Local News Archive
Print Issue: November 4, 1999
Archbishop Issues Liturgical Directives
BY KATHI STEARNS
ATLANTA--Archbishop John F. Donoghue has written to the priests of the archdiocese, establishing standards of liturgical custom and practice for specific aspects of the celebration of the Eucharist in the archdiocese.
His directives were sent to priests with an Oct. 25 letter and are based on the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the adaptation of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. They include the following:
According to Archbishop Donoghue, these basic directions are to become standards in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
I do this, with the hope of retiring any confusion about what must be done and what can be done, on the part of both priest and people, the archbishop wrote in his letter to the priests. As always, I welcome your words on these matters, with the understanding that what I have decided here will stand for the time being.
The archbishop is requesting that priests, deacons and people of the archdiocese conform to the specific instructions that are given in the General Instruction section 21 and the appendix. Archbishop Donoghues directions affirm the intent of GIRM 21 as well as the adaptation made by the NCCB in 1969 which specifies that people should kneel from the end of the Sanctus through the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer.
GIRM 21 states that people should kneel at the consecration unless prevented by the lack of space, the number of people present, or some other good reason.
In his directives, Archbishop Donoghue states that removing the kneelers from a church does not constitute a valid exception from the directive to kneel at the specified times, especially at the consecration.
He also said that during periods of planning and building of a permanent parish or mission, or other periods of refurbishment or reconstruction when kneelers are not present but anticipated, he will grant an exception to his directive.
In other circumstances, he wrote the following:
In all but the most unforeseeable circumstances, any intention to relax the stipulation regarding kneeling during the Consecration should be communicated to me personally well beforehand. In other words, in this Archdiocese, the exception must be approved and granted by my authority.
In conclusion therefore, the people should kneel from the end of the Sanctus through the Great Amen.
The archbishop wrote that he is aware that some people wish to kneel from the conclusion of the Agnus Dei through the distribution and reception of Communion. He said that according to the General Instruction this time period is viewed as a time of personal preparation for the priest and bids the faithful to do the same.
The General Instruction does not delimit this time-period, nor specify what particular posture is appropriate or not, the archbishop wrote. What I have seen is that some people stand, some kneel and some sit, due to necessity in certain instances, and choice in others. It is my directive that within the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the people are free to kneel, sit or stand after the Agnus Dei, until all are invited to stand for the closing prayer and rite of dismissal.
Thirdly, the archbishop states that it is the custom of the Roman Rite to receive Communion on the tongue. At the request of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and with the approval in 1977 of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Sacraments, the optional practice of receiving Communion in the hand is now permitted, he wrote. However, the option of how to receive the sacrament must remain the choice of the communicant.
Under no circumstances can Communion be refused to worthy communicants wishing to receive on the tongue, nor should attempts be made to limit this choice, the archbishop wrote.
Finally, the archbishop states in his letter that according to the Second Vatican Council and the General Instruction, standing is the appropriate posture for receiving Communion. He also says that the General Instruction speaks of a proper reverence being made by the communicant in approaching the priest, deacon or minister of the Eucharist.
It must be assumed that the communicant is free to determine the style of the reverence, but always with the understanding that such reverences or gestures should not call attention to the self, nor cause disruption in the unity of the procession, and that the celebrant or other appropriate minister has the obligation to catechize those transgressing liturgical propriety, but not to the detriment of the rite, nor in such a way as to embarrass any communicant publicly, the archbishop wrote. After making the appropriate verbal responses to the priest or minister, the communicant should return to the appropriate place, no other action being called for by the rite.