Liturgical Norms and Guidelines

The following are the most current liturgical norms and guidelines:

Liturgical Notes

Celebration of the Eucharist at which a Bishop Presides

We read in the Ceremonial of Bishops: “The bishop himself is the chief steward of the mysteries of God and the overseer, promoter, and guardian of all liturgical life in the particular church entrusted to his care”.  Therefore, the preeminent manifestation of the local Church is present when the bishop celebrates the Eucharist, surrounded by his presbyters and ministers, and with the full, active participation of all God’s holy people.  Thus a Eucharistic liturgy at which a bishop is the principal celebrant takes on a special character and dignity. Click here to download the entire policy in pdf format.

Use of Ordinary and Extra-Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion:

Just a simple reminder that Extra-Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) should only be used when there are not sufficient priests and deacons (Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) present at the Mass. (GIRM #162) Priests, distributing the Body of Christ, and deacons, distributing the Blood of Christ, take precedence over all EMHC in the distribution of Holy Communion.

Holy Communion under Both Kinds:

Holy Communion (in the Dioceses of the United States) can and should be offered under both kinds at any celebration of the Mass. The faithful should receive Holy Communion from hosts consecrated at the celebration of the Eucharist at which they participate (GIRM 85).

Five Questions on the Distribution of Holy Communion from the Tabernacle

Over the years, the Office of Liturgy has addressed the question of the distribution of Holy Communion from the tabernacle on numerous occasions. In the light of the more recent urgings of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, the following questions and answers are provided as a resource to our readers.

1. Should Holy Communion be regularly distributed from the tabernacle?
No. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) makes clear that “it is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice, (2) so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.”(3)

2. How is the participation of the faithful more clearly expressed by the reception of hosts consecrated at the same Mass?
This participation is manifested in the two great processions of the faithful at Mass.(4) In the presentation of the gifts first, the faithful present the bread and wine for the sacrifice. Along with the gift of their very lives. The very same bread and wine which they have offered is them consecrated by the action of the Priest and returned to them as the Body and Blood of their Lord when they come forward in procession to receive Holy Communion.

3. What is the primary purpose of reserving consecrated hosts in the tabernacle?
Consecrated hosts are reserved in the tabernacle for the administration of viaticum, the communion of the sick and adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist outside Mass.(5)

4. What are the roots of the preference for the distribution of hosts consecrated at the same Mass?
In 1742, Pope Benedict XIV urging the promotion of frequent reception of Holy Communion, highlights the reception of Holy Communion consecrated at the same Mass when “one and the same sacrifice is shared” by the priest and the faithful.(6) This teaching was echoed by Pope Pius XII in his 1947 encyclical on the liturgy, commending those who “when present at Mass, receive hosts consecrated at the same Mass, so that it is actually verified, ‘that as many of us, as, at this altar, shall partake of and receive the most holy body and blood of thy Son, may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace’ (Encyclical letter Mediator Dei, no. 121). The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council thus taught: “that more complete form of participation in the Mass by which the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the sacrifice, is strongly endorsed.”(7)

(2) Cf. GIRM, no. 283; Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in theDioceses of the United States of America.
(3) GIRM, no. 85; cf. Eucharisticum Mysterium, nos. 31, 32, and Immensae Caritatis, pp. 267-268.
(4) Cf. GIRM, no. 44
(5) Cf. Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass (HCWEOM), no. 7, Eucharisticum Mysterium #49
(6) Certiores Effecti, no. 7
(7) Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 55

5. How can this goal be practically achieved?
Pastors who have implemented this provision advise that the first step is the acceptance of the ideal of enabling the faithful to receive hosts consecrated in the same Mass.8 The training of sacristans, ushers, greeters and other ministers in determining the approximate size of the congregation has also been helpful in this regard.

The Use of Mustum and Low-Gluten Hosts at Mass

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments have been trying to resolve the difficulties that some of the faithful encounter in receiving Holy Communion when for various reasons they are unable to consume normal bread and wine. New norms have recently been issued regarding the use of mustum (grape juice in which fermentation has begun) and low-gluten hosts (made solely of wheat with only enough gluten to effect the confection of bread).

The congregation reminds the faithful that those who are unable to receive Holy Communion under the species of “bread” may receive Holy Communion under the species of “wine” alone. This is an important reason that Holy Communion be offered under both species at all Masses celebrated. While it had previously been only under the authority of the local bishop to permit the use of mustum and low gluten-hosts, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has granted that the provision of this may now be granted to pastors (Canon 137.1).

There is a distinction made between clergy and the faithful in the use of mustum and low-gluten hosts. The documentation for this is found in the November 2003 edition of the BCL Newsletter which may be found either at the USCCB website or on request from the Office of Liturgy.

The use of Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest:
The use of this ritual text is solely at the direction of the Bishop (#8, 10 and 14). Before the use of this ritual, permission must be given by the Bishop or one of the Vicars General.

Mass Stipends and Mass Intentions:
Only a single paid and published Mass intention can be made for a Celebration of the Eucharist. Please refer to Canons 946, 947 and 948. Separate Masses are to be applied for each offering. At a concelebrated Mass there may be intentions equal to the number of concelebrating priests. 

Liturgical Books in Spanish:

The use of the Mexican translations of the Misal Romano and the Leccionario are properly used in the United States for the Celebration of Mass. These books, published by the Mexican Conference of Bishops, are available through Liturgical Press.