GIRM 22: The Role of the Bishop

Don’t forget the full text of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal at the USCCB site. GIRM 22-26 was an addition from the 1975 edition. We’ll just review the responsibilities entrusted to the head of the diocese for today.

22. The celebration of the Eucharist in a particular Church is of the utmost importance.

For the Diocesan Bishop, the prime steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to his care, is the moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole of liturgical life.[Christus Dominus 15, Sacrosanctum Concilium 41] In celebrations that take place with the Bishop presiding, and especially in the celebration of the Eucharist by the Bishop himself with the Presbyterate, the Deacons, and the people taking part, the mystery of the Church is manifest. Hence, solemn celebrations of Mass of this sort must be exemplary for the entire diocese.

The Bishop should therefore be determined that the Priests, the Deacons, and the lay Christian faithful grasp ever more deeply the genuine significance of the rites and liturgical texts, and thereby be led to the active and fruitful celebration of the Eucharist. To that end, he should also be vigilant in ensuring that the dignity of these celebrations be enhanced and, in promoting such dignity, the beauty of the sacred place, of the music, and of art should contribute as greatly as possible.

The responsibilities of the bishop are not new to students of liturgy. That liturgies with the bishop should be the very best we can offer: this is also not new.

This section is illustrative of the “new” GIRM of 2011. The Latin edition dates to 2000, and has not changed. Liturgiam Authenticam intended that not only would the Mass be translated by new principles, but that the introductory sections as well. So the edition linked here from the USCCB site differs slightly from my study copy from my committee work eleven years ago.

In GIRM 22, some words are stronger. In the first paragraph above, for example, “utmost” has replaced “greatest.” Summi autem momenti is the relevant phrase from the Latin.

In the second paragraph, “ought to be an example” is replaced by “must be exemplary.”

What hasn’t changed? Actuosam et fructuosam is still rendered “active and fruitful.” The bishop still presides over liturgical celebrations. Clearly ICEL, Vox Clara, and the anonymous tinkerers haven’t gotten the memo about how passé these terms are to with-it conservatives. Which is good.

Speaking of active and fruitful participation, notice the description in the third paragraph above. Bishops guide their clergy and laity to an interior sense of the liturgy, and this leads to an active and fruitful celebration. An active assembly implies interior formation. Is there a way to know it’s not just window dressing? One would think a pastor should know.

Any thoughts, or especially comments?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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