General Instruction of the Roman Missal launched
Thursday 18 April 2013
Words Dr Paul Taylor
Pictures Peter Casamento
THE ‘instruction manual’ for the celebration of the Eucharist (or Mass) in the Roman Catholic Church has just been launched in its final form with Application for the Catholic Church around Australia. Known as the General Instruction of the Roman Missal
[or GIRM], this document is an introductory chapter to the recently revised Roman Missal (2010).
On Friday 15 March 2013, it was launched as a separate book by Archbishop Denis Hart (President of the ACBC) in the presence of Frs Nestor Candado SSP and Francis Kochupaliyathil SSP from St Pauls Publications, Strathfield NSW, and a group of liturgists from around Victoria during a launch at James Goold House in Melbourne.
First published in 1969, the GIRM was revised in 1974 and again in 2002. An interim translation was prepared for Australia by St Pauls in 2007 and the final text with application for Australia was published and launched this year so that the English translation would conform with the translation in the front of the Roman Missal (2010), containing the revised Mass texts that were implemented around the English-speaking world in Advent 2011.
After Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (
1963), the GIRM is the next most influential document regulating how the Mass is to be celebrated in the Catholic Church. The GIRM is divided into 9 chapters: (1) The Importance of Dignity of the Celebration of the Eucharist, (2) The Structure of the Mass, Its Elements and Its Parts (3) The Duties and Ministries in the Mass, (4) The Different Forms of Celebrating Mass, (5) The Arrangement and Ornamentation of Churches for the Celebration of the Eucharist, (6) The Requisites for the Celebration of the Mass, (7) The Choice of the Mass and its Parts (8) Masses for Various Circumstances and Masses for the Dead and (9) Adaptations within the Competence of Bishops and Bishops Conferences and Endnotes.
The GIRM contains 399 paragraphs (or short articles) over 130 pages (in the St Pauls edition) and the 165 references (or Endnotes) cite a range of ecclesial, canonical, papal, conciliar and liturgical sources. These highlight the continuity of the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist with its liturgical tradition and teaching. Apart from providing indications of ‘what to do’(or rubrics) during the liturgy, the GIRM also includes theological principles/values, liturgical directives/guidelines, pastoral norms and short commentaries on the Eucharistic celebration which will help priests and all liturgical ministers in parishes, schools and other communities to understand better not only what to do at Mass, but some understanding for the reasons why and the various ritual options available. As such, GIRM will be a key resource for all involved in preparing and celebrating the Church’s Eucharistic liturgy—which is considered a primary source and summit of the Church’s life [CSL (1963) 10] .
The GIRM is available through St Pauls Publications in Strathfield NSW and Catholic Book Stores around Australia.