the assembly
   by a lay person who can speak the language required.  In the case
   of Masses with young children, the Directory for Masses with Children
   #24 still is in effect:  “With the consent of the pastor or the rector
   of the church, one of the adults may speak to the children after
   the gospel, especially if the priest finds it difficult to adapt himself
   to the mentality of children.”
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
  (that is, from the waist).  “All genuflect” replaces “all kneel”
  found in the previous GIRM.

The Prayer over the Offerings

#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.”

The Rite of Peace

#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.

#86 (See also #159): While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun. Its purpose is to express the means of the unity of their voices, to show joy of heart, and to highlight more clearly the “communitarian” nature of the procession to receive Communion.  The singing is continued as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful….

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 Precious Blood.

   In all that pertains to Communion under both kinds, the Norms for the
   Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the
   USA are to be followed. (See GIRM #27-54)
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
ministers may wear the alb or other suitable vesture or other appropriate and dignified clothing.
In the Archdiocese of Portland lectors and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are generally not vested in an alb.

Color of liturgical vestments (see #346):  Beside violet, white or black vestments may be worn at funeral services and at other offices and  Masses for the Dead in the dioceses of the USA.  Gold or silver colored vestments may be worn on more solemn occasions.

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.

Special Days of Prayer

#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.
2. “All taking part in liturgical celebrations, whether ministers or members of the congregation, should do all that pertains to them, and no more, taking into account the rite and liturgical norms (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 28).”  Therefore, those serving as lectors, especially at the Sunday Eucharist, generally should not serve in any other capacity at that particular celebration.

3. This ministry is open to women and men, aged sixteen and above, who have been fully initiated.  They should be practicing Catholics, in good standing with the parish community and possess a love of the Scriptures.

4. Lectors exercise their ministry during the Mass, at Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of Priest, or during weekday communion services according to community needs.

5. The lector designated to proclaim the readings from Scripture, should have both the perspective and the ability to understand the Word, and must proclaim the sacred texts from a standpoint of faith. Therefore, preparation for this ministry should include both study of the scriptures and prayerful reflection on the passages to be proclaimed.

6. Good communication skills are necessary for anyone who proclaims the Word of God.  Pauses, enunciation, phrasing, and the speed with which one proclaims should be well practiced.  Silence after the readings is essential.  Readers use the text as written; they do not add their own words.

7. In the Archdiocese of Portland, lectors do not wear albs, but must be attired in such a way that shows respect for the dignity and solemnity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

8. Ordinarily lectors should carry the book of the Gospels slightly elevated in the entrance procession at the Sunday celebration. Thus the assembly sees the Book of the Word and the respect with which it is held.  When a deacon is present, he carries the book of the Gospels.  The lectionary, however, is never carried in procession.  (GIRM 2000, 194, 120)

9. If the lector is walking in the entrance procession, he or she makes a profound bow to the altar with the other ministers and walk to his or her place.  If, however, the lector is carrying the Book of the Gospels, the profound bow is omitted and the lector goes immediately to the altar and places the book upon it (GIRM 2000, 194).

10. The psalm is usually sung, and is the role of the cantor.  If there is no cantor,
 the psalm is read by the lector “in a way suited to fostering meditation on the word of God (GIRM 2000, 61).”

11. The Book of the Gospels is not carried out at the end of the liturgy.

12. A simple commissioning of lector may take place during the Eucharist.  A blessing for lectors may be found in the Book of Blessings, chapter 62.

13. The length of service for each lector is left to the discretion of the pastor/pastoral administrator, as long as the minister remains a member of the parish.

14. At liturgies with children and those geared to families with children, children may fulfill the role of lector even if they have not been full initiated.  (See the Directory for Masses with Children, 22.)  The children must be trained in proclamation and communication skills, as well as reading skills.  However, it must be clear to them that the Mass is not an opportunity for performance.

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, #4 ).”

1. The pastor, or his delegate, determines the needs and the persons best qualified to serve the parish community in this role   Those who are invited to assist as ministers of the Eucharist should exercise this function in a spirit of faith and service.

2. “All taking part in liturgical celebrations, whether ministers or members of the congregation, should do all that pertains to them, and no more, taking into account the rite and liturgical norms (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 28).”  Therefore, those serving as Eucharistic ministers, especially at the Sunday celebration, generally should not serve in any other capacity at that particular liturgy.

3. This ministry is open to women and men aged sixteen and above, who have been fully initiated.  They should be practicing Catholics, in good standing with the parish community, and possess a love of the Eucharist.

4. Eucharistic ministers must be properly trained both in the theology and practice of their role before beginning the ministry.  Ongoing education and evaluation at the parish level is also encouraged.

5. Eucharistic ministers exercise their function during the Sunday Eucharist, at a Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest, and to the homebound and nursing home communities outside of Mass.

6. “All ministers of Holy Communion should show the greatest reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist by their demeanor, their attire, and the manner in which they handle the consecrated bread or wine.”  (See # 29 – Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Diocese of the United States of America ). In the Archdiocese of Portland, Eucharistic ministers generally do not wear albs.

7. Ministers to the homebound and nursing homes receive the same training as those who exercise this function during the liturgy, with additional training specific to homebound ministry.

8. Eucharistic ministers may distribute both the bread and the cup.    As they do so, they announce “The body of Christ” [not “this is the Body of Christ,” “receive the Body of Christ,” or some other phrase].

9. A simple commissioning of Eucharistic ministers takes place during the celebration of Eucharist.  A service for this may be found the in Book of Blessings, chapter 63.

10. The length of service for each Eucharistic minister is left to the discretion of the pastor/pastoral administrator, as long as the minister remains a member of the parish.

11. Ministers of the Eucharist approach the altar only after the priest has received communion.  This does not mean, however, that they are not to enter the sanctuary.  Especially in larger churches, they may still enter the sanctuary during the Agnus Dei, but stand at a distance from the altar.

12. Eucharistic ministers always receive the vessel from the priest which contains the Blessed Sacrament which they will distribute. (GIRM 2000, 162Note:  This does not mean that the only person who may give communion to the Eucharistic ministers is the priest or deacon. Especially in parishes where there are a large number  of ministers the priest may choose to communicate one or two of the ministers and then hand him or her the vessel so that he or she may help distribute communion to the rest of the Eucharistic ministers.

13. Ministers may assist with purifying and washing the communion vessels as needed, as well as consuming the remaining precious blood.  (See Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States #51-55)

14. At Eucharistic liturgies with children, fully initiated adults or youth aged sixteen and above, may fulfill the role of Eucharistic ministers.

15. It is no longer necessary to have this ministry approved through the Archdiocese, however, certificates with the Archbishop’s signature can be made available through the Office of Worship upon request.

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