Mass and Benediction

And More on Presiders

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ROME, SEPT. 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: One of our parish priests once said that in a Mass with Benediction the blessing and dismissal is not given, because the blessing will be done with the monstrance and that the Mass is not finished until after Benediction, when the "Ite missa est" is said. All other parish priests that we have had, including the current one, have never heard of this before. Please illuminate us. -- J.M., Sydney, Australia

A: First, I think it is necessary to clarify that present norms do not contemplate a "Mass with Benediction." That is, it is not permitted to expose the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass for the sole purpose of imparting Benediction.

It is permitted to expose the Blessed Sacrament after communion, preferably with a host consecrated during Mass, if a more or less prolonged period of adoration or a Eucharistic procession is to follow the Mass.

In this case, since no public blessings are ever imparted in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, it is correct to omit the blessing at the end of Mass.

In the case of adoration continuing after Mass, the following rite is observed:

-- The Blessed Sacrament is exposed immediately after communion.

-- The closing prayer is said at the chair. The final blessing and dismissal are omitted.

-- The celebrants and ministers then line up in front of the altar, genuflect and kneel.

-- A hymn of adoration is sung, the Blessed Sacrament is incensed as during normal expositions, and the celebrants remain kneeling for some moments of private prayer.

-- All genuflect and return to the sacristy in silence. Adoration continues for some time after which Benediction is imparted.

The "Ite missa est" is not said after Benediction as the Mass has concluded well beforehand with the closing prayer. It is simply omitted.

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Follow-up: Changing the Presider

In the wake of our comments on a change of presider at a Mass (see Aug. 21), a reader from Asia wrote: "Our parish has seen the installation of two parish priests lately: the first one three years ago, and the second one just last Sunday. Three years ago, the previous archbishop installed the parish priest in this manner: Vested in chasuble and miter, he began the Mass with the usual greeting, asked for the priest's Credo, received his priestly vows, gave him the tabernacle key and seated him on the chair. After all of this, however, the new parish priest 'took over the Mass,' although the archbishop preached the sermon and gave the final blessing. We also set up two presidential chairs -- one for the archbishop and one for the parish priest. The parish priest was not a 'principal concelebrant' alongside the bishop, but really 'took over the Mass.' In fact, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the archbishop did not approach the altar but concelebrated from the presidential chair. Last Sunday, the new archbishop installed our new parish priest, and while I had hoped he would preside at Mass, I was disappointed when he followed exactly the same procedure described above. This created some confusion when, for example, the altar servers had to ask who to approach when incense had to be put in the censer. The answer was obviously the new parish priest, not the archbishop. Is this how installations of parish priests should be done? What does the Ceremonial of Bishops and other liturgical documents have to say about this? Thanks!"

Our reader describes one possible mode of installation although with one or two technical slips. For example, if the archbishop is not going to preside at Mass, he is not vested in chasuble but in miter and cope. If he concelebrates at all, then he must preside at the Mass.

I am presuming that, given the exceptional nature of this ceremony, our reader was mistaken in thinking that the archbishop "concelebrated" from the chair.

The Ceremonial of Bishops describes the rite of installation of a new parish priest in Nos. 1185-1198, although making generous allowance for local custom.

No. 1187 recommends that the bishop should preside over the Mass with the new parish priest and other priests concelebrating. No. 1188, however, allows for the bishop to be present without concelebrating as described in the ceremonial Nos. 175-185. This can be done for any good reason, for example, if the bishop has other celebrations programmed for the same day.

Therefore, if the bishop is going to introduce the new priest, without concelebrating, the general order of the rites at Mass would be as follows with the omission of some technical details:

The bishop enters wearing alb, stole and cope of the color of the feast, and miter and pastoral staff. In the entrance procession he walks behind the celebrant and concelebrants preferably escorted by deacons and ministers. He kisses the altar after the concelebrants.

If incense is used at this point, the bishop incenses the altar and proceeds to the presidential chair and greets the people.

In the case of the introduction of a new parish priest the following rites may be used in whole or in part after the greeting. Some of them may be carried out before Mass begins if circumstances warrant it:

At the door of the Church, or at the chair if done at the beginning of Mass, the bishop introduces the new parish priest and hands him the keys of the church.

The priest's letter of appointment is read and he makes the profession of faith.

On this occasion it is fitting that the new pastor read the Gospel, receiving the book and blessing from the bishop.

Following the bishop's homily it is recommended that the priest renew the promises made at ordination.

As circumstances suggest either at this moment, or before Mass, there may be a procession with thurible, cross and candles so that the bishop may lead the new parish priest and entrust him with the various sacred places of his ministry (baptistery, chair, Blessed Sacrament chapel and confessional). He may invite the new pastor to incense the baptistery and also open the tabernacle to incense the Blessed Sacrament. Finally he may also invite him to ring the church bells.

After the general intercessions the bishop goes to the chair and is seated. The deacon and ministers prepare the altar as usual. The gifts may be received by the celebrant of the Mass or by the bishop. After a deep bow to the bishop the new pastor goes to the altar and begins the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the usual manner.

If incense is used, the priest celebrant is incensed first and then the bishop.

During the Eucharistic Prayer the bishop remains, with head uncovered, at a kneeler prepared for him facing the altar either in front of the chair or in some other convenient place. Since he is not concelebrating, he kneels during the consecration.

If the bishop receives communion, he takes the Body and Blood of Christ after the priest celebrant after which he may remain seated at the chair.

The bishop recites the prayer after communion at the chair and blesses the people in the usual manner.

Before the blessing he may invite the new parish priest to address the faithful.

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Readers may send questions to liturgy@zenit.org. Please put the word "Liturgy" in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.