Is this permitted at mass?

Before I start, I want to explain that the title completely explains what I am asking. With all do respect, I want to know what church teaching is on these things, not if you like having such things at mass.

With that said, yesterday I went to mass twice at two different churches and I saw things I wasn’t used to. At the first, the priest invited the congregation to say the doxology with him and at the other, the priest had us join him after the homily and form a circle around the altar. Are priests permitted to allow such things at mass?

Joining the doxology = no.

Around the altar = generally no in a parish; there are some religious communities that do this and do so licitly (as I understand it) - i.e., a monastery

General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2011):

  1. The concluding doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer is pronounced solely by the principal Priest Celebrant or together, if this is desired, with the other concelebrants, but not by the faithful.

  2. The sanctuary is the place where the altar stands, the Word of God is proclaimed, and the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers exercise their functions…

  3. Places for the faithful should be arranged with appropriate care so that they are able to participate in the sacred celebrations, duly following them with their eyes and their attention. It is desirable that benches or seating usually should be provided for their use. …

Life Team used to circle, but it was not in accord with the new GIRM so it was said by Monsignor Dale Fushek that “The teens will no longer surround the altar during the Eucharistic prayer”.

Everyone in my parish used to recite the doxology so I didn’t know for years that you weren’t supposed to and I don’t remember noticing that other nearby parishes didn’t do it… So I am guessing its relatively common.

They used to do that in the parish where I grew up. A visiting priest stopped them, saying, “I don’t know why you are doing this but it’s not for you to say so please stop.” They also recited the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer.

No. It is not licit for members of the congregation to gather around the altar.

There is no exception for members of Consecrated Religious Life.

DUBIUM AD « ORDINEM MISSAE »

Ad offertorium Missae communitatis, nonnulii (religiosi, religiosae, laici) deferunt ad altare panem et vinum consecrandum, quae dona a sacerdote celebrante accipiuntur. Omnes coetum participantes processionem, qua dona afferuntur, una simul comitantur et circum altare sistunt usque ad communionem.

Modus hic agendi estne confirmis spiritui litterae et Missalis Romani?

℟. Certo certius celebratio eucharistica actus est communitatis, qui a cunctis coetus liturgici membris peragitur. Nihilominus unusquisque habere necnon servare debet locum suum et munus ipsi proprium: « quisque sive minister sive fidelis, munere suo fungens, solum et totum id agat, quod ad ipsum ex rei natura et normis liturgicis pertinet » (« Sacrosanctum Concilium », n. 28).

In liturgia eucharistica peragenda solus celebrans qui praesidet manet ad altare; coetus participantium locum tenet in ecclesia extra presbyterium quod celebranti vel concelebrantibus et ministris servatur.

Translation (unofficial)

DOUBT CONCERNING THE « ORDER OF MASS »

At the offertory of a community Mass, some (religious men and women, lay persons) bring down the bread and wine to be consecrated to the altar, and these gifts are accepted by the celebrating priest. All the participants together accompany the procession in which the gifts are brought forward, and they stand around the altar until communion.

Is this manner of acting in conformity with the letter and the spirit of the Roman Missal?

℟. Certainly the Eucharistic celebration is an act of the community, which is carried out by all the members of the liturgical assembly. Yet each person ought to have and keep his own place and the role proper to himself: « each minister or member of the faithful, performing his own role, should exercise solely and completely what pertains to him according the nature of the matter and the liturgical norms » (« Sacrosanctum Concilium », n. 28).

In carrying out the eucharistic liturgy, only the celebrant who is presiding remains at the altar; the assembly of those participating hold their place in the church outside of the sanctuary, which is reserved for the celebrant or concelebrants and the ministers.
Notitiae 17 (1981): 61 notitiae.ipsissima-verba.org/show/208

Thank you, Fr David. I appreciate that clarification.

You are correct. A lot has to do with the construction of the church and its purpose.

The abbatial church of Sant’Anselmo, which the Pope customarily visits annually, has the quire for the monks on either side of the altar, which is all within the sanctuary…but of course the monks who are not concelebrating are not standing at the altar beside the main celebrant…they are, however, associated with the throne of the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation.

Saint John’s Abbey, in the United States, has the quire for the monks surrounding the altar on three sides.

Saint Meinrad, also in the United States, has a configuration with the altar in the center of a worship space separate from where the Opus Dei and the Liturgy of the Word occurs, the concelebrants behind and beside the Presider, the non-ordained monks in front of the presider – with their back to the apse – and those not part of the monastic community on the sides of the worship space during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

http://www.saintmeinrad.org/media/249394/Monastery%20Banner.jpg

That depends on ones use of “around” the altar.

If “around the altar” simply means that the congregation’s seating is multi-directional, then surely that’s not a problem—indeed there’s plenty of historical precedent for this, and I don’t know of anyone who disputes it nor has any objection to it. One might not like the particular architecture of a particular building, but there’s no problem with the concept.

On the other hand, if “around the altar” means specifically within the sanctuary, then it’s certainly illicit, and there are no exceptions for monastic communities. Concelebrating priests should be in the sanctuary, but unless they are all priests, it is clearly illicit for people to be gathered “around the altar.”

Don Ruggero,
I take it you’ve visited St. Meinrad here in my home diocese. Might I inquire: 1) are you pictured in the photo you shared, and 2) how well you know the monks there?

Fr. Rupert Ostdick, shown in your photo immediately behind the presider’s chalice, passed away this morning after 75 years as a Benedictine - may he rest In peace.

I appreciate your contribution to this discussion as well. I hope everyone will pardon my temporary aside with this thread.

I specifically chose the three photos that I did – above all of Sant’ Anselmo, the altar of sacrifice for which was dedicated by the Blessed Ildefonso Cardinal Schuster and where the seating is behind the communion rail and up the sanctuary steps for ordained and non-ordained monks alike. It is more than evident that this arrangement is hardly considered illicit by the Holy See, in spite of non-ordained members of the religious community being present in what would classically be called the sanctuary.

Of course, the abbatial church exists for the monastic community…not for non-members who happen to visit it…thus, even the presence of sanctuary and nave may be distinctions without purpose and architectural elements deemed superfluous.

Indeed, part of the reason of choosing these photos is to show that, if a lay person would look at these arrangements and determine that they were illicit, it is they who have erred and not the monks…and that is crucial.

I have had occasion to visit a few times over decades.

No, I am not in this photo.

I do know some of the monks, particularly among the older monks. I am retired and have no occasion to travel “on business” and thus have no exposure to the younger monks.

I am from Europe and some monks of this monastery have spent time in Europe. The community maintained a very close relationship with their Mother Abbey, which is in Switzerland, and with which I am familiar.

I chose it as one of the photographs because I am a great admirer of their work in the liturgical reform and renewal that has been a great gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church in the 20th century.

Saint John’s, of course, was even more prominent in the liturgical reform and renewal…and is the seat for Liturgical Press.

The community of Sant’ Anselmo because it is the abbey church of the Abbot Primate and is the place to turn to above all others for the liturgy, especially on account the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, which hosts some of the greatest thinkers in this field.

As you are surely aware relative to Saint Meinrad, for example, what had been the pre-conciliar sanctuary is now the place for the Opus Dei and the Liturgy of the Word and everyone sits there. What had been the nave is now where the altar of sacrifice is located. Pews were completely stripped from the church as having no place in this setting.

The complete abolishment of the distinctions of sanctuary and nave allows for a much better realisation of the reformed and renewed liturgies…and the non-existence of a sanctuary and nave, of course, has import relative to liturgical decisions and practice…some things simply do not apply since they cannot. They do not exist, as a monastic community, to make the distinctions in their liturgical assembly that would be found, for example, in a parish church…and they model a completely and radically different way for the liturgical assembly to conduct itself…which underlies your original comment.

I found the monastic community most impressive.

You are greatly blessed to have this extraordinary place in your diocese and I hope you are able to take full advantage of it.

Thank you for letting me know of Father’s death. I do seem to have a vague recollection of meeting him. He was the treasurer/had financial responsibilities at the time, if he is the one I am remembering. It was, however, many many years ago…but, for an American, he did have a distinctive name…at least to one who is European.

None of that changes anything.

It is still illicit for the congregation (whether they be secular laity or consecrated religious) to gather in the sanctuary for the Mass.

The words “around the altar” can mean almost anything. One might say that at a World Youth Day, a million people gathered “around the altar.” Which is why we should use a more precise term “within the sanctuary.”

The Sanctuary is a separate and distinct place from where the congregation sits or where the choir sits. The definition of the word does not change when used in a monastic setting, even if the monks do have their own place, which is still outside (not inside) the Sanctuary.

It doesn’t matter how many graduation pictures you find on the internet. It won’t make licit that which is illicit.

Perhaps you missed the Notitae from the Congregation for Divine Worship.

I’ll post it again for you:

DOUBT CONCERNING THE « ORDER OF MASS »

At the offertory of a community Mass, some (religious men and women, lay persons) bring down the bread and wine to be consecrated to the altar, and these gifts are accepted by the celebrating priest. All the participants together accompany the procession in which the gifts are brought forward, and they stand around the altar until communion.

Is this manner of acting in conformity with the letter and the spirit of the Roman Missal?

℟. Certainly the Eucharistic celebration is an act of the community, which is carried out by all the members of the liturgical assembly. Yet each person ought to have and keep his own place and the role proper to himself: « each minister or member of the faithful, performing his own role, should exercise solely and completely what pertains to him according the nature of the matter and the liturgical norms » (« Sacrosanctum Concilium », n. 28).

In carrying out the eucharistic liturgy, only the celebrant who is presiding remains at the altar; the assembly of those participating hold their place in the church outside of the sanctuary, which is reserved for the celebrant or concelebrants and the ministers.
Notitiae 17 (1981): 61 notitiae.ipsissima-verba.org/show/208

Father, I am more than familiar with this document.

I have posted what I have to clarify the point that I was making for the sake of the laity of this reading this. It is posted for their benefit.

This is just pure nonsense. It is more of the same-old-same-old “Vatican II says whatever pleases me, just don’t ask me to show you where the Council said anything close to that” approach to liturgy that is thankfully coming to an end.

The distinction between the Sanctuary and the other parts of the Church building (including the nave) is essential.

This is just one more expression of how badly the Church needs reform of the reform.

Show me once, just one example, of where the Catholic Church has, in any document liturgical or otherwise, so much as suggested "The complete abolishment of the distinctions of sanctuary and nave."

Which Vatican II documents are you reading? What reform? What renewal?

“Reform of the Reform” is, fortunately, an expression that has been declared to have outlived its usefulness.

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