QUAERITUR: Concerning the thumb and forefinger

From a priest:

It is now over five years since I learned to say Mass in the Usus Antiquior. [Hooray!] I have tried hard not to import random bits of rubrical practice into my celebration of the Novus Ordo. [That can be tough.]
One thing, however, that I do find myself doing is holding my thumb and forefinger together once the Sacred Host is consecrated. [Good!]

I have recently been challenged by a lay person, who felt that I was exercising private preference rather than conforming to the norms of the Church. Yet not holding my digits together seems disrespectful.

Can you please offer any guidance?

Guidance?  Sure!  Lemme think…

You could just gape at the lay person and say, “Are you serious? And if so, have you seen a doctor for this condition?”

Otherwise you could say, “Yes, you know, you’re absolutely right!   Thank you!  Thank you for helping me see the error of my ways.  I will immediately stop importing these horrible practices into the Ordinary Form.  Hence, because of your comments, from now on every Mass I say at this parish will be according to the 1962 Missal.”

Ignore the lay person.  Continue to do what you are doing.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Puir Slow-Witted Gowk, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. sprachmeister says:

    When I was about 16 or 17 and first became aware of the EF and found out about this, I was puzzled and thought there must be some lost mystical meaning to this. Soon after, I was delighted to find that it was eminently practical because of our faith in the Real Substantial Presence!

  2. Could we infer that this objecting lay person thinks that belief in the Real Presence is unique to the EF–but foreign to the OF–and therefore thinks that the priest’s acting in celebration of the OF, as though he actually believes in the Real Presence, constitutes importation of EF beliefs into the OF?

  3. mamajen says:

    The priest I grew up with did this during the Novus Ordo. Until now I never knew that it wasn’t “normal”, but now that I think about it I haven’t seen it much since. He had a very precise, reverent way of doing every single little detail, and it fascinated me to watch him. I used to wish I had been born a boy so that I could be a priest like him. Children pick up on the little details and the special ritual, and that’s what they want to mimic.

  4. Rellis says:

    From the RM3 GIRM:

    42. The gestures and bodily posture of both the Priest, the Deacon, and the ministers, and also of the people, must be conducive to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, to making clear the true and full meaning of its different parts, and to fostering the participation of all. Attention must therefore be paid to what is determined by this General Instruction and by the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice.

    See that? “and by the traditional practice of the Roman Rite.”

    The GIRM is silent about the positioning of fingers after the consecration. There is no common spiritual good of the People of God served by not connecting your fingers. Therefore, IMHO, the default traditional practice of the Roman Rite should be used.

    And because you are using the traditional practice of the Roman Rite, you are not using private inclination or arbitrary choice.

  5. @Henry Edwards: I’d lean towards, no, absolutely not. [Please don’t use the @ sign like that for the combox here. Thanks.]

  6. benedetta says:

    I recall seeing the priest do this at Novus Ordo Mass in the 70s.

  7. disco says:

    I do believe that photo of John Paul II answered the question quite nicely.

  8. fvhale says:

    There is a bigger problem here: most Catholics have no idea how to distinguish what is really EF and what is really OF, what is common to both, what is different, and where there is more or less opportunity for variations within each form. That would require actual familiarity and some depth of understanding of BOTH FORMS.

    I am reminded of all the wailing I heard about the “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” in the new translation taking us back to “before Vatican II,” when, in fact, it had always been in the OF (in Latin), just lost in English translation. Not a single Catholic I asked could actually identify what really changed in the Confiteor between EF and OF, in Latin, not in a vernacular translation.

    Because of the “multiplied changes” of introduction of OF, use of vernacular and confusion caused by deformations of practice (some from well-meaning confusion and a bit of disobedience here and there), and the emotional fogs of “Traditionalist vs. Progressive” fights, very few Catholics can clearly see the beauty of both continuity and development inherent in the two forms of the Roman Rite.

    So many Catholics I have met (especially those who exclusively want one form or the other) seem to have so little formation in the Church’s liturgy that they seem to hold on for dear life to a few overly-tight threads, and panic whenever anything appears to change, in any direction. Their experience of liturgy is more of a tightrope rather than a land flowing with milk and honey.

  9. benedetta says:

    fvhale, I think that is pretty accurate.

  10. iPadre says:

    I have also done the same since learning the EF 3 years ago. There is nothing that forbids us from doing such. However, there are rubrics that tell us when to face the people. I wonder if that person will insist on Ad Orientem? I wonder if that person will insist on the propers being chanted? I wonder if that person will insist on more Latin in the Mass as Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict instructed? You get my drift.

  11. Panterina says:

    I too noticed that our former parish priest started doing the same thing during the NO Mass, after some time years of celebrating the EF Mass. At the NO, he also added a genuflection before the elevation of the host and of the chalice. When a parishioner pointed out these “extra” genuflections, he quipped “I’m showing more respect to Our Lord. Do you have a problem with that?” I miss him dearly :-)

  12. acardnal says:

    Panterina wrote, “When a parishioner pointed out these “extra” genuflections, he quipped “I’m showing more respect to Our Lord. Do you have a problem with that?” I miss him dearly :-)”

    Love that. In the TLM/EF the priest makes the Sign of the Cross 52 times; kisses the sacred altar 9 times. I need to count the number of times he genuflects. Maybe one of the readers knows.

  13. Rellis, thou hast writ:

    “The GIRM is silent about the positioning of fingers after the consecration. There is no common spiritual good of the People of God served by not connecting your fingers. Therefore, IMHO, the default traditional practice of the Roman Rite should be used.”

    To put it another way: “Consuetudo est optima legum interpres.” (“Custom is the best interpreter of laws.”)

  14. Frank H says:

    I have always admired priests who close the thumb and forefinger after the consecration, and I always suspected there must be a term for this. Then, a couple of months ago, during a Q&A after a talk given by one of my favorite priests (he’s on the faculty of the Josephinum) he used the term “canonical digits”, and my search for that elusive term was ended!

  15. thickmick says:

    Hang in there Father! Don’t let them get you down!

  16. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    Been doing that since I was ordained in 1994.

  17. APX says:

    I can’t believe someone would actually complain about something like this. The prideful attitude of myself would have asked the person, “I’m sorry, I was trying to prevent the crumbs from the Blessed Sacrament from getting lost, as I’m sure you’re well aware that even the tiniest piece fully contains the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord. What Is it about that which you object to?”

    I think the fact that the Missal contains giant tabs on the pages throughout the Canon for page turning the same as the Missals from 1962 and prior, indicate strongly that the thumb and forefinger should be kept together after the consecration.

  18. Andrew says:

    Just as an example, for the “behold the Lamb …” I notice a wide variety of gestures. Some priests hold up a broken fragment of the host, others brake the host in two and hold up the two overlapping halves, some hold up the entire host, while some break out a small piece and hold up the rest. Some swing the host with a huge circular motion as they lift it up, others use a side to side turning motion. Some hold the chalice by the stem, while others with one hand from the top with five fingers wrapping the rim, sort of like a waiter handling a hot cup of espresso. My point is this: is there supposed to be some uniformity to the Novus Ordo ritual? Why is there such a wide variety of gestures? And all of this under one and the same bishop?

  19. mamajen says: Children pick up on the little details and the special ritual, and that’s what they want to mimic.

    Yes, playing “Novus Ordo” can’t be all that much fun for little aspiring priests. It’s just not as cool.

  20. Legisperitus says:


    I sometimes wonder if a celebrant in the Ordinary Form doesn’t feel like a motorist negotiating a thousand acres of paved surface with no lane markings.

  21. lh says:

    I feel for you priests, lay people can be really nitpicky.

  22. cyejbv says:

    I love Fr Z’s response.

    Priests sometimes seem pressed to walk on eggshells with members of the laity like this guy. There’s a time for diplomacy, and then there isn’t. Zip it sport! would be a reply I might entertain, and one I’m sure I’d applaud. ;) But I’ll take Fr Z’s and hope the other Father does too.

  23. Ralph says:

    Off topic but that photo made my heart skip. I guess I still miss our beloved late Holy Father. What a manly Pope he was!
    This is in no way a slight on our current Pope. He is awesome too.
    It’s just that photo stirred something in me.
    Pray for us Blessed Karol!

  24. Bonomo says:

    That seems an odd thing to pick up on as a “ritual gesture.” I act as an EMHC, bringing Holy Communion back to various members of our choir (who cannot make the run down and up the stairs in time) during Sunday Mass (0900 at Holy Redeemer in Madison). I quite automatically keep my thumb and forefinger clamped together after distributing Holy Communion to my fellow choir members until I can do SOMETHING to make sure my thumb- and finger- tips are cleared. It simply is a matter of not wanting to risk leaving particles of consecrated hosts on things that I might touch afterwards. Doesn’t this consideration occur to people who notice this behavioral detail?

  25. oldcanon2257 says:

    acardnal says:
    7 January 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Love that. In the TLM/EF the priest makes the Sign of the Cross 52 times; kisses the sacred altar 9 times. I need to count the number of times he genuflects. Maybe one of the readers knows.

    Talking about genuflections, I truly love genuflecting to Our Lord.

    Out of curiosity, I would like to check with Father Z how many times he needed to genuflect in a Missa coram Sanctissimo? I think I understand the practical reason why the Church made Missa coram Sanctissimo very rare. :)

    While we’re discussing it, if I remember correctly, when Summorum Pontificum first came out, Father Z referenced some post/article which mentioned a bishop somewhere saying that he didn’t have priests being able to do that many genuflections in a typical EF Mass or something to that effect. I remember laughing so hard for a good 5 minutes when reading it because it was probably one of the weirdest things I had heard in a long time. I got to search for that post again.

    Regarding the thumb and forefinger, I wonder if somebody has ever submitted a dubium to the CDW so that the likes of the lay person mentioned in the question above will stop bullying our tradition-minded priests (I do notice that at times CDW and Ecclesia Dei tend to give a response with much ambiguity embedded within – as vague as possible and so carefully phrased in such a way that really didn’t answer anybody’s question.)

    I think Blessed John Paul II set quite an example in the picture Father Z has posted. Indeed a picture is worth a thousand words.

  26. B.C.M. says:

    Age quod agis pater! Illegitimi non carborundum!

  27. LOL at the responses from Fr Z. Deo Gratias to the priest. I’m always sure to compliment any priest that does hold their canonical digits together. It’s a laudable practice that should be back for the OF.

  28. asperges says:

    I believe that with the advent of the new (meaning c 1970) missal, although the rubrics were reformed, there was not meant to be a total rupture from previous extant practices. So many priests used to the older forms would have continued as before in many details, concentrating on the (new) changes specifically outlined.

    Subsequent shifts of opinion and hardening of attitudes tended to consider all previous rubrics as either outlawed or abolished. I am not sure this was ever the intention. I am no fan of the Novus Ordo, but it seems to me that under this papacy, especially since the a great deal of the riches of the older ways are being deliberately re-introduced and we can expect this process to continue. Thank goodness.

  29. John Nolan says:

    Tres Abhinc Annos (4 May 1967) removed most of the ritual gestures from the Canon, leaving only one sign of the cross (in the Te Igitur prayer) and two genuflections (after each elevation). It says the priest “need not conjoin thumb and forefinger after the Consecration”, in which case should any particles remain on his fingers, he should rub them together over the paten. In other words, conjoining remains an option. Restoring the extra genuflections would not be licit.

  30. VexillaRegis says:

    Poor priests. Some people comment on everything, saying “the prisest should say this or that in his sermon, he should do things the way *I* learnt they should be done (in school in the 70’s) et c, et c. They typically do not remember that the priest has more training in liturgical matters then they do.

    As a parishoner you might wonder why the priest holds the chalice in a certain way, you might even dislike that way. If you can’t be silent, just ask Fr., nicely!, why he holds the chalice the way he does, have a friendly talk, then drop the issue. Never nag!

  31. A priest should not add extra genuflections when celebrating in the Ordinary Form. Say the black, do the red.

  32. JonPatrick says:

    Oddly enough, the first time I became aware of this was a very devout Episcopal priest who had a strong belief in the Real Presence. Unfortunately he also had a strong belief in the “3 branch” theory so never felt the need to swim the Tiber as far as I know. Would have made a good Catholic priest.

  33. Legisperitus says:

    Genuflecting before the elevation in the EF is a good catechesis because it indicates that the transubstantiation has occurred at that moment. I miss that in the OF.

  34. acardinal, I think the number of genufections are between 20-33

  35. genuflections of course….spelling at 4:16 am is a tough project.

  36. johnmann says:

    What lay gestures from the EF would be appropriate for the OF? I’m thinking crossing during the absolution after the Confiteor.

  37. pmullane says:

    Johnmann – Its fairly common practise round these here parts that people cross themselves at precisely the point that you mention.

  38. beez says:

    I must admit, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I did focus on the study of the Liturgy in seminary. There was no mention, one way or another, of the position of individual digits during the Eucharistic Prayer.

    Tomorrow will mark my seventh month as a priest, and I have already celebrated more than 200 masses and I always keep my thumbs and forefingers together from the consecration the the purification. We have over fifteen thousand parishioners, and no one has ever said anything.

    I don’t think “full, conscious and active participation” means looking for nits to pick, especially when one is not fully versed in the instructions.

  39. johnmann, I find myself doing all of the gestures from the EF in the OF…no sign of the cross at the misereatur because that comes during the indulgentiam and the bow at et incarnatus est…(explicit OF rubric). But besides that I do all of the rubrics from the EF in the OF, course of habit….people do give stares…I ignore them.

  40. We shouldn’t add any gestures not prescribed. One person starts blessing themselves during the penitential rite (there’s no absolution). another stands in orans position for the Our Father. Another genuflects at the start of the gospel because of some vague remembrance from the last gospel. Just do what the liturgy tells you to to do, whether priest or people. A priest who decides to genuflect twice in the ordinary form is every bit as guilty of liturgical abuse as a priest who decides to omit the creed or let a child read the gospel. The liturgy is not the place for priests to impose their own views or devotions. The ordinary form prescribes one genuflection after the elevation. As for the fingers and thumbs question. Well it can look affected and suggest an exaggerated notion of respect. Plus the missal isn’t designed to accommodate page turning in this way. [ROFL! Noooo…. ]

  41. dspecht says:

    beez and other fathers here, including the asking one:

    Well, good when you try that no crumbs from your fingers fall down and are profaned and you hold the fingers together till ablution.

    But what’s with the houndreds of particles on the hands of those houndreds and thousands to whom you give HL. COMMUNION into the hands? Do they hold their hands together till there is an ablution for them? Do you have ablutions for them? So not??!…. [You do realize, don’t you, that this isn’t a discussion of Communion in the hand. Right?]

  42. MichaelJ says:

    Christopher, what do you mean by “an exaggerated notion of respect”? It certainly sounds like you think that it is possible to give Our Lord too much respect, but I’d rather you clarify what you mean before coming to any conclusions.

  43. johnmann says:

    Joe, I never noticed that but you’re right. The Indulgentiam is missing in the OF. Bowing during the Credo is, as you said, explicit in the OF rubrics. The triple breast strike during the Confiteor is now back in the ICEL OF. So I don’t really see where the laity would perform any EF gestures during the OF.

    Christopher, neither are some of those gestures you mentioned proscribed. To the extent the OF rubrics replace the EF, the OF should be followed. That probably includes single genuflecting. But where neither prescribed or proscribed/replaced, I see nothing wrong with allowing for some organic development. Yes, this means even holding hands during the Pater Noster is permissible.

  44. jesusthroughmary says:

    “Well it can look affected and suggest an exaggerated notion of respect. Plus the missal isn’t designed to accommodate page turning in this way.”

    You’re really reaching here.

  45. TMKent says:

    Our son, a former alter boy for over 9 years, was just home from college for Christmas. He noticed that our “new” priests were doing this. He had never seen this before and asked me why this was done. I told him that because the priest had touched the consecrated host, this was done out of respect to the Real Precence. “That makes sense” was all he said. All I could think of was how very logical these gestures are when you BELIEVE.

  46. OrthodoxChick says:


    So after the Confiteor in the OF, when Father says, “May Almighty God have mercy on us…”, is it a liturgical abuse for a lay person to make the Sign of the Cross on themself at this point?

  47. dominic1955 says:


    How did liturgy ever develop from its seedling form if people must be absolutely hide-bound to rubrics and practices? I agree that rubrics should be followed, but there is also a certain Christian freedom that follows yet goes beyond the law. The “canonical digits” are not in the rubrics for the NO, neither is the biretta, or a number of other things for that matter. However, the internal logic of the Church would say that these things are also completely legitimate in something that is given to us as a Roman Rite liturgy.

    As to the missal, the ones I’ve seen have the big tabs for the Canon. Even the Sacramentary did. However, good thing fingers work the way they do because something put in there as a help does not thereby become a hindrance if absent. One can flip book pages without big leather tabs.

    This is especially true on the part of the laypeople and its one reason I prefer traditional liturgy from a layman’s perspective-the freedom. It is absolutely silly to expect the laity to do everything the same. If I want to cross myself at the confiteor in the NO, sit while others are kneeling, pray the rosary, etc. etc. then I will and I will also expect you to mind your own business, thank you very much.

  48. acardnal says:

    “As for the fingers and thumbs question. Well it can look affected and suggest an exaggerated notion of respect. Plus the missal isn’t designed to accommodate page turning in this way.”

    Really? One either believes that every single particle of the Host is the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ or one doesn’t. AND if one does believe, then the utmost respect must be shown to the Host as it is the Almighty. This is one reason a paten is used by the priest at the altar and the acolytes at communion. If fact, in the EF the priest uses a paten to scrape the corporal after his own communion in an effort to gather even the smallest particles of the Host.

    And regarding your statement about the missal and page turning, it has been done this way for hundreds of years and even today whenever the TLM/EF is celebrated. It’s not difficult or innovative.

  49. mamajen says:

    I don’t think a priest can really overdo reverence. The focus of the parish is already meant to be on the altar, and he is meant to provide a good example for the parish. For lay people, though, it is trickier. There is always the possibility that pride can creep in and we end up doing things for the wrong reason. It’s something to be aware of.

  50. FrPhillips says:

    This has been my constant practice, even as an Anglican (I believed even then, not realizing my error until later, which led to my conversion); however, when I visit other parishes I have noticed that some chalices are designed in such a way as to make it impossible to do. Considering the time-frame in which those chalices were made, I have a feeling it was done on purpose.

  51. johnmann says:

    OrthodoxChick, I wouldn’t say the laity crossing themselves at any point is a liturgical abuse. I cross myself after receiving Communion even though it’s not prescribed. In the EF, we cross ourselves at the Indulgentiam but that doesn’t exist in the OF so it can be argued that crossing at the Misereatur isn’t exactly maintaining continuity.

  52. Well you can roll around the floor laughing all you like. I’ll meet you down there laughing at those who are are suddenly into liturgical freedom and organic developments – unless of course you’re talking about The Mass of All Time – which can never be changed etc.

    Respect can look exagerated. Priests can take too long genuflecting. Devotions can be overdone. Altars can have too may flowers. And holding the back of a chausable that doesn’t need holding looks ridiculous.

  53. pseudomodo says:

    At our parish we used to have an old hyper-liberal priest who delighted in having his altar servers stand around the altar holding hands and singing “God is Luuuuuuuuvvv…” amonst other ‘variations’.

    Nevertheless, he NEVER said mass without holding his thumb and forefinger together.

  54. John Nolan says:

    Rubrics do not apply to the lay faithful attending at Mass. Bishops’ Conferences may suggest certain postures at certain points, but they have no authority whatsoever to dictate to us. I bow, not genuflect, at the Incarnatus in the Creed since that is what the OF prescribes, but I bow at ‘adoratur’ and cross myself at ‘vitam venturi saeculi’ as it’s traditional to the Roman Rite [cf GIRM 42]

    I was brought up (pre-Vatican II) not to cross myself after receiving Communion as this was an Irish import, but there is nothing wrong in the practice. Although spontanaeity is frowned on by the post-V2 pundits (except, of course, in the sanctuary) it’s time we lay people exerted our right to connect to the liturgy in our own way. In my experience, the more formal the liturgy is in the sanctuary, with the rubrics strictly adhered to, the more opportunity the laity have to do this.

  55. Gail F says:

    I have no idea what you are talking about. Why would anyone even notice this?

  56. RichR says:

    I think the photo of JPII says quite a bit.

    I’m actually tired of playing liturgical policeman. It hasn’t helped me grow spiritually to be nitpicking the priests gestures. Most of the rising clergy are intent on a reverent offering of Mass, so I’m just sitting back patiently awaiting the coming days.

  57. Gulielmus says:

    Liturgical policemen can be a problem in both forms. Father Z told a story years ago about a woman who informed a priest that his celebration of the EF was invalid because the maniple had slipped off his arm. Among the many reasons to pray for our priests is what they put up with from us!

  58. praecantor says:

    “The ordinary form prescribes one genuflection after the elevation.”
    But … The ordinary form does not prescribe elevation ad the consecration… This very gesture in plainly part of the roman rite, but it is not described as it in the MR2002 rubrics… : “ostendit populo”.
    So, Fr. Z.is right : the only question is not to find why we should not do one gesture or another, but if the gesture is inside the “tradita praxi Ritus romani”.
    In fact, I love the motto “Say the black, do the Red”, but… It is not per se applicable to the OF, because this form of the roman rite needs surprinsingly more attention than the EF. In the EF, if you simply do the red say the black, you are all right. In the OF, if we do not understand the deep meaning of the reubrics and their deep roots in the latin roman liturgical tradition, they are almost impossible to apply.

  59. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Rubrics do not apply to the lay faithful attending at Mass. Bishops’ Conferences may suggest certain postures at certain points, but they have no authority whatsoever to dictate to us.”

    You are kidding, right?

    Assuming I interpret correctly, these Canons seem to imply that everyone has a part under the Rubrics:

    “Can. 837 §1. Liturgical actions are not private actions but celebrations of the Church itself which is the sacrament of unity, that is, a holy people gathered and ordered under the bishops. Liturgical actions therefore belong to the whole body of the Church and manifest and affect it; they touch its individual members in different ways, however, according to the diversity of orders, functions, and actual participation.

    §2. Inasmuch as liturgical actions by their nature entail a common celebration, they are to be celebrated with the presence and active participation of the Christian faithful where possible.

    Can. 838 §1. The direction of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church which resides in the Apostolic See and, according to the norm of law, the diocesan bishop.

    §2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books and review their translations in vernacular languages, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.”

    The Chicken

  60. The Masked Chicken says:

    Today seems to Moderation Day for chickens.

  61. VexillaRegis says:

    Dear Chicken,

    when Moderation Day comes, one always sort of hears Fr. Z’s voice: Bon jour, beau masque!

  62. I started doing this some time ago, and I have had people notice, and ask. (And i have no doubt it has been a subject of furious discussion for some folks.) And, relate duly, I have been in situations where priests are commenting about other priests, and commenting on this incredulously. I’ve seen articles where supposedly expert folks say that Vatican II means we see these things differently, so we aren’t so “scrupulous” about priests holding their fingers together, etc.

    While I agree that the rubrics of the OF Mass must be respected, I do not consider this a violation of those rubrics, for reasons already mentioned above. For good or ill, the OF rubrics are rather vague, often forcing the celebrant to develop something, which leads either to a new “style” that attenuates the unity of the Roman Rite, or to a priest doing as many of have done, which is to look to the older form for guidance. I’ve done it with many aspects of the OF. I do agree that at some point, such applications of EF usages are in conflict with explicit OF rubrics, so it’s not OK to bring in anything.

    That said, I think some of this highlights a problem in the OF. Scolding those who are “traditionalizing” the OF, even where they maybe doing so improperly, doesn’t deal with the underlying problem, which isn’t going away. I think the Holy Father gets this, hence the Cross pollination he encourages between the two forms of the Mass.

    On a lighter note, when I give the sign of peace to servers, sometimes the younger ones will mimic my fingers-together gesture. [LOL! Right! I’ve noticed that too.] Showing kids look closely, Fathers. When I can, I explain what I’m doing later.

  63. jhnewman says:

    Otherwise you could say, “Yes, you know, you’re absolutely right! Thank you! Thank you for helping me see the error of my ways. I will immediately stop importing these horrible practices into the Ordinary Form. Hence, because of your comments, from now on every Mass I say at this parish will be according to the 1962 Missal.”

    Please pick this answer!

  64. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    I comment to support a point that several have made before me, using a personal anecdote.

    Mrs (X)MCCLXIII made her first communion in the early 70’s, and still has the booklet on the mass that she received then as part of her preparation. It is illustrated with photographs of a contemporary mass in the then new form. I was struck by the image of the priest with conjoined fingers, and pleased to see this evidence of this tradition being maintained.

  65. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    Dear Chicken,

    I have no particular knowledge of canon law, but in the quotation you cite it seems to me obvious that “liturgical actions” means celebrations of the liturgy, not specific bows, genuflections, etc. Like many others I, too, hold to the dictum that there are no rubrics for the laity although it is clear that this is not always followed by those attached to the newer liturgical forms.

  66. Phil Steinacker says:


    While the rubrics are written primarily to proscribe the actions of the priest, it is untrue that none apply to the laity. As you read through the GIRM there are various examples of liturgical actions applicable to the laity. You won’t find one on every page but they are sprinkled throughout the GIRM. I just thumbed through my copy, which I only discovered in my possession this afternoon, and found several.

    I recall now that I bought it at my parish book sale; it became available along with a host of other unwanted books donated by parishioners, so at least one of my parish colleagues used to own it. Perhaps he got rid of it because he failed to discover anything in it applicable to him – or so he thinks ;-) .

    Of course, given the view that rubrics for laity do not exist, it is little wonder that some feel unconstrained to ad lib their own behavior from time to time.

  67. acardnal says:

    This is a quote from Dom Prosper Gueranger’s (d. 1875) classic work “The Holy Mass”. Dom Gueranger, O.S.B., led the reform of the Solesmes monastery in the 19th century:

    “After this august ceremony, the priest lays the sacred Host on the corporal and again kneels in adoration before It. From this moment, each time that the priest touches the Host, he will genuflect both before and after doing so; before, because he is going to touch the Lord, and after, in order to pay Him homage. Besides this , he will not disjoin the thumb and index finger of each hand, until the Ablutions, because those fingers are sacred and have alone the honor of touching the Lord. For this reason, at his ordination, the bishop consecrated these fingers, in a more special manner, putting the holy oil upon them first, and thence spreading it over the rest of the hand; if a priest were to lose one of his index fingers, he would need permission from the Pope himself to touch the Body of the Lord with another finger.”

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