GIRM 120-123: Introductory Rites

GIRM 120-170 covers a Mass with people, but without a deacon. Of course, many of these aspects are the same when a deacon is serving. But we’ll eventually get to the functions of a deacon (GIRM 171-186).

Today, let’s look at the opening procession of the Mass:

120. When the people are gathered, the Priest and ministers, wearing the sacred vestments, go in procession to the altar in this order:

a) the thurifer carrying a smoking thurible, if incense is being used;

b) ministers who carry lighted candles, and between them an acolyte or other minister with the cross;

c) the acolytes and the other ministers;

d) a reader, who may carry a Book of the Gospels (though not a Lectionary), slightly elevated;

e) the Priest who is to celebrate the Mass.

If incense is being used, before the procession begins, the Priest puts some into the thurible and blesses it with the Sign of the Cross without saying anything.

Nothing surprising here. Additions from 1975 are 120 d, the prescription against carrying a Lectionary, and the slight elevation of the Book of the Gospels.

121. During the procession to the altar, the Entrance Chant takes place (cf. nos. 47-48).

122. When they reach the altar, the Priest and ministers make a profound bow.

The cross adorned with a figure of Christ crucified, and carried in procession, may be placed next to the altar to serve as the altar cross, in which case it must be the only cross used; otherwise it is put away in a dignified place. As for the candlesticks, these are placed on the altar or near it. It is a praiseworthy practice for the Book of the Gospels to be placed on the altar.

As with GIRM 117, the prescription for an image of the crucifixion is new to the 2000 edition. Interesting that in the 2000 translation, “the Book of the Gospels is placed on the altar.” In 2011, the practice is praised, but not required in so many words.

123. The Priest goes up to the altar and venerates it with a kiss. Then, if appropriate, he incenses the cross and the altar, walking around the latter.

Another 2000 innovation is the incensing of the cross.

With this, all the ministers are in place for the beginning of the Mass. Anybody see anything of intrigue or importance? Comments welcome, especially of your own parish.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to GIRM 120-123: Introductory Rites

  1. Liam says:

    Oh, no requirement that latecomers have to sit up front (the Catholic penalty box)?

    The specification of a corpus for the cross arose because the previous translation rendered crux as “cross”, and left room for multiple meanings. “Crucifix” is an English noun, but not actually a Latin noun, and “crux” in rubrical Latin for the physical thing traditionally assumed a corpus except in the case of the wooden crosses for the Stations of the Cross, which typically accompanied by illustration anyway. Then there was the further clarification of what KIND of corpus is being referenced? No resurrected corpus, as it turns out.

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    Heavens to Betsy! Recognize the Resurrection on the crucifix? No way, friends – after all we’re talking Catholicism here. Let’s keep it gory and bloody, OK?

    We all know that salvation came about because of the Passion and Death, not the Resurrection. That’s soooooooooo Proddy.

    • Liam says:

      Actually, nothing says you can’t also have the Resurrection style corpus or none at all on a cross. You just can’t *omit* the more customary kind.

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