HANT CAFE has quoted the USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship on 18 February 2012 saying that the GIRM “never speaks to every possible scenario that could take place” but only the “normative practice.”
If you don’t know what the “GIRM” is, download this 2011 version: 2011 Copy of the GIRM
As you read the rest of this article, please remember this 18 February 2012 statement.
REV. DERYCK HANSHELL (†1994) was an impressive Jesuit priest. Among other things, he served as master of Campion Hall (Oxford), Chairman of the Association for English Worship, assistant editor of a famous Jesuit magazine (The Month), and was associated with the papal nunciature in London. Here are several of his wonderful articles:
While much of what he says is wonderful, I have some questions:
1st Question: Why does Fr. Hanshell instruct the priest to stand “in front of the Altar, with his back to the people” for the beginning of Mass? The Roman Missal, the GIRM (#50), and Bishop Peter J. Elliott say the priest begins Mass “at the chair” (and, presumably, stays there fore what follows). Fr. Hanshell says the priest should go to the chair for the Collect.
2nd Question: Why does Fr. Hanshell say that the Collect can be read from the Altar?
3rd Question: Why does Fr. Hanshell say the priest should bow at the Confiteor?
4th Question: Why does Fr. Hanshell say the priest should stand “in front of the Altar, with his back to the people” for the Creed? Bishop Peter J. Elliott says the priest stands at the chair for the Creed. (The GIRM and the Roman Missal don’t say where the priest should stand, as far as I can tell.)
5th Question: Can anyone explain the reason why Fr. Hanshell says the following? “Readings need not be taken from the Jerusalem or modern American versions. The Revised Standard or the Douai are at least to be preferred.”
BY THE WAY, be careful when reading Fr. Hanshell’s articles, because sometimes he’s suggesting certain rubrics be changed. Here are some excerpts to back up what I mentioned above:
Page 3: The priest standing (and bowing) before the altar for the penitential rite, his proceeding to the ambo, his going up to the altar: all this is eloquent of what is being done; and not least would it be so were he to go in procession to the pulpit.
Page 4: The priest having ascended to the altar and kissed it, turns round, descends from the altar or takes a few paces away from it, turns to the altar again, bows deeply, and making the sign of the cross says “In the name of the Father” etc. Bowing again slightly the priest then turns to the people and greets them with “The Lord be with you” or one of the alternatives, following this with the Fratres agnoscamus. [ … ] Turning again to the altar and bowing deeply the priest then begins the Confiteor (if he is following this form of the penitential rite). He straightens up for the absolution (so called), and then follows the Kyrie recited in the same position and the Gloria if it is to be said. It seems appropriate that for the acts of penitence and adoration in this part of the Mass the priest should adopt the position here outlined. He can then go to the chair for the recitation of the collect. The server should hold the book which otherwise will have to be placed on a lectern: it is uncouth for the priest to hold it himself and this also prevents his extending his hands as he should do. Or else, though less suitably, the collect can be read from the altar.
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Page 5: It adds somewhat to the solemnity if the priest goes to the center in front of the altar and faces it for the creed, if this is to be said. All should bow deeply at the Incarnatus est except on the feasts of the Annunciation and the Nativity when all genuflect.
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Page 5: The priest then takes his position before the altar as at the opening of Mass, bows (slightly) and proceeds to his place at the altar for the offertory.
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Page 9: Not all perhaps will agree with all that has been said here, but if nevertheless it contributes to a more thorough awareness of what celebrating Mass entails it will have served its purpose.
Page 12: In general, the order of Mass as we now have it, is to be seen as a modification of the previous order and not as something “new.” As was earlier suggested, the revised Mass is a later edition of the same western Mass (in its Roman form). The tendency has been to highlight where the present Mass differs from what went before, while minimizing what remains unchanged. We need to reverse this tendency. In emphasizing the present rite’s continuity with the previous one, such details as the use of the chalice veil should not be ignored.
Page 20: I think the time is arriving when some of the old rubrics and gestures too hastily discarded will be brought back. Meanwhile it is for us surely to make the most of what is at present laid down. The principal ceremonies of the Mass have by no means been abrogated, though some have been modified. For instance in the creed we are to bow instead of (except on two occasions) genuflecting. The result is that ordinarily nobody does anything. It would help perhaps if priests made a proper bow and not just a slight inclination, and if they turned towards the altar when they did so. To stand before the altar facing it and with their backs to the people for the creed, and for the Confiteor at the beginning of Mass, bowing deeply for the appropriate periods would be better still.
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Page 24: They don’t have to be in the Jerusalem version or any modification of it. The Revised Standard Version is at least to be preferred.
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Page 24: Care to bow to the altar for the Confiteor and at the Incarnatus est, if indeed genuflection at the latter point should not be speedily and authoritatively reintroduced.
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Page 26: Readings need not be taken from the Jerusalem or modern American versions. The Revised Standard or the Douai are at least to be preferred.
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Page 26: Care should be taken to bow to the altar for the Confiteor and at the Et incarnatus est, if indeed genuflection at the latter point should not be speedily and authoritatively re-introduced.