From a reader:
Could you comment on part of GIRM #274, specifically:
"If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they deaprt from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself."
I know that this is a change in the 2002 GIRM, and I really have a hard time with it. I don’t mean to be scrupulous, but I always feel conflicted about it when serving. If I don’t genuflect (as is what used to be done, even in the previous Novus Ordo GIRM), I feel as though I am being irreverent. Christ is present in the tabernacle whether Mass is going on or not. However, if I do genuflect, then I feel as though I am being disobedient.
What should be my attitude in approaching this directive?
There is a real tension here.
First, this idea that we don’t genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament when passing before it in the sanctuary during Mass stemmed from a desire to emphasize the sacred action going on at the moment. As a result all sorts of changes were proposed, for example, only distributing Hosts consecrated at that Mass rather than any reserved from another Mass.
While I don’t have any problem with the idea that we should stress the sacred action hic et nunc, which is an important dimension of true active participation in a fuller sense, there are some practical considerations.
You know… sometimes these high falutin’ ideas don’t take into consideration what is a matter of common sense.
The fact is that we do see the tabernacle there and we know that the Blessed Sacrament is in there and we actually believe that this is God present in our midst.
Ignoring any of these things, from some goal of stressing the here and now seems to me problematic. What occurs to the one who watches people troop back and forth across the sanctuary and ignored the Blessed Sacrament is… well…. perhaps just shy of scandal. I suspect that it would undermine the respect people have for the Eucharist if they constantly seen their Eucharistic Ministers and servers, et al., ignoring the Lord.
Funny thing: Liberals always ask you to ignore the evidence of your senses.
Anyway… while this is one of those rubrics I think could be happy broken without much fuss, it is nevertheless important that we who desire that the liturgy always and everywhere be celebrated according to the rules should ouselves obey them.
The texts of the translations are dreadful. That doesn’t mean we should just change them according to our own lights. I am right about what I write on the prayers in WDTPRS and the lame-duck ICEL texts are jsut wrong. But I don’t therefore change the texts. The same goes for rubrics. The genuflection thing is in the Novus Ordo now. So be it. I admit that I forget from time to time, since I don’t say the Novus Ordo all that often these days and the genuflections are by now hard wired into me.
You know…. I know about all the fancy ideas about emphasizing the immediate sacred action blah blah blah but it is just wrong not to genuflect, isn’t it?
I think people are smart enough to handle the idea that we can reverence the Blessed Sacrament in a tabernacle by genuflecting and not lose track of the fact that they are at Mass and there will be a consecration.
After all, people have for centuries been able to see that during the distribution of Holy Communion Jesus is all over the place in the church.
And yet their heads don’t, in fact, explode.
So, friend, I have a hard time with that rubric also. I understand the idea behind it, but I think there are other important dimensions the egg-headed desk liturgists didn’t consider when they implemented their pet theories in the revised rubrics.
What should your attitude be? At least strive for resigned obedience and the patience to be consistent with the others who are serving there.
BTW… I think every faithful and reverent genuflection and act of faith helps to Save The World and everytime people ignore the Lord or are irreverent weakens us all.
Remember: Pope Benedict hopes that there will be a positive influence of the one use on the other. We might start by geting rid of these sorts of things so that the newer Mass will be in greater continuity with our tradition… in which we genuflect as we pass before the Blessed Sacrament wherever and whenever because we believe It is God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, sacramentally and truly with us.