QUAERITUR: how the Ceremonial of Bishops guides Novus Ordo worship

Let’s get some discussion going about this point concerning the Ordinary Form – Novus Ordo liturgy.

From a reader via email:

Is it proper for a priest to use the rubrics and prayers for priests contained in the Ceremonial of Bishops if the bishop is not present? 

At the Vigil, our pastor, who really wants beautiful and perfect liturgy, followed the Ceremonial, but this made it difficult for the congregation, which was working largely from missalettes, to follow with proper responses and postures. I don’t want to mention this concern to him unnecessarily, because he is pretty touchy and protective of the liturgy (not a bad thing) and would feel hurt if he knew we were doubting any of his choices.  I know he would want to be corrected if he is in error, however; he is receptive to and grateful for any well founded information about how to celebrate and gracefully changes his practice in response to new information. 

My understanding is that when in the Novus Ordo Missale Romanum the rubrics are vague or absent, then the reference point is the Ceremonial of Bishops.

Frankly, I don’t think that is a very good idea but I recall something about that.

Perhaps the pastor could get a bit more interested in the Extraordinary Form.

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  1. Jahaza says:

    It’s hard to know what the practices in question are… but the rubrics are found many places besides the Missale Romanum, the Ceremonial of Bishops as mentioned, but also Paschales Solemnitatis and other documents and decisions. The Easter Vigil also requires consulation with the Rite of Christian Inititation for Adults, which is in its own book. There are musical rubrics in the Graduale that may alter what is in the missal (this is a disputed point among rubricians.)

    There are so many options, that there is no way that a misallette can contain them all. While pastors and other liturgy planners sometimes make their liturgical choices so as to match the misallettes in the pew, this is frequently not possible (or even more frequently not desireable.)

    Sometimes the misallettes are just wrong. The one in our parish omitted the Gloria from the Easter Vigil and, of course, the Gloria is in no way optional.

    In short: the pastor’s principle of also following the Ceremonial of Bishops is entirely correct, but it’s not possible to answer the correspondent’s question about particular practices without knowing what the particular practice was.

  2. Jahaza says:

    Oh… another point is that there are changes to the ceremonies of the Easter Vigil in the third edition of the Missal (not yet available in English) and pastors may use those rubrics with the new texts (and may actually be obliged to use those rubrics, it’s not clear.) See this article from the USCCB.

  3. asperges says:

    Is it not amazing that 40 years after its introduction, the question of new rite rubrics is still vague or open to question?

    However there seems to have been an understanding (not formalised) from its inception that where no new guidance was given that the existing (old rite) ways would still appply – the most obvious example of this is ad orientem disposition: it was never assumed as a matter of course in the rubrics that the priest would be facing the people.

    Even with a revised (and largely ignored) GIRM, whenever people enthuse about a particularly well done new rite Mass, it is more often than not because it is closely similar to its older rite form. What a mess. Or is this what was always intended under all the debris of 40 years?

  4. Nora says:

    Jahaza, Will the new translation that is being finalized include the rubrics from the third edition of the missal?

  5. Nora says:

    And here’s one I have wondered about. When the priest’s chalice is prepared at the altar, some folks bless the water and some don’t, based on different interpretations of whether that blessing was carried forward. Opinions on that?

  6. TrueLiturgy says:

    Jahaza, I did not realize that there was to be new rubrics with the third edition. Thank you for the information. My guess is that the new translation will have the new rubrics in them, although they probably won’t be followed just as the current ones aren’t followed.

    Nora, As far as I know, the Sacramentary as well as the GIRM do not call for the blessing of water for when the chalice is prepared at the altar. Therefore, since no one may add anything to the Mass, it is actually not allowed. That certain blessing has basically been repealed.

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