I got a question from a reader:
I am hoping you can help me with a practical question.
The question is, when exactly does a Bishop who is presiding but not celebrating approach the altar and take the host? The Ceremoniale Episcoporum says ‘Episcopus, si communicat, ad altare post celebrantem Corpus et Sanguinem Domini sumit‘ (183). [A bishop, if he is receving Communion, receives the Body and the Blood of the Lord at the altar after the celebrant.] The GIRM (our old Canadian edition: we don’t have the new one yet that you have) [Yes, you do. It is the 2000 GIRM which is in the 2002 Missale Romanum and it applies to the whole world.] says that after the Commingling and the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ Son of the living God", the principal celebrant steps back and all the concelebrants receive the host. "then the principal celebrant takes the eucharistic bread, holds it slightly raised above the paten, and says ‘this is the Lamb of God who takes away etc". After the response he receives. When exactly does the Bishop approach the Altar and take the Host? only after the principal celebrant (and concelebrants if there are any) have consumed? or after the principal celebrant "takes the eucharistic bread" but before he speaks? It seems the text literally says the latter, but I want an expert opinion.
I would say that the non-[con]celebrating bishop would come up immediately after all the concelebrants have consumed both species, or at least the "main" concelebrants. Sometimes some concelebrating priests are vested in matching chasubles and are directly at the altar, while in large concelebrations some of the men are a bit farther away, etc.
It seems to me that the bishop, as dignified as he is, is still not in that moment of Holy Mass to usurp the place of a priest who is actually celebrating Mass. So, the concelebrating priests should go first, and then immediately the non-celebrating bishop. This is logically what comes from the the language of the Ceremoniale Episcoporum.