LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

I Don’t Understand . . .

Why is it that, in the Extraordinary Form, people sit down, rather than immediately kneeling again, after the Creed (or, if there is no Creed, straight after the Gospel) ?

What does the Priest do at that point ? He turns to them, says ‘Dominus vobiscum’, and then turns to the altar and says ‘Oremus’ before beginning the prayers of the Offertory of the Mass.

One of the great objections by many of those who support the Extraordinary Form is that the Offertory in the Novus Ordo is stripped of its sacrificial character, and lacks holiness : but surely one is meant to adopt an appropriate posture – and if something is holy, and particularly if it is explicitly prayer, then sitting is not the appropriate posture.

Can someone explain this ?


  1. I'm going to offer a suggestion out of ignorance!

    The rubrics have one standing through the creed, and one remains standing for the dominus vobiscum after the creed. This action closes the "Mass of the Catechumens" and introduces the "Mass of the Faithful", so there is a very natural "reset" of the liturgical action at this point. Perhaps at some stage in history, the non-baptized would have withdrawn at this point. Sitting for this transition does not seem out of order.

    A second , more theological, point is surely that the transition between offertory (sitting), the next dominus vobiscum (standing) and the Sanctus (kneeling) provides a very marked emphasis on the holiness of the action to take place within the canon. In the offertory, the bread and the wine are brought forward as the sacrifice, but they have not yet become what they are to be; to a certain extent, they are still earthbound. Then the announcement "Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus" makes it very clear that we are passing from the natural to the supernatural.

    Now someone who knows what they're talking about can have ago :-)

  2. I am a bit hazy on high mass but as regards low mass in the old days we basically knelt - except for the Gospel, when we stood, and the sermon- when we sat. Sitting for anything other than the sermon was a novelty which came in with the changes. In fact since the new mass involved such a complicated choreography of standing, kneeling and sitting we had instructions printed on our mass cards and, at our church, a gentleman appropriately instructed, was deputed to show by example in the front pew.

  3. I certainly don't have the answer, although Gregory's explanation is pretty compelling, but wonder if the magic red books have the answer since they have lots of little explanations down the side.

  4. Don't stress. Don't forget the eastern tradition is "to stand aright and in awe" the whole time, and as re: The Lord's own table they "reclined."

    Greg: the catechuminate people were dismissed BEFORE the creed in the early church...wouldn't make sense to have them stay and recite the creed would it.

    Seriously speaking, there is a lengthy bit re: the posture of the people throughout the ages contained in "The Mass of the Roman Rite - its origins and development" by Fr. Joseph Jungmann. which gives a lot of the nitty gritty. If you want to be REALLY historical about it, in the beginning up until the middle ages, the people's bodily actions were to stand (save for confiteor and consecreation) and pray with hands raised and outstretched. [

    So: don't trip!

  5. There are really no rubrics for the people at low mass. They are therefore allowed to kneel as much as they want (with the exception of the gospel, the sermon and canon)

  6. I'm not sure if the first paragraph and the second are logically connected but the complaint about the Offertory of the Ordinary vs the Extraordinary Form are a bit mot as in the Dominican rite the Offertory is about as simple and short as in the Ordinary Form!

  7. gemoftheocean:

    But wasn't the nicene creed an eleventh century addition to the mass in the West, or am I remembering this all wrong?

    So did the habit of chucking the catechumens out stop before or after the introduction of the creed into the mass?

  8. The offertory in the Dominican rite may be simple and short, but that's the only resemblance it has to the Novus Ordo. In fact, the Novus Ordo has a 'Grace before meals' rather than a proper offertory, as far as I can observe.

  9. In fact, you shouldn't sit until after the Oremus. The clergy in choir sit at this point, and the (sensible) custom has grown up that the laity do the same, though in earlier times there wouldn't have been pews in Catholic churches, so the laity would have stood or knelt at this point.