Did the directions that Pope John Paul II gave in 1997, “On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest: Practical Provisions” go away? I have seen lots of people using their hands during the Lord’s Prayer and “with your spirit”. The directions said: “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.”
Before reading your question, I was not familiar with the 1997 document by Pope John Paul II which you mention. It is quite lengthy, and I have not read the entirety of the text, but I can assure you that it is still in force. At the end of the document are thirteen practical provisions which give examples of what to do or not to do during the sacred liturgy, where I see in provision number six the quote that you shared about quasi-presiding.
I am assuming that the purpose of this document and instruction was to correct liturgical abuses which had popped up in various places around the world following the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II had called for a renewal in the understanding of the common priesthood which flows from one’s baptism into Christ as priest, prophet, and king. However, the Council was also extremely clear that there are two types of priesthood in the Church – one common, one ministerial. The people that we call “priests” are generally ministerial priests. These two types of priesthood are essentially different, and as the Council said in Lumen Gentium, “Indeed the ministerial priesthood does not of itself signify a greater degree of holiness with regard to the common priesthood of the faithful; through it, Christ gives to priests, in the Spirit, a particular gift so that they can help the People of God to exercise faithfully and fully the common priesthood which it has received”. The ministerial priesthood exists to serve the common priesthood.
Unfortunately, some in the Church misunderstood the Council’s teachings and sought to replace the priest at Mass with other people. In some places, based on the reading of the document, some priests were allowing members of the lay faithful to say the priest’s prayers of the Mass at the altar, while the priest might step in to say the Consecration to ensure the validity of the Mass. This is the grave abuse that the document is referencing.
It does not seem to me that extending one’s hands while praying the Lord’s prayer or saying “and with your spirit” constitutes a grave abuse, such as a lay person praying the priest’s prayers from the altar. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal does not prescribe a gesture for the lay faithful during the Our Father, or while saying, “and with your spirit.” There are varying opinions on the suitability of the lay faithful praying the Our Father while holding hands or with hands extended. In one way, I can see this as an inappropriate imitation of the priest who also prays the Our Father with hands extended. Praying with one’s hands extended is a very traditional gesture of prayer, and one that I am sure we have all used before. It has typically been reserved to the priest during Mass. However, in this case, I do not think that there is the intention to mimic the priestly gesture, as most priests have their hands extended vertically during Mass, while the lay faithful have their hands open horizontally. I am definitely getting “into the weeds” here, but it seems to me that the intention in this case is not to imitate a priestly gesture. My understanding is that the lay faithful praying with hands extended is not envisioned by the rubrics. However, I have never corrected anybody about this, nor do I intend to, as I see it only as a slight irregularity, and not a liturgical abuse.
This document clarifies things that many of us take for granted, but may have been neglected or abused in some parts of the world. Among other things, this document affirms that only a member of the clergy can give a homily, only a priest can celebrate the Anointing of the Sick, only priests can be members of the diocesan presbyteral council, and clergy are the ordinary ministers of baptism and funerals. Thank you for your attentiveness to the liturgical instructions of the Church – through them, we find great freedom in worshiping God as he wants us to!