Need Definitively the latest Church document on standing around the Altar during consecration

I spoke with a priest about the practice of doing this (him calling people up around the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist) and he stated allowing the congregation to do this was allowed ‘at the discretion of the priest in certain situations’ as long as no one was behind the altar. I got the feeling he, in good conscience, really believes this and isn’t being defiant.

I told him I didn’t think this was the case and asked if he could show me where this was stated and in turn, told him I would do further research. I think I’m correct, but he also believes he is, so now I’m honestly questioning if I’m confused.

  • I found GRIM 295: The sanctuary is the place wehre the altar stands, where the word of God is proclaimed, and where the priest, deacon, and the other rministers exercise their offices. …"

I also found: Notitiae 17 (1981) 61 from the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments: During the liturgy of the Eucharist, only the presiding celebrant remains at the altar. The assembly of the faithful take their place in the Church outside the “presbyterium,”, which is reserved for the celebrant or concelebrants and altar ministers."

*I have 2 questions:
[LIST=1]
*] How do I know if there are the “latest” guidelines, and not modified?
*] Does anyone have any other sources that clarify we should not be gathering around the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist? (if that is the case), and that there are no exceptions to this at the ‘discretion’ of the priest?[/LIST]
I think I hreally have a chance to make a difference here if I’m correct. If I’m wrong, I’ve learned something new today.

Standing Around the Altar

Children Standing Around the Altar During Mass?

My Pastor has always done this at Daily mass. I decided about 2 years ago to stop doing it. I sent him an email and told him why I has stopped and I hoped he would take no offense. He replied that he was happy to see me at Mass regardless of whether I stood or not. He is a GREAT Priest and I am blessed to have him as my Pastor

Although I consider myslef a traditional Catholic i tend not to get to upset about things like this. A lot of the people in my Parish LOVE this and if that is what brings them to Daily Mass then it is good.

I also dont like holding hands at the Our Father or exhuburant signs of Peace. HOWEVER being I am privleged to be in the physial presence of Our Lord and Savior I really dont let any of this distract me.

From the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from romanrite.com/girm.html :

“154. … The priest may give the sign of peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb the celebration. In the dioceses of the United States of America, for a good reason, on special occasions (for example, in the case of a funeral, a wedding, or when civic leaders are present) the priest may offer the sign of peace to a few of the faithful near the sanctuary.”

“195. Upon reaching the altar, the lector makes a profound bow with the others. If he is carrying the Book of the Gospels, he approaches the altar and places the Book of the Gospels upon it. Then the lector takes his own place in the sanctuary with the other ministers.”

“215. After the prayer over the offerings has been said by the principal celebrant, the concelebrants approach the altar and stand around it, but in such a way that they do not obstruct the execution of the rites and that the sacred action may be seen clearly by the faithful. …”

“294. The People of God, gathered for Mass, has a coherent and hierarchical structure, which finds its expression in the variety of ministries and the variety of actions according to the different parts of the celebration. The general ordering of the sacred building must be such that in some way it conveys the image of the gathered assembly and allows the appropriate ordering of all the participants, as well as facilitating each in the proper carrying out of his function.
The faithful and the choir should have a place that facilitates their active participation. [footnote 114: Cf. Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction Inter Oecumenici, on the orderly carrying out of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 26 September 1964, nos. 97-98: AAS 56 (1964), p. 899.]
The priest celebrant, the deacon, and the other ministers have places in the sanctuary. Seats for concelebrants should also be prepared there. If, however, their number is great, seats should be arranged in another part of the church, but near the altar.
All these elements, even though they must express the hierarchical structure and the diversity of ministries, should nevertheless bring about a close and coherent unity that is clearly expressive of the unity of the entire holy people.”

“295. The sanctuary is the place where the altar stands, where the word of God is proclaimed, and where the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers exercise their offices. It should suitably be marked off from the body of the church either by its being somewhat elevated or by a particular structure and ornamentation.”

“310. … Likewise, seats should be arranged in the sanctuary for concelebrating priests as well as for priests who are present for the celebration in choir dress but who are not concelebrating.
The seat for the deacon should be placed near that of the celebrant. Seats for the other ministers are to be arranged so that they are clearly distinguishable from those for the clergy and so that the ministers are easily able to fulfill the function entrusted to them. [footnote 121: Cf. Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction Inter Oecumenici, on the orderly carrying out of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 26 September 1964, no. 92: AAS 56 (1964), p. 898.]
III. THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE CHURCH
The Places for the Faithful
311. Places should be arranged with appropriate care for the faithful so that they are able to participate in the sacred celebrations visually and spiritually, in the proper manner.”

The 2004 Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum also has:
"[72.] It is appropriate “that each one give the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner”. “The Priest may give the sign of peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb the celebration. He does likewise if for a just reason he wishes to extend the sign of peace to some few of the faithful”. …".

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