What Does GIRM 160 for the USA Really Say?

When the new English translation of the Roman Missal is released, it will sport a new translation of the GIRM, the General Institution/Instruction of the Roman Missal.

There are, of course, adaptations for the USA and other Anglophone regions.

As it happens, the Congregation for Divine Worship has … tweaked some items.  I am sure this was to harmonize the language of the GIRM with the language of the rest of the Roman Missal.  However, tweaks may have been tweaked for other reasons.

For example, take a look at GIRM 160 for the USA.  The Latin is found on the USCCB website.

LATIN:
… Fideles communicant genuflexi vel stantes, prout Conferentia Episcoporum statuerit. Cum autem stantes communicant, commendatur ut debitam reverentiam, ab iisdem normis statuendam, ante susceptionem Sacramenti faciant.

OLDER USA ADAPTATION VERSION:
… The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.

NEWER USA ADAPTATION VERSION:
… The norm established for the Dioceses of the United States of America is that Holy Communion is to be received standing, unless an individual member of the faithful wishes to receive Communion while kneeling (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum, March 25, 2004, no. 91).

The rest of GIRM 160 remains as it was.

There is no mention of addressing the instances “pastorally” or giving “properly catechizing” people who kneel to receive their GOD.

In other words, when people kneel to receive Almighty GOD, priests and other ministers are to give Communion to the person and keep their mouths shut.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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26 Responses to What Does GIRM 160 for the USA Really Say?

  1. traditionalorganist says:

    I’ve always wondered what the “reasons for the norm” actually were.

  2. The “reasons” for this norm must surely have something to do with the old guard still being charge.

  3. I wonder whether they have also done something about the mendacious English mistranslation of GIRM 299 regarding free-standing altars.

  4. Henry: Alas, no. Inexplicably, no.

    Enough of the old guard are still around, it seems. Ad orientem celebration still terrifies them – down to their varicose-veined feet – as much as showing reverence to GOD by kneeling always has.

    After all we must stare at each other rather than address our prayers together toward GOD and we must remain standing, as befits sophisticated modern man who has out grown gestures of humility.

  5. ipadre says:

    It couldn’t be clearer – Amen!

  6. MichaelJ says:

    Is it just me, or does the new adaptation sould like it means:
    “The norm established for the Dioceses of the United States of America is that Holy Communion is to be received standing, unless … it is not”

  7. Banjo pickin girl says:

    That’s a great change! I’m glad!

  8. Andrew says:

    Fideles communicant genuflexi vel stantes, prout Conferentia Episcoporum statuerit.

    So it is not up to the individual Bishop but to the Conference to determine how the faithful are to receive?

  9. jasoncpetty says:

    Great! Hopefully won’t ever again have to hear a priest, wearing a live Britney-Spears-type mic, dressing down a hopeful communicant so that the whole Church heard. So . . . pastoral of him.

  10. Augustin57 says:

    I have heard of parishes where the faithful are forbidden from kneeling to receive Communion, OR from receiving Communion on the tongue. They don’t even teach receiving it on the tongue.

  11. The latest official position (to the best of my knowledge) of the CDWDS on orientation during the liturgy comes from the 2000 response (Prot. N. 564/00/L) to a letter from Fr. Joseph Fessio. Their reply specifically addressed the matter of orientation:

    “It could be that in some circumstances, because of the sensibilities of the faithful, celebration of Holy Mass versus populum would be indicated, however, it should be borne out in mind that there is no preference expressed in the liturgical legislation for either position. As both positions enjoy the favor of law, the legislation may not be invoked to say that one position or the other accords more closely with the mind of the Church.

    Like it or not, this is the CDWDS saying that the Missal (which provides rubrics for the priest to face the people at times, and to face the altar at other times, cf. Order of Mass 1, 29, 127, 132, 133, 139, 141, and 144; also see GIRM 124, 146, 154, 157, 165, 181, 244, and 268) does not favor ad orientem or versus populum, but provides equally for both.

    This means that the authentic translation of GIRM #160 cannot imply that Mass facing the people “is preferable wherever possible”!

  12. (Sorry, I meant GIRM #299, not #160.)

  13. paladin says:

    (*whew!*) God be praised!! Our pastor hated that provision (and the “requirement to catechize”–without telling him what to say!), anyway!

  14. TNCath says:

    What about the “norm” that everyone should remain standing until everyone has received Holy Communion? Did they “tweak” that one?

  15. Poor Old Guard. The fruit of all their hard, hard work to quash tradition is slowly but surely becoming…optional.

  16. Jerry says:

    Given that GIRM 160 states that reception while standing is the norm for dioceses in the United States, are pastors permitted to impose a norm of reception while kneeling for the entire parish?
    GIRM 160 provides for a communicant to decide to receive the Eucharist kneeling; however, there is no mention of pastors.

  17. oddfisher says:

    Anyone noticed at fishwrap yet? And yes, I do rely on you to read it so I don’t have to. *Much* appreciated.

  18. Gail F says:

    The word “norm” implies that that will be the normal way of doing things. The new translation makes it clear that you do not need a bishop’s or pastor’s permission to receive kneeling, and that neither bishops nor pastors may forbid kneeling.

    I would think (personal interpretation here!) that if a pastor wanted everyone to kneel, he could ask them to but he could not require them to (because asking them is not violating the norm, but requiring them to would be). How did I do, Fr. Z?

    [I think a pastor can and should preach and teach in such a way that people will on their own conclude that the very best way to receive is a) in the state of grace and b) on the tongue directly while kneeling.]

  19. Joseph-Mary says:

    At last there is breathing room.

  20. Ironically, this business of stated “norms” that require people to do one thing and not another seems strictly to be a strictly Novus Ordo phenomenon. Born of a new class of “liturgists” who appear to get their kicks out of imposing their will on others. Such as preventing anyone from showing any reverence that they themselves do not feel.

    Even though there are unwritten customs of long standing, I don’t recall ever seeing written norms requiring people at a TLM to (for instance) kneel for Holy Communion. Certainly, most do, but at almost every TLM there are people who receive standing because they are unable to kneel, and nobody gives it a thought.

  21. Marius2k4 says:

    Why not translate it literally? [Because, as far as I understand, there is no LATIN of 160 with the adaptations for the USA.]

    …Fideles communicant genuflexi vel stantes, prout Conferentia Episcoporum statuerit. Cum autem stantes communicant, commendatur ut debitam reverentiam, ab iisdem normis statuendam, ante susceptionem Sacramenti faciant.

    “…The faithful communicate kneeling or standing, as shall have been established by the Conference of Bishops. When, however, they communicate standing, it is recommended that the due reverence, by these very norms established, should be made before the reception of the Sacrament.”

    The “when, however” line lends force to the general norm of receiving kneeling, and creates a contrast with the particular ‘norm’ of receiving kneeling. Why must they localize such things and give the previous (and some, including myself would argue harmful) decisions of the Conferences lasting written force? This is an extra hurdle to the revitalization of the liturgy.

  22. Glen M says:

    Fantastic news! Another brick.

  23. Marius2k4 says:

    Why not translate it literally? [Because, as far as I understand, there is no LATIN of 160 with the adaptations for the USA.]

    I suppose my point (and I may be incorrect and/or overlooking criteria which necessitate the current situation) is that the Church should use one GIRM. Let regional factionalism be left to the Middle Ages; we should be one Church, and I think that it is the regional particularity of these regulations which irk me. Of course there is historical precedent for Bishops and particular churches doing their own thing (Sts. Ambrose and Augustine, et cetera…), but given both the smallness of today’s world and the gravity of the Sanctissimum (were everyone to truly believe in the Real Presence we would approach it on bended knee down the entire nave!), it is the determination of my wholly fallible personal magisterium that we should err on the side of reverence, unity, and regularization.

  24. The new version of the adaptation still stresses the oddball character of the “individual” who wishes to kneel for Holy Communion. In other words, the implication is that there couldn’t possibly be even a small group of such people in any parish– just a wacko here, a stray nut case there, the nutty aunt who ‘s hard of hearing and hasn’t heard the numerous salutory exhortations on this topic because she won’t turn on her hearing aid, and those few unusual cases aren’t worth messing with. They’re dying off, and eventually the problem will go away, so we are led to believe… but of course this is disinformation. The aging hippies think that if they repeat it enough, people will believe it, even though the exact opposite is the case.

    I don’t see this as a significant improvement. It still says essentially nothing and only incorporates the Instruction on Redemptionis Sacramentum by reference, which is weaker than actually stating “no one is to be denied” (maybe no one will bother to read the Instruction, they hope) as before. An 1970 ICEL version of this might read “Most folks like to receive standing, which is great, but others want to receive kneeling, and that’s cool too, and if by chance they happen to meet in the same church, that is beautiful.”

  25. Sol says:

    You’ve gotta love this word ‘pastoral’, don’t you. A ‘metaexcuse’ for pretty much everything.

    @ Andrew:

    ‘An 1970 ICEL version of this might read “Most folks like to receive standing, which is great, but others want to receive kneeling, and that’s cool too, and if by chance they happen to meet in the same church, that is beautiful.”

    This had me laughing for a good few minutes:) Well put.

  26. Bigaltarboy says:

    Is there somewhere to find the new translation of GIRM 160. Unfortunately it seems you are the only one who is willing to give this information.