Q: Once the altar has been prepared by the Deacon and the gifts are brought to the altar the Deacon hands the paten to the Priest (GIRM 178). I know that you say the paten should not be laid on the corporal; it should be handed to the Priest. This is the way we are doing it currently, but I have seen other Deacons set it on the corporal. I just want to make sure I’m doing this correctly, or I’m possibly missing something. Most of all, I’d like to know where to go to find the answers when the GIRM or Missal doesn’t specify.
A: The way I read the rubrics in the Order of Mass, the paten does not rest on the corporal until after the priest says “Blessed are you…” GIRM 178 supports this, saying that the deacon helps receive the gifts and then hands the paten directly to the priest. But very few priests observe it that way. I still counsel having the deacon hold the paten until the priest is ready to say “Blessed are you…” or, without a deacon, he either keeps the paten to the side or receives it last in the procession of the gifts so that he may go directly to the altar with the paten in hand. It’s a small point, I admit. But I believe it helps demonstrate that we first praise God for the people’s gifts, and then set them on the corporal where they become “offerings” for the first time during the mass.
Regarding where to get such answers, I recommend my own book, Let Us Pray from Liturgical Press.