Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

What Happened to Redemptionis Sacramentum Instruction?

June 11th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Redemptionis Sacramentum is an Instruction, prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and was approved on March 19 2004.  It was to be observed immediately, being issued on March 25 of that same year, over Francis Cardinal Arinze’s signature as Prefect.

So what has happened to a number of the points which do not seem to be consistently implemented?  Have updates been issued which are perhaps not apparent?  Or have the intervening 11 years caused some points to be dropped or minimized?  For a few of the items below, commentary has been added in red font.  Other points look forward to comments or corrections to this post.

The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum is subtitled: “On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist.”  

The Instruction is worth reading from time to time as a refresher, although it seems for some time not to have been top of mind.  The following are excerpts, following the original numbered paragraphs.

[3.] The norms contained in the present Instruction are to be understood as pertaining to liturgical matters in the Roman Rite, and, mutatis mutandis, in the other Rites of the Latin Church that are duly acknowledged by law.

[4.] …some places the perpetration of liturgical abuses has become almost habitual, a fact which obviously cannot be allowed and must cease.

[7.] …all should conform to the ordinances set forth by legitimate ecclesiastical authority.

[10.] the use of unapproved texts and rites necessarily leads either to the attenuation or to the disappearance of that necessary link between the lex orandi and the lex credendi.

[11.] Nor do such actions serve authentic pastoral care or proper liturgical renewal; instead, they deprive Christ’s faithful of their patrimony and their heritage. For arbitrary actions are not conducive to true renewal but  are detrimental to the right of Christ’s faithful to a liturgical celebration that is an expression of the Church’s life in accordance with her tradition and discipline. … all of which greatly confuse and sadden many of Christ’s faithful …

[13.] the supreme norm of all ecclesiastical law [is] namely concern for the salvation of souls.

[18.] Christ’s faithful have the right that ecclesiastical authority should fully and efficaciously regulate the Sacred Liturgy lest it should ever seem to be “anyone’s private property, whether of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated”

[27.] Accordingly, individual Bishops and their Conferences do not have the faculty to permit experimentation with liturgical texts or the other matters that are prescribed in the liturgical books.

[29.] Priests should recognize the Bishop as truly their father and obey him reverently”.

[31.] They ought not to detract from the profound meaning of their own ministry by corrupting the liturgical celebration either through alteration or omission, or through arbitrary additions… Indeed, under the Bishop’s authority let them faithfully seek to prevent others as well from committing this type of distortion.

[38.] …when stripped of its sacrificial meaning, the mystery is understood as if its meaning and importance were simply that of a fraternal banquet.

[42.] Nor is the Eucharistic Sacrifice to be considered a “concelebration”, in the univocal sense, of the Priest along with the people who are present.  Why do some priests say, WITH the people: “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at OUR hands….?”

[46.] The lay Christian faithful called to give assistance at liturgical celebrations should be well instructed and must be those whose Christian life, morals and fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium recommend them. … No one should be selected whose designation could cause consternation for the faithful.

[48.] The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat,…. It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.  (How did this transition occur to a host having just a tiny bit of wheat for celiacs?)

[49.] By reason of the sign, it is appropriate that at least some parts of the Eucharistic Bread coming from the fraction should be distributed to at least some of the faithful in Communion.  Some priests do consume the entire (smaller) host after consecration, offering none of the fractionated parts to the people.

[51.] It is not to be tolerated that some Priests take upon themselves the right to compose their own Eucharistic Prayers  or to change the same texts approved by the Church, or to introduce others composed by private individuals.  There are some priests who seem to have their own “trademark” comments, especially in and after the Blessing at the end of Mass.  

[53.] While the Priest proclaims the Eucharistic Prayer “there should be no other prayers or singing, and the organ or other musical instruments should be silent”

[56.] The mention of the name of the Supreme Pontiff and the diocesan Bishop in the Eucharistic Prayer is not to be omitted,….For “the coming together of the eucharistic community is at the same time a joining in union with its own Bishop and with the Roman Pontiff”.   We’ve previously mentioned the inappropriate mention of Bishop Emeritus.

[59.] The reprobated practice by which Priests, Deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy. The recent stopping of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion from saying the name of the person who is receiving Communion has been a big improvment, and seems to be fairly well followed after so many years of abuse.

[65.] It should be borne in mind that any previous norm that may have admitted non-ordained faithful to give the homily during the eucharistic celebration is to be considered abrogated by the norm of canon 767 §1. This practice is reprobated, so that it cannot be permitted to attain the force of custom.  Great improvement here with the reduction in “pastoral administrators!”

[66.] The prohibition of the admission of laypersons to preach within the Mass applies also to seminarians, students of theological disciplines, and those who have assumed the function of those known as “pastoral assistants”; nor is there to be any exception for any other kind of layperson, or group, or community, or association.

[70.]. In order to preserve the dignity of the Sacred Liturgy, in any event, the external offerings should be brought forward in an appropriate manner. Money, therefore, just as other contributions for the poor, should be placed in an appropriate place which should be away from the eucharistic table. Except for money and occasionally a minimal symbolic portion of other gifts, it is preferable that such offerings be made outside the celebration of Mass.  Money is still placed under the altar in some churches.  Perhaps there is a security issue?

[75.] …the liturgical books sometimes prescribe or permit the celebration of Holy Mass to be joined with another rite, especially one of those pertaining to the Sacraments.  The Church does not permit such a conjoining in other cases, however, especially when it is a question of trivial matters.  Like commissioning of Parish Council members?

[79.] ….it is strictly to be considered an abuse to introduce into the celebration of Holy Mass elements that are contrary to the prescriptions of the liturgical books and taken from the rites of other religions.

[84.] …. when Holy Mass is celebrated for a large crowd – for example, in large cities – care should be taken lest out of ignorance non-Catholics or even non-Christians come forward for Holy Communion, without taking into account the Church’s Magisterium in matters pertaining to doctrine and discipline.  This is still a serious issue, especially at funerals, where some priests even make it a point to tell the attendees that everyone is welcome to receive Communion.  I am grateful to those priests who faithfully proclaim the Church’s teaching before people approach the altar at a funeral Mass.

[86.] The faithful should be led insistently to the practice whereby they approach the Sacrament of Penance outside the celebration of Mass, especially at the scheduled times, so that the Sacrament may be administered in a manner that is tranquil and truly beneficial to them, so as not to be prevented from active participation at Mass.

[87.] The First Communion of children must always be preceded by sacramental confession and absolution.

[88.] … Only when there is a necessity may extraordinary ministers assist the Priest celebrant in accordance with the norm of law. It still seems like an awful lot of “extraordinary ministers” are joining the Priest at the altar.

[89.] “So that even by means of the signs Communion may stand out more clearly as a participation in the Sacrifice being celebrated”,it is preferable that the faithful be able to receive hosts consecrated in the same Mass. This is a point which seems to have completely fallen off the radar, as time after time virtually all the hosts consumed at a Mass come from the Tabernacle, consecrated at a prior Mass!

[92.] … special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.

[93.] The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling.  The appearance of the paten is a rare event in the Novus Ordo Mass.  Why is this so neglected?

[94.] It is not licit for the faithful “to take . . . by themselves . . . and, still less, to hand . . . from one to another” the sacred host or the sacred chalice.  Does this include Extraordinary Ministers communicating each other?

[102.] The chalice should not be ministered to lay members of Christ’s faithful …  where a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons, so that the sign of unity would in some sense be negated.

[106.] …the pouring of the Blood of Christ after the consecration from one vessel to another is completely to be avoided, lest anything should happen that would be to the detriment of so great a mystery. Never to be used for containing the Blood of the Lord are flagons, bowls, or other vessels that are not fully in accord with the established norms.

[110.] Remembering always that in the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice the work of redemption is constantly being carried out, Priests should celebrate frequently. Indeed, daily celebration is earnestly recommended, because, even if it should not be possible to have the faithful present, the celebration is an act of Christ and of the Church, and in carrying it out, Priests fulfill their principal role.”

[111.] A Priest is to be permitted to celebrate or concelebrate the Eucharist “even if he is not known to the rector of the church, provided he presents commendatory letters” (i.e., a celebret) not more than a year old from the Holy See or his Ordinary or Superior “or unless it can be prudently judged that he is not impeded from celebrating”. Let the Bishops take measures to put a stop to any contrary practice.

[112.] …Priests are always and everywhere permitted to celebrate Mass in Latin.

[117.] Sacred vessels for containing the Body and Blood of the Lord must be made in strict conformity with the norms of tradition and of the liturgical books….It is strictly required, however, that such materials be truly noble in the common estimation within a given region,  so that honour will be given to the Lord by their use, and all risk of diminishing the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species in the eyes of the faithful will be avoided. Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily. This norm is to be applied even as regards metals and other materials that easily rust or deteriorate.

[120.] Let Pastors take care that the linens for the sacred table, especially those which will receive the sacred species, are always kept clean and that they are washed in the traditional way. It is praiseworthy for this to be done by pouring the water from the first washing, done by hand, into the church’s sacrarium or into the ground in a suitable place. After this a second washing can be done in the usual way.  A peek under a few sinks in the diocese shows there is not really a sacrarium in use, YET sacred matter is poured down the sink.  I have been told that the sink at St. Louis does not even pretend to be a sacrarium, yet the glass (yes, glass) Communion cups are washed there.  Can anyone confirm if this has changed or not?

[126.] The abuse is reprobated whereby the sacred ministers celebrate Holy Mass or other rites without sacred vestments or with only a stole over the monastic cowl.

[127.] A special faculty is given in the liturgical books for using sacred vestments that are festive or more noble … is improperly extended to innovations by which forms and colours are adopted according to the inclination of private individuals, with disregard for traditional practice.  The rainbow coalition vestments seem to be happily disappearing. 

[129.] …. forms of adoration that are not only private but also public and communitarian in nature, as established or approved by the Church herself, must be greatly promoted.

[134.] “…. “It is the responsibility of sacred Pastors, even by the witness of their life, to support the practice of Eucharistic worship and especially exposition of the Most Holy Sacrament, as well as prayer of adoration before Christ present under the Eucharistic species.”

[135.] ‘Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, a church in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved should be open to the faithful for at least some hours each day, so that they can spend time in prayer before the Most Holy Sacrament.” Not true for some churches which have no daily Mass.

[149.] …. attention should be paid to ensuring that “pastoral assistants” do not take upon themselves what is proper to the ministry of the sacred ministers.

[150.] The activity of a pastoral assistant should be directed to facilitating the ministry of Priests and Deacons, ….

[151.] Only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy. Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity but rather, by its very nature, is supplementary and provisional.  Furthermore, when recourse is had out of necessity to the functions of extraordinary ministers, special urgent prayers of intercession should be multiplied that the Lord may soon send a Priest for the service of the community and raise up an abundance of vocations to sacred Orders.

[152.] It must therefore never be the case that in parishes Priests alternate indiscriminately in shifts of pastoral service with Deacons or laypersons, thus confusing what is specific to each.

[153.] Furthermore, it is never licit for laypersons to assume the role or the vesture of a Priest or a Deacon or other clothing similar to such vesture.

[165.] ….It will be preferable, moreover, when both a Priest and a Deacon are absent, that the various parts be distributed among several faithful rather than having a single lay member of the faithful direct the whole celebration alone.

[166.] ….. Priests are therefore earnestly requested to celebrate Mass daily for the people in one of the churches entrusted to their care.

[169.] Whenever an abuse is committed in the celebration of the sacred Liturgy, it is to be seen as a real falsification of Catholic Liturgy. St Thomas wrote, “the vice of falsehood is perpetrated by anyone who offers worship to God on behalf of the Church in a manner contrary to that which is established by the Church with divine authority, and to which the Church is accustomed”.

[177.] Since he must safeguard the unity of the universal Church, the Bishop is bound to promote the discipline common to the entire Church and therefore to insist upon the observance of all ecclesiastical laws.  He is to be watchful lest abuses encroach upon ecclesiastical discipline….

[178.] Hence whenever a local Ordinary or the Ordinary of a religious Institute or of a Society of apostolic life receives at least a plausible notice of a delict or abuse concerning the Most Holy Eucharist, let him carefully investigate, either personally or by means of another worthy cleric, concerning the facts and the circumstances as well as the imputability.

[179.] Delicts against the faith as well as graviora delicta committed in the celebration of the Eucharist and the other Sacraments are to be referred without delay to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith..

[180.] the Ordinary should proceed according the norms of the sacred canons, imposing canonical penalties if necessary,

[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.  It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.



5 Responses to “What Happened to Redemptionis Sacramentum Instruction?”

  1. annonymouse says:

    I was at the deaconate ordination last Saturday, and I noted that Bishop Matano prayed for Bishop Clark (who was concelebrating) in the Eucharistic prayer just before praying for “me, your unworthy servant” – I’m guessing Bishop Matano sees this as a small matter that maintains some goodwill with his predecessor, even though it oughtn’t be done.

  2. Diane Harris says:

    @ Annonymouse – I agree with you that it is probably a goodwill gesture from Bp. Matano re Bp. Clark, and I think he must have the power to do that. Others who celebrate in the diocese I think would have to ask his approval to deviate, rather than just to imitate him. I really like that the Latin Mass doesn’t have concelebrants crowding around the altar reciting snippets of the Eucharistic Prayer.

    I hope others will weigh in on what they are seeing or not seeing in their churches re Redemptionis Sacramentum proscriptions.

  3. Bernie says:

    Just a couple of comments from me:

    I was at a funeral a few weeks ago and the celebrating priest invited everyone to Communion (“I hope you know that all are invited to the table”). Many people who I know to be non-Catholic received Communion. I sent a note to the diocese and heard back immediately that the issue would be addressed with the priest.

    I never see the communion paten used while distributing Communion –except at the Latin Mass and at Our Lady of Victory/Saint Joseph church. But, then, I attend a very limited number of churches –mostly for weddings and funerals.

    There seems to have been no reduction in the number of Extraodinary Ministers of Communion and they still improperly crowd around the priest during the Agnus Dei.

    BTW: I’m sick of seeing the incessant and demonstrative use by Communion Ministers of hand sanitizers. What a joke and what a distraction! We did without it for a couple of thousand years! Good grief; how silly. We emphasize hand sanitizers and yet share a common cup! Go figure. Drop the hand sanitizers.

    The use of the proper term, “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion” (“Communion Ministers”) is gradually taking hold, especially in church bulletins and on some websites although the term “Eucharistic Ministers” persists, officially, in some parishes. Whenever I see the wrong term I contact the parish. Sometimes I get a response. If I don’t, I forward my concern to the Liturgy Department at the Diocese. After I contact the Diocese, changes are made so contacting the Diocese does work.

    I have had a good response from the Diocese when I report abuses so I encourage everyone to drop an email to the Liturgy department when see something wrong. It’s best to at least mention it to the priest involved or responsible, first. The Diocese prefers that you do that first but, if you are uncomfortable doing that then copy the priest in an email to the Diocese.

  4. annonymouse says:

    Bernie – I’ve also experienced the “all are welcome to the table” invitation as well, usually at weddings and funerals. Canon law is quite clear on who is to be invited to participate at table. But otherwise very intelligent priests are obviously disregarding the Catholic belief that the Eucharist is THE sacrament of unity, meaning that all who participate are expected to be practicing Catholics in a state of grace who believe in the real presence. Anything other than that is a lie – without common belief there is no real unity. They probably think their welcome is effecting unity but in fact all it does is cheapen the Most Blessed Sacrament. Obviously these priests are, by their actions (their unabashed hubris or ignorance), disregarding and protesting Church teaching.

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