Skip to comments.The Discipline of the Eucharist Holy See Releases Redemptionis Sacramentum...
Posted on 04/25/2004 5:02:39 AM PDT by Desdemona
The Discipline of the Eucharist Holy See Releases Redemptionis Sacramentum, Norms for Celebration of Mass
Instruction on Liturgy, called for in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, is presented at the Vatican on Saint George's Day
by Helen Hull Hitchcock
On Saint George's Day, April 23, the Holy See released the long-awaited document on the discipline of the Liturgy, called for in Pope John Paul II's encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (The Church of the Eucharist), issued nearly a year ago.
The document, an Instruction titled Redemptionis sacramentum (The Sacrament of Redemption), and subtitled On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist, was presented by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) and other officials from the CDW and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at a Vatican press conference.
The disciplinary document, wrote the Holy Father in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, is necessary because "especially in the years following the post-Conciliar liturgical reform, as a result of a misguided sense of creativity and adaptation there have been a number of abuses which have been a source of suffering for many".
A certain reaction against "formalism" has led some, especially in certain regions, to consider the "forms" chosen by the Church's great liturgical tradition and her Magisterium as non-binding and to introduce unauthorized innovations which are often completely inappropriate.
I consider it my duty, therefore to appeal urgently that the liturgical norms for the celebration of the Eucharist be observed with great fidelity. These norms are a concrete expression of the authentically ecclesial nature of the Eucharist; this is their deepest meaning. Liturgy is never anyone's private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated... Precisely to bring out more clearly this deeper meaning of liturgical norms, I have asked the competent offices of the Roman Curia to prepare a more specific document, including prescriptions of a juridical nature, on this very important subject". (EE 52)
Redemptionis sacramentum was approved on March 19, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, and is dated March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation.
Many considered it appropriate that the Instruction was presented to the world on the Feast of Saint George, an early Christian martyr who died defending the Church. Saint George is the patron of Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, who was prefect of the CDW during the most intense debate over changes in the Liturgy, including revised translations proposed by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), which culminated with the landmark Instruction on translation, Liturgiam authenticam (Authentic Liturgy) in May 2001, as well as a thorough restructuring of ICEL.
Cardinal Medina also oversaw the publication of the third "typical edition" of the Roman Missal, originally introduced in 2000, and he guided the Holy See's responses to many questions that arose about the new Missal's Institutio Generalis (General Instruction) that provides regulations for the celebration of Mass. Cardinal Medina retired and was succeeded by Cardinal Arinze in October 2002.
A Continuation of the Encyclical There have been other instructions on the Eucharist since the Council (Inaestimabile donum, issued in April 1980, for example). Pope John Paul II's 1988 Vicesimus quintus annos -- observing the 25th anniversary of the Council's Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium -- had called for a critical reappraisal of the liturgical reforms since the Council, and to make corrections where needed.
Yet, as the Holy Father observed in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, issued forty years after Sacrosanctum Concilium appeared, "shadows are not lacking":
In some places the practice of Eucharistic adoration has been almost completely abandoned. In various parts of the Church abuses have occurred, leading to confusion with regard to sound faith and Catholic doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament. At times one encounters an extremely reductive understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet. Furthermore, the necessity of the ministerial priesthood, grounded in apostolic succession, is at times obscured and the sacramental nature of the Eucharist is reduced to its mere effectiveness as a form of proclamation. This has led here and there to ecumenical initiatives, which, albeit well intentioned, indulge in Eucharistic practices contrary to the discipline by which the Church expresses her faith. How can we not express profound grief at all this? The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation.
"It is my hope that the present Encyclical Letter will effectively help to banish the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine and practice, so that the Eucharist will continue to shine forth in all its radiant mystery". (EE 10)
Thus the Preamble of Redemptionis sacramentum states that it is not a compendium of all of the norms for the Eucharist that have been issued in the past, but that it intends "to establish certain norms by which those earlier ones are explained and complemented". (RS 2)
The Instruction also has the purpose of a call to duty: "to set forth for Bishops, as well as for Priests, Deacons and all the lay Christian faithful, how each should carry them out in accordance with his own responsibilities and the means at his disposal". (RS 2)
Observance of these norms is not optional:
"The observance of the norms published by the authority of the Church requires conformity of thought and of word, of external action and of the application of the heart. A merely external observation of norms would obviously be contrary to the nature of the Sacred Liturgy"... (RS 5)
Liturgical abuses are harmful and must cease:
-- "Abuses 'contribute to the obscuring of the Catholic faith and doctrine...'" (RS 6)
-- "Not infrequently, abuses are rooted in a false understanding of liberty" (RS 7)
-- "'[E]cumenical initiatives... indulge at times in Eucharistic practices contrary to the discipline by which the Church expresses her faith'." (RS 8)
-- "[A]buses are often based on ignorance, in that they involve a rejection of those elements whose deeper meaning is not understood..." (RS 9)
The Instruction's Preamble also stresses that the Church has received her Liturgy "from apostolic and unbroken tradition, which it is the Church's task to transmit faithfully and carefully to future generations". (RS 9)
"The Church herself has no power over those things which were established by Christ Himself, and which constitute an unchangeable part of the Liturgy. Indeed, if the bond were to be broken which the Sacraments have with Christ Himself who instituted them... it would do [the faithful] great harm. For the Sacred Liturgy is quite intimately connected with principles of doctrine, so that the use of unapproved texts and rites necessarily leads either to the attenuation or to the disappearance of that necessary link between the lex orandi [law of prayer] and the lex credendi [law of belief]". (RS 10)
Thus, the Instruction states firmly, anyone who permits "himself to treat [the Liturgy] according to his own whim ...[or]... by giving free reign to his own inclinations, even if he is a Priest, injures the substantial unit of the Roman Rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved.
"The result is uncertainty in matters of doctrine, perplexity and scandal on the part of the People of God, and, almost as a necessary consequence, vigorous opposition"... (RS 11)
Though the Instruction does not mention as examples of "vigorous opposition" the schismatic groups that have justified breaking with the Church chiefly over the state of the Liturgy after the Council, this seems inescapably to be implied.
The Instruction makes it very clear from its first paragraphs that Catholics actually have a right to faithful celebration of Holy Mass:
"[It] is the right of all Christ's faithful that the Liturgy, and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass, should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms. Likewise, the Catholic people have the right that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass should be celebrated for them in an integral manner, according to the entire doctrine of the Church's Magisterium. Finally, it is the Catholic community's right that the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist should be carried out for it in such a manner that it truly stands out as a sacrament of unity, to the exclusion of all blemishes and actions that might engender divisions and factions in the Church" (referring to EE 52). (RS 12)
"All of the norms and exhortations set forth in this Instruction are connected, albeit in various ways, with the mission of the Church, whose task it is to be vigilant concerning the correct and worthy celebration of so great a mystery". (RS 13)
The Preamble provides the fundamental orientation of the eight chapters of the Instruction, stressing, as it does, the necessity for spiritual conformity and unity in the Church, as well as the right of the faithful to authentic Liturgy -- and the obligation of bishops to assure it.
Significantly, the right of the faithful to a proper celebration of Mass is a continuing theme -- a leitmotiv, as it were -- that pervades Redemptionis sacramentum. The Preamble's ample citation of other Church documents -- often quoting sections verbatim -- is also maintained throughout the Instruction.
The Regulation of the Sacred Liturgy The Instruction's first chapter summarizes the Church's teaching on the governing authority of the Sacred Liturgy -- first the Church, "which rests specifically with the Apostolic See and, according to the norms of law, with the Bishop"; the pope, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The reason for this level of authority is that "Christ's faithful have the right that ecclesiastical authority should fully and efficaciously regulate the Sacred Liturgy lest it should ever seem to be 'anyone's private property'". (RS 18)
In this section the Instruction outlines the authority and the obligations of bishops. He "sets forth liturgical norms in his Diocese, by which all are bound" (citing Canon 838). He must also correct liturgical abuses (RS 24), and says that "there has long been a need" for bishops to review the work of individuals or groups that advise them on liturgical matters, to "consider carefully" changes and improvements, and to make sure that the "experts" who advise them be known for "soundness in the Catholic faith" as well as for "knowledge of theological and cultural matters". (RS 25)
This section also cautions that a bishop's diocesan norms must not limit the pastoral freedom for certain variations in celebrations in a particular group or circumstances, provided they are "in accordance with liturgical books". (RS 21)
The Holy Father had stressed a similar limitation applied to bishops in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, quoting his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia: "such cooperation [among bishops] is essential because the Sacred Liturgy expresses and celebrates the one faith professed by all and, being the heritage of the whole Church, cannot be determined by local Churches in isolation from the universal Church". (EE 51)
Though this point -- that a bishop is not free to mandate liturgical practices in his own diocese that are innovations or that are substantial changes from the practice of other bishops in his Conference -- would hardly seem to require special emphasis, it does address a problem of liturgical "balkanization" that has afflicted the Church in the United States for several years.
The Instruction briefly reviews the authority of bishops' conferences, and, citing other documents, notes that "all liturgical norms" that a Conference proposes require the recognitio (approval) of the CDW in order to have any binding force. (RS 28)
The section on priests quotes a passage from Saint Ambrose, noting that priests "ought not to detract from the profound meaning of their own ministry by corrupting the liturgical celebration either through alteration or omission, or through arbitrary additions", and continues, "let them faithfully seek to prevent others as well from committing this type of distortion" 
Deacons, too, "do their part so that the Sacred Liturgy will be celebrated according to the norms of the duly approved liturgical books". (RS 35)
Authentic Participation of the Lay Faithful The laity's "active and conscious participation" in the Mass opens the Instruction's third chapter, with citations from Sacrosanctum Concilium and other Church documents. The Mass as a Sacrifice is given strong emphasis, as in Ecclesia de Eucharistia:
The constant teaching of the Church on the nature of the Eucharist not only as a meal, but also and pre-eminently as a Sacrifice, is... understood to be one of the principal keys to the fill participation of all the faithful in so great a Sacrament. For when "stripped of its sacrificial meaning, the mystery is understood as if its meaning and importance were simply that of a fraternal banquet". (RS 38)
The Instruction lists several means by which the Council intended to make available "the riches of the liturgical tradition". and states that "the power of the liturgical celebrations does not consist in frequently altering the rites, but in probing more deeply the Word of God and the mystery being celebrated". (RS 39) It calls for teaching (catechesis) to remedy false notions that "active participation" means doing some activity during the Liturgy.
What is needed is to "instill anew in all of Christ's faithful that sense of deep wonder before the greatness of the mystery of faith that is the Eucharist". (RS 40) Practices of piety, such as the Rosary and the Liturgy of the Hours, help nourish this "interior understanding of liturgical participation". (RS 41)
No "Clericalization" of the Laity It is important that people understand that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is not to be considered a "concelebration" of the priest with the people who are present, and for celebration of the Eucharist, the community "absolutely requires an ordained priest".
Thus, the Instruction stresses, "There is a concerted will to avoid all ambiguity in this matter and to remedy the difficulties of recent years. Accordingly, terms such as 'celebrating community' or 'celebrating assembly' ... and similar terms should not be used injudiciously". (RS 42)
On this point, in his ad limina address to the bishops of the Antilles in May 2002, the Holy Father emphasized the problem of "clericalization" of the laity:
The involvement of the laity becomes a form of clericalism when the sacramental or liturgical roles that belong to the priest are taken over by lay faithful or when the laity start to perform tasks of pastoral governance proper to the priest. In such situations, what the Council taught on the essentially secular character of the lay vocation is often disregarded (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 31). It is the priest who, as an ordained minister and in the name of Christ, presides over the Christian community in the sphere of her liturgical and pastoral activity. The laity assist him in many ways in this work. The primary place for the exercise of the lay vocation is the economic, social, political and cultural world. It is in this world that lay people are invited to live their baptismal vocation not as passive consumers but as active members of the great work that expresses what is distinctively Christian. It belongs to the office of the priest to preside over the Christian community so that lay people can carry out their own ecclesial and missionary task. In a time of continuing secularization, it could seem strange that the Church emphasizes so forcefully the secular vocation of laypersons. It is precisely the Gospel witness of the faithful in the world that is the heart of the Church's response to the malaise of secularization (cf. Ecclesia in America, n. 44).
The involvement of lay people is politicized when the laity become absorbed by the exercise of "authority" within the Church. This happens when the Church is no longer seen in terms of a "mystery" of grace that characterizes her, but in sociological or political terms, often on the basis of a misunderstanding of the notion of "People of God", a notion that has deep and rich biblical roots and was so opportunely put to use by the Second Vatican Council. When it is not service but power that shapes every form of government in the Church, whether exercised by the clergy or by the laity, opposing interests begin to make themselves felt. Clericalism for priests is the kind of governance that comes more from the use of power than from the spirit of service; it always gives rise to all sorts of antagonism between priests and people. Such clericalism is found in forms of lay leadership that do not reasonably respect the transcendental and sacramental nature of the Church and of her role in the world. Both these attitudes are harmful. On the contrary, what the Church needs is a deeper and more creative sense of complementarity between the vocation of the priest and the vocation of lay people. Without this, we cannot hope to be faithful to the teaching of the Council nor find a way out of the usual difficulties with the priest's identity, the people's confidence in him and the call to the priesthood". (Pope John Paul II's to the Bishops of Antilles ad limina address, May 7, 2002 §2)
The "noble custom" of boys as altar servers "after the manner of acolytes" is encouraged, which is not new; but what is new is that the Instruction suggests forming associations for these young men, to be approved or established by the CDW.
The Instruction affirms, here, that girls or women may be admitted to this service -- at the discretion of the diocesan bishop "and in observance of the established norms".
One "established norm" the Instruction expressly footnotes is a 2001 letter of clarification from the CDW, stating that a bishop's "authorization [of female altar servers] may not, in any way, exclude men or, in particular, boys from service at the altar, nor require that priests of the diocese would make use of female altar servers".
Cardinal Medina, then-prefect of the CDW, pointed out that "the non-ordained faithful do not have a right to service at the altar", and that if a bishop authorizes the practice of female servers, "it would remain important to explain clearly to the faithful the nature of this innovation, lest confusion might be introduced, thereby hampering the development of priestly vocations". The cardinal added that this official response is to be considered "normative" on the subject.
(Excerpt) Read more at adoremus.org ...
There was a little mishap, though--when the Deacon poured the wine into the smaller chalices, he forgot to pour some into His Excellency's chalice as well. Archbishop Burke came up to the altar, picked up his chalice, looked inside it with a puzzled look, and then held it out for Fr. Keller to fix. There's always a mishap with a change in the ritual. :)
Still, the main point is that I was impressed to see the changes implemented so quickly--no "studies," no "consultation"--just "Rome says it, and we do it."
[105.] If one chalice is not sufficient for Communion to be distributed under both kinds to the Priest concelebrants or Christ's faithful, there is no reason why the Priest celebrant should not use several chalices. For it is to be remembered that all Priests in celebrating Holy Mass are bound to receive Communion under both kinds. It is praiseworthy, by reason of the sign value, to use a main chalice of larger dimensions, together with smaller chalices.You are in a GOOD parish, lucky lady :)
[106.] However, the pouring of the Blood of Christ after the consecration from one vessel to another is completely to be avoided, lest anything should happen that would be to the detriment of so great a mystery. Never to be used for containing the Blood of the Lord are flagons, bowls, or other vessels that are not fully in accord with the established norms.