Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Is the Roman Rite and Mass synonymous with the Roman Canon?

Taking a traditionalist perspective of Mass, is the modern Mass substantially the same as the traditional Mass if and only if the Roman Canon is used?  (Of course I recognize that Christ is made present in His Sacrament in both Masses; and that both forms are licit and God-pleasing per se; and that a certain Supreme Pontiff has termed them two forms of the one Roman Rite.  Nor am I fussing about the verbal changes made to the text of the Roman Canon in the Ordinary Form.  I'm just musing...)

Compare the situation in the Byzantine Rite, whereby the Divine Liturgy is styled "of St John Chrysostom"  if the Anaphora named for him is used, whereas it is titled "of St Basil" when the Anaphora bearing his name is used (and certain other of the priestly prayers also vary) on the ten or so days a year for which it is appointed – his feast day, six Sundays of Great Lent, Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, and the Vigils of Christmas and Epiphany if they are not Saturdays nor Sundays.

(En passant, it is interesting to compare the modern Roman Rite with the Byzantine in regard to how the older Anaphora in both - the Roman Canon and the Anaphora of St Basil respectively - has been replaced as the primary Eucharistic Prayer (de facto and de jure respectively) by a shorter one - E.P. II and the Anaphora of St John Chrysostom respectively: while the Byzantine Rite is not known as the Rite of St John Chrysostom, its Divine Liturgy on all but a dozen days certainly is; and while the Roman Rite is not called the Hippolytan Rite, its Mass certainly could be, given that the second Eucharistic Prayer, modelled upon that in a tract by pseudo-Hippolytus, is by far the most commonly used these days.)

It would seem that, if Eastern usage be a guide, if a Mass have a different Eucharistic Prayer (also known as Canon or Anaphora) then ipso facto it should bear a different name: we would thus have the Roman Mass if the Roman Canon is used, the Mass of St Hippolytus if E.P. II is used (I'm being generous here; perhaps the pseudo-Hippolytan Mass would be more accurate), and so forth.

To the contrary, however, the prayers of the Mozarabic Mass vary daily, including much of the Eucharistic Prayer (the Verba Domini and the general framework of versicles and doxologies stay the same) – and in that case no cognizance is taken of these changes in the naming of the Mass.

However, the modern Roman Mass, with its principle of free choice of Eucharistic Prayer, represents a vast shift from the hallowed use of but one Canon in the traditional Roman Mass for at least 1600 years: the priest can choose to use Eucharistic Prayers I (the Roman Canon), II, III, IV (with certain restrictions owing to its having a proper Preface, which cannot always replace the Preface of the day), or Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation I or II (with similar restrictions), or the Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs (the "Swiss" Prayer), itself with four variants (again, with similar restrictions owing to their having proper Prefaces).  I do not mention the three Eucharistic Prayers for use at Masses with children...

Enough for now, I must get ready for Mass.  (As matters transpired, Father used E.P. II, as he usually does; though at least, unlike some I could name, he does also use E.P.'s I, III, and so forth and so on.)


I think I've answered my own question above – if the Ordinary Form Mass is celebrated, as it usually is, with what could be called the most ordinary, in every sense, of the Eucharistic Prayers, the second, loosely based on that in the Apostolic Tradition attributed to St Hippolytus (I once estimated that approximately half of E.P. II, including its proper Preface, is derived from that work, for the intercessory part is a modern addition), then the O.F. Mass, while in general part of the Roman Rite, is not so much the Roman Mass (which it would be if it were said using the venerable Roman Canon) as the Hippolytan Mass – if we were to follow Byzantine practice in naming the whole Eucharistic liturgy after the Eucharistic Prayer used in it.


Questions? Comments?

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