In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: The 1973 liturgical book “Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass” has a minister end the communion service with a dismissal (n. 41 and n. 53). The minister may be a lay person. The words are: “Ite in pace.” This is one of the dismissal options in the Roman Missal. The 1988 Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest has in n. 39. “The layperson is not to use words that are proper to a priest or deacon and is to omit rites that are too readily associated with the Mass, for example, greetings–especially “The Lord be with you”–and dismissals, since these might give the impression that the layperson is a sacred minister.” It seems to me that the 1988 Directory does not make sense. The words of dismissal are not proper to the priest or deacon. Thus they do not give the impression that a layperson is a sacred minister. The Divine Office, of 1974, a book for the Liturgy of the Hours, does not have a dismissals. The 1984 Ceremonial of Bishops adds a dismissal by a deacon to Evening Prayer (n. 207) and Morning Prayer (n. 212). How should a lay person end a communion service on a Friday? On a Sunday? How should they end Morning Prayer with a congregation?


A: The 1988 Directory may be overreaching when it removes dismissals from the mouths of laypersons, especially because of the dismissal you cite from Holy Communion Outside of Mass. The directory’s footnote cites the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours 258, which concerns greetings and blessings, not dismissals, and several paragraphs from the Book of Blessings, which also pertain to greetings. Laypersons do give some blessings in the Book of Blessings, and even ordained ministers frequently do not dismiss the assembly in a ritual from the Book of Blessings because of the nature of the assembly and the ritual. The classic dismissal that concludes the Mass, Ite, missa est, is generally interpreted as a play on words combining “you are sent” and “the Mass is ended,” so its exclusion from non-eucharistic contexts is understandable.

Per your questions, a layperson concluding a communion service on a weekday or Sunday uses the formula in the appropriate book, which does include a dismissal, though not a dismissal from “Mass”. 

The conclusion to Morning Prayer with a congregation is another matter. GILH 54 says a layperson concludes the service without the greeting, blessing and dismissal and with “May the Lord bless us” instead.