Redemptionis Sacramentum 128

Finishing Chapter V, let’s have a look at why clergy don’t just go to Mass:

[128.] Holy Mass and other liturgical celebrations, which are acts of Christ and of the people of God hierarchically constituted, are ordered in such a way that the sacred ministers and the lay faithful manifestly take part in them each according to his own condition. It is preferable therefore that “Priests who are present at a Eucharistic Celebration, unless excused for a good reason, should as a rule exercise the office proper to their Order and thus take part as concelebrants, wearing the sacred vestments. Otherwise, they wear their proper choir dress or a surplice over a cassock.” [GIRM 114 cf. 16-17] It is not fitting, except in rare and exceptional cases and with reasonable cause, for them to participate at Mass, as regards to externals, in the manner of the lay faithful.

A difficult omission to give or even to enforce. Sitting in a pew gives a perspective that would be invaluable to many clergy who are otherwise unaware of that perspective at Mass.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Redemptionis Sacramentum 128

  1. FrMichael says:

    I could see if one is known to the congregation as a priest, it would be awkward to sit in the pews. But while on vacation, away from home, it is good to take a look at how things are on the other side of the hill.

    That being said, after Mass I also introduce myself to the celebrating priest and commend him, if appropriate, for the proper celebration of the Mass and/or homily.

  2. Mike K says:

    IIRC, Bishops Robert Lynch and Christopher Coyne have talked in their blogs about doing just that – sitting in the pews and participating in Mass like a layperson while on vacation. In fact, Bishop Coyne spoke in one post of attending Mass where the priest did a lot of things his way (rather than following the rubrics) and then going out of his way to meet that priest after Mass, introducing himself and trying to impress on that priest why it is important to follow the rubrics.

    So as Father Michael says, it doesn’t hurt to just watch every once in a while, especially when not at home. You never know what you might see…or hear…or realize, perhaps even about how you celebrate Mass.

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