Altering Liturgy


Is it permissible for a priest to alter the “Brothers and Sisters” greeting to “Sisters and Brothers?” Is there a Canon Law or rubric regarding this?


I’m not sure. But if there is, perhaps he just made a mistake. Does it trouble you that deeply? I tend to think there are bigger issues to worry about…ask your priest about it, but do it charitably…being a priest is a very difficult vocation… I would recommend praying for him before doubting his faithfulness.


In many places, the GIRM allows “brothers and sisters” to be replaced by “another suitable greeting”. An example might be a Mass being said for a men’s retreat isn’t going to reference “sisters”. :slight_smile: So, yes it’s permissible.


It is not Canon law. it is the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). You can find it on line.


This is a daily ritual with him. He always mentions the feminine first, regardless of what the prayer is about. Are seminaries teaching that now? And yes, I pray for him all the time and know how difficult it is to be a priest.


The simpliest thing to do is ask the priest directly himself. Just ask him repectfully why he may say sisters and brothers. I’ts probably like a ladies first thing for him. None of us can answer for him.


I don’t have that much experience, as I’ve only been attending Mass for a little under ten years now, but of the approximately 25 priests whose Mass celebrations I’ve been a part of for more than just one or two times over the years, way less than half of them have consistently stayed word for word with the text of the Missal outside of the Eucharistic Prayers, the opening and closing prayers, the Creed and the Gloria. A few even have their own little idiosyncratic alterations to parts of the Eucharistic Prayers. At first this bothered me, but I’ve reached the point now where I try to ignore it as long as the correct words are spoken to make the consecration valid. I don’t know why they make these little changes, and unless they start preaching dissent in their homilies, for the most part I don’t care. The ones who do this are always older priests; I have yet to hear a relatively recently ordained priest stray from the text except by accident. Does that mean something? Maybe, but again, it’s not that big a deal compared with bringing us Christ in the Eucharist. Now, if a priest were departing consistently and in significant ways from the Missal text throughout the rite, I might start to wonder, but I have never encountered that.

This doesn’t mean I think it’s OK, because clearly it is not within anyone’s authority to change the liturgy. It’s just not worth the effort to get upset about it when he is still following the prescribed text 99% of the time. One of the best pastors I’ve had, a marvelous and thoroughly orthodox homilist and a fine spiritual counselor, never said the word “men” during the Creed; he just skipped over it, and would say “for us…and for our salvation…”. Of course, the whole congregation was following the text and saying “men” in that phrase, but it was still noticeable. As learned as he obviously was in Sacred Scripture and Church teachings, he had to know that the usage is not intended to be gender-specific, but perhaps he felt it might offend the ladies in the parish. I never asked.


Hi, Corki. :slight_smile:

Can you give an example of this in the GIRM?


I don’t think it’s in the current (2011) GIRM. It is, however, in the Roman Missal.

The text reads like this

“Brethren (brothers and sisters) let us acknowledge our sins…”

If the priest is using the text printed in the Missal, then it’s a legitimate option.

What has been changed though, from the older Sacramentary to the Roman Missal is the absence of the footnote that previously allowed the priest to use other forms at his own discretion.


Why is that a problem? Does it matter?


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