The culture and educational system of the contemporary West are based almost exclusively upon the training of the reasoning brain and, to a lesser degree, of the aesthetic emotions. Most of us have forgotten that we are not only brain and will, senses and feelings; we are also spirit. Modern man has for the most part lost touch with the truest and highest aspect of himself; and the result of this inward alienation can be seen all too plainly in his restlessness, his lack of identity and his loss of hope.KALLISTOS WARE, THE ORTHODOX WAY, REV. ED. (YONKERS, NY: ST VLADIMIR’S SEMINARY PRESS, 1995), 55.
For each of us—perhaps once or twice only in the whole course of our life—there have been sudden moments of discovery when we have seen disclosed the deepest being and truth of another, and we have experienced his or her inner life as if it were our own. And this encounter with the true personhood of another is, once more, a contact with the transcendent and timeless, with something stronger than death. To say to another, with all our heart, “I love you”, is to say, “You will never die.” At such moments of personal sharing we know, not through arguments but by immediate conviction, that there is life beyond death. So it is that in our relations with others, as in our experience of ourselves, we have moments of transcendence, pointing to something that lies beyond.Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, rev. ed. (Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995), 15.
Some concelebrants greet the lay people they recognize from present or former ministry. Before Mass begins or after its conclusion, such salutations can beautifully build up the Body of Christ. But once the liturgy has begun, and until it is completely over, a concelebrant’s attention best focuses on the words and actions of the Mass. Some priests wave at someone they recognize while they are walking in procession, as if they were celebrities on parade before an admiring crowd. They need the reminder, “This is not about you.” It is about Christ. At all times, the liturgy is about Christ, and he deserves a priest’s rapt attention.PAUL TURNER, ARS CELEBRANDI: CELEBRATING AND CONCELEBRATING MASS (COLLEGEVILLE, MN: THE LITURGICAL PRESS, 2021), 124.
At the Lamb of God the priest breaks the host into several parts. Before saying, “Behold the Lamb of God,” he “takes the host” and raises it above the paten or chalice (OM 132).
The Missal says a little more about what is expected of him at this time, however. In the section called “The Bread and Wine for Celebrating the Eucharist,” the GIRM requires that the bread “truly have the appearance of food,” and that it “be fashioned in such a way that the Priest at Mass with the people is truly able to break it into parts and distribute these to at least some of the faithful.” By doing so, he brings out “more clearly the force and importance of the sign of the unity of all in the one bread, and of the sign of charity by the fact that the one bread is distributed among the brothers and sisters” (GIRM 321).
The priest is to break the bread and distribute its parts to some of the faithful. This applies even to a three-inch host. He breaks it in order to share it. This shows unity: all are one in the one bread. And it shows charity: the priest shares his bread with others.
Many priests break and completely consume the presider’s host, however. This action lacks the symbols of unity and charity that GIRM 321 has in mind.
Some priests break the host in two, then break off a smaller part from one half, and place that part into the chalice as the rubrics direct. However, some priests then reassemble the other broken parts of the host into a circle, using thumb and forefinger to conceal the missing part they put into the chalice. They lift up to the view of the faithful what looks like an unbroken host over the chalice—as if to make them wonder, “How did he do that?” This establishes the visual image of a host floating over a chalice, so popular in Catholic iconography, but a juxtaposition of elements completely misrepresents the purpose of the breaking of bread.
A better practice is to share. Some large presider’s hosts break into twenty-four pieces, most suitable for sharing. If using a three-inch host, the presider breaks it into four pieces and then break off another small piece for the chalice. For “Behold the Lamb of God,” he raises a broken host, the quarter that he plans to consume. After receiving the host and drinking from the chalice, he then shares the other three broken pieces with some communicants. In this tiny way he symbolizes the unity and charity that the Eucharist fosters.
A priest may also consider whether the use of a separate paten and chalice for his communion interferes with the same values of unity and charity. Eating from a shared paten and drinking from a shared chalice may better express the purposes of communion.PAUL TURNER, ARS CELEBRANDI: CELEBRATING AND CONCELEBRATING MASS (COLLEGEVILLE, MN: THE LITURGICAL PRESS, 2021), 88-89.
However, some priests – and deacons – make the response that the people are supposed to shoulder for themselves. These clergy probably think that they are being helpful. But such behavior keeps people from learning these responses and makes them feel unwelcome to say them. For example, the minister is to say, “The Gospel of the Lord,” but not the response. That is for the people to do. If they do not respond well this week, they will learn in the weeks to come, but not if the one who proclaims the gospel speaks both parts of the dialogue.PAUL TURNER, ARS CELEBRANDI: CELEBRATING AND CONCELEBRATING MASS (COLLEGEVILLE, MN: THE LITURGICAL PRESS, 2021), 51.
All these examples [of rubrical instructions] show the reverence the church has for the prayers that the priest addresses to God while facing the people. The rubrics have a clear expectation that celebrating ad orientem is not an equal option. As this book notes, however, “facing the people” is not the same as “looking at the people.” When the priest prays, he will help the people pray if he looks above them rather than at them.PAUL TURNER, ARS CELEBRANDI: CELEBRATING AND CONCELEBRATING MASS (COLLEGEVILLE, MN: THE LITURGICAL PRESS, 2021), 29.
The Mass doesn’t need any fixing. If people leave it alone, it will be just fine.PAUL TURNER, ARS CELEBRANDI: CELEBRATING AND CONCELEBRATING MASS (COLLEGEVILLE, MN: THE LITURGICAL PRESS, 2021), 26.