Monday, January 03, 2005

Liturgical Experimentation

I have noticed for many years the practice of gathering people around the altar during the entire Eucharistic consecration. At St. Ignatius, in San Francisco, they gather all of the children around the altar. I know that they believe they are doing this for a good reason. The kids can see what is going on better than if they were in the pews with their parents.

However, it is very distracting for the people in the pew. All that we can see are children talking to each other and figiting. It is cute from the perspective of seeing kids but it takes away from focusing on what the priest is doing. I never wanted to criticize that practice until I cam upon this note from 1981.

Notitiae, 17 (1981) 61

Query: At the presentation of gifts at a Mass with congregation, persons (lay or religious) bring to the altar the bread and wine which are to be consecrated. These gifts are received by the priest celebrant. All those participating in the Mass accompany this group procession in which the gifts are brought forward. They then stand around the altar until Communion time. Is this procedure in conformity with the spirit of the law and of the Roman Missal?

Reply: Assuredly, the Eucharistic celebration is the act of the entire community, carried out by all the members of the liturgical assembly. Nevertheless, everyone must have and also must observe his or her own place and proper role: "In liturgical celebrations each one, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, element 29).

During the liturgy of the Eucharist, only the presiding celebrant remains at the altar. The assembly of the faithful takes their place in the Church outside the presbyterium, which is reserved for the celebrant or concelebrant and altar ministers.

I am curious whether this is the case for all diocese or just in Rome.

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