A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH

What a Concelebrant Must Recite

ROME, 27 FEB. 2007 (ZENIT)

Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: I have recently been pondering what is necessary for valid concelebration on the part of the concelebrant. The rubrics clearly indicate that concelebrants are to recite the words extending from the epiclesis to the anamnesis, but would the omission of some component of this segment of the Eucharistic prayer compromise the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass on the part of that concelebrant? It would seem that the words of consecration are indispensable, but what of the surrounding material? R.H., Fulda, Minnesota

A: For a concelebrant's Mass to be valid the words of consecration recited in a low but audible voice is strictly necessary.

It is unnecessary for validity that the concelebrants recite any of the other parts of the Eucharistic prayer. But a worthy and licit celebration demands that special attention be given to those parts that should be recited by all, which thus have a certain degree of obligation.

Some parts of the Eucharistic prayer are appropriately recited alone by one concelebrant who says them with his hand extended. The principal celebrant, however, may decide to pray those parts himself for a good reason.

Nos. 216-236 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal offer a detailed description of the words and gestures for each Eucharistic prayer. For reasons of space we quote only those numbers which refer to that which the concelebrants recite together:

"216. The Preface is sung or said by the principal priest celebrant alone; but the Sanctus is sung or recited by all the concelebrants, together with the congregation and the choir.

"217. After the Sanctus, the priest concelebrants continue the Eucharistic Prayer in the way described below. Unless otherwise indicated, only the principal celebrant makes the gestures.

"218. The parts spoken by all the concelebrants together and especially the words of consecration, which all are bound to say, are to be said in such a way that the concelebrants speak them in a very low voice and that the principal celebrant's voice be clearly heard. In this way the words can be better understood by the people.

"It is a praiseworthy practice for the parts that are to be said by all the concelebrants together and for which musical notation is provided in the Missal to be sung.

"Eucharistic Prayer I: That Is, The Roman Canon

"222. From the Quam oblationem (Bless and approve our offering) up to and including the Supplices (Almighty God, we pray that your angel), the principal celebrant alone makes the gestures, while all the concelebrants speak everything together, in this manner:

"a. The Quam oblationem (Bless and approve our offering) with hands extended toward the offerings;

"b. The Qui pridie (The day before he suffered) and the Simili modo (When supper was ended) with hands joined;

"c. While speaking the words of the Lord, each extends his right hand toward the bread and toward the chalice, if this seems appropriate; as the host and the chalice are shown, however, they look toward them and afterwards bow profoundly;

"d. The Unde et memores (Father, we celebrate the memory) and the Supra quae (Look with favor) with hands extended;

"e. From the Supplices (Almighty God, we pray that your angel) up to and including the words ex hac altaris participatione (as we receive from this altar), they bow with hands joined; then they stand upright and cross themselves at the words omni benedictione et gratia repleamur (let us be filled with every grace and blessing).

"224. At the words Nobis quoque peccatoribus (For ourselves, too) all the concelebrants strike their breast.

"Eucharistic Prayer II

"227. From the Haec ergo dona (Let your Spirit come upon) to the Et supplices (May all of us who share) inclusive, all the concelebrants speak all the following together:

"a. The Haec ergo dona (Let your Spirit come upon) with hands extended toward the offerings;

"b. The Qui cum passioni (Before he was given up to death) and the Simili modo (When supper was ended) with hands joined;

"c. While speaking the words of the Lord, each extends his right hand toward the bread and toward the chalice, if this seems appropriate; as the host and the chalice are shown, however, they look toward them and afterwards bow profoundly;

"d. The Memores igitur (In memory of his death) and the Et supplices (May all of us who share) with hands extended.

"Eucharistic Prayer III

"230. From the Supplices ergo te, Domine (And so, Father, we bring you these gifts) to the Respice, quaesumus (Look with favor) inclusive, all the concelebrants speak all the following together:

"a. The Supplices ergo te, Domine (And so, Father, we bring you these gifts) with hands extended toward the offerings;

"b. The Ipse enim in qua nocte tradebatur (On the night he was betrayed) and the Simili modo (When supper was ended) with hands joined;

"c. While speaking the words of the Lord, each extends his right hand toward the bread and toward the chalice, if this seems appropriate; as the host and the chalice are shown, however, they look at them and, afterwards, bow profoundly;

"d. The Memores igitur (Father, calling to mind) and the Respice, quaesumus (Look with favor) with hands outstretched.

"Eucharistic Prayer IV

"233. From the Quaesumus, igitur, Domine (Father, may this Holy Spirit) to the Respice, Domine (Lord, look upon the sacrifice) inclusive, all the concelebrants speak all the following together:

"a. The Quaesumus igitur, Domine (Father, may this Holy Spirit) with hands extended toward the offerings;

"b. The Ipse enim, cum hora venisset (He always loved those) and the Simili modo with hands joined;

"c. While speaking the words of the Lord, each extends his right hand toward the bread and toward the chalice, if this seems appropriate; as the host and the chalice are shown, however, they look toward them and afterwards bow profoundly;

"d. The Unde et nos (Father, we now celebrate) and the Respice, Domine (Lord, look upon this sacrifice) with hands outstretched.

"235. As to other Eucharistic Prayers approved by the Apostolic See, the norms established for each one are to be observed.

"236. The concluding doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer is spoken solely by the principal priest celebrant and, if this is desired, together with the other concelebrants, but not by the faithful." ZE02072713

* * *

Follow-up: What a Concelebrant Must Recite [3-13-2007]

After our Feb. 27 column on the parts of the Mass recited by concelebrants, some priests asked for further details.

One, from Pretoria, South Africa, asked: "Does the concelebrant remain seated for the concluding prayer of the Offertory before proceeding to join the main concelebrant at the altar at the opening of the Preface?"

In interpreting the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), one has to remember that the different forms of Mass are described in decreasing detail.

That is, the Mass of a single priest is described quite minutely. Elsewhere, the Mass with a deacon, the concelebrated Mass, and the Mass with only one minister, usually only detail what is different from the first form of Mass. The overall presumption is that whatever is not specifically mentioned in these celebrations follows what is described in the form of Mass with a congregation.

Taking this into account we can see two details from the GIRM.

No. 146 describes the posture to be adopted for the offertory prayer: "Upon returning to the middle of the altar, the priest, facing the people and extending and then joining his hands, invites the people to pray, saying, 'Orate, fratres' (Pray, brethren). The people rise and make their response: 'Suscipiat Dominus' (May the Lord accept). Then the priest, with hands extended, says the prayer over the offerings. At the end the people make the acclamation, Amen."

No. 215 describes the movement of concelebrants at this time: "After the prayer over the offerings has been said by the principal celebrant, the concelebrants approach the altar and stand around it. …"

Since nothing is stated about when the concelebrating priests stand, it is reasonable to presume that they do so at the same time as the people as indicated in No. 146.

Also, liturgical tradition would never condone anyone's remaining seated while the principal celebrant recited a presidential prayer such as the prayer over the gifts.

Another reader, from St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote: "I still have uncertainty about concelebrating Mass with a large group of priests. Do the concelebrants have to receive bread consecrated at that Mass to really have offered Mass? And do the concelebrants have to receive the Blood to have actually celebrated Mass?"

We have dealt with a similar question in an earlier column (see Oct. 12, 2004). In short, the Mass would be valid but illicit for the priests receiving the previously consecrated hosts or not receiving the Precious Blood, except in special cases of illness or alcoholism where a dispensation has been granted (see June 7, 2005; and June 13 and 27, 2006). ZE07031328
 

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