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With immense joy, I would like to inform you all that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB) has decided to publish a newsletter regularly. Please down load pastoral matters to see pastoral related issues for your kind information.

A. Draft Summary of certain aspects of Liturgical norms from the “General Instruction of the Roman Missal”

  1. The observance of the norms is meant for more devotional celebration of the Liturgy and to foster a spirit of Communion in the Church through the divine worship. Therein lies also the holiness of liturgy.
  2. Strict use of the approved liturgical text [no individualistic changes ]
  3. The Priest is the leader also for the devotion in liturgy.
  4. Singing also by the Celebrant should be given preference on Sunday / solemn masses. Musical instruments: (air…) minimum . Lent [none], no flowers.
  5. Simplicity and Beauty in Liturgy: in matter related to dress, vestments, vessels, altar, lectures, chairs, decorations, statues etc., voice, singing, musical instruments, microphone, gestures, general spirit of silence etc.
  6. “Tumi” form of official liturgical text may be used by the celebrant always.
  7. “Word of the Lord. ..” Acclamation only in Liturgy /Mass; [at Office or public reading, it is meditative, no acclamation /response.]
  8. Set up at the Sanctuary:
    • Chair of the Celebrant (not in front of the Tabernacle, not a throne): From beginning to Prayer of the Faithful, final prayer and blessing and dismissal
    • Ambo (lectern):Reading, Responsorial Psalm (no songs or hymns), Gospel : no announcements etc from the Ambo, but from another place
    • Altar: from Offertory to Communion
  9. General Movements and Postures:
    • Stand: beginning to Collect Prayer (only one collect), Alleluia / Chant for Gospel, Credo and Prayer of Faithful, from “Pray Brethren” after Offertory to the end of Mass, except as indicated below.
    • Sit: Readings to Gospel acclamation, Homily, preparation of gifts, (after Communion)
    • kneel: (after Communion), (at the consecration), ( after Sanctus to end of Eucharist
    • To observe moments of silence before /after some of the actions.
  10. Mass with Congregation:
    • Altar: covered with white cloth, candles 2/4/6 on or near ( 7 if diocesan Bishop celebrant), cross ( only one cross, on or near ), Book of the Gospels.
    • Chair: Missal, hymnal
    • Ambo: lectionary
    • Credence table: chalice, etc… ( or at place for procession )
    • vestments ( in sacristy) : i) Priest:  alb, stole, chasuble ; ii) Deacon: alb, stole, (dalmatic); iii) other ministers: alb or approved attire.
    • Procession: cross, candles, book of Gospels, incense may be carried during procession, (then placed as indicated).
  11. Entrance: priest venerates altar with kiss; (incenses cross and altar: priest not incensed), goes to chair, sign of cross and greeting formula ( he or a minister may give short introduction [ better given by another person / minister, need not be a regular thing ]
  12. Initial rite: standing: follow prescribed rite of Penance, Gloria, and Collect (with longer conclusion).
  13. Liturgy of the Word: all sit.  Priest may give brief introduction [better to omit]
    • First reading
    • Responsorial psalm: other hymn not allowed [only scriptural]
    • Second reading: after which no hymn, but only Alleluia etc
    • Gospel: takes Book of Gospels from Altar, raised; at “reading..” makes cross on the book,  and he and congregation three times on self;
    • Homily: from the chair, ambo or any other suitable place [ not altar]
    • Creed: (intoned by the priest) ; at ” incarnatus est..” bow, kneel on Nativity and Annunciation Feasts.
    • Prayer of the Faithful: Introduces, and concludes with hands extended.
  14. Liturgy of the Eucharist: all sit
    • Offering of bread and wine: ( prayer aloud, if  no singing). Washing of fingers /hand by pouring water from cruet.
    • Incense: ( offering, altar, cross; deacon or minister incense celebrant and people.
    • Orate Fratres… People stand . Prayer :short ending.
    • Euchairstic Prayer:  i) II on Weekdays. III Sundays   ii) 2 concelebrants read the intercessory prayers, iii) name of the local ordinary mentioned, no other bishop present; ( permitted to mention name or auxiliary or coadjutor by name, or collectively if several )  iii) appropriate to sing parts allowed.
    • Prayer for peace is said by celebrant only hands extended.
    • Celebrant says quietly everything until ” Behold the Lamb of God…”
    • Only the celebrant including deacon may take host or drink from chalice directly, others receive the host or cup /intinction from the celebrant(s)—even those who distribute communion receive vessel from the celebrant..
    • Desirable:hosts consecrated in the same Mass
    • Vessels maybe purified at the altar, credence table or another place even after the Mass
    • Celebrant may return to the chair for moments of silence..
  15. Concluding Rite: to be done from the chair or the altar. Prayer short ending (” Ite Missa est: hands joined.

**May 2008: 3 more formular added: i) Ite ad evangelium Domini annunciandum, ii) Ite in pace glorificando vita vestra Dominum, iii) Ite in pace.

B. Draft Summary of certain aspects of Liturgical norms from the “General Instruction of the Roman Missal”

I. General Observation:

  1. End of period of “experimentation”: The past years have been a rich period of looking into celebrating the Sacred Liturgy in the local vernacular and imbued in devotional aspects of local culture. This has been a period of “experimentation” as well. Now the Church intends that we need to have a more settled form of Sacred Liturgy, and within it keeping open also possibility for noteworthy inculturation etc. in the future.
  2. Liturgy leading to communion with God and community: The general liturgical norms are meant for greater devotional celebration of the Liturgy and to foster a spirit of Communion in the Church, universally and locally. The spirit of communion safeguards the holiness of the liturgy and the mystery.

Outwardly the approved common texts, rites and rubrics, common prayer and singing, etc help create and manifest the inner spirit of communion and the inner beauty of the Liturgy.

a) The Celebrant: as leader for the total devotion in the celebration of the Liturgy, fostering, sustaining and creating communion, safeguarding the beauty and holiness of the Liturgy, through the outward communion.

b) Approved liturgical texts and rubrics etc. : strict use of these helps to preserve the intended communion, beauty etc in liturgy with the universal and with local Church. [Thus there should be no individualistic changes, additions etc. The entire local Church, with approval of the Holy See, may do certain limited changes as adaptation. ]

c) Simplicity is the fruit of devotion, beauty, holiness and communion: While we have occasion to use elaborate texts, decorations, actions etc in other social celebrations, Liturgy, especially the Holy Mass, as the most sober spiritual celebration, requires simplicity but profoundness in all those matters.

aa) Text of the Prayers of Liturgy: these reflect scriptural texts, sober and succinct, not elaborate, in composition.

bb) Natural and simpler materials rather than artificial and overly decorative materials are preferred, as regards cloths and vestments, altars, statues, chairs, ambo, lecterns, vessels, lights (altar candles, tabernacle light.), incense, flowers and colors etc.

cc) Objects distinctly for Liturgical use: chalice-paten-ciboria, altar cloths candle/flower holders, basic chairs, missal /books, washing bowls, and towels (preferably white) [cf. Holy Thursday], incense container, etc.

dd) Simplicity, harmony and beauty in matters related to voice and sound in speaking and singing, and in gestures and actions; and in the use and coordination with musical instruments, microphone, etc.

ee) General spirit of silence: moments of silence as indicated by rubrics, spirit of silence in the sacristy, around the church building, during immediate preparation for the liturgy ( such as at the time of vesting) etc. Adding non-liturgical items within liturgical context disturbs the general devotional silence of liturgy: if at all necessary, they must be well controlled and kept to the minimum.

3. Word of God and the Liturgy: The text of the NT especially of the Gospels is not merely simple historical and catechetical narrative, but is imbued with the faith and devotion of the worshipping Church.The liturgical texts bear much affinity to the Word of God, and has prime place next to the Word of God.

We need to pay “scriptural attention” to the liturgical texts: the liturgical prayers are as if “prayers” arising from the heart of God, distinct from prayers coming from our own hearts, such our prayers of intercession, or in privaate prayers and devotions. . [N.B.: the Catholic Catechism has a section on Liturgy ( Prayer as Worship / celebration of the Sacraments)- Part 2,  and on Christian Prayer, personal prayer etc –  Part 4.

Everything at the section of Celebration of the Word of God as Mass are taken from the Scriptures: readings, responsorial psalms, etc. Merely devotional hymns are not allowed here. In fact strictly liturgical songs/hymns are with the text from Scriptures..

As we require a faithful translation of the Word of God in our own languages, so also we need a faithful translation of the liturgical texts, and a good combination of the two in our Liturgy / Worship in the vernacular.

4. Singing in Liturgy: Singing is an important part in Liturgy, its character is simplicity, voice is more prominent than instruments; “air” instruments are preferred. Traditionally the Celebrant and the People are to sing in simpler tunes, the choir can have a little more elaborate tune, but still in general simplicity. Singing by celebrant should be given preference on Sunday / solemn Masses. Participation of the faithful in singing is essential.

Scriptural texts as indicated in Liturgy are to be texts of liturgical singing, especially at the Liturgy of the Word. The Roman Missal has well indicated Scripture text for hymns for the Mass throughout the year.

Liturgical singing requires good preparation (practice), especially from the part of the choir; and good blending of voices as if singing “in one voice” is most important, along with good blending of accompanying instruments, and good adjustments with the microphone and loud-speakers. The Music director or Choir Master has to look after these matters of liturgical singing, in consultation with proper authority.

II. Set up at the Sanctuary:

  • The Altar: in the Middle in a prominent place, as simple as possible, without extra objects on or near it. Celebrant is at the Altar from the time of Offertory until Communion (or end of Mass), with only two con-celebrants on his sides at con-celebrated Mass.

On the Altar: a) the Gospel Book up to the reading of the Gospel; b) corporal, purificator, chalice, paten, ciboria and Missal from the time of offertory to communion or purification of chalice etc. c) candles can be on the Altar, flowers near the Altar. No other objects on or close to the Altar.

Cross: Only one (large) Cross with the Corpus, on the wall or near the Altar (if carried at procession)

  • Chair of the Celebrant (in principle not in front of the Tabernacle; not a throne, but simple graceful chair, straight rather than reclining):

Celebrant is to at the Chair a) from Beginning of Mass until Prayer of the Faithful, and b) for the final prayer and blessing and dismissal.

  • Ambo (lectern): only for Scripture Readings, Responsorial Psalm, Gospel, (and homily). Announcements etc:  not from Ambo, but from another convenient lectern or place.

There can be a Credence Table at the side of the altar . Chairs for concelebrants placed as convenient, keeping decorum of the sanctuary, also chairs for servers etc.

III. General Movements and Postures:

  • Stand: i) from the Entrance to Collect Prayer, ii) at Acclamation and reading of Gospel, iii) Credo and Prayer of Faithful, iv) from “Pray Brethren” after Offertory to “Holy, Holy..”; v) during the “Our Father” prayer; vi) Final Prayer to Dismissal.
  • Sit: i) Readings up to Gospel acclamation, ii) Homily, iii) preparation of gifts, iv) after Communion; v) during announcements.
  • Kneel: i) congregation kneels during the Eucharistic Prayer, and ii) from breaking of the bread and communion until the Final Prayer.

IV) Mass with Congregation: Sunday Mass:

All Standing

  • Procession (if held): a) incense first, then cross- corpus facing ahead, lighted candles. Entrance hymn. b) Ministers go to their places. Book of Gospel is carried, and placed on the altar. Main celebrant kiss/ touch with hands or forehead the altar at the middle. c) Celebrant incenses the altar and the cross. Celebrant is not incensed.
  • Beginning of the Mass: Celebrant at the Chair with assistants. He greets the congregation with official text as given. He may give a short introduction.

Penitential rite (simple recognition of sins and asking of forgiveness) or Sprinkling with Holy Water on Sundays, especially in Easter season, and on Feast days.

Gloria if to be said (intoned by priest, or cantor or choir)

Opening prayer , preceded by moment of silence (long ending, only one prayer).

All sit

  • Liturgy of the Eucharist:
    • Offering of bread and wine: offerings are brought from the back and / or from the credence table by server/ minister. Prayers are said aloud, if there is no singing. If needed more than one chalice should be prepared at this time, not at the time of communion.
    • Incense: Celebrant puts incense in the “thurible”, incenses the gift, then the altar and the cross; a minister incenses the celebrant at the side of the altar, then the other celebrants, and then the congregation.
    • At “pray brethren..”  all stand
    • As elsewhere in Liturgy, especially in the Eucharistic Prayer it is important to keep faithfully to the official text.
    • In concelebrated Mass only Two con-celebrants assist at the Altar, and say the usual final intercessory sections of the Eucharistic Prayer.
    • Mention of the name of the Bishop: i) only the name of the Ordinary of the diocese, not other bishops present; and it is permitted to mention the auxiliary /coadjutor by name ( if several, only globally ). The Ordinary as main celebrant in another diocese is to say: “me your unworthy servant and our brother (name of local Ordinary..)”
    • The Prayer for Peace: to be said by the celebrant alone, hands extended. Sign of peace is expressed to persons nearby only, in reticent manner. .
    • Breaking of the Bread: the prayers said quietly by celebrant, aloud only: “Behold the Lamb of God … .”
    • Rite of Communion: In general Celebrant(s) receive directly the bread and wine; the deacon(s) and extraordinary ministers for distribution receive them from the hand of the principal celebrant.
    • Distribution of communion: All receive the consecrated host from the hand of the priests, deacons or extraordinary ministers, not directly from the vessel. Distribution should be done keeping devotion and spirit of silence. Communion under both kinds is encouraged. It is recommended to receive bread consecrated in the same Mass and at least some persons receiving host from the same bread of the Celebrant.
    • Brief silence after Communion. Celebrant goes to the Chair. all sit or kneel
    • Announcements: not from the Ambo, another place. sit
  • ClosingRites: all stand
    • The celebrant concludes the Mass from the Chair or from the Altar.
    • Leaving the altar: kiss or profound bow at the altar, and veneration;

V) Certain Other Norms and observations:

  • Incensing: i) 3 swings to the Blessed Sacrament, relic of Holy Cross, images of the Lord, offerings of the sacrifice of the Mass, book of Gospel, Pascal candle, the priest, and the people.  ii) 2 swings to relics or images of saints, after incensing of the altar.
  • Communion by intinction: intinction is done by the one distributing   communion, not by the receiver  (except in the case of celebrant priest)
  • Vestments, altars cloths etc: should be of natural fabrics, as general rule.
  • The vigil lamp for the Blessed Sacrament should be of natural oil / wax.
  • Sacred species on the altar: on the corporal, not merely on  altar cloth.
  • Tables, chairs, towels, bowls, etc: should be of white or simple color, bearing decorum, distinctively for liturgical use only.
  • Reading of the Word of God outside of Mass: at private reading, Hour of the Office, at functions, etc as meditation ending is in silence, no closing words such as “This is the word of God” and response, which is only in liturgy when the reading is a Proclamation.
  • Images: placed publicly there should be only one image of any given Saint.
  • Chapel of Adoration: Blessed Sacrament may not remain exposed without some person physically present for adoration. Exposition may be limited to certain hours only when persons are available for adoration.
  • Liturgical singing: a) there is a general lack of discipline in the use of the voice and instruments and microphones as regards proper blending of these. Much training is needed in this regard. b) It is better to use prescribed and limited number of approved hymns, rather than always bringing in new ones. The congregation should be able to join in the singing, at least for the common parts (Kyrie, Glora, Holy Holy, Acclamation after Consecration, Our Father, Lamb of God ..).
  • Spirit of silence and devotion: in all movements in the Church especially in the sanctuary, in putting on and taking off liturgical vestments, in distributing and receiving the Holy Communion, [ better to avoid clapping, but express joys, honors in other ways– by standing, bowing, joining hands  etc ]
  • Distribution of Communion: It is good not to rush, as it is a most devotional moment for the receiver. If need be we may increase the number of ministers or cut down time elsewhere in liturgy. It is good to not fill up the ciborium up to the top, to enable easier and “safer” distribution.
  • The Host: [Care should be taken that the host is fresh, not “stale”. Preserved hosts should be changed within a short period, esp. during humid seasons].
  • Items that are of more social / ‘cultural’ nature: to be done outside, or before / afterwards in limited way; [ joy / honor be expressed outside or in different ways in the liturgy itself, not clapping at least for our oriental tradition..]
  • Thanking for the participation in liturgy: this is a recent development. Our present tendency to thank “profusely” everyone (bishop, guests, choirs, etc) at each regular celebration is not customary, except at special occasions perhaps. Expressing thanks is of course important, and parish may do that at parish meetings etc.It is also our duty to do what we have to do in Liturgy. At any rate we should use simple expression of thanks.
  • Introductions / commentaries: [Better if given by another minister or announcer other than the Main celebrant; not to make this long, nor a regular thing. Better, if the celebrant as Official limits his sayings to the official text; he can mention relevant points at the homily]
  • Incense plate: [need not be decorated with flowers, etc ]
  • Background of the Altar in a Church / chapel: [In Church or chapel: the scene behind the Altar should have a precise plan and be of permanent nature. Occasional special statue, photo, poster etc to mark special occasion should not be directly at the back of the Altar, but prominently at one side or elsewhere in the Church…]
  • Extraordinary announcements: Extraordinary announcements, instructions etc should be done after the “Prayer after Communion”.

Episcopal Commission for Liturgy and Prayer

Feb 2010

C. The final draft of the FABC Plenary: “Living the Eucharist in Asia

Comments from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB) :

A. The main Body of the draft organizes the global reflection basing on the celebration of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, with three sections to the three theological virtues of Faith (Liturgy of the Word), Hope (Liturgy of the Eucharistic Sacrifice) and Charity/Love (Liturgy of Communion).

The Bangladesh Conference feels that the whole celebration of the liturgy of the Eucharist is to be seen in its entirety as celebration of the mystery of Faith, Hope and Love, and a call to live these and proclaim to others. It does not seem opportune to see the Liturgy of the Word as distinctly “living in Faith”, the Eucharist itself as “living in Hope” and the Communion as “Living in Love”

But it will be good that one section of the document deal substantially with the main elements in the Eucharistic Celebration, as has been in the draft, but in a more concise shorter form.

B. The document can be organized in the following manner:

  1. Introduction: indicating the emphasis on the Eucharist in recent magisterium (as in the present draft ).
  2. Theological Perspectives of the Eucharist: A short section that can pick up the main points from the recent papal documents and theological teaching on the Eucharist:
    • Eucharistic Amazement: The Mystery of Faith: Its Centrality in Christian Devotion. Worship and Living. Leading the earthly human life into its divine and eternal quality..
    • Eucharist as Sacrifice: A spiritual Sacrifice: the “self offering of life (“giving life” rather than “taking life”)
    • Eucharistic meal: sacrificial meal: participation in the spiritual sacrifice of one another in Jesus to build up communion and community.
    • The Eucharist as Body and as Food: The splendor and glory of the human body as it participated on earth in the sacrificial body of Jesus, especially in the lives of the poor and the suffering humanity. The dignity and “sanctity” of the earthly food as it sustains the earthly body to bear the soul and the spirit to function toward sacrificial love.
    • Church as built up by the Eucharist and proclaim the same for the world.
    • The Beauty of the Sacrificial Love. The call for the human person and community to manifest its inner Beauty and splendor in living the Eucharistic love and life. A call for the Church ( the celebrant and the community) to a devotionally most beautiful celebration of this mystery ( ” ars celebrandi” )
  3. The Celebration of the Eucharist: a shorter presentation of the related parts in the present draft, without indicating a progression into faith, hope and love/charity in the liturgy itself. It will be good to reflect on a) the daily bread as indicated below, also to reflect on
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