Friday, May 09, 2008

Bishop Jarrett explains upcoming Mass changes

Just in case plain English can't be understood by some, or in case some want to make the new directions say what they do not say, in this AD2000 article, Bishop Jarrett of Lismore in NSW (a convert to the Church from Anglicanism in his youth just like our Bishop Peter Elliot) had dotted every 'i' and crossed every 't' in this excellent instruction he has prepared for his diocese. Given that every word he says is taken directly from current laws applying to all Australian dioceses, you can fairly well take this as gospel for wherever you may attend mass this Sunday (and thereafter) in Australia.

20 Comments:

At Friday, May 09, 2008 2:22:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Gotta disagree with the good bishop on two points.

First, he says that “many people have been in the habit of genuflecting out of reverence when approaching . . . Of course they may continue doing this as their gesture of reverence.”

In fact, the GIRM says that we are to bow in reverence of the Mystery, and also specifically says that “The customary manner of reception is recommended to be followed by all, so that Communion may truly be a sign of unity among those who share in the same table of the Lord.” I think that strongly suggests that we are all recommended to use the same gesture of reverence.

People may continue to genuflect in the sense that nobody will, or should, stop them from doing so. But the GIRM seems to me to indicate a definite preference for a bow, and people should be catechised accordingly.

Secondly, he says that the recommended bow “is understood as a bow not just of the head, but of the body”.

In fact the GIRM explicitly distinguishes (in para 275) between two different kinds of bow: the “bow of the head”, and the “bow of the body, that is to say, a profound bow”. Where a bow of the body is required, the GIRM says so. Bishop Jarrett quotes just such a provision later on in his article. When the GIRM specifies simply a “bow”, then either will suffice.

Para 160, which deals with the gesture of reverence before receiving communion, specifies simply a bow. Therefore either will suffice.

This is unsurprising. Most of the provisions of the GIRM which call for a bow specify a profound bow, but when people are called upon to bow while moving in procession, a simple bow is generally specified. There are obvious practical reasons for this. The same considerations indicate that potentially grand gestures while moving in a communion line ought not to be required.

 
At Saturday, May 10, 2008 12:59:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Considering that His Lordship, as one of the Australian Ordinaries, must have been privy to the discussions on these matters, his interpretation bears the greater weight. Hence, if he says that bowing does not exclude genuflection, and if he further specifies that the bow is a bow of the body not merely of the head, then prima facie his statement should be accepted as an explication of the thinking behind the promulgated changes, and not disparaged as going beyond the letter.

(Bp Jarrett was my former P.P. - though technically I didn't live in his parish I went to Mass there and was privileged to know him, a fine priest - and I can assure readers that his knowledge and practice of liturgy is a sure guide.)

 
At Saturday, May 10, 2008 9:30:00 am , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Hmm. Seems to me that similar considerations must apply to the opinions of [i]Ecclesia Dei[/i] in relation to the operation and application of [i]Summorum Pontificum[/i], no?

 
At Saturday, May 10, 2008 11:49:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

I'm sure you can tell that I argue differently depending upon whether or not I know the person, and/or like their judgement! ;-)

I think I made it clear enough in the end that the business of transferring Holy Days is not, to my mind, "pastorally sensitive", etc.

The good bishop's careful and generous words are, on the contrary, sensitive to those pious persons who, having genuflected - using a gesture that signifies adoration - may well be scandalized and conflicted if told to drop this and perform the lesser reverence of bowing: they could refuse angrily, believing that this is an implicit denial of the worship due the Real Presence, and then what?

I should have thought this obvious.

BTW, in the past, owing to certain circumstances when bowing was the local custom at the OF, I did so gladly; otherwise, for years at the OF, I genuflected; and now, attending the EF most of the time, Deo gratias, I can kneel as seems most reverent.

But I don't (pace PE) make a god out of my own devotional practices within the wider guidelines of what is acceptable: the other week, attending the OF Mass of a good priest, because I had noticed that through age and frailty he found it hard to give communion on the tongue, out of charity I received on the hand, since it would have been unfair to inconvenience him.

 
At Saturday, May 10, 2008 12:07:00 pm , Blogger Victoria said...

I would prefer that the bow be a profound one but according to my pp the archbishop (who is on the committee which decided this) said that a reverent bow of the head is all that is needed.

 
At Saturday, May 10, 2008 2:35:00 pm , Blogger LYL said...

Our PP hasn't mentioned any of this. I heard of it from a friend. I'm wondering if people in my parish will be informed at all.

 
At Saturday, May 10, 2008 2:54:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

This reminds me of what a Melbourne priest told me: he was a young lad when the liturgy was reformed, and this is his account of what he and his family was told, along with the rest of the congregation.

To everyone's amazement, after finishing Sunday Low Mass, the priest didn't walk straight into the sacristy to the side of the sanctuary.

Instead, he turned and spoke to them!

This is what he said: "Next week, Mass will be in English. Booklets are a shilling [or whatever] at the Catholic Bookshop."

That was the sum total of preparation that parish had for the Novus Ordo.

 
At Saturday, May 10, 2008 2:56:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

P.S. This was probably the introduction of the 1965 Mass in English, not the 1969 Missal.

 
At Saturday, May 10, 2008 6:07:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

You seem to be saying, Joshua, that what Bishop Jarrett says (or what Ecclesia Dei says) is right or wrong depending on whether it it accords with your views, or with those of other like-minded people.

Not to accuse you of relativism or anything, but to my mind what Bishop Jarrett says by way of explanation of this provision of the GIRM will be right or wrong depending on how accurately it reflects the provisions concerned. What Ecclesia Dei says will be right or wrong depending on whether it accords with the relevant provisions of canon law regarding holydays.

What Bishop Jarrett says does seem to me largely to accord with the GIRM but, in these two respects, I think it does not.

If someobody really thinks that bowing instead of genuflecting is “an implicit denial of the worship due to the Real Presence” then we have a problem, but it is a problem addressed by good catechesis, not by allowing them to persist in such an dangerous error. If we allow them to think this, then they will be scandalised when priests comply with the very many provisions of the GIRM which call for a bow; every time they see that done they will think tha the Real Presence is being denied. Is that really the outcome you favour?

As I have already made clear, I do not think that people who wish to genuflect should be prevented from doing so; fidelity to the GIRM is not the most important issue here. Nevertheless Bishop Jarrett should not give the impression that genuflecting is a faithful reflection of the GIRM; it isn’t. In so far as people are being catechised on this point, they should be catechised correctly. If they still wish to genuflect, I have no problem with that.

 
At Saturday, May 10, 2008 8:49:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Hopefully you realise when I am joking!

I of all people would not wish to dally with relativism and am horrified at the very idea.

The problem is that symbols in fact do matter, and changing them confuses people. This is my basic objection: that orthodoxy and orthopraxy are linked, and that changing the latter risks the former. I should think the recent history of the Roman Rite proves this abundantly - everyone knows that belief in the Real Presence et al. has waned, and (alongside bad formation) the general impoverishment of liturgical signs must have contributed.

Contrast the priest in vestments of gold descending the steps from the altar of sacrifice, approaching you as you kneel, no doubt well-dressed, at the altar rail, to give you your God in Holy Communion, with a server to hold a plate lest the sacred Host be dropped, with the contemporary bathos of sauntering toward a denuded sanctuary now with but a Cranmer table, and no priest but a fishwife doling out hosts into the hands of the ill-dressed: the obvious message, despite what the words alone of the rite say, is that Jesus isn't here any more.

I in fact believe that Christ is present in His Sacrifice at any Catholic Mass, but all too many I suspect just don't get that message any more.

There are good honest simple folk who precisely are scandalized when genuflections disappear; I know and you know that genuflection is not the only sign of adoration, and that some rites use it, others use other gestures, but the average person doesn't. This is why I talk of avoiding scandalizing people.

I honestly believe that putting your faith in good catechesis is a bit naive: what tiny proportion of Catholics in Australia get any catechesis, let alone good, faithful catechesis? Don't have your head in the sand.

Isn't it obvious that the bishops in private were divided between those unenamoured of even these slight moves toward greater reverence, and those who would have pressed for genuflection alone? The whole thing looks like a compromise.

I suggest if you wish to teach the Bishop of Lismore how to do his job you should write to him or ring his office; I am sure he will deliver you from any concerns you may have as to his competence, but in a manner far more polite than mine.

 
At Sunday, May 11, 2008 1:02:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well, hey, not only that, but get those poor unelightened genuflectors to quick genuflecting to where he isn't any more -- the centre of the altar, since the Cromwellian thugs hauled him away -- and to where he is on the "altar of repose" or whatever doctrinally developed name it may have now!

One of these days he's going to shout Hey, I'm over here!

Joshua, I get your fight. I'm just so glad it's not mine any more.

 
At Sunday, May 11, 2008 11:01:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

http://tastrads.blogspot.com/2008/05/genuflect-as-often-as-you-like-whenever.html

Apparently Cardinal Pell has also said that the instruction by no means excludes genuflection.

 
At Sunday, May 11, 2008 6:45:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Hi Joshua

I of all people would not wish to dally with relativism and am horrified at the very idea.

I know. I thought that would get a rise out of you.

Contrast the priest in vestments of gold descending the steps from the altar of sacrifice, approaching you as you kneel, no doubt well-dressed, at the altar rail, to give you your God in Holy Communion, with a server to hold a plate lest the sacred Host be dropped, with the contemporary bathos of sauntering toward a denuded sanctuary now with but a Cranmer table, and no priest but a fishwife doling out hosts into the hands of the ill-dressed: the obvious message, despite what the words alone of the rite say, is that Jesus isn't here any more.

Anybody who characterises an extraordinary minister of holy communion as a “fishwife” has a problem which goes well beyond defective eucharistic theology. But there is nevertheless defective eucharistic theology here. It’s quite obvious that the Reality of the Real Presence does not depend to any extent on the sex, occupation or attire of the person in whose hands the eucharistic elements are held. If there really is anyone who thinks that the Real Presence depends on gold vestments then this is an absolute scandal, but it would be an even bigger scandal to design liturgies with the express intention of allowing this woeful misconception to persist.

There are good honest simple folk who precisely are scandalized when genuflections disappear; I know and you know that genuflection is not the only sign of adoration, and that some rites use it, others use other gestures, but the average person doesn't. This is why I talk of avoiding scandalizing people.

You have a very low opinion of the “average person”. Do you think the “average person” is too stupid or too inattentive to have noticed that the gesture of bowing already features far more often in the Eucharistic liturgy than the gesture of genuflecting? Or is it that he or she has noticed this, but it has never occurred to them to wonder what the bow signifies? Bowing is a well-established and widely used gesture of veneration and adoration in the Roman Rite. Any argument that depends on the “average person” not knowing what a bow signifies is completely specious.

I honestly believe that putting your faith in good catechesis is a bit naive: what tiny proportion of Catholics in Australia get any catechesis, let alone good, faithful catechesis? Don't have your head in the sand.

What is Bishop Jarrett’s article, if not catechesis? My point is, that to be good catechesis it should not misrepresent the GIRM in this respect.

Isn't it obvious that the bishops in private were divided between those unenamoured of even these slight moves toward greater reverence, and those who would have pressed for genuflection alone? The whole thing looks like a compromise.

I don’t know this for certain, but I have suspected as much. But, if this is correct, it rather undermines your theory that Bishop Jarrett’s article reflects the sense of the Bishop’s Conference; isn’t it more likely that it reflects the view which Bishop Jarrett, and those of like mind with him, tried but failed to have reflected in the GIRM?

I suggest if you wish to teach the Bishop of Lismore how to do his job you should write to him or ring his office; I am sure he will deliver you from any concerns you may have as to his competence, but in a manner far more polite than mine.

I’ve no desire to teach him how to do his job, and I have expressed no concerns about his competence. Lord knows the work of a bishop is difficult enough without people writing to tell them how to do their jobs or to accuse them of incompetence. I leave that to the rad trads, a few of whom are proficient in this department.

But Bishop Jarrett published an article in the public press. Presumably, his intention in doing so was that it would be read, considered and discussed, and I do not think my comments have been intemperate. He and I disagree with his interpretation of the GIRM on these two points. I am not offended by the fact that he disagrees with me, and it would surprise (and disappoint) me if he was offended by the fact that I disagree with him.

 
At Sunday, May 11, 2008 8:23:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

The point is a pastoral one, I think.

GIRM now expressly requires a bow so that the communicant gives at least SOME sort of bodily recognition to the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist rather than none at all. It would be entirely contrary to changes in the new GIRM to require that someone actually moderate the degree of adoration they are showing to our Lord!

Secondly, the fact that the GIRM instruction does not forbid genuflection before receiving the sacrament should settle the matter. That which is not forbidden is allowed.

Perhaps the old rule has particular application here: "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things charity."

 
At Monday, May 12, 2008 3:55:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well gee whillikers, fellas, I guess it depends upon which Roman Catholic Church you're talking about.

Such pious practice as Joshua describes was explained to me as not so that there will be a Real Presence in the host, but because there is. Therefore, no-one, not even the communicant, may touch the consecrated host but the consecrated fingers of the priest. And if one of us altar boys (they were boys then) missed a falling host with the paten, we were absolutely not to pick it up, the priest would. If there were once other practices in the Church, and there were, we now have better ones.

One man's "development" is another's enshrining mediaeval secular protocol. Another Roman Catholic Church explained to me that we no longer view Communion in such a passive manner, but rather restore the more ancient and truer practice (development goes forward and backward, I guess) of the communicant making a table of his hands to receive the host, from which he placed it in his own tongue, thereby showing his co-operation with God's grace, both parties active participants in the exchange.

Likewise genuflexion -- we no longer need use a mediaeval sign of obedience to a ruler, but may bow as a much simpler gesture appropriate to our times.

 
At Monday, May 12, 2008 10:15:00 am , Blogger Peter said...

For the record, when questioned by Sydney's Liturgical Commission, a significant member of the National Liturgical group responsible for the promulgation of these changes confirmed that the new wording of the GIRM is correctly interpreted as exhorting people to make "at least" a bow as a gesture of reverence.

If I were to raise a concern about the document it would be to ask how the words "consecrated bread" were used to describe the real presence.

 
At Monday, May 12, 2008 10:31:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Thanks for that Peter. It confirms what I myself heard from another local ordinary who is a member of the "the National Liturgical group responsible for the promulgation of these changes", but I thought it would be impolitic to mention it! We should remember that such promulgations are always aimed at the lowest common denominator (like the law that all Catholics should receive communion once a year means AT LEAST once a year!).

 
At Tuesday, May 13, 2008 12:51:00 am , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

I have to ask myself, then, what is the meaning of this sentence in para 160?

"The customary manner of reception is recommended to be followed by all, so that Communion may truly be a sign of unity among those who share in the same table of the Lord."

There is no parallel exhortation in relation to standing for the gospel, kneeling after the Hosanna, etc. I'm certain that this was put in for a reason, and I can't make any sense of it, except as an indication of a definite preference for a uniformity of practice in relation to reception of the Holy Communion. There are both pastoral and theological reasons for emphasising the communal nature of Holy Communion, which I trust I don;t have to spell out, so all of this makes sense to me.

If the intention was to recommend "at least" a bow, it would have been easy to provide for "a bow, or some other more profound gesture of reverence" in para 160, or similar words. I should point out that the Bishops didn't have to specify any particular gesture here; they could have called simply for a gesture of reverence, which as far as I can establish is the choice made by a number of other episcopal conferences.

Bottom line; genuflecting may (and, in my view, should) be accepted
for pastoral reasons, but this is in spite of the wording of the GIRM, not because of it.

 
At Tuesday, May 13, 2008 1:32:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

I think I may have overzealously attacked you on this point: I now see that you aren't of the school that would tick off people who bend the knee, and simply read a document one way, whereas others, relying upon comments of certain bishops, etc., interpret it another, looking to some of the expressed and implied reasons behind it.

Your argument proves the opposite to what you claim: everyone is simply expected to stand for the Gospel (unless unable by reason of ill health or whatever of course), whereas this bow is but recommended, i.e., it is not expected of everyone in the way that standing for the Gospel is.

 
At Tuesday, May 13, 2008 8:17:00 am , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Actually, so far as the wording of the GIRM is concerned, the bow is not a recommendation; para 160 simply says that “When approaching to receive Holy Communion, the faithful bow in reverence of the Mystery that they are to receive.” This is a recommendation in the sense only that all the directions in the GIRM are recommendattions; i.e. there are no explicit sanctions for disobeying them.

We can constrast this with other provisions in the same paragraph; for example, to receive communion the faithful “as a rule, approach in procession”. This seems to me to signal that the procession need not always occur. Likewise, we are told that “standing is the most common posture for receiving Holy Communion”, which again is slightly tentative, reflecting the fact that sometimes people kneel. But there is qualification or provisionality like this about the direction to bow.

I think if it [i]was[/i] the bishops’ intention to allow bowing or similar gestures of reverence, they have worded para 160 extremely badly; it simply does not have the effect that they intended. I suspect the truth, however, is that some bishops are disappointed that it doesn’t say what they hoped or wanted, and are trying to spin it.

 

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