General Instruction of the Roman Missal

Renewing the Renewal
Opportunities for formation

The publication of the revised edition of the General Instruction (GIRM) and of Celebrating the Mass (CTM) provides an opportunity for refreshing and deepening ministers’ understanding of the liturgy, principally of the Mass, but also more generally.

It also is an occasion for considering how a deeper liturgical formation might be provided for the whole assembly.

Sacrosanctum Concilium emphasised that ‘in the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy the full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else, for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit. Yet it would be futile to entertain any hope of realising this unless pastors of souls, in the first place, themselves become fully imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy and attain competence in it.’ SC 14.

Such competence is not gained in the initial training provided in seminaries, or in a once only reading of something such as the General Instruction. This are foundations that need to be built on by continuing study and reflection on experience. It is far from easy to find sufficient time, for significant study and sufficient reflection. That is why from time to time there is advantage in such initiatives as the present ‘Year of the Eucharist’ and the encouragement to take every advantage of the opportunity for renewal presented by the publication of the General Instruction and Celebrating the Mass.

Different communities will find themselves in different situations.For that reason a wide range of different formation materials have been prepared.

In what follows the examples are a series of imaginary parish communities. However it should be remembered that although parish priests have a particular responsibility for liturgy in their parish, they are in the first place to respond to the guidance of their Bishop, who has responsibility for the celebration of the liturgy throughout the diocese entrusted to his care. (SC 41; GIRM 22, 387; CTM 21, 26) It is doubtless best for a general process of ‘renewing the renewal’ to be carried out under the auspices of the Bishop, and guidance of his Liturgy Commission. A certain consistency in practice within a Diocese is desirable.That said there will of course be occasions when initiatives are taken within a particular parish or local deanery.

Parish 1

There is a perceived need for general parish renewal concerning the liturgy. Parish has good experience of working with small groups. Following a review of GIRM and CTM by the parish priest and the parish team (e.g. other clergy, catechetical coordinator, coordinator of liturgy team) it is agreed to embark on a programme of general formation across the parish.


  • With Hearts and Minds (WHM) — resourcing parish groups for a six week process of study, prayer and reflection.
  • In Communion with Christ (ICWC) — a whole-parish formation tool based on Sunday preaching on the liturgy and take home sheets (one set for general use and one specifically for parents of young children). General themes are the same as WHM. (ICWC and WHM are designed to be complementary and run alongside each other.) Additional resources to assist with liturgical preaching.

Parish 2

As with Parish One, there is a desire for cross-parish formation except there is no eagerness for using small groups.


  • ICWC can run as a stand alone programme.
  • Before running ICWC for the whole parish the parish team and those principally involved in preparing and leading liturgy in the parish might themselves make use of WHM. It can help them focus on the task in hand and achieve a common mind with regard to the liturgy.

Parish 3

‘We know WHM and ICWC is the way forward for us. But we’ll start in six months time. What might we do in the meantime?’


  • A range of leaflets have been prepared for parish ministers, e.g. ministers of the word and ministers of Holy Communion. These provide GIRM/CTM descriptions of particular ministries and hints on preparation for exercising them. These will help begin a process of formation with key people with little additional effort.

Parish 4

A process of liturgical formation for all has recently taken place in the context of continuing parish renewal programme. However there are some particular issues that need addressing - for example how to deepen participation in the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of Communion.


  • WHM may be of assistance to parish team and principal ministers.
  • Issues sheets have been prepared considering a wide range of particular matters and offering a simple process for considering how to proceed.

Where do I find these resources?

  • The General Instruction, Celebrating the Mass and With Hearts and Minds are all published by CTS.
  • Additional resources for With Hearts and Minds can be downloaded..
  • In Communion with Christ is downloadable from the Liturgy Office website
  • Ministers Leaflets and Issues sheets are also all downloadable from the Liturgy Office website.
  • Also available from the website is an abbreviated form of WHM designed for use by priests and principal co-workers over a series of 3 Deanery meetings.