Friday, February 6, 2009

The Interim Rite

angBe alert, not alarmed - my contacts with the T.A.C. here in Launceston have issued in an invitation to attend their Sunday service.  Well, I had thought this to be Morning Prayer, which according to their website was what they had on the second Sunday of the month - but a recent email informed me that instead it is "the Interim Rite [of Mass] with English Missal additions"... which puts me in a quandary, since I seem to have invited myself to it: I asked the advice of a knowledgeable priest, who gave me some wise advice about what would be appropriate; and his advice concorded with what I had thought acceptable in conscience.

It seems to me, as advised, that if I come along to their service, take a back seat and pray for the happy day to come when all are gathered into the one fold of the Redeemer, while out of courtesy standing, sitting and kneeling as the others do, but avoiding making any responses which would imply agreement with anything that I wouldn't honestly believe, it would be acceptable to attend - for the purpose of learning how the T.A.C. in its local instantiation worships, and, afterward, to meet with their people.

Now, many years back my then parish priest, now Bishop of Lismore, Geoffrey Jarrett, shewed me as a curiosity his old copy of the English Missal, which is basically the Roman Missal in a Cranmeresque English translation, with a few bits and pieces of the Book of Common Prayer interspersed, but so that frankly most bits of it were immersed in a Papal sea; most amusingly, it provides three Eucharistic Prayers - the latter two being the Roman Canon itself, in English and in Latin - and also a proper service for the feast of a certain "King Charles the Martyr", with a Latin Sequence!  This was the text he had used as an Anglican minister prior to his conversion in 1965.

The "Interim Rite" is a clever rearrangement of two prayers in the 1662 B.C.P., following a suggestion made by the Anglican liturgical scholar Walter Howard Frere back in 1911.  First, some background: the 1549 editio princeps of the Book of Common Prayer had a Canon, partly new, partly a cunning recompilation of parts of the Roman Canon, which was sufficiently ambiguous as to admit of both a Catholic and a (very conservative and "high") Protestant acceptation, in simple terms - the devil being most definitely in the details! - but this Canon was broken up in the 1552 and all subsequent B.C.P.'s into three prayers, redistributed throughout the Anglican Eucharistic rite: as Dix cogently argued, this reflects all too accurately Cranmer's further descent into heresy toward a Zwinglian view of the Sacrament.  
  • The first part of the Canon, being a long intercession, was stripped of its list of saints and intercession for the dead, these elements being reduced to a mere thankful remembrance of the faithful departed (so much for the communio sanctorum), and placed earlier on in the rite, becoming the "Prayer for the Church Militant", so as to dissociate the Eucharist from any idea of being offered up for determinate ends as a sacrifice of impetration.
  • The second part, being an epiclesis and the words of institution, had its epiclesis rephrased from "with thy Holy Spirit and word, vouchsafe to bl+ess and sanc+tify these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the Body and Blood of thy most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ" to "grant that we receiving these thy creatures of bread and wine... may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood", and directly after it the distribution of the elements so prayed over was ordained, so that no time elapse during which the elements might be the object of oblation or adoration.
  • The third part, being an anamnesis with oblation, a petition for fruitful reception, a self-oblation, mention of angelic intercession and doxology, was stript of its anamnesis and oblation, as of the mention of angelic intercession, and, with its petition for fruitful reception watered down, was moved until after the distribution of the elements for communion, and likewise prefixed by the Lord's Prayer (also moved, lest the petition "Give us this day our daily bread" be applied to the Eucharist - very Zwinglian, in its utter denial that the bread had aught to do with the Body) and made the alternative "Prayer of Oblation" to a postcommunion prayer - in Dix's damning words, substituting the oblation of the sons of men for the Oblation of the Son of Man.
Frere's suggestion for an "Interim Rite" was intended as a move back from this nightmare Zwinglian ordo - which somehow had acquired a range of higher interpretations among Anglicans, ranging from receptionism (Hooker's new heresy) up through dynamic virtualism (the spiritual presence of the Lord in the elements in some manner extraordinarily difficult to understand) toward, after the Oxford movement, approaches to the real presence that amounted to transsubstantiation in all but name - by rearranging prayers so as to approach what High Anglicans have always regarded as their liturgical utopia of 1549 (utopia, "no-place", indeed!).  He proposed a simple transposition, to return the Prayer of Oblation to its former place after the Prayer of Consecration, and then to have the Lord's Prayer prayed before the distribution of the elements for communion.

In the absence of any larger liturgical reform (under discussion in 1911, but frustrated by Parliamentary opposition in 1928 and 1929, and not restarted until the 1960's - when as all know all hell broke loose), Frere thought this would move liturgical matters in a more catholic direction.  That said, since the later nineteenth century the more advanced, daring, or just plain crazy Ritualists among the High Church had been adopting just about every Roman custom, prayer and rubric they could lay their hands on, with the result that in Anglo-Catholic parishes the Eucharistic service was basically the Tridentine Mass in English: hence the English Missal and many slightly less brave alternatives thereto.  So "the Interim Rite with English Missal additions" is a representative form of Anglican advanced catholicizing and Romanizing liturgical practice as of the period immediately before Vatican II - in an odd way, the closest thing to the 1962 Missal!

Here is the Interim Rite as Frere proposed it, with the 1549 anamnesis in square brackets:

The Interim Rite (Frere, 1911)
Prayer of Consecration (1662 BCP)
ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who of thy tender mercy didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one* oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death, until his coming again; Hear us, O merciful Father, we most humbly beseech thee; and grant that we receiving these thy creatures of bread and wine, according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood: who, in the same night that he was betrayed, took Bread; and, when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body which is given for you: Do this in remembrance of me. Likewise after supper he took the Cup; and, when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this; for this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins: Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me. Amen
Prayer of Oblation (BCP 1662)

includes: Wherefore,] O LORD and heavenly Father, [1549 includes: according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ,] we thy humble servants [1549 includes: do celebrate, and make here before thy divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, the memorial which thy Son hath willed us to make, having in remembrance his blessed passion, mighty resurrection, and glorious ascension, rendering unto thee most hearty thans, for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same,] entirely desire [1549: desiring] thy fatherly goodness mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion. And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee, that all we, who are partakers of this holy Communion, may be fulfilled with thy grace and heavenly benediction. And although we be unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord; by whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world without end. Amen.

[* Some printings of the 1549 B.C.P. read "own" instead of "one" - the difference is significant.]

And this is my critique of it, using Bishop Elliott's categories of real presence, sacrifice and communion - considering these in the abstract, without thereby wishing to declare the prayers sufficient to express Catholic doctrine, and leaving aside the issue of Anglican orders:
  1. the Cranmerian revised epiclesis as quoted above still stands, and its words "that we receiving these... creatures of bread and wine... may be partakers of [Christ's] Body and Blood", are incompatible with Catholic doctrine unless interpreted in a manner that does violence to its words, since it states that when the elements are received, they are still in their proper natural substances - perhaps the T.A.C. version either changes these words back to their 1549 version, or so modifies and surrounds them in its rite with fuller expressions, that they can be made to express the correct belief;
  2. as to the Eucharist as a sacrifice, certainly the Eucharist is a "sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving" - but while a Catholic would read "this our sacrifice" as referring to the Eucharist, a Protestant could instead read "this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving" as being merely our verbal sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, which we offer up at the Lord's Supper as merely our own unworthy self-oblation; similarly, the Catholic doctrine is that the Mass is also a sacrifice of propitiation and impetration, offered up in expiation of the outrage of sin and to obtain all blessings spiritual and temporal - which could be what is shortly expressed in the words "that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion"; or these words could be interpreted in the Protestant sense of looking to the Cross, not as manifested in power in the Eucharist, but as a once only offering at Calvary in no way made present in the Eucharist (what masterful ambiguity!) - so again, it will depend on whatever ancillary prayers are added in from the English Missal to determine the doctrine being expressed;
  3. the communion aspect is probably the most acceptable - since it prays that all who partake of "this holy Communion" may share in Christ's Body and Blood, and thereby be filled with all grace and blessing (and of course, if the additional parts from the English Missal used to supplement these two Prayers include translations of the relevant prayers preparatory to communion, so much the better).
I shall be interested to observe whether these preliminary surveys of the Interim Rite with added prayers is what I shall witness on Sunday.


Schütz said...

Really, Josh, you sound like a Lutheran worrying about "sinful unionism"!

If you went to an Orthodox Eucharist, would you go with your fingers crossed like this?

If you went to a Uniting Church Eucharist?

Good Lord, I go to Lutheran services every other Sunday, and apart from saying "amen" to things that I cannot (such as the "absolution" and prayer after communion which refers to "the body and blood of Christ" which we have received) I join in completely, and make it an opportunity for spiritual communion.

Joshua said...

I'm doing what Catholics used to do - be very concerned about even seeming to join in with what in conscience I don't accept or believe. Recall that the English Martyrs and recusants were under express Papal command not to attend the Anglican service, even though this meant at the least punitive fines, the loss of their estates, imprisonment, even death.

If I went to an Orthodox Eucharist, no, I wouldn't be so worried, since I know their Divine Liturgy is valid and would in fact fulfil my Sunday obligation. I would not be able to communicate, and I would grieve the still-remaining schism of course.

No, I'm really like you in that I will not say Amen to the "Absolution", prayer after communion, etc., but will join in as much as possible (singing hymns, etc.) and certainly pray for spiritual communion, in every good sense.

Amusingly, I'll have the Novus Ordo Mass (conservatively done) at Carmel first, then I'll be "supplying the ceremonies" by attending what I suspect will be more a Tridentine celebration with the T.A.C.

Explain "sinful unionism" please?