From a reader…
I was serving at Mass in the OF today, and before Mass, my priest approached me and told me that, when crossing from one side of the altar to the other, I was not to go to the foot of the altar and genuflect, instead instructing me to cross behind the altar and bow to it with my back to the tabernacle. He claimed that this was part of the extraordinary form, and since one cannot pick and choose sections you like, you cannot add something from the extraordinary to the ordinary, but rather the two must remain separate, either offered in full, or not at all. He claimed there were canons that prohibited the mingling of the two. He further mentioned, upon my mentioning of the OF’s very scanty rubrics as regards the movement of servers, that what is common practice has the force of law, and what I did is not common practice, so ought not be done. Was he incorrect about any of the above, and if so, where can I find proof to the contrary?
Firstly, it is probably the best course of action to be obedient to Father.
There may be reasons for why he laid down such rules. He may be under “heat” from the chancery or other quarters to “stamp out” the wild and flagrant abuse of showing respect to the Blessed Sacrament during the course of the Mass. (Don’t laugh.)
That said, the rubrics of the Ordinary Form of the Mass prescribe genuflection upon entering the sanctuary where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, and upon leaving the same sanctuary, as well as after the consecrations.
The General Instruction states,
“If 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 depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.”
It’s a really stupid rule, but it is the rule in the Ordinary Form.
Yet another reason to promote the Extraordinary Form.
In the Ordinary Form of the Holy Mass, the abuse of incidentally genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament, and showing respect to Our Sovereign Lord and Majesty, is on the same scale as using a gold safety pin, instead of an aluminum one for the maniple on a ferial day of Lent.
Both of these abuses should be corrected severely, dealt with harshly, perhaps by imposing a penance of two ice cubes in the server’s post-Mass glass of lemonade instead of three.