What’s New in the Roman Missal for the Paschal Triduum
There are several clarifications and new rubrics found in the section of the Roman Missal for the Sacred Paschal Triduum. Below are excerpts taken from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Divine Worship wesbite. Click here to see the full text of the US Bishops.
The New Missale Romanum and the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Number of Masses allowed for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday:
There may be only one Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. Only the diocesan Bishop may permit another Mass in churches and oratories to be celebrated in the evening, and, in the case of genuine necessity, even in the morning. Such Masses are provided for those who are in no way able to participate in the evening Mass and not for the advantage of individuals or special small groups (Roman Missal, “Rubrics for The Evening Mass” (no. 3).
Use of flowers
“The altar may be decorated with flowers with a moderation that reflects the character of the day” (no. 5).
Use of bells and other musical instruments
The Church bells are rung during the singing of the Gloria and then remain silent unless the “diocesan Bishop, as circumstances suggest, decides otherwise” (no.7). [Note: Bishop McGrath has not given any different directive on the use of Church bells.] “The organ and other musical instruments may be used only to support the singing” (no. 7)
Omission of the Creed
“The Creed is not said” (no. 13).
Communion to the sick
“[A]t an appropriate time during Communion, the priest may entrust the Eucharist from the table of the altar to the deacons or acolytes or other extraordinary ministers, so that afterwards it may be brought to the sick who must communicate at home” (no. 33). This may require that parishes do some preliminary planning for this to successfully happen.
Order of procession of the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament
The order of procession is more carefully described for the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament to the place of reposition. Newly added is the description : “A lay minister with a cross between two others with lit candles follow. Before the priest carrying the Blessed Sacrament comes the censer bearer with a smoking censer” (no. 38).
Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament
“[T]he priest, with the help of the deacon if necessary, places the ciborium in the tabernacle, the door of which remains open” (no.39). He then incenses the Blessed Sacrament while Tantum Ergo Sacramentum or another Eucharistic song is sung. Then the “deacon or the priest himself places the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle and closes the door” (no. 39).
Stripping of the altar
The previous Roman Missal seemed to indicate that the stripping of the altar followed immediately whereas the new Roman Missal notes that “at an appropriate time” the altar is stripped (no. 41).
If the Lord’s Passion is not celebrated in the same church the next day
A totally new rubric is found at the end of Holy Thursday. “If in the same church the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on the following Friday does not take place, the Mass is concluded in the usual way and the Blessed Sacrament is placed in the tabernacle (no. 44).
The New Missale Romanum and the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion and Death
What sacraments may be celebrated on Good Friday
Only the sacraments of the Anointing of the Sick and Penance are celebrated on Good Friday and Holy Saturday (RM, “Rubrics for Good Friday,” no. 1).
“After making a reverence to the altar, they prostrate themselves or, according to circumstances humble themselves on their knees and pray for a while. All others humble themselves on their knees” (no. 5).
The new rubric in the Roman Missal makes it explicitly clear that the celebrant says the opening prayer with hands outstretched “omitting the invitation, Let us pray” (no.6).
Prayer after the homily
The rubrics indicate that at the end of the homily, “the faithful may be invited to spend a brief period of time in prayer” (no. 10).
The previous rubrics spoke of the deacon as giving the introductions to the General Intercessions. The current rubric indicates that a “lay minister” may do this in the absence of a deacon (no. 11).
The deacon’s invitation Let us kneel- Let us stand may be used as an invitation to the priest’s prayer. The Roman Missal notes that when the deacon’s invitations are used then the prayer is sung in a solemn tone by the priest (no. 13). These tones are given in the Roman Missal appendix.
Adoration of the Holy Cross
The rubrics for this section begin immediately with the first form of Showing the Cross. The deacon or another suitable minister goes to the sacristy and obtains the veiled cross. Accompanied by two ministers with lighted candles, the veiled cross is brought to the center of the sanctuary in procession. The priest accepts the cross and then standing before the altar (not “at the altar” as previously indicated) and facing the people, uncovers the upper part of the cross, the right arm and then the entire cross. Each time he sings This is the wood of the cross… (no. 15).
The second form of the adoration of the cross which takes place at the door of the church, in the middle of the church and before entering the sanctuary has not changed (no. 16).
The priest or deacon may then carry the cross to the entrance of the sanctuary or another suitable place (no. 17).
The first person to adore the Cross is the priest celebrant. If circumstances suggest, he takes off his chasuble and his shoes. The clergy, lay ministers, and the faithful then approach (no. 18).
The rubrics remind us that “only one cross” should be used for adoration. If the numbers are so great that all cannot come forward, the priest, after some of the clergy and faithful have adored the cross, can take the cross and stand in the center before the altar. In a few words he invites the people to adore the Cross. He then elevates the cross higher for a brief period of time while the faithful adore it in silence (no. 19). Pastorally, it should be kept in mind that when a sufficiently large cross is used, even a large community can reverence it in due time. The foot of the cross as well as the right and left arm can be approached and venerated. Coordination with ushers and planning the flow of people beforehand can allow for this part of the liturgy to be celebrated with decorum and devotion.
Music during the adoration of the Cross
The antiphons, “We worship you, Lord,” the reproaches, the hymns, “Faithful Cross,” or other suitable songs are sung. Totally new is the indication: “According to local circumstances or traditions of the people and pastoral appropriateness, the Stabat Mater may be sung, according to the Graduale Romanum, or another appropriate chant in memory of the compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary” (no. 20).
The cross is then carried by the deacon or other suitable minister to its place at the altar. Lighted candles are then placed around or on the top of the altar or near the cross (no. 21).
The rubric is specific that either the deacon or priest bringing the Blessed Sacrament to the altar puts on a humeral veil. Rather than indicate there is no procession, the rubric says the deacon or priest brings the Blessed Sacrament back from the place of reposition “by a shorter route.” All stand in silence. The rubric for the priest has been shortened, indicating that “the priest goes to the altar and genuflects” (no. 22).
Private prayers of the priest
The priest communicates after This is the Lamb of God. There is a new rubric that notes the priest is to say privately, May the Body of Christ bring me to everlasting life. (no. 27).
Mention is made that Psalm 22 (21) may be sung during the distribution of Communion or another appropriate chant (no. 28). After Communion, either the deacon or another suitable minister takes the ciborium to a place prepared outside the church, or, if circumstances require, may place it in the tabernacle (no. 29).
Silence after Communion and after “Let us pray”
The priest then says Let us pray and, “after observing, according to circumstances, some period of sacred silence, says the prayer after Communion” (no. 30). The Roman Missal in this instance emphasizes the period of silence after Let us pray.
End of the liturgy
The previous rubric mentioned only that all depart in silence. The new rubric notes “after genuflecting toward the Cross,” all depart in silence (no. 32).
It is then indicated that the altar is stripped after the celebration. “The cross remains upon the altar with two to four candles” (no. 33).
The New Missale Romanum and the Easter Vigil
Different than the usual Saturday evening Mass
The rubrics remind us that this “mother of all vigils” is the “greatest and most noble of all solemnities and it is to be unique in every single Church” (Roman Missal, “Rubrics for the Easter Vigil,” no. 2). On this holy night, the Church keeps watch, celebrating the resurrection of Christ in the sacraments and awaiting his return in glory. It is the turning point of the Triduum, the Passover of the new covenant, which marks Christ’s passage from death to life. Therefore, the Easter Vigil does not correspond to the usual Saturday evening Mass and its character is unique in the cycle of the liturgical year.
Takes place at night
The Vigil, by its very nature, “ought to take place at night” (no. 3). It is not begun before nightfall and should end before daybreak on Easter Sunday. (Pastoral planners should contact local weather stations for the time sunset will occur. Another 45 minutes or one hour should be added to that time in order to determine the approximate time of nightfall.) The celebration of the Easter Vigil takes the place of the Office of Readings (no. 5).
The role of the deacon assisting the priest is highlighted in the new Roman Missal, although it is noted that in his absence his duties may be exercised by the priest celebrant himself or by a concelebrant (no. 6).
In a suitable place outside the Church, a “blazing fire” is to be prepared so that the people may gather around it and experience the flames dispelling the darkness and lighting up the night. The rubrics acknowledge that when this cannot be done adaptations may be made. The Roman Missal also states that cross and candles are not to be carried in this procession (no. 8).
Sign of the Cross to begin Service of Light
Having reached the fire, the celebrant and faithful sign themselves with the sign of the cross while the priest says: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (no. 9). After this new beginning, he greets the people and then gives the instruction (no. 9). As the celebrant blesses the fire he says the prayer “with hands outstretched” (no. 10).
The Paschal Candle
The Paschal Candle is brought forward. This candle should be made of wax, never be artificial, be renewed each year, be only one in number, and be of sufficiently large size that it may convey the truth that Christ is the light of the world.
Preparation of the Candle
The candle is then prepared in rites which are no longer optional. The celebrant cuts a cross into the candle with a stylus. Then he makes the Greek letter Alpha above the cross, the letter Omega below it, and the four numerals of the current year between the arms of the cross, saying the words indicated. After these rites, the priest lights the candle from the new fire and says: May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds. (no. 14)
Procession of the Candle
The organization of the procession is more clearly described in the new. One of the ministers takes burning coals from the fire and places them in a thurible, and the priest, in the usual way, places incense into it. The deacon, or, in his absence, another appropriate minister accepts the Easter candle from the celebrant, and a procession is formed. The order of procession is the thurifer with smoking thurible, preceding the minister holding the candle, followed by the ministers and the priest and the people. All hold unlit candles (no. 15).
“Light of Christ,” lighting of candles, and lights in the Church
The places at which the proclamation, Light of Christ, are sung are now different. The new places are: at the door of the Church (after which the priest lights his candle), in the middle of the Church (after which all light their candles), and before the altar, facing the people. The Roman Missal instructs the deacon to place the candle in a large candle stand prepared either next to the ambo or in the middle of the sanctuary (no. 17). The lights of the Church are then lit with the exception of the altar candles which are lit just before the intonation of the Gloria (nos. 17 and 31).
Before the Easter Proclamation, the priest gives his candle to one of the ministers and blesses incense as at the Gospel during Mass. Having asked for and received the blessing, the deacon announces the Easter proclamation from the ambo or at a lectern. In the absence of a deacon the priest himself or another concelebrating priest may announce the Easter proclamation. If, however, a lay cantor announces the proclamation, the words, My dearest friends, up to the end of the invitation are omitted, along with the greeting, The Lord be with you (nos. 18-19).
Number of readings
The Roman Missal adds a sentence about the nine readings proposed, saying that “all of these must be read whenever it can be done, so that the character of a Vigil which takes place over some duration of time can be observed” (no. 20).
The new Roman Missal recognizes that “nevertheless, where grave pastoral circumstances demand it, the number of readings from the Old Testament may be reduced (no. 21). At least three readings from the Old Testament should be read, always including Exodus 14 (no. 21). The reference found previously in the Roman Missal to the possibility of having only two Old Testament readings in extreme necessity is omitted.
The Roman Missal is very specific about the priest singing the Alleluia before the Gospel: “After the Epistle has been read, all rise, and the priest solemnly intones the Alleluia three times, raising his voice a step each time. All repeat the Alleluia each time. If necessary, the psalmist intones the Alleluia.” Then, the psalmist or cantor proclaims Psalm 118 with the people responding, “Alleluia” (no. 34).
The Roman Missal directs explicitly that the homily, even if it is brief, is not to be omitted (no. 36). This requires that the homilist carefully prepare and craft the homily so that it captures the tremendous mysteries being celebrated on this most holy of nights.
Liturgy of Baptism
The Roman Missal has reorganized the rubrics for this entire section of the Vigil (nos. 37-58). Nevertheless, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults should always be consulted in conjunction with the rubrics mentioned here in the Roman Missal. This is especially true when Baptisms are taking place by means of immersion.
Even if there are no candidates for baptism, the blessing of baptismal water should take place in parish churches. At the very least, baptism should be commemorated by the blessing of water intended for sprinkling upon the people.
Procession to the font
The rubrics describe two instances of Baptism at the Vigil. If there is a procession to the baptistery or the font, the catechumens are called forward and presented by their godparents. If there are children, they are carried by their parents and godparents to the front of the assembly. Those who are to be baptized, along with their godparents, are led first by a minister with the Easter candle; the other ministers, deacons and priest follow after them. This procession is accompanied by the singing of the Litany of the Saints. The priest then gives the introductory statement.
If the Baptisms take place in the sanctuary, the priest makes the introductory statement and this is followed by the singing of the Litany of the Saints.
When there are no baptisms
When there are no Baptisms and the font is not to be blessed, the litany is omitted and the blessing of water takes place at once (nos. 39-41).
Pre-baptismal anointing with oil of catechumens is not used at the Easter Vigil
Number 48 of the rubrics for the Easter Vigil mentions that after the renunciation and profession of faith “if the anointing with the Oil of Catechumens did not take place beforehand, as part of the immediate preparatory rites, it takes place at this moment.” Number 33 of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults points out a different rubric for the United States: “The National Conference of Catholic Bishops approves the omission of the anointing with the oil of catechumens both in the celebration of baptism and in the optional preparation rites for Holy Saturday. Thus, anointing with the oil of catechumens is reserved for use in the period of the catechumenate and in the period of purification and enlightenment, and is not to be included in the purification rites on Holy Saturday or in the celebration of initiation at the Easter Vigil or at another time.”
Neophytes and the Liturgy of the Eucharist
The Roman Missal has incorporated into itself rubrics found in nos. 241-243 of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. These allow for a commemoration of the baptized and their godparents to be made in the Eucharistic Prayer. Proper formulas are found in the Roman Missal for each of the Eucharistic prayers (no. 63). The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults indicates that these formulas are found in the section for ritual Masses, “Christian Initiation: Baptism.”
The Roman Missal reminds the priest that before he says, This is the Lamb of God, he may make a brief remark to the neophytes about their first Communion and “about the preciousness of so great a mystery, which is the climax of initiation and the center of the Christian life” (no. 64).
The Roman Missal provides a solemn blessing to conclude the liturgy (no. 69). It is also possible to use the formula of the final blessing in the Order of Baptism for Children, according to circumstances.
Easter Candle through the Easter season
The very last rubric reminds us that “the Easter candle is lighted in all of the more solemn liturgical celebrations in the Season of Easter” (no. 70).
Posted in Triduum on March 6, 2012 by macalintal