GIRM 49-50: Reverence and Greeting

Today we look at two sections under the heading of “Reverence to the Altar and Greeting of the Assembled People.”

49. When they have arrived at the sanctuary, the Priest, the Deacon, and the ministers reverence the altar with a profound bow.

Moreover, as an expression of veneration, the Priest and Deacon then kiss the altar itself; the Priest, if appropriate, also incenses the cross and the altar.

50. When the Entrance Chant is concluded, the Priest stands at the chair and, together with the whole gathering, signs himself with the Sign of the Cross. Then by means of the Greeting he signifies the presence of the Lord to the assembled community. By this greeting and the people’s response, the mystery of the Church gathered together is made manifest.

After the greeting of the people, the Priest, or the Deacon, or a lay minister may very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day.

Nothing here is really controversial or disputed. Note the gesture to the altar is a bow, not a genuflection. Commentary on the Mass of the day is optional, and if used, should be “very brief.”

What is new from the 1975 GIRM? Just two things: the incensing of the cross at the entrance, and the directive for the priest to lead the greeting (and presumably the rest of the introductory rites) at the chair.

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Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to GIRM 49-50: Reverence and Greeting

  1. FrMichael says:

    Don’t have my GIRM at hand, but somewhere it says to genuflect if the Tabernacle is located in the sanctuary. We had this discussion at the parish liturgy board when going over GIRM2000.

    • Liam says:

      That issue is treated much further along in the GIRM, at 274:

      “During Mass, three genuflections are made by the Priest Celebrant: namely, after the elevation of the host, after the elevation of the chalice, and before Communion. Certain specific features to be observed in a concelebrated Mass are noted in their proper place (cf. nos. 210-251).

      If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is situated 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.

      Otherwise, all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.

      Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.”

  2. FrMichael says:

    Jimmy Mac, can’t say that I understand your comment.

    Liam, thank you.

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