Rubric 38 for Holy Thursday

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: What is the proper interpretation of rubric 38 for the Thursday of the Lord’s Supper at the Evening Mass (English Translation According to the Third Typical Edition): if there are FAITHFUL participating in the procession for the Transfer of the Most Blessed Sacrament, do they go before OR after the Priest Carrying the Blessed Sacrament (in a ciborium)? 

My context is that I am part of a secular institute which gathers together to form a community for holy week. During the Transfer of the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday, everyone usually joins in the “transfer” which is from the chapel to another building where an altar of repose is set up.

A quick reading of rubric 38 for Holy Thursday seems to indicate the order as 1) cross and torch bearers, 2) followed by “others carrying lighted candles”, 3) then the Blessed Sacrament. No mention of the word “faithful” or “laity” is explicitly said. In your book, “Glory in the Cross” (2011, p.74), you seem to have the same interpretation. Do the “others” mentioned here include the faithful/laity?

Msgr. Elliott in his “Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year” (2002) pp. 106-107, no. 211 clearly says, “All taking part in the (Holy Thursday) procession carry hand candles…including the laity, who immediately follow the celebrant.” But he is commenting on the rubrics of the previous edition of the Roman Missal in English (not the 3rd edition).

If there are faithful as part of a eucharistic procession, where is their place and is it dependent on whether or not the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a monstrance or in a ciborium?

Of course, there is this whole, “Jesus always precedes us” explanation, and yet, in rubric 38, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is clearly mentioned to be last.

I would greatly appreciate any elements of response to this query. Thank you, Father!


A: Vatican website, you can see what they did today: Start around 1:19.00.

This is not a perfect interpretation because all the faithful remained in their places, because the many concelebrants alone held lighted candles, or because of the pandemic, perhaps out of crowd management at St. Peter’s.

If the faithful are participating in the procession, they logically go ahead of the Blessed Sacrament. But in some contexts, the official procession passes them by, and then some of them go to the place of reposition for adoration. You may see some go before and some after. Clearly those with candles go before, and the rubric does not restrict such a duty to priests.

Please note that there is no procession with a monstrance on Holy Thursday. The priest is to carry a closed ciborium. This is not Corpus Christi