Q: GIRM 254 directs that when, for a just and reasonable cause, Mass is celebrated without a minister, the greetings, the instructions, and the blessing at the end of Mass are omitted.
I take it that, at such a Mass, the following would be omitted:
1. The greeting after the Sign of the Cross
2. Invitation to the Penitential Act
3. “Let us pray” before the Collect
4. The greeting before the Gospel
5. “Pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours…” before the Prayer over the Offerings
6. The beginning dialogue of the Eucharistic Prayer
7. “The peace of the Lord…” in the Communion Rite
8. “Let us pray” before the Prayer after Communion
9. The Concluding Rites except for the veneration of the altar
Would it also make sense…
1. To omit the words, “and to you, my brothers and sisters…and you, my brothers and sisters” in the first option for the Penitential Act
2. To substitute “my” for “your” at “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands”
What other considerations would you advise?
Thanks, and God grant you a joyful and fruitful Eastertide!
A: That instruction in GIRM 254 is not very thorough, is it?
Throughout the GIRM, the word “greeting” (salutatio)refers to “The Lord be with you,” so I’d have to think that the narrowest interpretation of 254 is that only those greetings are omitted. The instructions (monitiones) are the commentaries you may give such as at the beginning of mass and the announcements at the end. The blessing is self-explanatory.
So, from your list, I think only 1, 4 and 6 are to be omitted. In 9, only the greeting and blessing are omitted.
Regarding your second group, omissions and substitutions may make sense, but GIRM 254 does not address these in particular. Indeed, even when there is only one minister participating, the priest still says, “Pray, brothers and sisters” because of the classic words of invitation there, Orate, fratres.
In this time of pandemic, the situation that GIRM 254 envisioned would be rare may be more common. Still, I think it is best to try whenever possible to have an assisting minister at mass so that these changes need not happen. The nature of the mass begs for a communitarian experience. The missal itself includes a way to preside with the participation of a single minister (see the end of the Order of Mass), but it does not give details for mass without anyone else, except for those few words in GIRM 254. Even canon 906 permits mass without anyone else only for a just and reasonable cause. I concede that if ever there was a just and reasonable cause, this is probably it. But if someone could help you – a sacristan or a neighbor, for example – it is always best to have at least one other person besides the priest for the celebration of the mass.