Interpretation of the GIRM


#1

A while ago I listened to someone talk about the different ways in which priests intepret the GIRM. Both were made to seem valid. So the first one was said to be that the priests aren't to go beyond the GIRM; they are constrained by the rubrics (this one may have been potrayed in a slightly less positive light, but I'm not sure). The second interpretation was that the GIRM contains the bare minumum that priests must do and that as long as they included that minumum they could make slight additions. This was as long as they stayed within the spirit of the liturgy. Within is this interpretation it was said that the GIRM were more like guidelines and that they weren't as constraining as those in the first group would believe. This second view was built one by saying that we could go to a different parish and see practices that aren't at ours. These were viewed as positive variations within the liturgy, that added to the Church.

Are these equally valid views on how the GIRM is to be read or does the Church have a prefered method?

Thanks.


#2

Please forgive my ignorance, but I am unfamiliar with computor acronyms. What does GIRM mean?


#3

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:2, topic:325244"]
Please forgive my ignorance, but I am unfamiliar with computor acronyms. What does GIRM mean?

[/quote]

My question, too. Apparently it is the General Instruction on the Roman Missal

catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=337


#4

[quote="C794, post:1, topic:325244"]
A while ago I listened to someone talk about the different ways in which priests intepret the GIRM. Both were made to seem valid. So the first one was said to be that the priests aren't to go beyond the GIRM; they are constrained by the rubrics (this one may have been potrayed in a slightly less positive light, but I'm not sure). The second interpretation was that the GIRM contains the bare minumum that priests must do and that as long as they included that minumum they could make slight additions. This was as long as they stayed within the spirit of the liturgy. Within is this interpretation it was said that the GIRM were more like guidelines and that they weren't as constraining as those in the first group would believe. This second view was built one by saying that we could go to a different parish and see practices that aren't at ours. These were viewed as positive variations within the liturgy, that added to the Church.

Are these equally valid views on how the GIRM is to be read or does the Church have a prefered method?

Thanks.

[/quote]

Seems like a very technical question. Sounds like a question for the Archdiocese. In fact, I am going to copy your post and see what my local archdiocese has to say.
For a moment, I thought I'd just be a sheep and be led... life can seem so much easier that way. But, looks like we should get a straightforward answer without too much sweat. Will return as soon as I get an answer......


#5

NO. The first is correct, the second is totally wrong. The General Instructions of the Roman Missal are Liturgical Law. They are instructions, not guidelines. Further, the GIRM is prescriptive - it tells us what we must do, along with a very few instances of what we may do, It does not tell us what we may not, should not do. If it was proscriptive it would do that. Therefore, it speaks to us directly and, if what we want to do is not included in the GIRM, we may not do it.


#6

Well, the GIRM does actually proscribe some things, too.


#7

[quote="Pilosopo, post:3, topic:325244"]
My question, too. Apparently it is the General Instruction on the Roman Missal

catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=337

[/quote]

Isn't there a third editio typica of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, supposedly issued in 2002?

eucharistiefeier.de/docs/igmr2002.htm


#8

The GIRM is not exhaustive. There are several other documents (such as the Ceremonial of Bishops and the GILH (General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours)) that give liturgical laws and guidelines on the celebration of the Mass.


#9

[quote="japhy, post:8, topic:325244"]
The GIRM is not exhaustive. There are several other documents (such as the Ceremonial of Bishops and the GILH (General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours)) that give liturgical laws and guidelines on the celebration of the Mass.

[/quote]

Is the expectation that priests are therefore well-versed not only in the GIRM, but also in the relevant sections of the CE and other dox?


#10

There are two general philosophical approaches to law in the Western world. One philosophy of law is often referred to as Germanic, and can be summarized as "Whatever is not permitted is prohibited".

The other is often referred to as the Mediterranean approach, and can be summarized as "whatever is not prohibited is allowed".

An example: I think it was the prior edition of the GIRM; it stated the posture of people at Communion. The way it was written, it appeared that all were to satnd as Communion commenced, and were to remain standing until Communion was completed. that ment that contrary to prior practice, one was to stand in their pew after receiving until the last person received.

Francis Cardinal George sent a dubium (an official question) to Rome and Francis Cardinal Arinze answered that Rome had no intent of being so rigid as to posture, and that people could stand, kneel (as before) or sit after returning to their pew.

Although not exclusively, Americans seem to be generally of a Germanic approach to law.

And Last time I checked, Rome was considered to be in the Mediterranean.

Over the past several decades, there have been numerous people who have made complaints to their priests, then to their bishops, and then to Rome. I certainly don't follow everything Rome says or does, but I can only recall one time where Rome intervened (somewhere in the Midwest, if I recall correctly) and that was on an appeal which was done professionally.

The rule generally is that the bishop is the chief liturgist in his diocese, and while that does not grant carte blanche to him, Rome generally seems to give more latitude than many would claim was legitimately the bishop's to have.

Father Z has certainly made the point that "do the red and say the black" is not that difficult to accomplish. However, what often comes up when someone tries to go through the GIRM and substantiate what they believe is an aberration is a responding "That priest is not reverent", which not only ignores the differences in approach to law, but also makes a judgment call on the priest in terms of character.

What I have said is not meant to say that there are no abuses to the liturgy. We can all acknowledge that. However, not everything that occurs is an abuse. Getting ourselves involved in critiquing the rubrics is not always going to result in good; it can distract us from worship of God, cause us to be judgmental, lead to gossip and calumny, and serve no useful purpose. It is an area that people are anywhere from opinionated to extremely opinionated, and too often not as knowledgeable as they would insist.


#11

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:9, topic:325244"]
Is the expectation that priests are therefore well-versed not only in the GIRM, but also in the relevant sections of the CE and other dox?

[/quote]

Yes. And if they have issues/doubts, they should turn to the bishop as he is chief liturgist.


#12

[quote="otjm, post:10, topic:325244"]
Although not exclusively, Americans seem to be generally of a Germanic approach to law.

And Last time I checked, Rome was considered to be in the Mediterranean.

Over the past several decades, there have been numerous people who have made complaints to their priests, then to their bishops, and then to Rome. I certainly don't follow everything Rome says or does, but I can only recall one time where Rome intervened (somewhere in the Midwest, if I recall correctly) and that was on an appeal which was done professionally.

The rule generally is that the bishop is the chief liturgist in his diocese, and while that does not grant carte blanche to him, Rome generally seems to give more latitude than many would claim was legitimately the bishop's to have.

Father Z has certainly made the point that "do the red and say the black" is not that difficult to accomplish. However, what often comes up when someone tries to go through the GIRM and substantiate what they believe is an aberration is a responding "That priest is not reverent", which not only ignores the differences in approach to law, but also makes a judgment call on the priest in terms of character.

What I have said is not meant to say that there are no abuses to the liturgy. We can all acknowledge that. However, not everything that occurs is an abuse. Getting ourselves involved in critiquing the rubrics is not always going to result in good; it can distract us from worship of God, cause us to be judgmental, lead to gossip and calumny, and serve no useful purpose. It is an area that people are anywhere from opinionated to extremely opinionated, and too often not as knowledgeable as they would insist.

[/quote]

That's what I've learned, too.:thumbsup:


#13

[quote="Brigid34, post:12, topic:325244"]
That's what I've learned, too.:thumbsup:

[/quote]

So it's more than just a translation issue? :)


#14

[quote="ProVobis, post:7, topic:325244"]
Isn't there a third editio typica of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, supposedly issued in 2002?

eucharistiefeier.de/docs/igmr2002.htm

[/quote]

Long live Latin!


#15

[quote="Pilosopo, post:14, topic:325244"]
Long live Latin!

[/quote]

I'm not saying the translations are worthless but it does seem like the Latin becomes the ultimate authority.

When the poor translator has to make a choice between "should be," "ought to be," "is to be," "must be," "frequently may be," it's bound to be misinterpreted.


#16

[quote="ProVobis, post:13, topic:325244"]
So it's more than just a translation issue? :)

[/quote]

Yes, it's a whole mode of considering the rubrics of the Mass and the GIRM.


#17

[quote="Brigid34, post:16, topic:325244"]
Yes, it's a whole mode of considering the rubrics of the Mass and the GIRM.

[/quote]

The only thing I can add to that is that the same GRIM/IGMR rules, whether they are actual instructions or guidelines, apply in OF Masses celebrated everywhere, not just in English Masses. Can a bishop allow more deviations from the norm in Spanish Masses, where the rubrics might be interpreted differently, for example? I suppose, but he would have to evaluate the overall situation in his diocese before he were to allow that, I would think.


#18

[quote="ProVobis, post:17, topic:325244"]
The only thing I can add to that is that the same GRIM/IGMR rules, whether they are actual instructions or guidelines, apply in OF Masses celebrated everywhere, not just in English Masses. Can a bishop allow more deviations from the norm in Spanish Masses, where the rubrics might be interpreted differently, for example? I suppose, but he would have to evaluate the overall situation in his diocese before he were to allow that, I would think.

[/quote]

That's an interesting question. In Canada we use the English translation of the 2002 Roman Missal but are still using the French translation of the 1975 Roman Missal. The 2011 GIRM will not go into effect at French Masses until the new Roman Missal goes into use. You could have a parish using the rubrics from 1975 at one Mass and those from 2002 at another.


#19

There are no differing variations of GIRM. GIRM is liturgical law. We should know that we do not have the authority to take it upon ourselves to try to add to or improve upon the Mass. The Mass is the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ and its celebration needs to be in accord with the General Instructions of the Roman Missal.* As a Catholic, we should submit to the Magisterium of the Church and should be faithful in participating in it according to the official guidelines set out for us in the Roman Missal.

According to CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY
SOLEMNLY PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI ON DECEMBER 4, 1963

CHAPTER I

GENERAL PRINCIPLES FOR THE RESTORATION AND PROMOTION OF THE SACRED LITURGY

I. The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and Its Importance in the Church's Life

  1. But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain. Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

#20

Consider the first two words: "General" "Instruction"

The Church has no problem instituting laws, as in canon law. General instructions, though they are not law, are to be taken as orders. I think there are two errors that can be made. One is to take these general instructions as laws that cover every possible circumstance and every second of the Mass. The second is to take them merely as guidelines that can be dispensed based on some preference or personal opinion.

I am reminded on something Cardinal Arinze said on the often debated topic of holding hands. I think he showed how to navigate these two. He said if you want to hold hands, then hold hands. If you don't then don't. It was not important. He said though what you could not do is promulgate any such posture for the Mass.

Thus, if someone is trying to do something new and different, they shouldn't. That is making deliberate and measured changes. Priests however always have stuff that comes up that these instructions need to accommodate. If something starts to happen a lot, then sometimes a bishop will step in. Sometimes not. At the end of the day, it is always the bishop to whom the implementation of the GIRM is entrusted. I know of one example of the latter where the bishop thought Masses were getting away from silence. Our bishop issued on "one verse" rule on any song after communion to give time of silence while the altar was being cleared. It is not in the GIRM, but silence is and this was his way to address this.


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