More Liturgical Q and A

More Liturgical Q and A

I will finish my “mini-series” on liturgical Questions and Answers with two final examples.

Q. I would like to ask you thecorrect orderof ministers in a procession to the altar before Mass begins. In the procession we have two altar boys holding candles and one carrying the cross, two ministers of Communion, two lectors, an acolyte and the priest. Who will be at the end? Who follows the altar boys, the ministers of Communion or the lectors? And where is the place of the acolyte in the procession? I have asked some priests and they all have different opinions.

A. The answer to questions such as this is always to be found in the “General Instruction of the Roman Missal”. Here is the relevant section:
120. Once the people have gathered, the priest and ministers, clad in the sacred vestments, go in procession to the altar in this order:
a. the thurifer carrying a thurible with burning incense, if incense is used;
b. the ministers who carry lighted candles, and between them an acolyte or other minister with the cross;
c. the acolytes and the other ministers;
d. a lector, who may carry the Book of the Gospels (though not the Lectionary), which should be slightly elevated;
e. the priest who is to celebrate the Mass.
So the altar boys with cross and candles lead the procession, the extraordinary ministers of holy communion, acolyte and one lector come next (it does not matter in which order), then the lector carrying the book, with the priest celebrant at the end.

Q. Are the texts and scripture readings for the feast of Mary MacKillop to be used at the Saturday vigil Mass on 7th August in place of the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time as well as at Masses on Sunday 8th? Our choir will be singing at that vigil and we want to make sure we prepare the correct songs for the Mass.

A. A Saturday ‘Vigil’ Mass is a Mass in anticipation of Sunday, so whatever day is celebrated on the Sunday is also celebrated on the Saturday evening.

Sunday Masses held on Saturday evening are often incorrectly termed ‘Vigil’ Masses in parish notices and even listed under the Saturday liturgy schedule. The term ‘Vigil’ is reserved for those feasts where a different Mass (a separate set of readings and prayer texts) is provided for the eve of the feast, as happens for Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and the Assumption. Sunday Masses held on Saturday evening should be described as just that, “Sunday Masses held on Saturday evening “, or as “Masses in Anticipation of Sunday”.

A related question to pose, for which no definitive answer is given in the liturgical documents, is “How early on Saturday can a Mass be held before it loses its meaning as a Sunday Mass and becomes clearly a liturgy scheduled on Saturday for the purpose of convenience? “

The profusion and popularity of Masses on a Saturday evening can contribute to the loss of the sense of Sunday as the fundamental ‘Day of the Lord’. To help counteract that perception, normally no more than one such Mass would be scheduled in a parish and celebrations held on Sunday would be given priority in the scheduling of liturgical ministers and in the manner in which they are celebrated.

Elizabeth Harrington