Reader liturgy bleg

Reader liturgy bleg

A reader writes with the following question:

I remember hearing/reading some time ago that it was no longer permissible for members of the congregation to stand in the sanctuary around the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Yesterday, we had a Mass in which the 4th and 6th graders in our Religious Ed program participated as readers, ushers, etc.. Our pastor, who is new, but a priest for 30 years, had the members of the classes come up and stand around the altar through the Offertory, Consecration and Communion. This made me very uncomfortable, but before I go making an issue of it, I wanted to be sure of my information. Is there anything in the GIRM, for example, that I can cite, chapter and verse?

Anyone know the answer to this off the top of their head? I know that it is not allowed, but I can’t cite it from memory.

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  • Come on Scott, using Matthew to justify whim in the celebration of the liturgy?  We have enough priests using the Mass as a skit with various players.  This has no basis at all.  The only people supposed to be in the presbyterium during the celebration of the Mass are priests and deacons.  Vatcian II is explicit that in the celebration of Mass each has their own defined role.  The youngsters at that Mass were not concelebrants but part of the laity.

  • Common sense argues against such a practice:  it invites one portion of the assembly to a place beyond that from which the assembly ministers.  It places a bunch of young people in a place where their restive behavior will likely distract the larger assembly.  It locates a group of people in a place where their presence may actually block the assembly’s line of vision such that they can not see what is happening at the altar. 

    If this happens regularly, go speak to your pastor and use common sense, not “chapter and verse” from the GIRM or Matthew to voice your concern.  If it was a one time or once-a-year deal for a particular (even if misguided) purpose, let it go.

  • A better way to go is simply to have a session with the kids where you show them the altar and the sanctuary, and explain to them what happens at Mass. Nothing wrong, in my opinion, with this kind of “show and tell”—but not during Mass.

  • Faith: I will correct you. I don’t know where you heard that, but in the years I’ve known Scott I’ve never heard that story. His enlightenment about the Mass occurred during a regular daily Mass held in a chapel on the campus of Marquette University, during which he sat in the back pew every day, taking notes.

    Anyone who knows Scott Hahn will recognize him in the anecdote I mentioned, and not in the one you wrote.

    Regardless, Stacey’s point stands. It doesn’t make it right. Certainly Protestants also experience the movement of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t make their services authentic worship.

  • The priest at our church was allowing the children to come up to the alter during the offertory and consecration. This pratice stop when one of the little ones knocked down one of the candles and almost started a fire!