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CNP Feedback - Gym Mass

Q. Dear CNP:

My Catholic high school will be having an all-school Mass next week. I have two questions about whether certain things are liturgical abuses.

  1. The celebrant has announced that "A student will be giving a reflection on his experiences in a mission country." Is this permissible under any circumstances (after the homily? after the Prayer after Communion?).
  2. Because there are so many students, we have all-school Masses in the gymnasium (it gets decorated appropriately). Most of the students sit in the bleachers and so there are obviously no kneelers. Is it acceptable that no one kneels because it would be incredibly difficult?

Neil Ornott

A. Dear Neil:

In response to your questions concerning your school Mass:

  1. It is never permissible for a layman to offer a homily [see GIRM #66]. A layman may talk at another point, and I think the best place would be after the Prayer after Communion, when announcements might otherwise be given. Certainly, whatever comes immediately after the Gospel is "The Homily," and is reserved for clergy. For that reason, I would avoid having another "reflection" right after the homily, lest confusion result: "Oh, Johnny preached the second half of the homily today!"
  2. The Church never asks us to do the impossible. If one cannot get to Mass (because of sickness, no proximity to a church, etc.) no sin is incurred in missing Mass. If one cannot kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer (a field Mass on gravel, lack of space, health reasons), then one need not kneel. Certainly, no disrespect is intended. If space in the bleachers prevents the students from kneeling, they should remain standing (not sitting) during the Eucharistic Prayer and make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the elevation of each Species [see GIRM #43]. However, students not sitting in bleachers (perhaps in folding chairs on the gym floor), if not prohibited by space reasons, should kneel. "Solidarity" with those in the bleachers is not an excuse to disregard the rubrics.

GIRM = General Instruction of the Roman Missal, found at the front of the Missal, or here.

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications

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