Carlson lays down the liturgical law

Carlson lays down the liturgical law

Bishop Robert Carlson of Saginaw, Michigan, continues his efforts at cleaning up the mess he inherited with a new letter outlining the requirements for compliance with liturgical law for the sacraments. In a letter to the diocese, accompanied by comprehensive notes, Carlson has laid down the law. Everyone is to begin celebrating Mass according to the dictates of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) and the Apostolic Letter Redemptionis Sacramentum.

The instructions are comprehensive, covering every area of worship, including everything from art and environment to the infamous Saginaw Blessing.

The key here will be enforcement. In order for this to be more than words on a page, there must be consequences for those who refuse to follow the law. As soon as people realize that as long as they’re discreet they can continue doing things the way they have, then this will all be for nought.

However, I think Carlson isn’t the sort of bishop who talks a good game and does nothing. I think we’re going to see some solid implementation of this directive and it’s a good thing for the people of the Saginaw diocese.

Technorati Tags:, , , , ,

bk_keywords:Catholic, Eucharist.

  • Although I don’t like hand-holding strangers during Mass, the GIRM doesn’t explicitly forbid it.

  • I wasn’t familiar with the “Saginaw Blessing”, so I guess it wasn’t infamous enough.  From NCR’s description, it deserved to be.

    “The Saginaw blessing was started by Bishop Untener shortly after his arrival in late 1980. Everyone in the congregation raises both arms outstretched while saying the blessing.

      May the Lord bless and keep you!
      May he make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
      And give you his peace.

      May the Lord bless and keep you!
      May she make her face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
      And give you her peace.

    The female gender in second verse was Untener’s idea.”

    Lord have mercy.  What an outrage.  What did orthodox Catholics do in that diocese?

  • “Lord have mercy.  What an outrage.  What did orthodox Catholics do in that diocese?”

    They probably gasped aloud, refused to sing; rolled their eyes; tsked-tsked; knelt and prayed in reparation to the Holy Name; walked out in protest; wrote in complaint to Bishop Untner and the Apostolic Nunico; and searched out parishes where this text was not sung.

    I’m just guessin’…

  • Dear Eric Bateman,

    In general, I agree with your assessment.  Bishop Carlson is right to bring about liturgical renewal/reform in a moribund diocese.  (May God have mercy on the soul of “Ken,” as Bishop Untener wanted to be called.)  However, Eric, you have made a couple of factual errors.

    You mistakenly said that Bp. Carlson has “allowed” certain things that will grieve certain people.  In reality, a clergyman (including a bishop) cannot “allow” anything in the liturgy beyond what the Church allows. You mentioned holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer.  I’m surprised that you didn’t mention that he also tried to the “allow” the use of the “orans” (hands up) position by the laity.  The truth is that the Church has never “allowed” either of these things, as Bp. Carlson apparently does not know. 

    The only way for holding hands or “orans” to become a licit gesture is for one or both of them to be approved by 2/3 of the U.S. bishops, followed by “recognitio” by the Holy See.  These two required legislative steps have not happened, so Bp. Carlson has overstepped his authority in trying to “allow” both gestures.

    [You are mistaken, Chris of St. Mary’s, in relying on the fact that the GIRM does not EXPLICITLY forbid these gestures.  The GIRM also does not explicitly forbid “running in place,” standing on one’s head or on one foot, etc., during the Lord’s Prayer—but these gestures too are currently forbidden. Why?  Because the GIRM is PREscriptive, not PROscriptive.  It tells what to DO. It almost never tells what NOT to do, because the list would be endless!  Whatever the GIRM does not specifically allow or require is, ipso facto, not permitted.  Don’t feel bad, Chris.  COUNTLESS Catholics, including thousands of priests (even otherwise orthodox priests posting on blogs), have made the same error as you.]

    To be concluded below …

  • Concluded from above …

    Eric, your other error was in saying that Bp. Carlson now requires “kneeling during the Agnus Dei.”  You said that “the US GIRM default position is to stand.”  Actually, you made two mistakes.
    (1) Bp. Carlson does not require kneeling, but rather standing, “during the Agnus Dei.”
    (2) Standing is the REQUIRED posture “during the Agnus Dei.”  It is not just a “default” posture that is subject to modification.

    Perhaps you are confusing this with the posture to be taken after the END of the Agnus Dei.  In that case, the “default” posture (in the U.S.) is kneeling, but may be altered by the local bishop.  Here it is, from GIRM 43:  “… The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.”

    Bp. Carlson makes another error in regard to posture, though.  He requires standing during the entire reception of Holy Communion (“from the priest’s to the end of distribution to all in the assembly”), followed by sitting during the “sacred silence or song of praise after the distribution”.  Such attempts at rigidly enforcing standing or sitting, during this part of the Mass, have explicitly been forbidden by the Holy See—first, in the 1970s and second, a couple of years ago, when it was made clear that each member of the faithful is permitted to stand, sit, or kneel after receiving Communion, according to what he prefers for his spiritual benefit.  The Saginaw document is also wrong to refer to “distribution to all in the assembly,” since it is not likely that “all” ought to be receiving.

    Thanks, RC, for providing the words of the illicit, sacrilegious “blessing.”  I had been wondering what they were.

    You’re “guessin’” wrongly, in part, Aplman.  Although “orhodox Catholics” would have done some of the things you mentioned …
      (1) they would not have “knelt and prayed in reparation” (since kneeling would have been an illicit posture during the Final Blessing),
      (2) they would not have “walked out in protest” (since the Mass is not a place for protests, and since we are required to remain for the Dismissal),
      (3) most of them would not have written a complaint—due to forgetfulness, lack of time, or lack of trust that anyone would care what they would say.  [Had all written, though, the Holy See would probably have done something more than just let this blasphemy continue until the death of an heretical bishop.]

    God be with you.

  • AnUnSi,

    Thank you for assuming you know my perspective.

    Simply reiterating what numerous priests and professors (“good” or otherwise) have told me whenever I bring up issues like this and they call me “LiturgiCop” then go their merry little way, even after I’ve answered the question, “Where does it say that?”

    I’d say more, but I’m too angry.

  • 2) everyone standing during the distribution of Communion

    What is wrong with reverence for the Eucharist such as kneeling (for those able to do so) during Communion?

    A couple of years ago, our parish was given a handout about the new guidelines for postures at Mass.  It indicated that the bishops were to determine whether the congregation stood or knelt during Communion.  How does having a choice lead to universal responses that one can expect at Mass everywhere in the world—that we are in union and communion?

    I find it disconcerting to attend Mass at parishes in the Chicago suburban areas especially those of the Joliet Diocese vs. the Chicago Archdiocese because of not knowing what to expect.

    I dislike holding hands with strangers during the Lord’s Prayer and when forced to do so cannot concentrate on the prayer.  I had read that this was not allowed, but here is Carlson saying that it is ok.

    I am only a yokel in the pew without liturgical training of any sort.  Why can’t the bishops make some sensible decisions and all stick with them for hundreds of years?  This constant tinkering around the edges gives one the impression that Mass is negotiable edifying entertainment rather than God’s great gift to the Church.

  • Dear Eric Ewanko,

    You wrote: “I read the bishop’s section on posture and I was confused.  I thought the current standard was to stand, not before the Orate Fratres as he has it, but after the Orate Fratres and before its congregational response? To add to the confusion, I went to a daily Mass today (I rarely go to Roman Masses nowadays), and they did it after the response, as it used to be.”

    Since the promulgation of the newer rite of the Mass in 1969, there have been three official editions of the GIRM and rubrics (1970, 1975, and 2000 [published in English in 2002]).  All the way up to 2000, the rule was to remain seated until the end of our response to “Orate, Fratres” [“Pray, brethren …”].  However, the 2000 GIRM provides for the entire congregation to stand as the priest comes back to the center of the altar (after the washing of hands)—right at the beginning of the “Orate, Fratres.” 

    Since the 2002 GIRM was required to be implemented by the end of 2003 (if I recall correctly), it is shocking to me that the people in the parish where you just attended Mass have still not learned to stand at the proper moment.  They have an lax, ignorant, or rebellious pastor.

    God be with you.