HELP A PARTICIPANT: Instructions for lay participation

UPDATE: I have had several more requests from lay people about how to participate at celebrations of Holy Mass in its older, traditional form.  Thus, I revive this entry, FWIW.

Everyone: Can I have some help with this?

I received an e-mail with a question I simply don’t have time to answer.  Maybe some of the better informed of you can help.  

Let’s stick to suggestions you can also cite, please, and not just what you like to do.

Here is what the questioner asked:

I am currently engaged in the happy task of preparing a Mass booklet for my parish, which, Deo volente, will be soon scheduling a traditional Sunday Mass. The booklet I have made is similar to the red Mass booklets published by the Coalition in support of Ecclesia Dei but, I hope, a little more user-friendly and informative.

One of the things that has befuddled me is proper instructions for lay participation. Both O’Connell and Fortescue state that the congregation is to STAND after the [major] Elevation at a High Mass (O’Connell goes on to say that "they may remain kneeling after the Consecration but should stand for the communal recitations of the Pater Noster" at a Dialogue Mass (p. 690, 1959 edition; cf. Fortescue, p. 95, 1962 edition)). They also both state that the congregation sit down after the priest has consumed the Precious Cup. Both of these directives astounded me: Never have I seen anyone stand after the elevation of the chalice at a extraordinary-form Mass, and I have always seen people kneel at or after the Agnus Dei, not remain standing only to sit after the Priest’s communion.

I want the instructions for this booklet to be accurate, but I also don’t want them to fly in the face of accepted custom. Is there some directive from the SRC I’m missing?

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  1. Matthew M says:

    In my parish, about 15% of the congregation stands for the Pater Noster (per the instructions in the red ED booklets. The rest resolutely continue to kneel. I’m hoping that one day the proper ecclesiastical authority can heal this schism.

  2. William says:

    Here is another source for comparison: The booklet passed out to the people at the Solemn High Mass celebrated by the FSSP on 14. September at the Shrine in Hanceville AL, televised on EWTN.

    I will go ahead and add that in the FSSP parish I attend, we do not stand at the Pater Noster, although this booklet says STAND, and at the Mass in Hanceville, we did stand.

  3. A.M.D.G. says:

    Here we go again….

    The “stick to suggestions you can also cite” unfortunately falls short as it invariably brings in the
    miscues from 1958 for example.

    Regardless of what may be “allowable” these same items might be less than “advisable”. Far less.

    Extracted from something by Dietrich V. H. circa 1966…

    The contrast between the Extraordinary Rite and the NOM?
    • Does it help raise our hearts from the concerns of everyday life — from the purely natural aspects of the world — to Christ?
    • Does it increase reverence, an appreciation of the sacred?
    • …And in no domain is reverence more important than religion. ..
    • Do we better meet Christ by soaring up to Him, or by dragging Him down into our workaday world?

    The level and nature of a community experience is determined by the theme of the communion, the name or cause in which men are gathered “we-ness” … It is not about us per se, it is about God

    Casual relaxation and bustling activity precludes a reverent, contemplative confrontation with Christ

    What really matters is not whether the faithful feel at home at mass, but whether they are drawn out of
    their ordinary lives into the world of Christ —- the Traditional Latin Mass *itself* does that!


    With all charity intended…
    too much activity and audibilizing on that part of congregants amounts to little more than yammering
    and volubility. It adds nothing to “The greatest action that can be on earth” as Cardinal Newman
    once said.

    Don’t be tempted to tinkering. Find a good template from one of the Indult masses that are around
    and have at least 2-10 years of offering this mass in a no-doubt optimal manner by now or contact the
    FSSP for sound references. Use *these* resources instead of going off in the well meaning, well
    intentioned “parish administrator” mode essentially reinventing the wheel as it where.

    I’ll provide a specific reference to one of those templates for legitimate requests to anyone who asks.
    Contact me if you wish.

  4. Richard T says:

    There was a post on this a few days ago.

    The Latin Mass Society in England says that the congregation should remain kneeling from the Sanctus through to Communion (right through to the Last Gospel in a Low Mass). Their guide is here:

    This is how I have seen it done in all extraordinary rite Masses I have attended in England, although when I attended one in France the congregation stood for the Pater Noster.

    To my mind, this continued kneeling in the Real Presence of God is one of the great advantages of the extraordinary rite over the novus ordo. Personally I would follow that, and cite the LMS, even though it isn’t the strongest authority.

    What I asked on the previous post, but no-one seemed to be able to answer, is where this difference comes from. Was it a national difference, or did practice change over the ’50s and ’60s, with us following a slightly older form in England.

  5. Mark says:

    I attend an FSSP Mass in Indianapolis (going on 10 yrs) and this is in brief what they do:
    Kneel for Prayers at foot of the Altar
    Stand after prayers at the foot of the Altar (Sit when Priest sits at Gloria in High Mass)
    Sit at Epistle / Gradual/Tract
    Stand at Gospel / Credo (Sit when Priest sits in High Mass)
    Sit through Offertory
    Stand at “Per omnia…” after the Secret
    Kneel after the “Sanctus”
    Stand at”Per omnia…” at the conclusion of the Cannon / Kneel after “Angus Dei”
    Stand at “Dominus Vobiscum” after Communion Prayer

    While this prescription may seem unorthodox to some, in actual practice it appears as more of a coordinated movement with the priest and servers during the liturgy

  6. Mark says:

    I attend an FSSP Mass in Indianapolis (going on 10 yrs) and this is in brief what they do:
    Kneel for Prayers at foot of the Altar
    Stand after prayers at the foot of the Altar (Sit when Priest sits at Gloria in High Mass)
    Sit at Epistle / Gradual/Tract
    Stand at Gospel / Credo (Sit when Priest sits in High Mass)
    Sit through Offertory
    Stand at “Per omnia…” after the Secret
    Kneel after the “Sanctus”
    Stand at”Per omnia…” at the conclusion of the Cannon / Kneel after “Angus Dei”
    Stand at “Dominus Vobiscum” after Communion Prayer
    Kneel for Final Blessing
    Stand for Last Gospel

    While this prescription may seem unorthodox to some, in actual practice it appears as more of a coordinated movement with the priest and servers during the liturgy

  7. Well, there is this answer to the subject regarding mass in the ordinary form, citing no. 43 of the GIRM. This is the authoritatieve instruction for the new mass. There is also this very interesting article, with an appreciable quotation on the importance of kneeling from someone named Ratzinger.

    The older practice should be based upon the documentation which is included in the 1962 Editio Typica of the Missale Romanum, as that is the only approved edition of the missal for mass in the extraordinary form. Presumably, until any contrary notification, those documents relate the authoritative practice for this form, just as the 2002 IGMR/GIRM relates the norms for the ordinary form.

    It is entirely possible that post-communion posture was left to local custom, which appears to be the case, anecdotally. The Missale Romanum has not typically been interested in the posture of the non-celebrants prior to the editions following Vatican II and the appearance of the IGMR/GIRM. It was and is, after all, a book designed for the clergy.

    I look forward to hearing more on the subject. I’m wondering if the clarification that may eventually be promulgated on such matters may rely more upon the norms for the Pauline Mass, which, as noted in the first link above, leave the posture of the people in the intra-Communion period undefined, stand or kneel to receive, then sit, stand or kneel until all have received. Flexibility is sometimes and asset, though too much freedom can be a bad thing, too.

  8. dad29 says:

    Looks to me like the Fortescue is English custom whereas the American practice/custom was different.

  9. First it should be pointed out that all directions for the congregation are merely prescriptive since they are not menitoned in the vast majority of the rubrics.

    Second, I think the issue at High Mass has to do with the fact that before the 1940s there really was no distribution of Holy Communion at High Mass (except on Holy/Maundy Thursday and at Christmas Midnight Mass) since the people were expected to be fasting from midnight and people woke up much earlier back then. The were one or two ways of implementing Holy Communion at High mass once it became standard. It was not originally part of the Missal.

    Third, as for Low Mass, the instructions mentioned for the Dialogue Mass in the edition of Fortescue/O’Connell that you have, it should be remembered that these suggestions were given in light of the impending liturgical changes.

    At a Low Mass, the most widely observed practice in this the U.S. is this: The people STAND as the celebrant enters. KNEEL once the ‘Prayers at the Foot of the Altar begin, and remain KNEELING until the Gospel, then they STAND at the “Dominus vobiscum” before the Gospel and remain STANDING until the priest goes to the pulpit. When the readings are done in the vernacular from the pulpit before the sermon, they usually SIT for the Epistle, STAND for the Gospel, and then sit for the sermon. At the Credo, they can either KNEEL or STAND depending on local custom (most liturgical authors say to kneel.) After the “Dominus vobiscum” and response at the Offfertory they may SIT until the Sanctus when they KNEEL until the Last Gospel (unless they come to make their Communion obviously). At the Last Gospel, they STAND (genuflecting for the “Et verbum caro factum est”). Then they KNEEL for the Leonine Prayers after Low Mass (if they are to be had) and STAND as the celebrant departs.

  10. Angelo says:

    At our traditional chapel,with the sung High Mass,
    immediately after the conclusion of
    the Sanctus & Benedictus, the faithful kneel until
    the Minor Elevtion at which time the bell is rung,
    signalling the conclusion of the Canon.
    The priest then audibly sings: Per Omnia Saecula
    Saeculorum, upon which the faithful stand for the
    Pater Noster. After the Agnus Dei, the faithful
    resume their kneeling position until the Last Blessing.

  11. Berolinensis says:

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I am under the impression that the traditional Mass does not have rubrics for the people. Their posture is ruled entirely by custom, and as such is not strict and binding. In fact – please don’t be offended – I find this urge to have everyone in a uniform posture during Mass to be a particularly American concern. There are some parts which I think do require a certain posture (e.g. kneeling through the Canon, standing for the Gospel), and a principle should be not to impede or distract others (don’t stand when most people or those behind you are kneeling), but otherwise IMHO it is quite healthy to leave some room for individual devotion. Look at old painitings of Mass: people will be in all kinds of different posture. At the traditional Mass I attend in Germany, there is a surprising variety of posture, and no one seems to think it a problem. Even in the novus ordo Mass there are differences from region to region: Possibly contrary to the IGMR, in mosts parts of Germany people kneel throughout the entire Canon, while people in Italy will almost certainly stand.

  12. Father Z,

    If your inquiring priest would like some photocopies of texts from my modest liturgical library, please e-mail me at I can send photocopies of selections from: “Ceremonial for the Use of the Catholic Churches in the United States of America” (often referred to as “The Baltimore Ceremonial”), as promulgated by the First Plenary Council of Baltimore, Eighth Revised Edition; “Compendium sacræ liturgiæ juxta Ritum Romanum” by P. Innocenz Wapelhorst, O.F.M., Eleventh Edition, 1931; “The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described” by Adrian Fortescue, Seventh Edition revised by J. O’Connell, 1943; “The Celebration of the Mass” by the Rev. J. O’Connell, First Edition, 1940; and finally “Handbook of Ceremonies for Priests and Seminarians” by John Baptist Müller, S.J., Fifth English Edition translated from the German by Andrew P. Ganss, S.J., 1921.

    Please let me know the relevant information.


    P.S. Someone needs to re-print this stuff!!!

  13. David Kubiak says:

    Berolinensis is absolutely right. Until the reformed Holy Week books in the 50’s rubrics for the laity were entirely customary and not legislated. What Fr. Fortescue thought most appropriate at High Mass was for the people to imitate the rubrics of clerics attending in choir. That is why he says stand after the elevation. This posture in choir is absolutely correct and traditional, and I am always amused by priests in the sanctuary who presumably think they are demonstrating high devotion by remaining kneeling.

  14. Anon. says:

    Chapter XIX of the 2003 edition of Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described discusses all this.

  15. Vernon says:

    The daily missal I used prior to the Council was first published in England in 1949 and revised to 1952. This was edited by Rev J O’Connell. Separate instructions to the faithful are given for Low Mass and High Mass. I know that everyone followed the same practice irrespective of which missal one used.

    Low Mass:
    Those present stand as the Priest enters and until he descends to the foot of the altar to begin Mass. Kneel throughout Mass except during the two Gospels, when they stand. Useage permits them to sit from the Offertory to the beginning of the Preface, and after Holy Communion until the reciting of the Communion antiphon.

    High Mass:
    Stand as the ministers enter then kneel (after the Asperges). Stand as the celebrant goes up to the altar at “Aufer a nobis”. Sit with the celebrant during the Gloria and stand again with him at the end. Sit for the Epistle, Gradual, etc. Stand for the Gospel and Credo (sitting whilst the celebrant does so). Sit after the “Dominus vobiscum” for the Offertory to the end of the Secret, except that they stand whilst being incensed by the thurifer.
    Stand for the Preface and Sanctus then kneel until the Last Gospel for which they stand. As for Low Mass, it is permitted to sit after Holy Communion until the reciting of the Communion Antiphon.

  16. jacobus says:

    Berolinensis has the right idea, I think. Give suggestions to people as to the normal posture of the place, simply so that they will feel comfortable. But it is best to stop short of prescribing movements.

    In my case, I am more than happy to kneel for an entire low mass, but as soon as ushers start looking askance to sitters or priests start to say things from the pulpit, I get a very strong urge to stand or sit…

    I suspect this is something of a metaphor for God’s gift of free will..

  17. Joshua says:

    There are no rubrics for the laity. Fortescue, O’Connel, Reid (in the 2003 edition where they collected a section for laity at Mass from snippets) says that as much as possible it is desirable that laity follow the rubrics for the choir (clerical here).

    The choir, in the 1962 Missale, is instructed to stand after the Consecration, except at Penitential Masses celebrated in violet or Requiem Masses where they kneel (ditto for Collects and Post Communions, where they kneel in such Masses). The New Mass is the same here in its general instruction that one stands after the memorial acclamation.

    In AMERICA we have modified the GIRM to stay kneeling, largely because this custom prevailed from before Vatican II. Kneeling was continued until the “Per omnia saecula” by custom, which is the only real measure here since there are no rubrics at a High Mass for laity (and the low Mass rubrics are obsolete in the 1962 Mass)

  18. Scott Smith says:

    Perhaps you’ll find this helpful:

    De musica sacra et sacra liturgia
    Instruction on Sacred Music and Sacred Liturgy

    Sacred Congregation for Rites – September 3, 1958Chapter III-1. Principal liturgical functions in which sacred music is used.
    Mass: General principles regarding the participation of the faithful:

    22. b) The participation of the congregation becomes more complete, however, when, in addition to this interior disposition, exterior participation is manifested by external acts, such as bodily position (kneeling, standing, sitting), ceremonial signs, and especially responses, prayers, and singing.

    Of course it doesn’t say exactly when to do what, just that they should. Which is what Fortescue says in the 12th edition in the appendix to Chapter X: Rules for the Laity at Mass. He notes that the old rubric for private Mass (R.G., xvii, 2) which indicated that those attending (Circumstantes) always kneel (semper genua flectunt), even during Easter except for the reading of the Gospel, is now obsolete. It is supposedly obsolete since it is not in the new 1961/1962 rubrics. The new rubrics under the very similar heading: De Ordine genuflectendi, sedendi, et standi in Missa (omitting: privata et solemni) arguably intends to give the same posture for any Mass. Then the rubrics continue to differentiate In Missis Lecta, In Missis in Cantu, and In Missa solemni and give instructions to the priest-celebrant, deacon, subdeacon and to those in choir. In the later case, in missa solemni, the instruction to the choir is given (R.G.M.R. 524) that they do not sit when actually singing, but they can sit at other times (reliqui autem sedere possunt): a. when the celebrant sits b. while the readings and Epistle, gradual, tract, and Alleluia with its verse, and sequence are sung (assuming for those in the choir not actually singing), c.from the offertory even to the incensation of the choir or if the choir is not incensed, even to the preface, d. from the completion of communion even to the Dominus Vobiscum before the postcommunion. The choir is to kneel or stand as indicated in other rubrics. One who is not a prelate, kneels (ad confessionem cum suo psalmo) and at the blessing at the end of Mass, also, all, even prelates, kneel at the consecration, at the communion of the faithful, and in Masses of the feria of Advent, Lent and Passiontide, and the Rogation days in September, for vigils of the II and III class out side of Eastertide and in Masses of the Dead: at the orations before the Epistle, when the Dominus Vobicum is said from the conclusion of the Sanctus even to the Pater Noster with the preface included; and at the orations after communion and over the people. Also all genuflect when the celebrant recites the words of the Creed Et incarnatus est etc. and when the words of the last Gospel, Et Verbum caro factum est, are said (R.G.M.R. 520 and 521). I suppose it assumes that the people will be following the choir (those in choir that are not singing). I do not see that the continuation of the observance of the old rubric for a private Mass would in any way be against the new rubrics which indicate nothing for those attending a Missa Lecta. It seems in this case, custom is indeed the best interpreter of the the law.

    My advise would be to indicate at the beginning that the posture of the altar servers be followed by the people when possible. This is the better indicator to those who would rather not keep their heads in book during a such a glorious liturgy as is the Mass according to the extraordinary form.

  19. “With all charity intended…
    too much activity and audibilizing on that part of congregants amounts to little more than yammering and volubility. It adds nothing to ‘The greatest action that can be on earth’ as Cardinal Newman once said.”

    If that is true, it would have to apply to most of the Eastern Rites of the Church, where the people have traditionally been more involved in the responses. But what matters here is not what some parish has done for X number of years out of habit, so much as a legitimate authority of the Apostolic See.

    As to posture, it has varied from one part of the world to another. In Europe, they used to stand right after the consecration. As to the people’s responses, the SRC allowed for local discretion in the degree of lay responses, not just in the “dialogue Mass,” but in both the Low and High Mass by 1958.

    That’s the short version. Bottom line, what matters is stated authority where it applies, legitimate custom otherwise — as of 1962. When someone’s ready to start AND end there, I’m ready to listen.

  20. The Angelus Press, which you can find online, publishes Mass Books with all instructions for the traditional Mass. The are paperback and can be kept in the pews. Many churches use these.

    William A. Torchia, Esquire

  21. Jim says:

    You should be so lucky to be worring about mass books. Some of us have to worry about pastors who preach heresy. Our parish just lost a faithful priest who preached the Apostolic faith for the past 7 years. The first words out of the new priest’s mouth were that (1) we should forget about going to confession because it was unnecessary, and (2) Kung and Schillebeecks were his heros. I can tolerate a so-so liturgy, but I choke on heresy from the pulpit.

  22. Sharon says:

    If you obtain a 1962 Missal it will have the ‘stand’ ‘sit’ ‘kneel’ instructions printed on the English side of the page.

  23. Emilio says:


    I don’t believe the Baronius Press version (2004) has those instructions (other than “Here kneel down” at the ET INCARNATUS EST.)

  24. Henry Edwards says:

    I don’t believe the Baronius Press version (2004) has those instructions

    Nor does the Angelus Press published about the same time. Nor do my 1962 St. Joseph and New Marian missals. Nor does my pre-1962 St. Andrew Daily Missal. So I wonder whether the idea of prescribing (and perhaps even enforcing) lay posture is essentially a Novus Ordo thing.

  25. TerryC says:

    I believe that proscribing lay posture is essentially a twentieth century American thing. My 1962 missal has suggested postures and the GRIM proscribes lay posture, which the American bishops requested a variance from Rome so that the laity could remain kneeling. Of course that practice is inconsistently followed in the U.S. since many modern church structures don’t include kneelers.

  26. Henry Edwards says:

    Of course that practice is inconsistently followed in the U.S. since many modern church structures don’t include kneelers.

    Of course, kneelers are not required for kneeling. They are only a convenience, and when reading some remarks of Cardinal Ratzinger about the ancient Israelites kneeling, it occurred to me that they probably didn’t have kneelers either.

    At any rate, the new bishop in a diocese where I previously lived — whose predecessor had allowed some new churches to be built without kneelers — directed that kneeling for the canon would be the diocesan practice for kneeling whether or not kneelers were available. I believe some people brought cushions to Mass for this purpose.

  27. Brian Mershon says:

    There are no rubrics for the lay faithful. It is based upon custom. I understand the priests’ sentiments, but they are merely that.

    Let us pray please, using any one of the numerous methods of “assisting at Mass” as outlined in our missals.

  28. LCB says:

    In one of my undergrad courses this question came up. The Prof’s response was that rubrics for the faithful were mostly a modern innovation (with a few exceptions), so there may be no perscribed positions for every part of the mass.

    That being said, when in doubt, kneel before Christ Jesus ;-)

  29. Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    It seems that the posture of the faithful at Mass was not an issue for rubricists until fairly recently. In the area where I grew up national parishes followed the customs of their homeland and territorial parishes had a different custom. Remember that until hand missals and sermons during Mass became common people generally said their prayers during Mass using various methods(see “The Holy Mass by St. Alphonsus Ligouri” for one such method). In some places another priest led the prayers while Mass was being celebrated. In other places people sang hymns. Customs varied greatly as there was no legislation. Also, pews in Catholic churches are a relatively modern American use that spread to some places, but not all. They were viewed by many as a “Protestant innovation.” Churches without pews had some chairs, but for the most part people stood throughout the entire Mass. Eventually people began to imitate the actions of the liturgical choir at solemn Mass and some of this spread to low Mass as well. While rubricists have made suggestions for the laity, it wasn’t until the Missale Romanum of Paul VI that actual postures were made part of the rubrics by liturgical law.

    The basic rules for common liturgical prayer (if they can be called rules): kneel to pray, sit to listen, stand to sing. The rest is custom.

  30. Berolinensis says:

    Fr. Bailey: Since you bring up these „general rules“: While I completely agree that there are no presc-ribed postures in the traditional Mass (as I pointed out in my first comment above), I have to say that it always strikes me as odd when people, as has been also suggested in various comments in this thread and seems to be more or less the norm, sit during the offering. The custom observed by me and mostly by the more traditional faithful I know here in Germa-ny is to kneel for the offering, for this is, I think, one of the moments of most intense pray-er at Mass, since we should at that time join in the offering of the gifts and offer up, at the same time, ourselves, our whole heart, life and being as a sacrifice. The „basic rules“ you mention would support kneeling, whereas sitting at this time suggests a passive receptivity, appropriate, as you say, for listening, but not, I propose, for the offering.

  31. Emilio says:


    Sitting down makes it easier for the ushers to take up the collection. I was glad to hear that it is customary to kneel in prayer elsewhere, though that means I probably wronged some people whom I thought cheap rather than pious… :-)

  32. David Kubiak says:

    I at least like to point out that rules for lay posture are not in the technical sense rubrical because of the fascist attempts of liturgically ‘progressive’ bishops to enforce things like standing and singing through the whole of Communion. My Ordinary actually published in the diocesan newspaper that his edicts on posture bound the faithful under pain of sin. Pity the poor people who actually believed such nonsense.

  33. J Basil Damukaitis says:

    Father Baily makes an excellent point. As one who has studied liturgy from an historical point, rather than a theological perspective, liturgical directives for the faithful never really existed until recent. In fact, it was the Protestant Reformation which ushered in more of a script or rubrics for the laity. It was more of a “holy chaos” and less a regimented routine.

  34. mike conlon says:

    There are no rubrics for the laity. Una Voce does publish, on its website, a guide. I am astounded to read that the congregation does not stand for the Pater Noster. This is contrary to all that I know about the laity’s postures during Mass. The proper posture for public prayer is standing, except for the PostCommunion in a Requiem or Memorial Mass. At “Oremus” all should rise. The original poster was confused by Fortescue. Fr.F is referring to clericsand laity in choir. The congregation does not stand until the Pater Noster. Of course, iam referring to a Missa en cantu; at a Missa lectiva one kneels from the Sanctus to the Last Gospel. I was astounded, when attending a EFMass less than 10 mi. away from my own TrueMass parish, the congregation sat after a short post-communion Thanksgiving until the Final Blessing. That was their custom.

    GOOD NEWS: After the recent dust up on sacred music, I recommended Msgr. Hayburn’s Papal Legislation of Sacred Music. It cost well over a $100 at Loome and on Ebay. It is now being reprinted after 30 years by Roman Catholic Books, PO Box 2286, Fort Collins, CO 80522-2286 (970.490.2735) for $55.80 This may seem like a lot but it is the Bible and youreally can’t discuss sacred music intelligently, without it.

  35. Mike Aiken says:

    I attend at an FSSP parish and use a 1961 Maryknoll Missal, one of which I received from my mother when I began attending a few years back. The lay postures described therein closely follow what occurs in “local practice”, and as near as I can recall from my pre-Conciliar youth, are what we did back then. I also found this interesting article on the Adoremus website for those who would like more background on the history of lay posture at Holy Mass. See the following:


  36. mike conlon says:

    Fred McManus, one of the prime wreckovators of the liturgy. Again, the distinction must be made between the Missa en cantu and the Missa Lectiva. In the Missa en cantu, the congregation should follow the actions of the clergy in choir, except for standing after the Consecration. Hey, there has to be an exception, else how could you have a rule? Another foible of mine is an insistence on correct terminology. The term “clerical choir” can set me off. My objection is that this this 5 syllable phrase can cause confusion because of the word choir. The phrase aptly describes that 2 syllable word, “schola.” Since we are trying to recover a rite, I think we all need to agree on a common terminology. Confused?

  37. Richard T says:

    Mike Conlon says:
    “I am astounded to read that the congregation does not stand for the Pater Noster. This is contrary to all that I know about the laity’s postures during Mass. The proper posture for public prayer is standing, except for the PostCommunion in a Requiem or Memorial Mass.”

    But surely the proper reaction to the Real Presence of Christ on the altar is to kneel, and this over-rides the “public prayer” aspect.

    “Before Me every knee shall bow” (Isaiah 45:23).

  38. Jay says:

    Bishop Hollis has never made a secret of his hostility to Rome, a stance that is now widespread throughout the diocese of Portsmouth. Paul Inwood’s attempted sabotage of the Motu Proprio is yet another manifestation of this and it is with great interest we watch and wait to see how events will unfold here.


  39. Richard T says:

    Henry Edwards reminds us that “kneelers are not required for kneeling”.

    However at Brentwood Cathedral (England) they have not just removed the kneelers, they have set the rows of chairs so close together that it is impossible for an ordinary sized man to fit between them whilst in a kneeling position.

    Fortunately they are chairs rather than pews, and most of them are empty for a Sunday Mass, so it is fairly easy to move the one in front out of the way. However the vast majority of the congregation remain standing.

  40. Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    Berolinensis: I am in agreement with you. This is a time for prayer, a time for self-oblation. Unfortunately this has also become the time for taking up the collection for obvious reasons. Here in the USA it is the first collection. Another is taken up after the Communion Rite is concluded. One of the positive aspects of the Ordinary Form of the Mass is that it provides a time for the collection. I would suggest that at the Extraordinary Form the priest could sit after the sermon or Gospel while the collection is taken and once this has finished ascend to the altar for the Credo (if said) or Offertory, but I might get stoned by the rubricists! {];-) (no pom… I’m a religious)

    Mike Conlon: You wrote that the proper posture for public prayer is standing. This is not the case. The Liturgical Choir stood after the Consecration to sing the Benedictus which was separated from the Sanctus. The only reason they stood was to sing. With the ’62 Missal, the two, if chanted, may not be separated so the choir kneels when it finishes the Sanctus and remains so until it sings the Agnus Dei. If the Sanctus is sung polyphonically it may be separated from the Benedictus if the length of the piece requires the separation. In this case the Liturgical Choir would stand after the Consecration. We always stand for the Creed, even when said, because it is not a prayer. It is a solemn proclamation like the Gospel. The reason the Liturgical Choir stood was to sing. That must be kept in mind. The rubrics developed from this. However, there are rarely liturgical choirs any longer who actually sing except in cathedrals, monastaries, and collegiate churches, although clerics who assist in the sanctuary are said to assist in choir.

    Also, there is a difference between a schola and a clerical choir. A schola is a small group of singers who may or may not be clerics. Generally, they sing the propers and more difficult chants. If clerics, they may sing from the choir or sanctuary of the church. If mixed or non-clerics they must sing from another part of the church such as the choir loft or gallery. For liturgical purposes, a clerical choir is those clerics who are assisting at a liturgy in choir, that is, in the choir or sanctuary. In most cases they do not sing. “Clerical choir” is really a misnomer. It is a term that persists from the days when the choir was made up only of clerics. Eventually they were replaced by trained lay singers. Thses singers, until fairly recently, had to be male since they replaced clerics (as with altar servers) The only exception was female religious in their own churches.

    In a very real sense, rubrics for the choir as to posture are obsolete since they apply to a clerical choir that actually sings in the choir of the church. This is a rare happening, though the rubrics suppose it to be the norm since the norm (of the rubrics) is the papal court. We must always bear in mind that rubrics and liturgical praxis did not develop in a vacuum but in a specific milieu. It is important to understand where they came from, not just to quote and enforce them as if they were divine law. Perhaps the best way to look at them is the way Bruce Marshall characterized them in his novel, ‘The World, the Flesh, and Fr. Smith:’ “Rubrics are Almighty God’s table manners.” Thus, they are not meant to constrain, but to free us to be about the reason we are at Mass: The worship of God.

  41. Greg Smisek says:

    Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. wrote regarding the schola cantorum:
    If clerics, they may sing from the choir or sanctuary of the church. If mixed or non-clerics they must sing from another part of the church such as the choir loft or gallery.

    I believe that even according to the rules in force in 1962, laymen (males) singing in the schola cantorum can and perhaps ought to sing from the sanctuary: See De musica sacra (1958), n. 93c.

    It is only a mixed (male and female) or female-only choir that “should take its place outside the sanctuary or Communion rail” (n. 100).

  42. Greg Smisek says:

    The link I gave above is bad. The correct link is De musica sacra.

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