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Liturgical subtleties

English Spanish

The celebration of Holy Mass contains many details that sometimes could be inadvertently ignored.

Let us begin with the arrival of the celebrant at the altar. It is not enough to make a bow. The altar should be kissed as a sign of love for the Lord. Preface V of Easter calls Christ “priest, victim, and altar.”

After the Sign of the Cross, the celebrant pronounces the liturgical greeting. “Good morning” and “Good afternoon” do not qualify as liturgical greetings. There are several liturgical formulas of greetings.

The Penitential Act also offers many options, according to the different liturgical seasons. Parishioners should not be deprived of such varied and rich texts.  

The readings are proclaimed from the ambo, which is the table of the Word. Whenever possible, and out of respect for Divine Revelation, large hardcover lectionaries should be used, not brochures or missals.

The bishop, the priest or the deacon preaches the homily, no one else. It is mandatory on Sunday and days of obligation and it must be based on the liturgical texts. The homily is considered optional during the week. If it has not been well prepared, it is better to sit for a few minutes to take in what has been heard.

The Prayers of the Faithful are better formulated if they are written. The petitions are presented beginning with the most universal, leaving the local and personal intentions for the end.       

The presentation of the gifts includes two different prayers, one for the bread and the other for the wine. There is no need to merge them. When praying, the celebrant first lifts the paten and then the chalice slightly above the altar. They are not lifted high, as is done after the consecration.

Before the Prayer over the Offerings there is an invitation to pray, the ancient “Orate Fratres,” which says, “... my sacrifice and yours be acceptable to God the Father almighty.” Some wonder if it would be better to say “this sacrifice of ours.” No, it must be “my sacrifice and yours” because it expresses the difference between the ministerial priesthood and the baptismal priesthood. The Second Vatican Council teaches that the difference is not only in degree, but also in essence (cf. LG 10b).

The Liturgy of the Eucharist begins with the preface. The first three Eucharistic prayers permit a selection of prefaces. Not so the fourth prayer nor the rest. These carry their own preface inextricably linked to the rest of the prayer. In Spanish, the Roman Missal has 13 Eucharistic prayers; in English, it has 10. Such variety implies an invitation to alternate them, instead of using the same one always.              

When the celebrant is preaching, it is all right to look at the parishioners, but when he is addressing God in prayer, he should not glance at those present.

For the consecration of the bread, it is not necessary to execute the steps of the narration of the institution. The moment to divide is not when saying, “He broke it.” Likewise, when saying, “and gave it to his disciples,” the unconsecrated hosts are not to be distributed. It would be absurd.

In English, the consecration of the chalice ends by saying, “Do this in memory of me,” which in Spanish is translated as, “Do this in commemoration of me.” Both “memory” and “commemoration” refer to the sacramental memorial (Anamnesis). Synonyms that only stand for the mental ability to remember should not be used. The Mass is the memorial of the Paschal mystery, the act that makes present what happened once and for all.

It is not prescribed that parishioners join hands during the Our Father. The practice of holding hands has its drawbacks.

For the Rite of Peace, the celebrant only gives the sign of peace to those around the altar; he does not go around the church giving the sign of peace, nor should parishioners leave their seats to give the sign of peace to those who are far away.

After Communion, it is a good idea to allow a time of silence for the prayer of thanksgiving. It is not always necessary to make announcements, but when it is, they should be serious and not about trivial issues.

It is necessary that newly ordained priests read carefully the guidelines in red letters in the Missals. They are called “rubrics,” and their purpose is to protect the People of God against the subjectivism of the clergy.

Comments from readers

Michele MacEachern - 08/21/2018 10:55 AM
"The law was made for man [sic]; man [sic] was not made for the law." Though as a Music Director I have understandable respect for liturgical rubrics, the increased role of the laity in the life of the Church might be the better emphasis here. This is meant in no uncertain terms to undermine the role of the priest as presider. I have been markedly, grace-fully influenced by the Second Vatican Council's monumental Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. We all recognize one of its principal aims: "Full, conscious and active participation" by the assembly in the Eucharistic celebration. I venture to say that even the most informed of Catholics are not concerned with a slight change to wording here and there. They demand a prayerful atmosphere,acceptance, good homilies and quality music.
james - 08/20/2018 08:13 PM
Thank you Fr. Eduardo Barrios for this message. I strongly concur with the fact that people should not be talking and chatting constantly before and especially during our service. Way too much gossiping and chatter. Blessings,
Olivia Baca - 08/20/2018 04:40 PM
Gracias Padre Eduardo por sus enseñanzas y necesitamos mas! nuestra tenemos una liturgia bellisima y en mi oponion estamos abusando de ella. Nuevamente gracias.
Joe - 08/20/2018 04:23 PM
So what should a parishioner do if he sees a priest doing something he shouldn't?
VICTOR LOPEZ - 08/20/2018 04:10 PM
Excelente presentacion, Padre. "El que tenga oidos, que oiga" Bendiciones.

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