GIRM 27-28: General Structure of the Mass

Today’s post covers the first two sections in GIRM’s Chapter Two, “Structure, Elements and Parts of the Mass.” Chapter Two, which covers numbered sections 27 through 90 in the 2000 edition, was formerly GIRM 7-57 in the 1975. We’ll be settling in for a long discussion on parts of the Mass for the next several weeks. I’m sure there will be ample fodder for commentary.

Meanwhile, today we have the basic introductory words on the  “General Structure of the Mass.”

27. At Mass or the Lord’s Supper the People of God is called together, with a Priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord or Eucharistic Sacrifice.[37] In an outstanding way there applies to such a local gathering of the holy Church the promise of Christ: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst” (Mt 18:20). For in the celebration of Mass, in which the Sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated,[38] Christ is really present in the very assembly gathered in his name, in the person of the minister, in his word, and indeed substantially and uninterruptedly under the Eucharistic species.[39]

This is long-accepted sacramental theology, not in dispute among any reasonable Roman Catholics. Trent emphasized the Sacrifice of the Cross. The modern Roman Rite brings more of a balance, underscoring the importance of the entire Paschal Mystery: Good Friday, as well as Easter and Ascension.

28. The Mass consists in some sense of two parts, namely the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, these being so closely interconnected that they form but one single act of worship.[40] For in the Mass is spread the table both of God’s Word and of the Body of Christ, and from it the faithful are to be instructed and refreshed.[41] There are also certain rites that open and conclude the celebration.

An interesting edit from the last English translation (2002). What do you make of “consists in some sense” replacing “is made up as it were”?


[37] Cf. Presbyterorum ordinis 5; Sacrosanctum Concilium 33.

[38] Cf. Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session XXII, Doctrina de ss. Missae sacrificio, September 17, 1562, chapter 1: Denz-Schön, no. 1740; Paul VI, Solemn Profession of Faith, June 30, 1968, no. 24: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 60 (1968), p. 442.

[39] Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 7; Paul VI, Encyclical Letter, Mysterium Fidei, September 3, 1965: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 57 (1965), p. 764; Eucharisticum mysterium 9.

[40] Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 56; Eucharisticum Mysterium 3.

[41] Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 48, 51; Dei Verbum 21; Presbyterorum Ordinis 4.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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