Is a priest who wears oxford shoes and uses a thurible a conservative? Is a priest who wears sandals and uses an incense bowl a liberal? If both options are on the Catholic playing field, does it matter? Does it matter any differently if you are St. Patrick Cathedral or in a mud and thatch church in the missions? Does it matter if one is a Jesuit and one is a Franciscan?
The last paragraph that we are going to look at in this particular section (111) of the GIRM (we start something new next week) is really trying to get everybody on the same page. It tells us that great care should be taken that the Mass is coordinated among all of the ministers as well as having some input from the parishioners with final say coming from the “rector.” This is so that the choir director doesn’t prepare for the usual weekend Mass, the celebrant decides to move the patronal feast to the weekend, and the lector not knowing which readings to prepare. That is why the “rector” sets the calendar, tone, and is responsible for communicating it.
It is interesting that they use the world “rector.” I had to research this a little bit. It is not a term often used in the Catholic Church. It comes from the Latin meaning “ruler.” I think they use this term because not every parish has a pastor. A seminary has a rector, not a pastor. The bishop’s church (cathedral) may need a person to see to the day to day running of it as the bishop is out and about so much. So you might have the rector of the cathedral . . .
So now, the rector has coordinated the Mass, communicated what will be happening, but another priest is going to celebrate. Things may not go as smoothly as one might hope because the very last sentence of this last paragraph of this last section states, “However, the priest who presides at the celebration always retains the right of arranging those things that pertain to him.”
So that is terribly interesting. What exactly does that mean? I think that is what allowed my first parish to run both smoothly and somewhat diversely. Mass was essentially the same from celebration to celebration though the celebrant changed. Along with him however there may be oxfords or sandals, the Missal at the top of the corporal or off to the left, thurible or incense bowl. Does the rector have the right to say to a celebrant, “No cassock,” or “No jeans” at Mass? I would argue that this right does not exist (though it is possible for said rector to make said celebrant’s life miserable - and a good parochial vicar tries his best to bring about the vision a particular rector is trying to establish - but I’m just saying - and I admit to having strong preferences) though a rector (and indeed anybody) has not only the right but the obligation to point out something that a priest is doing that is illicit or invalid.
So if a presider likes to wear a fiddleback or a properly colored tie dye chasuble you might say to him, “I really don’t like that,” but in the long run it really doesn’t matter. It is both valid and licit and Jesus is still fully present at the Mass. But if he celebrates not wearing a chasuble at all or changing the words of consecration because he thinks it is truer to the Latin, then something needs to be said.