Who is a "minister" at Mass?
  • argentarius
    Posts: 25
    The Roman missal states thusly regarding the Third Option of the Penitential Rite:

    "The Priest, or a Deacon or another minister, then says the following or other invocations' with Kyrie, eleison"

    Who is considered "another minister"? Is it permitted for the "Cantor" to sing these invocations?

    How and where is the term "minister" defined in regard to the Liturgy?

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,543
    Is this particular to the NO or VO?
  • argentarius
    Posts: 25
    Norvus Ordo. Specific issue is whether the CANTOR is permitted to sing the invocations (Tropes), such as those found in Pastoral Patterns or similar sources, and the people respond. The Deacons decline to do so. Should it fall back to the celebrant, or is the Cantor considered a "minister"?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,543
    The NO has many rubrics that are vague (unclear), optional and also at times decided upon by the local ordinary... I do not have an answer for you. Sorry.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 670
    Yes, a cantor may sing those invocations in the Novus Ordo.

    In this context, "minister" refers to a "music minister". It's common in the United States to refer to lay liturgical ministries (music, lector, altar servers), although some people dispute whether the term "ministry" should be applied to what the laity do at Mass.
  • Mark,

    Some included the reigning Pontiff, his Rotweiller and most of the heads of the dicasteries, as I recall. Mind you, that was during the peaceful reign of Pope John Paul II.
  • argentarius
    Posts: 25
    I appreciate the responses. Is there something I can read that defines the term "minister" in this context? I took it to mean installed ministers such as lector and accolyte. I don't see anything in GIRM specific to "Cantor" being a "minister". Want to make sure the term is not being read more broadly than the missal intends.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 670
    It has been discussed on this forum previously, such as here:
  • Argentarius,

    I think the document you want is called


  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 979
    Chris, do you have a link to that document?
  • Article 1

    Need for an Appropriate Terminology

    In his address to participants at the Symposium on "Collaboration of the Lay Faithful with the Priestly Ministry", the Holy Father emphasised the need to clarify and distinguish the various meanings which have accrued to the term "ministry" in theological and canonical language.(53)

    § 1. "For some time now, it has been customary to use the word ministries not only for the officia (officies) and non-ordained (functions) munera exercised by Pastors in virtue of the sacrament of Orders, but also for those exercised by the lay faithful in virtue of their baptismal priesthood. The terminological question becomes even more complex and delicate when all the faithful are recognized as having the possibility of supplying-by official deputation given by the Pastors-certain functions more proper to clerics, which, nevertheless, do not require the character of Orders. It must be admitted that the language becomes doubtful, confused, and hence not helpful for expressing the doctrine of the faith whenever the difference 'of essence and not merely of degree' between the baptismal priesthood and the ordained priesthood is in any way obscured".(54)

    § 2. "In some cases, the extension of the term "ministry" to the munera belonging to the lay faithful has been permitted by the fact that the latter, to their own degree, are a participation in the one priesthood of Christ. The officia temporarily entrusted to them, however, are exclusively the result of a deputation by the Church. Only with constant reference to the one source, the 'ministry of Christ' (...) may the term ministry be applied to a certain extent and without ambiguity to the lay faithful: that is, without it being perceived and lived as an undue aspiration to the ordained ministry or as a progressive erosion of its specific nature.

    In this original sense the term ministry (servitium) expresses only the work by which the Church's members continue the mission and ministry of Christ within her and the whole world. However, when the term is distinguished from and compared with the various munera and officia, then it should be clearly noted that only in virtue of sacred ordination does the work obtain that full, univocal meaning that tradition has attributed to it." (55)

    § 3. The non-ordained faithful may be generically designated "extraordinary ministers" when deputed by competent authority to discharge, solely by way of supply, those offices mentioned in Canon 230, § 3(56) and in Canons 943 and 1112. Naturally, the concrete term may be applied to those to whom functions are canonically entrusted e.g. catechists, acolytes, lectors etc.

    Temporary deputation for liturgical purposes — mentioned in Canon 230, § 2 — does not confer any special or permanent title on the non-ordained faithful.(57)

    It is unlawful for the non-ordained faithful to assume titles such as "pastor", "chaplain", "coordinator", " moderator" or other such similar titles which can confuse their role and that of the Pastor, who is always a Bishop or Priest.(58)
  • Article 6

    Liturgical Celebrations

    § 1. Liturgical actions must always clearly manifest the unity of the People of God as a structured communion.(89) Thus there exists a close link between the ordered exercise of liturgical action and the reflection in the liturgy of the Church's structured nature.

    This happens when all participants, with faith and devotion, discharge those roles proper to them.

    § 2. To promote the proper identity (of various roles) in this area, those abuses which are contrary to the provisions of canon 907 are to be eradicated. In eucharistic celebrations deacons and non-ordained members of the faithful may not pronounce prayers — e.g. especially the eucharistic prayer, with its concluding doxology — or any other parts of the liturgy reserved to the celebrant priest. Neither may deacons or non-ordained members of the faithful use gestures or actions which are proper to the same priest celebrant. It is a grave abuse for any member of the non-ordained faithful to "quasi preside" at the Mass while leaving only that minimal participation to the priest which is necessary to secure validity.

    In the same way, the use of sacred vestments which are reserved to priests or deacons (stoles, chasubles or dalmatics) at liturgical ceremonies by non-ordained members of the faithful is clearly unlawful.

    Every effort must be made to avoid even the appearance of confusion which can spring from anomalous liturgical practices. As the sacred ministers are obliged to wear all of the prescribed liturgical vestments so too the non-ordained faithful may not assume that which is not proper to them.

    To avoid any confusion between sacramental liturgical acts presided over by a priest or deacon, and other acts which the non-ordained faithful may lead, it is always necessary to use clearly distinct ceremonials, especially for the latter.
  • argentarius
    Posts: 25
    Thank you all. That certainly answered my questions!! :)
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,018
    I think that the term 'minister' ought properly to signify those who are in an ordaned order, perhaps this should include those who are 'instituted' as well. In current usage it seems that anyone who fulfills a definite role in a liturgy is a minister. This is quite lax.

    I do wonder, though about those who are 'instituted' acolytes, lectors, etc. These are not the only ones whose liturgical roles are significant. Cantors should be instituted, as should organists and choirmaster. I am all in favour of choirmasters being ordained, as once they were.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,695
    GIRM avoids applying the term 'minister' to musicians, referring to other functions. There are one or two references to 'other lay ministers', mostly as substituting for an acolyte. There is a specific reference to 'two ministers bearing candles', so they evidently mean altar boys/girls. This usage is long-standing, and is one reason why rubrics over several centuries are careful to say 'sacred ministers' in relation to the ordained.
    On the specific question of chanting the brief litany of this penitential option, I see no reason it should not be chanted by a cantor, provided they use one of the forms laid out in the Missal. The odd verses of the Kyrie could be chanted by a cantor in a solemn EF Mass, could they not.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,689
    Let's look back to answer the question.

    The 1962 Missale Romanum uses the word "minister" to refer to altar boys in some cases and ordained clerics in other cases.

    For example: in the "Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae", part III, paragraph 6, it says that after the initial sign of the Cross, the priest says "Introibo ad altare Dei". Then the minister behind him to the left, kneeling (or in a solemn Mass the ministers standing there) follows: "Ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam."

    Similar language exists in the 1920 Missale and in the most recent edition. The 2002 Missale, for example, refers to "an acolyte or other lay minister".

    So, although that fine CDF document rightly says that "ministry" is a word pertaining to the role of the ordained, there is this exception, the established use of "minister" referring to liturgical functions that are assigned or permitted for lay people.

    So to address the original question from argentarius: a cantor counts as a liturgical "minister" in this limited sense.