Redemptionis Sacramentum 19-20

In chapter one, we’ve moved from an introductory section (RS 14-18) into a subheading that focuses on “The Diocesan Bishop, High Priest of his Flock.” These seven sections (19-25) are heavily footnoted (22 citations) and we’ll begin with an affirmation of the ministry of the local bishop:

[19.] The diocesan Bishop, the first steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to him, is the moderator, promoter and guardian of her whole liturgical life.[Cf. Christus Dominus 15; cf. also Sacrosanctum Concilium 41; Code of Canon Law 387] For “the Bishop, endowed with the fullness of the Sacrament of Order, is ‘the steward of the grace of the high Priesthood’,[Prayer for the Consecration of a Bishop in the Byzantine Rite: Euchologion to mega, Rome, 1873, p. 139] especially in the Eucharist which he either himself offers or causes to be offered,[Cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Smyrn. 8,1: ed. F.X. Funk, I, p. 282] by which the Church continually lives and grows”.[Lumen Gentium 26; Eucharisticum mysterium 7; Pastores Gregis 32-41]

The average Catholic connects (more or less) with a parish priest, who provides leadership in the sacraments and liturgy. But most Catholics do not realize the importance of the bishop (as outlined above from the Vatican II documents on the liturgy and the role of the bishop). To be sure, the importance of the bishop is not some recent confection–it goes back to the ancient church (Ignatius of Antioch ca 100AD) and spreads well into the Eastern tradition.

If you are a cathedral parishioner, you might experience some of this …

[20.] Indeed, the pre-eminent manifestation of the Church is found whenever the rites of Mass are celebrated, especially in the Cathedral Church, “with the full and active participation of the entire holy People of God, joined in one act of prayer, at one altar at which the Bishop presides”, surrounded by his presbyterate with the Deacons and ministers.[Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 41; cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Magn. 7, Ad Philad. 4, Ad Smyrn. 8: ed. F.X. Funk, I, pp. 236, 266, 281; GIRM 22; cf. also Code of Canon Law 389] Furthermore, “every lawful celebration of the Eucharist is directed by the Bishop, to whom is entrusted the office of presenting the worship of the Christian religion to the Divine Majesty and ordering it according to the precepts of the Lord and the laws of the Church, further specified by his own particular judgement for the Diocese”.[Sacrosanctum Concilium 26]

Note that the official references to participation: active.

But the essence of these two sections is to confirm the local bishop’s vital role in overseeing the liturgical life of the local church.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Redemptionis Sacramentum 19-20

  1. FrMichael says:

    I would think the only time #20 is literally seen is at Chrism Masses and ordinations. At the other high solemnities we’re busy with liturgies at the parish.

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