GIRM 117-119: Preparation for Mass

Under the heading of “Things to Be Prepared,” a good checklist for every sacristan:

117. The altar is to be covered with at least one white cloth. In addition, on or next to the altar are to be placed candlesticks with lighted candles: at least two in any celebration, or even four or six, especially for a Sunday Mass or a Holyday of Obligation, or if the Diocesan Bishop celebrates, then seven candlesticks with lighted candles. Likewise, on the altar or close to it, there is to be a cross adorned with a figure of Christ crucified. The candles and the cross with the figure of Christ crucified may also be carried in the procession at the Entrance. On the altar itself may be placed a Book of the Gospels distinct from the book of other readings, unless it is carried in the Entrance Procession.

118. Likewise these should be prepared:

a) next to the Priest’s chair: the Missal and, if appropriate, a hymnal;

b) at the ambo: the Lectionary;

c) on the credence table: the chalice, corporal, purificator, and, if appropriate, the pall; the paten and, if needed, ciboria; bread for the Communion of the Priest who presides, the Deacon, the ministers, and the people; cruets containing the wine and the water, unless all of these are presented by the faithful in the procession at the Offertory; the vessel of water to be blessed, if the sprinkling of holy water takes place; the Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful; and whatever is needed for the washing of hands.

It is a praiseworthy practice for the chalice to be covered with a veil, which may be either of the color of the day or white.

119. In the sacristy, according to the various forms of celebration, there should be prepared the sacred vestments (cf. nos. 337-341) for the Priest, the Deacon, and other ministers:

a) for the Priest: the alb, the stole, and the chasuble;

b) for the Deacon: the alb, the stole, and the dalmatic; the latter may be omitted, however, either out of necessity or on account of a lesser degree of solemnity;

c) for the other ministers: albs or other lawfully approved attire.[Cf. Ecclesiae de Mysterio 6]

All who wear an alb should use a cincture and an amice unless, due to the form of the alb, they are not needed.

When the Entrance takes place with a procession, the following are also to be prepared: a Book of the Gospels; on Sundays and festive days, a thurible and incense boat, if incense is being used; the cross to be carried in procession; and candlesticks with lighted candles.

Addition from the 1975 GIRM to the 2000 edition: white altar cloth, the figure of Christ crucified on the processional and altar cross, option for a chalice veil  in colors, and the last paragraph of GIRM 119.

Some questions for you readers:

How many parishes use a chalice veil?

How many have albs for people other than servers and clergy?

How do you utilize the cross?

When the bishop visits, do you utilize seven candles?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in GIRM, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to GIRM 117-119: Preparation for Mass

  1. John Drake says:

    Our current and previous parochial vicars use chalice veils. The pastor does not.

    No albs other than clergy and servers.

    Huge permanent crucifix suspended above the altar facing the congregation; recently added small crucifix on the altar facing the priest; a separate crucifix carried in entrance procession and stored in the apse until the recessional.

    Can’t recall the candle arrangement from the bishop’s last visit.

  2. Mike K says:

    At my parish (which is the Cathedral), definitely seven candles for the (arch)bishop. Also, chalice veils of the color of the day.

    Albs for servers at ordinary Masses. Cassock and surplice when seminarians serve and at certain special Masses.

    Crucifix in procession. Incense at the principal Mass and for archbishop’s Masses.

    And dalmatics for the deacons…with one exception: the rose dalmatic we have is in poor shape. So (out of necessity) the deacons wear only stoles on Laetare and Gaudete Sundays.

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