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MissScripture

Definition Of Liturgical Abuse

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MissScripture
Liturgical abuse is a phrase I've heard quite frequently, used by some people to describe everything from using a lot of EMHCs to clown Masses. But is there an official definition of what constitutes liturgical abuse?

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Jaime
The official definition is a little complicated. There is a document known as the General Instruction for the Roman Mass (GIRM) and in it is the instructions for mass. Now the proper understanding of the GIRM is that it doesn't talk about what you cannot do. It lists what is proper. If one does something that is not listed in the GIRM, it is an abuse.

It's important to remember that while there may be abuses (or lots of abuses) at a mass it doesn't necessarily invalidate the mass (meaning you wasted your time in coming) For example, the playing of an electric piano is an abuse. But if you were at a small chapel in a hospital, you probably aren't going to find an organ. (other parts of the hospital will most certainly have organs) But while this is an abuse at mass, it will not invalidate the mass. You are still receiving the Eucharist.

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phatcatholic
I don't know if it's apropriate for scholars to disagree with each other in this board, but I would like to make some possible corrections to Jaime's answer. First, he said, "If one does something that is not listed in the GIRM, it is an abuse." This can be true, but not [i]necessarily[/i]. For example, if I give the Eucharist to my dog, that is obviously an abuse, even though there is nothing in the GIRM that says, "The Eucharist should only be given to human beings." But, at the same time, people often make the sign of the Cross after receiving Communion even though the GIRM doesn't say anything about a gesture of reverence after receiving. I don't think anyone would consider [i]this[/i] a ligurgical abuse, even though it "is not listed in the GIRM", as Jaime said.

What this means is that sometimes certain actions are permisslbe, and even proper, even though the GIRM is silent regarding them. Thus, I think it would be better to say: "If something contradicts a statement in the GIRM, it is an abuse." This statement [i]is[/i] necessarily true.

My second and final correction concerns this statement: "the playing of an electric piano is an abuse." Jaime is implyling that this follows from the GIRM when it does not. The GIRM does not mention the piano, so it would be difficult for me to say that, according to the GIRM, using the piano is an abuse. However, the motu proprio [i]Tra le Sollecitudini[/i] of Pope Pius X (promulgated on Nov. 22, 1903), does say the following:

[indent=1][b]19.[/b] The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells, and the like.[/indent]

I am not aware of any more modern document that supercedes or contradicts this, but that doesn't mean that such a document does not exist. At any rate, if the use of the piano be an abuse, it is according to this document, not the GIRM.

I realize these probably seem like minor points, but I am somewhat scrupulous when it comes to the liturgy. I also hope that these corrections are not unwelcomed.

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