Sunday, December 28, 2008

Breviary Offices versus OF Masses

As I'm now in Tasmania, and have been serving the Christmas Masses at Carmel, it's been back to a (quite acceptable) Novus Ordo; and one benefit of serving has been that I've been able to receive communion, kneeling, from our visiting priest, under both species.  (Some traddies have weird reservations about touching the chalice, but that's mad.)

In the Ordinary Form, to-day is the feast of the Holy Family, while according to the Breviary it's the Sunday in the Christmas Octave, and the Holy Family won't be feasted until Sunday the 11th of January.  (Ever since Benedict XV extended this feast to the whole world, it's been difficult to find an older Sunday to push aside so as to fit it in: and I must say it seems to me better to have the Holy Family celebrated in the Octave than after Epiphany.)

Indeed, there's plenty of confusion coming up; while the Octave of Christmas is really just about equivalent to the Solemnity of Mary Mater Dei, as a glance at the respective Offices demonstrates, here in Australia the bishops in their wisdom have transferred the Epiphany to the nearest Sunday, meaning that this year on Sunday the 4th in the Breviary I'll be celebrating the Most Holy Name of Jesus, while perforce I'll hear Mass of the Epiphany, whose Office will occur on the Tuesday; and the same thing will occur with the Baptism of the Lord...

And last but not least, to-day is Childermas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents (read more here), which took precedence over the Sunday until the last preconciliar simplification of the rubrics; Fr alluded in his homily to the truth that Our Lord sanctified the whole course of human life from conception onwards, and one might think that in this dark age of widespread fœtal murder, to have the child-victims of raging Herod commemorated even on a Sunday would be no bad thing.  

(Don't forget, BTW, that to-day is Proclamation Day in South Australia, marking the 172nd anniversary of that Province.)


Terra said...

OK I'm one of those mad traddies who have reservations about touching the chalice!

There are a couple of things about this that I think should give one pause. First, it is a sacred vessel especially consecrated and up until the reforms only ever to be touched by consecrated hands. Secondly, there is an issue about proper reverence for the Precious Blood in most novus ordo ceremonies I've seen, where it is an excuse to have multiple special ministers to the point where one almost trips over them. Thirdly, quite apart from the reverence issues, I'd suggest there is a practical, health issue involved in receiving under both kinds that makes it undesirable!

+ Ioannes Episcopus Roffensis said...

Terra, the Easterns get around these issues by various forms of intinction (by the priest) with tongs and special spoons and the like. And Papal Masses used to have something called the "fistula" - a little gold straw that the Cardinals used to receive from the chalice...

Oh. Forgot about Proclamation Day. Hey, I'll probably be forced out of the Province by a crozier-waving prelate, any day now. I'm wondering where I shall be able to take refuge.

If any clerical readers hear someone banging on the presbytery door yelling "sanctuary!", that's me on the run from Abp Wilson.

Joshua said...


Now, don't condemn me as a liberal, but I must take up the cudgels against you!!!

First and foremost, there can be no sin but rather much grace in receiving from the chalice in the manner Church law envisages (Christ having instituted the Sacrament, He permits His Church to govern the details thereof).

No one ever died of communion from the chalice.

(Indeed, to play devil's advocate, it would seem much yuckier to have the priest touching multiple saliva-dripping tongues as he attempts, not always successfully, I can personally assure you, to put a Host on each without making contact with his fingers on them... This is in fact why many priests aren't keen on administering communion on the tongue, since, especially if the communicants be standing, which is another issue of course, such icky-sticky contact is hard to avoid. Here in Tasmania the powers that be have argued in precisely such terms that communion on the tongue is potentially more capable of transmitting diseases, and so they have persuaded all but the most intransigent to give it up, more's the pity!)

Of course, like you, I thoroughly object to superfluous 'ministers' of the Eucharist (or chalicists, as some Anglicans call them!) - only deacons or higher ought administer the chalice (though in charity one must assume that those appointed as such 'ministers' are not committing sins in so doing, under what would appear to be the lawful direction of their pastors). In the early centuries in the West, it was the deacons who administered communion from the chalice, after all; and to adhere to the norms of the holy Fathers cannot be wrong.

In my own case, I was kneeling, and the priest himself gave me communion from the chalice, which seems perfectly reverent. FWIW, the same thing has been done for me when I've served a private Dominican Rite Mass!!!

The objection about touching the chalice is I think the one that is most subtle - but, if one is permitted by the Church to receive both species, then there can be no sin in touching the chalice. The permission to receive from the chalice must rationally and implicitly include permission to touch the chalice as part of the necessary action. Even if the minister (as Anglicans pretend to be) hold the chalice while administering it (as apparently Anglicans did or still do), the lips of the communicant still touch it - are the lips holier than the hands? or do the hands render the chalice unclean? We are not Jews!

Mark well, and note it again: the Church has permitted the chalice to be drunk from, so there can be no sin in doing so. To abstain from drinking Christ's Precious Blood, out of - dare I say - a superstitious fear of touching the chalice (why? is there contact poison on it? will it impart a stain to one's soul? will one's unchrismed hands befoul it and render it a tainted chalice?) is to get everything topsy-turvy.

What is holier, the chalice or the Precious Blood within? - yet we sinners can drink It!

Above all, I do recall Our Lord instituted this Sacrament, and I very much doubt that from day one only the Apostles touched the chalice used at Mass, so it cannot be of the essence of the Sacrament that the chalice be not handled by the laity.

Finally, I can tell you that as a server in the OF at present I have to unveil the chalice at the credence, then carry it across to the altar; again, I apprehend no sin in doing so, since as far as I am aware such a handling is not reprobated by current law of the Church.

Joshua said...

And I may add that I have been shewn by Fr Rowe a fine chalice of his, which he let me hold so as to turn it about and admire it - so one could hardly claim that for a layman to touch a chalice is ipso facto naughty and reprobated.

Joshua said...

Further thoughts:

1. For a long time, way back before I went to the Latin Mass, out of fear that I would spill even a drop from the chalice I abstained from receiving from it: this was overscrupulous of me I now think.

2. I don't like the whole nonsense of 'special ministers', for reasons that to any traddie or conservative are obvious (lack of reverence, irruption into the sanctuary of pushy ladies, etc.), but I don't now believe that it is somehow sinful to receive communion from such: so I will on occasion do so - I think of a Mass in Perth, where the priest says a conservative Novus Ordo, and a server in cassock and surplice administers the chalice.

3. Certainly if a priest or deacon be administering the chalice, I can think of very little reason not to receive therefrom, as I have done at Carmel.

Joshua said...

Finally, Garrigou-Lagrange once pointed out that upon receiving the Host, as we know, one's venial sins are burnt away by the sacred fire of the Sacrament; andd therefore, if one next receive the Precious Blood also, since one's soul has thus just been cleansed by the reception of the Sacred Body of Our Lord, ipso facto one makes a very much more efficacious communion by drinking the Precious Blood, since the purified soul makes far less of an obstacle to the impartation of the grace of the Sacrament. He argued that the desire to so profit from receiving under both kinds would be a good motive to become a priest!!!

Anonymous said...

"Some traddies have weird reservations about touching the chalice, but that's mad."

I totally agree Josh. My preference is for the server to hold on to the Chalice with firm hands while I partake (kneeling). I don't like it how you get the Chalice passed to you--seems dangerous.

Terra, your argument about the health issue is an old one that isn't true. The Episcopal Church (USA) commissioned a medical study on this question and it was found that there are no health issues with a shared Chalice (sorry but I don't have the link to the study). I've also heard this from Doctors myself: there is no health risk.


Anonymous said...


You know I'm something of a 'Trad', but not a '"mad" Trad'... but I myself have grave reservations about touching the Chalice. Normally the laity (until after the Council) touched nothing, not even the corporal or the likes... hence, I tend to object more to touching the Chalice than receiving under both kinds. You are right in saying the Anglicans still hold the Chalice for the communicant and I certainly would be happier with that practice.

Anyway, Merry Christmas!

Joshua said...

Look, guys and gals, I totally get where you're coming from - I've thought much the same myself - but I must reiterate that if we say we can't even receive from the chalice if the Church now permits it because we shrink from touching the chalice, then we've got our priorities all skew-whiff: if we are permitted to receive from the chalice, ipso facto we are permitted to handle it, and of course handle it with reverence, but always remembering that Christ's very Blood is infinitely holier than any chalice, and yet Christ Himself gives it to us.

The Church over time withdrew the use of communion under both kinds, and God permitted this, but likewise the Church has brought it back into use, the Holy Ghost so permitting, and it is frankly perverse to try and argue that communion under both kinds should never be permitted to the laity, let alone for so specious a reason as "the chalice is so holy it must not be touched"!

Anonymous said...

I hear your points, Joshua. I don't really have a leg to stand on anyway (most of it is simply instinct with me, which has been fossilised by going exclusively to the EF).,,

Joshua said...

If - as I devoutly wish - I could attend the EF exclusively, and forget the OF ever existed, then I would of course be perfectly happy to receive communion in one kind, as Holy Church so disposes.

But, since I must needs attend the OF, if I prudently consider that I may receive under both species when this is made available, then I may well do so. In the past I was so hot against 'special ministers' &c. I would have refused to do so I must admit.

Happy Christmas Octave to all!

Terra said...

Firstly in terms of the Church's legislation on the subject, if you read Sacrosanctum Concilium, communion under both kinds was not to be reintroduced generally, but in specific settings (such as monasteries) and for special occasions. The widespread general practice has no specific mandate!

Secondly, it is a permission, not an active encouragement to receive under both kinds. I know of no magisterial urging on this subject.

Thirdly, one needs to distinguish between receiving under both kinds and touching the chalice with one's hands. If there is a good reason for receiving under both kinds, there are as someone pointed out other options - the priest or deacon holding the chalice throughout, or better still inctinction using a spoon.

Finally, in terms of the effect of receiving under both kinds, your piece of theological speculation is interesting Joshua - are you receiving twice, or is it just part of the same reception slightly separated? I'm not sure it is at all clear cut. Certainly, the priests reception of the Precious Blood is regarded by some theologians as completing the sacrifice, not a separate reception.

Joshua said...

I am well aware of the legislation regarding communion under both kinds, and that no blanket permission was given, but as is well known it has become the norm irregardless. Since I have been serving Mass in a Carmelite monastery noted for its piety and orthodoxy, and the priest celebrant seemed equally so, I assume that I have not been participating in an abuse. The nuns all receive under both species every day, and so do the laity who come to their Mass.

It is perverse to say that communion under both kinds is permitted, not encouraged - why on earth else was the practice brought back? So that the proud and scrupulous could shrink from it and hug themselves for their pharisaical rectitude, and look down their long noses at the massa damnata rushing willy-nilly to the chalice of destruction? (I exaggerate to make the point.)

It must be seen that this is precisely the sort of view most Catholics take of the concerns of traditionalists - they seem over the top and nutty. Please try not to fit the stereotype!

Again,as is well known, intinction may be used, etc., but among the several licit methods of administering communion from the chalice, the one involving one touching the chalice with one's hands is just as permissible by Church law respecting the Novus Ordo, and so there can be no sin in doing so.

This is the essential concern: of course one would prefer all to kneel to receive, etc. etc., but in practice this is not, alas, always possible, and frankly I don't enjoy being told that I, who received the Host on the tongue kneeling and, kneeling, drank from the chalice, both administered by a priest, have somehow disgraced myself by holding the chalice.

This is insulting and drives me wild!!!

I do agree that Fr Garrigou-Lagrange's argument is rather curious, but he is a noted theologian.

Terra said...

First, I'm certainly not suggesting receiving from the chalice is sinful or disgraceful! Your exaggerations on the traditionalist position on this topic are over the top on this one Joshua. Given the amount you have written on this topic, and the seeming fervour of your thoughts, I wonder if you aren't still trying to think this through?

Secondly, many things are permitted but not encouraged! Receiving in the hand is similarly permitted...but not to be encouraged in the traditionalist view. In my book this is in exactly the same category of things that were simply not done traditionally in recent centuries for good reasons!

My position is simple. If there wasn't a good reason to change something practice-wise, it shouldn't be changed, because of the high risk that some of the implicit messages of the old practice will be lost.

The view of most after VII started from the opposite position - change everything that can be changed!

I don't doubt that the good nuns are very orthodox, but really SC suggests that communion under both kinds be restricted to occasions like solemn professions, not become everyday practice. But no surprise that odd practices have crept into many otherwise reform of the reform-esq places.

On this topic, perhaps TLM deprivation is already doing its insidious work on you!

Anonymous said...

Is Sacrosanctum Concilium the only directive given on the Holy Eucharist at Vatican II?


Anonymous said...

Sorry, a qualification:

Is Sacrosanctum Concilium the only directive given on Communion under both kinds at Vatican II?

Joshua said...

Dear Terra:

Yes, you guessed it, I got rather worked up about all this! - sorry for being a bit grumpy and high-handed. As you can tell I tend to blow hot and cold about things; apologies!

It must be confessed, a lot of this really represents my own changing and rather confused position over the years.

Indeed, if only there were the TLM, I could just sit back, relax, and pray (so to speak) without having to negotiate endless options and wearying myself with their pros and cons.

In any case, I must thank everyone who's contributed - I think we've together set a record for comments on my blog, and comments are what I rather like getting actually.

My resolve: to be more charitable - and more controversial!!! That should attract comments indeed.